Monday, September 3, 2007

Heavy Current in Betta Tank

AquaOne 215L, originally uploaded by KittyKat3756.

H wrote,

I just bought a new female betta, Finona, who is quite young and small. I have her in the Eclipse 3 gallon but I noticed the current is quite strong for her. Do you have any recommendations to lessen the current? I am thinking it might get better for her once she gets bigger but any advice would be appreciated.

A: Often, when we find ourselves with a filter that doesn't allow adjustablity of the output we have to fashion ourselves some sort of homemade dampener to keep the strong current away from our bettas. In larger aquariums we are usually just trying to slow things down in the output area where the water is flowing into the tank. In a very small aquarium, like the Eclipse 3, the current can be quite strong throughout the entire tank making it a little more difficult for the fish and for us as we try to figure a way to cut the current.

In this case you may want to try cutting the toe out of a pair of pantyhose and rubberbanding it around the small water intake basket where debris is sucked into the aquarium. This is a method we often use when the suction at the intake is too great for our fish but it tends to create enough drag to slow the entire assembly. You may also want to try creating dam at the water's surface with a plastic tank divider. This method works quite well in larger aquariums and I have used it many times when breeding gouramis so that they can have perfectly still water at the surface to build their bubble nests.

To create this surface barrier I purchase one plastic mesh tank divider kit, available at just about any fish store, PetCo or PetSmart, and cut a long 1 to 2 inch strip from the mesh. I then attach it to the brackets as you would if you were setting up the divider, and attach the brackets to the sides of the aquarium, just around the flow output. Make sure the mesh is at the top of the water and sticking out the surface just a bit. (A quarter inch is fine.)

This method won't cut the current throughout the entire aquarium but will create a calm location where your girl can get away when she wants to.

A homemade mesh dam made from a mesh tank divider.

A third method, and my favorite, for cutting back on current is to plant the heck out of your aquarium. Lots of crypticorians and java ferns, not to mention little caves or ceramic hidey-holes are a great way to disperse some of that current. It's a little more costly then the other methods but it's gorgeous and fishies love it too.