Maximum tank size for bettas

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Jaysee

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We've all seen the "what's the smallest tank I can keep a betta in" threads.

What's the biggest tank you can keep them in?
 

sirdarksol

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Tank depth is the big thing, as the bettas need to be able to easily access the surface, and as they get older, it can be hard work for them to always hover. There's no hard-and-fast rule, though. I like keeping bettas in a standard 10 gallon, and I don't think I'd ever keep one in any deeper tank than that. If I got myself a tank (okay, more of a pond, really) that was 100g, but only a foot deep, I'd likely think about setting up a heavily planted section and putting a betta in there.
 
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Lucy

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Great topic Jaysee. lol
I agree with sds, a betta needs to get to the top for air.
There aren't many people that would be satisfied in having a large tank for a 3" fish. The temptation would be too great to add tank mates. Usually unsuitable ones.

MM may be the exception. He beloved Will had a 60g to himself and he did great.
 

jerilovesfrogs

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i think a 20L would be a great large space for a betta. tons of room, but not too deep. if you're really into giving him/her the royal treatment, a 40 breeder would also be a palace.

though if you're into keeping more than one betta, most ppl couldn't have multiple 20gs all over. 5 gallon are a nice size for the fish and for the kitchen counter. though i think when one of my boys in the 10 gallon divided goes, i may just leave it as a one-fish-tank.....i think all that room would be really nice for him.
 

Meenu

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Lucy said:
Will had a 60g to himself and he did great.
That gives me a lot of insight. If we eliminate tankmates out of this discussion, and just look at how a betta would do in a deep tank, this lets me know that they can do fine in a deeper tank.

I know that I've read that if they are in too-deep water, they can drown if they can't reach the top (weakened for whatever reason, so can't swim well). So you can keep a betta in a deep tank, put in plants that are tall and broad-leaved for the betta to rest on if he needs it, and it should be fine, then? Or am I missing something?
 

sirdarksol

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Meenu said:
That gives me a lot of insight. If we eliminate tankmates out of this discussion, and just look at how a betta would do in a deep tank, this lets me know that they can do fine in a deeper tank.

I know that I've read that if they are in too-deep water, they can drown if they can't reach the top (weakened for whatever reason, so can't swim well). So you can keep a betta in a deep tank, put in plants that are tall and broad-leaved for the betta to rest on if he needs it, and it should be fine, then? Or am I missing something?
It has worked for quite a few people in the past. Bettas particularly like leafy plants that spread out, like wistera.
I have had bad luck with bettas, which is one reason I won't keep them in deeper tanks. In one case, when my tank got overrun with cyanobacteria, if the tank had been deeper, my betta at the time probably wouldn't have survived. I've had another whose fins outgrew him, and he was unable to get himself to the surface eventually.
 
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Jaysee

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Fish drowning....thats like an oxymoron. I mean, salt water sharks can drown if they are immobilized, but that's unique to sharks.
 

Meenu

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sirdarksol said:
I've had another whose fins outgrew him, and he was unable to get himself to the surface eventually.


Hmm... interesting. So his fins grew long enough that they became too heavy for him to swim well? Very inefficient from an evolutionary perspective.
 

sirdarksol

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Jaysee said:
Fish drowning....thats like an oxymoron. I mean, salt water sharks can drown if they are immobilized, but that's unique to sharks.
No it isn't. There are freshwater catfish that need to keep moving, too. And not all sharks need to remain moving. Scientists have found that many of them can actively move water across their gills.

Anyway, because of the labyrinth organ, bettas and other anabantoids need to be able to reach the surface, or they will eventually drown.
 
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Meenu said:
this lets me know that they can do fine in a deeper tank.
You're missing horizontal swim space if you're refering to something like a hex or tubular shaped tank.

Meenu said:
So his fins grew long enough that they became too heavy for him to swim well?
Some bettas do grow fins that are too heavy for their little bodies. I would think this is more of a breeding thing than evolution.
 

sirdarksol

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Meenu said:
Hmm... interesting. So his fins grew long enough that they became too heavy for him to swim well? Very inefficient from an evolutionary perspective.
Yep. But the individuals of betta splendens that we buy at the petstore have a lot of genetic traits that have nothing to do with natural selection. They've been purposefully bred for larger tails, fuller finnage, etc... In some individuals, these traits go too far. Also, in the case of bettas, it's possible for a fish to be stunted by being kept with his brothers for too long. Sometimes, the fins keep growing.
It's similar to what happened with pugs, Scottish folds, and domestic turkeys. All possess traits that make the breed nonviable as wild animals, but make them, for varying reasons, appealing as domestic animals.
 
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Jaysee

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sirdarksol said:
No it isn't. There are freshwater catfish that need to keep moving, too. And not all sharks need to remain moving. Scientists have found that many of them can actively move water across their gills.

Anyway, because of the labyrinth organ, bettas and other anabantoids need to be able to reach the surface, or they will eventually drown.
There are a few that can, like nurse sharks, but they are the exception not the norm.

So why is the depth of the tank not an issue for gouramis?

I'm still unclear as to how the fish drowns.

What are the symptoms of drowning?

How would you know that drowning was the cause of death?
 
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Lucy

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You know very well the function of the labyrinth organ.
If you don't, I'd suggest reading up on the anatomy of the fish you keep.

It makes me wonder what the ulterior motive is for some of the above questions.
I, for one will not be baited any further.
 
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Jaysee

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There's no baiting and no alterior motive. The labrynth organ is an auxillary breathing apparatus - the gills of the fish still work.

Those aren't trick questions, they are legitamite. In the thread that this thread origionated from, it was stated that the tank was too deep for bettas, but no mention of the gouramis the poster has in the tank.

Excuse me for questioning a widely held belief. "That's just the way it is" answers just aren't satisfying.
 

Meenu

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Jaysee said:
In the thread that this thread origionated from, it was stated that the tank was too deep for bettas, but no mention of the gouramis the poster has in the tank.
I don't know why we say deep tanks are fine for gouramis but not bettas. It's an interesting issue, to me at least. But from what Lucy posted about MM's betta in a 60, and SDS's statement that people have done it, I imagine that unless the betta is weak from disease or old age (or heavy finnage), then the depth is probably okay? And from Lucy's earlier comment, it seems like maybe the advice is given not so much because the depth is an issue, but to discourage tankmates. Although if that's the case, then I think we should just give the real reason along with an explanation.

I've actually had some of the same thoughts and questions you are raising, so I didn't take this as baiting. If someone knows the answers, I'm really interested in reading about it. I'll google and see if there are any articles on it, too, but if anyone knows of a source to read about this, I'd be interested.
 

Butterfly

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Personally I would think the reason Gouramis aren't restricted to depth is because their fins are not as elaborate as Betta's usually are. Gouramis seem to be more vigorous swimming from the bottom of a deeper tank but a Betta gets tired very quickly if expected to swim from much of a depth at all. That's just from personal experience with gouramis(dwarf) and Betta's.
Carol
 

ccb04

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Probably the largest tank I would keep a betta in would be a 20 gallon long. It atleast has good dimensions for a betta being longer and more shallow (30Lx12Wx12H). Even with a 20 gallon long though ... I'd be tempted to divide it into (2) 10 gallon or (4) 5 gallon compartments.

A 15 gallon (24Lx12Wx12H) would probably be the largest tank I'd consider keeping a single betta in. That said ... I prefer 5.5 gallon standard glass, 6.6g bookshelf and standard 10 gallon.

As Lucy mentioned, many folks likely wouldn't be content just keeping a betta in a 20 gallon long or larger. Prehaps a school of cories would work (I've read/heard some having success with them) ... but I can't think of much else in the way of fish.
 

sirdarksol

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Jaysee said:
There are a few that can, like nurse sharks, but they are the exception not the norm.
Hmmm. Scientific research says the reverse. A few species have lost the ability to actively pump water over their gills (lamnidae being the biggest example, and the reason it was long-believed that sharks could only breathe by moving), a few species are only capable of respirating via actively pumping water over their gills (primarily bottom-feeding sharks that spend most of their time holding still), and the majority of sharks possess the ability to both actively pump water over their gills and to use ramjet respiration to increase oxygen flow during periods of high activity.
However, my point was more that the trait you referred to is not unique to sharks, that there are other fish that possess the same limitation.

As far as anabantoids being able to drown; it's much like many turtles. Some turtles are capable of underwater respiration via the skin. However, they still need to breathe air every once in awhile.
Bettas need to get air through their labyrinth organs periodically, or they die. Not sure the precise reason why, but a betta kept in an aquarium that doesn't allow access to air will die.
This is all likely due to the fact that bettas have to rely largely on their labyrinth organ to breathe, given that, much of the time, the betta's water will be pretty low in oxygen content, due to heat and massive amounts of vegetation.

With all of that being said, I have never heard of a gourami being drowned. Part of this is likely due to the fact that nobody keeps gourami in something like a vase with the surface coated with plants. Also, gourami are much better swimmers. It may be, however, that gourami aren't as reliant on their labyrinth organs as bettas.
 
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Jaysee

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Oh. I wonder why sharks drown when they're finned. And why they die when they are hooked on longlines. They drown on the longlines. I think the fact that most sharks never stop swimming is why they're thought to need to keep swimming to live.

Also, killer whales have been documented killing sharks by attacking from the side and holding them upside down, stationary, till they drown. There's a phenomenon called tonic where a shark goes into a trance when held upside down. Scientists who utilize this in order to study and take samples of the sharks are quite worried about drowning the sharks.

Perhaps all the scientists need to get together and iron this out.

EDIT: you are correct though, that most sharks are able to pump water - there are far more sharks that inhabbit the bottom of the ocean then that swim around. I wasn't thinking about them because they are rarely encountered.

But to get back on point. The theory is the gills don't work?
 

sirdarksol

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Most of the sharks that drown when trapped in nets or hooked are the highly predatory, extremely fast ones that are obligate ram-breathers, again, primarily of the lamnidae family.

Shark - Wikipedia
There is plenty more information out there. It makes for very interesting reading. The myth that all sharks need to be moving to respirate started when people noted that there were dead sharks in their nets. They presumed that all sharks were the same, and that all of them needed to move to breathe.

As far as your last statement, where in this discussion did you get that? There is a world of difference between the statement "Bettas cannot rely on their gills as their sole means of respiration" and the statement "Bettas' gills don't work." Going back to the turtle example; just because a turtle will drown if not allowed access to air at some point doesn't mean that the oxygen transfer through the skin doesn't work. It's that it isn't enough for the animal to solely survive on.
 
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