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Old 01-07-2013, 03:30 PM   #1 
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New Betta Owner, needing advice - especially with cycling, filtering, water changes.

Hi Everyone,

I've been browsing this forum and it looks great so far! Looking forward to getting lots of help and advice here!

Our family received a betta fish (now named Sparkie by my daughter) as a gift on Dec 21 - just over 2 weeks ago. He came with a very small cube "vase" to live in. I have 2 cats and 2 dogs, but never had or wanted a fish, and was not too impressed with this unexpected gift. However, being an animal lover, I pretty much immediately fell in love with Sparkie. :) He is a beautiful blue color with some purple, and has a very curious, lively personality.

I knew right away that the little cube he was living in was not suitable. I didn't do any research though. I went to Petsmart the next day and bought a 2.5g Aqueon "Betta-bow" aquarium and figured that would be like a mansion for Sparkie. We also bought gravel and a single live plant for the aquarium. (I am not sure what kind of plant it is). We set it up and transferred Sparkie to his new home slowly over a couple of hours, and things seemed good, and Christmas came and went. Then I finally had time to do some research about how to properly care for a Betta.

So now I have learned a lot. I know that 2.5 gallons (which I thought would be a mansion) is maybe just barely adequate. I hope it will do as I don't want to go buy another tank right away. I then realized he needed a heater which led to lots of research, heaters bought and returned, and now I have settled on a Hydor Theo 25W, which I'm very happy with - it is keeping the tank at a toasty 78. I learned that I needed to test the water so I bought a set of strips - which showed everything as fine, so I wasn't worried. However, then I realized the strips didn't test perhaps the most important thing - ammonia! When I bought another test kit for ammonia I found it was high in the tank - 2ppm! Started doing lots of water changes and switched to using Seachem Prime water conditioner since it said it removes ammonia - previously I just used what came with the tank which was an Aqueon one.

So that led to more research and learning about "cycling", which I had never heard of. In an attempt to get successful biological filtering set up, I bought and replaced the little "cartridge" filter that came with the tank, with a Azoo Mignon 60 filter, and put an Aquaclear sponge and Biomax beads in there, as recommended here: - and in some reviews of the filter that I read.

However, now I am reading that cycling is not possible or stable with a small tank like 2.5g. Have I wasted my money buying this new filter? Anyway, since I've got it now, I guess that doesn't matter - but how should I proceed from this point? Should I worry about cycling at all, or just assume I will have to continue with frequent water changes indefinitely? And, how frequent, considering that there is one fish and one live plant in a 2.5g tank with a filter?

I am enjoying my new, unplanned "hobby" so far, although I have spent over $100 on my "free" fish so far, and I am a little stressed out that I will kill or harm Sparkie.

Thanks for any advice!
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:31 PM   #2 
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Hey there and welcome the the forum!!!!!

I am very rarely able to say this about a new betta owner but it sounds as though you are doing everything right by Sparkie so well done!!! I am unsure what 2.5 gallons is in Litres (I am in Australia) but generally a single betta needs at least 10 litres to stay happy and healthy. You definatley did the right thing getting him out of that tiny cube though and getting him a heater and filter. Personally I do not cycle my betta tanks..... I know that there are many people that will insist on it's importance and I do not disagree but I have never had a problem with any of the bettas that I have owned over the years in relation to problems occuring from not cycling the tank. If you are having troubles with ammonia just be sure to keep up the regular water changes and add some water conditioner that helps to remove/neautralize the ammonia, as time goes on the good bacteria will build up in your tank and as long as you do a 30-50% water change once a week (in the case of a 10 Litre tank, smaller tanks require more regular changes) you should not have any further trouble in relation to ammonia building up.

You did not however waste your money on the filter... bettas need filtration just as much as any other fish and now that you have a better filter I guess it will do a better job of keeping your water quality good. I am not familiar with the type of filter that you are using however the important thing to remember with bettas is that their large heavy fins mean that they are not the strongest swimmers and therefore they do not like strong currents in the water so as long as your filter does not create a current too strong for your betta it will be just fine.

As I said I am unsure what size your tank is in litres so it is difficult to say how often you should be doing changes at this point. The most important thing is that you keep an eye on the ammonia levels, idealy they should be kept at zero so if they are higher than that I would suggest doing a water change.

Goodluck with Sparkie, I am sure that you will come to love bettas as much as we do, they can become quite addictive and many of us end up with several of them. Setting up as with any hobby can be quite costly however once you have your basic equipment they require very little as far as ongoing costs are concerned.

Keep us posted on how your little guy is going (we would love to see some pics if you have some) and if you need to know anything else don't hestitate to ask
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:42 PM   #3 
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Thank you VeggieGirl! Glad to hear you think I'm doing okay so far.

Yes, I noticed that Sparkie doesn't like a strong current - that was one of my first areas of research - I spent a long while trying to figure out how to baffle it and finally got that done. The new filter is adjustable and so far, I think it is gentle enough for him.

I am not sure about the gallon to litre conversion. I just looked it up, and it depends on whether the tank's size was given in "US Gallons" or "Imperial Gallons" - how to know that? Anyway, if the tank is 2.5 US gallons it is 9.4 litres. If it is imperial gallons it is 11.4 litres, apparently.

I will have to try to post a picture! Sparkie is very beautiful.
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:44 PM   #4 
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2.5 gals is 9.5 liters. (close enough to 10)
My minimum for fish is 1 gal, but I don't have any of my fish in a tank that small.

For my own personal fish, I do not filter my 2.5 gal tank. I find it creates too much current and since my own fish is a horrible tail-biter (glares at Goblin) the less current, the better for him.
I would recommend reading this link. And determining how many water changes would be best for your tank. Since you know how your tank is set up. (:
Remember when changing the water to always use water conditioner. Prime is a strong dechlorinator, you'd only need a drop or two.

Keeping a steady cycle in a 2.5 gal is impossible, because of the water changes needed in such a small tank. But its easier keeping a cycle with 5gal+ tank.

But you've been a great betta Momma doing all this research! (:
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:52 PM   #5 
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Thank you xjenuhfur!

And, introducing.... Sparkie! I added him to my avatar and my profile, can't post a bigger pic as I don't have one at a URL....
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Old 01-07-2013, 10:36 PM   #6 
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2.5 gallon tank a lot of people will not recommend to cycle. It too small to cycle and filter will more bother betta than help. So i will really recommend to take filter out.
For 2.5 gall you need to do 2-50 and 1-100% water changes a week. Check the ammonia again. Some people have ammonia in the tap water.
What water conditioner are you using. Prime is the best and recommended especially if you have ammonia in the water. You already know that you need to add water conditioner every time you change the water.
When you do 100% water change make sure new water is approximately the same temperature as his so you don't shock him with drastic temperature change. You need thermometer in his tank. Not everyone like ,but i do the stripe thermometer that you can stick on outside of the tank. I usually check the temp in the tank before i do water changes for my 2.5 gall. I take betta out. Keep him in the changing cup. Then as you pour the new water you will see temp on the stripe thermometer . I usually pour about 3/4 and then i look at the thermometer and i know if i need more cold or warmer water.
Or if it slight different if fine. What you do is have him in the changing cup with 1/4 water and slowly add new water about every 5 min and let him sit in it. Do it about 4-5 times. This way he will get used to the new water temp / chemistry so you can slowly put him back in the new water.
So if you can do those water changes with Prime by Seachem and check your ammonia again.

Also bettas are really good jumpers so make sure always leave some space between the water level and the top of the tank. And when you take him out of the water for changing make sure you cover the net or cup you using to couch him . A lot of accidents bettas jumped out while people changing them or just from the tank.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:53 AM   #7 
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I think 2 50% changes and 1 100% change is too stressful on the fishes, sorry Anhel. But 1 50% and 1 100% change would be good.

I do agree about the filter though, your probably better off without it. (:

&& the Aqueon "Betta-bow" aquarium has a hood. (:
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:14 PM   #8 
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Personally I use a sponge filter in my 2.5. I have a valve on the airline and I have the bubbles to a gentle flow which doesn't bother my delta tail at all. As a matter of fact I will catch him laying on the sponge. (maybe he likes a softer bed) LOL
You have done extremly well for someone with a 'surprise' child. Yes, heat is the most important thing. Quality food (I only use Omega One) and as long as you don't overfeed you should enjoy your 'newbie' for a long time.
Just be very careful...........these little guys are addicting!!!!!!
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:52 PM   #9 
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Hey i think it matter of preference how you do water changes. I personally think the more water changes the better. It nothing wrong with 2-50% and 1-100% a week I do 100% water change every 4 -6 days for my 2.5 and my 5 gall tanks. You just need to acclimate betta properly to new water so he don't get stressed.

Check out this link and see thread #2 from DragonFish

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Old 01-09-2013, 06:40 PM   #10 
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Thanks to everyone who has posted advice so far! This is such a wonderful forum.

Here's a new question: do I absolutely HAVE to do 100% water changes? It is a pain... Sparkie hates to be cornered and removed, I end up chasing him around with tank for a while, sometimes think I have him but he wriggles/jumps free... I've tried with net and cup and their both really difficult! Plus, it seems that the 100% water change always messes up my plants and stuff somewhat...

I'm wondering if I could do 75-80% changes and it might be enough? With gravel vacuum? Of course, using Prime and being very careful with the water temperature and gentle pouring the water back in....

As a reminder, this is a 2.5 gallon tank with live plants (and I plan to get more plants) and a gentle/mild filter.

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ammonia, beginner, cycling, filter

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