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Old 12-22-2011, 09:15 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: NH
Determined to break the family fish curse

My parents tried very hard to keep fish alive, but obviously made some mistakes. Those poor things never seemed to live for long.

This is going to be our first tank, and I really want to do it right. I've done weeks of intensive research, spoken with a former betta breeder in detail and I've read many of the introductory threads on this site. I know about proper size/feeding/decorations/filtering/temperature but I'm afraid that I'm missing something and I'm going to carry on the family tradition of accidentally killing fish :(

In our first apartment together, I have bought a betta as a Christmas present for my boyfriend. John Paul Jones' temporary home is a $5 1 gallon goldfish bowl. My parents have a few tanks leftover from attempts at fish ownership and various other tank-dwelling pets. I'll be getting his permanent home over the weekend from that selection of tanks.

How do I sterilize a tank that's been in an attic for a decade? Should I keep a cautious eye out for age decay of any kind?

My boyfriend, within 5 minutes of meeting and naming John Paul, decided that he "needs friends". (I explained that they fight their own species, but that in a bigger tank other types of fish might be fine.)

Does the fish really want/need/respond to company? Does it make the fish any happier, or do we just do it because a solitary fish doesn't "feel right" to the social animals that humans are?

As a side note, meet John Paul Jones!

Last edited by inthenavy; 12-22-2011 at 09:18 PM. Reason: corrected a couple of grammar whoopsies
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Old 12-22-2011, 09:50 PM   #2 
Draug Isilme
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First things, first, fill up the tank and check for possible leaks ^.^ When you select a tank, you can clean it out with bleach and hot water (not too much bleach. I forget the exact ratio to water, so yeah, you might want to double check on that)- Make sure you let the water and bleach sit for 10-15 minutes, and then rinse. A light scrubbing should help any other residue that clings- just make sure it's not too abbrasive.
Side note: If bleach scares you, just think of it this way- Bleach is chlorine, but we use DEchlorinators to help neutralize the chlorine that is in our drinking water so that it's safe for your fish. If you use any other product like soap, there is still a possibility for soap residue to be in the tank- nothing you add will neutralize any of the residue, and there is a chance you can kill your fish from it. And of course, if you still don't feel comfortable, there's always vinager.
Anyway, after rinsing it out, you can let it dry- once it fully dries, just rinse it out a few more times to make sure.

The way I see it with tank mates.... Betta's are territorial- if you had a female, it would be doable to do a sorority with more than one (female) betta (six is the usual minimum), but since this is your first real try at taking care of fish, I think just having the one male is a good start ^.^ Some bettas are just down right aggressive or just get easily stressed, and can't tolerate having a tank mate.... To me, aquarists add tanks more because the betta seems lonely- however, I also think that having tank mates (so long as the tank is an appropriate size with mates that at least neutrally agree to be together) puts your betta in more livelier environment and it gives a betta something else to explore and be curious about- or if they end up chasing one of their tank mates (so long as they're not stressing themselves to the point of exaustion/death or killing off other roomies), it gives them exercise and also heightens their natural instincts (to me, again, so long as it's not to a stressful level, I consider it a good thing. I've never seen an animal as happy as one who is able to bring out the best qualities they possess). Just make sure you do all the research you can for possible tank mates if that's still a direction you'd like to go for. Hope that helps some ^.^

Last edited by Draug Isilme; 12-22-2011 at 09:54 PM.
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Old 12-22-2011, 11:17 PM   #3 
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Welcome to the world of bettas, and to the forum!

I was told the ratio of bleach/water is 1:19.

As Draug says, adding tank mates is a bit of a personal preference. Your betta certainly won't be unhappy without them. Some bettas seem to enjoy company (my sorority girls love having tankmates) whilst others do not enjoy it at all, and others just don't seem fussed one way or another. It might be a good idea just to acquainted with John Paul first and get to know him, gaining experience all the while. If you feel ready and have AT LEAST a 10 gallon tank after that, tank mates might be an option. :)
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Old 12-22-2011, 11:46 PM   #4 
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So, I uh, learned this the hard way recently. *coughs* If the tank has been in storage for a long time, put John Paul Jones in it after you do a leak test. It's almost certainly fine, but just in case it's might end up like me an wake up a to a leaky 10 gal and a very perturbed betta.

Edited to add: the reason he was in an untested 10gal in the first place was because he went psycho killer on his ghost shrimp tank mates, so make sure you have a back-up plan before adding tank mates.

Last edited by Myrtaceae; 12-22-2011 at 11:49 PM. Reason: Tankmates
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Old 12-23-2011, 07:46 AM   #5 
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You can either do the water/bleach rinse but I prefer a vinegar/water rinse and then rinse it a couple of times with warm water. Maybe I'm crazy but i'm always scared there's going to be bleach left somehow... But that's just me.

Then of course, check for leaks.

For companions. Maybe you can start with a couple of shrimps or snails... if you want to break the family curse try with something that's easy to take care of.

I think you're on te right path to break the family curse!!!!!
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Old 12-23-2011, 12:35 PM   #6 
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Thanks for the warm welcome, and for the useful info.

Advice taken. I'll probably do the vinegar wash.

Another couple of questions:

How long should the water sit for a "leak test"? if Myrtaceae only found out overnight, it appears that it going to need at least a couple of hours.

What kind of observable behavior/signals should I consider indicative of "good or bad" for potential future tankmates?

I've been storing water I've treated with stress coat dechlorinator in a (thoroughly washed) milk jug. Is this okay? What are my alternatives?
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Old 12-23-2011, 02:37 PM   #7 
Draug Isilme
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With leak tests it's best to let the tank sit filled with water for a whole day.

From what I know of with stress/negative signs for your betta: if he flares frequently (this you need to watch your betta and make sure it's actually stressing him out. There's nothing wrong with a betta flare if it's not effecting his health. Once you've become with acquainted with your betta's personality, it becomes quite easy to tell the differences). If he shows signs of clamped fins, tail biting, being lethargic, lack of movement and staying in a specific area for long periods of time, and lack of appetite. Overstressing can cause illnesses and that's something you should definitely keep in mind... If I've left anything out, please add on to the least, peeps ^.^

Storing your dechlorinated water in a milk jug is just fine- so long as you've rinsed it out thoroughly. I have 4 different milk jugs I've rinsed out, let soak with a bleach solution, dry, rinse, rinse, rinse, and I've had no problems whatsoever! Again, bleach does seem scary, but so long as you don't overdose, (in my opinion), I consider it a best friend when cleaning things out for my tank (not everything, of course xD).... I mean, you can rinse baby toys and dog toys in a bleach solution and so long as you let it evaporate and rinse well again then there aren't any problems. But again, if you still don't feel comfortable, then you can use vinegar....
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Old 12-23-2011, 02:50 PM   #8 
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Leak test- Overnite should be fine.

Hmm, watching to see how easily stressed out he is by outside activity, or how aggresive he appear to be. Easily stressed or aggravated bettas probably shouldn't be in a community tank.

Alot of people will use a bucket or water jug. I have one of those 2.5 gallon water jugs with the side spout that i use, as well as a 2gallon bucket.
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Old 12-23-2011, 06:31 PM   #9 
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You have a lot of great advice, so I just wanted to add:

He is a very good looking guy! I have a fondness for a lot of the "classic" bettas- ones that were most common among the average pet store- blue and red veiltails.
Love his absolute red!
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Old 12-23-2011, 09:59 PM   #10 
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Location: Virginia, USA
Everyone seems to have covered the basics and some more complicated things. We have faith that you can break this family curse. 10 years ago there wasn't as much information floating around as there is now. 10 years ago we didn't have the internet.

I also wanted to say you have a gorgeous fish! I have always wanted a red veiltail. You have a beauty!
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