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Old 04-04-2010, 02:08 PM   #1 
Quinn
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Newbie needs HELP setting up

My mother and siblings moved into an apt in the building I live in last weekend. And I found that along with them came a Betta fish (Frankie). Who is being kept in a tiny, small, plastic "tank" thing. And I can tell the temp is TOO cold for him. They have been doing frequent water changes, but not the right way, as I know the water isn't being left to sit for 24 hrs or conditioned or whatever it is you have to do. Now I am not a "fish person" per say nor do I know anything about them but I am a huge animal lover and I want to do right by Frankie. I've tried doing some reading, but I'm a bit lost. I'd really appreciate some straight forward help and recommendations on tanks, heaters, etc.

Also - I can not afford to be spending $$ (maybe a LITTLE to help out but not much) on this fish, and I know my mom and sister don't have much spare so I'll probably looking for a used tank and such, but whatever decent but cheap things you can reccomend would be great!

Basically I'd like to get him ideally in a 5 gal, although I can only find 10 gals and up on CL right now, but would be wiling to do something smaller if cost became a huge issue. What are some good tanks, and/or are any of the tank "packages", things that come with filters and such, worth it or no? Like the tetra or eclipse or whatever.

With that I know he NEEDS a heater desperately. So a heater recommendation would be appreciated. Is a thermometer neccessary too or do heaters have them built in?

And a filter too.

What about water conditioners and that stuff?

Also cycling- I don't really understand HOW its done from what I have read, and how long does it take? Because I'd like to get him in a new set up, and it seems a cycled tank requires less maintenance but cycling is also hard on a fish so fishless set up is better?

Then are live plants much better than plastic ones? Like are plastic too sharp? And of course we need some other hidey places.

What kind of gravel or stone is good for the bottom?

What other basic supplies are needed?

I'd really like to try to get Frankie a better set up before he croaks from being too cold! Apparently he's been living like this for a little while though...

Anyway any help is GREATLY appreciated!
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Old 04-04-2010, 02:26 PM   #2 
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Basically I'd like to get him ideally in a 5 gal, although I can only find 10 gals and up on CL right now, but would be wiling to do something smaller if cost became a huge issue. What are some good tanks, and/or are any of the tank "packages", things that come with filters and such, worth it or no? Like the tetra or eclipse or whatever.

Well if the 10 gallon ones you find are cheap, absolutely no harm in getting it :) I would personally recommend anything 2.5 gallons and up. 1 gallon is do-able but much more harder to keep warm, and ammonia levels down and everything.

If you have a walmart, they have a 5 gallon tank WITH filter (everything else in there is near useless) for $30. There is also a $12 Walmart Heater (Tetra) that does its job okay, but will probably be the cheapest one you can find.

With that I know he NEEDS a heater desperately. So a heater recommendation would be appreciated. Is a thermometer neccessary too or do heaters have them built in?

Absolutely terrible with names, sorry.

Not necessary (thermometer), it only helps, but is recommended. They're about $1.50 here, but that's your choice. It helps to really know what's going on, but this can be the last of what you get if you really need to. Some heaters have a built in one, but I think those are pricey.

And a filter too.

If you get the Walmart one for $30, it comes with it. As for brands, I don't know, sorry!

What about water conditioners and that stuff?\

I highly recommend "Seachem Prime." Get the smallest bottle you see, it's quite cheap. Detoxifies ammonia/nitrite. Works instantly, no need to leave out for a day. However, usually, leaving out for a day does no harm unless there are toxic gases or little children, haha.


Also cycling- I don't really understand HOW its done from what I have read, and how long does it take? Because I'd like to get him in a new set up, and it seems a cycled tank requires less maintenance but cycling is also hard on a fish so fishless set up is better?

Fishless cycling IS better, but in this situation, it's not. I'd rather be doing water changes with Frankie in a heated, filtered, large tank rather than in the cold, small one. Much safer, IMO. The main problem is the ammonia and nitrites that are toxic, but really, "all you have to do" is a water change. And in the smaller tank, the ammonia and nitrites will shoot up even crazier.

I'm terrible with explaining cycling, apologies again. It does take a while, about a month or so if it's not seeded (seeded means getting a source, like a large handful of gravel or part of filter media in a cycled tank) to help speed it up. If you want to successfuly cycle, you have to get some sort of liquid testing kit for ammonia/nitrite/nitrate. Yes, this runs by pretty expensive...

Then are live plants much better than plastic ones? Like are plastic too sharp? And of course we need some other hidey places.

Only if you know how to take care of live plants. Otherwise I would recommend silk plants. If you want plastic, make sure you run it over with a pantyhose of some sort. If it catches, at ALL, that means if Frankie were to run up against the plant, his tail could snag easily.

You can use caves as well. If you want to test if the cave is large enough, stick your thumb in and out. If you have any trouble, then I wouldn't bother with is.

I think some people also use terra cotta (sp?) pots as well. They're quite nice actually :) And I'm currently researching coconut caves...(home made).

What kind of gravel or stone is good for the bottom?
I think all are fine. Sand, gravel, large stones, doesn't matter. Try to get a nice layer of 1 1/2 inches. I think black looks quite pretty, but that's just me, haha. Gravel is cheaper though, so go ahead with gravel.


What other basic supplies are needed?

A siphon/gravel vacuum/gravel cleaner to do the water changes, and a large bucket to put the water in. That's all I can think up of, but I'm sure there's more.


I'd really like to try to get Frankie a better set up before he croaks from being too cold! Apparently he's been living like this for a little while though...

Hopefully he'll be okay... how long have you had him? And we love pictures :)

Last edited by xxabc; 04-04-2010 at 02:32 PM.
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Old 04-04-2010, 02:41 PM   #3 
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Get Aquarium Salt (from Aquarium Pharmaceuticals) in case anything slightly minor happens to him. Like if he's feeling under the weather, or healing a ripped tail, aquarium salt has done beautifully for me.

And here's a tip: If anything happens to him, always do nice water changes and add aquarium salt (10 days) before buying any medication, unless it really is THAT BAD. I always stray away from medication and go for clean water first. I haven't used medication in about ... 6-7months, excluding the aquarium salt for tearing.
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Old 04-04-2010, 02:43 PM   #4 
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I'm actually not sure how long they have had Frankie. He "belongs" to my 8 year old half sister (as much as a young child can really be held accountable for any pet). They've been living in my building for about a week, and they've had him for longer. They've probably had him anywhere from 3 weeks and on. I'll have to ask. He's still got a nice color on him (blue) and isn't looking to dull suprisingly, but he isn't the most active, probably a combo of the water temp and small habitat. I brought him over to a mirror for a bit of stimulation and that really got him going though!

We actually don't have a Walmart very close (I live in NYC, one of the few places without Walmarts close by!) but I can see if I can get out to the one near by. I'm sick today but I'm going to visit some local pet stores and see what there prices are too when I can.

The 10 gals on CL aren't really that cheap (well I guess that depends on how much fish stuff usually is? I'm finding none of it is as inexpensive as I pictured, even tanks!) But probably cheaper than new. Although the $30 walmart deal sounds good!

If live plants take a lot of care then silk will certainly be better! As low maintenance as possible is always better.

Do most pet stores carry the Seachem stuff? And a siphon, gravel vacuum and gravel cleaner?

Now how necessary is cycling? How often does the water need to be changed if the tank ISN'T cycled and will it be very detrimental to him? I'm really not good with all this fish stuff, so pardon my dumb questions. Dogs I can do fish care confuses me haha.
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Old 04-04-2010, 02:53 PM   #5 
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Hahaha no worries

What stores do you have near you? Any typical Petco / Petsmart, or local?

Sometimes you can snag a real good deal on CL...I've seen some before, gone within the day! And yes i really recommend the Walmart one. Hope you feel better soon!

I've never seen Seachem in Walmart. But i've seen it in Petco/Petsmart. It's a real popular one, it seems.

If you have Petco, I love their silk plants! Very nice. But yes, silk plants are recommended. If you can find a plastic that doesn't snag, then go for it.

The siphons at walmart...seem to be way too big. Pay attention at the head...I try to go for the smaller ones, as they're easier to use. The bigger seems to be more useful for only bigger tanks. But they're pretty much everywhere.

Cycling is not necessary, but...I want to say it is? Very helpful. The ammonia (the outcome of fish food and uneaten food) is always going to slowly rise unless physically removed by water changes, OR broken down by beneficial bacteria (which is what cycling is). Here's the link on cycling here:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/f...m-cycle-38617/
Very informational.

It can be EASILY detrimental to him if water changes are not done as needed. If water changes are done at a good schedule (or rather, as often as needed) then it's not so bad. Cycling takes a load off, though.
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Old 04-04-2010, 05:45 PM   #6 
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We have a Petco I can try to get there, its not SO close to me so making time is the problem. How much "greenery" is good for a Betta for hiding and such?

What exactly is the gravel vac and gravel cleaner? Does this need to be done all the time? And is the siphon for getting the water out of the tank

I keep checking CL, wish I could get a complete already cycled set up! Haha.
I read the link you gave - still a bit confused about it but I think I have a little bit of a better grip...
It worries me that fish in cycling is so dangerous for the fish though.
If its an uncycled 5 gallon how often does the water need to be changed? Like is it 100% water change multiple times a week?

The biggest problem either way is the amount of time the water needs to be changed, during cycling. I honestly have a lot on my plate (I have 3 dogs, one of whom is a Great Dane puppy) so its not like my free time to change water is abundant! I want Frankie to live and have proper conditions, but its not like I bought myself a fish. But I also know my mother is a single mom, and she has 3 young kids with her and she works, so they don't have times to do multiple water changes a day either (which it sounds like cycling needs?)
So it may be easier for us NOT to cycle, or at least until we really have time to? Its more important to just get him into a big tank with a filter and heater right? Or is it basically the same work cycling with the fish in?

I know they are feeding him a "special" Betta marketed food, but who knows how appropriate it is. Do they have fish food that really isn't appropriate (I know they do with dogs) I think its little pellets/balls, not flakes.

What is a good food?


So basically the bottom line is:

Walmart (or CL) for the tank/filter/heater. Walmart does ship, so I may try to rush order the stuff.

Petco - silk plants, Seachem, gravel, maybe a hidey place, aquarium salt, gravel vac and cleaner.

Am I missing anything? Besides a liquid testing kit which the cycling may have to hold off for a bit, especially if they are $$$$
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Old 04-04-2010, 06:01 PM   #7 
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The gravelvac/gravelcleaner/siphon is all one thing (I believe), it's just been called so many things, I get confused myself...haha. And this is the tool used to take out the water. Go ahead and google it up to see what it looks like.

Once you take a look at it, the bigger/wider end is where the water comes INTO. (And flows out the following tube). Here is a good video demonstrating how it works (ignore how it's like a commercial, lol)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC6BhvjUWts

In terms of doing water changes in a 5 gallon (assuming this is what you will get) uncycled, i would say every other day, maybe every 3rd day. I'm not good at this though, lol, hopefully someone else will help you with a schedule. But a good 20-40% water changed every other or every third day should be okay. It's not TERRIBLE to do fish-in cycling, it's just some people sometimes neglect it, and that's when it gets really bad. If you're on top of water changing, Frankie will be okay.

Go ahead and research "nitrogen cycle" or "aquarium nitrogen cycle" into google if you want to.

But I'm not exactly understanding the last part of your third paragraph? "So it may be easier for us NOT to cycle, or at least until we really have time to? Its more important to just get him into a big tank with a filter and heater right? Or is it basically the same work cycling with the fish in?"

Cycling is completely your choice. 5 gallons are usually the best tanks to cycle, but if you don't cycle, it's still much more better than smaller tanks. Not sure if daily changes are necessary either, if you have a single betta in a 5 gallon, it should be okay and every other day should be fine.

I'm not really aware of betta-specialized food that isn't really good. So I think we're okay on that. IMO, Pellets > Flakes, but for me it's just because my bettas had an easier time eating it.

I think you've got it! As for crowding the tank, just avoid big open space (you'll have to rely on your own instincts for this). THe crowding is mainly suggestion, but the more crowded it is, it seems to alleviate stress on the betta because it gives the feeling of "This is MY territory" since they're territorial fish. One-two plants wil probably not cut it. You could start by just spreading out sparse plants. Good luck :)
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Old 04-04-2010, 07:22 PM   #8 
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The gravelvac/gravelcleaner/siphon is all one thing (I believe), it's just been called so many things, I get confused myself...haha. And this is the tool used to take out the water. Go ahead and google it up to see what it looks like.
Oooooh! That makes sense now haha. And would I be doing the gravel vac with every cleaning or would once a week suffice or what?
(Again sorry for all my questions!)


What I meant in that paragraph was that its more important to just get him situated with heat and space than to worry about cycling right now right? OR is fish in cycling really just about the same amount of work as dealing with an uncycled tank? I would be worried about his tank being properly changed out on time... How long on average does fish-in cycling take?
I read that link but it didn't seem to have a time frame.

Does fish in cycling happen naturally, with nothing added? Thats another thing I'm confused on? Is cycling going on no matter what and just depending on when and how I change the water it will or wont effectively happen?
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Old 04-04-2010, 08:13 PM   #9 
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Basically you use a gravel vac FOR cleaning, lol. So whenever you do a water change, that is the tool you use. It's not restricted for just gravel, it sucks out water as it does it. Don't worry about the questions!

Yes, it's much more important to get him situated.

Fish-in cycling is a one of two ways to start and do a cycle. The other is fishless cycling, with no fish. But each one means you're trying to do a cycle (meaning it's already uncycled). Make more sense hopefully?

It usually takes about a month. I think it's sounding a bit worse to you than you think, lol. If you miss a day, just do the best you can with it. It's not exactly a strict "do-or-die" schedule. As long as ammonia levels are kept low, he will be fine :)

To start any kind of cycle, ammonia source is necessary. With a fish, the ammonia comes from the fish poop and food. (Basically, something's already been added). And then with the constant fish poop and constant food, the ammonia will keep coming (the cycling is when beneficial bacteria is there to get rid of ammonia, so thats when its okay).

It technically will be cycling, until its cycled.

The water change is only to keep the ammonia levels low, because ammonia is toxic to all fish in high doses . With a fishless cycle you manually add in ammonia. But there's no need to do a water change and get rid of the ammonia.

Water changing won't really affect the cycle, I don't believe. If you miss a day or two, it shouldn't.
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Old 04-04-2010, 10:18 PM   #10 
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Basically you use a gravel vac FOR cleaning, lol. So whenever you do a water change, that is the tool you use. It's not restricted for just gravel, it sucks out water as it does it. Don't worry about the questions!
Ya know when you realize how stupid things you say are.... DUH the vac gets out water. Sorry, I'll blame it on my meds making me loopy


I think I understand it a bit more. Its just when I read that link it said sometimes you have to change the water multiple times a day to keep amonia down and I was like WHAT?! Crap. But I can't see how that would be possible, if you are only going off of the fish produced ammonia because even in a small tank you only change water 1x a day. So I probably am thinking its a lot worse than it is! So basically with cycling I set up the tank, put in the Seachem, make sure those levels are good, stick in Frankie. Then then I do a test daily for the nitrite and ammonia levels? And change the water every 2-3 days when the ammonia gets too high? And put SeaChem in when I add new water. And basically overtime the idea is that the good bacteria (thats the nitrate levels right?) will start to multiply and the nitrite and ammonia levels will go to 0. It seems as if the maintenance of a uncycled tank is about the same as the maintenance when doing a fish-in cycle start up. So may as well do it I guess!

Is the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Master Test Kit an ok one to use? It would be good if I could get most stuff in the same place!


Thanks SO much for your help!
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