Reading literature on Beta can make pet ownership seem daunting. But honestly, Betas are relatively hardy and easy to care for. The two biggest worries are feeding (4-6 little food pellets twice a day, more than that and you will kill your fish and make his water dirtier more quickly) and keeping your fish warm during colder months. If you can manage those things, then your pet should live 2-3 years.
Cleaning is really a secondary worry. You should aim for every month... However, if you get too busy, your fish won't go belly up if you drag it out to around 2 or 2 1/2 months, like we did. Oops.
Step 1: Gather Your Cleaning Supplies
Step 2: Water
2 or so cups of water. I use filtered. If you use distilled water you don't HAVE to condition your water, so that is probably best.
Step 3: Empty Measuring Cup
For getting some of the dingy water out of the tank.
* I use two separate cups because it makes it quicker for me, but you only need one
Step 4: Brand New Tooth Brush
Why brand new? Fish are sensitive even the slightest people germs you introduce to your fish's tank, or toothpaste residue could potentially wreak havok with your pets environment.
Besides, I get free tooth brushes from the dentist and I don't particularly care for them, so they're perfect.
Remember, if your going to keep this tooth brush for future tank cleanings, don't use it for anything else.
Step 5: Beta Water Conditioner
A must for tap water. Optional for distilled water. I recommend it even for distilled because the conditioner encourages protective slime growth on your fish.
Step 6: Bucket or Tub for Dirty Water
Kinda speaks for itself. This isn't necessary if you're cleaning near a sink, unless you like to add this water to your plants... They will love it. It's full if fish poo and slime and fish food particles.
Step 7: Take Dirty Water Out
Just a cup or 2 ought to be fine. I leave Fred in his tank. I don't like to stress him out too much.
Don't do too much more than a couple of cups and don't ever completely change out the water. The old water and rocks on the bottom contain beneficial bacteria for your Beta. If you empty it out completely and clean it to a pristine condition you risk really stressing your fish out and then the bacteria has to start all over again. That's not ideal.
Step 8: Scrub Adubdub
In the first pic you can see just how dirty his tank was!!!
Using your new, or only previously used for fish tank cleaning, tooth brush, scrub away any scum or mineral deposits on the tank. We had some algae starting to grow on ours so that had to go.
As you scrub you'll come across your fish's old slime that he's sloughed off on the surfaces; scoop that out too. As you can see he deposited a fair amount of that stuff in his castle. I pulled the castle out and rinsed it it off.
As you can see from the third pic, we had quite a bit of slime... My blueberry bush will be happy today!
Step 9: Add Conditioner
Put conditioner in the fresh water that you're adding to your tank. For 2 cups you just need a couple drops.
Give it a little stir with the tooth brush and pour it into the tank.
Step 10: Happy Fred!
Your fish is happy and ready to de-stress!
Step 11: Return to His Natural Habitat
Step 12: Clean Your Cleaning Supplies
I rinse the toothbrush with hot water, rubber band it to the conditioner bottle and put it in my closet (sometimes little girls can try to be TOO helpful and accidentally kill their pets...).
As for the measuring cups, I wash them with soap and water, for human use. You could have task specific measuring cups, but that's a little overboard for me.
NEVER, EVER CLEAN YOUR TANK WITH DETERGENTS!!!!!
The residue will kill your pet. Even if you are replacing your fish, just take out the old stuff and rinse it with hot water or replace it. Detergents like Dawn are formulated to destroy natural oils that are beneficial to your pet.
Step 13: Don't Panic!
Your fish's water will be murky for anywhere from 2 days to a couple of weeks. That's normal and will correct itself.