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Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid as a Betta Fish Owner

I have successfully kept a Betta alive for 6 months. I've made mistakes and learned from them, and you can benefit from my knowledge.

Meet my Betta fish

Meet my Betta fish

I Made Many Mistakes

Take a good look at my beautiful white Betta fish in the picture above. That's what he looked like on day one of having him. Little did I know, he would be looking like a ragged fish with some serious fin rot issues because of all the mistakes I would make as a first-time Betta fish owner.

If you would like to save money and provide your Betta fish a healthy environment, then read all of the mistakes I made. I have managed to keep my Betta alive for six months, but if I could do it all over again, I would have done things differently.

1. I Didn't Cycle My Tank

I foolishly believed that you could cycle a tank within two days. They said to leave the pump running, put in your water conditioner and bacteria supplement, and you'll be ready to go. That was wrong advice because when I checked my ammonia levels within two days of having my innocent Betta, the levels were in the danger zone. I had to keep changing my Betta's water every day to keep the ammonia levels down. I had a ten-gallon tank, so I just couldn't understand why my ammonia levels were so high.

I guess it is what I should expect when the beneficial bacteria isn't there to break down the dangerous and deadly ammonia levels. I wish I had done fish-less cycling. People usually do fishless cycling by putting up live plants and throwing in fish food for weeks and possibly months. I've heard that you could speed up the development of the beneficial bacteria by seeding your tank with an established tank's bacteria.

If you want to do fish-in cycling, just make sure you have plenty of ammonia testers. I wouldn't do fish-in cycling again because it stressed my fish so much. The poor water quality ended up causing fin rot in my poor Betta.

2. The Tank Decorations Tore My Betta's Fins

Besides having poor water quality, I also had bought plastic plants and a coral with sharp edges. My Betta ended up tearing his delicate fins on the decorations. If I could do it all over again, I would have bought real and/or silk plants with smooth decorations. I would have nothing sharp in the tank for his long fins to get caught on.

3. I Bought the Wrong Filter

I believed that any filter would be great for my Betta. My very first filter had such a strong current that my Betta was being pushed around. I finally bought an AquaClear power filter with flow control from a local Petco. My Betta is much happier.

4. I Bought the Wrong Siphon

I accidentally bought a siphon that was made for a 5-gallon tank. I had a 10-gallon tank, so the fish waste wasn't getting sucked up. It did cause more ammonia problems. Whenever I got the correct siphon size, I was amazed at how much waste it sucked up. My ammonia levels started to come down, too.

5. I Forgot to Change His Water

I had a hectic week, and I totally forgot to do a water change. Well, my poor Betta got a red gill. It turned out to be a huge red flag for ammonia poisoning. I had to do an immediate 100 percent water change to save his life. The good news is that he's still alive and happily swimming around. I almost lost him. Now I set alarm reminders on my phone to remind me to change his water.

Quick Tips

This is what I learned over the last six months of Betta fish ownership:

  • Properly cycle your aquarium before adding your Betta.
  • Make sure you add live plants and/or silk plants. Do not add plastic plants.
  • Get smooth decorations with no sharp edges to protect your Betta's fins.
  • Buy a slow-flowing filter or a sponge filter for your Betta's tank.
  • Get the correct siphon size for your tank.
  • Make sure you set loud reminders on your phone for your water changes. It just might help!

If you have also made mistakes with your Betta fish, I would love to learn about them. Please comment below!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.