Freshwater Fish

The Best Tips for Cleaning a 5-Gallon Betta Fish Tank

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The Betta, or Siamese fighting fish, is a lovable and intelligent pet. Despite its aggression to its fellow kind, it’s easy to take care of. 

Just like other pets, Betta fish eat and excrete. This is why, as a responsible pet owner, you need to clean your tank regularly. Stress and poor water conditions are two of the top reasons why Betta fish die in captivity. 

Author’s Note: When Betta fish live in a poor environment, they can lose their long fins, iridescent scales, and flashy colours. They become meek, and their value drops. 

In this article, you’ll learn the different types of Betta fish, how to take care of them, and the dos and don’t of cleaning your fish tank. 

betta fish in a 5 gallon tank

Introducing the Betta fish

Have you ever seen a fighting fish? Would you believe that such feisty pets come in different colours?

There are about seventeen common colours of beta fishes, and seven rare ones: metallic, green, grizzle, mustard gas, lavender, turquoise, and super orange. 

Betta fish belong to the gourami family, and are territorial both in the wild and in captivity.

In particular, males are aggressive. They will attack each other when kept in the same environment. If there’s no escape route, one or both of the fish will die.  

Females become territorial only when one or more of them are housed in a small aquarium. 

Also, it would be best if you didn’t keep female and male Bettas together. Unless the female is in heat, the male will attack it. 

The Siamese fighting fish is native to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. The Mekong basin and Chao Phraya River is their native home. They can also be found in Thailand’s canals, floodplains, and rice paddies. 

Types of Bettas

Bettas are classified by the size and shape of their tail. From spiky and short to majestic and massive, you’ll find all kinds of striking colours and tail variations.  

  • Crowntail
  • Veiltail
  • Plakat Betta
  • Halfmoon
  • Double tail
  • Elephant ear 
  • Delta tail
  • Rose tail
  • Comb tail

How to Clean a 5-gallon Betta Fish Tank Without Killing the Fish

 

You can use the guide below to clean a tank with a filter or without one.  

  1. First, wash your hands. 
  2. Second, unplug any filters, lights, and heaters before starting to clean the tank.
  3. After that, gather the materials and tools needed. 
  4. Using a plastic glass or pump, remove half of the water. 
  5. Fourth, remove your Betta from the tank. 
  6. Now, proceed to empty the aquarium.
  7. Wash the gravel with warm water. 
  8. Using a scrubber, rinse the decors and the tank. With a clean towel, dry the decorations. 
  9. Place the plants and gravel back into the aquarium before refilling it. Next, refill the tank.
  10. Wait for 1 to 2 days for the water to reach room temperature. 
  11. Last, reintroduce your pet to its aquarium.

Precautions Before Cleaning  

  • Never use soap for cleaning since its residue can kill your pet.
  • Place your Betta only when the temperature is right.
  • Always use warm water in cleaning the gravel.

How often should I clean my Betta fish tank?

cleaning betta fish tank

As a general rule, a smaller Betta tank should be cleaned at least once a week. This will restore the oxygen and remove some of the ammonia that has built up.

If you have a larger Betta tank – 5 gallons or more – water changes don’t need to be done as often as it will take longer for litter to accumulate in a larger space. 

Change the water every 10-14 days and do not replace more than 30% of the old water each time. Larger tanks are ideal as a filter can also be used. However, remember to keep the flow to a minimum as Betta fish do not like strong currents.

Proper Betta maintenance practices are required; otherwise, it will be necessary to clean the Betta tank more often. 

Avoid overfeeding the fish to keep cleanliness to a minimum. It would be best if you only fed one male Betta a maximum of 6 pellets once a day, otherwise loose waste and food scraps contaminate the water more quickly.

How long should you wait to put Betta fish in a new tank?

After the initial waiting period of 4-6 weeks for proper cycling of a new aquarium, you only need to wait for 30min to 1hour to acclimatize your Betta fish in a new tank.

A newly installed tank should be in operation for a few days to ensure that all equipment is functioning correctly and that the tank is leak-free. After checking the system, these are the three main steps to take when adding new fish to the fish:

1. Cycle the aquarium

Your aquarium cycle can take 4-6 weeks and is very important in ensuring your pet’s survival!

To prevent ammonia build-up, the aquarium needs a nitrogen cycle. The cycle takes care of harmful bacteria such as ammonia, nitrites and nitrates.

When cycling, the good bacterial colonies in the tank treat the toxic waste and turn it into non-toxic waste. Starting the nitrogen cycle can take a long time. In total, this can take up to six weeks.

2. Test the water and make sure the aquarium is raised

A test kit can be purchased at any good pet store. This includes test strips and an information key to help you better understand the results. The cycle process is complete when ammonia and nitrite levels are zero.

 3. Acclimatize the new fish.

When adding a new Betta to an aquarium, it is always best to acclimate it first. Acclimatization is the process of slowly adding fish to the aquarium from the bag or transport container. This allows it to adapt to the temperature and conditions of the water gradually.

Simply adding fish directly from the carry bag to the aquarium without getting used to it can be a huge risk. The sudden change in water and temperature can stress the Betta and shock your body.

Cycling a 5 gallon tank with Betta fish 

If you decide to cycle a fish tank, you want a hardy species of fish that can tolerate traces of ammonia and nitrites in the water. A Betta is not a fully hardy fish. Betta fish have a very low bio-load, so they produce so little ammonia that they can hardly withstand a cycle in a correspondingly large tank.

However, if the tank water is carefully monitored by checking daily for traces of ammonia and nitrites, removing about a quarter of the tank water, and replacing it with pure, purified tap water if the test is positive, the fish should be fine.

Betta fish new tank syndrome

If you set up a new aquarium at the same time as purchasing your new Betta, which is a common occurrence, you could develop “New Tank Syndrome“. This is when ammonia is produced in the tank faster than the bacteria can handle and can cause unnecessary stress to your fish.

If you notice that your Betta’s body colour isn’t as vibrant as it used to be, and it’s near the bottom of the tank or behind decorations, you may be dealing with New Tank syndrome. 

Immediately test the water for ammonia and nitrates. If any of the values are above the optimal value, part of the water in the tank changes. Try again. If the levels are not returning to normal, you may need to continue doing this several times a day until you reach the perfect levels. Your Betta will soon be back to normal.

How to clean a Betta fish tank – YouTube

Final Words

After cleaning your aquarium:

  1. Put your Betta slowly into the tank. Your pet will come out of the container by itself.
  2. While you’re doing this, be gentle because you can damage its scales and fins.
  3. Keep an eye on your fish while it gets accustomed to its surroundings. 

Recommended Reading: Simple Signs of Too Much Light on Aquarium Plants

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