Making a beautiful Betta Tank

by Tim Burton

Every hobbyist, new and old, has at least considered keeping a Siamese Fighting Fish - Betta splendens - but what can sometimes turn people off the idea is the sterile little containers they are often kept in.  My girlfriend just bought a cute little crown tail Betta, whom we call Ned, and we wanted to give Ned an appealing home that is easy to maintain.  Here are my thoughts on the subject.

I wanted to set up what I call an aquarium garden-where there are plants actively participating in the aquarium. This sort of aquarium can be small, needs no fish but a Betta is welcomed, and can be kept in your office cubicle without hassle.  The fact this is a Betta aquarium does not restrict our options, as these fish are very adaptable pets.

Firstly, the plants require a substrate to root in, and the substrate also acts as a bacterial bed for helpful nitritifying bacteria to oxidize ammonia to nitrite and then to nitrate (Nitrogen cycle).  In the past I have used artificially dyed gravel, but over time the dyes leech and harm the fish.  I now use regular aquarium gravel or sand, 3 inches (7.5 cm) deep.  I also like to include a little piece of driftwood to give Ned something to look at, and he seems to enjoy playing with it.

Now to choose plants, we want easy plants with very low light requirements.  There are a few plants that fall into this category.  Anubias species are good (for a small bowl like this I’d recommend Anubias barteri var nana or A. b. nana ‘petite’), as are Java Ferns (Microsorum pteropus; M. p. ‘Narrow’; M. p. ‘Windelov’), various mosses, and Cryptocoryne species.

For Ned’s tank, I have decided to plant Java Moss (Taxiphyllum barberi) along the back, and use a piece of driftwood with attached Java Fern.

For the more adventurous, an ADA aquarium (aka Amano aquarium, after the world renown hobbyist Takashi Amano) style can be fantastic and the envy of all your office peers, but requires a little more work.
The video below demonstrates better than any of my pictures how these tanks look. 



As long as this bowl does not get large amounts of sunlight, the plants will be satisfied by the nutrients provided by feeding Ned.  Once a month, we will provide a very small amount of micronutrient liquid.  Other than that, this low tech Betta bowl is done and ready for Ned to move in!

Remember to follow all guidelines for keeping your Betta healthy and happy.  Regular feeding and water changes are a must (this applies to all fish, and animals, not just Betta’s and goldfish health).  Using a relaxing tank with fish for health reasons has known benefits for mental well-being, and can really help de-stress at the office.