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Old 07-31-2011, 09:03 PM   #1 
Nat
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Alabama
New and need advice for a 3.5 gallon filtered aquarium

Hi!

I've been reading several of the guides on this website and feel lucky to have found it!

I need some advice/suggestions on the care of my new aquarium. I purchased a 3.5 gallon filtered led light aquarium yesterday along with a beautiful blue and red crowntail male betta (no name picked out yet). My husband and I have six dogs and while we're pretty well educated as to the ways of the canine world it's been a long, long while since either of us have kept fish. We purchased a 5 pound bag of a natural looking black gravel as well as a live plant for the habitat just to get started. PetSmart was dead wrong about the water temp. though so I'm back tomorrow after work to pick up a heater as well as a water testing kit. So anything I need to know about picking out an appropriately sized/powered heater?

Also, the Pet Smart aquarium we purchased had a filter that proved to be much too strong. That's actually how I found this website I was looking for advice regarding filters. I found the thread/post on making a baffler for the filter and it worked like a charm (and in under 5 minutes too) so I can't say thanks enough for that!

A few questions..... I've seen a lot of posts on changing on water on small unfiltered tanks and I've seen quite a few posts for 5 gal. aquariums. How and how often and how much water should I change out? Also, I plan on purchasing a suction vacuum for cleaning before time for the first one to be done so will this impact the changing of the water?

Another question, I have the tank placed in an area that receives only indirect sunlight. The led lights in the hood can be set to change color. I am not overly fond of that and I prefer the setting that mixes all of the colors together which produces a clear look - the fish seems to like that one better too. Is LED ok for the betta or would another light source be better? Also, I prefer and would rather have live plants so any advice there regarding light source and how live aquatic plants do with LED lighting? And how long should I leave the lights on? I'm opting for leaving them off in the day while we're away at work (there is plenty of ambient, indirect sunlight) and then cutting them on when we get home. Should I leave them on at night as well (we usually leave a small table lamp - night light on in the room anyway)? Also, floating plants - any that would be ideal for the betta but that wouldn't be too easy for me to kill with my non-green thumb?

Also I saw where someone posted a question regarding green tea in the tank? Sounds interesting. She was asking about placing a tea bag in some water and then pouring the water in the tank or placing the bag directing in the tank. I have some fresh loose green tea (yerba mate) that I purchased from an herbal store online and green tea is not all created equal. So would a few leaves of this tea brewed and then added to the water be a good idea or a few leaves scattered in the tank and if so how much????

Also, any ideas/suggestions regarding salt, other preventative care, etc....? I saw where someone recommended using salt and others say that it can harm their kidneys. Also, what's the deal with the epsom salt? Is this used just to treat a sick fish or can it also be used preventatively.

Also, I have purchased a pellet all around food to use as his staple diet and I plan on buying a tub of the dried bloodworms as well for a treat. I saw on this site something about brine shrimp, etc... being used as food as well. What would be best? I've missed having an aquarium for several, several years now so I want to turn this poor little fish from the plastic cup into a real beauty. He has the tank to himself and I'm planning on keeping it this way but would a few shrimp or whatever in the bottom be beneficial in helping to remove waste material and keep his new pad healthy or can I just skip that???? Any help is much appreciated!
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:32 AM   #2 
Oldfishlady
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Welcome to the forum and to the wonderful world of Betta keeping....

In a 3.5gal filtered tank....water changes of 50% twice a week...1-50% water only and 1-50% to include the substrate by vacuum or stir and dip method...First water change 50% water only needs to be on or about day 3 of setup....

Active growing live plants can change the water change needs to 1-50% weekly....this depends on species, number and growth state of plants...

The smaller filtered/unplanted tanks will establish a nitrogen cycle, however, due to limited surface area the cycle is not stable and twice weekly water changes are still needed to maintain water quality....

Filter media-needs a rinse/swish in old tank water with a water change a couple of times a month

Be sure and try to keep water temp for water changes within a couple of degrees between new and old water

Always use dechlorinator with any new water added to the tank
Dose the dechlorinator for the full volume of the tank-not just the amount of replacement water.

You may or may not need a heater....but its a good idea to have one on hand....your goal is to maintain a somewhat stable temp in the 76-80F range

You do need a thermometer to monitor the water temp in the tank and for the replacement water used for water changes....

LED lights...I have never used LED lights and don't know how well they are for live plants.....In the CFL bulbs you want 6500k bulbs for best plant growth.....often failure with live plants are due to the wrong lights.
Photoperiod for live plants-10-12h

Betta need a day and night schedule.....without live plants the lights are for you to view the fish and can be on an off like you have planned, except I would turn them off at night for at least 6-8h so the Betta can rest....

Nutrition-you want high quality varied diet fed in small frequent meals-buy the smallest containers you can find of several different kinds of foods and replace every 6mo-1yr

You don't want or need salt long term-both Aquarium salt and Epsom salt are great to use for treatments as needed-when used for the right reason, dosage and duration

If you want to add tannins-IAL (Indian almond leaf) you can get online or Oak leaf (native Oak trees)...if you use green tea be sure it is decaf..if you have carbon in the filter it will remove the tannins-
Tannin use-Its a great product for treatments, stress, however, some don't like to use it long term but only because it tans the water....I personally like the look of amber colored water...

Look forward to pics.....

Last edited by Oldfishlady; 08-01-2011 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 08-01-2011, 10:50 AM   #3 
SmokeNLark
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First, welcome to the forum! :)

-Heaters have the gallons they are recommended for on the box. Adjustable ones are better. They are more accurate and if your fish gets sick, it's easy to get the temp up. Don't forget a thermometer!

-Water changes should be weekly. Vacuums are great for getting all the gunk out of the gravel. They don't change the water change schedule, but take out all of the stuff that could be rotting in your tank. You may not be able to achieve a stable cycle in a 3 gallon. For an unfiltered 3 gallon, the water changes are 100% and 50% weekly. I would do a 50% change and an 80% change each week if I were you. I'd also get a test kit to keep an eye on the water perimeters to see if it cycles or not.

-As for lights and plants. Bettas themselves do not need any specific light. Ambient light or LEDs are fine. Turning the light on when you get home is fine. But if you want plants, the LED won't do you much good. It is possible with the ambient light to have plants. You just have to make sure they are very hardy and low light. My dad have a tank with halogen light (not good for plants) and he still is able to have low light plants. And I have a 5 gallon with incandescent light (which isn't for plants) and mine do fine. If you want to get into more complicated plants, they need florescent lighting. Any plant is good for bettas. Just make sure they will survive. Oh, and don't leave the light on at night. Bettas are like any other animal where they need a light cycle to rest properly. They do sleep at night.

-I am not sure about the tea. So, wait for someone with more knowledge on that subject to come along. :)

-My opinion on AQ salt is that it should only be used in the event of a disease/wound/parasite/etc. It can harm kidneys if used constantly. Bettas are freshwater fish, not brackish or salt water. I also feed that the fish can build up a tolerance to it when constantly used. This makes it less effective when you need it. I believe the best preventative care is clean water and a good diet. Epsom salt is not used as a preventative. And I have only seen it recommended to treat popeye.

-Pellets are the best staple food. Just make sure the first ingredients are protein- based and not wheat or something- bettas are carnivores. Freeze dried bloodworms are a good treat. A varied diet is best for bettas. It's not necessary, but I like feeding frozen bloodworms and frozen brine shrimp. They have much more nutrients than freeze dried (although I feed those as well).Bettas love their frozen food!

-Shrimp are fun to watch. I love them. They don't help all that much with cleaning. They will keep stuff out of moss, which tends to collect junk though. The think I love about shrimp is that they have almost no bioload. Which means, even if you have a fully stocked tank, you can still squeeze in shrimp. haha. Just be warned that your betta may find them to be a tasty snack. Some do, some don't. But ghost shrimp are cheap, fun, and cute, so why not try them? It's up to you. :)

Hope that helped!
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Old 08-01-2011, 12:25 PM   #4 
Nat
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Thank you both so much for the wonderful advice!!!! You've both just made me feel a lot less nervous and much more at ease with taking care of this little guy and made me realize that the size of the tank and not just the fact that it has a filter has a lot to do with the care of the tank. I was hoping for only a weekkly water change by getting something with a filter!!!! Oh well.

I've also just been convinced that given my lack of green thumb combined with the wrong light setup that came in the hood (and my lack of interest in changing it right now - maybe later I really don't like the look of them anyway to be honest) that I need to go with artificial silk plants!!!! Every once in a while I get this idea that I can garden (it usually doesn't go very well).

I'll leave the salt alone and I think I'll experiment with adding in some Indian almond leaf with the next order I place to the online herbal store that I buy from for our supplements/teas. So glad that oldfishlady mentioned that this can be done temporarily as I could just make it a couple of times a month thing - also I'll check and see if there is carbon in the filter - pretty sure there is.

Also thanks for mentioning that I need to re-condition the water for the size of the entire tank and not just the new amount that I am adding - I would seriously never have thought of that!!!! I was afraid of over-conditioning the water when I first set it up! Is that a possibility - can you over-condition the water or am I just being paranoid????

SmokeNLark where do I find frozen bloodworms / brine shrimp? Will PetSmart/Petco carry this and if they do is it in a certain section or will I have to ask for this from a sales person?

And one last question which type of thermometer is best - the kind that sticks to the side of the tank or the ones that actually go in the water? Should I get maybe one of each - the only reason I like the kind that sticks to the side is because I can just give it a quick look and check it much more often. Any ideas?

Again, thank you so much both for all of the advice!!!!!!
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Old 08-01-2011, 03:23 PM   #5 
Oldfishlady
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Glad we could help.....

And true.....regardless of tank volume-without proper care you can have problems......
To be a good keeper of fish you must first be a good keeper of water......

Thermometer-I use the stick on the tank type and a digital type I found in the house ware dept of the store....much cheaper than the ones labeled "aquariums"...lol...seems if it has aquarium on it....it may cost 3-4 times more...lol.....same with light bulbs......since I keep soil based natural planted tanks I have to change out my bulbs every 6mo-1yr....so I use/buy all my bulbs from the lighting dept.....the goal with planted tanks is using the proper color spectrum/wave length.....Kelvin is more important than watts.....I buy/use the GE brand "daylight" 6500k.....cost depending on length-$5-6.00

Frozen fish foods are usually found in the freezer at the pet shop
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Old 08-01-2011, 04:44 PM   #6 
SmokeNLark
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I have thermometers that go inside the tank and attach with a suction cup. They are about $2 and very accurate.

Pet stores have frozen foods. They have a freezer by the fish. It's all in there. :)
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Old 08-02-2011, 05:19 PM   #7 
Nat
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Thanks so much again. I didn't see a frozen anything in our local pet store last night but then again we had to meet up with someone so didn't have too much time to look around so I'll probably just ask someone next time we go in. Picked up a themometer last night and it's running a few degrees under where it ought to be. I looked at heaters but couldn't find one that I liked. I found one that was 10 watt I believe and the packaging said it was ideal for tanks under 5 gallons. But it also said that it only raises the temperature approx. 7 degrees higher than the room temp. The problem with that is that we usually leave the house fairly cool in the winter -all of our dogs are larger breed and like cool weather so if we leave the house in Jan. or Feb. and it's dropped to 50 some odd degrees inside we're not worried about it because the dogs are very, very, very happy at that temp. We just heat up the house with propane when we get home (and we'll be back in the low 70s range in approximately 10 to 15 minutes) and it helps save on the bills. Plus I couldn't find an adjustable heater - the size appropriate heaters I found said that they are pre-set to 78 degree - ughhhh. I wish I could find a smaller heater that is adjustable and will give me a broader range as far as heating options go - oh well, the search continues....
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