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Old 07-25-2012, 06:39 AM   #1 
Mudiwa
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Hello from England

Hi there :)
I am not officially a betta keeper yet, as I don't even own a tank, but I am a mom to a girl who loves fish and I decided I will treat her to a nice tank. Betta fish are our choice for now (I think :)), and I am doing a little research to avoid any nasty surprises.
I think I should add my daughter is 1.5, so it's just an excuse really :) But she does love fish and is scared of EVERYTHING furry (from a hamster to a dog - you name it).
I borrowed all the books from our local library about keeping fish, I read all about tank cycling, and now I am just trying to figure out how big a tank I want and how much will I need to spend to set everything up.
I should also add I never had an animal in my entire life, so it's new to me :)
any advice for a newbie?
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Old 07-25-2012, 06:46 AM   #2 
teeneythebetta
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Hello! welcome to the forum. I think you're awesome for researching BEFORE getting a fish! :)

Tips for a newbie... Read the stickies on the top of each section of the forum... Be sure to read up on the proper environment.( IMO 2.5 gal or more with a heater) :)

Happy betta keeping! :D
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Old 07-25-2012, 07:27 AM   #3 
SpookyTooth
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Hello and welcome! It's always great to see someone who does lots of research before buying!

The aquarium size you need depends on maintenance schedules, budget and what you prefer. Pets At Home sell 21 (5 gallons) to 26 (roughly 6 gallons) litre aquariums for around 20, they include a filter (which is unfortunately too powerful for a betta), some other bits and pieces and can be safely cycled. You can also buy themed tank sets from there (which may be better suited for your little one, though that depends on both your tastes ) that can include some ornaments if I remember rightly.

If you want to cycle your tank you'll need a filter, I suggest sponge filters because they don't create a current unless you have the air pump needed to power them allowing a lot of air flow. Air pumps, sponge filters, air tubing and relevant valves (control valve (usually included with the pump) and non-return valve) can add up in price but if you shop around and take a peek online you'll be sure to find a good deal. Sponge filters release a steady stream of bubbles that can be increased or decreased depending on your preferences as well as the fish's preferences (my betta, Echo, flares at the bubbles as they come out of the filter, it's rather silly ).

If you think you'll want to add tankmates at a later date (this depends on your fish's personality as much as anything else) please make sure you consider this when purchasing an aquarium unless you're willing to upgrade later if needed. As this is your first betta (and pet animal -- welcome to the world of pets ) I'd suggest sticking solely to him/her, they are very hardy but many suitable tank mates will not be so forgiving should any beginner mistakes be made.

Once the fish's initial set up is taken care of the rest isn't at all difficult. Regular water changes (twice weekly for tanks under 20 litres (5 gallons): one 50% and another 100%, one weekly water change for cycled tanks above 20 litres), warm water (a heater is a must, adjustable ones are ideal!) and good food & water conditioner and you're set.

It may also be worth checking out Wilkinsons and Argos as well, both have own-brand tanks (Argos' is rather expensive but they do seem to have regular sales) that may be better value than named-brand ones found at Pets at Home (though Pets at Home also have own-brand tanks and kits). The only issue I have with Wilko is that they advertise most of their small tanks for goldfish (which is bad as the tanks are tiny compared to what goldfish actually need). You might even find a good quality, second hand aquarium at charity shops or on eBay, depending on if you prefer to view items in person before buying or not. I would suggest getting a name-brand heater, thermometer and filter though as they are usually more reliable in my experience. Good brands (again, in my opinion) are Elite and Interpet.

Bettas make a wonderful first pet and are often very interactive once they adjust to their new home. If you have any independant aquarium stores locally it might be worth stopping into those to see if they stock bettas, they're usually much higher quality and there is a lot more variety -- generally they are costlier than those available from Pets at Home and other such chain stores but I honestly believe the extra money is worth it to ensure that you have a happy and healthy new friend.
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Old 07-25-2012, 07:37 AM   #4 
Mudiwa
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Wow, thanks for a very nice welcome and a quick reply :)
I am thinking of buying a fairly plain tank (just glass and cover/hood), as I don't like those plastic kiddy ones. We're serious here ;) (haha, kidding).
I have a list of things I need to buy for now:
- tank (I want something around 20 litres and above, as I will start with just the betta but then I think I might add other fish/animals but I want to take it slow -as I said, first pet ever :)).
- heater
- filter (low flow)
- hiding place (I'm thinking of some pretty simple decorations + live plants).
- gravel (again, plain and simple, don't think I will go for wild colours).
- termometer
- liquid test kit
- water conditioner.
And from what I understand I need to set up the tank, do the cycling and only then let the fish in? I saw some pictures here and I know chosing the right fish will take us time - I think I would like a male fish with big floaty fins in a very vibrant colour (red? blue?) but I guess I will have to go to a shop and see which of the fish looks like he can be our friend.
I am planning on buying most stuff online/in chain stores and then go and find our fish in an independent shop as my thinking was similar to what you said - I think they must be better cared for in a small store and would probably be healthier.
Oh, I am excited :)
BTW - I lied. We do have a tank. I bought an Umbra Fish Hotel but then realised it is too small to set up nicely AND fit a fish in (it's only 6 litres!) so I'm trying to sell it on ebay. This is why I am doing my research now - to avoid any more mistakes ;)
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Old 07-25-2012, 07:45 AM   #5 
teeneythebetta
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I'm very impressed! :D There are stickies on cycling fish-in and fish-less... Fish-less is the preferred method though.

Also I suggest you get pellets, because unlike flakes, they're easier to use portion control. Bettas bloat very easy so it's important to ensure you feed the correct amount. Idk what foods they have in england, but here in the US the healthiest betta foods are omega one betta buffet pellets and new life spectrum betta pellets. :)

I'd love to see pictures once you get things set up! :)
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Old 07-25-2012, 07:48 AM   #6 
Mudiwa
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Yes, I'm planning on a fish-less cycle :) Just to be on the safe side and not subject my fish to stress.
I will certainly put pictures up once I am done setting up, but I should warn you I am not the fastest decision maker, so it might be a while before I am done ;)
I forgot to put food on my list - typical. Should make note of that, don't want my fish to go hungry.
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Old 07-25-2012, 07:54 AM   #7 
SpookyTooth
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Ohh we all make mistakes, all that matters is that we learn from them!

I personally do fish-in cycles using a bacteria supplement called Tetra Safe Start, now there's a lot of conflicting information regarding the usefulness of this stuff but I've had good results with it. I also have a liquid test kit and with regular testing you shouldn't have any issues allowing your betta to cycle the tank for you. I don't recommend fish-in cycles for everyone but if you're willing to do water changes as needed then I think it is absolutely fine (though you need to make sure your fish is healthy to start with). If you wish to do a fishless cycle you can using household pure ammonia or another method (I'm sorry, I'm not very good with fishless cycling but there's an awesome guide here http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=47838).

Fantastic choice going for live plants! I adore them and so do my bettas. Depending on the plants you choose you may need a light; low light plants like java fern, java moss and anubias generally won't need artificial lighting if the aquarium gets decent amounts of natural sunlight. If the hood you acquire with your tank has room for a bulb and you want to use that as lighting for your plants the bulb you want is a compact fluorescent light (CFL) with a colour temperature of 5000k to 6700k (k stands for kelvin, this is usually written on the side of the box as "cool" or "bright white"). These bulbs are energy saving and much better for our electricity bills and aquatic plants and can be purchased usually from Homebase, B&Q or online. Remember to double check the wattage your hood can handle before replacing any bulbs! For a 20 litre tank with low light plants an 11 to 14 watt CFL would be fine.

I've read countless stories about fish choosing their owners rather than the other way around, it happened to me as well. My second betta was the only one at the store who showed an interest in me, he swam right up to the front of his display tank and started wiggling. He's now a grumpy sod who flares most of the time but he's a beautiful fish with an equally vibrant personality! No matter your choice in colour or tail type your fish will bring you and your daughter endless hours of joy for years.
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Old 07-25-2012, 12:33 PM   #8 
dramaqueen
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Hello and welcome to the forum.
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Old 07-25-2012, 12:46 PM   #9 
indjo
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Hi, welcome to the forum.
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Old 07-25-2012, 02:58 PM   #10 
staffylover
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Hello and welcome, what part of the UK are you
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