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Old 08-29-2014, 01:30 PM   #1 
MadtownD
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Newbie w Q's: cleaning, bubble nest, glass surfing, heater

We got a male betta for my 8-year old daughterís first Ďmy own petí just over a week ago and Iíve become strangely betta obsessed. I've read perhaps too many forum posts and gotten myself confused. Thanks so much in advance for your comments and advice! !

Our specifics:
--He's in a 5.5 gallon filtered tank with plastic/fabric plants (we did the make-your-own filter baffle)
--We did add the bacterial supplement drops when we started up the tank
--We had the water tested (Petsmart) day 6 after fish in, and it looked good, no nitrites or ammonia (or nitrates, interestingly)
--feeding the Hikari betta pellets, 5/day once in the morning
--My primary concern with this guy is **life span**. Iíd like a 3 good years of caretaking the same pet for my daughter.


Qís (Maybe I should put these questions in separate postsÖ)

1. Water changes:
a. ---Frequency-> our filtered 5.5 gallon tank, I see 50% once a week, but most people tell me 50% every two weeks. Think impatient 8 year old kid in busy multi-kid and multi-pet household-> in a 5.5g filtered tank with only one (small) betta, is 50% every two weeks sufficient?
b. --Start off-> Iíve read not to change the water for the first month so the N cycle can establish. Iíve read to do it every couple days for the first month while the N cycle establishes. When should we start changes?
c. --Gravel vacuum with cleaning-> Iíve read to not vacuum the gravel except monthly as it disrupts N cycle bacteria. Iíve ready to vacuum the substrate with every water change so debris doesnít interfere w N cycle bacteria/increase ammonia levels. Should we vacuum every two weeks?
d. --Filter cartridge changes. Wait until falling apart and just swish it in the removed-for-cleaning aquarium water monthly? Or every 6-8 weeks? Doesnít it matter for his life span if the carbon stops Ďworkingí and cleaning the water?

2. Glass surfing. I was expecting a somewhat mellow fish. NOT. This guy has no interest in plants, hiding, resting, hanging out. He glass surfs constantly since day 1 (weíre on day 9). Could he be perfectly happy and just constantly doing that???
--I thought perhaps he was seeing his reflection, so I have experimented with the LED aquarium light to see if surfing changes with his light and/or the room light on/off. Nope.
-- I thought perhaps he needed a bushier plant environment so we bought an additional (third, fabric) plant. Zero interest.
--I thought perhaps it was water quality, so took the water to be tested. Looked great. If he needs more than 5.5 gallon tank, I just donít have the room. Could he need a smaller tank?
--He does voluntarily go near where the filtered water comes out of the filter baffle, and swims fine, so I donít think the current is too strong.

3. Bubble nest. Iíd love for my daughter to experience this behavior. Is it even possible for him to make/sustain one in a filtered tank? What can I float on top thatís safe to encourage it?

4. Whatís a decent, not-too-expensive heater for a 5.5 gallon tank? Iíve seen 25 watts and 50 watts recommended.
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Old 08-29-2014, 03:24 PM   #2 
hubbley
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Ok, so, I'll answer what I can.

Water changes. 50% once a week should be great for your tank. All tanks should have some sort of change once a week at a minimum, so I would go with that.
Since you've already added the fish don't wait a month. Ammonia levels will build up. Keep to the changing schedule.
I do not own a gravel vacuum, but from what I've read people use the gravel vacuum every week, but I can't say for sure.
I was told to rinse the filter cartridge in old tank water a few times a month. You don't want to replace it if you can avoid it since it will have beneficial bacteria for your tank.

Glass surfing is normal for a new tank, but he could feel a bit exposed. You said you had three plants? I have two 5.5 gallons and currently have 5-6 silk plant in each. You also said they were plastic. Be careful of those. I started out with those and a few did rip my guys fins. Not all will, just keep an eye out.
Lights may help him see his reflection. Bettas really don't need a lot of light. Mine are in a decently lit room so the tank light is never on, even at night. Darkness calms them down, so if you light is on, try turning it off.
Does your boy show signs of stress stripes, horizontal darker stripes on his sides? If he doesn't, he could just be getting used to everything still.
He doesn't need a smaller tank, he just needs to get comfortable a feel safe.
Since you're asking about heaters, does this mean you don't have one? A low temp could be the cause of his glass surfing as well. The water needs to be between 78-82 degrees, so 79 or 80 would be perfect.

He will make one no problem in a filtered tank. :) Some fish make them all the time, some hardly ever. When he calms down and his comfortable, he may make one around the edge of the tank or by a plant. My one boy Nero is currently making one, and my other Norman has a very nice one set up away from the filter. :) Just give it time.

I have two of the same heater and I love them. It's a hydor 25 watt heater I ordered from amazon. They are around 12-17 dollars I believe. Great for your size tank, adjustable, and I have had no problems with them.

Edit: As far as lifespan goes, it sounds like you are on the right track. A good water changing schedule, good food, and good family is perfect, and watching him to see if you notice anything strange or usual is what will keep him healthy. Fish do get sick, but there are a lot of people on here who know everything about all the little problems your fish may or may not encounter. (:

Last edited by hubbley; 08-29-2014 at 03:27 PM.
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Old 08-29-2014, 03:31 PM   #3 
VivianKJean
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+1 hubbley

just a heads up though, not all bettas make bubble nests. I have one betta I've had since November that has only made them twice, I've had another betta since April and he has never made one. Both spent time in filter and unfiltered tanks. Just remember that if he ends up not making bubble nests, he is still healthy. Making or not making bubble nests have nothing to do with is health.
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Old 08-29-2014, 03:39 PM   #4 
hubbley
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Agreed, though I will say if your fish does end up making a bubble nest now and again, if you don't see one for quite awhile you may want to check everything to make sure he's ok. My guy Norman, who makes them every so often stopped for about a month in his tank, and his fins were starting to look a bit rough. I recently took out a plant I thought was causing the problem, and now he's looking a lot better and has a great nest.

So if he turns out to be a nest builder, a lack of them might be a sign that something is off. Only might, though. (:
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Old 08-29-2014, 03:43 PM   #5 
JohnWS
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Here is a link to the heater Hubbley refered to.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0006JLPG8/...I2KWANY0KFDN4L

I have it in my tank that is also a 5.5. I've only had it for a month (new tank) but it has held a fairly steady temp during that time.
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Old 08-29-2014, 03:52 PM   #6 
VivianKJean
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hubbley View Post
Agreed, though I will say if your fish does end up making a bubble nest now and again, if you don't see one for quite awhile you may want to check everything to make sure he's ok. My guy Norman, who makes them every so often stopped for about a month in his tank, and his fins were starting to look a bit rough. I recently took out a plant I thought was causing the problem, and now he's looking a lot better and has a great nest.

So if he turns out to be a nest builder, a lack of them might be a sign that something is off. Only might, though. (:
While all of this is true, I've seen very sick fish make bubble nests as well.
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Old 08-29-2014, 03:59 PM   #7 
hubbley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VivianKJean View Post
While all of this is true, I've seen very sick fish make bubble nests as well.
I don't doubt that either. It shouldn't be used as a way to judge if you fish is sick or not, but maybe something to keep in mind.
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Old 08-29-2014, 06:46 PM   #8 
Cranly
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When i first got my betta, he was a huge bubble nest builder. Then i added a filter, and the bubble nests stopped. I found that once I REALLY baffled the filter, the bubble nests returned.

Before baffling it, I could see him making them, but they weren't staying. I think that the surface was being agitated too much - even though my adjustable filter was on a very low setting.
So, to promote the building and staying of nests if your fish is a nest-er, I would recommend baffling the filter, and it wouldn't hurt to add a surface plant or something that breaks the surface. My Betta Cam always builds his nests attached to the silk plants that touch the surface of the water.
You could add water wisteria or frogbit that float on the surface as well if you want.
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Old 08-29-2014, 07:22 PM   #9 
MadtownD
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Thanks for the info! Great ideas and info, here!! OK, so here's a pic of the tank (Today I learned: It's hard to get the lighting and fish right to get good fish tank pics!)
Re glass surfing:
Hm. I don't see stress stripes, but he's kind of dark. I'll look closely tomorrow.
--Does this setup seem like too few plants? Of course, my 8-year old picks all decorations hence the flower. He sleeps in it.
--How long should I wait before deciding the constant glass surfing is not due to new tank. 2 weeks? A month?

Re cleaning:
--Yarrrrgggghh it really does need to be weekly...really wanted ya'll to say every two weeks was fine. Anyone have good luck with every two weeks? Ah, responsibility :)
--So...why don't you need to replace the filter cartridge...does the carbon not do anything beyond house bacteria? Of course the store said every 6 weeks, and I do like your answer better! so just trying to educate myself.

Re heater: Thanks looks perfect! I'll pick one of those up. It's been around 78F to date, but won't in the winter.

Re bubble nests: Hm. I'll give it...a month? The filter is baffled (you can see the plastic in the picture), but the filter has to be turned off when we feed him his pellets or it moves the food. I'll pick up a silk plant that touches the surface of the water, great idea, thanks.

I'd love to add some water wisteria but I don't know anything about aquatic plants other than that they need light...I hardly ever get to turn his lights on bc I'm concerned about the glass surfing. Can't really tell whether it goes from constant and kinda dizzying to frenetic or if it's just as bad with the light off.

Last edited by MadtownD; 08-29-2014 at 07:33 PM.
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Old 08-29-2014, 07:23 PM   #10 
MadtownD
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PS think based on this feedback that I'll also trade out the two plastic plants for silk ones. Just in case they're causing trouble.
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