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Old 10-18-2010, 08:52 PM   #1 
peaches3221's Avatar
Join Date: May 2010
Location: New Jersey
Unhappy am I a bad fish owner? :'-(

everybody here has nice roomy, filtered, heated tanks with live plants for their bettas, and my two boys are stuck in half gallon tanks with cheap plastic plants at a chilly 74 degrees. I want to get them nicer tanks, but there are numerous reasons why I cant:
1. I'm 12 and can't afford even a 2.5 gallon aqueon mini bow which is close to $50!
2. I am a complete weakling and would not be able to lift it to clean it.
3. I am paranoid about glass tanks because of a previous incident of a glass jar breaking. (my fish was OK but it was scary! )
4. I don't have the slightest clue about cycling, and I'm afraid I would mess up and hurt my fish.
5. I tried to explain to my mom that a betta needs at lest two gallons, but she keeps insisting that what I have is "good enough" and says that a larger tank might "damage my dresser" (I love her, but she gets on my nerves sometimes! )
so what should I do? am I mistreating my fish? I figured at least a half gallon is better than those tiny cups at the store. I love my bettas and I feel really bad about keeping them in such small tanks. I saw that a user by the name of tharbepirates used a plastic animal craker jar as a tank, If I can find something like that that holds about one gallon (so that It wouldn't be too heavy to lift) would that be any better? oh, and sorry for the really long post lol!
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Old 10-18-2010, 09:04 PM   #2 
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Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: IE California
I'd try to upgrade them so they don't develop neurotic problems from boredom. If you got a bigger tank like 5 gallon you could do partial water changes [50-60%] a few times a week so you won't have to lift it c: [or even with a smaller tank that you want to do 100% changes on you can still cup for boys and siphon the tank into containers]

I know you said your afraid of glass tanks but they really aren't that weak and if you aren't shifting them about it won't be too much of a problem. [And they are rather cheap and since Betta's don't 'need' filters it would be a good way to go for now]. Also with more water you could eventually get them nice little heaters by saving up to make them even more happy. A step at a time since being young means limited funds.

You aren't a bad fish owner though hun. You want to do whats best for them and are being held back mostly by the lack of freedom that comes with being young. Maybe you can show your mom this site and get her to know the recommended 'minimum' for the fish and find the cheapest way to go about it.

Last edited by ForbiddenSecrets; 10-18-2010 at 09:11 PM.
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Old 10-18-2010, 09:19 PM   #3 
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Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Central Texas
Don't worry! There are some cheap ways to upgrade! :)

Look in kitchen sections of stores--one person here uses a giant 2 gallon plastic cookie jar, and some people have found other similar tubs and things that were cheaper than the tanks! Petco has some kritter keepers and you can find 2.5 gallons of them for decent prices!

You can't even really properly cycle anything under 5 gallons anyway, so until you move up in size, that isn't even something you need to worry about! It isn't as hard as it sounds-- Ammonia is bad, it is 'eaten' by NitrItes which is less bad but still bad, and those are eaten by NitrAtes! So you get enough ammonia to feed the nitrites, and when the nitrites build up the tank gets enough nitrates! With those good bacteria you will have fewer water changes because you have those invisible helpers eating away the ammonia for you!

As far as 'good enough' from your mother goes.. a 2.5 really isn't that big, and if it is one of these plastic not-really-a-fish-tank tanks.. they are light weight too! It wouldn't damage your dresser I don't think! And show your mom this site, I agree. if you can show her you can do this cheaply, and that it is better for your pets, she should come around!
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Old 10-18-2010, 09:26 PM   #4 
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: North Carolina
I just quickly skimmed so sorry if I repeat anything. I was 15 when I got into the hobby, there's plently of "cheap" ways to do things. Kritter Keepers are multiple gallon containers with lids sold at your local petsmart for under $10, those would be great for your guys! I have never cycled a tank and haven't had any problems. This may not be the best way to do it but everything has been fine for me. As for getting extra money, maybe ask if there are any extra chores you can do around the house? Maybe washing the car or something like that. As for being able to lift, you shouldn't need to lift entire tanks if you do partial water changes. Plus a two gallon kritter keeper is pretty light even with water in it. You are doing the best you can for your little fish and I'm sure they appreciate it! :) Just as ForbiddenSecrets says just take it one step at a time and gradually buy a larger tank, heater, etc. So over time you'll get to where you want with your fish! Trust me I started with one betta in a vase, now have 10 with 4 large tanks haha! Good luck, it'll all work out in the end! :) Oh and maybe ask for the tanks for Christmas, it's only 2 months away!
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Old 10-18-2010, 09:34 PM   #5 
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Join Date: May 2010
Location: Lincoln, NE
If you want a cheap 2.5 gal, I know Petsmart has basic glass ones for $15... Comes with a glass top... You'd have to buy the light seperately if you want it.

That's what Cameron has and he loves it. I get the being broke thing. It doesn't get much better lol
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Old 10-18-2010, 10:11 PM   #6 
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: North Carolina
as has been said, critter keepers are fairly cheap (you might have to save up and buy one at a time, but hey, you'll get there!) you could always voulenteer to do more chores also (if you get an allowance based on chores, this works great! :D)

you can also go to walmart and buy some sterite tubs that are pretty big for under $5, and i think you can heat those, so you can get a little $10 heater from petsmart!

if you're worried about something being too heavy, i completely understand. i'm weak, and when my 10 gal is filled with 7-10 pounds of gravel and even one gallon and i had to move it i about died, haha. but you can always take a little cup and empty water from the tank into a bucket until the tank is light enough for you to move to finish the wc. also, if your mother's worried about the dresser, just put a towel under the tanks, or you might want to suggest to her that you get a glass cover to put over it. it's just a sheet of glass cut to size that protects the wood under, and it shouldn't cost too much (depending on the size of your dresser)

i think you're a wonderful fish owner for being so concerned about your babies and wanting to make them as happy as possible!! :)
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Old 10-18-2010, 10:49 PM   #7 
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Florida
Hi! I have my fish in a 5 gallon uncycled (as of yet) tank with a filter. Lifting it for water changes is completely impossible for me, as I'm also really weak/small! Since it has a filter, I don't need to do 100% water changes, but if I did, I'd do it the same way!

Someone else mentioned siphoning - here's a more detailed description of what I do, in case you're not sure how to go about it.

For the sake of price (rather than buying a gravel vacuum), I use an 8 ft long bubbler tube (a tube for an air stone to go from pump to airstone - it's like 3 mm MAX in diameter). The tube was less than $2 at Petsmart. I put one end in a bucket on the floor, hold the other end in the tank, and suck just enough water on the end going in the bucket (yeah, with my mouth - oh no!) so that it juuuust reaches over the top of the lip of the tank. After that, it starts flowing on its own (you don't actually get any water in your mouth as long as you make sure to blow out any old water and clean the tube first). Now you have a siphon!

If you want to vacuum the gravel/substrate/whatever just kind of move it above the gravel/mix up the gravel a bit and point the siphon at the goodies. It's more powerful than you'd think. If you have small gravel, some gravel might get stuck in the siphon. Try to keep it far away enough from any gravel that this doesn't happen. Might have to cut a bit of the tube off if you can't wiggle a piece of gravel out. Of course, if you want to do 100% water changes, you can always just let the siphon run its course on its own, then carry the empty tank to the sink to rinse out the gravel and decorations. Or use a cup to empty the tank, but then you have to actively do something the whole time. ;)

BTW, I leave my fishy in there when I do my 50% water changes where I vacuum the gravel.

ALSO, I don't know how much you can afford, but I got my tank online from Walmart. It was 27 dollars (I think the price just went up to $30) and came with the five gallon tank, hood with light, and filter. Might be a good goal for you to save up to. I couldn't find any kit cheaper than that! You can have it shipped site to store for free if you can't pay online. Try to buy some aquarium filter sponge (I got some random Fluval stuff for some filter, it's basically just white sponge with pores; it was $5) to baffle the filter if you get that tank. I had to rubber band lots of sponge into the filter output waterfall.

My heater was $16.79 on Of course the price of that also just went up.

Remember that you don't have to get everything at once. You can even just buy a tank by itself then buy a separate filter later then buy the heater. The important part is just getting something big enough so that it's easier for you to maintain your fish's water quality, without breaking your back.

Don't feel too badly about leaving your little fishy in his small tank. Just make sure to keep up with your water changes. :) I think most of us have made the small tank mistake at some point!
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Old 10-19-2010, 12:07 AM   #8 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Northern Virginia
At least you acknowledge that there's room for improvement. That is the first step--some of the other suggestions posted were definitely helpful. You can save money on the tank by going with a kritter keeper, or even a rubbermaid/sterilite plastic storage bin, but don't go cheap on the heaters. This is where you need to invest more of your money and get a higher quality product. I recommend a 25 watt heaters with an adjustable thermostat, such as the hydor theo in the above post. Cheaper mini-heaters, heater pads, and pre-set heaters don't work well, and more than likely if you get those you'll end up throwing them out and getting an adjustable heater anyway. Don't waste the money. If you get tanks that are three gallons or larger, you can get sponge filters--these are only a few dollars and they can help you cycle your tanks along with live plants.
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Old 10-19-2010, 09:29 PM   #9 
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Marquette, Mi
When it comes to kritter keepers I know everyone's saying 2.5 gallons, but the stores seem to label them in inches, so how does that translate? I could really use an upgrade from what I have now, and I'm in a dorm so my options are limited.
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Old 10-19-2010, 09:40 PM   #10 
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Ontario
1. I'm a college student with no current job, so I feel you...fortunately, there are lots of cheap options. Any clear container (some already mentioned here), or critter keepers, which are a lot cheaper than tank kits.

2. No worries! It's not like I haul my 10 gallon around for cleaning too, epescially with 100 pounds of water in it. This is where a siphon and a bucket comes in handy.

3. So far I have had no problems with glass breaking. These things are durable, you know...Plastic tanks are fine too, though they are prone to scratching. Actually, it was my 5 gallon plastic tank that formed a huge crack.

4. That's what the forum is here for! You can ask questions, even if you think they are stupid ones. Everyone starts off somehwere! My first cycle (with fish in), was pretty intimidating, but both my fish and I got through it with the helpful advice of the members here.

5. A two gallon tank weighs around 20 pounds, I think. Most dressers should be able to hold that. Mine is holding my 10 gallon which, as I already said, is about 100 pounds! Show some care sheets to your mom and see if she changes her mind.

But in the current situation, you're doing the best you can. Don't be too hard on yourself.
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