The Aqueon Betta Falls is an outstanding way to bring tranquility and stress-relief to a work environment or home. Its quiet running pump sends trickling water over a cascade of small falls making it very easy to mentally disengage from the day-to-day tasks, such as getting your work done! In full disclosure, I contacted Aqueon and they kindly provided two Betta Falls aquarium kits for review. Both aquariums are ‘off the shelf’ stock and not modified in any way. I tested both the white and black colored Betta Falls for the review. Each unit is identical except for the color.
Here are my observations after setting-up and using the Aqueon Betta Falls:
- The instruction sheet is outstanding. In fact, these are some of the best directions I’ve seen. Those of you who have read my previous reviews know I frequently complain about the lousy instructions accompanying most aquarium products. That is not the case with the Betta Falls. Aqueon went to great lengths to ensure success. The aquarium includes excellent, full-color graphics and directions that were clearly written by someone who keeps fish. The only change I would suggest for the printed instructions would be to move the small picture showing the filter flow rate adjustment to step number 2 rather than waiting until after the aquarium is filled with water in step 7. It is not a big deal but it is easier to adjust the flow dial when the aquarium’s base is empty. The printed instructions also provide links to the Aqueon website for excellent videos showing exactly how to set up the aquarium. I highly recommend first reading the printed instructions and becoming familiar with the aquarium’s components. Then view the videos followed by actual set-up. While viewing the videos, pay close attention to adjusting the filter’s water flow rate. Actually holding the power head (pump) while viewing the video will help. Simply replicate the adjustment shown on the video. The power head in both aquariums reviewed was factory preset to the middle setting, which is too much water flow for transitioning a Betta from a small pet shop cup to the Betta Falls. The video explicitly mentions reducing the water flow rate before use.
- Much to my pleasure, the aquarium’s filter came with a 6 foot (1.8 meter) power cord. The cord’s length makes it easy to plug in without the need for an extension cord.
- All power heads make some noise and this one is no exception. The filter’s power head is reasonably quiet, making the aquarium appropriate for a bedroom or office setting.
- The filter cartridge is simple to install and remove for easy maintenance. Look for the word ‘Front’ embossed on the filter cartridge to ensure the item is properly oriented in the filter chamber. This is a picky issue but, ‘Front’ might be a little difficult to see since it is the same color as the filter cartridge frame. Proper installation of the filter cartridge is made easy because of alignment channels on both sides of the filter chamber.
- The Betta Falls is unheated. Aqueon sells a 10-watt heater that is suited for this aquarium. Bettas like warm water ranging from the mid seventies Fahrenheit (23.8 Celsius) to mid eighties (F) (29 C). They are tropical fish and do not like to be cold. I installed the heater and found it raised the aquarium’s water temperature about 7.5 degrees above the room’s ambient temperature. My basement fish room temperature is consistently 68° (F) (20° C) and the heater held the water temperature at about 76°F (24.4 C) which is at the lower end of the Betta temperature comfort zone. Betta Falls installed in warm areas with consistent air temperatures might not need the additional heater. In fact, it might overheat the water if the room air temperature is very warm. But be aware, office buildings frequently turn down heating during the weekends and your fish might suffer in the cold if this is the case.
- The Betta Falls water level should be frequently monitored. This is because it essentially has four waterfalls; three visible waterfalls and one not easily noticed waterfall emptying back into the aquarium’s base. All of this soothing water movement accelerates evaporation. A low water level causes the filter pump to suck in air causing a noisy condition called cavitation. Thankfully, the Betta Falls base contains a very handy water level ‘window’ indicating when to add water. I found a need to add a small amount of water about every two or three days depending upon my home’s humidity level. This is not a problem rather, it is just something to be aware of with any aquarium during the winter months when home and office air tends to be dry causing faster water evaporation.
I have one final comment regarding the sales literature showing a betta in each of the three Betta Falls aquariums. One might wonder, can the Betta Falls humanely house three Bettas? Sure, but with a few caveats. Think of a sports car speedometer showing the vehicle can go 180 MPH (290KM). Can it go that fast? Probably, but should it be driven at that speed by an inexperienced driver? Positively not. The same analogy should be applied to the Betta Falls and any other aquarium in the hands of an inexperienced hobbyist. Aqueon goes to great lengths cautioning the hobbyist to proceed slowly. For example, they highly recommend first establishing the aquarium and warn the user not to add all of the fish at the same time. This is sound advice for every aquarium. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for some pet stores to sell a new hobbyist, the aquarium and fish at the same time. The predictable failure is unfortunately sometimes blamed on the aquarium manufacturer. Because of practices such as this, it is no wonder the aquarium hobby has such a high dropout rate. Maintaining three fish in a little more than two gallons (7.5 L) requires meticulous care to ensure good water quality. A Betta Falls or any other two gallon aquarium with three fish is possible if you are experienced and don’t mind frequent partial water exchanges and judicious aquarium maintenance.
I recommend keeping one Betta, live plants and ornamental snails in the Betta Falls to maximize your enjoyment and provide a comfortable home for your fish. Such a set-up will create an easier-to-keep, very fascinating mini-ecosystem. Low light aquatic plants such as Java Fern (Microsorum pteropus), Anubias, and Java Moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri) are excellent choices for the Betta Falls. Terrestrial marsh plants can also be grown emersed in a Betta Falls. Select small specimens of low light plants such as Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) and Dracaena.
Overall, I commend Aqueon for its excellent instructions and a quality product.
Enjoy your fish!