If you just purchased a new betta fish from Josh’s Frogs and you’re totally new to fish and unsure what to expect next, have no fear! This blog will walk you through the first week of your new betta’s life, answering some of the most commonly asked questions and introducing you to aquarium upkeep.
When you place your order for a new betta, you want to have done your research, checked out our care sheet, and have an aquarium set up and ready for your new pet. If you haven’t done this and are considering ordering a betta from Josh’s Frogs, be sure to start now. The product description and care sheet blog will walk you through what a betta needs to thrive. You can also order a betta kit from us set to arrive at least a week or two before you plan on getting your fish.
As with any aquarium, a betta aquarium should be set up 24-48 hours prior to the first inhabitants being introduced. However, if you can stand to wait a week after setting up, this will even better ensure everything is safe with your filter, heater, lights, and water parameters. If you don’t have a water testing kit or access to a pet shop that will test your water, you will want to order one of these as well. This will tell you if your water is safe to add your new betta, and help you track the nitrogen cycle, which is crucial to your aquarium’s success. You will also want to order a small siphon and have an aquarium specific bucket for performing your water changes after you receive your betta.
Once you’ve ordered your betta with us, you will want to make sure you also order his food or have that on hand. All of our bettas are feeding on pellets at the time of purchase, though you may choose to supplement their diet with flakes, frozen bloodworms, live fruit flies or even the occasional offering of white worms. You can always add this stuff later, but you definitely want to at least have the betta pellets at the time of purchase.
You will also want to double check water parameters, making sure that ammonia/nitrites are zero and also check that the heater is functioning properly (you will want to check temps daily as a habit to keep tabs on this). If you can keep the temperature between 76-82 degrees fahrenheit, your betta will appreciate it. Ideally, your betta aquarium should be primed and ready to go when you order. If anything is off, you may need to replace equipment or reach out to us to remedy.
Unpack the box and inspect your betta. If anything is alarming with the packaging or the health of the fish, document this immediately and reach out to us. We have a 3 day live arrival guarantee on all of our live animals, fish included. Once you’re satisfied that the fish is healthy and has arrived in one piece, you can start acclimation. The easiest method is to turn off all lights and float the bag the fish arrived in into the aquarium. After 10-15 minutes of floating, cut open the bag and introduce a small amount (10% increase in volume) of aquarium water. Continue to float the bag and introduce aquarium water (10% increase) in 10 minute intervals until a half an hour or more has passed. Be careful that the fish is able to breathe from the surface of the water in the bag throughout this process.
After introducing aquarium water gradually over a half an hour period, pour the contents of the bag into a net over a bucket or sink to discard the water and place the net into the aquarium to release the fish. It is best to leave the lights out for at least a few hours after introduction to keep stress at a minimum.
Your fish should adapt fairly quickly to its new aquarium. You’ll want to monitor its behavior. If it is sluggish, has clamped fins, or is otherwise looking unhappy, test the water immediately and reach out to us. Bettas are not the fastest fish on the planet, but they should be alert and active after the first 24 hours. Although it may be tempting to feed right away, you’ll want to wait until the fish is actively begging or at least 24-48 hours before offering food. If your fish misses its first couple of meals, do not be alarmed. If it struggles to eat what you are giving it or spits it out, you may need to switch to a smaller food.
After the first 24 hours, you will also want to switch to a normal day/night schedule. A timer can help with this, but typically you’ll want to give the fish 8-12 hours of light a day.
After the first week has passed, and the fish is eating normally and adapted, you’ll want to perform your first water change. During the cycling process, we do not recommend changing out more than 25% of the aquarium’s volume. In general, keeping up with 25% water changes weekly for the life of the aquarium is a recipe for success. You can read our blog about how to perform weekly water changes here.
Basically, you’ll want a small siphon and a bucket designated for aquarium use. You’ll also want to make sure heaters are unplugged or lowered if they are at risk of being exposed during the water change, and if you are using a hang on the back filter, you’ll want to be mindful of this as well.
Once you’ve siphoned 25% of the water out of the aquarium, you’ll want to dump it down the drain and refill with clean, treated tap water. When we say “treated”, we mean conditioned with a dechlorinator if you have city water. This will neutralize chlorine and chloramine and make your water safe for your fish. You’ll also want to try to match the temperature of the water going into your aquarium to the temperature of the aquarium itself. This will reduce the stress on your fish.
It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months for an aquarium to cycle. Once it is cycled and your fish is established, it’s fairly smooth sailing as far as aquarium upkeep is concerned. You will want to feed your betta a small amount daily or every other day, keep tabs on the heater and filter, and test water weekly during the cycle and monthly after cycling is complete. Water changes should occur weekly, and filter maintenance is once a month (to change out carbon and rinse sponges or biomedia in treated tap water).
Care of your betta is an ongoing process that will hopefully last several years to come. If ever you encounter an issue, feel free to reach out to your fishy pals at Josh’s Frogs!
My New Betta Tank Journal by Aqueon