I got my fish, Smaug, sometime last year. I think it was in April of last year. Anyways, I first had him in a 1 gallon with a silk plant. I did frequent water changes, but his fins started to disappear. Almost too late I realize that it was the plant that was tearing his fins, despite being silk it still had plastic bits. After nearly killing him with a salt bath, he survived and started to heal. I got a 2 gallon glass bowl for my birthday. However, the heater I had before no longer got his bowl into the high 70's or low 80's, and he became lethargic. Doing water changes on the 2 gallon became very difficult after I injured my shoulder, as I was doing 100% water changes and had to carry the bowl back and forth. I did this weekly, but sometimes let it go longer because it was such a pain. I eventually moved him back to the 1 gallon, and he perked up because he was warmer and I was able to keep up on the water changes better. However, disassembling the tank 2 times a week was too much work, so over spring break (April 2011) I decided to try to fix my betta problem once and for all!
I found my 2 gallon glass bowl, a real heater (where you set the temp!), and I made a sponge filter. Because of the heater and filter, tearing down the tank is no longer practical so I do 50% water changes a few times a week with a siphon and old pitcher. It is soooo easy. He is once again healthy and happy, and I am happy that he is healthy! His fins are growing back, though I never expect them to grow back to full length. Obviously I would like to keep him in a 5 gallon, but I have yet to find a 5 gallon drum fishbowl that is A: Glass, and B: The same shape as the one he is in now. If you know of one, let me know! Anyways, what you are really here for, pics:
There is plastic wrap on the top to keep him from jumping out, but it is vented for fresh air. The good thing about the plastic wrap is it does create a greenhouse effect so he breathes in warmer air, instead of the cooler air of my room. The filter is hidden by his house, but you can see the bubbles coming from it.
I started by taking a filter sponge for a filter that hangs off the back (Hagen 50 filter I think...), and cut it in half. Then I stuck a knife almost all the way through it to create a hole to put an airstone in. I found a suction cup that must have been for an old heater. The airstone is hooked up to an air pump, and ta-da, instant filter! If anyone tries to make one, just don't forget to put a safety valve on the tubing so that if there is a power outage you don't ruin your air pump.
How does this work? My understanding is that when the air leaves the sponge, water flows in to replace it. The sponge also provides a home for beneficial bacteria, which help to break down toxins in the tank. As mentioned before, this only helps it, it does not remove all toxins, and it dose not eliminate the need for water changes.
Here is a picture of Smaug taken today. He likes to rest on the leaves of the plant he has now. I call it 'playing dolphin' because it reminds me of how dolphins come out of the water at shows. Could anyone tell me what color he is? I am not sure if his body is considered marble or not... Thank you!
Haha. My mom has had fish for years, so we have a ton of spare parts laying around the house, so I built the filter from stuff I found. I was so frustrated with not being able to keep the tank clean that I just said to myself, "I will MacGyver something, ANYTHING, in order to keep this fish healthy and not break my back daily to do it!!!"
The tank is already cycled, but yes, I did cycle it with him in it. It got really cloudy the first day, so I did a 40% water change (it's how much my bucket fills up ). I think I did that every day for the first week, and now I am down to about 3 times a week.
That filter is brilliant! Super easy, and it sounds like it works great!
Your little guy is adorableeee! Love him!
I don't know if you have one near you, but I've seen big HUGE fish bowls (I think they are actually vases, but they are fish bowl-ish) at Michaels the craft store. I can't remember if they were round, or if they were drum shaped though. :/ Maybe check them out though.
I really do need to test the water. *cough* I do not have a full spectrum test kit, but I can certainly test the ammonia, and I think we have either a nitrite or nitrate test kit somewhere. Maybe we have both. It has been a long time since a new tank has been set up, most of our tanks are 5+ years old so we only test for ammonia and PH. I will go check right now. As for time, I think it was less than a week. Because it is so small it is not truly cycled like a big tank.
I got the cave at my LFS. It was $10!, but worth it because there is no way at all a betta could snag a fin. I actually went back and got a white one for a betta tank I plan on setting up in a few months. I tried looking online but could not find hardly any ceramic fish tank pieces, let alone one that looks like the ones I have. :(
What exactly does rosetail mean? He is pretty either way. And what is his color? Do his markings make him marble, or spotted, like a cow. lol.
@kathstew: I remember seeing some giant ones at Walmart, but they were super thin glass. I will have to see what Michaels has. Though since I do not move his bowl much any more I could probably go for a thinner bowl, especially if it means I do not have to clean it as much.
That being said, I remember when I first put him in the 2 gallon he was so afraid. I don't think he ever had that much space! It would be fun to see him in something bigger.