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Old 05-24-2013, 07:24 PM   #1 
Betta4Niece
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Question Preparing to buy betta for niece. Need advice!

Hi everyone!

As my username and the thread title suggests, I am considering purchasing a betta fish for my niece. She is almost 11 years old but has never owned a pet. She has always wanted a pet. I have discussed this idea with my sister and she thinks it's wonderful. I have read that it is a good starter fish but it is not a decoration, it's a responsibility. I want it to be healthy so I'm doing my research.

Since my niece would be a first-time pet owner, I wanted to find something that is easy to care for. My sister will obviously help her but, since this is my gift to her, I want to make sure that I have everything she needs to get started and that I show her the right way to care for the fish when I leave her with it. I have never owned a fish so I'm doing my research now so that I can coach my niece on the proper care.

This is what I have gathered so far (please correct me or add anything helpful):

* I only plan on getting one, so there is no worry about pairing with other fish.
* While betta fish CAN live in a smaller bowl, they are happier and healthier in a tank with more room. I read about a 1 gallon per 1 inch rule of thumb, but I think I've decided on a 5 gallon tank. I sincerely care about the well-being of every animal so I want it to be happy with enough room to swim about.
* The temperature must remain between 76-82 degrees (I actually found varying degrees, but it was usually around here), so a heater is important (Suggestions on heater types/wattages are welcome.)
* It is good to decorate the tank with places to hide, but the decorations should be smooth so they won't tear the delicate fins. Silk/real plants are ideal. No sharp edges (no plastic?). (Is this right?)
* Filter - not 100% required but if we do get one, it needs to be low-flow. (I think I want to get one. Suggestions on types are also welcome.)

What is the best food to buy? My sister is on a bit of a limited budget so nothing too fancy/something easily accessible at a regular pet store is ideal.


This is about as far as I have gotten so far. I only thought about this today so I have just started looking into it. I am super excited about this (I can't get my own fish because I have very territorial cats). Is betta fish ownership too complicated for an 11 year old? I will not be there and I want to ensure it is well-cared for. Are there some things I should ask her mother to take care of for her?

It is important to me to do this the right way. Any advice you can offer for me to set up my niece - any specific instructions I should pass along or anything - it is greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much for your help! I can't wait to read your answers!
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Old 05-24-2013, 07:40 PM   #2 
MattsBettas
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So glad you have done your research! Too many bettas are just tossed in a vase then given as pets.

Five gallons is a great amount of space for a single betta, and should be manageable for your niece. For a heater, aim for an adjustable one that is 50w. You could do 75w too, but 50w would handle it. I would look into ordering them online/working out prices. Silk and real plants are ideal, but I would probably stick with silk or low light, easy care plants for a beginner (java moss, anubias, java fern). Real plants are not necessary though. Plastic plants can work but I would suggest doing the panty hose test first- running a panty hose across the decoration and watching for any snags. If it snags the panty hose it will snag his fins. I would suggest a sponge filter, if you are set on having a filter. For food, I would buy omega one betta pellets (not flakes). I use NLS but since omega one is less expensive and comes in a smaller container it would probably work better for you. You can get omega one at petsmart or petco, and a container is 3$ and will last a long time.

Last edited by MattsBettas; 05-24-2013 at 07:44 PM.
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Old 05-24-2013, 07:41 PM   #3 
Kalari32
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I believe this would be a great opportunity to teach your niece responsibility and taking care of something!

For food, I like Omega one, but many people on this site stand by New Life Spectrum, which I have ordered to get.

For filters, you could get a sponge filter, or a regular filter. I use a whisper filter on the lowest setting and it does not disturb the surface of the water at all.
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Old 05-24-2013, 08:04 PM   #4 
Rana
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With a 5g you should be able to have a stable cycle, so I would read up on the nitrogen cycle and if possible plan on doing a fishless cycle. It'll mean less water changes and less danger for the fish if the tank is cycled, but it's not imperative.

I have the Tom's Mini Internal filter, and it's been doing a good job in my tank without being very harsh. The flow is adjustable and it has a spraybar that diffuses the water flow so it's pretty gentle.

I think the biggest challenge will be teaching your niece the proper amount to feed, and how to clean the tank correctly. Pellets will make feeding much easier to keep track of, and using a gravel vacuum/siphon for every change makes it pretty easy to remember to clean the gravel.

Good luck! I think this will be a great first pet for your niece and it looks like you're really trying to get your ducks in a row, which is a great example to set for future pet care. :3

Last edited by Rana; 05-24-2013 at 08:06 PM.
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Old 05-24-2013, 08:22 PM   #5 
RussellTheShihTzu
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Don't know how much you want to spend, but I would suggest:

http://www.amazon.com/Aquarium-Inter...al+mini+filter

http://www.amazon.com/Aquatop-Aquari...quarium+heater

http://www.amazon.com/ONUTR-ATISONS-...trition+atison

I feed both Ocean Nutrition and NLS. Ocean Nutrition (Atison's) comes in a smaller container.

This will make water changing easier and help keep the bottom of the tank clean. She can just wave it over the gravel or sand to pick up any poo or leftover food.

http://www.amazon.com/6-Inch-Gravel-...=gravel+vacuum
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Old 05-24-2013, 10:08 PM   #6 
LostxinthexMusic
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I think if there's anything her mom should handle, it would be the water changes; I'm 18 and even I've had difficulty with those in the past (accidentally sucked my poor guy into the tube!). I don't know about the ideal for water changes in a 5-gal, but someone else on here should be able to help with that. And I suggest cycling the tank, if that's plausible before you actually give the fish to your niece. If not, it's not a huge deal, it just means more water changes.
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