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Old 04-22-2009, 05:35 PM   #1 
MarieBettaMom
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Question New Betta Mom with lotsa questions

After stopping by PetSmart yesterday with my DD, I suddenly find myself a new mom to one purple Betta named George. I already had an old 2 gal aquarium (it's like this one but an older model without a light, Marineland Eclipse Explorer), so we only picked up some food pellets, water conditioner, some gravel, and 2 plastic plants... and of course George. I like to think we "rescued" him from the pet store. There were a dozen or so Bettas to choose from, most looking bored or unhappy in their plastic pint-sized container. I even saw one dead(!) female Betta, it was so sad. And they were all swimming in this unnatural blue colored water. DD chose George because he was purple, her favorite color.


Anyhow, we set up George in his new home and he seems happier to have more space to swim about. I started reading up on Betta care and I have lots of beginner questions. I now see that a 2.5 gal tank is prefered, but I'll have to make do with mi 2 gal and I will be diligent about frequent water changes.


FILTER & BIOWHEEL

The little aquarium I have has a filter. Should I use it or just leave it unplugged?

If I use it, I'll have to figure out what replacement filter to get for it. I should be able to take the old one to the store and try to match it up, right? (hoping)

The filtering unit comes with a "biowheel" which if I understand correctly does not need to be replaced. However given that this hasn't been used in years, should I try to find a replacement or just use the old one?


BETTA FOOD PELLETS

I picked up a small bottle of Top Fin Color Enhancing Betta Bits (pellets) -- is this a good brand or should I pick up a different one? I randomly chose one from among the 4 or 5 different ones they had. This bottle looks like it will last forever, and I'm thinking that perhaps I should have picked up a smaller package.

The label says to feed 3-4 pellets, 2 times a day. The guy at PetSmart told me that once a day should be fine. I'm curious to know how much and how frequently Betta owners actually feed these pellets.

We brought George home yesterday afternoon and set him up in his new home. We fed him 4 pellets in the evening which he just ignored. Those pellets floated around for a long time! We sat there watching and watching and watching. George showed no interest. I thought maybe he was blind and couldn't SEE the pellets because they are so tiny. Anyhow, I didn't see the pellets later that night ... either George ate them or they dissolved into the water.

This morning we gave George 1 pellet, also ignored. Should I be worried about him not eating? Will he starve? Is he just taking his time acclimating to his new environment?


OTHER BETTA FOOD

I've been reading about other foods ... brine shrimp, blood worms, etc. I would like to add this to George's diet later on. I vaguely recall seeing a freezer unit at the store which sold frozen foods but can't remember specifics (except for the small frozen mice, which I assume are for reptiles). I do recall seeing something that might look like possible Betta food, it came frozen in 1" cubes. But I wonder, do you plop the whole thing into the tank? That seems like too much food.



WATER CONDITIONER

I picked up a 2 oz bottle of Top Fin Betta Water Conditioner, the label says there is enough in the bottle to condition 12 gallons of water. I'm gonna go through this little bottle in no time with the frequent water changes in my 2g tank. I only saw 2 different bottles, both ~2 oz size. Surely these things must come in larger bottles that are more cost effective? Which water conditioner do you use? Any particular brand I should look for?

I read on somewhere (another website) that you can set aside some tap water and leave it sitting for at least 24 hours before using it for fish. Is this ok or bad practice?


CHANGING THE WATER

Ok, I understand that George will need frequent water changes. And I understand that it's ok to change 25 to 50% of the water. I know this is going to sound like a stupid question but ... how do you go about changing the water?

I'm thinking of using a cup to scoop out the water, then replace it with pre-conditioned water. I'll probably get a small measuring cup to do this so that it'll be easy to hold with the handle and it will have a pour spout; it'll be a cup dedicated to water changes so it won't ever get washed with soap as I understand soap residue can be bad for fish.

Do I change the water with George in the tank? Or do I take him out first? Which would be less stressful for him?


GRAVEL VACUUM

I've read mention of using a gravel vacuum to clean the gunk at the bottom of the tank but I'm not exactly sure how it works. It looks like a tube of some sort, but I can't figure out how the "vacuum" part works. I saw instructions on one website and it mentioned connecting it to a faucet. How does this work if the tank is nowhere near a faucet? Confused. Is this something I really need?

Wondering if there is an easier way to clean the bottom...


HEATER

I understand that Bettas like warmer waters. This won't be a problem right now as it's quite warm where I live, however I will need one when winter comes. So this gives me some months to get one. Is there a particular heater you could recommend for a 2 gallon tank?


DECORATIVE PLANTS

Is there such a thing as too many plants? Right now I have one plant in there. I bought 2 but have not put the 2nd one in yet because it turned out to be taller than I thought. If I put it in the tank, the top of the plant will stick out of the water. However I'm thinking about placing this in the tank anyway, placing it under where the filter/aeration(?) water output "pours" water back into the tank. I'm thinking this taller plant placed underneath the water output would help minimize water movement in the tank (as I now understand that Bettas like calmer waters). Do you think this would be a good idea? Or should I just leave this taller plant out?

Would George find it too "crowded" if I added too many decorative things in the tank? It looks pretty sparse right now with the gravel and one plant. I could add the 2nd taller plant in and it would look better. However I was also thinking of going back to the store to see if I could get something like a "cave" where George could hide in when he wanted a little privacy.


TYPE OF BETTA

I found a website showing photos of different types of Bettas and have determined that George is a Veil Tail. The site mentioned that this type is considered a "mutt" and that they are not desirable for breeding or for show. No biggie to me, DD really loves her new fish and we both think he's pretty. Anyhow, I was wondering, is there a way to find out what type of Veil Tail George is?


Hope I haven't overwhelmed you guys with all my questions.
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Old 04-22-2009, 05:48 PM   #2 
gbeauvin
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Heh, "rescued from the petstore" sounds like our fish too :). We brought him home yesterday, but I forgot to get him a plant. My wife wasn't entirely sure at first, but then she said that he looked so sad in his little cup that he needed to come home with us into our 2.5gallon aquarium (which until yesterday housed only 4 snails).

I'm planning to go to the pet store tomorrow (payday!) to look at heaters... I'm thinking maybe i need a 25 watt heater, but I'm not entirely sure. Hydor makes this little heat "pad" that doesn't have a thermostat but that supposedly raises the water temp of a 2.5gallon tank by 5 degrees above ambient, which might suffice for our mild arizona winters. I really don't like the idea of plugging and unplugging the heater though when the house warms up/cools down, so I'm thinking i'll stick with something that has a thermostat.

At $12 for a 10 gallon tank I'm thinking it'll be a no-brainer to set up a larger abode for Indigo (our new betta), though of course then you need a heater... a light... maybe a new filter... more plants... it never ends!

-Rick (the armchair aquarist, new to bettas and partial to tanganyikan cichlids)
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Old 04-22-2009, 06:05 PM   #3 
Campbell
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Congratulations on your new pet!
A two gallon should work just fine with proper maintenance. I would leave the filter on unless it seems to make it hard for George to swim. It will help alot with water quality in a small tank. It's alot less stressful for the fish to stay in the tank during water changes. As far as the gravel vac, it just takes a little practice. If you look there is probably a youtube video for it. In a tank that size though I would just use a turkey baster. I would try walmart or something along those lines for water conditioner. Bettas love hiding spots and exploring so go ahead and put in the second plant. If you can't find a replacement for your filter in the store, they should have it online unless it's really old. Hope I answered a few of your questions!

Edit: Heres a link to a pretty good video about starting a vacuum, but it's a much larger tank.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGU-IQk_xO8

Last edited by Campbell; 04-22-2009 at 06:13 PM.
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Old 04-22-2009, 06:46 PM   #4 
gbeauvin
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For gravel vac'ing a small tank, I'd be tempted to get a ~6" to 12" length of rigid plastic tubing ~1/4" diameter (I think you can get a big piece at the lfs?) and shove a 6 foot piece of airline tubing over it.

To start the siphon you can just stick the rigid tube into the aquarium and suck on the other end of the airline tubing until the water fills most of the flexible airline tube (but not all, else you get a mouthful of aquarium water!), then drop it in a bucket that you've set lower than the tank in question. Water will continue to flow, and you can poke the rigid tube around to suck up gunk wherever you want. You're basically starting a siphon, then "vacuuming" the gravel with the end that's in the tank. This would probably work better with the blueish flexier airline tube than the clear kind of stiff airline tube.

You can also buy a small gravel vac, but it's harder to prime it by sucking when it's larger diameter ;). Of course a larger diameter tube will also suck out water much faster, making the process quicker.

-Rick (the armchair aquarist, who has in fact used airline tubing to siphon before, but it's been so long that he can't remember if it will flow quick enough to be useful, so take a grain of salt with that idea!)
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Old 04-22-2009, 08:08 PM   #5 
dramaqueen
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In a 2 gallon, I'd change the water once a week. A 2 gallon is small enough where you can dump all the water out, rinse the tank out really well with hot water, then put everything back and fill with dechlorinated water. I do this with my 4 gallon tank. Any plants or decorations should not have any sharp or pointed edges that can tear a betta's fins. As far as water conditioners go, I use Aquasafe and a lot of others here use Prime. Frozen food needs to be thawed out. Just chip off a piece and thaw it out in a bit of tank water, then feed with an eyedropper.If your betta is not eating, it may be because he is still getting used to his new surroundings. Hope this helps.
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Old 04-23-2009, 06:50 PM   #6 
MarieBettaMom
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Thanks for all the wonderful replies, I appreciate them all.

Good news! I think George is finally eating! We gave him breakfast this morning. I turned around for a few minutes to do something, then looked back and saw no pellets floating around.

DD (she's 4) thinks we should feed him breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I'm trying to explain how George is smaller and doesn't need to eat so much. I read somewhere (I've been reading from so many different places, I can't remember where) that Bettas' stomachs are about the size of their eye. Wow, that's tiny!

I've taken one photo of George, but it isn't great. He's camera shy.


gbeauvin:

Did you manage to find a heater today? Which one did you get? I thought I'd make it to the store today to look more closely at some accessories, but never made it out of the house (DD wanted to stay home and make cookies instead).

Does Indigo live with the 4 snails? Should I get snails? Will that help with the algae? I've only had my tank set up since yesterday so there hasn't been time for algae build up, but it is sitting in the family room which gets quite a bit of natural (filtered) light through the skylight in the ceiling. Wondering if this may speed up algae growth.

The whole siphoning thing sounds very messy to me. But I'm curious, where does one go to get airline tubing?

Campbell:

Thanks for the link to the video showing how to use a gravel vacuum. I guess vacuuming goes hand-in-hand with water removal during the water changing process. I think with the size of my tank, I might have emptied out the entire thing before I finish the vacuuming part, lol. I love your suggesting of using a turkey baster, will have to add that to my shopping list.

Ok, I'll put in the second plant during the water change. I still want to go to the store and find some other "cavelike" ornament that will give George a little retreat to hide in (or sleep?).

dramaqueen:

I think you're right. With my tank size, it would be easier to walk it over to the sink. I don't know why I didn't think of that. I guess it's because I didn't see mention of this while reading about Betta care.

I know this sounds like a stupid question but... why do you use an eyedropper to feed thawed frozen foods? I would have thought you could just plop the food into the tank. Does the Betta have to come up to the eye dropper to feed from it? Or are you just using it to squirt(?) the food into the tank?
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Old 04-23-2009, 06:58 PM   #7 
dramaqueen
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I don't use frozen food myself because I'm afraid it would be too messy but I read that you can use one to drop the food in. I guess you could just dump it in. lol I don't know how big those cubes are but I think you would just need a tiny bit. I think its cute that DD wants to feed him breakfast, lunch and supper. lol You can feed him twice a day, if you don't already know that.
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Old 04-24-2009, 10:20 AM   #8 
gbeauvin
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Originally Posted by MarieBettaMom View Post
Did you manage to find a heater today? Which one did you get? I thought I'd make it to the store today to look more closely at some accessories, but never made it out of the house (DD wanted to stay home and make cookies instead).

Does Indigo live with the 4 snails? Should I get snails? Will that help with the algae? I've only had my tank set up since yesterday so there hasn't been time for algae build up, but it is sitting in the family room which gets quite a bit of natural (filtered) light through the skylight in the ceiling. Wondering if this may speed up algae growth.

The whole siphoning thing sounds very messy to me. But I'm curious, where does one go to get airline tubing?
Hi BettaMom :). We did indeed get a heater (and a plant, and a replacement packet of hikari betta food since we managed to lose the first one during the ride home). I can't remember which brand, it may have been top-fin, but it was just a 50-watt heater with a twisty temp setter on the top. I generally prefer ones with actual temperatures on the dial but I was being thrifty and figured that since the temp dials are never quite accurate anyways, i'll just find the right setting by trial and error. It only saved me a few bucks, and when we set up my son's tank (he's already asking for a fish of his own) I'll probably spring for the one with the numbers :). I can check the brand tonight when I get home if you like, but I just got the cheapest one.

My daughter wanted to get various furniture for the tank, but I'm hoping to steer her towards a more natural look... in the end though it's her tank and if she wants to save her allowance for a little castle, so be it! I suspect Indigo will be happy either way.

Indigo lives with 4 juvenile mystery snails (they're nickel sized or so), I've heard that some bettas will pester and try to eat snails, but others do fine with them -- we'll have to see how it goes! Once we've got the 10 all set up we're planning to try some cherry shrimp with Indigo... I've heard that it can work, but doesn't always, so we'll be ready to move the shrimp to the 2.5 if we need to! We haven't had any algae yet so I don't know how well the snails will clean it, but the kids like the snails (my parents bought a pair of snails and put them in their 55gal tank at my kids' request... the snails eventually died, but they had more than a few offspring, and my folks brought some in a bag when they flew out to visit us earlier this month).

Siphoning can get messy, but it doesn't have to. I generally keep a few towels on hand when I'm doing aquarium maintenance, just in case! You can get airline tubing at the pet/fish store, near the air pumps (which are often near the filters)

-Rick
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Old 04-24-2009, 11:04 AM   #9 
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Frozen foods are not messy,. I feed frozen foods nearly every day to all my fish and I rather enjoy feeding it, So does my fish,, enjoy it, that is :)
It's really simple, If you have left overs just sit them in your fridge and use them at next feeding, I have had some sit in my fridge for 3 days before consumption with not a problem.

Just add a little tank water, Stir it up good and feed with a pipette or syringe.

Here's how I do it, plus a few types of frozen foods that I use every day.
Krill, Bloodworms & Brineshrimp
The Krill is to big for the pipette so I just push out a piece or two, whatever is needed, according to how many fish is in the tank,
I never have left overs, every fish here loves all these frozen foods, Even the baby fry fight over them and drag each other around fighting to rip pieces off... Really cute to watch,

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Last edited by Chicklet; 04-24-2009 at 11:10 AM.
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Old 04-24-2009, 11:12 AM   #10 
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Remember when siphoning water from your tanks,
Ammonia is heavier then water, So siphon from the 4 bottom corners first,
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