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Old 02-09-2011, 12:45 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: New York
Question Questions, questions, questions.

Hello everyone,

I have a few questions, hoping someone can answer.

First know that the Betta we are PLANNING to get is for my youngest son. He received a couple of goldfish in a bowl for a birthday over a year ago. These goldfish died within the month. He was devasted. Blamed himself, confidence was was awful. He has since written a report on Bettas for school and has begged for one ever since. It was his only request from Santa this year.

So Santa bought him a tank, gravel, and decorations and stuff. Told him to prepare for the fish. My son is soooo excited!!! you can see how my husband and I want to do this right the first time out. Neither one of us have owned any fish before....if you don't count the unfortunate goldfish last year.

We have gotten a 5 gallon tank with heater and filter. It is an Aqueon Mini Bow with attached filter. Has a hood and a light. The heater is an adjustable 25w heater by Topfin. We started out with a thermometer strip but questioned its accuracy and now have a submersible one also. Water temp is at 80/82. We have gravel and a structure that looks like Fred Flintstones house. My son also bought a decoration that is a submarine/underwater vehicle looking thing because his fish is gonna need a car to go with his house. Ha Ha. There are also two fake plants in the tank. Yes kind of crowded but still plenty of room for one Betta.

We rinsed everything out with only very hot water and then set the tank up. We have put a piece of raw shrimp inside a mesh bag in the tank to let the tank cycle. We run the heater, filter and light as if a fish was in the tank.

Now my questions, but first let me thank all of you who have posted here...I have learned a lot and I am so appreciative of the information you have shared. Thank you, thank you! Couldn't have gotten this far without you.

1. Is water too hot? Should I lower the temp a bit? The house drops to 62 at night downstairs where the tank is located and goes up to 70 during the day. The thermometer says the temp is still the I trust it?

2. I have not done any water changes while the tank cycles. Is this correct? Should I be doing water changes to help it along?

3. Do I need to do a FULL water change when the tank is done cycling or just a partial?

4. For a 5 gallon filtered tank, how often do I need to do water changes? I was thinking 25% to 50% weekly with a full water change once a month. Am I off?

5. Okay, so tank is building up "good" bacteria and killing off "bad" bacteria. Once "good" bacteria is set up and going won"t I be removing it all and starting over if I do FULL water changes? Will I need to do FULL water changes once the tank is established?

6. I haven't used a water conditioner. I have a bottle of PRIME but it gives amount for a 50 gallon tank. I would have to use 0.5mL for 5 gallons but with all the stuff in the tank, I don't think there is 5 gallons of water. How much, if any, should I use? How do you guys, with smaller tanks, measure it out? Do you guess? Use droppers? I obtained a medicine dropper from the pharmacy but the smallest amount was 1mL. Would be hard to measure out amounts less than that.

7. Planning on getting our fish from PETCO but there is also a Petsmart down the street. Should I buy elsewhere if I want a nice healthy one? Any reccomendations?

I can't disappoint my son again. At least not so fast. If we can make his Betta last at least 6 months if not more....I will consider it a success. He understands that we are taking it slow, making sure we do this right. So any advices, comments, suggestions, are soooo appreciated.

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Old 02-09-2011, 02:14 PM   #2 
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Wow, soulds like you're doing everything good so far. Unfortunately gold fish need 20 gallon tanks at least, pet stores like to misinform :(

For your questions-

1. That is a good temperature. And yeah, trust the thermometer. The job of the heater is to keep the tank at a steady temp no matter what the room temp is. The heater only switches on when the water is getting colder. It has it's own thermometer in it that tells it when to heat and when not to.

2. Your right to not do water changes, the ammonia that builds up is what starts the cycle. There's no fish or anything, so theres nothing for the ammonia to hurt.

3. A partial will be fine. I would change 75%

4. Your water change schedule sounds great!

5. The good bacteria live in the filter, gravel and decorations, not in the water itself. 100% changes will not kill your bacteria.

6. Add 2 drops of Prime per gallon. That dose is written on the smaller bottles. I would add it now, so you don't forget later and add a fish without dechlorinated water. I have the big bottle though, so i pour a bit into the cap and then into the tank so it drips.

7. Both of those stores have good fish. It depends more on your particular store. Some take good care of their bettas, some don't. has the best bettas around, but they require shipping, which is an extra $35 at least. I have one from Thailand and I love him, but I also have pet store bettas and they are wonderful as well. I would recommend just picking out a healthy looking one at either store though. Pick an active one with bright colors (the store is a stressful place, so it will probably brighten up after its home), with abnormalities.

Welcome to the forum! :)
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Old 02-09-2011, 02:49 PM   #3 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Welcome to the forum and what a neat thing to do for your son....this is a great hobby the whole family can enjoy.....

It sounds like you are off to a good are you checking the water you have a test kit, strips or using the pet shop?

With fishless cycling it is important to monitor the levels to maintain the ammonia and to tell you when you are cycled....

Fishless cycle you don't need to make water changes-once the nitrogen cycle has established (4-8weeks) I would make a 50% water change and vacuum and add the Betta

If you didn't add the dechlorinator when you first setup the tank with the fishless cycle-it may have your water pram numbers and I can help you out...the nitrifying bacteria needed to cycle can be killed by chlorine/chloramine

Once cycled and you have your Betta: In a 5gal cycled, filtered tank-regular weekly 50% water changes with substrate vacuuming should maintain water quality
Once cycled you don't need to make 100% water changes

Filter media needs a swish/rinse in old tank water a couple of times a month and when the water flow slows to get the big pieces of gunk off to maintain water want the filter media to look dirty...this is good bacteria....

When you go to look for your Betta-call the pet shop to find out when the next shipment is due and go that day to pick the Betta-look for a vibrant colored fish that is active, put him next to another male and see if he flares and sometimes they will make a bubble nest in their little cups....this is good...pick the one that is full of color, life, aggressive, flares, bubble nest, fins and scales intact and swimming for one that seem to be side swimming or buoyancy problems...avoid these....

Look forward to pic and to hear more about your sons new excited for him.....keep us posted and we will be happy to help and answer all the questions you have....
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Old 02-09-2011, 02:54 PM   #4 
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Just want to add my "WElCOME" also and "CONGRATS" on the new set-up and fish. :)

ALWAYS listen to OldFishLady - she will NEVER steer you wrong!!! :) :) :)
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Old 02-09-2011, 10:45 PM   #5 
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Thanks for the warm welcome :)

@SmokeNLark - thanks for the Prime formula. I will use the 2 drops per gallon measurement.

@Oldfishlady-thanks for the advice about calling ahead for when I pick up our new addition. Wonderful suggestion, will do that when the time comes! Thanks!

Here are my water pram numbers:
I have been using API freshwater kit to test the water. We set up our tank on Sat 1/29 and added the shrimp the next day on 1/30. So we are barely coming on two weeks here.

I tested my tap water just out of the tap.
PH - 7.6
High Range PH - 7.4
Ammonia - 0 /0.25ppm
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 0

On Monday 1/31
PH -7.6
High Range pH - 8.2
Ammonia 0 /0.25ppm
Nitrite - 0
Nitrate - 5.0

On Thursday 2/3
ph- 7.6
High Range pH- 8.2
Ammonia 0.50 /1.0 ppm
Nitrite - 0 / 0.25ppm
Nitrate - 5.0 ppm

Today Wed 2/9
Ph 7.6
High Range ph - 8.2
Ammonia 2.0ppm
Nitrite - 0.25ppm
Nitrate - 10 / 20ppm (I can't tell the difference between these two colors lol!)

Surprised my pH went up from initial base test. Is that normal? Maybe I did the first one wrong? Otherwise I see Ammonia and Nitrite rising and also Nitrate. I should be seeing Ammonia and Nitrite drop back down, correct? I will wait to add Prime till I hear from you. I don't want to interrupt anything by adding it or hinder anything by not adding it, so please advise.

My son, who is 9, has already named his fish-to-be "Siame". I know, very original :) Right now he is happy with the shrimp in the bag. "Shrimpy" The water filter moves the strings of the yeah "Shrimpy" is his pet.....for now. Haha!

Thanks again for your help.
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Old 02-10-2011, 09:45 AM   #6 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
It may be something in the tank that is causing the pH to rise....the Betta will adapt to your pH...I wouldn't try to change it with chemicals...

Yes, you should start to see the ammonia/nitrite drop...I am surprised that you already are showing nitrate this may have a completed cycle in no time....
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Old 02-10-2011, 10:03 AM   #7 
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Hey there! :D Welcome to the forums! I hope you enjoy your stay here! =]

I love how you've set everything up so far and that you've done a lot of research on your own to figure out what needs to be done and you're doing it right the first time around! this warms my heart along with the touching story about your son! <3

As for the water conditioner question:

I wouldn't add PRIME while you're cycling as that might stall your cycle. Prime is a GREAT water conditioner (wish I had it) but it also removes ammonia which is what you really want in your fishless cycle. :/

I'd pick up some Jungel Start Right water conditioner from Walmart next time you're there! =] It's cheap, you measure it in teaspoons or capfuls, and it won't remove your ammonia. =]

Once your tank is cycled, before you add your fish for the first time, THEN I'd start adding your prime. =]

BUT take my advice with a grain of salt because every time I've attempted to cycle previously I've done something to ruin everything!

So I'm avoiding cycling for now by heavily planting my tanks. :'D

So I'd wait and see what other posters say about the issue. =]

As OFL (Oldfishlady) said earlier it seems by your readings that you'll have a cycled tank in no time! =] Good luck! And I can't wait to hear more about your tank, future pet, and your son! =]

Again welcome to the forums and I hope you have a great stay with us! =]
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Old 02-10-2011, 02:56 PM   #8 
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Thanks for the advice!

I won't add the PRIME...yet, but definitely before I add the Betta. I will try to get to Walmart and see if I can't get that Jungel Start Right Wallywestisthebest333 mentioned. Hopefully this weekend.

You guys have given me more confidence in this project, thank you! I will now be patient and wait for the tank to finish cycling. Hopefully it will continue as it as been and should see results soon. It is only a 5 gallon after it should be a little bit quicker, no?

Once I get the little guy settled and alive I will try step at a time, lol!

Thanks again :)
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Old 02-10-2011, 03:27 PM   #9 
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Prime binds with ammonia and changes it to ammonium- both plants and nitrifying bacteria can still use it in this forum, however, testing products can't tell the difference so you may still have reading for ammonia...ammonium is harmless to the fish...using Prime will not stall the nitrogen cycle......the chlorine and chloramine in the tap water can be harmful to the nitrifying bacteria....this is why you also don't want to use un-treated tap water on your filter media to clean/rinse-it kills the good bacteria and you can experience ammonia spikes or mini cycles...

With the low levels of ammonia in your tap water-Prime is a good choice for your dechloranator needs.

Did you add a cycling product or any other additives to the tank
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Old 02-10-2011, 05:39 PM   #10 
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^^^^ I forgot about that. See I can be TOTALLY wrong sometimes. Hope you see this before you go to the store. If not then I hope you see this in time to take the jungle start right back.

Good luck with your cycle! =]
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