how to care for this betta

skippy05(z7 PA)July 14, 2005

Someone gave a few of us at work betta fish as gifts.

(don't ask me why, I have no idea...) The fish are all separated.

First of all I have 5 cats at home!

Therefore, I explained I cannot take this beautiful creature home. So it now belongs to my office mate, which makes me still responsible for its care. (out of guilt or compassion or???)

I get upset everytime I see these fish in tiny bowls.

I do not have the time(or space) to set up a tank with a filter etc.

The fish is here at work in a medium size vase with 5 inches of water & some bamboo stalks(the person already put some fish food-flakes in)

My concern is the water seems cold to me??

I don't have a thermometer to check the temperature.

I called my boyfriend at home & asked him to go get the stuff to remove the chlorine from the water (before someone kills one of these little guys when changing the water)

And to see if he can get some frozen bloodworms or something good for bettas.

I am not getting any work done because I keep worrying about this little guy & the one in the next office over...

He is just sitting at the top of vase not very active.

I have him under the fluorescent light - it is at least 12 inches above the vase.

What happens over the weekend??

I don't know what to do.

I haven't had fish in over 20 years, I love them but I have my hands full with the 5 cats indoors & all the strays outside!

Any advice, help etc. would be greatly appreciated.

Please help


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grice(z5 Michigan)

Hi Skippy.
Don't know how to advise you on your situation but can tell you what I have done.
I have four bettas now,though I started out with just one initially. I had the first one in a gallon tank(ug filter in the tank)with gravel,plants,and a incandescent light(thought that might help with adding some heat to the water in the event it became to cool). I decided to upgrade him to a five gallon mini aquarium. The kit came with a filter,light. I added decorations,etc..
The point I'm making(though it seems as though I am taking the long way around,lol)is that the tank he is currently in does'nt take up all that much space and does not require a great deal of my time maintaining it. I do periodic partial water changes(I add water treatment,Aquasafe,to my tap water and allow that to sit out overnight)and all seems well. So well in fact that before I knew it,I had four bettas each with similar setups.
I also have two cats and a parakette and all seem to get along just fine. The first couple of days the cats did eye the betta mighty closley,then they simply lost intrest. I've never had an incident of my cats trying to get to the tank or knock it off the table.
So you may want to reconsider bringing the betta home. You can get a nice tank that would not take up that much space. Place the tank on a table top or shelf out of limits of the cats and keep a close eye on the situation. I also made a point of place the tank on a table with things around it(lamp,picture frame,and a clock)to discourage the cats from jumping up there. For some reason,my cats will not jump on something if there does not seem to be enough room for them to sit once they get up there.
Bottom line is that I think the fish would do so much better in a larger tank(maybe 2.5 gallon,eclipse makes great tanks. The kit comes with everything including,the filter and flouresent light,samples of food and water treatment. Really a nice setup) with a filter(the bio wheel is the one I prefer),a thermomitor,and qualty food.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2005 at 9:35PM
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woeisme(z7b NC)

It depends how much you want to invest. The best bet is a 10 gallon kit from walmart for about $50 it comes with a filter and heater also a canopy/light so the kittys wont go fishing. You will need gravel also, not to much more for a 10 gal. Change 25% water every week at first then every 2 weeks afterward. A gravel vaccum is also handy. Inexpensive ones for 10 gal about $5. Another option is the eclipse models by marineland they have a combo built in filter and lighting in the canopy. Again, about $50 and kitty proof (something to weigh down lid might be necessary depending on the cats). I have had fish and cats in the house , no problems. Kittens will watch and bat at the fish but never had a sylvester , tweety episode.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2005 at 9:41PM
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woeisme(z7b NC)

"Prime" by seachem is the most economical. It is sold almost every local fish store. It removes chlorine and also chloramine and ammonia. If you get a smaller set up use a 25watt heater that is adjustable. They are usually factory preset for 76 degrees but if you can adjust it that means it has a thermostat so you wont overheat the water. Replace any incadescent lighting with a compact flourescent, The ones that say daylight are better suited for aquariums than the soft white ones.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2005 at 9:47PM
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skippy05(z7 PA)

I just do not have any room at home for a tank.
The spot where we used to have a small tank (when we were kids)now has a commode for my 83 year old mother who also has a walker.
The little fish isn't mine anymore, it is my office mates & I know no one will take care of it.
Will it survive at work in this "vase"?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2005 at 10:33PM
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Minaku(z6 Pittsburgh)

Survive? Yes, for a time. Live a quality life of health and happiness? No.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 8:39AM
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skippy05(z7 PA)

This is why people should not give live animals as gifts
(UNLESS they know that someone really wants the animal AND
has the time & proper equipment to take care of it)
I think the stores really should be required to post BIG signs stating that these fish will not survive in a small container - they are only in these "small containers" to save space at the store or something to that effect

I do have a larger vase that I filled with warm water last night, but it is obviously cold now..........

I didn't have time to go shopping for any proper equipment.

Thanks for your help, I don't know what is going to happen to these poor little guys.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 12:35PM
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woeisme(z7b NC)

Try to find someone who will "adopt" it. Try giving it to a fish shop. Or ordedr off the internet from or the 3 gallon wont take up much more space then the vase. Ask for donations from co-workers so the financial burden isn't all on you. They may enjoy it better if it is healthy. If none of this is possible then euthanize it when it becomes ill. You are right it is wrong to give a person a pet when they dont want it or know what it takes to care for it. This is even worse when its a child.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 3:19PM
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skippy05(z7 PA)

My office mate is going to take the little guy home this weekend.
We are concerned about changing the water.
I saw on PETCO web site "Betta Water"
$3.99 a bottle, is this ok to buy?

I spoke to the person who gave us these fishes about the fish being listless because the water was cold.
She said they are always listless in the summer!
How the heck does the fish know it is the summer???
Everything I read said that the temperature being too low (or too high?) would make them listless? Correct or??

This person gave several people at work these poor little fish. I can't go around the entire office saving them all.

Why would someone do this???
Maybe I am just making a mountain out of a mole hill?
I take things too seriously, but I just can't stand to see any living thing go neglected

Thanks for listening & all your help is greatly appreciated.

I guess the perosn must think I am very ungrateful & a real kill joy.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 3:35PM
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grice(z5 Michigan)

How right you are Skippy. Live animals should not be given as gifts unless the giver is certain that they will be properly cared for. I would'nt worry too much if the giver thinks of you as a 'kill joy'. He/she is the one in error for giving out such'gifts' without knowing if they would be properly cared for.
Having said that,the advice that Miniku and Woeisme passed along is sound. Trying to find someone who will adopt and properly care for these fish is the ideal situation. If all those in the office who received bettas are willing then a small investment in a small tank is the kindest solution. As Woeisme said,it would not take up a great deal more space than a large vase. If that's not an option,you all should try the pet store and see if they are willing to take the fish. You all could ask friends,family ,neighbors,and others in the office(different floors/different departments?)if they or someone they know are in the market for a pet.
The person who told you that the fish are listless because it is summer has'nt a clue about betta fish. I have four and they are all active and vibrant. They were that way in the dead of winter when I got them and are that way now. I live in Michigan so it gets very cold here in winter and extremly hot here in summer and aside from a tail biting incident with one of my bettas,all are well. FYI,tell the coworker who gave you the misinformation that betta fish orginate from places like Thailand,Indonesia,Malaysia,Vietnam,and parts of China. The fish proliferates rice paddies,slow moving streams,and shallow ponds. The countries with bettas are tropical,so the water temperature is quite warm, sometimes reaching into the 80s.
Bettas will become listless when water temps.fall below 75 degrees F. That fact is the biggest argument against keeping bettas in tiny bowls or vases because such a setup cannot be readily heat controlled.
I'm not sure what betta water is though I will go to Petco website and look. I,as I stated,use aged tap water with a bit of Aqua safe for all my bettas. Some also use bottled water as well.
Good luck and let us know what happens.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 6:04PM
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woeisme(z7b NC)

Dont waste your money on the betta water. Your tap water is fine (well usually unless it is contaminated). Buy the Prime about $5 worth treats about 1000 gal. Yes you are correct about the temp. The person who gave you these fish has just been led to believe the BS, that it is OK. I guess people buy the bowl and fish because the pet store clerk says it will be OK. (they usually get there training from the vendors, who most times are as reliable as used car salesmen). Then the fish dies they try a couple of replacements then figure that it was something "they" did wrong. Anyway this is sadly not uncommon. Usually the giftgivers heart is in the right place. Unfortunately she is misinformed.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2005 at 3:27PM
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Minaku(z6 Pittsburgh)

If there was a gift receipt that came with the gift, don't hesitate to return the fish to the petstore if you think you cannot take care of them. Fishkeeping can become very expensive - I know that for 2 fish, I've blown close to 200 dollars. My next two fish cost me about 30, but that's because I already had tanks and all the equipment and supplies I needed.

You can keep the bettas in the office if you need to, but there are a few things you'll need first. You'll want to get bigger tanks, heaters, thermometers, silk and/or live plants, siphon, food of the pellet variety, water conditioner, plastic cups, turkey baster, and aquarium salt and Melafix.

2.5 All-Glass tank from Petsmart: ~$10.00 (8.99 or 9.99). This tank really holds 2 gallons and change, not 2.5 gallons.

Hagen 25W mini-submersible heater: $17.99 at PetSmart. $11.99 at

Large, readable thermometer: $2.99. Stick-ons run at the same price, but may or may not be more accurate. I recommend the thermometers with the suction cups. No shiny thermometers or hang-ons.

1 batch of silk plants: $3.99. Every tank will need 4-6 plants of varying sizes - you'll need tall ones, medium ones, and "groundcover" so your fish will have a place to hide. You'll need to spent roughly 7 dollars on plants for each tank.

1 small Gravel-vac siphon: $3.99 at PetCo, I believe. If all the fish are healthy, you can clean the siphon with rubbing alcohol and use one. If the fish are sick, 1 siphon per tank.

Hikari Bio-Gold pellet pack: Not more than 3 dollars.

Prime water conditioner: $8.99 for the large bottle at PetSmart, and worth every penny, even when a lot goes to waste. I have been using the same bottle of Prime since January. I am only halfway through. I have 4 fish and do more water changes than I need to.

Clear plastic large-bottomed cups: found at every grocery store there is. You'll need these for scooping your fish out of their tanks when it comes to water changes, and for all that gunk you'll suck out of your tank with a...

Turkey baster: $2.99 at most. Use this for spot-cleaning the tank every day.

Aquarium salt: $3.99 for one small pint-carton. Hopefully, you won't have to use this much.

Melafix: 5 or 6.99 for the large bottle, and hopefully you won't have to use this much either, but I don't have a lot of faith in bettas to keep away from Melafix.

If you're up to spending the money on this setup for your fish, my props to you. You'll need to do a 50% water change every week in a 2 gallon tank, and make sure to suck out all the poop every day so that ammonia doesn't build up. A 100% water change and complete scrubdown with hot water, NO SOAP, is recommended every 2 weeks.

Optimal water temperature is 78-80 degrees, no fluctuations. Match the temperature of the water when you change it. Since the office is air-conditioned you'll need the heater to keep the water temperature stable. Don't forget to condition the water before you add the betta!

Feed your betta 2-3 pellets twice a day. The fish will be fine without food over the weekend. When it grows bigger, you can increase to 4 pellets. Keep in mind that the size of a betta's stomach is the size of its eye, and don't overfeed.

Keep the fish happy by interacting with it, and getting a small mirror for it to flare at. Exercise it this way for about 10 minutes a day.

I think I got to everything. I hope you can do your best for the fishes!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 11:43AM
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sandywesttexas(zone 7)

I have a betta living in a one and a half gallon happily. I cycled the bowl. That is I grew the good bacteria needed to make his waste nontoxic. Walmart sells these aquarium decorations made out of real clay. I put a pothos plant, the clay decoration which the bacteria seems to love, and a fake plant in the bowl.^You can add gravel to the bowl too. Then I started to add good bacteria. You can buy cycle. there is also stability by Seachem, and that is the one I used. I added this to the bowl and did daily small water changes to deal with the rising ammonia and nitrites. I bought walmarts 5 in one water testing kit and their ammonia testing kit and it took about 20 days for the bowl to cycle. Read on the internet about the fish cycle. You do not need a filter as long as your cycled and you keep up on little water changes.I change about two cups of water every other day, and I use a turkey baster to suck up the organic goo. Wish I had a camera I would put on the net what my set up looks like. It is very attractive and the plant is growing a lot because of the fish waste. Pothos trails down so it grows right out of the bowl. I was lucky to find a bowl from Big lots that had a wide surface area I paid about 9.99 for it. I have my attractive pothos plant sitting tall above the bowl and trailing down its side.I still have an open swimming area for the fish and at the bottom is his little house made out of clay. Summer water temps for him are 80 degrees and winter temps 70 degrees. Only had problems with him when I changed the water completely as they direct.Never clean out a tank or bowl completely only suck out the goo and a little water and add fresh. When was the last time you saw a pond that looked steralized. Fish like it a little mucky. After I took the time to cycle the bowl he has become very healthy. I do have to change the water 2 cups every other day. I would never have him in a vase there is not enough room for a fish . I believe if the bowl can not hold a house and plant with swimming room it is not good for the fish. I have clear water any particles that are in the water fall to the bottom qand clump together and my partial water changes take care of it. I feed my betta frozen blood worms which I slice off only what I need with a knife, betta pellets, and pea bites very important it keeps them from dying from food impaction in their internals. You still could have a buddy for your cube if you think this out and create a natural bowl. All you would need after cycling is water from the tap that is treated with say nova aqua plus or aqua safe, and good food. Also I do not treat my fish for little nicks and splits in the fins and every other little problem. Let their immunity system heal them. Aquarium salt is good for healing when they are sick and keeping those water changes going is the best method to prevent sickness. Often fish medicines only make them weaker and more sick and what you are treating for only comes back. I only keep aquarium salt and the liquid maracyn plus ( seven drops per gallon) antibiotic on hand nothing else. Look at Big Lots, places like that for unusual bowls. I have a cat that never touches any of my fish. They do not like water and I just have not had a problem. I have a ten gallon , a betta bowl, and an indoor open 125 gallon goldfish pond and no problems. Even the sound of the water frightens her away. Also if I catch her near I always shoo her away which shows her even more that these are no no places. Good Luck PS. if you buy a pothos plant( saw at Walmart) remove the stem with leaves and wash it really well under water then place in the bowl. It will take about two to three weeks to see roots sprout from the stem.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 3:53PM
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sandywesttexas(zone 7)

If you decide to keep him make sure you cover the bowl with a hair net they are really good jumpers. The hair net again from Walmart works really well.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 4:12PM
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skippy05(z7 PA)

One of the bettas went home already with my office mate.
Two are still here & are doing well, will be going home tomorrow
(One past away, didn't look healthy the day he arrived)
We are looking into the 1 or 2.5 gallon mini aquarium at Petco. My office mate will be getting one for her betta at home.

Thank you all for your help!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 4:51PM
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rayama(7b Birmingham, Al)

I hesitate to get a plant as a present, much less an animal! Of course, a lot of people buy into that betta vase story. My betta lived in a vase for 2 years before I stumbled across an article about them needing 80 degree or so water. So, my $3 fish lives in a $50 aquarium. But he's so happy it was worth every penny.

I was going to suggest getting a larger (20 gallon or so) aquarium with 3 betta dividers. So, you buy 1 aquarium, 1 filter, heater, etc.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2006 at 1:08AM
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Bettas don't need in a 10 gallon or larger aquarium. They can be just as happy in a 2-1/2 gallon aquarium with a small heater, and weekly water changes. Heck, I have a boy in a 1-1/2 gallon heated vase and he's just as happy as can be. Just make sure the water is conditioned, with aquarium salt, and that's all you need to do. Blackwater Extract is also a good additive to the water to keep your betta happy and thriving.

Tammy Pie

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 2:42AM
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