Whether you’re a new fish owner or a seasoned veteran, the chances are that one of your fish mates has been having trouble adapting to their new home.
Many betta owners find that their little pal seems unhappy, stressed, and lethargic. This is because the poor guy is experiencing a process called “acclimation,” which can take up to four weeks before he will start acting like himself again!
We’ll tell you what acclimation is and how it works in this post. You might also learn some great tricks for making your fish comfortable as quickly as possible.
How to Acclimate Betta Fish?
During acclimation, fish are allowed to become used to a new environment and living conditions. It’s very similar to how people adapt to their new homes by visiting places or doing things they’re not used to. Your fish might be startled at first because he doesn’t know what’s going on, but after time he will figure it out and be more relaxed with the environment around him.
There are two methods of acclimation;
- Bag or cup floating Method
- Drip Method
A study published in the journal “Betta Fish International Journal” found that betta fish are more likely to acclimate to their new environment if they experience less stress and anxiety. This is because they need time to adjust and establish their territory. The study stated that “their whole nature would change in weeks, but with a ‘calm’ life, the changes happen slowly.”
Steps of Bag / Cup Floating Method
- Put betta fish in a bag and make sure that the fish floats to allow ventilation of gases and no water is trapped inside the bag. Also, add one teaspoon of aquarium water to the bag for each gallon of water you want your betta fish to be acclimated. For example, if you wish to your new fish in a five-gallon aquarium, add five tablespoons of aquarium water into the bag before placing your betta inside.
- Place the betta in an empty container or bowl with just enough room for it to swim around comfortably. Be sure that the container is filled with water of the same temperature and salinity as the aquarium. Keep a close eye on your betta for about one hour to make sure that it’s comfortable and healthy. If he seems to be struggling, stressed out, or lethargic, you can change his water again.
- After that hour, slowly dump the aquarium water into the bowl containing your betta until it reaches two inches over his head. If you’re using a bowl, aim for three-fourths of an inch over his head. Your betta fish should be comforted by now because he recognizes that familiar environment; however, continue to monitor him closely over the next few hours because he might still be stressed by now.
- After two hours, slowly pour the remaining water into the bowl until your betta is completely submerged. If you’re using a bowl, dump the remaining water in until it reaches one inch over his head and if you’re using a bag, leave the water until it gets two inches over his head.
- After another hour, slowly pour the remaining water in the container into your aquarium. If you’re using a small bowl, fill it with more aquarium water to keep up with how much was dumped into your bag or bowl.
- The last step is to open a cover on your aquarium and pop the betta out of the bag or bowl. If you’re using a backpack, carefully reach in with your hand, grab your little fish and gently place him in the aquarium. Remember that you will have to net or scoop out any oxygenated water inside the bag because it can hurt your fish by getting trapped in his gills!
- Once he settles down into his new home and you’re sure that he’s behaving normally, now you can add some other fish if you wish or start adding decorations or plants.
- Two hours later, you can give him his first meal.
Steps of Drip Method
- Place fish in a bag or cup and add aquarium water at the same temperature and salinity as the water currently in the aquarium to dilute any chemicals or toxins in the water that might cause stress to your betta fish. The amount of water you should add depends on how many gallons are already in your tank, but it’s usually one teaspoon per gallon that you want him to be acclimated to.
- Set your drip acclimation method up near the aquarium. If you’re using a bag, place it on a dish filled with water about three-fourths of an inch higher than your fish in the bag. So, for example, if your tank has one gallon of water, you should put just under a pint of aquarium water into your dish and pour it into the bag. Add five pints of aquarium water to your dish and pour them into the bag for five gallons.
- Situate your drip acclimation method so that the bowl is placed so that there’s at least one inch of water above the top edge of the drip acclimation system. The drip acclimation system should be about one inch above the betta fish’s head. If you’re using a bag, place it directly into your aquarium, positioning it where you desire. By the time the aquarium water has dripped down to your betta fish and into your tank, it will have dilution acclimated him to his new environment and his new tank mates!
- Observe your betta for signs of stress, exhaustion, or lethargy over the next hour or so. If he seems stressed, don’t worry because it’s common for new fish to act this way as they become re-adapted to their environment. If he looks ill or lethargic, you can change him right away with a fresh bowl of water.
- After an hour, you can proceed to the next step and continue dripping the aquarium water into your bag or dish until your tank water has reached two inches over the top edge of your acclimation system. If you’re using a backpack, aim for three-fourths an inch above his head when it comes to the two-inch mark; if you’re using a dish, aim for one inch above his head when it reaches the two-inch mark.
- After two hours, you can add the rest of your aquarium water over the top of your acclimation system to slowly drip into the bag or dish until you have poured in all twenty gallons.
- You should now have a filled bag or cup, and some water has dripped down to your betta fish. If you’re using a bag, now you can remove the bag and carefully net or scoop out all the water inside by reaching in with your hand. This will remove any oxygenated water in the bag, and it will calm down your fish.
- Now, you can gently place him into your aquarium and repeat the steps above during the next few hours until he settles down into his new environment. If he’s still showing signs of stress or exhaustion, change his bowl of water as per usual.
- Two hours later, give him his first feed!
What is Acclimatizing Betta Fish?
Acclimation is the process of adding water from the tank or new aquarium to your betta fish at room temperature and salinity to slowly change the water temperature and salinity over time. This helps ensure that your betta fish has a positive experience with his new environment.
Betta fish are susceptible to changes in water chemistry, temperature, and salinity because they come from small freshwater bodies in Cambodia. If their body is exposed to any drastic changes, it can cause stress and sickness due to a lack of adaptive capacity. However, anything in excess is also damaging. Your betta is used to living in muddy water, so rapid changes can cause this fish to suffer from ich and other bacterial infections.
If your betta lived in a small bowl or tank with a filter before you added him to your aquarium, he has not been exposed to the full variety of life in one tank before. He will be exposed to it for the first time when you add him to an established aquarium. This can also cause stress as he tries to adapt to the new environment.
Acclimating your betta is a significant step in his life. Allow him some time to adjust, and he will become accustomed to the new water supply that the filter provides. When you do add more water, you can introduce him slowly by slowly drip acclimating it in a covered container.
What Factors Matter for acclimating?
Betta fish are sensitive to temperature, and the drop in water temperature can cause them to be lethargic. You can choose to acclimate your bettas at a different temperature than the water currently in their tank, or you can use a bag with an aquarium thermometer inside it.
The best water temp for betta fish is 78-80 degrees (F)
If you’re using a bag, place your betta fish inside along with some of his favorite foods so that he’ll start eating. If you’re using a bowl, warm up your aquarium water by running it through a hot cycle for about 20-30 minutes. Add bottled aquarium water into your bowl until your betta is wholly submerged once it’s at the correct temperature (approximately 82 degrees Fahrenheit for tropical fish).
While the number of growth parameters for betta fish is relatively small, there are some important factors you should consider before acclimating your betta fish, especially because one of those growth parameters is water PH.
The water pH for a betta fish should be kept between 6.5 and 8
Water pH is essential for your betta fish because it affects its nutrients to be healthy and happy. For example, having a weak bacillus will weaken your pH level and make it hard for your betta to flourish as much as he could. As a result of this, you need to properly maintain the PH level in your aquarium so that you can keep the water properly according to its current needs.
Why is it Important to Acclimatize?
One of the most common problems you’re going to have with a betta fish is stress. This can result from various things, but you mustn’t just jump into introducing him into his new tank or bowl without first acclimating him.
If you don’t do this, he’ll likely be stressed and exhausted as he tries to adjust to his new environment and make sense of it all. For example, if you introduce a betta fish from a high alkaline environment to a low acidic one without first acclimating him, the PH change will cause his scales and fins gradual damage as time goes on!
What are the benefits of acclimating betta fish? Well, for starters, the process is essential to prevent various disturbances. For example, if you don’t acclimate him to his new environment gradually, he’ll be stressed out and exhausted when trying to adjust to it.
If you’re not sure about the stress level or well-being of your betta fish in its new environment, try watching for these key signs:
- Betta fish swimming upside down
Regurgitation refers to your betta fish vomiting up his food. When he’s stressed, it’s common for him to regurgitate his food and spit it out of his mouth. This is a natural stress response, so don’t worry! Just make sure that he doesn’t stop eating entirely and continue your acclimation process. Try giving him different foods until you’ve found the ideal one for him.
Betta fish swimming upside down
Another sign that he’s stressed can be a betta fish swimming upside down. When you first introduce him to his new tank, he may repeatedly swim around and change positions as he tries to figure out what is going on and where he is. If this happens, don’t worry; it’s perfectly normal! It’ll calm down after a couple of days.
When Do I need to Quarantine a Fish Before Introducing it?
Before introducing your betta fish, you need to ensure that his tank mates are not carrying any diseases. To do this, you can either quarantine them all together or give the new fish a few days to observe his tank mates.
To quarantine your tank mates, add some aquarium salt so they can’t hide in the tank and don’t have access to any food or hiding spots. If possible, make your tank smaller so your betta fish can get used to it and see it as its own.
Betta fish are sensitive to changes in their environment, so you must acclimate them before making them part of your aquarium set up or using the water for other purposes. It’s also essential for your betta fish to feel comfortable and get used to living in his new environment.
Acclimating a betta fish is not difficult, but it can take time depending on the type of acclimation system that you’re using if you want to use one. Acclimating a fish is one of the most complex parts of owning a tropical tank because they’re very sensitive and need constant care and attention.