Betta Facts and FAQ: Betta Fish Care, Behavior and Tank Setup

Updated on January 28, 2017
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Eric is an aquarium enthusiast with over two decades of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish.

Successful Betta fish care requires knowing the facts about their behaviors and tank setup.
Successful Betta fish care requires knowing the facts about their behaviors and tank setup. | Source

About Betta Fish

Betta fish are easy to care for, but they have some special tank requirements due to their behaviors. They are colorful fish, both fierce and fragile, and require a unique set of conditions in which to thrive.

If you've just brought your new Betta home you probably have a lot of questions. This article can help you figure it all out, and give you the information you need to provide your new pet with a healthy environment where he will be happy for many years.

Or, perhaps you're having trouble with a Betta you've had in the family for a while. It is tremendously disheartening when a pet gets sick or starts acting strangely, but you're not alone. Here you can find the answers to many frequently asked questions about Betta fish and the things they do.

Maybe you'll discover your Betta's actions aren't so weird after all!

Even though the tiny cups they come in at the pet store might suggest otherwise, Bettas are not disposable pets. They require the same care and respect as any animal. Are you up task?

Of course! If you didn't care about your Betta fish you wouldn't be here! So let's get down to business.

Betta Fish FAQ: Behaviors, Facts and Fighting

Have some questions about your Betta fish? Is he doing something strange? Are you worried about his health? Odds are you're not the first Betta owner to witness this behavior.

I really wanted to make this article a comprehensive guide to caring for Betta fish. However, I have a lot say on the subject, and I didn't want it to be so long that you'd be snoring before you got to the end. So, I've broken out some of the more important points into separate topics you may find useful, or may want to come back to later.

If you are new to Betta keeping, or if you just want to learn more about this wonderful tropical fish, you can find in-depth answers to many of your questions in the articles below. If you don’t see your question addressed here, scroll down and you’ll find many more facts about Betta fish and their behaviors.

After all of that, if you still can’t find the answers to your Betta questions feel free to ask in the comments section below! I do respond ASAP to all legitimate questions, but be patient and give it a day or two.

If your Betta is making bubble nests it means you're doing a good job!
If your Betta is making bubble nests it means you're doing a good job! | Source

More Betta Care Questions and Answers

Didn't find the answer you needed above? Here are more frequently-asked questions on Betta fish care and behavior.

Why are there bubbles at the surface of the water?

It’s a mating thing, but in this case it means you have a happy Betta. Male Bettas build bubble nests, especially when they are content. In the wild this is where the male Betta stashes the eggs after they are released by the female.

Why is my Betta hiding in the corner of the tank?

Bettas need some kind of decoration or structure they can swim into when they need to feel safe. If that isn’t provided, and he feels he needs it, you may find him tucked into a corner. Always provide a place for him to escape to. This is especially true if the current in the tank is somewhat strong.

Why is my Betta lying on the bottom of his tank or on a plant leaf?

This is normal Betta behavior, and as long as he appears otherwise healthy it is no concern. He’s just lazing around. Bettas often sit on the bottom or of the leaves of real or artificial plants. However, as stated above, if he appears to be tucking himself in a corner or in some other unnatural position it could be a sign that you need to include a hiding spot in his tank.

Why is he restlessly swimming up and down the sides of the tank?

This is called glass surfing and it’s usually a sign that a fish in unhappy in its environment. That means he is experiencing stress of some kind. It could be because of poor water conditions, or it could be because the tank is too small.

I recommend tanks of a least five gallons for a single Betta fish. Some people put their fish in tanks as small as one gallon, but in my opinion this is far to little space. Bigger is better. Like any tropical fish, Bettas need to swim around and have a little room to be happy and healthy. One word of caution: Bettas do not like fast currents, so if the filtration in the tank is pushing him around it could be causing him stress.

Why is my Betta flaring up at the glass of his tank?

He sees his reflection and thinks it is another Betta fish! This may be comical, and to some extent good for the fish, but don’t let it go on for hours on end. Adjust the light near his tank so he doesn’t see himself. If he is always flaring up because he perceives another fish in the tank he will be under constant stress and prone to illness.

How can I have two male Betta fish in the same tank?

The only possible way is to use a divider system to partition the tank. Otherwise, two males in the same tank will severely injure or even kill each other.

Male Bettas are aggressive fish, and will attack each other and fish similar to them. It’s important to realize this when planning the environment where your Betta will live. In fact, even having two in the same tank with a partition isn't always a great idea, as there will be constant stress.

Can Betta live in a community tank with my other fish?

Maybe. It depends on the temperament of the other fish, and your Betta. Many people keep Bettas in tanks or bowls separate from their other fish, which is fine. But few people realize Bettas can be fine community fish as well, under the right circumstances.

Always have a backup plan (small tank or bowl) ready in case Betta doesn’t get along. See the article listed above for more information.

What are the correct water conditions for a Betta?

If you are lucky enough to live where you have fresh, clean water without additives floating around in it, this will be fine for your Betta.

If your water is drinkable, but you know it contains additives such as chlorine, there are dissolving tablets you can purchase that will condition the water and make it safe for your Betta.

If you are unsure about the safety of your water you can purchase quality bottled spring water.

It’s a good idea to have the pH of your tap water tested. You can bring a sample and ask the staff at the pet store to do this for you, or you can purchase a kit and do it yourself.

Should I wait for the tank water to get visibly murky before doing a water change?

No! By then it’s too late.

If your Betta lives in an unfiltered setup you’ll need to completely change his water and clean his tank weekly. If he is in a tank with filtration, you need to change about 20% of his water weekly.

It’s best not to net him if you need to remove him from his home. His fins are fragile and it can greatly stress him. A better idea is to scoop him out into a small cup or bowl while you perform the weekly maintenance.

Be aware that Bettas can jump, so make sure he’s in a safe place.

Betta needs certain considerations when it comes to tank setup.
Betta needs certain considerations when it comes to tank setup. | Source

Where do Betta Fish come from?

In the wild, Betta (Betta splendens) can be found in ponds, slow-moving creeks and rivers in Southeast Asia.

The Bettas you purchase in the pet stores are all male, and bred to bring out their amazing colors and flowing fins. Wild Bettas are far more dull. Some pet stores sell female Bettas, but they are not nearly as common.

What makes them different than other fish?

Betta fish are Anabantoids, which means they can breathe air above the water through their mouths as well as obtain oxygen from the water through their gills.

This is why you’re able to keep a Betta in a bowl without filtration or water movement, for short periods of time: They can exist in low-oxygen water environments where other fish would perish. In the wild, this means rice paddies or even muddy puddles.

However, this is not an excuse to keep Betta fish in inhumane conditions. You could live in a closet if you had to, but it wouldn't be very pleasant!

What Do Betta Fish Eat?

Your Betta will eat flake food, or special Betta pellets, as well as freeze-dried foods and (thawed) frozen foods. Experiment and see when he likes. It’s best to find a good flake or pellet food for his regular feedings and provide the more exotic foods as treats.

Your Betta won’t eat a lot, so pay attention to what he’s letting float to the bottom of the tank and learn to gauge the appropriate amount of food to feed. Remember, he is one small fish and doesn't need a lot of food. Uneaten food can spoil the water.

Why is his face white?

This is due to stress. If he just went through a water change or some other event where his environment was disturbed he should relax in a few minutes. If it seems like he’s always stressed some possible reasons include poor water conditions, no hiding spots in the tank, or a tank that is too small or overcrowded.

Why is my Betta swimming sideways?

If you notice buoyancy issues with your fish, it could be because of swim bladder issues. Overfeeding and poor water conditions are the cause of many Betta maladies. Do a water change, and switch to an alternate day feed/fast schedule for a week and see if he improves.

Why are my Betta’s fins deteriorating?

This is often due to poor water conditions. Keep up with water changes, don’t overfeed, keep his water super-clean and he ought to recover.

Why does my fish look like his scales are ready to pop off?

If your Betta seems to be blowing up like a balloon to the point where his scales seem to be ready to burst, this is condition called dropsy. Unfortunately it is usually fatal, but can be prevented if you avoid overfeeding, especially live or very rich foods like bloodworms.

Take Good Care of Your Betta!

Betta are so popular not just because they are beautiful, but also because they are so easy to take care of. But don’t make the mistake of thinking they are disposable pets. If you follow the simple steps necessary to keep your Betta happy and healthy, he’ll live a couple of years and might even end up your favorite fish.

Please don’t keep your Betta in a tiny cube, and if you’re given one in a plant vase please liberate him as soon as possible. Good luck with your Betta, and here’s hoping there are many happy bubble nests in your future!

How is your Betta Care knowledge?

Do you feel confident that you know all the facts to properly care for your Betta fish?

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    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 33 hours ago from USA

      @User - I'm really not sure what you are describing. Could it be uneaten food or fish waste?

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      User 2 days ago

      Why is there clear flakey stuff at the bottom of my betas cage? Is it bad? What does it mean?

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 8 days ago from USA

      @Megan - They will probably be okay in the cups for a short period of time, but you should get them back in their tanks as soon as possible. Make sure the cups are covered so they can't jump out. Bettas are good jumpers.

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      Megan T. 9 days ago

      Hell! I have Had my 2 Betta for two years now and we love them. When I change Their water I always put Conditioner in the next batch so it’s ready when I go To change again BUT I have Forgotten if I ran Out of conditioner before I treated The bottles of water. I changed Their tank and have them in small bowls but I’m afraid to put them in the tank since I dont Know if I put Conditioner in! We don’t have any place close by to buy conditioner so I have To go to the next town but can’t get there today. Will they be ok overnight in the large measuring cups I have Them in? Separately of course (sorry for the random caps, idk why my phone changes them spontaneously)

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 9 days ago from USA

      @ Nicole - You're very welcome. Good luck!

      @Janet - It sounds like he likes the cave. I wouldn't remove it. He may just take a little while to get used to his new tankmates. I wouldn't worry.

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      Janet 9 days ago

      I have a 15 gallon with a beta and recently put 4 tetras with him. I also added a little cave decoration in the tank. My beta has been in there since yesterday. I haven't seen him come out, not even to eat. He's not stuck, I see him poke his head out and swim back in. Is he just mad that he has room mates now? Stressed? Loves his cave and doesn't want to leave? Should I remove the cave for feeding time? Ideas?

    • NicoleMcQueen profile image

      NicoleMcQueen 11 days ago

      He has been in a 2 gallon tank with a small filter for a little over 1 week now and I have always done partial water changes each Friday, (he's an office pet) and I have a suction tube vacuum thing for the gravel. I am giving him time to see if the new environment brings back any color change. I also was worried that when he was in the bowl, the water temp was too low because he was close to a window, but now he's in a 2 gallon on my desk with filter, but no heater. My next step will be getting a small water heater for the tank to see if it's a temperature thing.

      Thank you for your help!

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 11 days ago from USA

      Hi Nicole! Betta occasionally change color over the course of their lives, and it could be due to a number of issues, stress one of them. I don't know that your betta is or isn't stressed (a one-gallon bowl is a tough environment for any fish), but if he was stressed in the store it may be easy for him to revert to that if he is again feeling stress now.

      Poor water conditions aren't always indicated by cloudy water. Bowls are tough to keep clean, in the absence of a filter. You know you should do a partial water change, but that means the gravel or marbles still have lots of debris trapped in there, which quickly pollutes the bowl again. One solution is to do a full water change and completely rid his bowl of all waste. The problem there is you really need to stay on top of it every week, because the bowl will never build up a colony of helpful microbes.

    • NicoleMcQueen profile image

      NicoleMcQueen 12 days ago

      Hi! Betta Questions!

      I bought a betta in the store and he was pale pink, almost completely see through. I originally called him Casper.

      After putting him in his own 1 gal bowl with a live bamboo plant, his tail started to display large amounts of dark blue coloring. His body remains pale pink. I read up on color change and was convinced that getting him out of that small cup from the store, allowed him to start exhibiting his color because he wasn't as stressed in his larger bowl. I changed his name to Mr. Fisher, as his tail is now almost completely Navy Blue.

      After about 2 month (with regular water changes), I noticed his tail is losing the blue and is becoming almost see through again. I moved him into a bigger 2 gal tank with live plants and places to hide, and a small filter that has very minimal water movement. He swims a lot and has a place where he hides sometimes. He flares at the glass occasionally but seems generally happy and active. My tank never gets cloudy, as I perform regular partial water changes.

      I did more research to find that there's a such thing as the "jumping" gene, or marbled gene.

      How can I tell if Mr. Fisher's frequent color variations are related to stress or if he's just a "fish of a different color" and will change his color just because. (Excuse my Wizard of Oz reference lol that's my fav movie).

      Any insight appreciated!

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 13 days ago from USA

      @Bruce - It sounds like a fungal infection. I think the Bettafix may have been the right track, or you can try another anti-fungal medication. You'll also want to do your best to keep the water super clean.

      Sometimes these things don't go away easily. Keep at it and hope for the best. I'd give betta a rest between bouts of medication and do a water change. Good luck!

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      touch33 2 weeks ago

      Hi, Eric -

      Thx for your very helpful info - much appreciated.

      I have a male Betta whose dorsal fin has been “eaten” by a white growth that I can’t seem to get rid of. He’s in a five gal. filtered/heated tank, good water conditions. I’ve tried two rounds of API “fin/body cure” with no results. I’ve also tried using API “BettaFix”.

      He makes bubble nests and eats well, but I’m concerned.

      Any suggestions?

      Thanks,

      Bruce

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 3 weeks ago from USA

      @don - I'm not sure what "drops" you are referring to. You should get your betta out of that cup and into a bowl or tank as soon as you can.

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      don 3 weeks ago

      I have a fighting fish and I want to get ready the water in a glass bowl at the moment its still in a container from the fish aquarium I was wondering how many drops to put in for a 3 liter of glass bowl and when can I add the fighting fish into this 3 liter glass bowl with no lid

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      Nick 4 weeks ago

      I have my betta in a 1.5 gallon cubicle with a filter and a heater. He made a bubble nest, but sometimes he glass surfs. I don't know if I am doing anything wrong.

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 6 weeks ago from USA

      @Ashleigh - I didn't post your comment for your own security, as you included your email. In answer to your question: There could be a couple of things that might. account for this change in your Bettas behavior. Is there a difference in the water you are using? Is the temperature colder in your house than in the office? Both of those factors could make him a little more stressed.

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 7 weeks ago from USA

      @Ishaanya: When bettas see themselves in the glass they usually interpret it as another betta and flare like they are ready for a fight. Is that what's happening?

      @Ocelot: Bettas are able to breathe air from the surface by taking gulps as you described. Hard to guess why he feels like he needs to do this. Usually it is because of poor water conditions but you said he is in clean water. Perhaps he will grow out of it as he becomes more comfortable in the tank.

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      Ocelot 7 weeks ago

      My Male Betta (Half Moon) keeps going up to the surface and opening his mouth, closing it, then going down. (I call it Guppying) Is there a problem with him? I just got him yesterday, and changed the water today.

    • profile image

      Ishaanya 7 weeks ago

      Why do betta fish like to look at themselves?

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 7 weeks ago from USA

      Hi Tim. Your betta may have seemed to "socialize" but this was never the case. Bettas are not social with other bettas let alone humans. To him your are an amorphous blur beyond the glass that appears right before food falls from the surface. He associates your presence with food.

      You can try spacing out how long you wait between dropping in the pellets. For example, instead of giving him two pellets twice a day, give him one pellet four times per day. He may be more likely to hang around when he sees you if he thinks there is food in it every time.

      You'll have to experiment and try different things and see if you can get him to come out more when you are around. Good luck!

      BTW - I'd avoid the blood worms. That may have been the issue before.

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      Tim 7 weeks ago

      I have my betta in a 5 gallon tank.and had him over a month. I use well water but treat it with prime conditioner and siph water change twice week. I feed him 3 pelts in morning and at night. I upped it some with only pinch blood worms and exstra pellts. He got bloated and constipated. Hes fine i fastd him and gave him the pea innerds. But now when i give him only 2 pelts he goes hides from me and wont social lize with me like we did alot. I know they all have different personalities. But lol i did spoil him and cant afford let him win this war of whoes boss here haha crazy. Any advice.

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 2 months ago from USA

      @Erin. How do you know the filter is maintaining the water conditions correctly? Are you testing the water? You can't go by appearance. Especially with a new tank, waste chemicals can spike until the cycle completes. This may be the problem. Try a partial water change and see if it helps. The reflection could be an issue, but I'd think he would be flaring at himself more than anything if he saw his reflection. Good luck and I hope he calms down!

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      Erin 2 months ago

      I’ve not had to do any water change yet, the filtration seems to alleviate that so far...I was doing weekly or bi-weekly complete water change and cleaning in the bowl. The water temp is about 76 degrees according to the thermometer on the tank. The only other thing is I’ve noticed the mirroring of the tank is substantial. Do you think that could be causing it? The bowl was glass and there was very little if any reflection. This tank is acrylic or plastic and I can see very well the reflection from one side to the other...I def want to do whatever necessary to have the best environment for him!

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 2 months ago from USA

      Hi Erin. Glass surfing typically means stress over tank conditions. Is the temp appropriate for a Betta? How often do you do water changes? 3 gallons is still a little small, but perhaps he is just still adjusting to his new surroundings.

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      Erin 2 months ago

      Hi! I’ve had my betta, Gil (named by my 3 y/o) about 2 months now, we love him very much! Started him off in a 1.5 gallon round bowl with no heater or filtration, he seemed to do well and was mild mannered. I moved him into a 3 gallon square Tetra w/heater and filtration (I’ve pinched the pump hose due to high flow and no way to manage it), I have noticed he swims somewhat in a pattern of fierceness sometimes and I’ve also noticed what you referenced as “glass surfing”. I’m not really sure why he would be unhappy? He eats and swims etc. he has places to hide he has a live plant that is tall and the betta hammock and the green balls(the name has slipped my mind!) I have seen bubbles at the top so I’m not sure if this swimming is normal behavior or not...help!

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 2 months ago from USA

      Hi Kaitlin. Sounds like Elvis isn't very happy in his tank right now. It could be the fungus, the medicine, or both. When you are done with the treatment make sure he has clean, clear water and hope for the best.

      Do you have a thermometer in the tank so you know the water temp? Heating the water up too much isn't good either, and that might account for his behavior.

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      Kaitlin munro 2 months ago

      I recently bought two male bettas about two weeks ago, I have them in separate tanks as I know that they can be very aggressive. Ruben (one of my bettas) acts normally, but my other (Elvis) hides underneath rocks and does not move. It made me pretty worried so I went to my local pet store and asked about it, they told me that he is probably cold. So I'm waiting until the tank heaters are back in Stock but until then I have the heat turned up so that the water is at the right temp.

      Anyways, they also told me he has fungus because he has this white patch that looks kind of fuzzy, I am treating that now (day two, going on day three). He is starting to swim around now but he's been swimming right at the top of the water very spastically, and now he's jumping out of the water but he hits the top of the tank. What could this be from? And how can I help Elvis?

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 2 months ago from USA

      Hi Jenna. Could be stressed, or acclimating to the new home. How is the current in the tank? Sitting on the bottom and tipping over makes me think he's getting used to the new current. Keep an eye on the bloating thing.

      Are you sure your betta is a "she"? Most of the ones in pet stores you get in the little cups are male. The ones with the short fins are female. You may already know that, but its a common mistake. :-)

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      Jenna 2 months ago

      I just recently moved my betta into a 5 gallon tank from a bowl, and added a filter and heater, but my betta seems far less happy than when she was in her previous 2.5 gallon bowl. She lays on the ground a lot and sometimes tips over. She swims normally very rarely. Overall she seems a tiny bit bloated so I've been fasting her for now. Is the stress of moving into a larger tank possibly causing this?

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 2 months ago from USA

      Hi Jen. Small tanks are notoriously hard to manage. When you do the water change do you vacuum the gravel or do anything to remove debris? It would be great if you could upgrade to a larger tank where you could have a functioning filter.

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      Jen 2 months ago

      My Betta Aqua is in a Mini Bow 1 gallon tank. The tank is not filtered (filter actually broke after my previous fish died). I've only been doing about 25-50% water changes the last one I did was on Oct 18. With my previous bettas I was doing 100% changes but at the store (& in the guide from store it said only 25%) they said The water gets REALLY cloudy after I change the water. Also, I've been using a toothbrush to clean the green alge off. My betta sits under neath one of the plants in his tank. When I put my finger on his tank he charges forward and starts attacking it. he also tries bitting everything in the tank, plants, leaf bed and probe for thermemeter.

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 2 months ago from USA

      @Skye. Good luck with the changes, but don't stress out too much if he is new in his tank.

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      Skye 2 months ago

      Hi,

      So I have a 9 Litre tank for my Betta that I only got today. He is just kind of sitting in the corner at the top of the tank not moving around a lot and his Pectoral Fins aren't always moving. I am looking at getting something he can more hide in and i think I might need to turn down my pump.

      Thanks :)

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 3 months ago from USA

      Hi Carlos. The problem with that is you are leaving the gunk in the gravel. Since your bowl has no filtration system, you need to get that stuff out of there. If you upgrade to a 5-gallon tank with a filter you can perform partial water changes. Otherwise, the gunk left in the bowl is going to quickly foul the water in such a small volume of water.

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      Carlos 3 months ago

      Hello! I've just bought a Betta... and would have wished to read all these articles before (which were very helpful BTW) haha, I'm now trying to give the little fella a good environment (as soon as possible). My fish is now living in a bowl that contains 1 gallon of water... the girl at the pet store told me that I should never completely change the water of the bowl, she told me to always leave a proportion of old water (50%) so that the fish wouldn't get stressed with that change.. is this true? or do I have to change it completely? I'd love to know the answer, thanks!

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      jim 3 months ago

      very good site very informative!

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 3 months ago from USA

      @Ashley. Give him time. As long as the log is intended for aquarium use it is safe for the tank. Maybe he will warm up to it.

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      Ashley 3 months ago

      I recently put a ceramic log in my tank but my betta fish won't go near it or in it. He just tries to avoid the log and he still goes in his corner. It sayed on many websites I looked at and they all say that Bettas like to explore, so what should I do?

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      Laurajag 4 months ago

      Thanks for your reply! I just realized that my fish is a boy... not a girl! I thought it was female because he is smaller than most males and I couldn't see his beard-- but he was afraid of something near his tank and it flared out!

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      Shirley madison 4 months ago

      I love my Betta fish only one thing one of them stays on the side of the filter all the time. When it comes down to eat swims for a minute then goes right back to the filter.

    • EricDockett profile image
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      Eric Dockett 4 months ago from USA

      @Laurajag: If she was in terrible conditions when you bought her there could be any number of issues. Many can be cleared up with clean water and low stress. The tank is a little small, but if you can keep conditions pristine she may have a fighting chance.

      You care calling it a "she". Are you sure it's a female? Most commercially available betta are male.

      @ Lillie: Hopefully the 5g tank will improve behavior. It's hard to guess why betta act the way they do.

      @Heidi: It almost sounds like a major physical injury. Was he in the tank by himself? Could he have torn the fin on something in the tank, or during the move-in process?

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      Heidi 4 months ago

      Sorry, adding onto my comment before...... So i got home tonight and my elephant fighting fish had unfortunately passed away. I have no idea how, but he was acting quite strange this morning. He was only swimming with one of his elephant fins and the other seemed to be paralysed. When I got home, the fin that he was not swimming with had fallen off. I purchased him on Saturday, and my water is fine..... does anyone know what has happened? Do you think because his fin fell off it caused him to have breathing difficulties?

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      Heidi 4 months ago

      Hi, I got my betta on Saturday and have just come home today to him unfortunately dead. This morning he was only swimming with one of his elephant fins, and the other looked quite paralysed. Have I done anything wrong? because the water is in great condition and i am shocked a thi event occuring

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      Lilli 4 months ago

      Im getting my 5G tank set up and one of my 6 bettas in a temp fish bowl keeps jetting around his bowl laying at top a few mins then burying himself in his glass disks. Theres philadendra roots and one lg rock he can hide behind, but truly not a lot. Ive had him over 3 weeks, his water his changed weekly. I have 3 others who seem fine. Two bought the same day, the other 2 months older.

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      Laurajag 4 months ago

      Hi there!

      I just rescued a betta fish from a dollar store (weird, right?) where she was in about an inch of water in a cup and it was absolutely filthy! I took her home and I put her in a 2.5 gallon tank with a filter and a heater and added gravel, a rock (that she can swim in and out of), silk plants, and a thermometer.

      The past two weeks of owning her, she has been having jolts of energy, swimming quickly (sometimes it is when I come to greet her), swimming against the current (it seems intentional, almost like she is playing, she will swim against it and then swim beneath it, and go back up to it), and she loves to get in between tight spots (like in between her glass and thermometer and in between her rock and the glass).

      I took all of these signs as her being happy and playful but as I do some research I am worried that this may not be the case. She started acting like this within hours of when she was put into her tank

      I also haven't bought a vacuum yet to clean up any waste, nor have I tested her pH levels. They are on my list of stuff to buy this weekend.

      Do you have any idea what this behavior can be?

      I also observed her and she has little black specks on her top fin, but I didn't notice them until I looked into "ammonia burns."-- is it possible that she got those when she was in her old, yucky water?

      Thanks so much, I really appreciate your help!

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      Eric Dockett 4 months ago from USA

      Hannah, they will not be best mates. Keep them separated. Two male betta fish should not be together.

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      Hannah 4 months ago

      I have recently brough home my 2nd male fighter fish. At the start they were agressive but now i keep finding my new guy in with the other? They arent fighting at all they just chill out with eachother? Is this normal. How can they go from wantingto fight to being best mates?

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      Eric Dockett 4 months ago from USA

      @Laura: Do you have to option to move him into his own tank? I assume he doesn't have much room, and he may feel stressed by the other fish. It's always hard to say why a Betta acts how he does, but this might help. Good luck.

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      Laura 4 months ago

      I recently got a betta fish along with my roommates. We got a duplex tank so that we didn't need two tanks. Their fish seems to be doing great, swimming around the tank making his little bubble nest. Mine unfortunately is not. Ever since we transitioned the two into a tank about three days ago my betta has stayed in the same corner leaning up against the wall the entire time. I read your piece on how he needs some kind of structure to go into feel safe, but he has had one and chooses not to go in it. This was a big shock for me because the day we got them he was rambunctious and moving around a lot in those little cups that they come in and it's like the second he got more space he doesn't even move. And I do not believe he is eating and if he is it's very little. What can you tell me to do to help my little fish?

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      Eric Dockett 4 months ago from USA

      @Vs - You're right. A half-gallon tank is much too small for one fish let alone two. That's likely a big part of your problem. If you think you put too much water treatment in the tank you can do a water change.

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      Vs 4 months ago

      I just cleaned my tank and I don't know if I put too much or too little of aqua safe drops... and my fishes are swimming around fast and recklessly and they're always at the top. My tank is a 1/2 gallon I know it's too small for two fish but that's what my brother told me to get because it have a divider.

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      Eric Dockett 4 months ago from USA

      @Mayuri: Not sure what you mean by "beard". His gills appeal fairly normal to me.

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      Mayuri 4 months ago

      Do these veil-tail bettas already have that beard coming out from their gills?bcoz slightly it has came out of my fish,as I googled I came to know it is bcoz of ammonia in water.

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      Eric Dockett 4 months ago from USA

      @Mayuri: I believe that's just a common veil-tail.

      @ Alice: Thanks for the kind words!

      @T: Sorry about your fishes. I know it can be tough when you lose a fish, but remember it isn't necessarily your fault. You may have done everything right and the fish died anyway. Bettas are bred in huge numbers, and sometimes aren't super healthy to begin with. You can have your water checked to make sure it is safe, revisit your tank setup practices, or think about getting your next fish from another source. Good luck in the future.

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      Alice Dawicki 4 months ago

      Most helpful. Thank you

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      4 months ago

      I'm devastated. My betta just died. The one before only lasted 17 days then he died too. I'm not sure what's going on. I had a betta before the last two for almost a year. She was so happy. She passed away because the store sold me the wrong food. There is no doubt in my mind that the food killed her and I feel terrible for that. Since then the past 2 bettas have died quickly and I don't know why. The second last one wasn't very lively & my boyfriend thought it was unwell to begin with. This last one was very lively but he kept hiding at the bottom of the tank and trying to get into the pebbles. That alerted me that something was wrong. Nothing had changed in his tank though. He seemed happy otherwise and was blowing bubbles. I did get all of the fish from pet smart. They got all new pebbles and decorations inside. Everything gets rinced with hot water first. I really don't know what's causing this and I get upset each time because I feel it's my fault. I like to think I'm a good fish mom but lately I feel terrible.

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      Mayuri 5 months ago

      Can u please tell me which type of betta is in the first picture?

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      Eric Dockett 5 months ago from USA

      @Grace - I wouldn't worry. Some Bettas are more active and others are a little more lazy.

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      Grace 5 months ago

      Hello, I just got a Betta yesterday and he is VERY active. He is in a 36 gallon tank alone and uses every part of it! I know this seems like a weird question, but all the Betta fish that my friends have had would swim kind of slowly and hang out mostly in one spot. Is he just really happy to be out of his cup?

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      Eric Dockett 5 months ago from USA

      Hi Edd. It is tough to judge whether a situation is good for a fish based on whether or not he looks "happy". Bettas in one-gallon tanks may exhibit signs of stress right away (glass surfing, etc) or they may not. The real issue is the damage done over weeks and months in a tank that small. Stress and poor water conditions can lead to illness and early death.

      He will be fine in a small tank in the short term, as long as you monitor things closely. It would be a good idea to upgrade if you can though. Good luck!

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      Edd 5 months ago

      Hi and thank you for all the useful information. I bought a beta a few days ago my thank has water filtration system, thermometer and a water heater. I did buy water conditioning as for food he has flakes and blood worms. My beta looks happy; however, his tank is a 1 gallon tank. I want to buy a new tank as I get different feed back regarding 1 gallon tanks and I am so confuse. What is the normal behavior of a betta in a 1 gallon tank vs a 5 gallon? Thank you for your time

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      Olivia 5 months ago

      I was very worried about my son (betta) but now I know I'm a good mom! Thanks!!

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      Eric Dockett 6 months ago from USA

      @Stephanie: I'm not sure. Can you describe this "something"?

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      Stephanie 6 months ago

      What does it mean when there is something hanging from your betta fish?

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      Eric Dockett 7 months ago from USA

      @Jamie: Can you explain what you mean by "chirping"? In almost situations a fish is better off in a proper tank than in a bowl.

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      Jamie 7 months ago

      I'm worried that my netta liked his big bowl better then his tank..he stopped chirping and i don't think he can see me through the tank..i really would like to know if i should give him his bowl back

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      Eric Dockett 7 months ago from USA

      @Heather. He certainly sounds stressed and/or sick. Clean water is the best thing for him, unless you can spot a specific malady. Hope he pulls through.

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      Heather 7 months ago

      I am worried about my Betta. He seems sick... just laying on the tank floor... his gills and mouth are moving kind of quickly. He is barely swimming. He used to enjoy laying on his live plant and had made a bubble nest a few times but now he seems in trouble and I don't know what to do! Jst cleaned the 5 gallon tank and am hoping he'll recover! His color is offf too.

      Any advice?

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      Eric Dockett 7 months ago from USA

      @April: Not much you can do, except wait and see what happens. Are you sure he ate it? Fish will usually spit out things that aren't food. Unlike my dog, who will, for example, eat an entire candy wrapper if he can because it smells like chocolate.

      I wouldn't worry too much. Just sit tight and see how he is.

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      april 7 months ago

      I have a concern, my Betta fish may have eaten pieces of paper what should I do? they were approximately the size of dried up bloodworms.

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      Ryan 7 months ago

      Thanks this article was amazing so now i can be a good owner for my betta fish

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      Eric Dockett 7 months ago from USA

      @ Lori: Please do not put a Betta in the plant vase. As I said in this article, Bettas do not belong in plant vases. They belong in in fish tanks.

      @Max: I always like to feed fish once per day. Overfeeding it a real concern, particularly if you have your Betta in a smallish tank.

      @Elizabeth: How big is the Koi? They usually need larger tanks, then ponds. It may be feeling confined.

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      Elizabeth 8 months ago

      I have 3 betta fish. 2 male half moons and one female koi. My female koi I worry about. I got her 3 or 4 days ago and she just keeps running around in circles in her tank. They are all separated as they should be but I plan to try and do more research on a all female sorority betta fish 10 gallon tank.

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      Lori~ 8 months ago

      My peace lily does well in water and would like to get a beta fish for the vase. How long should I wait after using a water soluble plant fertilizer before adding a fish.

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      Max 8 months ago

      How often should I feed my Betta if I'm using Zoo Med Betta fish pellets?

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      Eric Dockett 8 months ago from USA

      Hi noobie! A tank that small isn't going to establish itself very well no matter what you do. That's why it's recommended to go 5-gallons and bigger. I would consider a full water change once per week, remove and clean all decorations, and make sure you condition the water before replacing and bring it back to room temp. If you are currently using gravel you may want to switch to larger stones you can remove and replace easier during the cleaning. Of course you'll have to remove betta and find a safe place for him while this is happening.

      This is far from ideal, and very stressful for the fish. Hopefully you can upgrade him to a larger tank eventually, where he can have appropriate heat and filtration. Then you can do a partial water change every-other week and it will be a much healthier environment. Good luck!

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      noobie 8 months ago

      hello I'm new to taking care of them and I was just wondering how often should I do water changes and full clean tank for a 1 gallon tank? I know it's not suitable for them but it's all I could afford. I don't own a siphon nor do I have the water test kit and it'd be great to hear some tips to what I should do. Also my betta, Eli, is now lying on the gravel and is this normal? The tank was cycled before I placed him and he was active. Is he just lying down because it's nighttime and taking a rest? I made sure his filters current isnt too strong as well..

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      Eric Dockett 8 months ago from USA

      @ Sarah: It means he's a tiny, little fish seeing a big, strange shape coming at him and he thinks it is going to eat him. That's all. Fish don't know what fingers are. :-)

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      Sarah 8 months ago

      My beta fish goes crazy wene it sees my finger,what does this mean

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      Eric Dockett 8 months ago from USA

      Hi Lisa! I wouldn't consider it a "fatal" error, but it is an error nonetheless. Decor, and especially the gravel, can have lots of dust on it from the manufacturing process. You don't want all that stuff floating around your tank, which is why they advise you to rinse everything. There is also the unlikely but possible scenario where some of the decorations could have gotten detergent or some other substance on them while on the shelf at the store.

      So, if it were me I'd tear the tank down, drain all the water, give the gravel a thorough rinsing and put everything back together.

      If you don't do this your filter will catch most of the junk, and it is not likely you'll harm your fish, but you never know. I always err on the safe side. Up to you!

      Sometimes we learn lessons the hard way in the aquarium hobby. :-)

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      Lisa 8 months ago

      I just got my very first beta. In setting up the tank I poured in the gravel, set up my decor, fill it with water then turned to the instructions to put in the filter. That's when I noticed that the instructions say, rinse all of your decor and gravel before putting in the tank. Do I need to take everything back out and do it again or will it be ok? I am letting g the tank run with the filter going for 48 hours before I put little Blue in there. But I don't know if I've made a fatal error or not.

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      Eric Dockett 9 months ago from USA

      @Hunter: Different Betta have different temperaments. Unless you notice some other sign of illness there is no need to worry.

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      Hunter 9 months ago

      Hey I just got my betta and I'm really worried... I read that they are supposed to be really active yet my betta is very sluggish... is something wrong with him and how can I help him....

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      Eric Dockett 9 months ago from USA

      Glass pebbles are fine. Just be sure they are made especially for aquarium use. They do have some disadvantages though, the biggest being that uneaten food and waste can fall between them where you cant reach. You have to take the tank apart to clean it periodically. This is true of any larger pebbles or marbles, and one of the reasons I prefer gravel. I also think gravel just looks better. More natural.

      Good luck whatever you decide!

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      Summer 9 months ago

      Is it safe to put glass pebbles in a Betta fish, fish tank.

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      Eric Dockett 9 months ago from USA

      @Chris: I can't possibly know what's going on, but I can take a guess or two. It could be that tank conditions have deteriorated in some way that he is now stressed. Also, what size tank is he in? Has the light in room changed at all, or the time of day you are visiting him? If he sees his reflection in the glass he may flare at it.

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      Chris Buell 9 months ago

      I bought my male beta bout three months ago and hes been a socialable fish coming to me when i talk to him and swimming all around the tank.in the last two weeks all of a sudden he has gone up under a bridge in the tank and wont come out and just flares up at me when i go to him now.please tell me whats going on

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      Eric Dockett 10 months ago from USA

      @Ina: That does sound a little strange, but then again sometimes Bettas do strange things. I wonder if he might still be adjusting to the new tank? Also, did you take any steps to cycle the 3-gallon before placing him in there? Small volumes of water pollute quickly, so you may try a partial water change and see if that helps any. Good luck!

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      Ina 10 months ago

      About a week ago my friend bought my daughter a crown tail male betta. He spent the first week in a bowl just under a gallon in size, but after doing some research and finding your informative website, thank you by the way, we went shopping to upgrade. Yesterday he was transferred into a 3.5 gallon tank with a filter, a little hiding dome, two live plants and a thermometer to monitor the temperature. He seemed to do fine with the transition initially, but this evening he seems to be going non stop. He can't sit still, he's doing laps side to side and up and down, he's digging his face into the rocks at the bottom, which won't hurt him, they're polished and don't have any jagged edges, but still seems quite strange. I thought maybe the filter, but it quietly sucks the water up from the bottom and cascades it over the edge, so it creates very little current and virtually no noise. What am I missing? Please help.

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      Eric Dockett 10 months ago from USA

      @ Aike Bee: The likely cause is fin rot. This is typically due to poor water conditions in your tank.

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      Aike Bee 10 months ago

      Why my betta fish's fins getting short? Please,give me your answer

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      Eric Dockett 10 months ago from USA

      @ Buddy: Yes, I still respond to comments here as soon as I reasonably can. Feel free to fire away and I will do my best.

      @ Mari: I hope you don't have three male Bettas in the same tank. If so, the first thing you need do is separate them!

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      Mari 10 months ago

      I have 3 bettas fishes and one of them (color blue) has been at the top even though I just got them like a day ago but I'm scared it will die the other 2 are always swimming and they already ate (both of them are color orange) and I don't know what to do ??

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      Eric Dockett 10 months ago from USA

      Hi Dallas. I'm sorry for the loss of your Betta. Without knowing more about your tank setup and recent Betta history there is no way for me to guess what could have gone wrong. Did you possibly and accidentally introduce any kind of toxic substance into the tank when you cleaned it?

      Remember too that Bettas like any other animal can have congenital issues that catch up to them and cause early death. You may have done nothing wrong at all.

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      Dallas Lowrey 10 months ago

      My betta just seemingly nose dived to death. I've never seen a fish do this before. Normally my fish live for quite some time but I only had this one for three days. I had just cleaned his tank and when I put him back in he swam around for half a minute then started nose diving. I was trying to figure out what to do but it was too late. Where did I go wrong?

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      Eric Dockett 10 months ago from USA

      @Brooke. Different Bettas have different temperaments. I wouldn't worry about him unless you see obvious signs of illness or stress. Good luck!

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      Brooke 10 months ago

      Hi! I have a question about my new Betta. Does it sometimes take time for a Betta to get used to his surroundings before his personality starts showing? I got another Betta before him and that betta and I instantly clicked I could see his personality and he would follow my finger around. So is my new one maybe just a little stressed and needs time or is something wrong? He just kind of stays right at the surface of the water and he'll occasionally swim side to side and up and down but mostly stays in one place on the top. He's in a temporary 2.5 gal tank until I'm able to transfer him to a 5 gal, the tank is heated at 80 degrees, I put a bacteria supplement in there, and I use spring water bought at the store so I don't have to worry about certain levels in my sink water. He also will put a pellet in his mouth and spit it out then eat those pieces and spit those out. I just want to make sure he's healthy and these are common for a betta who went from a cup to a tank. Thank you!

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      Eric Dockett 10 months ago from USA

      Hi Addialli3: Obviously a rock couldn't just materialize in your tank. If you are using gravel it is possible another large stone got mixed in with the smaller pieces and you've just not noticed it until now. If you can provide a more detailed description I might be able to give you a better guess.

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      Addialli3 10 months ago

      Out of no where I just noticed there's a weird circular rock looking thing on the bottom of my betta tank. It wasn't there earlier and I can't seem to find a way to Google it to get a proper answer. Is there any way to contact someone to get answers and send a pic?

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      Eric Dockett 10 months ago from USA

      Hi dkokie2! Well done caring for your foster Betta, and I do hope your friend heeds your advice about a better living space. You know a lot more about Asia than I do, but I do know Bettas require tropical conditions in the aquarium. What that means for their natural environment - whether they endure short periods of cold, or move seasonally to warmer locations - I'm not sure. In the aquarium, colder temps cause them stress, and I'd imagine it is the same in the wild.

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      dkokie2 10 months ago

      I am an unintentional foster parent to a male Betta. I ride the public bus for transport and a lady (also a bus rider) who had purchased the Betta at Walmart and had several plastic bags of groceries and one cloth bag also full but was able to carry the fish in one hand. Long story short handle on cloth bag broke and lady was going to have to use both arms and hands to carry bags so she asked me to take the Betta home (with purchased food) and she would call me when she was able to come get her fish. So, here I am a temporary, totally inexperienced, Betta foster parent who luckily found your website. Since it is not my Betta and I am a a low income senior I was in no position to buy a tank, et al, I did the best I could. Couldn't stand seeing Betta in the small cup so found an inexpensive covered container at Petco that is about a quart in volume (not ideal I know but definitely better). The lady had told me she selected this particular Betta because it was a pale lavender color but after reading on your website I began to think this Betta was possibly stressed. After setting up new container (proper water temp and pH plus I bought dried bloodworms for a treat and water treatment drops and did the math to figure out the right amount to put in a small volume) I began to feed soaked pellets (per your website) and after three days noticed his color had changed to red. Water doesn't stay at 75°but I fix that every night by setting container in bathroom sink with 80° water to slowly warm it. The plastic plant that came with container (included travel) would not stay put plus it seemed abrasive for find so did not put in container so there is no place to "hide" my solution to this was to place the container on a planters rack in a bedroom on which I have non-direct sunlight plants (orchids, African violets, etc). I then made a ring of these small plants around the Betta and he is happy as a clam with this make shift rice paddy environment. I keep water clean and the Betta comes up and "kisses" my fingers when I cup him for water cleaning. One thing I am curious about is your statement about the temperatures in the Betta's natural environment. While Thailand is at most times warm to hot they do get cool temps in the winter as they do in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. In fact it does snow and get cool rain in these areas just ask anyone who served there with the armed forces. My father spent 18 months in Thailand in the 1970s (US Air Force) and sent pictures of himself in the snow. I don't know if Betta are native to Japan but it gets down righr cold there. I guess what I am asking is are the native Betta more adaptive to their environment than captive bred or do they fly south for the winter LOL. Oh well, I have had the Betta, I named him Impulse (lady on bus called him an impulse fish because she bought him on an impulse) for 10 days I finally got a call tonight from the lady saying she will be able to pick him up sometime during the next week. She says she has a tall vase she will put him in I hate to hear this after reading your website but it is not my Betta so the best I can do is give her your web address as a good source of info and hope she takes it to heart. I have done the best I could without funds and if I could afford to purchase all the right things I would love to have a Betta after fostering Impulsen but that is not possible so I will just have to be satisfied with having done a fairly decent job taking care of Impulse. I have 2 cats and a blind and deaf dog (all senior citizens) that I love dearly but never thought I would find a fish would pull at my heartstrings. The fact that Impulse gives me "kisses" and takes food from my hand does not help. I will continue to read your website as I enjoy the wet pet stories. Thanks for your commitment to this website and its readers.

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