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Old 08-19-2008, 09:21 PM   #1 
bc100903
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Join Date: Aug 2008
Just getting started

I've always wanted a fish for my office and have finally decided to take the plunge. There is alot of conflicting information on web and everyone seems to have different experiences and different opinions. But I welcome it all.

I only have room for a 3 gallon tanks (which actually only hold slightly less than 2.5 gallons). I purchased it from Petsmart. It's an eclipse 3 gallon with a built in filter system and light and a bio-wheel.

I set it up on Sunday and haven't purchased my Betta yet. Since I'm new to this whole fish thing, I'd like to ask some questions. I've been scouring the internet for information to insure that when I do get my fish I can provide the best home possible.

Okay here goes..

I read that I need to cycle my tank, but I haven't really found out how to do it. Plese explain cycling.

1) Where is the best place to buy my Betta? I love the deep turquiose or blue with a full tail. But healthy is most important.

2) I've read live plants are the best, is there a preferred plant/moss?

3) Does he need a cave or dark place?

4) What is their preferred food? I've ready everything from pellets to worms and an occassional brine shrimp.

5) How often do a need to change the water? Ive heard 1 weekly and then I've read with the type of tank I have it only needs it every 2 - 4 weeks?

6) Can I get a snail or other species to help keep the tank clean?

7) Do I really need a heater? My office stays warm, I'm afraid even a 25 watt will keep the water too warm.

8) Is my Betta going to be okay if he doesn't get fed on the weekend?

I'm not in a hurrry to get my Betta, I just want to do it right.

Thanks, BC
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Old 08-19-2008, 09:58 PM   #2 
iamntbatman
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Quote:
I read that I need to cycle my tank, but I haven't really found out how to do it. Plese explain cycling.
Here's a quick rundown: your betta (and other things in the tank, like uneaten food) produce waste. Some of this waste is solid stuff that can be removed with manual cleanings (such as with a gravel vacuum or turkey baster) but part of it is also ammonia. Ammonia is very toxic to fish. If you add a fish to an uncycled aquarium, the ammonia that the fish produces could quickly kill the fish. Hence the need to cycle the aquarium. The cycle establishes a "biological filter" - colonies of beneficial bacteria that metabolize the ammonia in your tank. One type of bacteria metabolizes the ammonia and converts it into nitrite, a substance that is just as harmful to your fish as ammonia. A second type of bacteria metabolizes nitrite and turns it into nitrate. This nitrate can also be dangerous to your fish in high concentrations, so even once the aquarium is cycled it's necessary to do routine water changes (25% or so once a week) in order to keep the nitrate levels in check.

In order to monitor the progress of your cycle (and for general aquarium care after the tank is established) it's important to be able to test your water parameters, with the most important ones being pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. A good liquid test kit (such as API's Freshwater Master Test Kit) will provide liquid tests and detailed instructions for all of these parameters. Liquid tests are much more accurate than paper test strips and end up being much cheaper in the long run because you get many more tests out of them.

There are two ways to do the cycle: with fish and fishless. Cycling with fish means that you add the fish to the tank straightaway. As expected, the fish will start producing toxic waste. So, you need to constantly monitor the water parameters of the tank with your test kit and perform water changes whenever the ammonia or nitrite get higher than roughly 0.5 ppm. Eventually, the beneficial bacteria that metabolize these wastes will establish themselves in such numbers that you should have consistent readings of zero for both ammonia and nitrite, with a nitrate reading that slowly climbs. Cycling with fish puts stress on the fish, and because of the need for water changes to prevent lethal levels of ammonia and nitrite, the cycle can be prolonged.

The second option is a fishless cycle. With this method, you introduce ammonia to the tank yourself and let the levels skyrocket all over the place. All of that abundant ammonia gives the bacteria a lot to eat, so colonies can grow quickly. You still need to monitor your levels with a test kit so that you know when the tank is ready for fish. Popular methods of adding ammonia to the tank include "feeding" the tank small amounts of fish food every day (the food rots and creates ammonia), putting some shrimp from the grocery store in the tank and letting them decay to create ammonia, or dosing pure ammonia (make sure it has no additives of any kind) into the tank. Again, once ammonia and nitrite readings are steadily at zero and you have a steadily climbing nitrate level, the tank is cycled.

You'll want to do a water change at the end of the cycle to get the nitrate levels down to around 10-20 ppm before you add the fish.

Quote:
1) Where is the best place to buy my Betta? I love the deep turquiose or blue with a full tail. But healthy is most important.
The best place is usually just a reputable fish store or local breeder. For fish stores, look around the store a bit and check out the tanks. If they're dirty, have a lot of dead fish, or the fish look diseased, it's probably best to shop somewhere else.

Quote:
2) I've read live plants are the best, is there a preferred plant/moss?
Two very low-maintenance plants are java moss and java fern. Both are pretty much indestructible.

Quote:
3) Does he need a cave or dark place?
Bettas like the security of a cave of some kind to hide in. Just make sure it doesn't have rough edges for him to tear his fins on.

Quote:
4) What is their preferred food? I've ready everything from pellets to worms and an occassional brine shrimp.
A high quality betta pellet food is usually best, since many bettas don't really care for flakes. It's up to the fish though - some like the flakes more. But nonetheless, some sort of prepared food should be the staple of his diet. Small feedings (3 or so pellets twice daily) are best. You can substitute thawed out frozen blood worms or brine shrimp once or twice a week for one of his meals. If you don't have a freezer at work or if other coworkers wouldn't appreciate frozen fish food in the freezer, you can use the freeze dried stuff. Just make sure to rehydrate it in a bit of tank water before feeding it to the fish.

Quote:
5) How often do a need to change the water? Ive heard 1 weekly and then I've read with the type of tank I have it only needs it every 2 - 4 weeks?
It really depends on how fast the nitrates climb in the tank. You want to keep them at around 20 ppm or so. A 25% weekly water change should do the trick, but if you notice the nitrates getting too high you could always perform a 50% change every other week or something. A gravel vac or turkey baster is the best way to do water changes, since it allows you to remove water as well as solid waste from the gravel.

Quote:
6) Can I get a snail or other species to help keep the tank clean?
The tank is pretty small to be adding a snail, since snails actually can produce quite a lot of waste and grow pretty large. You could try adding some ghost shrimp to the tank. The betta might eat them, but you can usually get them for 10-20 cents a piece so if he does eat them, think of it as a gourmet snack. The shrimp don't produce much waste and help eat uneaten food and other detritus.

Quote:
7) Do I really need a heater? My office stays warm, I'm afraid even a 25 watt will keep the water too warm.
Bettas need a steady 78 degree temperature. Regular room temperature is too cool for them and can make them more susceptible to diseases. Plus, they'll act much more lethargic. So, a small heater is a good idea, especially since the office might get cooler at night. You should also purchase a thermometer (the stick-on liquid crystal ones or floating glass type are actually better than the more expensive digital ones). A good heater should turn off once the water becomes too warm, so unless it's broken or cheap it shouldn't overheat the water.

Quote:
8) Is my Betta going to be okay if he doesn't get fed on the weekend?
Probably. Many people fast their bettas one day a week anyway to help clear their digestive tracts. I've left my fish unfed for up to a week at a time with no losses. You may want to make the last meal on Friday one of your "treat" meals of bloodworms or something to give him a little something extra for the weekends.
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