If you search on the internet about information about cleaning your Betta Fry tank then you will find many different methods and ideas on how best to go about it. I know when I first started I was left a little confused by the varying opinions. Therefore at the end of the day I ended up just developing my own method. Therefore read on and I’ll explain how I go about it, but first of all here’s a few common questions I’ll try and answer along the way, as they were questions I originally had that I couldn’t find a suitable answer to.
When should you start cleaning the bottom of your fry tank?
When should you start adding water to your fry tank?
What’s the best method of cleaning the bottom of the tank?
How often do you need to clean your tank?
So to start off with the question of when to start cleaning your tank is quite simple. I start as soon as the fry are large enough for me to see, so that I can confidently distinguish them from the waste on the bottom, without needlessly siphoning fry from the tank. Therefore, when you start will depend on how good your eyesight is, how large and how quickly your fry are growing and how much waste is on the bottom of the tank.
I add at least one Mystery Snail and one Bristlenose Catfish to my fry tank after a couple of days so the waste from both of these does accumulate. I’ve found that Bristlenose are great for keeping the sponge filter clean and also the area around aquarium heater which can be difficult for the Mystery Snail to access. The Mystery Snail I’ve found, is great for eating any excess fry food on the bottom such as Microworms etc. so both of these do serve a useful purpose.
So taking these factors into account, I would say start cleaning as soon as possible. Another thing you will need to understand is not all spawns are the same and not all females will have the same size eggs. Some females are physically larger than others and will have larger eggs and as such the fry will be larger. Therefore when you read somewhere that says start cleaning you tank after a week, then I would say that this is just a guide. Don’t take it literally. If your fry are large enough for you to see clearly before then, then start as soon as you can.
When I did my research I discovered that fry will grow quicker when water is changed more regularly and from experience I tend to agree so you may in fact be able to start after just a few days. Therefore before you do start you’ll have to add water before hand. So after about 3 days I will add about 2 litres of aged, conditioned water, than is preheated into the fry tank. How you go about this is very important.
Firstly, I get a small container (about 0.5 to 1 litre) of this water and float it in the water in my Betta fry tank until the temperature is the same as the water in the tank. Then I very gently release it into the tank. Remember your fry are still very fragile at this stage but you should still be able to release it without causing any turbulence/current in your tank. Just imagine there is an axle right through the centre of your container. Gently rotate the container around the imagined axle while keeping the container in the same position and you’ll find you can easily release the water without causing any current at all.
Therefore what you’ll find, if you’re using a 50 litre tank, is it should only have about 20 litres of water in it due to the low water level of 10 to 15 cm for spawning. So by adding an extra 2 litres you’re really only adding about 10% which will not be enough to stress your new fry. Then I add more water again the next day or if you want, you can even add the same amount of water again later in the day.
Then when you clean the bottom of the tank for the first time (with the method I’m about to explain) you will find you’ll probably remove about 3 litres so over a period of a few days the volume of water in the tank will increase until it is nearly full. Therefore after about 10 days you’ll find you should be able to do about 50% water changes without it having any adverse effect on your fry, taking into account that you increase the amount of water you add each day.
Therefore the method I use to clean the bottom of my fry tank is a siphon. Now using a siphon might be considered a pretty basic operation but when it comes to siphoning waste from the bottom a fry tank, that is covered in tiny Betta fry, it can become a bit tricky. So for starters I use 6mm clear plastic hose and having enough control over it so you can position it exactly where you want it is vitally important. I’ve heard that attaching a chopstick to the end is one method but what I did was get some 8mm hose about 20 cm long, slice it along the length and then fit it over the end of the 6 mm hose. This will then make it stiff enough so you then have enough control over where you want to position it.
Then the fun part begins, siphoning the waste without siphoning your fry as well. So the first point I’d like to make is it can take about 20 to 30 minutes the first few times but as your fry get larger it does become quite a bit easier and quicker. Being able view inside your tank from above will also make it easier as well. Therefore to do this effectively it does become a two handed operation and does require some amount of co-ordination. I use one hand to position the end of the siphon inside the tank and I place one finger on the other hand over the other end of the siphon which is in the bucket.
This is the important part. The finger over the end in the bucket is used to control the flow of water. If it looks like you’re about to siphon a fry then just block the end in the bucket with your finger and the flow will stop. It’s as easy as that. Therefore you’ll find that the whole operation is controlled by just one finger on your bottom hand (in/above the bucket) as you are constantly releasing and blocking the flow as you select what you do and what you don’t want to siphon.
Then from time to time you will find that you maybe weren’t quite quick enough and a fry will get siphoned but if you’ve still placed your finger over the bottom end quite often you’ll find the water flow will stop and the fry will be trapped just a few centimetres inside the hose. This is the reason why I use a clear plastic hose and why I don’t use a chopstick. It’s so I can easily see inside the hose to confirm if it was a fry or just some waste.
If it’s a fry I just slowly raise the bottom end of the hose so it’s above the end in the tank and then slowly release my finger and the fry will be released back into the tank. Then just place your finger back over the end again and lower it back into the bucket and continue siphoning. It’s as easy as that. It does take some co-ordination but I’m sure before you know it you should be able to do it in your sleep.
Now from time to time you will find that 1 or 2 fry will end up in the bucket, so once you’ve finished, have a good look inside the bucket. I then use a white styro foam cup to scoop it up and return it to the tank. Also don’t use a black bucket. Find one with a contrasting colour such as white or maybe yellow as it will make it easier when searching for siphoned fry.
Next up is the question of how often to siphon your tank. Well this is up to you. I do mine everyday, if not every second day. The more often you do it, the quicker your fry will grow. It has been reported that fish will release a hormone into the water that will limit their growth. Therefore slowly getting to the stage where you’re doing about 40 to 50% water changes per day will help them to grow faster. At the end of the day though it is up to you but I’ve found that as your fry grow larger it is easier to clean/siphon the tank.
Another thing I’ve started doing recently is to place my Java Moss in a mess plastic container that floats. This keeps the bottom of the tank clear and makes the job of siphoning the bottom easier and less time consuming. If you like you can use Riccia Fluitans or water sprite, which both float unaided instead of the Java Moss.
Therefore, in a nut shell, I start adding water after just a few days, in small enough amounts so the Betta fry don’t get stressed, but also at a rate so I can fill the tank as soon as possible. I then slowly increase the amount I add each day. I start cleaning/siphoning the bottom of the tank as soon as I can see the fry clearly and use a 6mm clear hose. As the fry get larger I then use a 8mm hose as this will get the job done even faster. As far as how often you should clean it? Well, as I said, the more the better but I’ll leave that up to you.
Therefore cleaning you Betta Fry Tank can be a chore but how much work it takes does depend on how you go about. Hopefully some of my methods can help you or maybe you’ve got some better ideas. If so then why not leave a comment below so you can share them with everyone else. You never know what might be obvious to you might not be to others.
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