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Old 05-11-2012, 11:06 PM   #1 
Tazo
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Bettas and the College Lifestyle?

Hello everyone! I'm new on the forum, but I have been browsing around for a while. I'll be a freshman in college this coming fall, and me and my roommate are thinking of getting a fish. I've had bettas and goldfish before, she's never had either, but I'm still kind of nervous about what my abilities as a fish parent will be like...

Has anyone here kept a betta in a college dorm? If so, does studying/class time really get in the way of being a good fish parent?
The aquarium I'm looking at is a 3 gallon with a nice filter. I would love to have bigger, since they can really hold a cycle, but... college budgets, you know. We will be getting a heater and everything. So it's not so much the environment that I'm worried about. Such a small tank will require quite frequent water changes, I know, which I /am/ a little worried about, considering that I'll have other things on my mind.

College budget is also going to stress me out a bit, I think... I'll have the basic water conditioner, and Stress Coat +/Stress Zyme + aren't too expensive. I also have a little bottle of emergency ammonia detoxifier, and we'll probably get some aquarium salt. But I'm a little worried that something will happen to the fish that's beyond what those things can do, because medicine can get expensive. I know I'm a worry wart, but :P

The other major reservation I have is travel. I won't be going home every weekend, and I have a good friend who will be going home even less, so the fish won't be traveling an inordinate amount. However, it will have to go home with me on breaks and such. (The other reason for the small tank is so that I can take it back and forth easily.) How stressful will this be on my fish friend? I know from experience (when we got our first betta, we were HORRIBLE fish parents. sad but true...) that these fish are hardy, but I want to make sure that I'm not going to harm the fish!

Anyway, what are your opinions? Is there anything different I should do because I'm going to be in college? Do I worry too much (I already know the answer to this one xD)?
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Old 05-11-2012, 11:15 PM   #2 
Micho
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A lot of people here are college/university students and live in dorms, I can answer only some of these questions since I'm not a college student myself.

A three gallon tank is fine, but judging from experience, usually tanks that come with a built-in filter, the filter will be too strong for the Betta. I suggest baffling the filter or not using it, up to you really. With a three gallon with just a Betta in it, you'll have to do to 50% water changes per week, it's not that bad, buying a siphon of some sort and siphoning out the old water and siphoning in the new water is easier on the fish and the owner. I would not suggest the whole chasing and netting when doing water changes, it scares the fish and stresses you and the fish out.

Stress Coat is an excellent brand, a lot of people use it on these forums, Stress Coat and Prime being the two most recommended brands out there. Aquarium Salt is always handy just for emergencies, to be honest AQ salt and Epsom salt are the most used medication, only when dealing with serious diseases or infections that AQ salt and Epsom salt cannot resolve then do we turn to medication. :)

Travelling is stressful for fish, but you can take steps in order to make it less stressful for yourself. If you're going back home just for a few days (1 ~ 5 days), leaving your Betta fish at the dorm won't be an issue, just feed him generously, after that do a big water change right before you're about to leave. When you get back home, just do another big water change and feed him again. Bettas can last for awhile without food. If you're going back home for awhile it all depends how long the car ride is.

Hope that helps. :)
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Old 05-11-2012, 11:22 PM   #3 
Tazo
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Originally Posted by Micho View Post
A three gallon tank is fine, but judging from experience, usually tanks that come with a built-in filter, the filter will be too strong for the Betta. I suggest baffling the filter or not using it, up to you really.
I was planning to baffle the filter using the water bottle method I saw on here xD. But thank you! I wasn't sure if turning it off would be ok, and it's great to know that it'll be fine without. When I had goldfish we couldn't even leave it off for a night usually.

Also, I didn't know that they could go up to five days! That's good information. Really the only times I will be packing everything up and taking the fish home will be when I'm required to get all of my stuff out of the dorm, so I think I can manage.

Thank you so much! It's so awesome to be able to talk to people who are more experienced with these guys than I am x.x
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Old 05-11-2012, 11:25 PM   #4 
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Hi Tazo and welcome to the forum. Micho is spot on and has definitely answered many of your concerns so I'll quickly address the supplies one.

All of the diseases a betta suffers from can initially be treated and often controlled with epsom salt and aquarium salt. You don't need to invest in any expensive medications unless your fish is sick and someone on here recommends them. For your water conditioner, I would actually recommend Seachem Prime over Stress Coat in your specific situation because Prime neutralizes ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. You can get a small bottle of Stress Coat to have on hand for small fin rips and tears, though. And you don't need to waste any money on Stress Zyme. You'll be perfectly fine without it.

As Micho said, a siphon makes things a lot easier. You can easily get a mini siphon for under $10.

Good luck and post pics of your betta when you get him/her. :)
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Old 05-11-2012, 11:31 PM   #5 
Micho
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Originally Posted by Tazo View Post
I was planning to baffle the filter using the water bottle method I saw on here xD. But thank you! I wasn't sure if turning it off would be ok, and it's great to know that it'll be fine without. When I had goldfish we couldn't even leave it off for a night usually.

Also, I didn't know that they could go up to five days! That's good information. Really the only times I will be packing everything up and taking the fish home will be when I'm required to get all of my stuff out of the dorm, so I think I can manage.

Thank you so much! It's so awesome to be able to talk to people who are more experienced with these guys than I am x.x
Yeah, that's because Goldfish in general poop a lot and create so much waste, they're just constant poop machines, but relative to their size Bettas do not create that much waste therefore they can be housed in smaller tanks.

They can go up to longer if you have a bigger tank, tanks that are cycled and with the addition of live plants to keep the ammonia and nitrItes levels down. The only reason why five days is the maximum and probably pushing the limit, is because of the water quality issues that may arise.

No problem. :)
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Old 05-11-2012, 11:36 PM   #6 
Tazo
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Originally Posted by Sakura8 View Post
I would actually recommend Seachem Prime over Stress Coat in your specific situation because Prime neutralizes ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. You can get a small bottle of Stress Coat to have on hand for small fin rips and tears, though. And you don't need to waste any money on Stress Zyme. You'll be perfectly fine without it.
Thank you so much! Seachem Prime looks like a great product, and definitely seems more applicable to this situation. I just kept seeing Stress Coat all over the place, I think. Also I'll definitely be getting some Epsom and Aq salt, just to air on the safe side.
Oh betta fish. No one tells you how expensive they are until you're hooked :P
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Old 05-12-2012, 12:17 AM   #7 
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Oh betta fish. No one tells you how expensive they are until you're hooked :P
Tazo, I suspect that this is in large part true, and true of whatever happens to hook you. I had a betta in a bowl in my dorm room during my senior year of college. I didn't know about the importance of frequent water changes, but my fish nonetheless did not suffer abominable conditions and did very well. The entire operation was "low tech" and successful. I remained on campus for the duration of the semester. At semester's end, I took him home on a plane (another story!), housing him for the journey in a glass sugar dispenser I found in the dormitory kitchen. He never got sick; if he had, my understanding was that the resources available to treat him were largely primitive, and a matter mostly of restraint in the face of multiple approaches. It was wonderful for me to have that companion, though, and I would encourage you to keep a betta friend in college.
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Old 05-12-2012, 12:29 AM   #8 
True Indigo
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Quote:
Has anyone here kept a betta in a college dorm? If so, does studying/class time really get in the way of being a good fish parent?
I'm a junior in college and I can tell you that it's very easy and actually relieves some stress when you're able to take a gander at your fish from time to time. You'll be prompted to do a morning, afternoon, and night ritual in which you probably will interact with your fish throughout the day including feeding.

Quote:
The aquarium I'm looking at is a 3 gallon with a nice filter. I would love to have bigger, since they can really hold a cycle, but... college budgets, you know. We will be getting a heater and everything. So it's not so much the environment that I'm worried about. Such a small tank will require quite frequent water changes, I know, which I /am/ a little worried about, considering that I'll have other things on my mind.
I had a 1 gal before I found out about the bigger tanks needed and had to change it more often. It took me maybe 15 minutes to change the 1 gal. I now have a 5 gal in my dorm and it takes anywhere between 20 to 40 minutes. So it's not a hassle.

Quote:
College budget is also going to stress me out a bit, I think... I'll have the basic water conditioner, and Stress Coat +/Stress Zyme + aren't too expensive. I also have a little bottle of emergency ammonia detoxifier, and we'll probably get some aquarium salt. But I'm a little worried that something will happen to the fish that's beyond what those things can do, because medicine can get expensive. I know I'm a worry wart, but :P
Sounds like you have the basic requirements. I wouldn't worry too much since those things tend to last a long time. I haven't used up ANYTHING completely yet and I'm not even close to doing so. You should be fine.

Quote:
The other major reservation I have is travel. I won't be going home every weekend, and I have a good friend who will be going home even less, so the fish won't be traveling an inordinate amount. However, it will have to go home with me on breaks and such. (The other reason for the small tank is so that I can take it back and forth easily.) How stressful will this be on my fish friend? I know from experience (when we got our first betta, we were HORRIBLE fish parents. sad but true...) that these fish are hardy, but I want to make sure that I'm not going to harm the fish!
Depends how far you live, the focus of travel is keeping them warm and in a secure spot where their water won't move so much. When I travel with my guy I secure his cup in between the front seats, wrap him around a small cloth or shirt, and put the warm air in his direction. He still gets a little stressed out, but I live an hour away from home and he makes the trip. One time we had to do two hours since there was traffic and he made that fine.

Quote:
Anyway, what are your opinions? Is there anything different I should do because I'm going to be in college? Do I worry too much (I already know the answer to this one xD)?
You do worry too much, but that just means you care. It sounds like you have what you need and I guarantee that you bringing a fish with you for college will be a well invested experience. :)
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Old 05-12-2012, 12:37 AM   #9 
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Hey Tazo and welcome to the forum! I think a lot of people here started with betta fish in college. I know I did. I had my 55 gal goldfish tank and koi pond at home, and since I couldn't take them I got a betta in a 5 gal. I highly suggest looking hard at the difference in cost between a 5 gal and a 3 gal keeping in mind that you can cycle a 5 gal tank and leave it unattended for up to 7 days. This will come in handy over breaks. I suggest only moving him for major breaks like summer and winter. And speaking of moving, go with a plexi glass tank. They are sooo much lighter than the glass ones.

I balanced studying and fishkeeping very easily. I cycle all of my tanks, so I only have one water change per week (my sink was too small, so I had to get my water from the showers ). Feeding is just a few second affair, so that was never a problem. It was a welcome relief from studying actually.

As for diseases, Sakura has you pretty well covered. You're also going to want to look for a healthy betta. Look for activity and responsiveness and beautiful fins. If you see a pale little guy just laying there with clamped fins, he's likely not going to be too healthy and will be an expensive betta. A female betta or a plakat male might be a good starting betta because they have shorter fins which come with much less problems than the longer-finned males do.
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Old 05-12-2012, 02:55 AM   #10 
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Tazo, another great perk of Prime is that it is highly concentrated so a little goes a long way. For a 3 gallon tank, it takes 6 drops. I recommend buying the smallest bottle, the one with the little spout that you can pull up on the cap. Then buy a bigger bottle and either switch the caps or refill the smaller bottle from the big one. Otherwise, use an eyedropper to measure it out. Trying to pour is just too hard. *knows from experience*

And thekoimaiden has a great point. The healthier the betta, the less expensive they are to care for. It can be tempting to want to save a sick little betta but yes, bringing them back to health can cost a lot of time and money and worry and in the end, they may not live very long anyway because of the stress they've had to endure.
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