Betta Bowl: A few questions...

polynesian_metalMarch 25, 2009

I've enjoyed chasing the threads regarding bettas, and I've noticed some havent' been updated since 2005. So I have some questions regarding my set up and whats going on in the tank.

I have a betta splendens (veiltail, blue) in a 2.5 gallon spherical fish bowl. The substrate is small lava gravel and smooth river stones accented by some larger smooth stones I found on the beach. I have an "African Fern" (Ceratopteris) which is doing well and have just removed a Swordplant (Echinodorus) which got slimy cottony white stuff where the leaves emerge from the root system. Bowl gets a lot of indirect bright sunlight during the day and is lit with an incandescent 25 watt lightbulb until about 2 am or sometimes all day if I forget to turn it off. My fish, Prince Beideman, is happy, active and a prolific nester. He lives in his bowl with no filter and only the ambient heat. This bowl was set up a month ago, the fish moved in 4 days later and I just did a %10 (2 litre) water change last week.

My questions:

The guy at the fish store told me I should only feed Prince B. 2 or 3 times a week and sparingly at that. I like that, but some people feel one should feed a betta once a day. They'll eat it, what's healthiest in your opinion?

I have some 1 inch white milipedes that like to hang out at the bottom of my potted plants. Could I chop them up and feed them to Prince B.? They are really small. I know that bettas like live food, but are millipedes dangerous or poisonous?

Because of the bright light I'm getting green algae on the rocks and the glass. I don't really mind it on the rocks, but don't want to impede the visibility of being able to see my fish. I'm going to just scrub it out with my hand in the tank while my fish is in the tank with a nylon scrubber when I change the water. Thoughts? I'm not going to move my betta bowl anywhere else, so I'm prepared to deal with the algae. I've been told that it can't harm the fish and adds an aged patina to any aquascape. True?

Fish gurus in San Francisco don't recommend frequent water changes. I'm thinking every 2 weeks, %10, is good. You?

Snails may eat algae, but they put a lot of waste in the water. In this set up I feel its not feasible.

Earthworms good food too?

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I have a barrage of information for you... and plz don't take it as an attack, but many years of fish keeping advice (I also have 6 bettas, some of which are over 3yrs old atm):

You've been given a lot of misleading information. Keep in mind that fish stores are usually more interested in making a sale rather than giving you "the best" advice.

First off, you should consider moving your betta out of a 2.5 gal bowl without a filter and heater. Although you say your betta is very happy, 1 month is not a very long to have a betta. They can easily live 5+ years in proper tanks. In a bowl, Ammonia (fish waste) builds very very quickly and this is VERY toxic to fish. Bettas are hardy, but they are tropical fish and require the EXACT same amenities as any other tropical fish, besides the ability to breathe oxygen. Because bettas don't need aeration in a tank to survive, it is a common misconception that they do not need filtering or heating.... this is their own demise.

Without a filter in a tank that size, you would need to change 50% of the water every other day at the least to keep a healthy, thriving betta. Don't believe me? Buy and liquid ammonia water test kit and watch how high the ammonia rises in just a couple of days. I consider 2.5 gallons the bare minimum for a betta WITH a filter. 5 gallons is better to avoid filter current (as bettas become stressed with too much current).

A heater is a must in any tropical tank, including a betta tank... especially when you consider the temperature fluctuations of such a small enclosure. At night, the temps can drop almost 10 degrees F. Consider in a natural environment, the temperature of water would not even drop 1 degree F during night time. When you consider drafts, windows, and other variables, you have a tank with constantly fluctuating temps. This can eventually stress your betta and lower their immune system ---- therefore disease. A small, cheap heater will keep the temp at a constant 80 degrees F. This is easier in a 5 gal tank.

There is also the consideration that the more swimming room, the happier your betta will be. It is more enjoyable for the owner to watch your betta zoom all over a larger tank and SWIM like a fish.

"This bowl was set up a month ago, the fish moved in 4 days later and I just did a %10 (2 litre) water change last week."
Setting up a non-filtered bowl for 1 month does absolutely nothing.... even a filtered 3000000 Gallon tank setup for a month without ammonia supplementation does not do anything. As stated earlier, that sort of water changing schedule is not nearly enough.

Feeding: bettas should be fed 3-4 PELLETS twice a day. Tried and true among betta experts. The "low maintenance every couple of times a week" spiel is a load of bull.

That's all I will say for betta fish care.

As far as plants, I'm not an "aquatic plant guru" but have some experience. What you are describing on the root system of the Sword is most likely a bacteria based 'algae' present in high Ammonia conditions (BAD). Amazon Swords should do quite well in low light tanks (I have mannnny).

As far as keeping your betta bowl in direct sunlight, that is ill advised (for any tank). Algae blooms very quickly in direct sunlight and it is common practice to keep tanks away from windows and sunlight for this reason.

Algae does not harm fish, but excessive algae is a sign of a tank that is not cared for vary well, as it absorbs harmful chemicals. The more harmful chemicals present, the more algae flourishes.... so it does remove this, but think of it as no-win situation.

My appologies, I'm unfamiliar with the "African Fern", so no advice there.

Earthworms = great food chopped into small pieces.

visit and check out the betta section. Loads of reliable advice. Loads of good info on bettas and advanced techniques. Hell, even post up an introduction topic in the betta section and ask for advice (you're welcome to mention my name if you are skeptical about the advice I have given here). I'm more of a fish expert than a "green thumb" ;). here is a direct link to the section:

Best of luck!

BTW what have you named your betta?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 12:11AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

I moved my 150 gallon tank out to the shadehouse into dappled sunlight . Had often heard the rumor about algae and direct sunlight. Has actually worked out just the opposite . Best planted tank I've ever setup. had a lot more algae indoors but not a fair comparison as it was SW.
For a small tank I'd be concerned about heat gain though. gary

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 4:26AM
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I agree about keeping a betta in a small bowl, and why it will die on you soon if you don't water change daily.

If you want a small tank that will allow you to change only weekly, for a single betta, an Eclipse System 3 would do. It still wouldn't give your fish as much room to swim as it really needs, but would keep it healthy, in about the easiest tank to maintain as is available.

Or, and better, a 5 or 6 gal. version. Just get it out of that silly bowl ASAP.

Meanwhile, get a 1 gal. jug and every night, fill it, add whatever conditioner you need for your water and let it sit overnight near the fishbowl, so it will rise or lower to the same temp. as the bowl. Then, every morning, do a 1 gal. water change. That will keep your fish alive until you can set up a proper home for it.

But just think about how it must feel to have your lungs burnt with ammonia and perhaps you will better understand why it kills fish, including betta. The water may look clear, but it's slowly burning away the delicate inner lining of that poor fish's gills.

BTW: In the wild, betta DO NOT live in cup sized indentations in the ground. They live in large ponds and paddies communially until the breeding season, then set up territories within them. The fighting instinct of the males is triggered by too close proximity. Coupled with selective breeding for aggressive behavor, the result is the so-called Fighting Fish, but give even them enough space in a larger tank, and they will establish their own territories and absent a female, will generally leave each other alone.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 9:28AM
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