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Old 08-29-2013, 03:34 PM   #1 
Midelaye
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Smile Yet another first time dorm room betta owner

Hello! I'm Mya and as you can tell from the title, I'm moving into my dorm Saturday. It's going to be my first time away from home and I don't have a room mate, so I thought it would be nice to get a betta for a little companionship. Technically, I have owned fish (including bettas) before, but I was about 7 years old and I'm 95% sure they were not cared for properly (although my mom did her best). This time I really want to do it right.

I've done a bit of research, but everything I've read differs or leaves things out so I'm still a bit confused. Here are a list of questions I have along with what my current plan is. Let me know if I've gotten anything wrong or have missed anything.

What do I need to put in the tank? I'm planning to get a 2-3 gallon tank which, while not as nice as a 5-10g, is what I can afford money-wise and space-wise as a student. I understand I need a heater (any brand recommendations?), but do I also need a filter? Most people say I don't, particularly if I have live plants. This leads my to my next question...

How hard are live plants to take care of, anyway? A couple months ago I bought a couple orchids and now they're barely hanging on (don't worry, I have a much better track record with animals). Do I have to do anything special to take care of aquatic plants? Do they help filter the water? How much do they cost and what kinds should I get?

How often do I clean the tank? From my research, I'd guess maybe change 25% of the water every few days? Full water change weekly or every two weeks? Also, is bottled water or untreated tap water better (or is there no way to get around dechlorinating my water)?

How often do I feed, and what about weekends? How often do I feed my betta? Every day? Every couple of days? Can it survive the weekends without food when I go home?

Any tips on buying a healthy betta? As much as I'd love to rescue a betta in need, I just don't have the resources or experience to deal with things like fin rot right off the bat. How do I know that the betta I'm buying is more or less healthy? What should I look out for?

How do I introduce my betta into it's new home? Feel free to link me to a resource (one on cleaning tanks would be very much appreciated as well). Do you let the bag/cup sit in the new tank for a while to acclimate the fish to the temperature? Do you mix the water in the cup and tank?

Ammonia, nitrogen and cycling? Help? Do I really need to monitor this, or if I keep a clean tank will it monitor itself? What is cycling anyway?

How much is this going to cost? I'm hoping it will run me no more that $100 to get started. Please let me know if I'm in way over my head.

TL;DR? Just answer the bolded questions. Thank you so much!
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Old 08-29-2013, 03:45 PM   #2 
MrBettaFishKid
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The number one thing you will want to put in your tank is different kinds of plants. Bettas enjoy swimming through plants. Live plants are healthy but can be a pain in the butt. I personally have fake plants but if you want to manage live plants that would probably be better.
If you have a filter you don't have to clean the tank very often. A lot of betta owners who have filters clean their tank once a month, but this depends on what is best for you.
Do not feed your betta more than four pellets a day. That's what I do, but I know lots of betta owners feed their fish as little as 2-3 times a week.
Ask for help when looking for a fish. If you go to a pet store they will usually know what to look for and help you pick one out.
Make sure your filter has been running for at least 24 hours before you introduce your betta to his/her new tank.
It really depends on what kind of plants and food you get. It is defiantly possible to stay under the $100 limit. However if you want a happy betta it'll be easy to go over.
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Old 08-29-2013, 04:04 PM   #3 
Midelaye
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Why are live plants such a pain? I didn't think they were too hard to take care of, but I'm seriously considering silk plants now. I was hoping that they would help keep my tank clean, especially since I wasn't planning to get a filter. I read that many filters for 2.5g tanks are too powerful for betta as they create a current. Is that true?

4 pellets pretty much lines up with everything else I read. If some owners only feed betta a few times a week, then mine should survive the weekend, right?

I didn't even thing about running the filter beforehand! (Although it seems really obvious in hindsight).

I'm sure I'll end up going over my budget eventually with toys, plants, etc. but I'm trying to keep it reasonable for the couple weeks or so. ;)
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Old 08-29-2013, 04:30 PM   #4 
brittany4444
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I suggest getting a sponge filter. I have sponge filters in all my 2.5 gallon tanks and I love them. They are not to powerful, they are cheap and provide great filtration. Your betta should be fine for the weekend, he will be hungry when you come home but he will be fine. I also have the walmart brand heaters. They are preset to 78 degrees and they have worked great for me. They run about $12. If you want to splurge the hydro theo heaters are wonderful and you can adjust the temp. I got one off amazon for $18. You should definitly be able to set up a 2.5 gal for under $100
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Old 08-29-2013, 04:32 PM   #5 
Midelaye
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Okay, a sponge filter. I will definitely keep that in mind when I go shopping. Thanks!
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Old 08-29-2013, 04:32 PM   #6 
Chutney
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I feed my bettas 2 pellets over the course of the day because their stomachs are the size of their eyes. My pellets are as big as their eyes so it fills them up. I skip feeding them on wednesdays so that they don't get chubby :)
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Old 08-29-2013, 04:34 PM   #7 
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I don't use a filter or heater because I change water every three days and my room stays at 78F so their water stays warm.
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Old 08-29-2013, 07:14 PM   #8 
FirstBetta
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First, WELCOME TO THE FORUM,

The sponge filter is the best way to go for a Betta. The preset heaters only hold the temp "x" degrees above room temp. That allows the temp to vary depending on the room temp day and night. One of the most important things in keeping any fish is keeping the temp constant within a degree or two. That is as important as the actual temp.
Live plants help keep the tank clean and the ammonia down which in turn keeps the Nitrites and Nitrates down. I have Anubias, wisteria crypts and bacopa in his tank. All are easy to take care of. The anubia cannot be planted in the gravel/sand but should be attached to a rock or drifwood, real or fake. However, replacing the filter with live plants could be a problem for a first time owner. It is advisable to have a filter and live plants to begin with, you can make the decision to remove the filter at a later date. I didn't find live plants a problem to keep, but they need proper spectrum light which can be found at the home improvement store - a desk lamp with a daylight CFL will probably do it.
I feed Yankee once a day 3-4 pellets of the Ocean nutrition Betta pellets and sometimes substitute 5-6 of the New Life Spectrum .5mm pellets.
Look for a Betta that responds to you, turns to face you and maybe follow your finger as you move it in front of the cup, no missing scales, good shape (no humps and distorted shapes. Depending on the age of the fish his/her color may not be the final color it will be.
The accepted practice of introducing any fish including Bettas is to float the cup in the tank for 20 - 30 minutes, then slowly every 5 minutes or so(approximately a teaspoon at a time) add the tank water for about an hour. If the cup gets too full discard some of the cup water down the drain.

Price - I think the tank should be under $10. The heater around $15-$16. The filter, air pump, check valve, airline under $20. Plants would be under $25 - $30. Substrate (gravel/sand) about $5-$8 dollars at a home improvement store. Desk lamp + bulb $20 dollars. That is around $100. Any toys, etc. will push you up by however more you spend.
I've tried to answer your major questions, if you need any more info just ask on the forum or PM me.
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Old 08-29-2013, 11:21 PM   #9 
Midelaye
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Thank you! :)

Plan of action right now is to get real plants and a filter. I'm not sure about buying a special light, though. Will a regular desk light and natural sunlight be okay? Which plants would this work for?

Thanks for the advice on both choosing and introducing my betta into his habitat. When do bettas' colour come in? I'm definitely not looking for a baby, so he should have his colour, right?

I know this is the third time I've said it, but thank you for providing so much information in your answer. I really appreciate it, as well as all the help from everyone else. Everyone here is very knowledgeable and kind. :)
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Old 08-30-2013, 12:45 PM   #10 
FirstBetta
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You are welcome. I still remember my confusion when I started. Making sure that everybody gets a good start helps everybody.
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