I have kept bettas before (started as usual, bowl betta, and graduated to 25 gallon sorority), but this would be first time to do small cycled setting for one betta. The main purpose is to provide kids with easy to care for pet that is going to teach them about wildllife and basic responsibility. Yes, I do expect kids will be honored with water changes (somehow that works only in class, not im my home).
After reading through these forums, I'm going with this setting:
- 2.5 gallon tank (yes, I know there are people mandating 5 gallon for lone fish, but I'm coming from Europe, and 2.5 gallon is more than enough)
- cover (mandatory, yes, I have experienced betta somersaults)
- gravel (nothing fancy, the more natural the better)
- cycled water
- 2 hiding places, nothing big, more space to swim around
- filter (nothing fancy or powerful, just additional space for beneficial bacteria)
I'll loan them my vaccum and fish net. And I'll cycle the water, as I still have leftover test kits.
One thing I'm not sure yet is live plants - I know they are good, but even I was challenged with planting my 25 gallon. I don't think it is going to be easy for kids to succeed with any plants in 2.5 gallon. Plants need light, fertilizer, CO2, too complicated for 6 year old. Besides, they don't go well with undergravel heater, and that is only kind I can find for 2.5 gallon tank (will need heater in winter over night, the classrooms are not heated 24 hours/day) Should I even attempt plants? And will 10% water changes 3 times a week be enough for 2.5 gallon cycled aquarium, or should I tell them to do water changes 5 days a week? Never had kept such a small cycled tank, any tips are appreciated. Are gravel vaccums required on frequent basis, or is just frequent water changes enough? Maybe kids can do water changes daily and I can come once every two months to do good scrub of inside walls and gravel.