I took the day off work today. The weather was beautiful and I was sure I should enjoy it, but after taking a lie-in and doing some chores I found myself at a loss to what to do with myself. I kept checking my work emails, looking for an excuse to get dragged back in. I didn’t get one. In the end, after some time sitting in my favourite chair, absentmindedly flicking through social media, I decided to get started on my Betta fishes new tank. He was housed in an undersized 12L. I had incorrectly stated it as 19L on this blog, but it was actually only 12L. With a heater and filter it wasn’t too bad, but it was far from ideal. I had wanted to upgrade him to something larger and I was thinking perhaps something fancier too, but bigger, fancier tanks are expensive, and my father pointed out (rightly) that my floors might not like two very large tanks. So in the end I picked up a cheap 24L kids aquarium – basically the larger version of his current tank. That way, I could keep my existing heater, wouldn’t have to pick up too many new decorations…and there wouldn’t be too much extra weight on my floor.

I decided for his new tank that I wanted to add some wood. His tank always seemed a bit plastic and although I wasn’t about to put in some real plants – I didn’t want to buy lighting, or deal with snails/algae/dead plant matter like I do for my big tank- I wanted something organic. A big slab of wood seemed a good choice to add something natural. I picked it up last weekend- crouching on the floor of the pet shop looking through all their samples for the perfect piece, I’d even brought a tape measure with me to check the sizes- and I had been soaking it all week to remove the tannins. These tannins leech out of the wood, turning the water brown. It’s harmless to the fish, but I didn’t want that kind of look for my tank. But the tannins wouldn’t go, so in the end I found myself spending my afternoon boiling this wood in a big pot on the stove. Exciting, right.

It seemed to do a good job getting those tannins out though. And the boiling would also have killed any potential bacteria or fungus in the wood, which is good too.

After that, I rinsed out the new tank, rinsed the new gravel (I was going to combine black gravel with the lighter gravel in the existing tank for a fancy looking substrate), emptied out the existing tank partly so I could move it to one side and put the new one on the table. Then I began to pull apart the old tank, poor fish still in it and looking quite bemused, and build up the new one. Finally, I moved the fish to a bucket so I could finish taking out the items and substrate in the existing tank and empty the last of the water in the new tank. (Poor little guy was definitely having a time of it through this process. Thankfully in the wild, as far as my research suggests, betta’s have to deal with these situations now and then. They have a gland that lets them breathe in air to get oxygen to help them deal with stagnant water conditions. So he could deal without a filter and a small space, only for a time though, as it would be stressful for him to actually live this way. That’s why you shouldn’t keep betta’s in those pathetic 7L betta tanks with no heaters or filters. They may survive it, but it’s stressful for the fish to live like that…I found this article on the Betta’s natural habitat very interesting. You can find a picture of a betta in the wild here, which is also interesting.)

I removed the old tank, pushed the new tank into position and put the fish back in alongside his bucket of water. (I decided to risk using the new tank straight away, due to needing to place it in the same location.) Slowly, I filled the tank, watching as my fish explored every nook of his new territory. Finally, I got the heater and old filter on. I still need to create a baffle for the new filter so I can get that established. I need to buy a new background for the tank. The fish looks happy though, albeit still a little bewildered by all the new space.

He is finally in a proper sized tank. Finally, his tank doesn’t look so pathetic next to my big 120L.

I’m very pleased with it too, though I do think I want to make it even more heavily planted going forwards…