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Old 03-22-2011, 10:10 AM   #1 
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Newbie with a few questions :)

First, I want to say thank you in advance for any help and advice. I'm really glad I found this website, it's been a great help so far. Now on to my situation and questions...

I'm a single dad who bought a Betta for my 26 month old daughter who loves fish as her first pet. Like most who didn't have a clue, I thought that since they are on the shelf, in a cup, how involved could they be to care for? Surprise, surprise... We bought "fish" Saturday along with a small half gallon starter kit, food and luckily, water conditioner. I setup the tank and put fish in it and then did a little searching/reading online to check to see how often he would need to be fed, etc... and that's when I found out what's actually involved if I want to keep fish healthy, happy and provide a proper home for him. I've learned A LOT since then, but still have some questions for the more experienced here.

1. I purchased this tank and wanted to know if anyone has had any first hand experiences with it? The reviews on Walmart seemed positive.

2. I'm using the water condition I bought at Walmart, but have since purchased the Amquel and Novaque conditioners. It's going to be another 6 days or so before the aquarium is delivered. I was planning on using the generic conditioner I bought at Walmart and begin using the Amquel/Novaque when I setup the new tank. Is that a good idea or should I start using it in water changes now to get him accustomed to it or wait and have him get accustomed to the new home/water at the same time.

3. Is cycling a 5 gallon tank really necessary? Fish is in a half gallon tank now, which is definitely on the cold side... and I'm worried about him surviving until this weekend when I pick up the new tank. I would really like to get him into his new home as soon as the water is heated properly and hate the idea of leaving him in the colder water until it cycles. So it's more of a which is worse for fish... living in a cold (guessing 68-70 degree water) or cycling the water with him in the new tank. I'm already in the $150 spent range and wasn't able to purchase a $25-30 water test kit right now to properly monitor the water during cycling.

4. Can anyone recommend a decent gravel siphon for a 5 gallon tank? How often will the gravel need to be cleaned? The rep at Petsmart said I wouldn't need to clean the gravel in a 5 gallon tank, which doesn't sound right to me. I'm planning on doing 25% water changes on a weekly basis.

5. How often should I change the cartridges in the filter?

6. Food - So far, the only thing fish has actually eaten is the blood worms. He hasn't touched the pieces of brine shrimp or pellets. Since a variety is recommened, any suggestions? Should I keep trying a mix? Give him only one type a day? I'm guessing he's still a little stressed and it will take him time to eat as hearty as he should.

7. If I do find healthy plants and use those, do they need to be fertilized? If so, what would you recommend?

8. Tankmates - I'm going with a natural look in the tank and would like to get a couple of other fish as well. I know a 5g is small and most recommend having only the betta, but I was thinking about 3-4 Neon Tetra's and maybe a catfish to help with the tank maintenance. Would the tank definitely be overstocked? Are there any other fish that are colorful, that you would recommend instead of the Tetra's? And what kind of catfish should I get that would work well with this setup?

9. I tried the pellets that Walmart had available, but fish wouldn't touch them. Are the Hikari Betta Bio-gold that much more appealing to Betta's? Petsmart doesn't cary them, so will pick some up at Petco if they are that good. Reviewers seem to think it's the best food out there.

10. I purchased natural colored gravel for the tank, but am also considering sand. Are there any pro's/con's as far as Betta's are concerned? What about cleaning each?

So far, I've purchased the following for fish's new home. The aquarium listed above, which comes with the filter, light, etc. A 6 pack of cartridges for the filter, a Tetra Whisper Heater 5-15, thermometer, aquarium sponge to baffle the filter, timer for the light, Amquel & Novaque water conditioners, gravel, some betta bulbs which are soaking in water now, some silk plants and I plan on going back to PetSmart Thursday when they restock their live plants and hoping to pick up some Moneywart and Anubia to use in the tank. If they have some healthy looking ones then, I'll return the silk plants. As far as food, I purchased some bloodworms, brine shrimp and pellets.

Is there anything that I'm missing for fish's new home?

Thanks again for any help!


Last edited by Alex919; 03-22-2011 at 10:22 AM.
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Old 03-22-2011, 11:02 AM   #2 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Welcome to the forum and to the wonderful world of fish keeping....what a neat thing to do for your daughter....

Right now-while in the small cup-do some 50-100% daily water changes with dechlorinated like temp water (keep this cup for your QT container if needed later)
The room temp is fine on a short term basis-once in the 5gal maintain a water temp in the 76-80F range

In the 5gal filtered tank-you can establish the nitrogen cycle with the Betta safely provided that you make the needed water changes
Without a test kit-make twice weekly 50% water changes-1-50% water only and 1-50% to include substrate vacuum...for 4-8 weeks...once the nitrogen cycle has established....water change of 50% weekly with vacuum should maintain water quality

Filter media-needs a swish/rinse in old tank water with a water change a couple of times a month and when the water flow slows to maintain a good water flow....this needs to start once the nitrogen cycle has established

You can take your water to a pet shop and have it tested....get the numbers and post are looking for ammonia, nitrite 0ppm and nitrate 5-10ppm

Dechlorinator-you want one that covers chlorine and chloramine...some also cover heavy metals and this is out for the type that have don't need one to get for the money in Prime by Seachem

Live plants are always good....stem, floating, rosette type, moss, fern....all good...

In a 5gal-you don't have enough space for any other fish except for the Betta...shrimp and/or snails will be need at least 10g if you want to add other fish species and then you are still limited on number and species....
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Old 03-22-2011, 11:26 AM   #3 
Join Date: Nov 2010

Im glad you researched and found out a few things!


Its a good tank, many members own it, I own a slightly different version.


Chances are what you bought at walmart is just fine. Most water conditioners are all the same, minus some like Prime, which neutralize ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, etc. Wean him off of it slowly. Introduce some of the other with the old over a good stretch of time.


I would wait to cycle the tank since you cannot monitor it properly. It can be a hard thing to do with a fish in there, since going over .5ppm ammonia is stressful.
Put him in his new tank when you get it, do regular water changes (50% twice a week if you have a filter, 100% once a week without...)
If youre worried about the heat, try putting his bowl near a heater or place it atop a heating pad (set to low) and monitor it. If the water begins to feel WARM to the touch (like, too warm), put something under the bowl to make the heat less. Or use some sort of thermometer if you have one. 75'-82 is ideal, 68-70 might prove deadly. You could also put him under a light, but it is not recommended since the temp. will flux.


That is too little while not cycled. When cycled, this sounds fine. Id say 50% twice a week if you have a filter, 100% if you do not. You can get a cheap siphon/gravel vac at petsmarts and stuff for under 10$. I own this in my 5 gallon:
It works well. Please enter this link into the search bar, petsmart links dont work on this site well.
Once you get it, I would do it whenever the bottom looks gross (poopies and food are in there), maybe once or twice a week. You could use the siphon to both vacuum and do a change at the same time, which is what I do. It makes things quicker! Invest ("invest"..ha!) in a bucket of about 2 gallons (walmart sells good blue ones) for this. Do not use any bucket that has had anything in it but water to put into the tank. Ever! Soap or chemicals should never come in contact with the tank or anything in it, even for water.

5. How often should I change the cartridges in the filter?

If you are looking to cycle, never. (LOL!) Good bacteria will grow on it and establish the cycle. Getting rid of it will get rid of the cycle.
If not, do it as recommended on the package, plus a month or two...they like you to buy more often so they say a little too soon ;)


If they are freeze dried bloodworms (or anything freeze dried), Please stop!! feeding these regularly. They are like chips to them, and can cause bloating issues (which can prove deadly over time) and provide little nutrition. Elminate those from his diet and offer pellets. If he doesnt eat them, remove them from the tank and try again later. He'll eat eventually, dont worry. They can go a while! Dont give in, be firm :)

At this point, while he is new, dont worry about veriety and worry about getting a food he will regularly eat established. Try a different pellet brand if he will not eat them after 5 days. Please note that he is very cold and probably isnt too hungry.

7. If I do find healthy plants and use those, do they need to be fertilized? If so, what would you recommend?

Not all, but some do. Some need cO2 and lots of light. Since you're new to it, stay away from those unless you feel comfortable. Opt for "easy" plants like anacharis, hornwort, java fern, annubias, cabomba(?) and others. Make certain what you are looking for is fully aquatic. These mentioned need nothing special and most can just float. They will also help reduce the ammonia in the tank and speed the cycle up! If youre looking for fertilizer once you have the plants, make a post in the habitats section.


It would be EXTREAMLY over stocked, yes. While not cycled, those sensitive fish would die. (trust me!) Tetras get 1.5 inches long x 4 MINIMUM(!!) is too much, and catfish need a friend and at least 10 gallons. Please do not purchase any, they will not live a good life! You can, once you get the hang of things, divide your tank in half and get another betta. But for now, stick to just him. Get a snail if you want when its cycled :D The only thing, btw, that a bottom feeder will do is poop, make more of a mess, and clean algae if you have it. Chances are, you do not. Nerites and apple snails are great. <3


Again, your fish is very cold and is not hungry because of this (very probably), so I would stick to what you have for the moment. Hikari is great, but stay away from Bio-gold, as it does not have the proper amount of protien anymore. Aqueon pellets are good, too. Tetra betta pellets are my boy's favorite generic brand :)


I do not have experience with sand, but I suggest you stick to the gravel for now, figure things out, and then perhaps get some. It can be harder to clean sometimes and takes a while to settle. Many members have natural gravel, and it looks great. Its a little easier to bury plants and decor in it, too! :D

You've done a fantastic job. Watch out for the bulbs though. They are notorious for not blooming and being moldy. Keep them out of the tank if you can until they bloom. (try keeping in a bag that bobs in the water to stay warm :D)
The plants that come in those tubes are usually pretty good. Pick up some java fern if its there, and if they have anarchairs, I highly suggest that, too! Keep some of the silk plants in case the live ones die. Bettas like places to rest, swim through and explore, so unless its really crowded, you should be okay.

Annubias grows slowly, btw- so dont count on it becoming huge too soon! ;D Do not bury it btw, unless you know how. It is better rooted on something else. Try wrapping string around what you want it to grow onto.

Great job, and welcome! Good luck to you, we're excited to see your tank.

-Pewpewpew <3

this wouldnt let me post! DX
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Old 03-23-2011, 11:21 AM   #4 
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Thanks, I appreciate the advice!

Tried 3 stores for the Tetra pellets, but no one seems to carry them here. I'll have to look online. I did pick up some Tetra flake food that I gave to fish for the first time last night. He seemed to enjoy that.
Are flakes a good main food? Or should I try to find a pellet he likes?

Thanks again!
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Old 03-23-2011, 12:14 PM   #5 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Its Really your choice on that, flakes trend to be messier and smell a bit. they're also harder to measure out.
Tetra's pellets are good, but dont limit yourself :) wardly's pellets are yummy and tend to not smell up the tank as much, aqueon pellets, hikari (not bio gold), top fin' um um!! So many. There are also micro pellets that are tiny, if hes got a small mouth :) search pellets in the search bar and read what people have suggested and reviewed! :D
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Old 03-23-2011, 12:17 PM   #6 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Btw, I got the tetra brand at walmart, they carry tetra's products heavily in most stores. But, for future reference (side from food and tanks), tetra isn't the greatest brand. Its a running joke to some how crappy their stuff can be, haha. Especially heaters!! :p
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