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Old 06-06-2013, 11:22 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: North Carolina
So, college dorm room, bad idea?

I can't even begin to explain how excited I am to find a site like this! Just yesterday I made a trip to the pet store and was lured by the swishing displays of the fish. I'm leaving home soon for a college dorm and I would so love something to look after since I'll have to leave my kitties at home.

I almost set myself up then and there with a vase and plant, but figured some thorough research on such an animal might be a good idea.

I have never kept fish before at all. Not even a goldfish~! So my question is, knowing that I have never maintained a fish tank, is an appropriately sized tank (and by appropriate I mean about 5 gal) with heater, filter and light going to be too much work for a college student?

Or would I be better off not bothering with such a task?

If it's possible then please! Any and all suggestions are great! If it's a bad idea then I'll disappear and avoid asking silly questions.

(I apologize if this is in the wrong section, please move if needed)
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Old 06-06-2013, 11:31 PM   #2 
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Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Los Angeles, CA
It shouldn't be too much work. Just a weekly water change or two, feedings, and of course the time that you're going to be spending watching your fish! Plus there's the occasional time where you have to start putting a little more work into a tank if your fish gets sick. But proper care (which it seems like you're prepared to do) should reduce the likelihood of him/her getting sick. As long as you don't get yourself mixed into all of the stuff that require more work, you should be fine.
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Old 06-06-2013, 11:33 PM   #3 
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I think it's not too much work for a college student (as I am one too). It takes about an hour for me to do the larger water changes at the very worse, but I have a 10 gal tank so your job will be easier. I would suggest setting it up right now so that you get into the swing of it when you move into college.

Cycling your tank will make things easier as well as some live plants to lessen the amount of water changes you have to do. It also has the added effect of not harming your betta fish's fins as they are very delicate. Here is a link for cycling:
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Old 06-06-2013, 11:48 PM   #4 
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Join Date: May 2013
Location: Michigan
If you're worried about water changes taking up a lot of time buy a gravel vac, they save a ton of time. I have one that has a bulb on it that you squeeze to start the vacuum and it had my 5 gallon half empty where I wanted it in about 5 minutes. I've been working A LOT of hours this week and I had his water change completely done in about 10 minutes.

Another thing you'll want to have is water conditioner, this will help make your water safe for your betta.

Hope this helps ya!
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Old 06-06-2013, 11:58 PM   #5 
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Also, get a good water testing kit so that you can monitor your cycling. The one I have is API Freshwater Master Water Testing Kit. Got mine at Petsmart a little under $30. It's a bit expensive but it'll last you for years and has very accurate readings, important for watching your cycle and nitrate levels after it's done!
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Old 06-07-2013, 12:45 AM   #6 
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: North Carolina
First off, I'm a Classics major at UNCG, so I'm quite excited to see Cicero from North Carolina :)

I was a freshman this past year and got a betta fish to keep me company. I would definitely recommend getting one! Dorm life can be somewhat lonely at times (despite having a roommate). I didn't have trouble managing my fish tank in my dorm. Just be sure to check out your college's rules about fish tank sizes. Good luck!
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Old 06-07-2013, 01:04 AM   #7 
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Most colleges and universities allow one aquarium around 5-10 gallons, which is more than enough space for a single betta. Your school's housing website should have pet guidelines and tank size regulations.

As others have said, it's really not much work at all and the initial investment, even if it seems a bit pricy at first for everything, will go a long way.

The betta care sticky ( is a great resource, as are the people here.

Also, remember to shop smart....those tiny eyedropper "betta conditioners" that cost 2-3 bucks? You're better off buying a bottle of PRIME for a few bucks more that will not only last the entire academic year (probably longer), but is very good in quality.

One final word of advice.....I would recommend taking a few weeks to get settled in before buying a betta. The first few weeks of school are often the most hectic, and your focus should be on making sure you have your schedule set, books, knowing your way around town and campus, meeting new people, etc. before having to worry about taking care of a pet.
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Old 06-07-2013, 09:59 AM   #8 
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Location: North Carolina
Originally Posted by Haleigh View Post
First off, I'm a Classics major at UNCG, so I'm quite excited to see Cicero from North Carolina :)!
I'm actually enrolled in UNCC! As a sociology major. So glad to see someone else here in the NC public college system (ours are the best in the country!)

It looks like as long as the tank is properly sized and what not that it shouldn't take up too much space. Which is great because when I first read all the proper care guides I wasn't sure if this is something I'd be able to have in the first place.

I'm looking at tanks and I see two choices Acrylic and Glass. Now glass is my favorite material and I remember my parents having glass aquariums when I was much, much younger. I didn't know you could get them made out of acrylic.

Is acrylic a bad choice? I'm worried about it eventually breaking down and leeching chemicals into the water. Otherwise it would be great to save a few dollars, however as this is literally the single most important piece of equipment I probably shouldn't skimp.

(I'm also noticing this fish keeping thing isn't nearly as expensive as my cat!)
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Old 06-07-2013, 10:13 AM   #9 
Join Date: Jun 2013
I'm a student at Ole Miss and am so glad I have a fish in my room. It's calming and a lot of fun. I got a fish for the same reason as you; I have to have an animal to care for! I love taking care of it. It doesn't take much time. I have mine in a fluval spec iii (2.6 gallon) with a heater and filter, and he's really happy -- bubble nest and all. I think fish are a great idea for college!
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Old 06-07-2013, 10:21 AM   #10 
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: North Carolina
well ill have 3 fish tanks going with me to NC State in the fall so ill be right there with ya!
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