Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are a good choice for beginners because they are hardy and easy to care for. Your main duty in keeping a betta fish will be to keep its tank clean, removing accumulated food from substrate and performing water changes.
About Betta Tank Gravel
Betta fish (Betta splendens) are known for their colorful fins, and they are often kept in tanks decorated with colorful gravel. Gravel serves two purposes in the betta tank. It provides decoration as well a surface on which beneficial bacteria can grow. Beneficial bacteria regulate biological filtration, the cycle through which waste products such as uneaten fish food are broken down in a process that produces ammonia. Beneficial bacteria then convert the ammonia into less harmful substances such as nitrite and nitrate, thus improving the water quality in your betta tank. If beneficial bacteria do not work to remove these substances from your tank, they can eventually poison your betta and cause him to become sick or die.
What is a Gravel Vacuum?
The easiest way to remove uneaten food from your betta tank gravel is to use an aquarium gravel vacuum. Gravel vacuums are often available at your local pet store or from online aquarium suppliers. These tools create a siphon effect to suck up debris such as uneaten food that has accumulated in your tank gravel. Place the head of the vacuum into the gravel at the bottom of the tank and put the end of the tube in a bucket. The vacuum will siphon debris from your tank gravel, along with some water. Replace the water lost with freshly dechlorinated tap water.
Manually Cleaning Tank Gravel
If you don't have a gravel vacuum, you can also clean your betta tank's gravel by hand. This task is best completed when the aquarium is empty and the fish are in a temporary tank. To clean the gravel, remove it from the tank into a large plastic bucket and fill the bucket with warm water. Agitate the gravel by hand to release accumulated debris then drain the water, using your fingers to keep the gravel in the bucket. Repeat this process of rinsing and draining until the water runs clear, then return the gravel to the tank and refill it.
Frequency of Cleaning
Keeping the water quality in your tank high helps your betta fish remain healthy. The more time you let pass in between cleanings, more ammonia can build up in your tank. Ideally, you should clean the gravel in your betta tank once a week. During each cleaning, use the gravel vacuum to siphon out about 15 percent of the tank water from the bottom where the most debris has accumulated. Once a month, perform a large-scale cleaning to remove about 25 percent of the tank water. After each cleaning, replace the water you removed from the tank with fresh dechlorinated tap water at the same temperature as the water in your aquarium.
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Katherine Barrington has written on a variety of topics, from arts and crafts to pets, health and do-it-yourself projects. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a creative writing concentration from Marietta College.