I have a pet Betta who lives in a 2 gallon tank w/small carbon
filter changed every 2 wks, 1/2 inch of gravel on the bottom. I do a
weekly 1/4 water change. Should I remove him from the tank while I
swish/suck the gravel & change the water or is he fine staying
in the tank. I don't want to stress him out.
well, well... That sounds like a spoiled rotten betta to me :). And
a spoiled rotten betta is a happy betta. And a happy betta is a
healthy betta. In short: spoiled rotten = healthy (the equation for
betta keeping success).
Before I answer your question point blank, let us explore a bit the territory of stress and bettas, cause this is a super important topic all of you should graduate in.
In other words, why do bettas become sick?
It is a simple mechanism, but not all people understand it. Most think that a disease suddenly decides to land in your betta's tank and attack it. Where it came from and where it is going to, who knows. I once also believed that. Boy was I wrong. Although airborne viruses can in deed drop unannounced and crash your otherwise happy betta party, such is usually not the case. In other words the way the story usually goes is as follows: Bacteria, fungus and parasites/protozoan, are usually resident in your water or live foods. In short they are there ALL THE TIME. So why doesn't your betta get sick then? Because its immune system is designed to fend off the intruders. Fine, then, why does it then get sick all of a sudden? Because something causes it's immune system to become weaker, the defenses are down and the castle gets invaded. In short, your betta is always under siege, but the enemy cannot get in, that is until the immune system bridge is lowered and anyone (and everyone) gets in.
So to understand and prevent the invasion, we must first understand why the immune system will lower. If we can prevent the bridge from lowering, the enemy will stay out. (For some reason I keep seeing the Two Towers movie battle scene where all the ugly demons are swarming all around the bridge trying to get in. Yikes!)
Unless your betta has a defective immune system to begin with, there is usually only one way for the immune system to become weak: STRESS. You wonder, hey, my betta doesn't have a boss, or a school test (or a wife LOL) so why should it be stressed out? The most common causes of stress for a betta are:
|poor diet: lack of
proper nutrition, feeding the wrong food, cheap foods, lack of
||Rough handling: now we
are closing in on your question Alison. Any rough handling of a
betta will stress him, including while catching it, netting him,
cleaning the tank, doing water changes on jars, bagging it
Since it is vital that betta hobbyists carry a number of the above tasks in order to keep the betta's environment clean and safe, one must weigh a few things. The idea is to manipulate the betta AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE, while still performing the necessary fishroom chores. for example, it is necessary to do water changes. But a betta kept in a small cup will require the water to be changed daily. This means daily manipulation of the fish (netting it, dumping the dirty water, putting fresh water and releasing the betta back in its cup). This is a stressful experience for the fish and done daily, can do a number on his stress levels. So that is another reason why I recommend 1 gal jars if at all possible. This way you do the water changes once a week, (7 times less often) and reduce the stress levels by 7 (duh). Also while manipulating the betta, you must be GENTLE and SMOOTH. A concept that many male betta breeders do not grasp it seems. I have seen top IBC breeders visit my fishroom and look at some of my bettas and just the waythey grabbed the jars off the shelf and abruptly put it back down made my hair stand. With me, my bettas never feel a thing. I am as gentle as the morning breeze, as smooth as a baby's cheek (or that 'other' round baby thingie) LOL.
Ok Alison, now a direct answer to your question: Either way you go about it, you will stress your betta a bit by either having to catch it, net it and place it in a cup or by having your hands in there rummaging about his little universe. But since there is no way around it (cause you are very right about cleaning his tank regularly), what you must weigh is which you are better at: Catching a betta or rummaging discretely? If your betta is slow and easy to catch and you are good at it, then I would say perhaps do that once a month to do a real huge monthly spring cleaning LOL in his tank. This way you can go to town in there and not fear about him getting hurt or stressed. The other 3 weeks, be discreet and leave him in there while very gently and always moving in smooth, slow movements, vacuuming the gravel. Use a junior vacuum (these have a smaller mouth and less intrusive) for a more gentle suction. Try to disturb his habitat as little as possible, within still getting it fairly clean. Remember that once a month you can take everything apart and rinse gravel and filter with water if need be (make sure the water temp is the same as the tank's water to not kill the nitrobacteria - useful, friendly bacteria). If however you find it very hard to catch your betta, having to chase it around for a while, then I suggest you always leave him in there and clean his tank while he is in it, following my above tips. Remember to not overfeed, so that no uneaten food are left in his tank. if you do that, the need for vacuuming the gravel weekly will not be as great.
Well, I hope it helps, goodluck and than you for being such a good betta mom!