Taking Care of an Older Giant Betta

Based on my experience with my ancient betta, here are some tips for caring for and keeping your older fish comfortable.

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Lower the Water Levels:

The water level should be low enough that the fish does not have to work too hard to breathe while yet allowing proper filtration. The water level is determined by how advanced the betta is; if you find him dozing or resting on a leaf half of the time, keep the water level below 8 inches. I’d limit it at 5 inches maximum if he appears to be sleeping virtually all of the time.

Increase the temperature:

They aren’t swimming about like they used to, burning energy. Maintain a larger temperature range for elderly bettas, such as 81–82 degrees Fahrenheit. This will keep them warm while they slumber, as well as reducing the risk of disease.

Ensure that there is a lot of foliage:

Provide plenty of comfortable sleeping spaces for old bettas who take naps throughout the day. Plenty of silk or real plants, preferably taller ones, would suffice, as they will allow the betta to sleep at the surface in the event that he has to breathe fast.

Use Frozen/Wet Food or Wiggle Food:

If they’re blind or almost blind, make sure they know there’s food around. If wriggling the food doesn’t grab their attention, you may need to switch them to wet food, which has a stronger stench. Bloodworms, beef heart, and brine shrimp are all good options. I’ve even experimented with using little portions of moist cat food with no bad effects. Your betta will discover it if you can smell it.

Increase the amount of water changes:

To kill an elderly fish, you don’t need much. Even the least quantity of ammonia, nitrites, or even nitrates above 20ppm can cause fin rot and internal germs, dooming an elderly fish. As a result, try to maintain the water as clean as possible. I wouldn’t allow nitrates exceed 10ppm in an elderly betta, and I’d strive to keep them at 5ppm if his condition is deteriorating.

Use Salt from a Freshwater Aquarium (Carefully):

Freshwater salt can help prevent infections and infection in fish with weak immune systems, thus for an older betta, I’d recommend a teaspoon every 5 gallons. If your betta has fungal or bacterial illnesses, reduce the dose to a tablespoon every 5 gallons until the infection is gone. Invertebrates may safely consume this quantity. Because dissolved salt can burn gills, always dissolve it in a separate container of water before adding it to the tank.

Note: It appears that salt is a contentious topic, with some claiming that it has no effect on fish.

Take into consideration medication:

When an elderly betta becomes ill, he is unlikely to live. If you don’t want to use salt—or if you want to use it in addition to salt—as a last option, you might consider medicine. Because fish medications sometimes cause more harm than benefit, I wouldn’t use them until he stopped eating and I knew exactly what ailment he was suffering from.

The length of a Betta’s life is determined by its origin:

If you buy a betta from a chain store, he won’t survive as long as he should because they are mistreated during the first 6–12 months of their lives. So don’t be too hard on yourself if he appears to be maturing too quickly. You’re doing everything properly if he has a heater, filtration, gets fed once or (in very little amounts) twice a day, and you make a partial water change once a week. 

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