20 gallon community tank - Betta Fish and Betta Fish Care
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-08-2010, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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20 gallon community tank

Ok hi my name is sara (new to this, very first post ever i think) I have one blue beautiful male betta in a 5 gallon, planted, heated tank (78f-82f) w/out a filter (weekly 50% water changes). I recently inherited a 24wx17htx12d 20 gallon tank from my job. I would like to start a fresh water community tank including my betta and i have read so far 4 books trying to figure out how this would best be done. I get too much vague/conflicting information so i came here. (sorry this is kind of a long and conveluted question) I guess i need to know what fish are compatible and how many can fit. so far I am told that harlequin rasboras are good as are white cloud minnows though i would think they were too flashy and my betta might go after them. I definetly want some cories but i also want to cycle the tank and i know i can't do that with either the cories or my betta so i am looking for fish that i can cycle with. Also i was thinking about an Ancistrus catfish AKA bristlenose or bushy nose cats and was wondering if anyone had any knowledge of these catfish ( all i know is that they are peaceful and nocturnal). So thats what i've got so far any suggestions or advice? Thankyou
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-08-2010, 10:37 PM
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it is possible to cycle with your betta but you need to be dedicated to doing daily water changes.

Here is a thread that basically explains how to do a safe cycle..
http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=34505

I'm not familiar with any of the other fish you mentioned so I can't help ya there.. sorry.


edit to add.. if you try to cycle a 20 gall with only 1 betta in there it will take a really long time. You might try adding mystery snails as they tend to be "poopers" (but great algae eaters).. live plants can also speed your cycle. There may be other fish you can add but I'm not sure what they would be.

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-08-2010, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
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Well unfortunately i work full time and have a two year old and a husband working two jobs at the moment so time is an issue and daily water changes can't be guaranteed but thank you for the info
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-08-2010, 11:16 PM
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if you can't do daily water changes (these are small 20-30%) then you need to look up doing a fishless cycle and not put any of your fish in there until the tank is fully cycled.

If you don't do daily water changes during a cycle with fish in the ammonia WILL burn your fish's gills and the nitrites could poison him. The levels get WAY too high to not do water changes.

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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-08-2010, 11:26 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not sure i'm understanding from everything i have read if you have a hardy fish or group then while cycling you need to check levels daily but may not need a water change depending on tank size and number of fish unless the levels spike, but with all my plants it will take alot to spike the levels.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-08-2010, 11:49 PM
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Any reading 0.25 ppm or over needs a water change daily. Sure your fish may survive the cycle but at what cost? All that adding fish does is cycle you faster because they are producing more waste. And there is no such thing as "hardy fish".. some are just able to survive a cycle.. but that doesn't mean they are unharmed.

Your plants will keep the spikes low but the only way to ensure the saftey of your fish when doing a fish in cycle is to do water changes to keep the ammonia from harming them.

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-09-2010, 12:44 AM Thread Starter
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ok i still am not understanding you need levels of ammonia, nitrate, and eventually nitrite high enough to promote the growth of the beneficial bacteria in the bio filter but i will continue doing more research in the meantime as its going to be a while until i can establish another tank. but cycling wasn't what i meant to post this thread for what i really want to know is about fish compatability with bettas and how many for a 20 gallon tank. So thank you again. And when I do get to the actual cycling if i have any questions i now know where i can look for some help. thank you
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-09-2010, 07:09 PM
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Personally, I would let my betta stay in his nice little 5g and just start up the 20g separately. It opens up a heck of a lot more options and reduces stress on the betta and the other fish.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-09-2010, 08:34 PM Thread Starter
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I wish i could but space is tight (apartment living) and i was lucky enough to convince my husband to get the one betta and he balked at the 5 gallon tank and i just got him warmed up to the 20 gallon w/a couple more fish. But i am gonna keep the 5 gallon set up for a while once i add Pepe (my 2 yr old named him ) just in case there is an issue, so who knows i may end up with two tanks anyway lol
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-09-2010, 08:55 PM
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I'm in a dorm room with three other people. Space isn't only tight, it's nonexistant. ^_^ Somehow I've managed to fit a 5g, a 6g, and a 10g in here though. Where there's a will, there's always a way! Hehe
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