Restarted my Betta aquarium

I’ve been out of the aquarium hobby for a few years now, and am in the middle of a big de-clutter the house , but I kept one of my old fish tanks, heaters fluorescent hood and canister filter, just in case

I realized I missed keeping Betta Splendens, A.K.A. the Siamese Fighting Fish, so I decided to set the tank up again AND perform an experiment at the same time…

I stopped into the local Petco, perusing the male bettas, the right one would choose me, he would rush to the front of his tiny prison cell, his DeathBowl, and DARE me to buy him…

He’s an iridescent indigo blue double-ray Crowntail, with a purplish wash between the fin rays, he was the one, so I purchased him, went home, set up the tank, filled it with water at a nice comfortable 85F, put a couple cups in the sand for hidey holes, then put his DeathBowl in the water to equalize the temperature, dipping in a little water from the tank so he can adjust to the pH

After the customary 30 minutes, I uncapped the DeathBowl, and tilted it towards the tank, letting him swim free when he was ready…after a couple nervous finbeats, he slunk into the tank…

I could almost hear his tiny thoughts…

You mean…this is Mine? All of this?, all of it is MINE???..

He then began happily swimming about, surveying his new surroundings, in true Betta fashion, claiming EVERYTHING as his, and moments later, playing the infamous Betta game “Where Do I Fit?” (Happy bettas try to squeeze themselves into the tiniest sections of the tank, just to see if they can fit, power filter intakes need to be screened, as they also love to play “stick myself to the intake”, just to freak out their pet Human…

The experiment? Well, I’m going to get some Water Lettuce, think of it as giant Duckweed, just as prolific, but easier to control, and it has these awesome feathery roots, great for bettas to play WDIF in, and get a batch of that going in the tank, it’s also a great nutrient sponge, so it’ll keep ammonia/nitrite/nitrate levels at zero, and I won’t need to use a filter, the water lettuce will absorb fish waste and other detritus, and oxygenate the water, it’ll be a more natural environment than with a power filter

Oh, and did I forget to mention, the tank is a 20 Long, almost three feet long, a foot tall and just over a foot deep, the Betta went from a soup bowl sized bowl to almost three feet of horizontal swimming space!

If you’ve never seen a Betta on it’s own in a big tank, especially a heavily planted tank, then you’ve never seen a betta’s true personality, they become a very curious, feisty, energetic little fish, they think they’re much bigger than they really are, and they’re not afraid to show you who they think is the boss around here.

And I thought I had a happy Betta living all alone in a six gallon tank.

Either way it’s much better than those barely bigger than a shot glass prisons most people have them in.

Oh, I’m sure your Betta is ecstatic in his six gallon, in all honesty, any tank size 2.5 gallons or above is ideal, more water just gives a more stable environment.

The unwritten rule of aquarium bio load is one inch of narrow bodied fish per gallon, lets use Zebra Danios as an example, they’re practically ideal for that measurement, your six could hold six Danios or twelve Neon Tetras or other similar small characins.

bettas are messy eaters, and carnivores, they produce a lot of nitrogenous waste, a male Betta counts for twice it’s physical size in bio load, so a 2" Betta would have the equivalent bio load of a 4" narrow bodied fish, like a Giant Danio

If you add healthy live plants to the aquarium, that can give you a buffer zone, a safety net, but I wouldn’t use it as an excuse to add more fish to a tank that’s close to it’s bio load limit, it’s better to under load the tank

Thankfully, bettas don’t “need” companions, and many bettas can actually bully smaller fish (or snails, my old bettas used to love to play Ramshorn-Hockey…) if I do add a “companion” to the tank, it’ll probably be either an Apple Snail, Bamboo shrimp, or a small population of Cherry Shrimp, all three feed on detritus, and the bamboo shrimp actually filters particulates out of the water with it’s fan forelegs

Oh, and right now, Remington (he finally told me his name, he wants to be named after my 12 gauge shotgun, toldja these little buggers have a major 'tude) is defending HIS tank from “Bad Fishie” (his reflection in the glass), he’s quite perturbed that Bad Fishie isn’t getting the clue and leaving…,

Wow! My guy here at the office is doing fine in a planted 3g. I’m all about the plants, so a betta in a 20 wouldn’t bother me - tho I’d probably add a couple of cories and a bristlenose.
When I used to breed bettas, I divided up my tanks with panes of glass. They would get all excited about each other.

I agree that Bettas have a surprising amount of personality for a tiny fish. Mine quickly learned that when I tapped a few times on the glass that it was feeding time and therefore he should come over to the hatch where the food would drop. In between feeding times, when he sees me look at the tank, he will frantically swim back and forth to “beg” for food - the other day I would swear that it was like he was looking at the food can to make sure I understood what he wanted. :slight_smile:

Mine is in a 6 gallon with no filter. I am sure that a 20 gallon with no filter and plants will be fine.
I have even kept other kinds of fish in a heavily planted tank with no filter.
If there is sufficient water volume, a lot of plants, and a small number of fish for the size of the tank, I think you could keep just about any fish without a filter. The main benefit of a filter is water movement. The bacteria and plants in the tank are the key to consuming waste.

Bettas do seem to enjoy having plants in their tank. Mine likes to sleep under or around plants.

Mine is too much of a bully to even have snails in with him. The ones I put in were immediately attacked and I felt it wasn’t fair to the snails to put them through that.

that is true but, in my experience, many smaller fishes would also bully a betta. i learnt it the hard way coming home to a near finless betta. they’re a tricky community fish.

Hey, I have a new betta, too. I have a five gallon tank that has had only a single, lonely cory for too long, so I was looking for some company for him. At the last aquarium society auction I ended up buying a dragon betta, sort of a silvery white with dark edging on his tail and fins. He’s not spectacular, but he is growing on me. For the first little while I didn’t see him, he must have been hiding in the mopani wood chunk, but now he seems to hang out by the heater and he’s started swimming over to the front of the tank for food.

I also bought three aspidoras albater (dwarf catfish) to keep the cory company. Nice combo of busy little fish at the bottom and the more serene betta near the top.

One of my previous bettas used to challenge my 80 lb Gordon Setter dog; the dog Corey, would stand at the aquar
ium and watch the fish, and that little betta would flare all out and give the dog hell! It was very entertaining to watch! I kinda miss having bettas…

If you have several bettas, is the toughest one an alpha betta?

Only if it was fished out of the Gamma Delta.

Perhaps, he would clearly be betta than the others though …

I sense a name change coming for Remmie…

His new name is;
Betta Ray Bill…

Okay people. I want to see some fishy pics. :wink:

I got a betta to keep on my desk at work. When I was out occasionally, I asked my co-workers to feed him for me, and all of them swore up and down that he didn’t respond to them.

Now he lives at home and my husband says the same thing. But when I walk up and pick up the food can? Superexcitedhappyfishietime! :smiley: My fishie knows me. :slight_smile:

I stopped at a local garden center and picked up six water lettuce plants, a good assortment of small and large plants, the smallest plant root bundle was at least 4" long

These plants were grown indoors in clean water, and not exposed to nasties

I washed them off, inspected them, they were clean, aside from a little duckweed, so I added them to the tank, in less than 0.68 seconds, and in true betta fashion, Bill was happily jamming himself into the biggest plant root bundle, playing WDIF :slight_smile: He’s now exploring each plant, snaking through the feathery roots, in absolute heaven

He’s also become noticeably calmer and braver, now that he has some plants to hide in and behind, I’ve found that bettas like to have structure and a choice of hidey holes, especially in large tanks, large open areas seem to make them nervous, they really appreciate floating cover

I noticed a slight bacterial bloom (gray haze) in the tank before I put the plants in, but in less than a half hour, the bloom has reduced, I think for two reasons, the first being that the water lettuce are simply soaking up the nutrients the bacteria were consuming, and secondly, the water lettuce roots already have an established culture of nitrifying bacteria on them

When I kept water lettuce in the past, I performed a little experiment to determine how efficient they were at removing nitrogenous compounds…

I moved the fish to a different tank, deliberately TRIPLE dosed the test tank with nitrogen fertilizing liquid, took a measurement for baseline, then let the tank sit for 12 hours, 12 hours later, I measured for nitrogenous compounds, the water read ZERO!, the water lettuce stripped the nitrogen out in 12 hours!

The only drawback to WL is that it shades all the other plants out, but I’m not going to plant any other plants, maybe Java Moss or Java Fern, but those are hardy, low light plants, they could probably grow in a toilet in pitch black conditions, for Og’s sake…

Awesome. I too have been away from the hobby for too many years, and have recently been planning a return to keeping tanks. Planted tanks are what I am into, and I am almost embarrassed to admit that I’ve never kept bettas or even a low-light tank. Mine have been fast growth, big light, CO2 injected, dosed ferts tanks with a small amount of small fish.

I am thinking that you can easily plant anubias species (nana, my favorite) for a beautiful bottom cover.

Yeah, pics dude.

Thanks for starting this thread!

I tried getting some pics, but Bill is camera-phobic, if he even sees anything that even remotely resembles a camera, he hides behind the biggest water lettuce plant…

I keep reassuring him it wont hurt and won’t capture his soul, but he’s still photophobic

I’m going to start holding up my iPhone in,front of his food jar, so he’ll associate camera with feeding time

Does anyone mate the betas? I have a friend that did that for a while.

As of this morning, the bacterial bloom is GONE, and there is new feathery root hair growth on some of the bare roots, in fact, I just checked the plants and the root hair length has even doubled from this morning

The leaves are also flattening out to maximize light absorption
I have two 4’ strip lights on the tank, with a mix of bulbs, daylight, cool white, warm white, and plant grow, with those four bulbs, I think I have recreated a reasonable facsimile of sunlight

That’s four 40 watt bulbs, 160 watts, and about 15 gallons of water, I’m pumping about 10.7 watts per gallon in the tank…

No wonder the Lettuce is so happy, I may need to dose the tank with CO2 at this point…

The water lettuce cleared the tank in just under 2 days