Originally Posted by dont4gettobreathe
My friend gave me a Betta for my birthday and I've been keeping her in a small gallon fish bowl for the past few months. I've been wanting to get a new tank but money is tight (I'm a grad student living off loans). But I recently acquired a 50 gallon tank for free. I have a few concerns (sorry for all the noob questions- I am completely inexperienced! lol). Please feel free to refer me to other sources as well!
1) The tank has been sitting in a damp basement for a while and I feel like I should give it a good cleaning - is there anything I can use? I know soaps and bleach are no no's so I was wondering if there was any product that can be safely used?
2) What is the best way to transition my fish to the new (very) large tank? I've read things about putting a floating bag with her in it in the tank?
3) What kind of heater should I get and are there any precautions with heaters? Any types of heaters that I should not get?
4) And the really noob question: how do I clean this huge tank?! haha It's so easy now with doing the once a week water change. Do I need to do something like this with the large tank? What about filters?
5) Are there any other accessories I should have in the tank? (I know about having lots of rocks, plants, things to hide in and explore, etc.)
6) Also if I wanted to add other fish to the tank, when would be the best time to do that?
Thank you soooo much for any help. I love my new little Betta and I want to make sure she is happy and healthy!
First off, it's good that you're asking so much! Most people assume or think they know and their fish suffers.. so good job!
The problem with most cleaners is the ammonia in them.. pet stores sell ammonia free and fish safe aquarium cleaners. Me? HOT water (too hot for you) soak for 10-30 mins, then a scrub down with a diluted vinegar/water solution with super warm water (that you can handle), then a scrub down with just water until you're sure all the vinegar is out, and another soak. If your weather is good, drying out in the sun will help kill off anything harmful. It'll save you money! Just give yourself a couple hours.
You will have to acclimate your fish to the water. Just keep her in a container with her old water, then slowly add in the new water over a course of time until it is all new tank water. Generally takes me 30 mins. I would float her, too, or put her into a large container in the tank so she isn't in shock when placed in that large of a tank. It's better for her to see it first! Have lots of hidey holes! If she isn't a strong swimmer, you may want to lower the water level at first until she's used to the size. Taking my girl from her 2.5 to the 10 she was struggling a bit to get to the surface.
Get a fully submersible preferably adjustable heater. I would look at online reviews before buying. Don't be afraid to purchase one more expensive if the reviews are great and it's an amazing heater. Many heaters break within 6 months or a year, so paying 10$ more for one that lasts years is worth it. Preset heaters aren't so bad, but stay away from those that just heat a few degrees over the air temp. It can easily harm your fish! And get a heater of appropriate size.
For cleaning, it is actually more simple than a small tank! Get a siphon that's large enough, and every week to two weeks (depending on water quality, just test your water the first few weeks and it'll tell you how often it needs to be changed) siphons the gravel and remove 10-25% of the water. Then fill back up! Never do more than 25%. For it being a 50 gallon, I HIGHLY recommend cycling. If you do, once every two weeks a 20% water change with the siphon will do perfect. As for filters, you should get one for that tank size, but baffle it. A heater is more important than a filter! So get that heater first. In my opinion, if you do a weekly water change, you could get away without a filter for awhile if your betta is the only fish. If not, then yes, you should definitely get the filter... baffle it!! Don't forget!
Decorations (like you mentioned), filter, heater, lid (preferably hood with light), and you'll be set. Anything else (like backgrounds, substrate, etc) is all up to you!
With tank mates, you'll have to get a filter definitely. You may want to look up a sorority if you love bettas! If not, bottom dwellers, African Dwarf Frogs, peaceful schooling fish, snails, shrimps, etc are all options. You will have to decide! There's a 'compatability' section where you can learn more and discuss.
Good luck! Again, don't be afraid to ask questions!