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Old 07-20-2010, 07:04 PM   #1 
thunderwaved
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Building a divided tank out of acrylic.

Hello guys, recently I bought 4 Betta fish from Walmart (poor things). The current tanks I have for them are too small, as I've heard.

I am planning to build my own 20 gallon aquarium with dividers so they don't fight. I'm a newbie at Betta fish so I need some help.

What filter should I use?

The dividers will be made out of acrylic and will have holes in them so that the water won't be stuck in each individual cell.

I'm afraid that a hang on filter will just be limited to clean one area and not clean the whole tank.

Can anybody suggest me a filter model or brand? I'm planning to get a external filter. Maybe this one.

Also, what rocks can I use? Or should I use sand? Will sand somehow get stuck in the fish's gills and cause some health problems? I bought some pea gravel from Home Depot, is it safe for aquarium use?

For the tank, I'm building it out of 1/4" acrylic from Tap Plastics, they have the most affordable price for the acrylic stuff, if anyone can, suggest to me a better plastic provider. (There aren't any plastic providers in this city.)

Thanks.
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Old 07-20-2010, 08:32 PM   #2 
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Welcome!

Are the dividers going to be made of clear acrylic? I'm asking because if the bettas can see each other through them, it makes for a more stressful existence than if they cannot. If you don't like the look of opaque or mesh dividers, perhaps you could use two pieces of the thinnest acrylic available for each divider and place java moss between, creating a "java moss sandwich wall." It would keep ammonia levels under check between water changes and would provide an natural-looking and attractive yet opaque divider.

Sorry, the link you posted isn't working.

I currently have planted tanks rather than filters, but if I had to have filters for my bettas it would be sponge filters because bettas are stressed by strong water currents. You can put one on each side of the aquarium. This one seems to have good reviews on Amazon.com but there other sponge filters for cheaper:

http://www.amazon.com/AQUARIUM-TECHNOLOGY-INC-Sponge-Filter/dp/B0002602SM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1279674470&sr=1-2

Sand would be ok... I wouldn't use it because it look like it'll be hard to vacuum but there are people here who use sand in their bettas' tanks.

Pea gravel would also be ok as long as it's not alkaline. To determine this, immerse it in vinegar. If it fizzes, it's not aquarium safe. If it doesn't fizz, then it just needs to be cleaned before use. To clean you can immerse it in a bucket with about a half cup of potassium permanganate to disinfect, then rinse very, very well.

It's awesome that you're building your own tank! Hope we'll get to see pics of the finished product. :)
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Old 07-20-2010, 08:57 PM   #3 
thunderwaved
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RandomFish View Post
Welcome!

Are the dividers going to be made of clear acrylic? I'm asking because if the bettas can see each other through them, it makes for a more stressful existence than if they cannot. If you don't like the look of opaque or mesh dividers, perhaps you could use two pieces of the thinnest acrylic available for each divider and place java moss between, creating a "java moss sandwich wall." It would keep ammonia levels under check between water changes and would provide an natural-looking and attractive yet opaque divider.

Sorry, the link you posted isn't working.

I currently have planted tanks rather than filters, but if I had to have filters for my bettas it would be sponge filters because bettas are stressed by strong water currents. You can put one on each side of the aquarium. This one seems to have good reviews on Amazon.com but there other sponge filters for cheaper:

http://www.amazon.com/AQUARIUM-TECHNOLOGY-INC-Sponge-Filter/dp/B0002602SM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1279674470&sr=1-2

Sand would be ok... I wouldn't use it because it look like it'll be hard to vacuum but there are people here who use sand in their bettas' tanks.

Pea gravel would also be ok as long as it's not alkaline. To determine this, immerse it in vinegar. If it fizzes, it's not aquarium safe. If it doesn't fizz, then it just needs to be cleaned before use. To clean you can immerse it in a bucket with about a half cup of potassium permanganate to disinfect, then rinse very, very well.

It's awesome that you're building your own tank! Hope we'll get to see pics of the finished product. :)
Thanks for your information!

Yes, I was planning to have the dividers as clear acrylic, but now I'm considering some translucent acrylic, maybe this one. Will that work? If not, I'll buy the non transparent acrylic they have.

The link I was providing was a product page of "EHEIM Classic External Canister". An external filter.

I just got some pea gravel out of the huge bag I bought and put some vinegar, small bubbles popup, so I assume that it isn't safe. Thanks for telling me how to test it! I'll go pickup some gravel from a pet store.

I'll be sure to post some pictures after I'm done of my tank!

Thanks
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Old 07-20-2010, 09:06 PM   #4 
thunderwaved
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Also, I just read how sponge filters work, would I have to add some sort of bacteria for the sponge to work effectively?

What kind of pump would I use?
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Old 07-20-2010, 10:00 PM   #5 
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Regarding the colored transparent acrylic, the bettas would still be able to see each others' silhouettes through them and stress each other out. (But other than that, I think they would make pretty cool and unique tank dividers!)

Eheim is a good brand. I'd just be worried that the current from the external filter would be too strong for the bettas' comfort. If so, then you can modify the output to baffle the current and keep the bettas from being blown around.


A sponge filter would be attached to an air pump, which you can get for pretty cheap as well:

http://www.petco.com/product/14931/Tetra-Whisper-Air-Pumps.aspx?CoreCat=OnSiteSearch


For the bacteria - you can either buy it bottled or you could go to your local Petco and ask if you can soak your sponge filter with the nitrifying bacteria from their colonized tanks. Then you just need to keep the sponge immersed in water on the way home because the bacteria will die if dried.

Here are some bottled bacteria:

http://www.fosterandsmithaquatics.co...LAID=529175555
^That one may cost more than the others but you only need to use it once when setting up a new tank....the others require continual use to keep bacterial colonies going.

http://www.petco.com/product/111072/...t=OnSiteSearch

http://www.petco.com/product/111482/...t=OnSiteSearch
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Old 07-20-2010, 10:07 PM   #6 
thunderwaved
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Alright, I'm going with the sponge filters. :) Do you think the middle two columns will get equally clean as well?

The pump you gave me is for 10 gallon tanks, so I assume that if I buy two of them and use them on opposite sides, a 20 gallon tank would be fine?
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Old 07-20-2010, 11:11 PM   #7 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thunderwaved View Post
Alright, I'm going with the sponge filters. :) Do you think the middle two columns will get equally clean as well?

The pump you gave me is for 10 gallon tanks, so I assume that if I buy two of them and use them on opposite sides, a 20 gallon tank would be fine?
That's a good point about the two middle columns. The approach with filters on opposite ends of the aquarium would work on a tank divided in two. I think this might work then: Buy two air pumps each designed for 10 gallons, two T-valves, and four sponge filters. Hook up two sponge filters per air pump using the t-valve for the airline tubing. Then each section would have its own gentle filter.

But I don't think your original plan with the external filter is a bad choice! I can't say for sure whether the current would be too strong because I've never used one myself. All I can say is, I've used Tetra Whisper internal filters and when I set them to maximum strength, which was the only setting for which the intake was effective, it stressed out the betta after a while.

Have you had a chance to research heaters yet? If not, quite a few members here seem to favor Hydor Theo heaters because they're very reasonably priced, have adjustable thermostats, and are accurate and reliable. For a 20-gallon, you could use two 50w's, four 25w's, or one 100w. A filter is actually not necessary for bettas as long as the water is cleaned and the substrate is vacuumed regularly, but a heater is a must-have because they thrive in warm, stable temperatures.
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Old 07-20-2010, 11:43 PM   #8 
thunderwaved
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I just ordered the acrylic, I wanted to make it bigger so I made it 30 gallons. I'll be getting 2 20 gallon air pumps. :)

I'll go to PETCO and PetSmart tomorrow to see which place offers the parts cheaper. :)

Do I need a heater? The room temperature is about 80 F.
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Old 07-20-2010, 11:56 PM   #9 
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Oh that's wonderful! Those are some lucky fishies.

If the room temperature is always 80F with no drops overnight, then I guess you won't need a heater.

Well have fun shopping tomorrow!
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Old 07-21-2010, 12:04 AM   #10 
thunderwaved
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Thx

One more thing, I like the idea of the java moss sandwhiched wall you said earlier, however the dividers will have holes in them so that they don't interfere the current in which the filter is going to take in. Is it still a good idea? I'm afraid that the java moss will go out of the holes.
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