How To Acclimate Betta Fish?

Beautiful Bettas like most fish need special care when it comes to the environment but it is extremely important to pay extra attention when you transport your Betta from one environment to a new home. You cannot just dump the fish from a bag or a cup into a new home. There are certain procedures you need to follow if you want your pet to survive the transition. The essential procedure is how to acclimate Betta fish to a new tank. 

What Is Acclimation?

The first thing we need to learn is what is acclimation. It is the process that happens when you move your Betta from one environment to another. For instance, you move your Betta pet from a bag or other temporary container into a tank. The process of acclimation is actually, gradual adjusting the fish to the change of environment. That means the change in water temperature and the water conditions. 

how to acclimate betta fish

Water Switch Acclimation

Performing water changes are normally quite often if you are a fish keeper. In most cases, and more often that change is partial for the purpose of diluting waste and introducing fresh water to contribute to the overall health and chemistry of your tank. 

If you are setting the tank for the first time you need to prepare it well before you introduce your pet. There are certain steps and safety procedures that need to be followed. 

Prepare the water ahead of time because tap water is not good for your fish. You could use a container to fill it with tap water and let it sit for several days. When the time comes fill in the tank and add a water conditioner if you want to eliminate chlorine and other chemicals that can harm your Betta. Rinse all decorations and things that you are going to put in the tank. Wash the gravel by rinsing it with warm water to eliminate dirt until it is completely clean. After all this, you are ready to assemble the tank. Put the gravel and spread it evenly, put the decorations and plants. Attach all the equipment that you plan to have like a filter, thermometer and other pieces. Pour the water you have prepared earlier until you fill up the tank. After you have started the filter, pump and other equipment in the tank let it work for a while and then put the Betta. The tank should be set 24 preferably 48 hours before your Betta’s arrival.

Drip Method Acclimation

Only proper acclimation ensures successful relocation and if your tank is set and the time has come to bring in a Betta you can use two methods for this procedure. Be patient and attentive, do not rush and follow the steps that we will explain so that your pet adjusts properly to a new environment. And remember to keep the lights off during the process. 

The first method that is considered advanced is the drip method which acclimates the fish very slowly and is considered very safe. This method uses a plastic airline tube that needs to be long enough to reach the tank and the container or cup where your Betta is. Now you need to follow certain steps if you want this procedure to be done correctly and safely for your fish. 

  1. Place the tank higher than the bag or container, you will be using the gravity
  2. You need to tie a knot at the middle of the tube so that you control the water flow
  3. Put one end in the tank to ensure it is held in place, if necessary, tape it.
  4. Take the other end and with your mouth provoke suction like when you are drinking from a straw. When the water starts flowing, put the other end in the cup, bag or container where your Betta is. 
  5. Check if there is a drop every two seconds. If it is too fast tie another knot to slow it down
  6. Be careful not to overflow the bag, cup or container when you reach 50 per cent new water

Do not rush this process, do it slowly and steadily. If you do it fast you will shock your fish and stress it. Observe the fish after the process of acclimation. You may notice changes such as clamping fins or color loss but, in most cases, your Betta will refuse to eat.  Each Betta will react differently to the stress it survived. Do not worry, just be patient and in time your Betta will get back to normal.

Floating Method Acclimation

When it comes to the other method, the floating method, you also need to follow certain steps so that the procedure is done carefully and correctly. 

  1. Keep the light turned off or dimmed because your fish may suffer severe stress
  2. Put the bag with your Betta that is sealed to float in the tank that is fully prepared in advance. Let it float for 15 to 30 minutes. This way the water in the bag will adjust slowly to the temperature of the water in the tank until they match.
  3. After fifteen to thirty minutes, you can start exposing your Betta to the water in the tank. Take the bag, hold the bag and cut it to make an air pocket. Add slowly a cup of water from the tank and let 50 per cent of the water form a tank in the bag. Do not pour the water from a bag into a tank, discard it elsewhere. Let the bag sit for another 15 to 30 minutes. Let your pet adjust slowly to the water temperature, pH level, mineral hardness and other parameters. 
  4. Repeat the process several times until the bag is full. After every refill put the bag back into the water facing upright.
  5. Repeat the process every five minutes until you have changed all the water from a bag with the tank water.
  6. The water from a bag should be discarded not put in the tank.
  7. Once you have done this, the full process of acclimation takes the net and leaves your Betta in the tank.
  8. Do not feed your Betta the moment you let in in the tank 
  9. Observe it carefully for some time

How Long Do Bettas Need To Acclimate? 

Depending on the method you choose, acclimation time may vary. It can last from 30 minutes up to an hour but the longer the better. If the water temperatures are very different it will take longer but the most important rule is not to hurry and be patient because your Betta’s further health will depend much on the process.  

What Happens If You Don’t Acclimate Fish

If you do not acclimate your pet when changing the environment, you may kill it. Osmotic shock is something that happens when the process of acclimation is skipped. That is actually a sudden change in salinity connected to the inability of the fish to regulate the level of salt to water inside the body.  That change causes acute stress known as osmotic stress and your Betta pet may die within the next couple of days. Proper acclimation is all it takes to provide your fish with a chance to survive after changing the environment. 

How To Acclimate Your Betta To A New Tank? Step By Step

When moving your Betta from one environment to another there are certain steps that need to be followed. We will tell you all about it now and you try to keep these pieces of advice in mind. 

Step 1: Set up a tank for Betta

  • Before you bring in a new inhabitant you need to arrange everything several days before the arrival
  • Choose the right size of a tank depending on how many fish you plan to keep. If your betta is going to be alone you can go with less than 5 gallons tank but if you may bring in a mate sometime in the future the best choice is 5 gallons or more. 
  • Prepare the tank and supply it with decorations, gravel, hiding places and plants. 
  • Fill the water inside the tank 
  • Pour water conditioner as prescribed. It will clear water from unwanted matters and impurities. 
  • It is preferable to use a heater for steady temperature.
  • The water should sit in the tank for a minimum of 24 hours and longer is preferred.

Step 2:  Test the water in the tank

  • Test the temperature
  • Test the pH level, and levels of nitrates, nitrites and ammonia. This information is the most important for your Betta when setting the tank. 
  • Before you start the acclimation process, test the water from a bag or a temporary container and see if it differs and how much.
  • Adjusting the parameters in the tank is necessary. 

Step 3: Acclimate your Betta

  • You can acclimate your Betta to a new environment in several ways and it is on you which option you will choose. Your Betta may be in a temporary container or in a bag and depending on that the process of acclimation may vary. 
  • If a Betta is in the bag, then we recommend a floating method which is thoroughly explained above, just follow the steps and you will be fine.
  • If a Betta is in a temporary container or a cup then it is easier to use the drip method which is explained in detail above.  
  • There is also an option of setting a quarantine tank where your Betta can stay for a couple of days before moving to a permanent tank. This will allow Betta to slowly adjust to water conditions. 

Step 4:  Let the Betta into a new home

  • When you successfully finish the process of acclimation you may gently use the net to move your Betta into a new home. 

Remember that the time you need to acclimate your pet may vary from fifteen minutes to hours. It is important to try to lower stress to a minimum. 

Important Tips:

  • Bettas do not like any sudden changes and be well aware of that. 
  • Follow the procedure of acclimation step by step
  • You may notice certain signs on your Betta such as dull coloration, clamped fins, loss of appetite. Those are the signs that your Betta is stressed from dislocation. Give it some time to recover and observe it.  
  • You may also notice other signs such as torn, shredded or missing fins or scales, bloating, swollen belly and sunken eyes. These are the signs of disease. Observe the fish so that you can take some steps and help the recovery. 
  • The first two weeks after the acclimation your pet should be monitored 
  • Every time you need to move your pet you need to perform proper acclimation

Final Thoughts

Bettas are one of the most beautiful fish pets to keep and they are not hard to maintain. It is worth learning the procedure of successful acclimation because you will have a magnificent creature enriching your tank. When we talk about acclimation it is all about being slow, patient and steady.  Follow our guide and at the end of this journey,  you will have a Betta friend happy and healthy for years.  

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