Hi there all! So within the next few days I will be acquiring a male betta fish, named Finnick , from a friend who can no longer care for him. I've never had one before myself but offered to take it off her hands. I've been reading up on their care over the last few days (mostly on this forum, the info is great!), and just have a few questions regarding the set up.
From what I understand he was being kept in a 1 gal. bowl with frequent water changes, but from what I've read the bigger tank the better (and easier upkeep) so I've ordered him a 5 gal. hex tank that comes with a filter, as well as gravel, some silk plants, a heater, and two houses/hiding spots (whether or not it will all fit has yet to be determined, the tank should be here tomorrow ). I'll be getting the rest of the flake food she was feeding him, but I've read some people prefer pellets? Is one type superior or would it be better to keep him on what he's used to?
But that's besides the point, the main concern I have is the tank cycle. Under these circumstances, I won't be able to cycle the tank before he arrives. I've read its possible to keep the tank uncycled, doing one 50% water change and one 100% water change a week. Would this be preferable to cycling the tank with him in it? I understand that cycling the tank 'fish-in' can be stressful for the fish, even though bettas are rather hardy. Would putting him through the cycling process be worth it to have a cycled tank over an uncycled one? Also, if it would be better to cycle the tank, what would the water change schedule be like during the cycling process? I have ordered a water testing kit, so would it just be a matter of testing the tank daily and doing small water changes whenever the ammonium or nitrite levels are too high? And then the tank would be cycled once those levels remain at 0? Then once its cycled, it would only require 50% water changes once a week, I believe? It wouldn't bother me to do the extra water changes in an uncycled, I just would like to do what is in the best interest of Finnick!
Apologies if all of my assumptions or information is off, its simply what I've gathered over the past week or so . And I thank whoever offers help or advice, I really appreciate it! I would really like to give this fish a better quality of life than it had before so it can be healthy and happy, and I appreciate your helping me achieve this goal!
About the pellets, Omega One or New Life Spectrum are healthy for Bettas. You should also feed them treats such as bloodworms and such just to get some variety in there. ;)
As to your cycle questions, I say get some Prime and Stability, both by SeaChem. Prime is a water conditioner that also detoxifies ammonia and Stability helps get your cycle going. Never do 100% water changes if you can cycle the tank (which you can) and for the first couple of days, I say do 10-25% percent water changes every day just so the tank has a chance to get set up. Good luck!
Is she giving you the bowl she kept him in? Maybe he could stay in there while you do a fishless cycle of the 5gal? I'm actually fishless cycling a Marineland 5gal hex right now, getting it ready for my new female next week! It may not be done when she gets here, but I have a temporary 2 gal ready for her. If you cycle the 5 gal, you will have to do less water changes, and only around 10-20% water change a week I believe, rather than 50-100% changes, which is much easier.
You could possibly attempt to put him through the cycling process, at the risk of injuring him, or even killing him. Yikes! He could burn his gills from all the ammonia spikes that occur during the cycling process before the beneficial bacteria is built up enough to eat up all the ammonia.
My bettas get fed Omega One pellets, tropical fish flakes (not sure on the brand at the moment), and frozen bloodworms (bloodworms I always have because I also have a turtle, so that was more of a convenience food for me). I also just started harvesting some mosquito larvae as treats for my bettas. And you should plan on one day a week of fasting your betta, to help them clear out their little tummies and prevent bloating.
What wattage is the heater? I use a 50 watt submersible heater, the one I have right now in my 5 gal is not adjustable because the suction cups dried out and won't suck any more on my adjustable one, but it has been maintaining a temp of 80-82 degrees F for a little over a week now I think. Most people prefer adjustable temp heaters, but non adjustable ones work just fine, if you have the right watts for your tank size. And make sure to check the temp daily for a while to make sure it is constant and working properly.
Also! You can get your betta a toy, like a pong pong ball! My bettas love bumping the ball with their little mouths, and knocking it around. Gives them something to do!
It sounds like you're prepared for your new little companion fishy, and he's a lucky guy to be coming home to you! Welcome to the (addicting) world of Bettas! Most people who get a betta don't even take the time to do any research, and give their fish the least amount of care they require, so I commend you for being a good betta owner!
Do you HAVE to cycle the tank? nope. One of my five gallons wasn't cycled for the longest time as I didnt have any extra places to plug in a filter. However, in the long run - its better for the betta if the tank is cycled and its less work for you.
All my cycles have been FISH IN and its not as bad as it sounds.
In 5gal-10gal filtered without live plants:
Water changes of twice weekly for the next 4-6 weeks
Of... 1-50% water only and 1-50% with vacuum in all areas you can reach without moving anything or disruption of plant roots. *The 50% with vacuum will be the water change schedule for the life of the system to maintain water quality once the nitrogen cycle has established. Filter media needs swish/rinse in old tank water a couple of time a month
*If you have water test kit-base the water only change on: ammonia, nitrite 0.25ppm or greater.
With a low bioload often you don't need the second water only-I always recommend it when you don't have test kit to err on the side of caution...its the safety net.... *Remember-some additives can change or skew water prams results-
Like some dechlorinator products can change ammonia to ammonium so its not harmful to the Betta-but, live plants and BB can still use it as a food source to colonize.
Some plant foods can cause false readings in ammonia, nitrite and nitrate.
Its not uncommon to have ammonia, nitrite and nitrate in the source water
When using test kits-they test at a ppm level (parts per million) so you will always have some ammonia in the water at very low levels that can be used by the beneficial bacteria.
Thank you guys so much for the advice! I greatly appreciate it.
So I think what I'll do is cycle the tank with him in it, like Tiki said with 50% water changes twice a week for 4-6 weeks. I'll test the water daily to make sure the levels don't get out of hand. I've also looked up and ordered Seachem Prime and Stability, they should be here Friday. I just got the tank in today, and figured I would set it up and let it run with the heater and filter for a day, Finnick is arriving tomorrow. I have some API Stress Coat on hand, does it sound okay to put him in tomorrow with that and then do a 50%-or-so water change on Friday to add in the Prime and Stability?
Also, one more question. At the end of August I'll be going back to college, and I would like to take Finnick with me. My school is only an hour's drive away, so it shouldn't be too hard on him. I assume for transport I'd have to put Finnick in a baggie and empty the tank out, in which case would I have to cycle all over again? Or would simply taking the water out for about two hours and then refilling it still preserve some of the bacteria in the tank? The tank I have has a 'bio wheel' that is supposed to grow the beneficial bacteria on it, would that keep the tank cycled when I refill it? Or will it all just be a case of testing the water out and seeing what the levels do, and changing the water accordingly?
Thank you guys again for all the help, I sure hope Finnick likes his new home!
Last edited by emily161; 07-24-2013 at 02:51 PM.
Empty the tank to about 1/3 of the way full and dump the filter pad in the water. Tuck the tank securely in the car and set up as soon as you can once you get to the dorm. BB should be ok, although you may see a mini-cycle. Monitor params closely for the next week or so after returning to school.
In regards to moving with a fish - I just did that today with my little guy. I asked for some advice over on the baby betta thread and got some great tips.
What I ended up doing was buying a cheap plastic container from Walmart, deep enough that he could swim around okay, but still have about an inch of air at the top. I read a lot of stuff in regards to moving with a fish, some people said to put holes in the lid for oxygen, but others said if since it was a short drive to not bother with holes since you'll probably lose water and the inch of air at the top has enough oxygen for an hour's drive. So opted for no holes. I found a small basket, and padded it down with towels and made a 'nest' of sorts for him. I kept him covered up because I didn't want his water to get too hot or too cold, and also I think the darkness was probably helpful in keeping his stress down a little. Another tip was to drive like you have the Queen in your car haha We made it home just fine, though he had lost some color and was very pale (which he's normally dark and very colorful) and gained some stress stripes (he's still a little guy, about 12 weeks roughly) but after we weren't moving and he was settled in his tank again he was just fine. He's got his colors back and is doing his usual antics around the tank.
and everything Tiki said ..... cause she knows her stuff.
*takes a bow* but the water change info came from a post by OFL
As for moving, only an hour should be easy. I did it in wintertime from Alaska to New York Instead of using a baggie, I would put him in a styrofoam cup and stick him in the cup holder. Although since you are not going nearly as far as I did, being in a bag for an hour should be OK. I used cups so I could easily use a syringe to change water on the road and it alloed them access to air. Got coffee cups from the gas station I worked at with lids
The only suggestions I have is be careful of air temps. For me, it got to 30 in the back seat and only 3 made it to NY alive. Make sure his temp stays in safe range.