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Old 08-15-2010, 05:09 AM   #1 
TharBePirates
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Adventures of Soon To Be Betta Owner

First off, Hiiiiiiiiiii.

This is the first time I'll have a fish in... well.... since that stage as a young child where I had a tank of ill fated goldfish (you know that stage).

So now that I'm older, wiser, all that jazz, I've been doing research so that this time around I'll have a happy, healthy fish. Annnd obsessively googling led me to this forum.

Getting down to business, I live in an apartment building that has an no pets policy. However I was able to sweet talk my way into being allowed to keep a betta fish, provided I and Roommate take good care of our gilled friend.

Originally I bought a pretty decorative bowl, because like everyone else who browses the fish section on the way to pick up kibble I assumed betta' were fine in a small container. Have I mentioned I did the research thing? It quickly made me see the error of my ways and a few days ago I purchased a basic Top Fin 2.5 gal (as much as I would like to go up to 5, apartment manager guy was leery of the bowl, a 5 gal tank wouldn't go over well, also we're short on space in our studio). Also during my shopping spree I picked up a Tetra Whisper 3i Filter, small inexpensive thermometer, Hydor Mini Heater (2-5gal), Top Fin River Rock pebbles and a little resin driftwood decoration thingy. I also have on a previous trip stocked up on betta food (pellets and freeze dried bloodworms), a water conditioner and a net. I definitely plan on getting a check valve for the filter, gravel vacuum, water test strips and a light source (old desk lamp seems to need a purpose).

During a couple of extensive googling sessions I fell in love with the DIY styrofoam 3d backgrounds all the serious fish enthusiests seem to be creating. So today I actually made one out of a thin 1/2in sheet of styrofoam and some Great Stuff expanding foam. I know that sounds like it'll eat up a ton of space in an already small tank, but I let it cure and trimmed down the back significantly, so it's a little less than an inch in thickness. Should I still be concerned about the amount of space it's taking up? Tomorrow I want give it a few coats of some quick drying cement (with a little buff coloring since I like the natural aquascape thing) and let it cure before sealing it to the back. The way the foam set it should look like a really nice little background.

My main question is plants though. During that whole glass bowl phase I picked up some cheap plastic aquarium plants at Wal-Mart, but obsessive googling has told me that those can tear up betta fins. I can definitely tell out of one of the ones I bought there's a 'softer' plant, which I think I can use to hide the filter. As for the others, I'm definitely replacing them, but I'm stuck between getting little silk plants or live ones. I would really love to do live plants as I know it would speed up the cycling process and I hear the bettas are happier with live plants. The problem is I'm as N00b as N00bs can be to this whole thing, and don't know a thing about plants.

Soooo, thoughts? Ideas?
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Old 08-15-2010, 05:48 AM   #2 
noenyu
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Originally Posted by TharBePirates View Post
First off, Hiiiiiiiiiii.

This is the first time I'll have a fish in... well.... since that stage as a young child where I had a tank of ill fated goldfish (you know that stage).

So now that I'm older, wiser, all that jazz, I've been doing research so that this time around I'll have a happy, healthy fish. Annnd obsessively googling led me to this forum.

Getting down to business, I live in an apartment building that has an no pets policy. However I was able to sweet talk my way into being allowed to keep a betta fish, provided I and Roommate take good care of our gilled friend.

Originally I bought a pretty decorative bowl, because like everyone else who browses the fish section on the way to pick up kibble I assumed betta' were fine in a small container. Have I mentioned I did the research thing? It quickly made me see the error of my ways and a few days ago I purchased a basic Top Fin 2.5 gal (as much as I would like to go up to 5, apartment manager guy was leery of the bowl, a 5 gal tank wouldn't go over well, also we're short on space in our studio). Also during my shopping spree I picked up a Tetra Whisper 3i Filter, small inexpensive thermometer, Hydor Mini Heater (2-5gal), Top Fin River Rock pebbles and a little resin driftwood decoration thingy. I also have on a previous trip stocked up on betta food (pellets and freeze dried bloodworms), a water conditioner and a net. I definitely plan on getting a check valve for the filter, gravel vacuum, water test strips and a light source (old desk lamp seems to need a purpose).

During a couple of extensive googling sessions I fell in love with the DIY styrofoam 3d backgrounds all the serious fish enthusiests seem to be creating. So today I actually made one out of a thin 1/2in sheet of styrofoam and some Great Stuff expanding foam. I know that sounds like it'll eat up a ton of space in an already small tank, but I let it cure and trimmed down the back significantly, so it's a little less than an inch in thickness. Should I still be concerned about the amount of space it's taking up? Tomorrow I want give it a few coats of some quick drying cement (with a little buff coloring since I like the natural aquascape thing) and let it cure before sealing it to the back. The way the foam set it should look like a really nice little background.

My main question is plants though. During that whole glass bowl phase I picked up some cheap plastic aquarium plants at Wal-Mart, but obsessive googling has told me that those can tear up betta fins. I can definitely tell out of one of the ones I bought there's a 'softer' plant, which I think I can use to hide the filter. As for the others, I'm definitely replacing them, but I'm stuck between getting little silk plants or live ones. I would really love to do live plants as I know it would speed up the cycling process and I hear the bettas are happier with live plants. The problem is I'm as N00b as N00bs can be to this whole thing, and don't know a thing about plants.

Soooo, thoughts? Ideas?
Hi!

From what I learned from the short period of time I've been on this forum, silk plants should be used instead of plastic. Plastic can tear the fins of a betta. But I love the look of live plants/natural planted aquariums. I got my first betta (Taco) kind of on a rescue mission lol. My sister stopped caring for him so I took over. I too got google crazy looking up how to properly care for a betta. Then I kind of got obsessed with planted tanks and wanted to jump right in.

The good thing about natural planted tanks is that the plants can help the fish a lot. They use up ammonium, nitrites, nitrates, and fish waste plus oxygenate the water. At least that's what I got from my research. They other thing is planted tanks look so beautiful lol.

Here is some more information on natural planted tanks:

Byron's "A Basic Approach to Natural Planted Aquariums"

Part 1 http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...um-part-34861/

Part 2 http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...um-part-34859/

Part 3 http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...um-part-34858/

Part 4 http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...um-part-34862/

I also asked for advice on starting and keeping a successful aquarium.
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...y-start-49136/

Plant and Fish profile http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/profiles/

Tropical Fish Keeping is Bettafish.com's sister site I believe.

Hope that helps!
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Old 08-15-2010, 07:07 PM   #3 
TharBePirates
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Thanks for those links! Just what I needed to hear about plants.

So I went to Petco today because I've never been there. There's a Petsmart about 5 miles closer so I've never had the need. However I thought since I had some time on my hands I'd go and check out their gravel as I changed my decor plans a tad to get some more wiggle room with my budget. They had a cool, 6 gal slim bookcase tank that I nearly got, however I exercised some control and told myself Apt Manager guy would freak at the size.

I was thisclose to getting a betta though. They had a mix bag of bettas, some were floating at the top, others were listless on the bottom with clamp fin, and then there were some that were bright eyed and curious. There was a gorgeous double veil royal blue butterfly who had a great personality, but gods I had to stop myself! I don't even have this tank set up yet and I not only want a fish, I already want a larger tank.

Also managed to chat with someone about plants. The fish guy was busy, but I struck up the conversation of another employee who had been raising fish for a long time along with some plants. She was pretty stunned someone was researching tank setup/plants/cycling for a little betta. She recommended some coconut that had been hollowed out into little caves and topped with java moss. Apparently she has one that's pretty much carpeted her tank, and she's seen betta adore the coconut cave. I'm thinking about returning my little faux driftwood and getting one of those once the tank's up in SF and ready for water and cycling.

I'm off to pick up some supplies for my background, as well as return the other gravel. I need to take pictures of my tiny tank project

I have a question for anyone out in San Francisco. I live pretty close to Chinatown's Pet Central, does anyone have experience with their plants and bettas? I know there are other places, but they're a short walk from where I live, and they have a huge fish section. Their bettas though look a little sad in their dirty little cups, but I haven't really looked at them for health problems and ect, I do know they're cheaper than Petco and Petsmart though.
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Old 08-15-2010, 07:27 PM   #4 
Sarada
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Are you not worried about chemicals from your styrofoam project getting into the water?
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Old 08-15-2010, 10:24 PM   #5 
TharBePirates
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Are you not worried about chemicals from your styrofoam project getting into the water?
I was leery originally, but from the various plans I've read, I'm coating the stryofoam in a few coats of cement, which will seal the front and sides up. After that I'm going to let it cure till Thursday or so, before I submerge it into a bucket of water to see if anything flakes off (and if it does, that's where this project ends). If there's no flake, I'll attach it to the back with the GE Silicon 1 sealant I just bought (which a lot of Aquarists swear by as tank safe). When I do so I will also run a bead of silicon across the bottom, sides and top, effectively sealing the back up so the exposed stryo doesn't get wet. After that I fill it up and let the cement soak just to be extra careful I get rid of any impurities.

Pictures of the project!

The new gravel for the new plans. It has less red and more grey in it. I know that shouldn't be a big deal but anal art student is anal when it comes to design.


The foam. I used Great Stuff expanding foam on a 1/2" sheet of stryo I found lying around. After the GS wasn't tacky, yet still soft, I punctured it in several places and laid books on top for a few hours. Because GS gets so expandy because of it reacting with air, this squeezed the air out of the pockets and made the foam flatter.


Which means it takes up less tank space but still has the ridges and definition. Also last night I took a bread knife and trimmed most of the styro sheet off, making it even thinner.


How is will roughly look with the background, minus some decor. The little plastic plant passed the Pantyhose Test (safe for betta) and will be used to hide the filter for a little while.


Rapid set cement and other goodies I needed.


I learned lurking on some DIY forums it's important to use GE Silicon I, and not II. II has a chemical that fights mildew that will leech into the water and harm your fishies, I is safe.


The background after it's first coat of cement. It's hot here, so it dried quick. I'm still going to let it set for a few hours before another coat, and then tomorrow morning I'll put on a third coat before giving it till Friday to cure. I know I talked about adding pigment to make it a different color, but I to like the look of plain old wet concrete, and figured I could save $5 if I just left it as is and got a gravel that complimented it more. I've heard murmurings that because of the added grit from the concrete the background also doubles as a place for beneficial bacteria to grow.



Last edited by TharBePirates; 08-15-2010 at 10:27 PM.
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Old 08-15-2010, 10:49 PM   #6 
Laurenie
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Looks really great! I keep various herps and frequent a vivarium forum and am in the process of planting my first viv. My dream is to have a paludarium. As long as you follow all the directions and seal it well the background should definitely be safe in the water once it is submerged. Good job!
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Old 08-15-2010, 11:27 PM   #7 
Kokonoko
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awe-mazing

So you said you're doing mine next week, right? ;P
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Old 08-16-2010, 01:45 PM   #8 
ForbiddenSecrets
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Can't wait to see your tank completed =D [And what kind of darling fish you eventually get]
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Old 08-16-2010, 10:30 PM   #9 
TharBePirates
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Looks really great! I keep various herps and frequent a vivarium forum and am in the process of planting my first viv. My dream is to have a paludarium. As long as you follow all the directions and seal it well the background should definitely be safe in the water once it is submerged. Good job!
That's awesome! Roommate and I originally wanted to do a small paludarium for a few fire belly newts, but the betta was allowed.

So I let the first coat of cement cure all night before putting another on this morning. I set it out in the sun and around 11 I came back to do a second coat. When I (carefully) picked it up, I heard a crackling sound, and upon further inspection there were dozens of hairline cracks and the beginnings of flaking . I'm thinking that it didn't work because instead of carving out forms on blocks or sheets of stryo, which have pores that the cement can latch onto, I used the Great Stuff, which has a very smooth surface. *sighs*

I don't think I have the time and cash for some stryofoam carving (though I will try again with a future tank, but I do have a can of flat black paint. So, I think I'll spray paint the back of the tank black, so it look nice and has some depth that you get with the black. Thankfully this little side project didn't cost too much, I have someone who will find a purpose for the cement and I am going to use the silicon to make a nice weight for the little plastic plant.
I'm getting antsy because I don't get to go to my apt till Monday, which makes me asks you guys if you can start cycling a tank, then move it? I could start my process as I have everything and am no longer waiting on the background, but I'd have to take it on a 3-4 hour road trip before setting it up again. I doubt it would work, but I figure there is no harm in asking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ForbiddenSecrets
[And what kind of darling fish you eventually get]
I swear I just came back from a locally owned petstore and nearly walked out with half a dozen bettas. I think he knows a breeder who sells him stock that's undesirable, because he had DRAGONS. Dragons for about $13, including the light blue body and blood red fins (which are my absolute favorite). He has tons of types, colors and patterns, but you can tell they aren't quite show quality due to something like fin growth, color vibrancy, size, ect. They all ranged from about $6-$13 and there wasn't a homely one amongst any of them.

I had to tell myself I can't yet, as I have no ready tank... *sighs*
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Old 08-17-2010, 12:43 AM   #10 
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good luck! I only wish that I was this ready for my first betta. but after, experience with other fish and obv, bettas; I'm now on 5th betta.
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