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Old Yesterday, 02:57 PM   #1 
fortheloveofrudy
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Unhappy Trying to improve Bettas conditions

So I have a betta, and he's not doing great. I realized this weekend that what I was doing for him (or rather what I wasn't..) wasn't cutting it. I had him in a kick starter "self cleaning", maybe 1 gallon tank. I know, I know. I'm horrible.

Thing is, I've never had a fish before and when my Dad wanted to get my kids a betta with this awesome new tank, I thought it was great! The whole tiny cup to 1 gallon tank thing. I now know better.

I've been researching and researching and my brain is so full of fish stuff and I still don't know where to begin!

I bought a 10 gallon tank for my poor betta, who is improving with aquarium salt and clean water, but is still in a tank that is too small.

Where do I go from here? I'm trying to order all the stuff I need from Amazon, but still don't know all of what I need.

Here's what I'd like to do:

I'd like some live plants (not sure which, but I figured I could talk to my pet store guys when I get to that point), so I have a fluorescent hood on my list & I'm not sure what kind/strength/watts of fluorescent bulb to get for my 10 gallon tank. Advice?

Next, what substrate do I use if I want plants in his tank? There's a mix at petco with ferts in it but I read an article that suggested organic potting soil instead (is this still true for a live plant tank WITH a betta?)

I'm planning on getting a sponge filter (http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B005LM...I2EJSH1MMU09FT) and a tetra whisper air pump (http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0009Y...R3BEDZXWF&vs=1). Is this all I need for my 10 gallon tank, filter wise? Also, I know I'm wanting the beneficial bacteria (I think) to colonize (?) in the filter, so do I ever clean it?

I'm ordering the freshwater API master test kit as well as Dr Tims ammonium chloride for doing the nitrogen cycle fish less.

Going to get a hiding spot for my fish in the tank & a thermometer (what's your favorite thermometer & your bettas favorite hiding spots or decor?)

Do I need a heater? I live in Phoenix, Arizona, and our temp in the house doesn't go below 70. Is 70 degrees too cold?

What else am I missing? Suggestions?

Thank you I'm advance for your help.
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Old Yesterday, 05:35 PM   #2 
Zuzu
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I can't answer all of your questions, because I'm a pretty new betta owner, too, but I can answer some.

I don't know about sponge filters, so I'm not sure if what you're looking at is appropriate for a 10 gallon. For cleaning, though, I believe you just want to squish/swish the sponge around in old tank water every few weeks. (Hopefully someone can confirm or correct that for us.)

I think the best thermometer is the simple $2-3 thermometer that attaches to the inside of the tank with a suction cup. The self-adhesive strips that go on the outside do not give an accurate reading of the temperature of the water.

Our fish has a plastic canvas tube that he enjoys and a cholla "root" that I put together with large anubias plants attached. He also has a terra cotta pot, but instead of hiding inside, he likes to hide behind it, under the leaves of the silk plant I stuck through the hole to plug it. :D

Yes, 70 degrees is too cold for a betta. Even if the temperature doesn't dip below a safe range, the heater is important to keep the temperature steady. I found an adjustable heater on clearance at Petco, and it's kept our 10 gallon perfectly steady. (It's adjustable, but it doesn't have a thermostat - just + or -).
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Old Yesterday, 05:56 PM   #3 
Straubrey
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I have recently set up a planted, cycled 10 gallon for my betta, so I know what you are dealing with!

I did a fishless cycle using household ammonia (Ace Hardware carries it). It took 5-6 weeks to completely cycle. Good call on getting a master test kit, that's very important!

What I did instead of a hood was get a glass top. I then have a light fixture setting on top of that. I already had the light fixture from another tank. What lighting you will need depends on what type of plants you want to get. I went with low/moderate light, easy plants. I'm sure there are people who can better advise on lighting, I'm no expert. I think mine is 15 watts, so 1.5 watts per gallon. My plants are doing very well.

I went with eco-complete for substrata, I like the look, and it has been working out very well so far.

I use a sponge filter and tetra whisper air pump. The other thing you will need is a check valve. It stops water from back flowing down the airline tubing should the power go out. Oh and you need some airline tubing too! Once the tank is cycled, you do clean the sponge filter, you just squeeze it out in the used tank water when you do your weekly water change.

I have driftwood in my tank, I thought my betta would hide under it, but he prefers to sleep in the plants. Anubias seems to be a favorite, and it's also very easy to grow!

For a thermometer, I have a digital one that sticks onto the outside of the tank, with an in tank sensor. It is easier for me to read, and no worries about it breaking in the tank. I got it from amazon for around $4.

I would get a heater, you want the temp to stay stable, and 70 is a bit too low.

If you have any other questions, feel free to PM me, as I just went through all this a month ago!
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Old Yesterday, 07:30 PM   #4 
Zuzu
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Straubrey View Post
What I did instead of a hood was get a glass top. I then have a light fixture setting on top of that.
That's what I have going on, too. The kit I bought came with a hood with two lights, but when I turned it on the first time I had to shut it off 15 minutes later because of the burnt plastic smell! I picked up a hinged glass top, replaced the two 15-watt incandescent bulbs with 13-watt 6500K CFLs, and just set the hood on top of the glass for lighting. The smell is not as strong anymore, but it's still detectable when we turn the light off after running for 7-8 hours.
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Old Yesterday, 11:15 PM   #5 
fidget
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Get a gravel vacuum and a bucket for water changes. :)
I have eco complete in 4 tanks and soil/sand in 2 tanks. Personally, I like both substrates. If I had to choose, I'd probably go with eco complete, however, I'm keeping really easy plants in my tanks. Anubias, java fern, crypt wendtii, brazillian pennywort, whatever comes in the assorted bulbs pack from Petco lol, and a few others.
Lighting is going to depend on what kind of plants you choose. Check online for lighting recommendations. Use a daylight spectrum bulb and check the wattage recommendation per gallon for the plants you want to get.
I'd suggest buying plants on ebay or here in the classifieds. I bought some beautiful plants from peachii here. Here in the classifieds you can get a package of some really nice plants at a decent price.
Tetra safe start is a really good cheap bottled bacteria. It sped up my initial cycling time to 3 weeks.
You may want to consider getting a flow control valve for the airline tubing- otherwise you can just tie it in a knot to control the flow...a cheaper solution, but I like my little valves.
The water should be 78-82. 50 watt heater is recommended, but some people say to use a lower wattage than that because if the thermometer's internal thermostat breaks and the thermometer doesn't shut off, it can overheat your tank. I don't worry about it too much because my husband or I are home pretty much all the time and we have digital thermometers that are easy to read.
Hope this helps. :)
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Old Yesterday, 11:18 PM   #6 
fortheloveofrudy
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Thank you both for your responses! I'm sure it won't seem as hectic and complicated once I have everything & start the process.

I will for sure PM you with any more questions that I'm sure I'll have, Straubrey! Thank you!
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Old Today, 03:04 AM   #7 
bluenail
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fortheloveofrudy View Post
So I have a betta, and he's not doing great. I realized this weekend that what I was doing for him (or rather what I wasn't..) wasn't cutting it. I had him in a kick starter "self cleaning", maybe 1 gallon tank. I know, I know. I'm horrible.
One gallon tanks aren't horrible, they are the minimum size I recommend as a temporary home for a betta. They aren't good forever homes, but are fine for short to medium term (a few months max).

Quote:
Thing is, I've never had a fish before and when my Dad wanted to get my kids a betta with this awesome new tank, I thought it was great! The whole tiny cup to 1 gallon tank thing. I now know better.

I've been researching and researching and my brain is so full of fish stuff and I still don't know where to begin!

I bought a 10 gallon tank for my poor betta, who is improving with aquarium salt and clean water, but is still in a tank that is too small.

Where do I go from here? I'm trying to order all the stuff I need from Amazon, but still don't know all of what I need.

Here's what I'd like to do:

I'd like some live plants (not sure which, but I figured I could talk to my pet store guys when I get to that point), so I have a fluorescent hood on my list & I'm not sure what kind/strength/watts of fluorescent bulb to get for my 10 gallon tank. Advice?
Get 6500K color temperature (daylight) bulbs, at least 20 watts total in your tank. You can get these that will fit in an incandescent hood, and you can get the bulbs from walmart. Find compact flash bulbs that say "suitable for damp locations" and "daylight". They will probably say "40 watt equivalent" or higher.

Or get your flourscent hood and tubes, both work just fine. and the tubes are slightly better, but not needed.

Quote:
Next, what substrate do I use if I want plants in his tank? There's a mix at petco with ferts in it but I read an article that suggested organic potting soil instead (is this still true for a live plant tank WITH a betta?)
I do not recommend potting soil for someone new. It works great, you might want to try it on your second or third tank, but for now keep it simple. My favorite substrate is Black Diamond Blasting Grit which you can pick up at Tractor Supply stores. It comes in a huge bag, enough for two tanks, for about $10. You have to rinse the devil out of it but it is quite attractive and provides purchase for roots of plants. It is not nutrient rich, so you have to select plants that get their nutrients from the water, but most beginner aquarium plants do that anyway. If there is a plant you want that is a root-feeder, you can get "root tabs" which are like fertilizer pellets and you will be fine.

Other sands work fine too, especially if you want a lighter color. "Pool filter sand" is really good, or you can even use "play sand".

Quote:
I'm planning on getting a sponge filter (http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B005LM...I2EJSH1MMU09FT) and a tetra whisper air pump (http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0009Y...R3BEDZXWF&vs=1). Is this all I need for my 10 gallon tank, filter wise? Also, I know I'm wanting the beneficial bacteria (I think) to colonize (?) in the filter, so do I ever clean it?
If your tank is planted that should be a sufficient filter. I would consider having a box filter (link) as an alternative. Fill it with lava rocks or small ceramic biological filter rings. It will provide enough filtration with either of those semi-permanent types of filter media, and if you ever need to add more mechanical or chemical filtration you easily can. Your sponge filter is much easier though, provides better bio filtration and has the mechanical filtration built in though so you are good either way.

Be sure to get a check valve at least. This will keep water from siphoning into your air pump in the event of a power failure. I really recommend you get a splitter valve with one more opening than you will have air-powered things hooked up to it, so that you can reduce the air flow to your filters. You don't want to overly excite the water surface with excess bubbles. Personally I'd get a three way valve, so that you could add another air-powered something in the future and still have an opening to vent excess if you need to.

Quote:
I'm ordering the freshwater API master test kit as well as Dr Tims ammonium chloride for doing the nitrogen cycle fish less.
That is about exactly what I am doing, but it is honestly overkill. If you have your plants in before your betta you can do a fish-in cycle and you will be absolutely fine. One betta in a 10 gallon won't produce so much waste that he will be harmed by being in there while you cycle. You can probably get away with doing only weekly water changes even while cycling. (But use that master test kit daily to be sure!)
Quote:

Going to get a hiding spot for my fish in the tank & a thermometer (what's your favorite thermometer & your bettas favorite hiding spots or decor?)
I like getting a cheap glass thermometer with the suction cup, and two of the stickers. I put a sticker on each side, towards the back, and the suction cup in the front. So far as hiding places, get your plants, and put a clean and well rinsed (no soap residue) coffee mug into the tank for a cave.

Quote:
Do I need a heater? I live in Phoenix, Arizona, and our temp in the house doesn't go below 70. Is 70 degrees too cold?

What else am I missing? Suggestions?

Thank you I'm advance for your help.
Yep 70 is too cold. Get a 50 watt or greater heater. Don't skimp here, you can cut corners on just about anything else, but pay for a good well-reviewed heater. Set your heater to 80 degrees, or a little higher if your house sometimes gets above 80 (you want to minimize changes in temperature, better to always be 82 than to go from 78 to 82 daily.)

Don't over stress it, you are doing great. So far as plants, I am having amazingly good results with ludwigia repens, if you get just one plant that is what I would go with, but I wouldn't get just one plant. Get at least three types of plants, get them into the tank a few days before you transfer the betta. Transfer the betta once you see signs of plants growing. If you can't find any in your area, PM me and I'll send you some cuttings of the ludwigia repens. I don't have at the moment, but also strongly recommend java moss. Also, get a couple of merimo moss balls. If you manage to kill all your other plants, the merimo will probably survive.
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Old Today, 03:21 AM   #8 
fidget
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I was gonna say the same thing about fish in cycling, but I know some people here frown upon it. I've done it twice using tetra safe start and dosing the tank with Prime every couple of days until the cycle was complete (3 weeks in my case, but it's different for everyone). There wasn't any change in my fish's behavior or appearance.

Last edited by fidget; Today at 03:36 AM.
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Old Today, 03:34 AM   #9 
bluenail
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If you didn't already have a betta I might not recommend the fish-in cycle, but he'll be a lot happier in a not yet cycled 10 gallon than in a one gallon.

If you really want to do it "right" you can put him in the 10 gallon while you put your filter in the one gallon (DO NOT get rid of existing water) and cycle the filter fishlessly in the one gallon then add it into the 10. This is a modification of the "bucket cycle" that takes advantage of any existing beneficial bacteria that have already grown in your one gallon. Does the one gallon have any kind of built-in filter? Gravel filter even?
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Old Today, 03:36 AM   #10 
bluenail
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Also, there are two ways to do a fish-in cycle. One you wait for the ammonia to get high before changing the water, the other you change the water frequently to keep the fish happier. I don't like the former, but the latter is just fine (although it takes a long time).
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