Because of their solitary nature, elegant appearance and vibrant colour varieties, betta fish are an incredibly popular choice for the inexperienced aquarist. Although betta fish are fairly low-maintenance when compared to other varieties, many novices make the mistake of assuming they can thrive in just about any condition. Because they are almost always kept alone, it’s true that most betta fish will be more than fine with a smaller tank.
A solitary fish is also going to produce far less waste than a well-stocked aquarium, so a modest filtration system is also usually more than sufficient for your needs. However, one area you will need to focus is maintaining a suitable pH level. For novices, this can be daunting. Our guide has all the information you’ll need to ensure pH levels are properly maintained with little fuss.
Suitable pH Levels for Betta Fish
When it comes to pH levels for betta fish, you should be aiming for neutrality. In fact, a pH level of 7.0 is the ideal. That being said, betta fish are fairly resilient creatures. They should do well in water with slightly lower pH levels, with most varieties able to handle somewhat more acidic conditions. However, the same does not apply in reverse. Betta fish will not cope well if the pH level swings toward the alkaline side of the spectrum.
Although a neutral pH level is ideal, you should ultimately aim to preserve the pH level present after establishing your tank. Even if you start out with slightly more acidic tank conditions, your betta fish is more likely to benefit from these levels being preserved over time than if you were to constantly attempt to adjust levels to achieve absolute neutrality.
How pH Levels Affect Betta Fish
If your tank is suffering from low pH levels, you’ll quickly know about it. One of the easiest ways to identify an issue with pH levels is to physically inspect your fish for any new lesions or burns on their skin and scales. If the water in your tank is becoming too acidic, these burn marks will quickly become apparent. As soon as you spot such issues, you should carry out a detailed analysis of the pH levels in your tank.
Swimming behaviour can also be affected by abnormal pH levels. If levels are too acidic, you may notice more frantic swimming behaviour. If the acidity of the water has caused injury to the gills of your betta fish, you may also notice your pets displaying gasping behaviour. Such behaviour isn’t always an indicator of low pH levels, however. Sometimes, this activity can be the result of a high concentration of harmful toxins in tank water, or an indicator of more serious disease.
High pH levels can also be a serious issue in betta fish tanks. Substantial algae growth is a telltale sign that tank water is suffering from a high pH level issue. Although abundant algae isn’t going to immediately cause your fish too much of an issue, it will limit your viewing possibilities. An alkaline tank environment can also encourage the development of diseases in betta fish.
Generally speaking, betta fish kept in tanks with high pH levels suffer from compromised immune systems and will more easily fall prey to potentially lethal diseases. Although you should always avoid maintaining alkaline conditions in a betta tank, if you do encounter an unavoidable situation with such levels, you’ll have to work doubly hard when it comes to inspecting your fish for signs of disease and injury.
Commit to Regular Testing
The best way to preserve healthy pH levels for your betta fish to invest in reliable testing equipment. Water testing kits are arguably the most effective solution for assessing pH levels. These kits are fairly accurate and provide reliable readings, although they only offer a limited testing range. Therefore, if your tank water is considerably acidic of alkaline, these tests won’t give you an idea of how serious the issue is.
Testing strips are another option. These are very affordable and easy to use, but they’re not the most reliable when it comes to accurate readings. A far more reliable option is a digital testing kit. These devices are simply dipped into a sample of tank water and provide you with almost instant readings. The great thing about digital testing devices is that they offer accurate readings across the entire pH range.