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Old 03-06-2010, 04:25 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: SoCal
Talking brand new Betta owner, confused

Hi, we are the proud new parents of a male Betta named Carlos!!! He is my daughters first pet, although we are doing the care and maintenance of course! As you can see he is very pretty and we really really like him

I had no idea that there was so much to know about these fish!!!!! I admit that we should have done our research FIRST before buying, but we're catching up.

We got him a 1.5 gallon tank that came with a little filter that runs very gently. He has 2 plants and a "Little Mermaid" since my daughter loves the Little mermaid (it was a kit, lol) There is also gravel at the bottom of the tank and it has a light. Should I get him a "hiding place" he likes to go behind the filter, should I get him something more special and secure???

First, I didn't know he needed a heater, or warm water. We thought room temp was fine. We don't have a heater for him, yet he still seems to be perfectly fine. He's social and active and making lots of bubbles. So, do we really need to get him one if he seems happy without it? Our house is kept at 69-71 degrees, but I don't know the temp of the water.

Also, we need to get a water testing kit I suppose, from what i've read on here. Is that very important too? We filled his tank from the tap and let it filter for 12 hours before putting him in. If we get a test kit and the parameters are off then what do we do? Are there kits to fix that?
We put Betta water conditioner in the tank according to the directions when we assembled it.

Third, cleaning the tank. . . . . . . With a filter is it o.k. to clean it once a week? And how in the world do we clean it?!?!? I've read about these 50% water changes but what does that mean and how is it done? It seems like just changing half the water wouldn't clean out the rocks. So when I clean it do i just dump half the water and put new water OR do I clean out the whole tank, rocks, plants and all??? And then once I do that do I have to wait before putting him back in??????? This tank cleaning is the most confusing aspect of care to me, so help is appreciated!!!!! And when i'm cleaning it what do i do with him??? Do I add more conditioner?. . . the questions go on and on.

Also, he came with his top fin curled. I saw a thread about that, is it something i should be concerned with?

I'm sure if I typed long enough I'd think of more but this seems like a bit much already! I HAVE ready the sticky care thread but it still left me with these questions and feeling like I had so much more to learn and that maybe we started out on the wrong foot with our Betta.

He really does seem very happy and social. He seems to get excited when i/we walk into the kitchen (where he currently resides on the countertop) - he swims to the front of the tank and stares at me and flips his fins real fast!!! I am guessing this is normal. . . ?

Oh and one more thing. About holding the mirror up to the tank. . . is that cruel or is it good for them to get some extra excersize and protect their territory??? I did it yesterday and he didn't' seem very aggressive. He puffed up and got excited but kept swimming away, as if being submissive and surrendering! Anyway - just wondering if that is good or bad or indifferent?!?!?!?!?! I don't want him to feel threatened.

I think that's about it for now! Like I said he seems very happy with lots of bubbles around the top of his tank!

Thank you for any and all input you can give me - I appreciate it!!!!!
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Old 03-06-2010, 04:36 PM   #2 
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Georgia
As far as hiding places go, it's good to give them some privacy. Make sure that the tank isnt too crowdwed though.
The bubble thing is called a bubble nest. They make it when they are happy. Dont get conserned if you get a different fish and he doen't-It also depends on personality.
It's like there toy. [ :
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Old 03-06-2010, 04:38 PM   #3 
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GraciesCarlos, fish are more than meets the eye ;)

For the tank - A bit small for my liking, but you could make it work if you're dedicated. Please read "Nitrogen Cycle", it's so crucial for them! Bettas love abundant plantings. Yes, get him something to hide in, something special for him! Somewhere where he sleeps, where he hides, etc. Don't be sad "if you can't see him as often." That's not true - bettas WILL always come out ....unless you put way too many plants.

Room temperature is barely, barely enough for a temperature. But 70* is way too low! Yes, heater is a must. Emphasis: It. is. a. must. They are tropical fish. Colder waters bring disease and stress to them. They need at LEAST 76*F - 80*F.

If you have a water conditioner, and you use it correctly, there's no need to leave the water out. Usually water conditioners work immediately. I put mine in water, give it a good 10 minutes (it doesn't even have to be that long), and put it in.

Water cleaning - once you read up on NItrogen Cycle, you'll understand this a bit better. But since he's in such a small tank, you might not like this - Water changes will start out to be every day, and in the tank size, move to every other day or every third day. PERHAPS once a week, but not unless it's properly cycled! And never completely remove everything and wash down everything (again, Nitrogen cycle). It ruins the good bacteria.
50% means: Well you have a 1.5. 50% of 1.5? .75 (I think, lol.) Basically, just half. Or just look at it - 50% = Half! Just half the water. And to get the gravel - you use a *gravel vacuum*, or siphon. Also, Don't take your betta out during water changes. It may stress him out at first, but he gets used to it (but, that's just my case, I have a 5 gallon. Not sure how much room there would be in a 1.5 gallon and a vac). Continuously taking them out is even more stressful.

The curling - as far as I know, not entirely. Doesn't seem to affect mine. But do read the whole thread, it may help your case.

That aspect in bettas is my favorite - they got so attached to humans! It's very normal (UNLESS it's the gill movement that's too fast. Then something's wrong with the water). And very cute.

Mirrors are hardly ever necessary if you spend enough time with it.
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Old 03-06-2010, 04:46 PM   #4 
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Where do I read about the Nitrogen Cycle???
So along with dumping and refilling half the water I also need to vacuum the gravel?

thank you for the input so far, I would love to get more from more members too!!!!!

I will be getting a heater and a hiding place for him very soon then! May even take out the mermaid, she is a bit much and it would be hard to put much more in there without it getting too crowded. I wish I would have known before buying him that we needed a bigger tank! But I'll make this work for now until we're ready to upgrade!
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Old 03-06-2010, 04:50 PM   #5 
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Eh, I wouldn't really do "dumping". If you can't get a gravel vac (I don't know what your tank looks like, a gravel vac may not be the best thing) then just use a regular cup dedicated to fish cleaning. Oh, tip: NEVER. EVER. use soap for cleaning. Very bad for fish.

I'm trying to find the thread for cycling here... I can't find it! Just google it, but google it heavily!! And Upgrade ASAP, it'll be nicer for him :)
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Old 03-06-2010, 04:53 PM   #6 
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Thumbs up

May even take out the mermaid, she is a bit much and it would be hard to put much more in there without it getting too crowded.
Good Idea
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Old 03-06-2010, 05:18 PM   #7 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
First picked a wonderful first fish species.....and its really not that hard to care for as it may seem right now, the most important factor is freshwater.
IMO/E, the only chemical you need if on city water supply is a good dechlorinator and that need to be added to any new water added to the tank.
IMO/E the tank you have will be just fine as long as you make the needed water changes on a regular basis, that being twice weekly at 50% with gravel vacuuming with one of the water changes.
That size of tank you can make your water with a cup and a bucket, I would mark them "fish only" you don't want any soaps or chemicals to be used in them that are not fish safe.
When first set up with one betta it usually takes about 3 days for the ammonia to build up and this is when you want to make your first water change, turn off the filter and unplug the heater with the clean cup and bucket, gentle dip out half the water (leave fish in tank) and replace with dechlorinated water at about the same temp as the tank water.
In 3 more days repeat but first give the gravel a little stir to bring the waste into the water column, refill with the clean dechlorinated water and after about an hour or so it should clear.
Don't forget to turn the filter back on once you refill and plug the heater back in.
As bad as the gunk may look you need some of it to feed the good bacteria that is needed to cycle the tank.
Only clean the filter media in the old tank water with a water change and then only give it a swish to get the big stuff off so not to kill the good bacteria and only do this when you notice the water flow has slowed down, don't change the filter media until it is falling apart, I change mine out 1-2 times a year at most.
You really do need a heater, Betta splendens are tropical fish and thrive best in water temps of 78-80F, you can get the small 7.5w heaters that are safe for your size tank at most fish shops or on-line Dr Foster and Smith has them for less than $10-12.
Feed a good quality betta diet 1-2 times a day, don't overfeed and it is tempting as they wag their tail and beg for more, these guys tend to get constipated fairly easy and can get into trouble, also remove any uneaten food. I always give mine one day of fast to be safe.
Some folk like to use turkey baster to remove the uneaten food or assist with cleaning, I made my own siphon out of airline hose and chop stick and either work fine.
Products to make water test are great to have and can be helpful but not needed as long as you are making the needed water changes, but I highly recommend you get one if you can that can test for: ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, the API master kit is a good choice.
Welcome to a wonderful hobby.... it is an awesome hobby to share with your daughter and fun for the whole family.....

Last edited by Oldfishlady; 03-06-2010 at 05:24 PM.
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Old 03-06-2010, 06:09 PM   #8 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Central Texas
Here is the link to the article on cycling.
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Old 03-06-2010, 06:33 PM   #9 
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You can get a submersible 25w heater that you can adjust the temperature on and it will be fine in that size tank. Just be sure you can adjust it up or down and do not get the "preset to 78 degrees" type. they can run hot or cold and in that small amount of water, you don't want to take the risk of frying your new buddy.

You can put the little mermaid behind the tank. That way your daughter will still be able to see it and it will look like the background.

As for the plant, try going with a leafy silk plant or very soft plastic. Betta's fins are very very delicate and can tear on anything sharp. Even if you don't think it's harmful, it could rip their fins apart. Test it with a piece of nylon. If it doesn't snag, it's probably safe.

Lastly, i'm not sure if you'll be able to succesfully cycle a tank that small. I have never been able to but just remember to stay on top of the water changes and condition the water you replace.

Good luck.
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Old 03-06-2010, 08:53 PM   #10 
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Thanks everyone for your input.

I went earlier this evening and got him a nice little "hiding place" that came with a pretty silk plant. He really likes the plant and has already found his way inside the cubby hole - YAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!!! He loves it!

I also got a submersible heater, 50w. It IS the preset 78 degree one - wish I would have known that was bad before I bought it!!!!! We put it in and it warmed the water to about 77 degrees (I got a standing thermometer to go inside the tank so I could also check the temp and not just trust the heater!)

I took out the mermaid to make room for his new hiding place and so he has that and two other plants. One he really seems to like, the other not so much so I may take it out and put one back in that was there before that he liked.

I also got a water testing kit - good lord those things are expensive. i got one to test ammonia and one to test everything else. We hooked up his tank Thursday night and put him in it on Friday morning and as of yet the ammonia is still in the "ideal" range according to the test. The other test showed everything else to be pretty good with the exception of the alkalinity being a little less than "ideal" Not sure if alkalinity matters much.

Oh and I got a siphon gravel vacuum.

He seems to be very happy with his new things!!!!!!!

So QUESTION: If the ammonia level IS NOT elevated do I still need to change the water as frequently?

Also I have figured out that he has a fairly small appetite. He just ate 2 pellets but not before spitting one out and coming back for it a few minutes later. He ate a few this morning and two for supper. Should we keep feeding him twice a day or just once???

Oh another question - about the light. Do I leave it on all the time or turn it off at night when we go to bed too? What is the point of the light???

I think that's about it for now!

Thanks again for all the input!!!!! We are really enjoying him!

p.s. - and just as I have read on here the guy at the Petco did try to talk me out of getting all of this stuff for him! Said he'd had bettas for years and bread them and that they do not need a heater or a water testing kit or a thermometer. . . But I got it anyway!!!
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