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Old 08-05-2010, 01:21 PM   #11 
Adastra
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Northern Virginia
There is a lot of frustration on boards such as this when it comes to proper housing for a betta. A lot of the time people just getting into the hobby don't understand what's really right for their fish because they've been exposed to all kinds of misconceptions and marketing pitfalls out there in the pet store and in society in general. I don't blame people for misunderstanding, I feel no animosity toward them, just a resolve to help them make it right, and sometimes that comes across a bit harsh when all you have to communicate with is text. A lot of other members here, I'm sure, feel the same way.

Society places fish very low on the value scale--perhaps only just above insects and other invertebrates. Why? Because they're small, they're cheap, and it's hard for us to relate to something that we can't touch, isn't warm and furry like us, and has no voice or other means of communication that we can understand. Because of this, people assume they aren't intelligent, have no memory, and either don't feel pain, or feel it in a different way. To many people these "pets" are disposable, and not worth proper care and treatment.

This is what I find so very frustrating about people who are new to this hobby. You don't understand that having a betta is a commitment, when you bought it, you made a promise to that animal that you were going to take good care of it, not just care you happen to be able to afford at the time. You wouldn't get a hamster if you couldn't afford to feed it or keep it in something other than a vase. If you can't afford to keep an animal, be it a cricket, a hermit crab, a fish, a rodent, a horse, whatever--you should wait until you have the adequate funds to house it properly. For a betta, you have a lot of options. There's a lot of ways to house a betta cheaply and humanely. You take the time to browse craigslist, kijiji, freecycle, salvation army, etc for cheap or free tanks and heaters. You can go to Target or Walmart and get a 2 gallon storage bin for $3 to keep your fish in until you can afford something that looks nicer.

If someone does something selfish that involves the mistreatment of an animal, I'm going to speak up. I'm doing a disservice to the owner and the animal if I don't state the facts.

Based on my experience, I would not keep a fish in anything smaller than two gallons--simply because most heaters are designed to be used in tanks two gallons or larger. Bettas are tropical fish, so heaters are not optional for their well-being. Regular maintenance is also not optional. A tank of less than a gallon must be changed 100% every day, a tank of less than a half a gallon is just plain not suitable to support life. The reason why your fish did better with fewer feedings is because the more you feed your betta, the more ammonia it will excrete into the water.

I'm not saying this just to make you feel bad, but I want you to understand that the reason your other fish died was that it was poisoned by its own waste. I don't know if you've ever smelled ammonia before, but I'd like you to imagine for a moment what it must be like to swim in, drink in, and breathe it in all at the same time, with no way to escape it.

Thankfully you have reached out to the betta community, and now you're open to learning about how to take care of your fish properly. We all make mistakes when we're first getting into this hobby, and we all do things that we regret. You can make up for it and give your betta a really good life just by doing a few simple things and acknowledging that in order to live a good life you need to satisfy certain needs, those being:

1. Water quality and sanitation. You must treat your water with a dechlorinator in order to make it suitable for your betta. It is generally advised that you use tap water rather than bottled or distilled water since it carries minerals that help stabilize pH and contribute to the betta's health. Fish constantly excrete ammonia through their gills, kind of like the fish version of urine. In a closed system, this ammonia has nowhere to go and no plants or beneficial bacteria to break it down into less harmful compounds like it would be in nature. Because of this, you must do regular 100% water changes in an uncycled tank.

2. Adequate heat of 78-83 degrees. Bettas are tropical fish and are cold blooded animals. To large warm blooded animals like us, a few degrees doesn't make a big difference, but to your fish, temperature drives their entire metabolism. Cold temperatures cause digestion and circulation to slow, leaving them vulnerable to disease and constipation and often causing their fins to become ragged as a result of saprolegnia and pseudomona infections. Cold fish are pale, lethargic, and often sickly. The only heaters I recommend are ones with an adjustable temperature dial, such as this one:http://www.fosterandsmithaquatics.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=11368 smaller preset heaters and heater pads don't heat the water enough, or overheat the tank based on the ambient temperature in the room.

3. Food. Bettas need a varied diet of high protein meat based food. The onlydry betta foods I recommend are OmegaOne Betta Buffet Pellets, Atison's Betta Pellets, Ken's Betta Crumbles, and New Life Spectrum. No pellet, however, can provide your fish with complete nutrition. It's a good idea to supplement with wet frozen foods such as blood worms and brine shrimp. Whenever you feed your fish any kind of dry food, remember to soak it in tank water first, or else it will expand in your fish's stomach and cause digestive stress and constipation.

4. Security. Your fish needs hiding places in his tank when he is feeling frightened and insecure. Sparse tanks without any kind of cover cause the fish to feel vulnerable and stressed out--as if he could be eaten by a predator at any moment.

5. Adequate space to exercise and environmental enrichment. One of the leading causes of death in bettas is obesity. Tiny tanks don't give the fish room to exercise and express his natural behaviors. Many people also don't realize that just like other animals, bettas can get extremely bored when they are confined, and as a result, they develop destructive neurotic behaviors such as tail biting and glass surfing.

So in conclusion, I'm glad you are doing what you can for your fish. I hope you will strive to understand what constitutes ethical care practices and adopt them in the treatment of your own pets. The learning curve can be very steep in fishkeeping, so I suggest you continue to do some research of your own and don't be afraid to ask questions.

Last edited by Adastra; 08-05-2010 at 01:25 PM.
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:35 PM   #12 
AaryonN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adastra View Post
There is a lot of frustration on boards such as this when it comes to proper housing for a betta. A lot of the time people just getting into the hobby don't understand what's really right for their fish because they've been exposed to all kinds of misconceptions and marketing pitfalls out there in the pet store and in society in general. I don't blame people for misunderstanding, I feel no animosity toward them, just a resolve to help them make it right, and sometimes that comes across a bit harsh when all you have to communicate with is text. A lot of other members here, I'm sure, feel the same way.

Society places fish very low on the value scale--perhaps only just above insects and other invertebrates. Why? Because they're small, they're cheap, and it's hard for us to relate to something that we can't touch, isn't warm and furry like us, and has no voice or other means of communication that we can understand. Because of this, people assume they aren't intelligent, have no memory, and either don't feel pain, or feel it in a different way. To many people these "pets" are disposable, and not worth proper care and treatment.

This is what I find so very frustrating about people who are new to this hobby. You don't understand that having a betta is a commitment, when you bought it, you made a promise to that animal that you were going to take good care of it, not just care you happen to be able to afford at the time. You wouldn't get a hamster if you couldn't afford to feed it or keep it in something other than a vase. If you can't afford to keep an animal, be it a cricket, a hermit crab, a fish, a rodent, a horse, whatever--you should wait until you have the adequate funds to house it properly. For a betta, you have a lot of options. There's a lot of ways to house a betta cheaply and humanely. You take the time to browse craigslist, kijiji, freecycle, salvation army, etc for cheap or free tanks and heaters. You can go to Target or Walmart and get a 2 gallon storage bin for $3 to keep your fish in until you can afford something that looks nicer.

If someone does something selfish that involves the mistreatment of an animal, I'm going to speak up. I'm doing a disservice to the owner and the animal if I don't state the facts.

Based on my experience, I would not keep a fish in anything smaller than two gallons--simply because most heaters are designed to be used in tanks two gallons or larger. Bettas are tropical fish, so heaters are not optional for their well-being. Regular maintenance is also not optional. A tank of less than a gallon must be changed 100% every day, a tank of less than a half a gallon is just plain not suitable to support life. The reason why your fish did better with fewer feedings is because the more you feed your betta, the more ammonia it will excrete into the water.

I'm not saying this just to make you feel bad, but I want you to understand that the reason your other fish died was that it was poisoned by its own waste. I don't know if you've ever smelled ammonia before, but I'd like you to imagine for a moment what it must be like to swim in, drink in, and breathe it in all at the same time, with no way to escape it.

Thankfully you have reached out to the betta community, and now you're open to learning about how to take care of your fish properly. We all make mistakes when we're first getting into this hobby, and we all do things that we regret. You can make up for it and give your betta a really good life just by doing a few simple things and acknowledging that in order to live a good life you need to satisfy certain needs, those being:

1. Water quality and sanitation. You must treat your water with a dechlorinator in order to make it suitable for your betta. It is generally advised that you use tap water rather than bottled or distilled water since it carries minerals that help stabilize pH and contribute to the betta's health. Fish constantly excrete ammonia through their gills, kind of like the fish version of urine. In a closed system, this ammonia has nowhere to go and no plants or beneficial bacteria to break it down into less harmful compounds like it would be in nature. Because of this, you must do regular 100% water changes in an uncycled tank.

2. Adequate heat of 78-83 degrees. Bettas are tropical fish and are cold blooded animals. To large warm blooded animals like us, a few degrees doesn't make a big difference, but to your fish, temperature drives their entire metabolism. Cold temperatures cause digestion and circulation to slow, leaving them vulnerable to disease and constipation and often causing their fins to become ragged as a result of saprolegnia and pseudomona infections. Cold fish are pale, lethargic, and often sickly. The only heaters I recommend are ones with an adjustable temperature dial, such as this one:http://www.fosterandsmithaquatics.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=11368 smaller preset heaters and heater pads don't heat the water enough, or overheat the tank based on the ambient temperature in the room.

3. Food. Bettas need a varied diet of high protein meat based food. The onlydry betta foods I recommend are OmegaOne Betta Buffet Pellets, Atison's Betta Pellets, Ken's Betta Crumbles, and New Life Spectrum. No pellet, however, can provide your fish with complete nutrition. It's a good idea to supplement with wet frozen foods such as blood worms and brine shrimp. Whenever you feed your fish any kind of dry food, remember to soak it in tank water first, or else it will expand in your fish's stomach and cause digestive stress and constipation.

4. Security. Your fish needs hiding places in his tank when he is feeling frightened and insecure. Sparse tanks without any kind of cover cause the fish to feel vulnerable and stressed out--as if he could be eaten by a predator at any moment.

5. Adequate space to exercise and environmental enrichment. One of the leading causes of death in bettas is obesity. Tiny tanks don't give the fish room to exercise and express his natural behaviors. Many people also don't realize that just like other animals, bettas can get extremely bored when they are confined, and as a result, they develop destructive neurotic behaviors such as tail biting and glass surfing.

So in conclusion, I'm glad you are doing what you can for your fish. I hope you will strive to understand what constitutes ethical care practices and adopt them in the treatment of your own pets. The learning curve can be very steep in fishkeeping, so I suggest you continue to do some research of your own and don't be afraid to ask questions.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!!

I'm just gonna say right now, I've never had a betta fish die while in my care. But thats beside the point. I am going to get a heater, a filter, and a 2.5g + tank for each of my Betta's! Thank you for all of the advice and I will now take care of my Betta's the way they are supposed to be traken care of.

Any other advice is greatly appreciated. Can u give me some advice about installation of a filter?? How long it needs to be on before i add my fish to the tank?
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:54 PM   #13 
Adastra
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Oh, I guess I misread the post about you having had another betta before. I assumed it had passed away. Pardon that.

The whole idea behind running a filter for 24 hours before putting your fish in is kind of a myth designed to give you a false sense of security that the filter is doing some kind of magic to the water that negates cleaning, lol. As long as you rinse everything out really well you don't need to wait to use it.

If you get a larger sized tank, it can undergo a process known as the nitrogen cycle; that is, the colonization of the filter and porous surfaces in the tank with a specialized beneficial bacteria that breaks down toxic ammonia into, nitrite, which is equally toxic--however, another type of bacteria breaks down the nitrite into nitrate, which is much, much less toxic and can be tolerated by fish in reasonable amounts, whereas ammonia and nitrite are dangerous at any level. This means that instead of doing frequent 100% water changes that are necessary to bring the ammonia level to 0, you only have to a partial water change that will bring the nitrate level down to a safe range. This is a lot less work than having to break down the tank and clean everything out all the time. :)

However, you should consider that a bacterial colony doesn't simply appear in your tank overnight. Generally it takes 2-3 weeks for the bacteria to colonize your filter media, and during this time you will have to test the water repeatedly to see how the process is progressing. In order to grow, bacteria needs aeration, heat, and a constant food source: ammonia.

There are a couple of ways to do this, one way with the fish in the tank as the source of ammonia, and one with the fish out, using store-bought pure ammonia, or fish food as the ammonia source. I only advocate the fishless method because it's faster, it takes less work, creates a more stable colony, and it means your fish isn't exposed to harmful ammonia--the only drawback is that you have to keep your fish in another container. Rubbermaid/sterilite plastic storage bins make great temporary homes and hospital containers for bettas, they can be heated and they're only about $3 each. With some googling, you should find some instructions for both methods fairly quickly as well as tips on speeding up the process.

If you choose not to cycle your tank, you will have to do regular 100% changes. This is a perfectly acceptable way to care for your betta, people who have small tanks and no filtration do this successfully and keep very beautiful healthy fish. It's just up to you what you want to do.

If you want to cycle your tank keep in mind that the bigger the tank, the more stable your cycle will be. Small tanks can easily crash because there's not many surfaces for the bacteria to grow on, and they're easily disrupted during cleaning. If you choose to cycle a tank under 3 gallons, I highly suggest using a good two inches of the most porous gravel you can find, try to avoid marbles and polished stones. Go for the rough quartz rocks. :) Also, it's helpful to know that you should never throw away your filter media, despite what the instructions say--simply rinse the sponge (very gently) in the old tank water with every water change. If the tank comes with a bio-wheel, I usually remove it and put some substrate in that compartment, topped off with some more filter sponge. Bio-wheels are kind of a gimmick, you're better off stuffing the compartment with more bio media.

I hope that was helpful. I tend to get long winded and ramble after awhile, lol.

Last edited by Adastra; 08-05-2010 at 02:04 PM.
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Old 08-05-2010, 02:07 PM   #14 
AaryonN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adastra View Post
Oh, I guess I misread the post about you having had another betta before. I assumed it had passed away. Pardon that.

The whole idea behind running a filter for 24 hours before putting your fish in is kind of a myth designed to give you a false sense of security that the filter is doing some kind of magic to the water that negates cleaning, lol. As long as you rinse everything out really well you don't need to wait to use it.

If you get a larger sized tank, it can undergo a process known as the nitrogen cycle; that is, the colonization of the filter and porous surfaces in the tank with a specialized beneficial bacteria that breaks down toxic ammonia into, nitrite, which is equally toxic--however, another type of bacteria breaks down the nitrite into nitrate, which is much, much less toxic and can be tolerated by fish in reasonable amounts, whereas ammonia and nitrite are dangerous at any level. This means that instead of doing frequent 100% water changes that are necessary to bring the ammonia level to 0, you only have to a partial water change that will bring the nitrate level down to a safe range. This is a lot less work than having to break down the tank and clean everything out all the time. :)

However, you should consider that a bacterial colony doesn't simply appear in your tank overnight. Generally it takes 2-3 weeks for the bacteria to colonize your filter media, and during this time you will have to test the water repeatedly to see how the process is progressing. In order to grow, bacteria needs aeration, heat, and a constant food source: ammonia.

There are a couple of ways to do this, one way with the fish in the tank as the source of ammonia, and one with the fish out, using store-bought pure ammonia, or fish food as the ammonia source. I only advocate the fishless method because it's faster, it takes less work, creates a more stable colony, and it means your fish isn't exposed to harmful ammonia--the only drawback is that you have to keep your fish in another container. Rubbermaid/sterilite plastic storage bins make great temporary homes and hospital containers for bettas, they can be heated and they're only about $3 each. With some googling, you should find some instructions for both methods fairly quickly as well as tips on speeding up the process.

If you choose not to cycle your tank, you will have to do regular 100% changes. This is a perfectly acceptable way to care for your betta, people who have small tanks and no filtration do this successfully and keep very beautiful healthy fish. It's just up to you what you want to do.

If you want to cycle your tank keep in mind that the bigger the tank, the more stable your cycle will be. Small tanks can easily crash because there's not many surfaces for the bacteria to grow on, and they're easily disrupted during cleaning. If you choose to cycle a tank under 3 gallons, I highly suggest using a good two inches of the most porous gravel you can find, try to avoid marbles and polished stones. Go for the rough quartz rocks. :) Also, it's helpful to know that you should never throw away your filter media, despite what the instructions say--simply rinse the sponge (very gently) in the old tank water with every water change. If the tank comes with a bio-wheel, I usually remove it and put some substrate in that compartment, topped off with some more filter sponge. Bio-wheels are kind of a gimmick, you're better off stuffing the compartment with more bio media.

I hope that was helpful. I tend to get long winded and ramble after awhile, lol.

Thanks

I am really new to having fish and taking care of them properly, when i get a tank, a heater, and a filter, How exactly do i clean the filter?? what are the basic things i need to know before getting a tank and accessories because i don't wanna get all of the equipment, and then set it up, then a week later i'll just be like... UHHH, WHAT NOW?? lol, so can i tell me the basics of cleaning and setting up everything?
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Old 08-05-2010, 02:15 PM   #15 
Adastra
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Well, like I said, it really comes down to what size tank you're going for and whether you choose the cycled method or the uncycled method. If you tell me what you're leaning toward I can give you more specific instructions and help you make a shopping list.
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Old 08-05-2010, 02:17 PM   #16 
AaryonN
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Well, like I said, it really comes down to what size tank you're going for and whether you choose the cycled method or the uncycled method. If you tell me what you're leaning toward I can give you more specific instructions and help you make a shopping list.
Definatly the cycled method
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Old 08-05-2010, 02:58 PM   #17 
AaryonN
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Thanks

I am really new to having fish and taking care of them properly, when i get a tank, a heater, and a filter, How exactly do i clean the filter?? what are the basic things i need to know before getting a tank and accessories because i don't wanna get all of the equipment, and then set it up, then a week later i'll just be like... UHHH, WHAT NOW?? lol, so can i tell me the basics of cleaning and setting up everything?
Can someone answer my question?
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Old 08-05-2010, 03:04 PM   #18 
Adastra
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Lol, ok. In that case you'll probably want a tank that's as close to 5 gallons as you can manage, if not larger. The bigger the tank, the less work you'll have to do.

I'm assuming you'll probably end up with some kind of tank kit--the ones I use are the Marineland Eclipse brand kits. They come with a power filter, a fluorescent light, and they're acrylic so they're super light and durable. Whether you choose this brand or not, we'll use this as an example.

When you get your tank, you should rinse out everything with hot water from the tap, including the filter parts, filter cartridge, and heater. The point of this is just to get any dust off of the products, you don't have to go nuts. :) I usually rinse the gravel outside by putting it in a bucket with a garden hose and letting the bucket overflow while stirring the gravel. This will quickly get rid of any silt or dirt in the gravel.

Next just add the gravel, and add approx. 80 degree water and dechlorinator, put the heater in and whatever decor items or plants you have and arrange them how you want, add the filter, and turn everything on. That's really all you have to do to start out. If you're going for the fishless cycling method, you should add an airpump with an airstone, and then add enough pure ammonia to show a reading of 4ppm with your ammonia test kit. Then, all you have to do is leave it alone. Easy peasy. Test the water every day for ammonia and nitrite. Once the nitrite begins to go up you've gotten to the first part of colonization--but you still need to feed the ammonia eating bacteria so they can keep producing nitrite for the nitrite eating bacteria, so you must add ammonia to keep the level at 4ppm throughout the process. If you accidentally overdose, no big deal--just do a large water change and quickly put the ammonia level up to 4ppm again.

Sometimes people get stuck on their nitrite spike, it keeps going up but you don't get any nitrates. If you get stuck like this, and the nitrite level is through the roof, do a water change to bring it down to around 4ppm. Too much ammonia and too much nitrite can hamper the process, this is why it's important to keep testing your water. When your ammonia level and nitrite level read zero, and all you have is a large amount of nitrates, you're done! Just do one big water change to get the nitrates into a safe level, and you're ready to put your fish in.

If you use the fish in method, you have to test a lot more diligently, after all you can only keep your ammonia level in the tank at .25ppm rather than 4ppm because any higher than that would harm your fish. Every time the ammonia or nitrite level creeps above .25 ppm, you would have to do a water change. This is a lot more work.

So in order to complete this process you're going to need:

1.) 5G tank or close to it, 2.5G would be a good minimum. It might be easiest to buy a kit that comes with a filter, try to make sure that the light it comes with is fluorescent, though. 2.) An adjustable heater, so that you can crank it up to 85 degrees in order to speed up the life cycle of the bacteria. 3.) Porous gravel. 4.) A liquid master test kit like this one: http://www.fosterandsmithaquatics.co...fm?pcatid=4454 liquid tests are much more accurate and cost effective than dip strips. 5.) Ammonia, be it from a store or from your fish, and dechlorinator. 6.) An air pump with an air stone to provide the bacteria with plenty of oxygen while they grow and reproduce.

Shopping online is a great way to save money--if you can you should try to order everything you can from an online store or browse your local craigslist for good deals. I might have left a few things out--but hopefully I at least covered the basics.

Last edited by Adastra; 08-05-2010 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 08-05-2010, 03:12 PM   #19 
AaryonN
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Originally Posted by Adastra View Post
Lol, ok. In that case you'll probably want a tank that's as close to 5 gallons as you can manage, if not larger. The bigger the tank, the less work you'll have to do.

I'm assuming you'll probably end up with some kind of tank kit--the ones I use are the Marineland Eclipse brand kits. They come with a power filter, a fluorescent light, and they're acrylic so they're super light and durable. Whether you choose this brand or not, we'll use this as an example.

When you get your tank, you should rinse out everything with hot water from the tap, including the filter parts, filter cartridge, and heater. The point of this is just to get any dust off of the products, you don't have to go nuts. :) I usually rinse the gravel outside by putting it in a bucket with a garden hose and letting the bucket overflow while stirring the gravel. This will quickly get rid of any silt or dirt in the gravel.

Next just add the gravel, and add approx. 80 degree water and dechlorinator, put the heater in and whatever decor items or plants you have and arrange them how you want, add the filter, and turn everything on. That's really all you have to do to start out. If you're going for the fishless cycling method, you should add an airpump with an airstone, and then add enough pure ammonia to show a reading of 4ppm with your ammonia test kit. Then, all you have to do is leave it alone. Easy peasy. Test the water every day for ammonia and nitrite. Once the nitrite begins to go up you've gotten to the first part of colonization--but you still need to feed the ammonia eating bacteria so they can keep producing nitrite for the nitrite eating bacteria, so you must add ammonia to keep the level at 4ppm throughout the process. If you accidentally overdose, no big deal--just do a large water change and quickly put the ammonia level up to 4ppm again.

Sometimes people get stuck on their nitrite spike, it keeps going up but you don't get any nitrates. If you get stuck like this, and the nitrite level is through the roof, do a water change to bring it down to around 4ppm. Too much ammonia and too much nitrite can hamper the process, this is why it's important to keep testing your water. When your ammonia level and nitrite level read zero, and all you have is a large amount of nitrates, you're done! Just do one big water change to get the nitrates into a safe level, and you're ready to put your fish in.

If you use the fish in method, you have to test a lot more diligently, after all you can only keep your ammonia level in the tank at .25ppm rather than 4ppm because any higher than that would harm your fish. Every time the ammonia or nitrite level creeps above .25 ppm, you would have to do a water change. This is a lot more work.

So in order to complete this process you're going to need:

1.) 5G tank or close to it, 2.5G would be a good minimum. It might be easiest to buy a kit that comes with a filter, try to make sure that the light it comes with is fluorescent, though. 2.) An adjustable heater, so that you can crank it up to 85 degrees in order to speed up the life cycle of the bacteria. 3.) Porous gravel. 4.) A liquid master test kit like this one: http://www.fosterandsmithaquatics.co...fm?pcatid=4454 liquid tests are much more accurate and cost effective than dip strips. 5.) Ammonia, be it from a store or from your fish, and dechlorinator. 6.) An air pump with an air stone to provide the bacteria with plenty of oxygen while they grow and reproduce.

Shopping online is a great way to save money--if you can you should try to order everything you can from an online store or browse your local craigslist for good deals. I might have left a few things out--but hopefully I at least covered the basics.
Can i do without all of the bacteria stuff?? just set up the filter and heater, plop the fish in, put in decholorinator and then be done with it?? Then do a cleaning every 2 weeks? i don't understand why u need to stabilize the nitrates and nitrites. Its really confusing to me, ahaha
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Old 08-05-2010, 03:33 PM   #20 
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What are the reccomended chemicals that i should buy for my betta's? Brand names and all
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