Betta questions

indigo5(North Carolina)June 4, 2005

I currently have i male betta in a 1 gallon fish bowl. i put about 1 1/2 inches of natural gravel at the bottom. the temp is usually around 74 degrees. i used to keep him on a shelf in my computer room, but wanted to bring him into the kitchen so i could see him more. He is in my kitchen window now. Is this bad for him?

Should i take out the gravel?

How do i measure amonia levels?

Can i use regular ph test strips on his water?

Is 6.8 the ideal ph?

Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly is "cycling"?

plants or no plants? if yes, what kind?

I seem to have a brown alge problem no matter where his bowl is. How do i remedy this?

What is best, spring water or declorinated tap water?

I also want to get a ten gallon kit and put some female bettas in it. i feel so bad for the ones i see in the store. how many can live happily in a ten gallon tank?

Is the filter that comes with the ten gallon kits too much for the bettas?



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grice(z5 Michigan)

Hi. First let me say that I am not an expert. In fact I have just started keeping bettas myself back in April.
From what I have read and been told,no fish tank or bowl for that matter should be in direct sun. If the window you put the bowl in is indeed in direct sunlight,I would move it. The gravel,I think,is a matter of personal choice. I happen to like the look so I use it in my small tanks. Gravel does however provide a place for waste(uneaten food,etc...)to fall and dwell. If you keep the gravel,I suggest vacuming it when you do your water changes.
I can't help with the ph question,sorry.
As for cycling,I'll try. From what I understand,it is the process of setting up the tank(adding decorations,filter,air pump if using one,etc)then allowing the tank to sit for awhile let the harmful things disappate(sp)before adding any fish to the tank. It also allows time for benefical bacteria to form.
Water? Some use bottled water and some use tap. I personally use tap water treated with AquaSafe . This neutralizes chlorine,chloramine,and heavy metals found in water that are harmful to fish. It also enhances natural,protective slime coating of the fish.
Finally there are different opinons about keeping bettas together in one tank. Males should not be housed together,although some have done so in larger tanks with success. I personal will not risk it. Females are REPORTEDLY less agressive. I have heard that even they will bully each other. I have also read that if you are intent on trying to keep a community tank of females,then you should have at least have six and that they should be placed in together. This may help cut down on the 'pecking' order.
Finally,I sugesst that you take the advice of others here into consideration,call upon your local pet store and ask questions. Also log onto,there is a wonderful fish forum there with very insightful information. is also an ivaluable helpline for people with fish and aquariums.
Also,I would suggest on getting a thermometer to monitor water temp.
Hope I have been of some service to you. As I said listen to others here on the forum as well. There are many insightful folks here who want to help.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 2:51PM
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grice(z5 Michigan)

Me again.
I forgot to mention that your bowl/tank should have a top on it. Bettas can be jumpers.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 2:57PM
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Minaku(z6 Pittsburgh)

Having him in the kitchen window is questionable. It really depends on how much sunlight the bowl gets. I can't think of any situation in which a fishtank or bowl in sunlight is beneficial. In other words, get your fish away from the sunlight. Sunlight can and will raise the temperature very drastically as the day passes. In a bowl as small as yours, I wouldn't be surprised if the temperature climbed to the 90s during a sunny day. Temperature fluctuations like these will weaken a fish's immune system and make it very susceptible to disease.

As for the gravel, because your bowl is so small, it's for decorative purposes only. Having that much gravel in a small bowl really reduces the amount of water you can keep in there, as well as trapping uneaten food and waste.

A cycle is what happens when you grow a colony of beneficial bactera, otherwise known as nitrifying bacteria, to deal with ammonia levels. Because your bowl is so small, it is very difficult and very dangerous to cycle. Cycles usually only take place in larger tanks, like 2.5 gallons and up or 5 gallons and up. This is because the way a cycle goes about being established is very dangerous to the fish.

The first part of the cycle is to get the ammonia to spike in the water. The bacteria feed on the ammonia, but in order to get the bacteria going, you need to seed the tank with them and provide a constant source of ammonia. This means almost certain death for your fish, should you choose to cycle with fish. The next step is to deal with the nitrites. The bacteria break the ammonia down into nitrite, which then is eaten by both plants and a second type of bacteria. Nitrites are also highly toxic to fish, and will kill them. The bacteria that eat the nitrites turn it into nitrate, less harmful compound that can be present in your water in small amounts. All told, a fast cycle will take about 3 weeks, and a slow cycle can take months. After a cycle is established, there will be no ammonia, no nitrites, and a little bit of nitrates. This cycle is self-sustaining and continuous unless you overstock the tank (put too many fish in it), never do water changes, or otherwise upset the chemical balance.

There are a bunch of different ways to measure ammonia, but the most accurate method is to use a test tube and solution kit. Strips have a large margin of error and are easily misread. The most common test solution kit tests for both NH3 and NH4, dangerous and bound ammonia. There is no way to know how much dangerous ammonia you have. The best bet is to test for ammonia, and if there is any present, do a water change.

6.8 is just fine for a betta. Bettas will tolerate a pH from 6 to 8, but around 7 (neutral, neither acidic nor alkaline) is best.

Brown algae is helped along by sunlight, so keep your bowl out of sunlight, like I mentioned above. When you clean your bowl, and this very thorough cleaning should happen once a week, rinse all decorations with scalding water and scrub down every inch of the bowl. That's the only way I know how of getting rid of brown algae. (Did this for a 50 gallon tank - not fun.)

The best and cheapest water for your betta is tap water. Spring waters often are not really water from a spring. Tap water stays very constant. Be sure to test it to see what its makeup is, however. You need to know the parameters of your water so that you can set up a good schedule for water changes. Also, make sure your betta is warm. 78-80 degrees is optimal. In a bigger tank, you could use a small 25W heater and a thermometer; in a smaller tank, the only option I can think about is a heating pad and the ubiquitous thermometer. No fishtank should be without one!

A ten gallon tank will require cycling before any fish are added. Lots of people use Cycle, BioSpira, or filter media from another person's fishtank to get some bacteria in the tank (seeding the tank). Once your cycle is established, then you can go and buy some fish. I would say 3 females can live very comfortably in a 10 gallon, but no more. Female bettas seem to do best with an odd number of schoolmates, and the basic rule of thumb for stocking a fishtank is 1 inch of slim-bodied fish per 1 gallon of water. Since females can and will get up to 3 inches, you're ensuring plenty of room and lots of clean water for your girls.

I really don't know anything about how strong the filter of the tank is. Some people put a piece of pantyhose over the intake tube to make sure no fish get sucked up, though. I would say that's a good idea. Also, because bettas like still water best, have lots of plants, both silk and real, to break up the current as well as to provide shelter for the fish. The girls will use plants and hiding places a lot when the pecking order is being established (when you first introduce girls to a tank, they will fight among themselves to see who is the strongest, and then they will settle down. Expect torn fins and nips).

A planted tank is something that's optimal for your fish. However, if you don't want to go through the extra hassle of having a planted tank, buying plants like Java fern and Java moss will be just fine. Both are free-floating, easy-to-care-for plants that propagate quickly.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 8:30PM
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indigo5(North Carolina)

Thank you for your help guys. I'm still learning. I took him out of the window. I'll be going by the pet store today to pick up a bigger bowl, Aquasafe, test solution kit, Etc. Can i use a 25watt heater on a 2.5 gallon bowl?
Thanks again

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 11:01AM
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Minaku(z6 Pittsburgh)

You can definitely use a 25W heater in a 2.5 tank. A bowl's curved surfaces won't give the heater any purchase, if you buy one with suction cups (like the Hagen mini-submersible 25W).

I'm happy to hear you'll be giving your guy a nice home. Just remember a thermometer! :)

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 3:04PM
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woeisme(z7b NC)

To add to the great advise the brown algae is common in a new tank or bowl. It usually comes from silicates that leech into the water from plastic decorations and plants and also the glass of the tank or bowl in this case. It will usually disapate in a few months but can be a PITA until then. If you just dont want to deal at all I use a product called PhosGuard by seachem. It is little white beads that you put in your filter. It rids water of Phosaphate as well as silicate. Silicate can also come from your tap water, Thus causing an ongoing problem. You can just clean it as it accumulates or use a product like I mentioned, or a team of small oto cats will make a nice addition to a bigger tank (Not the 1gal bowl). They stay small and do a wonderful job cleaning up brown and green algae. They are also very active in groups that makes up for there plain colors.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 10:06PM
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Lucille2(z6 Ct)

Within the next few days I will be setting up a 1 gallon round bowl. I bought an undergravel filter that will fit any bowls as long as the opening is at least 4 inches. I've been doing searches on the web to learn more. Cuttings of pathos plants are said to be good to float in so I will get one this week.

I have well water with no softener. I did get a box of 5 in 1 test strips. Also bought a small container of Betta Pellets.

Some one mentioned the need for a cover. With the round bowl I have with an opening of 4 1/2 inches, what can I use for a cover ? Do they sell covers for bowls ?

The aquarium store said they can't keep bettas for very long. They go really fast.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 4:34PM
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I have been unsuccessful in finding a top for my 2.5 gallon tank. It came with a piece of glass, which has no openings for any kind of filter, heater, or airstone set up.
Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 6:37PM
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I purchased a hexagonal 2.5 gallon setup from Walmart, about $15 with a pump, cover, and light. The light keeps the water warm enough, no need for a heater. I use our reverse osmosis system water with a water conditioner.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 9:37PM
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Minaku(z6 Pittsburgh)

For the cover, run to your nearest Wal-Mart or crafts center and buy a sheet of needlepoint canvas, should be about 60 cents. Measure it against your tank and cut accordingly.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 3:47PM
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james_ny(z7 NY)

Why bother with test kits for a 1 gal bowl? Just replace all the water twice a week. You can't really cycle a tank that small, it would be too prone to drastic changes in water parameters.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 8:18PM
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FuriousMachine(7 Virginia)

indigo5- To keep female bettas in a 10 gallon tank they should be in a group of at least 6. Make sure it is heavily planted, and has 2 or 3 caves. 3 female bettas is a bad number as 2 can and will gang up on one and kill her, and 2 is a bad number as well as they will fight to the death. 4 works out sometimes, but I have still notice a lot of agression directed toward one or 2 of the girls in the first female betta community I had. 6 seems to be the magic number on female community tanks as it gives a lot of room for the aggression to spread out. I have not noticed near as much aggression directed toward only one or 2 of the girls since I changed things around on them. The alpha female picks on the next one down, that one picks on the next one down, etc.... The larger number the better, but I would not put any more then 6 and no less then 4 in a 10 gal. They are not very messy so a 10 gal is enough water for that many. A stronger filter will also help cut down on the agression. Females normally don't get any bigger then 2" unless it is of the giant varity which isn't seen in fish stores yet. Wal mart sells the 2.5 gallon minibow which in my opinion is perfect for a male betta. The filter is fully adjustable, and as male bettas can't cope with a strong current, make sure you turn it all the way down or it will stress him out can possibly cause him to get sick.

Lucille2- An old cd, if big enough, make perfect covers for bowls.

GuppyGuppy- I had the same problem with the one 2.5 gal that I have. I put a clipping from my golden pothos on one end to make a gap for air circulation, and the cord for my filter is at the other end creating a gap on that side too.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 5:18PM
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