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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So I'm planning on getting a Betta, but I need some help! I have never owned one before, and from what I've heard, they have different water and environmental requirements than the typical freshwater tropical fish. Would anybody be willing to make a list for me regarding what a Betta needs?

Here's a quick list of questions I have:
1) What size tank/bowl/whatever is best? I know some people put them in tiny vases, but that just doesn't seem adequate to me. Or maybe I'm wrong, I don't know.
2) Do they require a heater?
3) I heard they do not need to have a filter, but do require water changes. Is this true, and if it is, how often should I do a water change (and how much)?

Thanks for any help! :D
 

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Betta's are just so elegant. I know one of the regulars on this forum is an expert, so you'll get great advice from a post. I have 3 male and 2 female bettas. I'll offer some observations from my experience, but look for that expert advice hopefully soon.

1) I totally agree about keeping bettas in tiny bowls. I know people do it, I know all the stores sell fancy small containers, but just my opinion, I wouldn't. I did find some interesting larger half-round bowls that hold about a gallon of water. After 6 months I felt the fish had outgrown them as well. I moved two of my males into seperate 2 1/2 gallon tanks. The other lives in my 55 gal community tank.

2) I didn't use a heater in the gal bowls, but the room was always warm. I did add tiny heaters to the 2 1/2 gal bowls because I moved the fish to my house from my work, and I keep it cooler here. Without the heaters the fish seem lathargic.

3) I don't use filters on the smaller tanks. I change about 50% of the water every 2 weeks. Some will suggest more. I vacumn my gravel at the same time.

4) I'd ask around your LFS to see when they get shipments in. I tend to look for fish a few days after arrival in the stores. I always look for fish that are moving in those tiny cups. Sitting two cups near one another will let you guage their aggressivness. Each fish is different, with different personalities so to speak. I have one very aggressive red, my other two are pretty mild natured.
 

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Thanks, I got one today! I was eying him a few days ago at the store and put him at the very back of the other Betta bowls. I checked on him today, and he seemed to still be healthy, so I took him home and put him in what I think is a 2.5 gal tank. It's just an old tank I used for baby fish back when I had guppies, but it seems to be a good size for him. My house is always warm during the summer (Texas = gross), so I don't think I'll be needing a heater until winter.
 

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fishboydanny
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Ive never had luck keeping male bettas in anything that doesn't have a filter.... they seem fine for a wile, then they die without any symptoms. I tend to keep only a few of them at a time, but for a long time. one fish I have has lived for over 2 years in a 2 1/2 gallon with a power filter (come with the tank) and next to another betta! he is definetely getting old (he is scrawny, but well finned, for a plakat), but I don't know how much longer he'll last..... but he is still active!!! good luck!

P.S. your betta is a crowntail, and looks like a cross between a butterfly (definetely) and maybe a marble, but not quite sure. very nice fish!!! I'll post a few pictures of my old male when i get home from California.
 

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fishboydanny
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how many? can you post some pics?
 

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You have such a beautiful Betta! I also have recently received a Betta, and I've been reading about them for a while. They are vary interesting fish. I read the reason they don't need filters is because they have lungs, and gills so they use less oxygen from the water.
I don't believe in keeping any fish in a small bowl, so I have Setsuna (my Betta) in a tank that holds a little over half a gallon. I hear that heaters are only needed if he has a tank larger than this, or is kept in a cool part of the house. I find them extremely interesting fish, and I really hope Setsuna lives longer than my first Betta. ~_~ I don't think I was completely informed as I am now. I hope to share pictures of Setsuna soon.
 

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I have to respectfully disagree. Bettas need both a heater and a filter. The main purpose of the filter is to rid the water of the ammonia that builds up as a waste product no matter what type of fish is in the container. This has nothing to do with them breathing. It is a process called the Nitrogen Cycle that needs to happen to cycle the filter to remove the ammonia and it should be done and completed with no fish in the tank preferably. It is a hard process on the fish and shortens their lives some. If you chose to do the cycle with a fish in the tank you need to do frequent testing for ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites in the water and change the water frequently to keep the levels below toxic lavels.
The reason they need a heater more than any other is the aid to their digestion. Many bettas die of constipation every year simply because the water they are in is too cool and their metabolism slows to the point of them not digesting the foods they are given and most are overfed as well. A betta does differ from a lot of fish in that it will not stop eating until the food is gone. They will eat enough to kill themselves if you overfeed. Then if the water is too cool or the temperature if fluctuating constantly, the body systems cannot handle the food and they get plugged up with food and soon die. It is a shame as a small heater does not cost that much and a small filter can keep their tanks filtered and it would be a small price to pay to keep those beautiful fish alive and healthy.

Thanks for listening, I know the thread was a little older but I felt the need to comment.
Chickadee
 

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I have to respectfully disagree. Bettas need both a heater and a filter. The main purpose of the filter is to rid the water of the ammonia that builds up as a waste product no matter what type of fish is in the container. This has nothing to do with them breathing. It is a process called the Nitrogen Cycle that needs to happen to cycle the filter to remove the ammonia and it should be done and completed with no fish in the tank preferably. It is a hard process on the fish and shortens their lives some. If you chose to do the cycle with a fish in the tank you need to do frequent testing for ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites in the water and change the water frequently to keep the levels below toxic lavels.
The reason they need a heater more than any other is the aid to their digestion. Many bettas die of constipation every year simply because the water they are in is too cool and their metabolism slows to the point of them not digesting the foods they are given and most are overfed as well. A betta does differ from a lot of fish in that it will not stop eating until the food is gone. They will eat enough to kill themselves if you overfeed. Then if the water is too cool or the temperature if fluctuating constantly, the body systems cannot handle the food and they get plugged up with food and soon die. It is a shame as a small heater does not cost that much and a small filter can keep their tanks filtered and it would be a small price to pay to keep those beautiful fish alive and healthy.

Thanks for listening, I know the thread was a little older but I felt the need to comment.
Chickadee

My Betta has a filter also and is housed in 4 gallon acrylic "goldfish" tank(I would never stick a goldfish in a tank that size obviously). I dont heat his tank but my room is kept very warm(I keep reptiles and birds in the room) so his water stays proper temp.

Ive kept bettas on both filtered and non filtered. I could never keep them alive without a filter(And i did proper water changes etc).

I find They are also alot healthier and active with a filter. Mine prances around and is very active. he has a corner if he wants to get away from the current of his filter(Wich isnt that powerfull). but most of the time he loves getting carried around by the small current(Kindof like sliding on a slide)
 

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I made a baffle to keep my filter flow down until they develop their swimming muscles. Those cups they keep them in and unfiltered conditions when they raise them sometimes make them weaker than other fish due to lack of current to push against them. But once my little guys got their swimming muscles built up they love the current. I have one that does not even use the baffle anymore but Diablo uses his as he is in a smaller tank (9 gallons) and his current is stronger. My guys both have heavy finnage (halfmoon and doubletail crownie) and so it took them a bit to get their tank legs.

I am glad to hear that I am not alone in spoiling mine. My family thinks that I am crazy for treating them so much like my kids.

Thanks for the comment.

Chickadee
 

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NEVER NEVER USE A FILTER, betta's like stilled water, and slight constant movement of water can cause harmful stress to bettas.

and yes, bettas require a total different water than what most tropical fish requires, or should i say it requires more than all tropical fish...they need soft water, and tannish yellow like their natural habitat, not clear water. IAL(indian almond leaf), Blk Water Extract, or Atison Spa would do the trick. they would tan up the water to be yellowish brown and it relieves stress of the betta, and also reduce disease chance.

When cleaning the tank or changing water, change 100% water don't change 50% or which ever like other betta keepers are saying. Remember these fish may be simple to keep; but they requires total different water from all other species, make sure to have some water that is already aged(left out for 24 hours so chlorines can evaporate) but in this case chlorimines doesn't evaporate, so during the aging water process, what you want to do is add one of the items i just listed( also speed up the process of aging ). They are also used for conditioner and are much safer than any other conditioner you found in your LFS or LPS.

Also for medication, dead/sun dried banana leaf would work extremely well, safer than any medication out there on the market. and it can be overdose. Salt my be used, but i wouldn't recommend it. Meth Blue and Mach Green is extremely deadly to betta's and every single fish species in the world, they seem to live fine for a bit...but not for long. 1gallon tank is all you need for your betta to live a success of 5 yrs+

as goes for feeding, don't stick to one type of food all the time. start using Atison Pro pellets, frozen bloodworm, brine shrimp, and live foods are best such as bloodworm, california black worm, mosquito larvae, baby earth worm(make sure its quarantine) and brine shrimp. freeze dried and other pellet on the market won't make up for Atison Pro pellets.

betta's muscles will grow naturally and there is no way to improve it, its all in the genetic and trait where your betta came from, if you want a muscular bound and thick strong betta, plakat would be my choice to go as its considered the most hardy betta's out of all and also the strongest and fastest and aggressive. just don't believe all the hype about plakat are faster because they got very little tail to drag around, if so...cut the tail of one of other species of betta and compare speed...makes no difference.

and once again, TRUST ME ON THIS, EVERY SINGLE BETTA HATES CURRENTS SO PLEASE NO FILTER!!!!(if you ask any local breeder or professional breeder in thailand, they will tell you the same thing and thats where most of your bettas came from) not sure where you get the information from, but your betta will not live very long with currents, i guaranteed you.
 

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I tend to use a sponge filter with a good control for the first while but I would never put a fish of any kind in an unfiltered, uncycled tank. The ammonia poisoning would do them much more harm than any movement of the water and my guys love to play in bubbles coming from airstones, sponge filters and then later they current dive in the water of the outtake of the filter. They do not know that it is harmful to them so I guess they don't know what they need. Sorry, LOL but I think they are more active and playful having the water to play in. Every single betta that I have owned has loved the current and will actively play once they have a chance to get used to it. They don't do a lot until they get used to it but believe me they build up muscles to swim better and then they love it. The reason so many of them hide out to start with if the current is too strong is that they have never been in that type of situation before, not that they will not like it if you give them a chance. If you are timid about it then like I said a sponge filter would be safe enough to start as long as it has a good air control in the airline. But they need to have the relief from the ammonia and this is the only way other than daily large water changes. And please do not give me the "bettas live in mud puddles" argument as that is not the case for the bettas we see in our fish stores today. They have never, nor have their parents or those before them in the line of these modern fish ever seen a mud puddle and would not live long in one if put there.
I have a different way of dealing with bettas that I will grant you and I realize that you are not used to it on this forum but believe me many bettas have done well and continue to do well with the way I have taught people to start them. Others have good ideas too and you can take the information as you wish, but there is not any physical reason for a betta not to have a filter.

On the subject of Almond leaf and all forms of colored water, while there is something to be said about the healing qualities of this type of thing and it is sometimes said that it will increase the fish's immune tolerance to some forms of disease, the absolute need for it is not determined. I have known at least one betta that would not have it in their water. They freaked when the water got dark. The only way he would settle down was to give him back his clear water. Bettas do most certainly if you spend the time getting to know them let you know what they like and what they do not. When they bite themselves or sometimes tank mates, they are generally unhappy with something in their environment. I have seen a simple rearrangement of the tank or water change fix the problem. While the product will not hurt the betta, I have to say that none of the present day bettas that you purchase in the stores or most of those online have ever been anywhere near a banana or almond leaf or any colored water other than some in that awful blue stuff that they sometimes put in the cups. Use it if you choose but it is not an absolute requirement.
 

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very true...but as making it thier natural habitat, this is how it would be, and yes they have lived in mud before if your betta's are imported out from thailand. 90% usually gets imported out of thailand for colorful classy ones, and they all lived through IAL/banana leaf with mud substrate or natural clay since their birth is given.

also as in genetic of these fish where they traditionally came from, i think it still lies inside them of knowing whats the best habitat structure for them, as so of this, 100% local/pro breeders from thailand doesn't use any filter at all for ammonia, they rely it on live plants to do their natural environment job.

just keep in mind, that activeness of these species doesn't mean they are happy...betta's are very slow and patient movers which uses very little energy, besides PLAKAT which are the most active ones out of all betta's species and wilds doesn't count...

also for tank size reminder, they need lenght and width more than height.
for ammonia, i'll leave it to live plants, thats their job :)
 

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very true...but as making it thier natural habitat, this is how it would be, and yes they have lived in mud before if your betta's are imported out from thailand. 90% usually gets imported out of thailand for colorful classy ones, and they all lived through IAL/banana leaf with mud substrate or natural clay since their birth is given.

also as in genetic of these fish where they traditionally came from, i think it still lies inside them of knowing whats the best habitat structure for them, as so of this, 100% local/pro breeders from thailand doesn't use any filter at all for ammonia, they rely it on live plants to do their natural environment job.
I am very lucky, I am from Uk originally but have been living in Thailand for the last 4 years, I have been into bettas for the last year. I would just like to say everything Big_One says is true. Here is a picture of my friends fish farm, which is the same as every other fish farm in Thailand. As you can see no filters or heaters. The round tanks are for growing on the fry after they have left the breeding room.

Regards
Jeff

 

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This is one breeder but one of the others that published pictures of his breeding area and nursery on eBay shows a clean environment with modern equipment and filtration through the cubicles. His fish are very healthy and lovely and he is a wonderful breeder and also works out of Thailand. Some of the fish coming out of Thailand are not so lucky. I have been on the receiving end of both types until I got involved with a wonderful vendor in the US who does the quarantine process before he sells the fish and only buys fish that are very healthy to begin with.
There are many ways of doing some things and while I do not choose to do the betta treatment the same way as some, I have had success and I would not detract from any success you may have doing things your way. I do not happen to believe that there is always only One way of doing anything and it is certainly not a contest to see who is right or wrong. I find that the fish I have had have done better for me with clean water and filters and heaters but I do not live in the tropics. Those who live in the warmer areas of the world have more leeway than I do in doing without heaters. Leaving a fish of any kind in an unheated tank in the area of the world that I live in and allowing it to go through the fluctuations of temperature that are prevalent here would be not to my liking or my fish's. Keeping them at a steady and reasonable temperature is not mistreating them by any means.
My tanks are all larger not small and the fish have a lot of areas to go to get away from current if they want to but they play in the current and outflow of the filter by choice not because I force them to do so. I would think if they hated it so much they would linger in the quiet areas of the tanks and most of the tank is totally quiet. But I am not saying that keeping them without a filter and doing all the extra water changes is wrong, just unnecessary. If that is the way you or anyone else wants to keep your betta then do it but please do not tell me that it is the only way to keep a healthy betta as it can be done this way also.
 
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