Q: I've had my Betta for about a yr now and he has been in a critter keeper tank (about 1 gal. approx.).  I recently bought a 2.5 gallon Mini Bowl tank.  Would it be ok to switch him into this tank?!?  Or should I just leave him in his original tank?!  Do you think this would stress him out?!  Thank you,  Becky

Question submitted by Becky, Oklahoma City - OK

A: Ah Becky, this is a good question because A)- ALL betta keepers will have to undertake a 'betta move' at one point or another and B)- It is going to allow me to go on a long tangent (my favorite pastime of all! ;) ).

So let's look at the big picture here and address the general issue of moving a betta from one jar/tank to another and doing it the right way.

Although any change of environment will cause some stress to a fish, you can minimize the stress to such an extent that the betta won't even notice that his old jar/tank is gone (hehehehehe). That is, of course if you do it RIGHT. So mama Faith comes to the rescue and is going to give all of you some valuable tips on how to tackle a betta move the FAITH most excellent way ;).

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plan the move first: Of course no need to call a moving company or rent a U-Haul truck. Unless you have a female betta that is. Female bettas can accumulate a lot of clothes in their betta closets (many of which no longer fit, but you never know, just in case she was to lose a few pounds and fit in them again LOL), necessitating several large sized trucks. Mr.181 can attest to this ;), for he was stuck with the grueling task of moving all my stuff (which took several days) hehehehehe. But seriously now: Plan your move by figuring out exactly where the new tank is going, what is going in it (gravel, plants etc) and make sure to set everything up first.

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keep water quality consistent. If at all possible, make sure the water in the new tank is of same composition and quality as the old one - so use the same water. This can become difficult if your betta was in a small jar (and you used bottled water) and you are now moving it to a larger tank, say a 10 gal. Using bottled water for 10 gal would cost an arm and a leg, so you will have to resort to using tap water instead. REMEMBER TO ALWAYS TREAT TAP WATER FIRST. See my water page for more details. In case you cannot have the same type of water, you will have to be even more careful while transitioning the betta from former water to new water (see below)

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run the new system for a while. This is necessary for many reasons, including allowing heater (if your tank is 5 gal or more, you should have one) to heat water to desired temperature, testing reliability of heater (some over heat), aging the water and cycling the tank. If you can, run the new tank empty for about 2 weeks. If you can't, then run it at least for 3 days. If your new betta home is just a bowl, then all you need to do is let the water age for about 2 days. I do not recommend waiting much longer. 

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cup Mr. betta. This is best done by gently netting him and placing him in a brand new plastic cup. Don't fill it to the top or he might jump out! (yikes) and dive into your carpet nose first. Only put about 2 inches of water in it, that's it.

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float the cup in the new tank for about 1 hour, so that the water temperatures even out. Make sure the cup you used is the kind that can float without sinking. You do not want any of the new water to enter the cup (just yet). You may have to stop any running filter while the cup is floating, otherwise the water flow will slowly attract the cup and then Mr. betta will be under the Niagara Falls (yikes X2) and this small mistake can ruin the entire acclimation process and be VERY costly!!! 

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start mixing waters: To do this properly and safely, empty some of the cup's water so that Mr.Betta is only in about 1 inch of water. Then add about 20% of the amount of water he is in, taking water from the new tank and adding it to the cup's water (remember only about 20% of the value of cup water). Let MR. Betta marinate for 1 hour.

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repeat the process about 3 more times: Each time only add about 20% and wait another hour before adding the next dose. After about 4 times, your water inside the cup will reflect more and more the type of water Mr.Betta is to expect when he is released into the new tank. He has had the time to taste it, adapt to it, get used to it and he is NOW ready to go for it!

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release Mr. Betta gently into the new home and enjoy watching him explore his new abode. Is he smiling? If so you did a good job :).

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 your job is not done yet! Now you must keep an eye on him for the next week or so. Check thermometer twice a day to make sure heater is not going crazy and overheating, or lazy and under heating. Make sure filter is working properly, and flow is not too powerful for Mr. Betta. Make sure no rocks or decoration are posing a threat for your fish and that he is not getting stuck anywhere. 

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Last but not least your most important task: watch for any abnormal behavior such as severely clamped fins, darting, gasping, loss of color (note: bettas when moved may lose some color temporarily but colors should return within 24 hrs. However if bettas was colorful when first moved then after a few days turns pale, then you have trouble heading your way!)

In case your betta does show abnormal behavior (as described above), you will have to act fast. Double check your new set-up for any problems, test water quality, water temp, plants etc... Add Bettamax to prevent disease onset before it has a chance of happening. If symptoms persist for more than 2 days, move your betta back to his previous home, following same caution. Maybe there is a problem with your new tank.

Well my betta disciples ;) I hope this will help you all move your bettas safely. Remember that a move can be very stressful if not done right. But if you are upgrading your betta's abode (such as you Becky), than never let the fear of a move stop you from improving your set-up! Just follow above 10 commandments to the T and thou betta shall live :). (don't worry, God has a good sense of humor ;) ).

 

About me

I am a member of the IBC, founder and President of LABS  (Los Angeles Betta Society) and have been helping the betta community through this website since 1998. 
I have over 
180  spawns and  4000 shipments under my belt and have been featured on national and international television.       
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