New Betta Bin...
November 29, 2012 11:37 AM   Subscribe

Betta filter: I just bought my betta a new tank and have some water/food questions.

Last night, I broke the large bowl my betta had been living in while cleaning it (oops!), so we decided it was the perfect opportunity to get him a better home. We bought him a 5.5 gallon tank that came with a filter. We also got him a heater, which was great since the winters are cold here.

A packet of Top Fin color-enhancing tropical flakes came with the tank. Are these safe for my betta? (I usually feed him a betta pellet or a couple dried blood worms.)

Also, I have heard tht bettas like still waters. The filter is great and silent, but does create a slight current. Is it OK to just run the filter every other day or so?

Finally, now that my betta has lots more room, are there any options for other fish that would be safe to add to his environment?

Thank you, Mefi friends.

Happy Holidays!
posted by melangell to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Be sure to slowly and carefully introduce your fish to the new digs. Did the other bowl shatter? (In other words, does it still have water in it but just needs to be replaced?) I ask because one smart thing is to make sure to add some water from the old environment into the new one to help the transition.
posted by juliplease at 11:47 AM on November 29, 2012

My betta used to eat flakes, but I wouldn't recommend it. Most them would sink to the bottom before my betta had a chance to eat it, poluting the water. The betta was much better at eating pellet food for some reason. But maybe your betta is different.

Bettas are very bad with other fish in general. They are territorial and have floaty fins that attract attacks. I had one in a tank with other fish for a while, but it was a planted 55 gallon. A 5.5 gallon tank isn't that big. (If it were 10 gallon, maybe you could put a small cat fish?) So I wouldn't recommend it--but I also don't know all the species of fish out there.
posted by ethidda at 12:14 PM on November 29, 2012

Anything that you need to know about betta fish can be found here. The forums are pretty helpful.

As far as I know, most betta fish are SUPPOSED to be kept alone. If it's a male, they WILL fight and kill another betta fish (which is why some tanks are sold with dividers between them, but even then, I've heard it stresses the fish out to constantly see a perceived "enemy" that they can see, but can't touch.

I've kept several betta fish over the years, never with a filter. They are hardy little creatures and have survived pretty well for two or more years without much worry. One committed hari kari on my desk and ended up as an anchovy.
posted by HeyAllie at 12:16 PM on November 29, 2012


RIP, Pookie.
posted by HeyAllie at 12:17 PM on November 29, 2012

Response by poster: Juliplease: Yep, it shattered. But I had my betta set aside in another bowl with the old water, so I was able to ease the transition.

Thanks for the answer!
posted by melangell at 12:19 PM on November 29, 2012

Bettas tend to get their fins stuck in filters, which can easily kill them. If it were me, I'd skip the filter altogether.

If it's a biological filter, running it every other day won't do much because the bacteria in the filter will constantly be drying out.
posted by zug at 12:22 PM on November 29, 2012

Best answer: - Don't bother with the flakes. The betta bites are probably higher quality food, they're less messy and easier to portion out to make sure you're not overfeeding.

- Removing the filter is an option, but one I would avoid until you've tried other ways to reduce the flow (this is the one I used for my betta tanks). The benefit of the filter is it allows you to cycle your fishtank (colonize it with waste-eating beneficial bacteria that live in the filter media, essentially), which creates more stable water chemistry that's both less stressful for your betta than full water changes, and less maintenance for you. (See also.) I'm betting that once your tank is cycled properly your fishy buddy will be a lot perkier (the extra space will help, too!)

(I'm assuming you have test strips or drops to check your tank's water quality, by the way, but if you haven't, get some now -- drops if possible, as they're more accurate.)

- A 5.5. gallon is in my opinion a little small for more than one betta. The rule of thumb for filling a tank is no more than one inch of fish/aquatic denizen per gallon, and the more leeway you have the better. Most of the small, tropical freshwater creatures you can find in pet stores are either (a) social animals which need to be kept in a group to be happy (cory and oto catfish), (b) too aggressive to be around slow-moving bettas with their tantalizing fins (gouramis and the like), (c) liable to become lunch unless you have an extremely mellow betta (ghost shrimp), and you probably won't know until you try it out. Apple snails and African dwarf frogs are both decent possibilities, but again, it really depends on what your fish's personality is like. The one time I tried giving my female betta a tank mate she ate it for lunch (sorry, Shrimpy!), so I can't attest to this anecdotally.

Introducing tank mates also carries the risk of bringing diseases to your tank, so be sure to quarantine any new denizens before you put them in with your betta. The cycling process is a little stressful and may leave your betta particularly vulnerable to getting ill, so I would wait until that's done no matter what.

- Psst, where's our requisite Cute Pet Picture?
posted by bettafish at 2:10 PM on November 29, 2012

Response by poster: Bettafish - I wish I had some, but my camera is MIA (I have to look for that thing again :-) and I am one of the last people on earth to not own a cell phone. But, my betta is mostly blue with some red and he has fins like sails. We call him Bob. Thank you for your good advice!
posted by melangell at 10:10 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've had very good success with bettas in community tanks. You need to make sure that the fish that share the tank are non-aggressive. I've had good luck with neon tetras and and corys. I had a 10g community tank for 5 years and a 20 gal for 7 years with a betta in it. Both tanks were heavily planted and had appropriate-sized filters.

I've never had a problem with a betta getting stuck in the filter. While they don't like fast-moving water, you should be OK as long as you get an appropriately sized or slightly undersized filter for your tank.

Here's a good article about bettas in community tanks:

posted by LittleMy at 7:14 AM on November 30, 2012

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