Last weekend I suddenly became the caretaker of two bettas, that were given to me by a friend who has moved overseas. She had them in small vases with just gravel, and all week I have been researching how to improve their fishy lives!!
After I wandered around pet shops looking at aquariums, and price tags, and wondering "what the heck have I gotten myself into", my husband had a chat with a different pet shop employee and snagged this secondhand aquarium for $20 :D
(the round vase thing on the right side is what one of the bettas lives in, the other fish is in a similar vase. And yes the plastic plant is outside of it - lol! I just got it, haven't cleaned it yet.)
I measured it, and it looks to hold about 8.5 liters, which - if this online conversion website is right (my metric brain doesn't do gallons!) - seems to be 2.4 US gallons total.
So, it's not large, but it would be a vast improvement over the fish's current living quarters.
It came with 3 dividers, but instead of having 4 tiny compartments I only want to split it into 2, to give each of them more individual room.
Now come the questions
Warning, I'm a bit of a fish noob! My parents had a large aquarium with goldfish when I was growing up, but it was more their fish than mine, and I've never kept bettas before.
- Any recommendations for cleaning a secondhand aquarium? I haven't touched it yet. It's made of glass. I know soap/detergents and any traces of chemicals are an absolute no-no. I've looked it up online and apparently cleaning with salt or vinegar is safe?
- I have no idea of this aquarium's history. It came with gravel, but the safest idea would be to get new gravel, yes? Can fish diseases lurk in old dry gravel?
- The divider is also made of glass. When inserted, it has notches on the sides to hold it into place, however it has no holes, and only a 2mm gap on either side. So, not a good idea for water flow. So what CAN I get/make to get water flowing through, yet make sure the fishies can't see each other through it?? Having the notches at the top, is it necessary to secure it with silicone on the sides (which sounds like it would be a pain during water changes)?
- With a partition in the middle... where the heck does the heater go? Just hang it on one of the sides and make sure water can flow through?
- Is a 25W heater (smallest I could find) ok for this tank? (never actually dealt with a heater before, as my only previous fish experience was with goldfish.)
- No idea what to do about lighting yet (it didn't come with a lid). I may see if the pet shop has any sort of lid that could fit this.
- The all-important cycling. How exactly do I prepare the aquarium for the fish? I know the water needs to settle for about a week before introducing them... however, online resources say that the nitrogen cycle can only happen with fish inside to start the process. But if they're in there enduring the necessary spikes in the chemicals, is that a good thing??? Do you do a water change every time you see one of the chemicals start to spike dangerously?
(I do have Aqua-Cycle drops and a tap water chemical neutraliser, from my friend.)
- Aforementioned plastic plants. Do they need to be cleaned - should I just rinse them with water and they'd be good to go?
ok... that's probably enough questions outta me for now! O_O