10 Things to Consider When Shopping for Betta Fish Tanks

Bettas are among the most interesting and low-maintenance fish you can keep. And their ability to breathe atmospheric oxygen and live in very small volumes of water allows them to be housed in a variety of small aquaria that can complement any home or office. However, there are some important considerations to bear in mind when shopping around for the perfect tank for your pet betta. Please read on as we discuss these issues and our own opinions on what to look for in a small betta tank.

Characteristics of The Best Betta Fish Tanks

1) Adequate Size

Yes, it’s true that a betta can live in a small bowl, if it had to. But this is not the most fulfilling life for such a regal fish. In addition, very small bowls are prone to heating and cooling extremely rapidly, as well as suffering quickly from pollution that can easily occur from even slight overfeeding. As a general rule of thumb, we suggest a minimum tank size of one gallon to keep one adult betta. Of course, your betta would be happy if you provided a larger aquarium, but a gallon container is generally sufficient so long as it is diligently maintained. Bettas can also be housed in community tanks, but take care not to keep them with fish that tend to nip fins. For example, tiger barbs are notorious for fin nipping, and will shred a betta’s fins very quickly. Shredded fins are not just a cosmetic issue, unfortunately, and a betta with badly torn fins can easily die from stress and/or secondary infections like ick/fungus.

2) A Good, Tight Fitting Cover

Bettas are not what I’d consider big time “jumpers,” but they can and will jump when given half a chance. Sometimes osmotic or other stress will cause them to jump, and sometimes they will leap simply because the can. To minimize any risk of such escape, for whatever reason, do yourself a favor and put a lid on the tank. Be careful though to leave some air space between the surface of the water and the cover as they are air breathers and need to gulp air occasionally.

3) No Strong Currents or Water Movement

This is a consideration that I often see overlooked, especially in some of the smaller betta tanks. Bettas have evolved to thrive in still or stagnant waters where this no little or no current. And, as a consequence of this design, they are unhappy when subjected to currents typically generated by hang on back filters or powerful aeration. Bettas require water that is either still, or very placid. They do not require aeration of any kind, especially when properly maintained and in a tank by themselves. If you do use a filter at all, make sure that the tank is large enough (e.g., 3 gallons or more) or the filter can be dialed down (e.g., an air release valve on an aquarium pump) such that the betta does not need to exert effort to maintain its position in the water column. If your betta is getting pushed around or fighting to stay still, it will put constant stain on the fish that can eventually lead to disease or death.

4) Bare Floor or Fine Substrates

Bettas don’t need or want any substrate in their tanks. In fact, bare bottom tanks are best for you and the betta since they facilitate easy clean up. If you do want to add some colorful gravel, however, keep it sparse and opt for relatively small grained types, rather than the large, marble-sized gravel that is often sold for small decorative bowls/tanks. Very course gravel makes a great trap for uneaten food, which then decays and causes potentially lethal ammonia spikes. Finer gravel (pea-sized or smaller) allows the fish to get at food that lands on the bottom, and still allows you to see when food is left uneaten and needs removal – both of which is better for your fish.

5) Regular Light Cycles

Fish, like most vertebrates, react profoundly to light cycles. As a species that lives close to the equator, your betta will expect a photoperiod of roughly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. If you don’t use artificial lighting, you don’t need to provide any, but avoid turning the lights on late at night when your fish is preparing to “sleep.” Also, try to purchase a tank that uses LED lighting. LED lights are by far the most efficient and long-lasting type you can buy, and also generate the least amount of unwanted heat.

6) Warm Temperatures

Unlike goldfish, for example, which can thrive in very cold water, betta are a very tropical fish. In their native waters of Southeast Asia, they rarely experience temperatures below 76 F. Consequently, you should always aim to keep your bettas at a minimum temperature of 72F, with a temperature of 78F being ideal. Bettas can certainly withstand cooler temps for short durations, but extended exposure to water temperatures below 72F make them lethargic and highly vulnerable to infections and diseases, particularly fin rot, ick, and fungus.

7) Individual Housing

Although female bettas can be kept together, males cannot be kept with other males or females. The only exception to this rule is if you are attempting to breed bettas, in which case the male will tolerate the female (grudgingly) only until the eggs are laid, after which time he will attack and kill her if the tank is not large enough for her to escape his line of sight.

8) Good Water Quality

Whatever you do, you must keep a betta’s water clean. This means that periodic water changes should be conducted, which involve removing any debris from the bottom of the tank. A good rule of thumb is to change between 30-50% of the water per week. This keeps the water fresh without changing things too drastically. Make sure to use dechlorinated water and try to match the temperature of the new water to the old water.

9) Placement in a Calm Area, Away From Direct Light

You wouldn’t want to live next to a 6-lane highway, and neither would your betta, so keep the tank somewhere away from heavy foot traffic. It’s difficult enough living your life in a small transparent container, don’t make matters more stressful by locating the tank where your betta will be subject to constant movement and/or vibrations. Also, locate the tank away from direct sunlight, which can cause rapid temperature spikes and encourage algae growth.

10) Simplicity!

If you’ve chosen a tank of sufficient size, keep the betta by itself, maintain proper temperatures and keep up with regular water changes, there’s not much else you need. Be wary of vendors that try to sell lots of accessories for beta-only tanks, like sophisticated filters, lighting, etc. These things are usually unnecessary.

4 Of the Most Interesting Snakes of Australia

Australia is a great place for reptile lovers. It has a high population of snakes, and though many are not deadly to humans, a good number are. Oddly enough, though, very few snake related deaths are reported each year there. If you go hiking, you might see some of these interesting snakes. Just remember to look and not touch.

Because it is so venomous, the most infamous Australian snake is the Taipan. It can grow to nearly 10 feet long. One of them, the Coastal Taipan, is indigenous to the northeastern coast near Queensland. It is considered the third deadliest snake in the world, and if bitten by one, death can occur within 30 minutes. Fortunately, scientists have developed anti-venom to prevent that if administered soon enough. If this snake bites you, you had better hope that you have the anti-venom with you, or that you are less than a half-hour away from medical help.

The continent is home to several sea snakes, too. One genus of this dangerous reptile is the Olive Sea Snake, which is venomous. This snake can grow to over 6 feet long, and it has a strong, brownish colored body with shades of lilac. It prefers the coral reefs, lagoons and rocky shores in Australia’s northern region. It is uncommon for it to attack, but it will if it feels threatened.

In Western Australia, you might encounter the potentially lethal Dugite. Unlike many of the other snakes found in remote areas, this one frequents areas inhabited by humans, even backyards. This is unfortunate because they are so dangerous. Females have no issues with eating the males, so they certainly would not hesitate to bite a human – especially an unsuspecting child.

Northern Australia has a snake that grows to be 10 feet long and gets as thick as the fat end of a baseball bat. It is the King Brown Snake, and it is very venomous and dangerous; so much so, that humans cannot get close enough to it to kill it with a gardening tool: They have to stone it or shoot it.

This list of interesting snakes of Australia is a good start for you should you decide to go on a scavenger hunt for them. These are by no means all of the snakes from that region, and certainly not all of those that are venomous. Considering that there are more venomous species there than non-venomous, you would do well to wear tall, thick boots on your excursion.

What Is The Best Food For Tortoise Health?

Good nutrition for your tortoise is essential to maintain optimum health. Understanding what food for tortoise health is best requires some understanding of what specific needs your particular kind of tortoise requires.

Most tortoises are of course herbivores but this does not mean you can just get away with feeding him a few limp lettuce leaves and the occasional tomato. There are 8 elements to good nutritional health and it is up to you to provide these. They include, water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, enzymes, vitamins and minerals. All work together to prevent illness and promote growth.

Many manufacturers who produce food for tortoises will claim they supplement their feed with essential vitamins and minerals but you should also provide fresh vegetation and occasional fruit whenever possible. Not only will this broad diet be more healthy it will be more interesting for your pet.

A few fresh vegetable you could choose

  • broccoli
  • kale
  • spinach

Also some fruits

  • Apple
  • Peeled banana
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries.

Tortoises are herbivores and if you do some research into where in the natural world your kind of tortoise would normally live this will give you an idea of what sort of foods to provide. Be careful not to feed your tortoise too many plants from the cabbage family as they can interfere with the thyroid function and calcium absorption. They are an excellent source of nutrition but just give them in small amounts every couple of weeks or so.

If you have a Hermann’s tortoise which naturally lives in arid grass lands they will enjoy grazing on grasses, weeds, and succulent plants. If you have a Russian or Horsfield tortoise these like to eat fleshy vegetables such as squashes and aubergine or zucchini, they also enjoy fruit and some flowers. A sulcata tortoise enjoys hay and cactus as well as some succulents fruit and grated vegetables.

It is not difficult to provide a nutritious and interesting diet for your tortoise it just takes a little thought and planning. If you have an outside enclosure you could grow some fresh vegetables and plants for your tortoise to munch on. They will enjoy foraging as if in their wild natural environment and this will help them to keep mentally healthy and physically well.

Specially manufactured food which you can buy from pet shops will be quite adequate as it does usually have vitamins and minerals added but the best food for tortoise health and well being is a mixture of this plus natural and fresh vegetables and fruit.

What Are the Ideal Water Conditions for Healthy Koi?

There will certainly be a lot of differing opinions on the best water conditions for koi but one thing remains constant: poor water quality leads to a host of other health problems that are certainly avoidable with proper care. Because stress originates from poor water quality, follow these guidelines for healthy water and healthy koi.

Dissolved Oxygen

Oxygen levels should be at a minimum of 5.0 mg/L for koi. In the fish world, there is some variation with the tolerable level of dissolved oxygen in the water but 5.0 is a good baseline. As a reference, 5.0 is the minimum for koi and 18 mg/L is the physical maximum that water can hold. Just as a reminder though, cold water can hold more dissolved oxygen than warmer water so higher summer temperatures (and overcrowded ponds) will lead to lower dissolved oxygen, which is really when you will want to pay attention to it the most. Oxygen becomes dissolved into your koi pond in several ways. At the very surface there is limited diffusion occurring between the atmosphere and the water and that accounts for only a small amount of dissolved oxygen. Turbulence will also agitate the water enough to generate dissolved oxygen in your pond and this often comes in the form of falling water as from a small water fall. A tried and true and popular way to increase the dissolved oxygen in a koi pond is by an air stone on the bottom of the pond or by spout or fountain shooting water up into the air.

pH

Okay, back to chemistry class everyone because its time to discuss pH. As you may recall pH has something to do with acids. It’s all about acidity and alkalinity. The pH scale is a logarithmic one meaning when your pond jumps from 7 (neutral) to 6, its not simply getting a little bit more acidic, its getting 10 times more acidic. Conversely, when your pond tests at 7.5 and then gets increasingly alkaline by jumping to 9.5, then your pond just got 100 times more alkaline (10 times 10). So it’s a big deal when your pH changes and can definitely affect your koi in negative ways. pH, or power of Hydrogen, should range in your pond somewhere between 6.8 and 8.2 but do your best to keep it as stable as possible.

Ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates

As you may recall, the general cycle of waste in your pond starts with ammonia excreted by your fish then bacteria and oxygen break it down to nitrites which later get broken into nitrates then free nitrogen. Ammonia, nitrites and nitrates all have the ability to cause health problems for your koi if their levels are not kept in check. Along with other health problems, ammonia can essentially burn your fish’s gills and reduce its ability to extract dissolved oxygen from the water. High nitrites can damage your koi’s kidneys and nervous system and high nitrates, for extended periods, can cause your fish’s immune system to be compromised. Ammonia and nitrites and the most troublesome when it comes to health problems for your koi but don’t underestimate the power of nitrates over long periods of time. Here is a guideline for these three water chemistry measurements.

-ammonia: levels should be zero. Depending on your pH, you can get away with 0.5ppm (parts per million) or 1 ppm for a short period of time but keep in mind that above a pH of 8.0 ammonia becomes more toxic.

-nitrites should be less than 0.25 ppm but ideally you should have a reading of zero.

-nitrates: a reading of 20 to 60 ppm is acceptable.

Salinity

The use of salt in koi ponds has, for long time, been a tried and true method to deal with various water quality and health problems that arise. Some of the benefits of salt is that its a cheap way to keep some disease at bay, control algae and may also lower nitrite toxicity. Additionally, salt plays a part in the osmotic pressure between the fish and the outside aquatic environment. There is a differential between the solute concentration of the fish’s blood and the fresh water that it swims in so the addition of salt actually lowers that concentration differential and makes it easier on the fish by reducing the amount of work its body has to do. A salinity of up to 5 ppt (parts per thousand) or 0.5 % is acceptable.

Temperature

Temperature obviously plays a big role in the overall health of your pond and it warrants your attention. Temperature can exacerbate existing problems, especially higher temperatures. For example, warmer water holds less dissolved oxygen and ammonia can be more toxic. Although koi can handle temperatures of between 35 and 85 F degrees its best to keep your fish in water that ranges between 65 and 75 F degrees. And as with pH, try to avoid large temperature swings.

Decorating An Outdoor Fish Pond

I must admit that in the slightly over a decade that I have been decorating aquarium, I have only actually decorated less than half a dozen outdoor fish ponds. It’s not that I do not have the confidence in doing so. It is just that in most cases, outdoor fish pond design and decorating has always fallen into the area of landscape designers.

A fish pond poses its own set of considerations which are vastly different from an aquarium. Therefore, decorating it must be planned and handled differently as well.

The first issue of a fish pond is the visual perspective. An aquarium will be viewed from the front and sides. Therefore, when designing an aquarium theme, you would place ornaments and arrange them for this perspective. However, fish ponds are viewed from the top. The ornaments that you place inside the pond needs to be those that are visually pleasing when viewed from above. Placing an ornament that has intricate details on its side defeats any decorative purpose.

The second factor also has to do with the visual aspect. Depending on how deep your pond is, placing low lying decoration might not be a good idea. This is because the deeper the pond is, the less light the bottom gets and having decor lying low at the bottom would make it almost invisible when viewed from outside the water. This is one of the reasons why most fond designers incorporate decorative items on the outside of the pond, rather than submerged inside.

One last issue would be the weather. Unlike an aquarium which is placed in the comfort of your home, outdoor ponds are exposed to the fury of the weather. The ornaments that your choose to decorate them must be created to withstand harsh natural conditions. These include the scorching sun, the pouring rain and in certain regions, freezing cold. Decor that are not designed for this onslaught would easily fade and crack when exposed to it.

Tips On Designing An Outdoor Fish Pond

The key here is to first keep in mind the three major considerations above. Make your selection of each individual item based on these factors.

Pick out a theme that is suitable for an outdoor theme. Some really cool theme ideas include Fairies and Mermaids. There are dozen of such ornaments that you could get that have been designed specifically for an outdoor pond. You could also use figurines of animals that can be found by or in the water such Turtles, Herons, Dolphins, Crocodiles and Hippos to name a few.

An awesome idea is to try to get ornaments that actually look like they are interacting with the water. This would include such figurines as Fishermen, Little Kids Tinkling Into The Water or Maidens With Vases. Many of these have pumps that flow the water through them and pours out from them back into the pond.

Apart from rocks to provide cover for the fish, you really do not need any submerged decor. Having little or no decorative items inside the water will make it a whole lot easier to clean.

Incorporating Aquatic Plants Into Your Pond Design

Being outdoors creates an ideal condition for plants. The plants would receive sufficient sunlight and will thrive in the water. Also, placing plants inside the pond has a lot more benefits other than just being visually pleasing. The floating plants which live on the surface of the water provides shade and cover for the fish. This is extremely important especially when you have fry that have to hide away from the adult fish.

The plants also provides competition against algae growth. By competing for sunlight and nutrients in the pond, these aquatic plants would starve the algae and limit their growth.

Types Of Aquarium Accessories for a Fish Tank

An aquarium with the right type of accessories can add to the habitat of the fish and make it a lovely piece of decoration at home. As there are various types of aquarium accessories made available today, choosing the most essential and right type of product can be quite a perplexing task. However, there are a few tips which can be considered while choosing different types of fish tank products.

Essential Accessories:

Pumps: It is one of the most important fish tank accessories that help the fish to survive and stay healthy in the tank. The pump helps to circulate oxygen in the water.

Filters: Every fish tank requires a filter system which can filter the water in the tank so that it is free from contaminants and impurity. There are various types of filters made available today so it is important to choose products according to the size of the tanks and the number of fish in it.

Ornaments: There are a huge plethora of ornaments or embellishments that can be added to the fish tank to enhance its overall appearance. Most of these ornaments can be bought even from online stores at affordable prices. It is available in different sizes, shapes, colors and designs to suit different types of tanks.

Plants: Using living plants in a fish tank has many beneficial features. Various types of plants can be used in these tanks to add to the beauty of the tank and the health of the fish.

Water Additives: There are various types of additives which can be used in the fish tank so that it remains healthy. However, different types of solutions are used for different types of water.

Rocks: Another variety of embellishment is the rocks which are specifically manufactured for these tanks. Most of the online and offline stores showcase a huge plethora of rocks in different sizes, shapes, colors and styles to suit different types of tanks. Some of the most common varieties include lace rocks, rainbow rocks and so forth. Various types of corals are also used as aquarium accessories as it adds to the beauty of the tanks.

Lights: Proper lighting is another important aspect to consider while installing tanks. Today there are various options to consider such as LED lights, fluorescent lights and so forth. These lights are available in different soft colors and features. There are lights which can be dimmed whenever required.

It is important to choose accessories according to the type of water used in the fish tank. Some products suit fresh water tanks whereas some products are ideal for salt water tanks only.

With the improvement in technological features, a wide range of aquarium accessories have been launched into the markets these days. It is essential to choose the right type of product as per the requirement of the tank. It is possible to maintain healthy fish with the right type of accessories. Cleaning the tank on a regular basis is equally important so as to extend the life of the fish.