Deciding whether you need a full or partial tank cleaning is hard. In most betta fish experts’ opinion, it’s always better to avoid the 100 percent clean as much as possible. So, how to clean a betta fish tank with so many cleaning limitations?
Betta fish are delicate creatures that don’t do well if you disturb their habitats. But, just like every other animal, they eat and excrete, and that’s bound to get any tank dirty, no matter what you do. And while disturbing your betta fish’s habitat might not please them, they will probably die if you let the tank get filthy enough.
Cleaning a betta fish tank often will result in your precious fish dying sooner than you had hoped. But if you maintain different aspects of your betta fish tank, you won’t have to clean it as much, and your fish will thank you for it.
How do you clean a betta fish tank?
If there is no way around it and you have to clean your tank absolutely, you can do that by following these steps:
- Wash your hands with water. If you are using soap, rinse your hands thoroughly because soap residue can harm your betta fish.
- Unplug the filter and heater system. Or any other electric cable attached to your fish tank.
- Remove the fish and keep them in a separate water bowl. Use aged water.
- Remove all the decorations and clean them.
- Finally, strain your gravel while draining the dirty aquarium water. Thoroughly clean your gravel. Use a brush if necessary.
- Scrub the tank clean.
- Place everything back together and fill the tank with aged water.
- Replace the betta fish and monitor their activity for the next few hours. If they show signs of distress, check the water’s chemical balance and pH. Get rid of any issue that arises.
How to keep the betta fish tank clean?
The best way to keep a betta fish tank clean is to add the right components to your tank that do your work. A good filter, some live plants, and a healthy light/dark pattern with a well-timed balanced feeding schedule will go a long way in keeping a tank clean.
Challenges For managing and cleaning betta fish tank
Let’s be clear. Small fish tanks are cheap and seem enough if you have only one or two fish. But they get dirty faster than large ones. The water-to-bacteria ratio is much higher in the small fish tanks. Removing even a tiny percentage of water will eliminate many good bacteria that take longer to recover.
It’s one of the main reasons I don’t recommend betta fish to first-time fish owners because they usually settle for small cheap tanks.
There are a lot of challenges involved when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for betta fish in a small water tank, especially when it comes to cleaning it. Let’s quickly go over a few of them.
When cleaning betta fish tanks, experts usually recommend replacing a small percentage of water, like 20 to 30%. That’s a great idea when dealing with large betta fish tanks. The water is not as saturated with good bacteria, and if you remove a tiny percentage of water, it doesn’t affect the whole tank quite as much as it would a small fish tank.
But with small fish tanks, the water is much more saturated with good bacteria that keep the ammonia levels of the tank in check. If you remove 25% of a ten-gallon tank, you will remove a good chunk of healthy bacteria. If left unchecked, it will result in ammonia surges that will destroy your fish within an hour or two.
Look for signs of discoloration, inactivity, lack of appetite, or dwelling near the surface. Keep an ammonia testing kit at hand to make sure there is not a surge.
Non-staggered Filter Media Changes
As I said before, maintaining a betta fish tank is better than cleaning the tank frequently. And that includes having a filter installed in your tank to cycle all the waste and debris, so the tank doesn’t get filthy.
In fact, with betta fish, it’s crucial to have a good water filter installed so that you don’t have to clean the tank as much as it would destroy bubble nests and their habitat.
But the problem is that there are few options for small betta fish tank filters. And the ones available are too small and get clogged up fast. You could replace them when they get dirty, but good bacteria are also settled inside those filter cartridges like tank water. Replacing these cartridges will also remove good bacteria.
You can also check best filters for betta fish tank.
Algae blooms happen when there are not enough live plants in the water. They are dangerous to fish habitats because when any living cell dies, they release ammonia into the surrounding. If you have a lot of algae blooms in your fish tank, when they die, they will cause an ammonia surge in your fish tank.
It doesn’t pose much of an immediate threat in a larger tank, but it can kill the fish within a couple of hours in a small tank where live plants are in much less quantity if present.
Fluctuations in pH
Betta fish usually thrive in soft acidic pH water, ranging between 6.8 and 7.5.
In a large betta fish tank, the fluctuations in pH are not even recognizable after months of fishkeeping. But in small fish tanks, making a slight adjustment might change the pH of the whole tank.
You can recognize signs of distress in your betta fish if the pH is not optimal. Algae blooms are one of the most prominent signs of high pH. Although, algae blooms may be caused by too much light.
The point is you need to constantly monitor the pH levels of your betta fish tank if you have a small one.
Preserving Aged Water and Why it Matters
I’m sure you know that aged water is suitable for your betta fish instead of freshwater with chemicals. Distilled water is especially bad for betta fish. You can prepare aged water yourself by filling a bottle with tap water and letting it sit for at least 24 hours before you put it in the fish tank.
But what if I said that an even better option is to filter the aquarium water you remove when cleaning your betta fish tank? You will need to set up another tank with a filter and many live plants to clean the aquarium water properly. The resulting clean and aged aquarium water will be excellent for your betta fish to thrive in.
Natural Ways to Keep the Gravel Clean
All these tips I’m sharing involve maintenance more than cleaning the betta fish tank. And another great tip is to clean your gravel naturally instead of removing it and doing it yourself.
The first thing you should probably do is choose the right color of gravel that doesn’t look dirty quickly. Avoid clear gravel, and make sure that you get two sizes.
You can spread the smaller gravel down at the bottom while placing the larger one on top. This way, the dirt, and wastes sink through the gaps in the larger gravel and settle below in the smaller one. The water remains relatively clean, and the top gravel doesn’t get as dirty.
Also, try to incorporate scavengers into your fish tank that eat the waste materials that accumulate. Another thing you can do to keep the gravel naturally clean is to feed the fish appropriately.
Preventing and Managing Algae
While it doesn’t look good on your tank walls, algae don’t harm your fish. But still, it’s good to keep it at bay. You can easily do that by following a few tips:
- As I mentioned before, high-pH water breeds more algae. So, keep your tank water pH in check.
- Nitrates cause algae to form. Have more live plants because they remove them from the water.
- Use live plants that don’t require 24/7 light because light helps algae grow more rapidly.
- Use a timed light system that leaves the light off for 10 to 12 hours daily.
- Don’t overfeed your fish, so they don’t produce more waste, resulting in nitrates.
These tips are for preventing algae. If you already have algae growing in your tank, you can get rid of it by doing the following:
- Replace the tank water.
- Scrub the tank walls with an aquarium-safe sponge.
- Put anti-algae chemicals in the aquarium like Hydrogen Peroxide. But don’t use these chemicals to get rid of large amounts of algae because the dead algae cells will cause a drastic ammonia surge.
Topping off Guidelines
‘Topping off’ means that instead of removing water, you take the top of the tank off and let some water evaporate. You can then add aged water to fill the tank back up.
You can quickly top off your tank if you live in a dry area. You can do it weekly or biweekly to keep the tank clean. Adding aged water as a replacement will help the fish adapt to the new water much quicker, especially if you have cleaned, stored, and aged aquarium water.
Betta fish tanks are not for everybody because they are usually smaller. But you can still manage and keep it clean if you utilize some natural processes to assist you. Keeping the betta fish tank clean becomes a breeze if you learn to do that.
The tank will stay clean for months, and since you will not disturb their habitat, your betta fish will thank you.
How often do you clean a betta fish tank?
As I mentioned throughout this article, you should never clean your betta fish tank if possible. Instead, it would be best if you strived to maintain your betta fish tank so that it doesn’t need to be cleaned for several months. You can do that by following the maintenance tips I’ve shared.