Water Changes for Dummies

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If there’s one thing you need to get tattooed to your thigh as a betta keeper it’s that water changes are critical to life as your betta knows it. Fail to keep up with maintaining water quality and sooner or later your fish will suffer.

This animated video does a good job of making it blindingly obvious why you don’t want to neglect this responsibility. The main reason being the ammonia that comes from fish waste and uneaten food. Problem being it is toxic to fish. Bigger problem you can’t see the buildup visually. Biggest problem is you may not recognize something is amiss until after your fish have died.

The rule of thumb suggested in this video is that about a quarter of the water should be changed every month. Yet too much of a good thing, such as changing 100% of the water, isn’t such a hot idea either because doing so will eliminate too many of the beneficial bacteria that have set up shop in your tank. These guys live off the ammonia and nitrites. Not to mention if you get too aggressive with water changing it might trigger a bout of new tank syndrome.

New Tank Syndrome Defined: Dangerously elevated levels of ammonia (and nitrates) that result from insufficient numbers of good bacteria to keep these in check and ultimately convert them to harmless nitrates. Changing out too much water or “cleaning” the gravel can create this situation which will put your fish at risk of dying from ammonia or nitrite poising at worst. Or at least looking like they’d prefer to die ASAP rather than swim in the toxic soup that has been created.

An emphasis should be placed on getting into the gravel, which is where the debris tends to gather, and sucking that out of there.

It’s best to replace any water removed with water of the same temp. And the water should either be aged or conditioned tap water.

Three bonus tips are provided:

  • Limit the time your aquarium lights are on to 8-10 hours a day. Failing to follow that advice might result in excessive algae growth which can impact water quality. Using a timer makes it foolproof.
  • Second you want to limit the amount fed to what can be eaten in 2 minutes or less two or three times a day at the most. It’s important to remember that the capacity of your betta’s stomach is limited. Small would be more like it. So don’t go overboard on the food. Leftovers can foul the water.
  • Finally, and again, it’s good to introduce fresh water. Replacing about a quarter of your tanks water with fresh each month.

All this is good advice, but better advice would be to get yourself a test kit and rather than arbitrarily changing x amount of water per month, do so when the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels start to get out of whack.

Anyway there you have it. Water changes for dummies. Why you need to do it. Why don’t want to overdo it. And what else you might do too, like regularly testing the water parameters with a reliable test kit to keep the water safe for your betta fish. Maybe a tad simplistic, but given how many hapless veiltails have to endure problems due to bad water, something worth reviewing from time to time to make sure we stay on track.

About Lucas
Putting a name with a face I'm Lucas Smatana. Like you I'm passionate about betta fish and hope to share my enthusiasm. The idea here is to make sure you get helpful info and useful ideas on betta fish care that really work. To insure your betta keeping experience is a good one both for you and your fish. So that you and your pet enjoy a long, happy and healthy relationship.

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