How to Set Up a Self Cleaning Betta Tank

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Betta splendens prefers a water pH of 6.8 to 7.4 and a temperature between 75 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Proper planning of live plants, stocking, substrate, lighting, water circulation and feeding will go a long way towards the minimal maintenance required to keep your betta tank running smoothly. Even the most thought out setup will require a small amount of general care.

Things You'll Need

  • 5-gallon aquarium
  • Low light aquatic plants
  • Sand
  • Small gravel
  • Betta
  • Aquatic snails
  • Otocinclus catfish
  • Water pH testing kit
  • Decorations
  • Choose the tank lighting. Proper lighting will keep your plants healthy and prevent excessive algal growth. In its native habitat, Betta splendens lives in sluggish, warm water. Two watts of light per gallon of water is more than enough light for your pet betta.

  • Pick the right plants. Avoid plants that require high light conditions as they will melt away and add too many nutrients to the water. Excess nutrient content will require frequent cleaning of the tank due to algae and dying vegetation. Typically, aquariums planted heavily with the proper vegetation will require less cleaning than sparsely planted or bare tanks. Uneaten food will accumulate around the base of the plants, break down and be used by the plant's root system as fertilizer.

  • Choose the correct substrate. For the times you do have to vacuum an aquarium, sand and small gravel offer a simple bottom to clean. These substrates are better for the betta's delicate fins as they rest on the bottom of the tank.

  • Stock the betta tank wisely. Aquariums with less fish require less cleaning than fully stocked tanks. Add a few non-pest snails to help remove algae and uneaten food. Larger betta tanks will do well with a few otto catfish (Otocinclus affinis) to keep algae at bay. Ottos are peaceful fish and will not harm your betta like Chinese algae eaters can. They add only a small amount to the overall waste of the aquarium.

  • Avoid tiny tanks and bowls. Though they look neat, small tanks foul quickly and require a lot of cleaning. Five-gallon aquariums are ideal for betta splendens. Short, long aquariums give bettas a lot of swimming room while allowing them quick access to the surface air.

Tips & Warnings

  • Clean rain water works well for betta tanks. Five gallons of water is easy to collect when a bucket is placed under a clean eave during rain storms. Do not collect water from chemically treated surfaces.
  • Use only chlorine free water when doing water changes.
  • Make pH changes to water slowly as a swift shift will kill your fish.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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