Looking at the recent thread "How old are our betta fish lovers?" I noticed that many of our members are younger than 15! At this age, earning and saving money to take care of a betta can be a problem! In this thread I'll teach you how to have proper husbandry for a betta for as little money as possble!
Part .5 - The Introduction
First off, I must stress that you can't simply walk to the petstore and get a betta fish with no money. Yes, the fish itsself is under $10 (usually), but even in this budget thread, a couple bucks are going to be needed! Another thing, if your having a hard time funding to take care of one betta, DON'T BUY ANOTHER. I can't tell you (as a reptile rescuer) how many times I've had people who can't afford to feed their now-15 foot python because they thought it was "cool" to have a snake that size when they we're 25.
Part 1 - The Tank
Even though I could (probably) afford to have each of my bettas in an extravagant 10 gallon ultra-fancy tank with beautiful Malaysian Driftwood, I don't. I don't find the need nor have the time to take care and set up 12 10 gallon tanks. Check websites like Craigslist and go out yard-saling on the weekends. I, myself have found 100 gallon tanks for under $20! If you are unsuccessful at this, check your local pet store. Franchises like PetsMart and PetCo have "discount" cards so-to-speak that often offer discounts, but don't function as a credit card!! My PetPerks card can save me up to $20 when I spend up to $100 at PetsMart. Try going for a "Critter Keeper" or "Critter Tote." Lee's Aquarium Products also makes these acrylic tanks. However, even these can be a bit pricey. For the cheapest alternative, go to large grocery stores like Wal-Mart, Meijer, Target, etc. (my favourite is Kmart - its very cheap!!). Look for Tupperware containers, glass jars, things like that, often found in the "House Storage" or "Kitchen" sections. Because most of the latter (Tupperware) comes in Liters or Quarts, here's a conversion website - http://www.gallonstoliters.com/
Part 2 - The Heater
Here's one of the more expensive parts of betta care, the heater. The "Hydor Mini Aquarium Heater" works great for tanks under 5 gallons, and it only costs about $12.99! This is also probably considered crucial, even though most pet stores keep their bettas at room temperature. Also, a cheap aquarium thermometer costs anywhere from $.99 to $5, the more expensive one being more exact, however the cheaper one will give you a "in the ballpark" estimate.
Part 3 - The Decor
Decor can make aquariums "pretty" but the fancy stuff isn't necessary. For a hiding spot, try using an old coffee mug. I went to my neighborhood value store and found coffee mugs for $.25 a piece! Be sure to pay attention to the mug to see if its chipping or pealing. Once you get home, soak it in very hot water, and voila! You've got a hiding spot. Next under the "decor" is plants. To be honest, live plants can be just as cheap/expensive as fake ones. Top Fin (I believe) makes "betta bulbs" containing 3 plants for about $3.99! Another option is going to your petstore and asking for a small clipping. Large chains such as PetsMart o PetCo probably won't do this, however my small local pet store gave me a clipping of java moss for $.99! If you opt for fake plants, be sure to check if their silk. Plastic can damage your betta's beautiful tails, and thats not cool is it? Next is gravel. Aquarium gravel can be expensive, and some may argue it's necessary. I believe that, while it is aesthetically pleasing, its not completely
necessary. Some may argue on this thread, but please take a step back and understand while betta's are amazing, it's just a fish, it doesn't need a pearl mansion
. If you opt for gravel, go for small bags. I believe Top Fin's small gravel bags are $2.99.
Part 4 - The Filter
Filtration is almost a neccessity, as it make the tank clean and pretty. My favourite is the Tetra Whisper PF10 Filtration System. At PetCo, this is about $15.00. This is one thing in betta-care that's gonna cost you a bit of money. This filter is good for 5-10 gallon aquariums. For smaller aquariums, the Tetra Whisper Internal Power Filter for 2-10 gallon aquariums costs about $13.00. Again, check expos, value stores, and the internet for deals.
Part 5 - The Misc.
Water test kits cost about $30.00 and are pretty much necessary, but PetsMart offers free water testing. This can be used as an alternative, as the test stripes aren't very accurate. Gravel vacuums aren't 100% necessary unless you have gravel, but the smallest ones are under $5.00 at my LPS. Fish food also is inexpensive, with Top Fin betta pellets being the (IMO/E) best cheaper fish food. Also, to add some variety to their diets, try dehydrated food instead of live bloodworms. Skeeter larvae are great too, and in most places in summer can be found by leaving a bucket of warm water outside over night!
Part 6 - The Goodbye
I may of forgot something, however I hope this thread helped our younger or on-a-budget betta keepers take care of their fishies while saving a few bucks! Remember like I said earlier, it isn't going to be free!