Q: I have a male in a 2-gallon tank, with a bad winter coming. My friend lost his fish last year when his pipes burst. We have a cold house anyway, and I was already worried (and considered a small heater). I read here not to use a heater for less than five gallons-any other way to keep the fish warm when the house is cold?

Question submitted by Annushka, Boone - NC

A: This is a common problem Annushka. Most people keep bettas in smaller jars/bowls etc... In the winter, should your room temperatures drop below safe range, the water in your bowls will become too cold for a tropical fish to survive. Remember that unlike goldfish that can withstand freezing temps, bettas will need at least 60F to live. Below that, they promptly go into hypothermia and die. 

Hence bettas are not suitable for cold houses with no heaters! 

So what are our options?

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Keep a room heated. That is what I do. My fishroom temperature is always targeted to suit my bettas. I monitor the water temps in the jars and make sure it remains above 65F. Granted, not everyone has a fishroom. However I would assume that keeping one room heated in the winter would be what anyone would want to do (cause you don't want to freeze your little fannies off, do you?). Usually people keep the living room and bedrooms heated. OK, let's assume for a moment, you don't. Then you might look into purchasing one electric heater (I like the radiator types filled with oil with a thermostat to dial in the temperature, they are very safe and pose no fire threats). Cost is about $60. You can place it in your bathroom (which is a small room and will require less heating to reach adequate temperatures - so you save money) and place your bettas in the bathroom for a few months, until the winter edge is off.

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Get a 5 gal tank with heater. Should you not want to heat your house or a room, then your other option is to spend $20 and get a 5 gal tank and a small 50W heater. This is cheap and safe and the best way to go. You can leave your betta in the living room or wherever the heck it is you have it now and know that it will be safe, in nicely heated water.

Whatever your decision, I urge you to NOT try weird set-ups, like putting your bowl on a heat pad, heat packs, warm towels etc... All above usually are a disaster waiting to happen and usually end up costing the betta's life (yikes). So don't try saving a buck or two and killing Mr. Betta in the process!!! Do things right. 

Or, last option, get a goldfish (or a polar bear) instead! ;)

 

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