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Old 08-17-2008, 04:32 PM   #1 
StandingStonesArcher
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College student getting first fishbowl/aquarium

Hello. I am a third year college student and I plan on purchasing a betta as a pet. My dorm room's really really small, so I'm not going to have much room for big tanks. At the absolute maximum I might be able to get a 2 gallon fishbowl or aquarium, and heaters and filters are kinda out of the question (unless they're built-in, and I heard that on aquariums that small they usually aren't). I have never had a betta before, nor have I ever cared for a fish all by myself (I had a goldfish when I was little, but my parents helped me.)

I've been looking up information on various websites and have heard how hardy bettas are, but most of the information I see has to do with keeping larger tanks and absolutely perfect optimal setups that I probably don't have the money for. Ideally, I don't want to have to spend more than $40 on the whole thing, but if it's really necessary I'll spend the extra dough.

So what's some good advice for a college student getting their first betta? Also, are fun little "unnatural" decorations ok or will they be too stressful?
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Old 08-17-2008, 04:54 PM   #2 
koolbetta
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i think if you have room for it a 5 gallon tank would be better and you do need a heater the water temp should be 78 degrees i only paid 40 dollors for my 10 gallon setup i dont have a heater yet but they are needed for the fish to be happy so i am getting one as soon as possible and use only silk or live plants because plastic will mess up there fins the food i use is betta pallets it has been working fine
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Old 08-17-2008, 06:13 PM   #3 
okiemavis
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Unfortunately, heaters and filters are pretty necessary for a betta- especially if you don't want to end up spending more $$ on medicine and such later when he gets sick from having no heater...Yes, it's true that people keep bettas without it, but the bettas are unhealthy, inactive and generally boring. When you have a healthy betta, they are very smart, entertaining and interactive fish.

Even with your price limit, we can easily do a great setup, which will keep your betta very happy and healthy.

I'd recommend what I use for a lot of my "nano" breeding setups. Here's what you'll need:
-a standard 2.5 gallon rectangular aquarium (I can't find them for sale online, but every petco/petsmart sells them). They're 12x6x8 inches
-a nano heater: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...7&pcatid=12087
-a small sponge filter:
http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...54&pcatid=3954
-food:
http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...64&pcatid=4264
-water conditioner
http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...fm?pcatid=4057
-gravel or sand
-decorations
-small lid or just plain plexiglass for top (bettas can and will jump out of their tanks!)

Here's the total:
tank $10
heater $10
filter $3
food $2
water conditioner $4
gravel $4

That puts you at $33 with money left to spend on some cute decorations and plants for the tank. Decorations are great and necessary, as it makes the betta feel safer when they have somewhere to hide. It doesn't really matter what it is, as long as it's a good "cave" for your guy.
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Old 08-17-2008, 06:22 PM   #4 
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Crud- I did forget one thing. You need an air pump to power the sponge filter. Here ya go:
http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...5&pcatid=18995

And some airline tubing:
http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...6&pcatid=18996

I've still got you under $40 though!
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Old 08-17-2008, 06:33 PM   #5 
iamntbatman
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I second what okiemavis said; getting those supplies will give you pretty much a perfect environment for a betta.

One more thing: the 2.5 gallon rectangular aquarium that she mentioned is sold at Petsmart for about $10, and it already comes with a glass canopy so that you don't have to worry about tracking one down yourself.
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Old 08-17-2008, 11:26 PM   #6 
StandingStonesArcher
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So heaters are really that necessary? I've read on some sites that just keeping the aquarium in a room with a normal temperature is ok, and I always keep the room warm especially in the winter. Plus the aquarium will most likely be kept on my desk and it's got a built in light under the bookshelf which kinda warms things a bit...

Also, I thought you didn't need water conditioner if you bought distilled water? I figured I'd go buy a couple gallon bottles of distilled water and use that... though I guess it would make changing water a bit tricky.

By the way, I have NO plans or intentions to breed my fish. I'm just gonna buy a male betta and that's it.
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Old 08-18-2008, 05:09 AM   #7 
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Can't use distilled unless you want to take the time and add all the trace elements and buffers yourself. It'll kill your betta outright by itself otherwise.

Yes, you need a heater. Relying on a light will cause fluctuating temperatures, which in turn will stress out your bettas immune system and make him get sick very easily. Bettas need to have their temp stay constant because a 5 degree difference is like going between the tropics and Alaska to them.
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Old 08-18-2008, 12:33 PM   #8 
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Distilled water is unrealible because the chlorine levels vary depending on the brand. Use tap water with dechlorinator, and let the water cycle through a filter for a week or two before adding the Betta. Be sure to have the pet store test the water before buying the fish; they should do it for free.

Also, I sure that this is debatable, but I've never used a heater in a Betta bowl. If your dorm room is well climate controlled it may not be necessary. Definitely purchase a thermometer and monitor the temp closely, if you notice it getting too cool you'll need a heater (you might have one on standby just in case), but i've had heaters warm up a tank too much even on the lowest setting, which is just as unhealthy. Watch it closely and you should be ok.
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Old 08-18-2008, 04:43 PM   #9 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sasbell
Distilled water is unrealible because the chlorine levels vary depending on the brand. Use tap water with dechlorinator, and let the water cycle through a filter for a week or two before adding the Betta. Be sure to have the pet store test the water before buying the fish; they should do it for free.

Also, I sure that this is debatable, but I've never used a heater in a Betta bowl. If your dorm room is well climate controlled it may not be necessary. Definitely purchase a thermometer and monitor the temp closely, if you notice it getting too cool you'll need a heater (you might have one on standby just in case), but i've had heaters warm up a tank too much even on the lowest setting, which is just as unhealthy. Watch it closely and you should be ok.
Pet stores will just tell you the water is "fine" which could mean a whole load of things. Plus, letting the tank run for a week isn't the same as getting a cycle going. That takes a month, and it's a good idea to have the more reliable liquid testing kit for that which unfortunately would make you go over your $40 but probably not by much.

As for the heater, unless your room is kept at a steady 78 degrees then your tank cannot be 78 degrees. It's generally a bad idea to try to stick them on something like an entertainment center to keep them warm because the vibrations from the equipment will stress them out quite a bit. So...say your room is kept at 72-74 degrees. Add the heater and it will boost it up to 76-78 degrees and should hopefully keep it there.
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Old 08-18-2008, 07:13 PM   #10 
sasbell
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Almost all fish stores (pestmart and petco included) guarantee their fish for 2 weeks if you have your water tested there prior to purchasing a fish, so they generally don't tell you it's "fine" unless it is. If you don't trust them, ask to double check it for yourself before they discard it. Purchasing a test kit is ideal, but usually an unnecessary cost.

I understand that it takes several weeks to completely cycle an aquarium, and that its also ideal to go through this process first, but one-two weeks is usually sufficient especially with the help of dechlorinator and/or water conditioner.

I also do not recommend putting fish in a "warm place" to avoid getting a heater, but as long as they aren't in a drafty area and the temperature stays around 78 degrees it should be fine. Rapid or extremely drastic temperature changes are what cause fish to become sick or die, not a slight 2-3 degree difference. Like I said, watch it closely for several days before adding the fish, if the temp gets too low, or changes drastically depeding on if the a/c is blowing or not, purchase a heater and have the temp steady before adding a fish.
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