Betta fish are one of our favorite kinds of fish, especially to have at home. Now, you can always have an aquarium with Betta fish in it, but that is kind of boring. We personally love Betta ponds, or in other words, outdoor ponds that you can enjoy from the comfort of your porch or patio.
However, making a Betta pond is not that easy. Sure, it is rewarding and cool, but a lot of work too. At any rate, how to make a Betta pond is what we are here to teach you today.
Table of contents
8 Steps To Make A Betta Bond
Here are the most important 8 steps to take to make a great Betta fish pond:
1. Choosing The Location
Ok, so the first step in making your Betta pond is to choose the location where the pond is going to be. Ideally, you want the earth to be fairly compact, to begin with. Anywhere with freshly put loose soil is not ideal, as everything is going to sink into the ground, potentially warping and damaging the pond. If the earth has been freshly laid, you need to compact it. It is better to just choose a spot with a solid base.
Next, you want to make sure that the location you are choosing for your pond is very flat and level. You don’t want one side of the pond being higher up than the other. This will cause drainage and spilling issues, especially when it rains. Yes, you can always prepare a little spot, flatten out the earth, and make it compact, but that is a lot of work. Choosing a spot that is already flat, level, and compact is your best bet.
Finally, you want to pick a spot that has a little bit of cover. Yes, you do want a bit of sunlight reaching the Betta pond, but not too much. Too much sunlight may heat the pond too much, plus sunlight is a big cause of algae blooms.
To avoid algae blooms and overheating, limiting direct sunlight with some cover is a good idea (we have covered more tips here). Placing the pond against a wall or under a tree is a good idea. Just beware that putting the pond under a tree will lead to more cleanup duties, as debris from the trees is likely to fall into the pond.
2. Making The Pond Outline & Choosing The Material
The next thing that you need to do to make your Betta pond is to make the actual pond itself. Now is the time when you need to decide how large the pond is going to be. Betta fish don’t need all that much room, so the pond does not have to be huge.
However, if you want multiple Betta fish in the same pond, or would like to house it with other fish, you will want to make it a substantial size. If this is your first time and your first pond, something like 100 gallons is probably good.
Now you need to dig a hole, one that is the perfect size for the pond you are making. Make sure to dig around ½ inch deeper down than the actual bottom of the pond, as this will give you room to work. If you don’t want to dig yourself, you can always hire a handyman or landscaper to do the job for you, but of course, that is going to be more expensive than doing it yourself. At any rate, unless you want an above-ground Betta pond, you need to find a way to make the hole.
Next, you need to choose the material that you are going to be using to make the Betta pond. You cannot just pour water into the hole as it will drain out through the ground. You need to have a pond liner.
Go to your local hardware or pet fish store and get a pond liner. These are not that easy to install, so you might either need some professional help, or you will want to do a lot of research. You need to make sure that the pond liner is installed correctly, or else the whole project will go down the drain.
Some people choose to go a different route. Many pond owners use several layers of thick waterproof plastic sheets as a pond liner. Some have also used large children’s pools. You can use a large children’s pool, but make sure that it is made with really solid and durable plastic.
You definitely don’t want your kiddy pool cracking and leaking. However, you can also use plastic sheets or a thin pond liner with the kiddy pool. Whatever material you choose, make sure it is installed right.
3. The Substrate
Now that we have the actual pond ready to go, it is time to start putting stuff in the pond. Seeing as the substrate is at the bottom, it is wise to start with that. Ok, so in the wild, Betta fish live in rice paddies and shallow streams.
In the wild, their natural substrate is usually a thick layer of sludge, rotting plant matter, and other organics that have settled at the bottom. Sure, you could go this route, but it makes cleaning the pond and doing water changes very hard. Plus, once the pond has been active for long enough, there will be a natural buildup of organic matter at the bottom anyway.
We would recommend going with either cheap aquarium gravel or aquarium-grade sand. You should aim to have about 2 inches of substrate at the bottom at the very least. Now it is time to decide whether you would rather have sand or gravel.
Sand is nice if you want to have a lot of rooted plants that are root feeders, plus it looks nice too. However, sand is much more difficult to maintain than fine aquarium gravel, which is something you might be looking out for.
This really all depends on what your needs and preferences are. If you want to do less cleaning, have less maintenance work, and not have to replace the substrate very often, some good aquarium gravel will do just fine.
In this case, if you have a lot of plants, they will need to be either water column feeders, or you will have to add a lot of supplements into the water, as aquarium gravel is not exactly the best for plant growth, especially ones with strong roots.
Betta fish do like to dig around sometimes, so gravel might be a little too hard. If you are going with gravel, make sure that it is fine, not coarse, and has no sharp edges, as you don’t want your Betta fish being injured by the gravel.
Personally, we do prefer to go with sand as the substrate for a Betta pond, but it does require a little more work to maintain. However, because we like adding a lot of rooted plants, sand tends to be the prime choice.
4. Plants & Decorations
The next thing that you want to do when making your Betta pond is to add the plants and decorations. Now, Betta fish live in waters that have tons of rocks and sticks, plus plants too.
They love to get some cover from predators above, they like hiding from other fish, and they like getting some shade from the sun too. The point here is that you want to spend a fair amount of time picking the plants, rocks, woods, and other decorations, as your Betta will appreciate this.
You should aim to have quite a few larger pieces of driftwood, as well as rock caves too. Betta fish love to explore these things, they will replicate their natural environment, and it will provide them with lots of cover, too.
If you are going to have multiple Betta fish in the same pond, you definitely want to make it a big pond with lots of hiding spaces as they do get very territorial and aggressive towards each other.
Seeing as we are making an outdoor pond, you want to make sure to provide your Betta fish with some cover from above, both from the extreme heat of the summer sun, as well as from predators. Some good floating plants are a big must-have here. You don’t want to cover more than about 1/5 of the water’s surface with floating plants, as the water does need to be oxygenated, aerated, and there is some sunlight required.
If you have chosen aquarium gravel, we would recommend a large number of floating plants compared to if you have used sand. Gravel is not the best for rooted plants that need to make a strong root system. If you have gravel, you can have some rooted plants, but you will need to make sure to add nutrients to the water.
Sand is way better for rooted plants, so if you plan on having lots of rooted plants, you should probably go with sand. At any rate, pick some of the plants which Betta fish like the most, ones that suit your pond and the substrate, and put them in the pond.
The next thing that you will need to take care of is filtration. Many people say that Betta fish don’t need filtration, which is just not true. Ok, so in the wild, they don’t have actual filters per se, but water is always changing with rains and floods, plus there are always beneficial bacteria present in the wild which help to filter water.
The point is that you should definitely have a filter for an outdoor Betta fish pond. It will help make the water cleaner, it will keep it clear, it will reduce ammonia and nitrates, it will make your fish stay healthy, it will help cut down on cleaning, maintenance, and water changes, and the pond will smell better too. On a side note, a good biological filtration unit will also cut down on algae blooms.
Now you need to choose the type of filter you want to get. There are external filters for ponds, as well as submersible ones too. Both have their advantages and drawbacks to be aware of. The submersible kind looks better because it is out of sight, they tend to be a little cheaper, but they are harder to maintain as they are submerged, plus they take up valuable real estate in the pond. At the same time, they usually are not great for powering things like fountains and other water features.
On the other hand, you have an external filter. Now, these tend to be much easier to maintain as they are not submerged, they are generally more powerful and efficient, they have more room for media, and they are better for powering water features too.
However, these external filters can be quite expensive, plus they do not look very nice. If you have a smaller pond, we would recommend a submersible filter, but if you have a larger pond that requires more power, you will probably want an external one.
The main thing to remember here is that the filter you get needs to engage in both mechanical and biological filtration. Having a good mechanical filter will help get rid of all kinds of solid debris like fish waste, leaves, sediments, uneaten food, and dying plant matter.
This will help keep your water clean and clear, plus it will help control the production of ammonia and nitrates. However, you do also need a biological filter to remove ammonia and nitrates from the water, as those things are very dangerous to fish, to plants, and they cause algae to bloom as well.
On a side note, it is also not a bad idea to add a protein skimmer into the mix, as this item will help to remove any remaining debris that might be in the water. Now, chemical filtration is another type of filtration that you might want to consider.
Activated carbon helps to remove toxins, odors, and colors from pond and aquarium water. While this type of filtration is not 100% necessary, it will help out quite a bit, especially in the long run.
6. Adding The Water – Parameters
Now you need to actually add the water into the pond. We would recommend filling it up so that the top of the water surface is no less than 1 inch under the rim of the pond. You don’t want the pond overflowing, especially when it rains.
If you do not have enough water in the pond, you can always add a little more if needed. You do need to remember that you cannot just pour a bunch of water from your hose or sink into the pond. That is no good.
Water that you have at home is going to be full of chlorine (here is how to make it safe). Chlorine will hurt and kill your fish and your plants. So, you should let the water sit in a bucket or buckets for at least 24 hours. This will allow the chlorine to dissipate into the air.
However, your local water treatment plant might be using more than just chlorine, in which case you will need to treat the water with a special dechlorinating agent to get rid of the chlorine and other toxic substances. Also, if the water in your area is very hard, or in other words, if it has a lot of dissolved minerals, you might want to use a water softener as well. Betta fish are pretty resilient, but they do not like their water to be too hard.
Another thing that you will need to constantly pay attention to, monitor, and get right from the beginning is the pH level of the water. In other words, the acidity of the water plays a big role in the health and happiness of your Betta fish. Betta fish like the water to be pretty neutral, about 7.0 on the scale of 1 to 14.
Betta fish can handle slightly acidic or basic water, anything between 6.5 and 7.5 is fine, but as long as it is stable. Going back and forth between a pH level of 6.5 and 7.5 is not good. You will most likely need to use a pH adjustor to get the proper acidity level for your Betta pond.
The final thing that you need to pay attention to in terms of water parameters for your Betta fish is the temperature of the water. Unless you live in a tropical climate where the temperature never really goes below 24 or 25 degrees Celsius, you will need to get a pond thermometer and a heater.
Betta fish are tropical fish and they need the water to be quite warm. The water temperature should be between 25.5 and 26.5 Celsius, or between 78 and 80 Fahrenheit. Never let the water get below 74 Fahrenheit or 23.5 Celsius as that will cause some big problems for your Betta fish. The same goes for anything over 27.5 Celsius or 81.5 Fahrenheit (more on betta temperature here).
7. UV Sterilization
Another thing that you might want to seriously consider for your Betta pond is a UV sterilizer. Now, you can get a UV sterilizer as a separate thing, or you can also get one that is built right into a filtration unit.
You see, algae can be a pretty big problem when it comes to outdoor ponds. Sunlight causes algae to bloom. Since your pond will probably get a bit of sunlight, you need to control algae blooms. UV sterilizers will kill free-floating algae and therefore keep it under control.
8. Keeping Predators Away
The final thing that you want to do for your Betta pond is to make sure that predators are kept away. Birds and other animals would love nothing more than to make a meal out of your Betta fish. So, you should probably set up some birdbaths and bird feeders a good way away from the pond. As this will lure them away from your fish.
At the same time, using a scarecrow is never out of the question. Some people also have special see-through nets to cover ponds so that birds and other critters do not have access to your fish. Also, using pond dye can help a lot too. Pond dyes will make the water darker and make it harder for birds to see the Betta fish, plus it actually helps control algae too.
As you can see, making your own Betta pond from scratch is a challenge. It is hard work, it is a bit costly, and it takes a fair bit of time to get done. However, we personally think that the results are well worth the invested time and money. If making your own Betta pond sounds like a good idea to you, you should definitely give it a try.
Featured image: toinkdunk, Shutterstock