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Old 02-08-2012, 01:57 AM   #1 
Davina
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5 gallon tank water changes? (for a baby rescue)

Hi, I recently rescued a baby betta from Petco. I have him/her in a Petco Bookshelf Aquarium: reads 6.6 gal on the box but when I measured the water as I filled it, it was more like 5 gallons.

My question: How much and how often should I change the water? It's a new tank (gonna get some seed from my sister's older tank in a little while), there's a power filter (the one that came with the Bookshelf aquarium), and it's a baby betta so I want it to have really good water.

I have the temperature between 78 and 81 degrees (adjusting to a new heater) at all times.

Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 02-08-2012, 03:34 AM   #2 
Draug Isilme
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You should change it 2 times a week- one 50% and one 100% change. Unless you're planning on making it a planted tank, then it would be once a week 75-50%. Good luck taking care of your lil betta buddy ^.^ If you haven't cycled your tank, then that's something ideal to do- as it helps to keep water quality as well; unless again, you make it a NPT, then you'll have a silent cycle... You might also want to get a testing kit if you haven't already as well. Not quite sure what to give for advice as I don't know what you do and don't know ^.^;; Is this your first time owning a betta or no? Also, since you mentioned it's a very powerful filter, have you managed to baffle it? It might be too strong for your little guy, even if it's an adult- betta's love still water and depending on the size of the tank (and if you do or don't have a lot of plants) you can manage to get away without having a filter. Although, a filter for a 5g sounds ideal
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Old 02-08-2012, 02:31 PM   #3 
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Thank you so much for the advice! I know offering advice can be hard when you don't know where the askee is in the knowledge spectrum. I'm fairly new to aquarium keeping; I had a time share betta with my sister for a while. That poor fish went through a lot as we learned. I did a lot of online research, found this site, and learned tons of good theory but still very little hands-on experience as the betta went to live permanently at my sister's.

So I know about cycling and I plan on having a planted tank. I'm in the process of mineralizing some soil so I can have a substantial plant load in there. I actually originally planned on getting the soil mineralized, putting in the plants, making sure the tank had silent cycled, then getting the fish. Makes sense, right? But that adorable baby betta was looking at me in Petco... You know how it goes. ^^;

I baffled the filter with a sponge. :) I learned that from my sister's betta. The current seems nice and gentle. I'm hoping to move to a hydro sponge filter though since those sound really efficient (and would actually work better in the space I have -- the hanging out the back is a little awkward on my bookshelf). Do you recommend them? I thought I should have the power filter running now since the tank isn't cycled yet nor does it have any live plants.

Right now there's gravel so I could put in a few stem plants, though I'll have to tear everything out when I'm ready to put in the mineralized soil. I was wondering: what do you think about duck weed? Maybe that could help keep ammonia levels down but I wouldn't have to worry about tearing up the roots.

Meanwhile, the little fish (named Dart) is enjoying swimming around in all that space. :)
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Old 02-08-2012, 04:41 PM   #4 
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Lol, time share betta.... Never heard that one before xD But yeah, I'm glad to know you've been doing research, that's definitely a big step for a lot of betta lovers!
Mineralizing soil? Could you explain? That sounded good (although you already have your fish in there xD it's okay) You can gradually add plants- it can get kinda pricey depending on what you want in the tank so it's probably a good thing you have your fish in there so you can plant as you go. That's what I did 'cause I couldn't buy all the plants together. Plus your fish give your plants a source of ammonia to feed off of (which apparently they don't atually feed on the ammonia specifically, just breaks it down >.>.... kinda weird/random) But yeah, you maintain water quality, you'll be good to go! Just make sure you have a good light source and a schedule for the light to go on and off- so you won't encourage algae growth... trust me it's a b**** to get rid of if you let it run rampant -.- Mainly 'cause it tries to take over on your plants and it blocks out the light your plants are absorbing.. sneaky little algae...
Alrighty, cools! I honestly love sponge filters, but the problem I found with them is finding a great air pump that's quiet enough- I've only had one air pump and it was a cheap one... so it was very loud.. -.-... You might want to do some digging around for a fantastic air pump to go with your sponge filter as well as something to help alleviate the pressure on the off-chance the sponge filter is too much. I've read a lot about sponge filters and as I've said before, the only real downside is that it can be loud..... and if you're really picky then it's also ugly >.>..... I actually made mine using a stone dragon you get at PetSmart. It looked aweseome, but it was loud and my betta didn't quite like the bubbles..... But yeah, you might not have to worry about getting a new filter if you're planning on making your tank an NPT- all the plants filter everything and you basically make your own little mini ecosystem. After your plants mature, you can take out your filter- the main thing you'll have to worry about is a 50-75% water change (which you'll have to do with or without the filter) while lightly siphoning the tank (so you can leave some extra food for your plants) and a bit of oil build up on the surface- which is caused by the fish, and you can get rid of that by using paper towels- lightly place them on the surface, and pick it up. Repeat as necessary! You should definitely let the filter run now- you probably won't get to the point of cycling it completely, but your filter can still establish the good bacteria necessary- that way if if takes you longer to get a heavily planted tank, you'll at least have your filter to rely on to hold a cycle. Back up plans are nice! ^.^
I wouldn't worry about getting any plants until your get your soil in there- too much work and you could possibly hurt your plants when you have to uproot them then replant. You could stick to some floaters or marimo balls if those interest you. I honestly love duckweed ^.^ I got some not too long ago. They're fast growers, so they'll take in ammonia faster than slow growers. The thing with duckweed, though, is the mess/it sticking to everything when you clean out your tank and stick your hands in. I found that if you move your hand back and forth in a swish motion while slowly bringing it up, you'll only get a couple of them stuck to you... Also I found that if you have an algae problem sticking to your duckweed, then you can transfer them to another bucket, swish the duckweed/algae around until most of the duckweed seperates from the algae and pluck out the algae yourself. It worked for me, anyway >.>;....
Heehee, Dart ^.^ Love the name. You'll have to post a pic of you babe soon!!
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Old 02-08-2012, 07:24 PM   #5 
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Haha, I suppose it is rather unusual (and awkward) to time share a betta. That betta received a lot of love though. He converted us both into betta keepers for life.

I read about mineralized soil on an AquaScaping Forum. Here's the article I'm pretty much following:
http://gwapa.org/wordpress/articles/...oil-substrate/

Basically, I've been soaking and drying some soil repeatedly. It helps oxygenate the soil and is supposed to cut back the algae problems. Then I add clay, dolomite, and some potassium which should help keep the plants happy.

Yeah, the fish being in there already is kind of problematic, haha. I'll have to keep Dart in a small tank for a short time while I rescape the 5 gal when the soil is ready.

I have been worrying about the cost of the plants. I guess taking it slowly and planting it up as I go will be the method. It's probably best anyway for adjusting anything if something comes up. When the soil's ready, I'll put in a few plants and see how things go.

I'm planning a trip to the hardware store to get a good light bulb (the one that came with the tank is kinda weird ... makes Dart look really red ) and a timer so I don't have to worry about turning it on and off. I hope I don't get algae problems.

Ooh a stone dragon sponge filter! That sounds amazing! Do you have any pics of that by any chance? I know they can be a bit unsightly, haha. I am concerned about the noise of the air pump. I've been looking and I'll do my best to find one that's quiet and won't make too many bubbles to annoy Dart. It would be cool to be able to go filter-less once the plants are well established. I'll see how it goes.

Thanks for the tip about the oil on the surface -- I noticed that but didn't know what to do about it.

I've been wondering: what kind of water conditioner is best? I have been using the Nutrafin Betta Plus so that there's that bit of almond leaf extract in there. I thought that might be nice for the baby particularly. Do you think it makes a difference?

By the way, the heater is now holding it at a steady 80 degrees. ^^

The duckweed sounds good! Today I went down to my local nursery and grabbed a cupful for free! I washed them then put them in a treated cup of water and dumped it in. Dart finds them fascinating, haha. So cute! I tried to get some pics, but she/he was darting around so much in curiosity it was nearly impossible. I have one good shot though. Should I post it here or go to the pics section?

Thanks again, Draug! I'll do the twice a week -- 50% and 100% -- water changes.
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Old 02-10-2012, 01:35 AM   #6 
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It is a bit unusual, but it also proves to be an interesting story xD
Huh, that's pretty interesting! I'm gonna havto try that when I get the chance >.> Also sounds cheaper in comparison to buying a $20 bag of plant substrate from PetSmart... -.- It's good stuff, don't get me wrong, but PetSmart always upsells their prices for more than what they're really worth 'cause.. well, they can do that and get away with it.. Woulda went with organic soil, but I wasn't sure if it was going to lack some of the stuff my aquatic plants would need or if the nutrients would last as long..
Good plan ^.^ That's what I did when I changed out the soil to my 5g. He was just fine ^.^ Of course it was summer here, so the temperature was warm enough for him to be in a small quarantine cup and be a-okay! When you add the water with the soil, you can change the water a few times to help clear up the cloudiness. From what I remember, you just fill it up like you usually do, then empty it out 50-75% of the water and refill. Repeat until it becomes clear. Beats having to wait for it to settle completely... takes forever >.<
Yeah, depending on the variety and type of plant(s) you'll want, it can really be costly -.- Although the good thing is after getting everything you need, if you want another NPT then you can use clippings from the plants that are growing in your other tank and not have to buy anymore plants ^.^ Of course, it doesn't work as well if you get slow growing plants, but it still works none the less... Also, if you're adding more plants to your tank it's best to keep some water in the tank (if not have it full) and use some tweezers (especially if you have long tweezers) to secure them in the soil- it doesn't kick up the dirt as much in comparison to if you did it by hand and that's uber frustrating >.< Plus you can get it in much deeper into the soil...
Hehheh, probably a bulb with a low kelvin rating xD Definitely not a good bulb to use for plants- Speaking of bulbs, do you know what kind of plants you're planning on getting and what kind of bulb? I might be able to help in saying what'll work and what won't if you haven't done much digging at the moment... Timer's really help ^.^ Algae is more or less something that's bound to happen with anything that has water- especially still water... It's more or less a question of what kind of algae and how badly it's spreading. With a timer and once you've found that sweet spot for your tank, it should definitely help with that problem a LOT!
I have some pics before I took it apart- I mainly did it 'cause of the air pump, but my other reason was that the soil going into my tank was going to be way too tall, so the dragon filter was going to be rendered useless... Looking at these pics again reminds me of how bare the tank was!!! xD It looks so empty in comparison to how I have it now!
http://i15.photobucket.com/albums/a4...e/676A0196.jpg
http://s15.photobucket.com/albums/a4...t=676A0195.jpg
From what I've heard and from my own experiences, it seems like Prime is the 'go to' conditioner. It seems kinda pricey at a glance, but when you read the instructions, you realize you only need about 2-3 drops per gallon xD If you get a good sized bottle, you'll get more bang for your buck hands down. You can also buy droppers at Walmart so you'll have an exact measurement of your conditioner- it's hard to overdose with conditioner, but if anything it becomes a waste in the long run... Almond leaf is spiffy, but from what I've read, it's more for preference to have the tank give off a natural vibe- I believe it can also lower pH, but don't quote me on that as it's been a while since I've read about indian almond leaves... Most people like to use it for when they try to get their bettas to mate- gives faster results. *shrugs* But yeah, I've dealt with other conditioners, but not nutrafin betta plus. You might want to ask someone else who's used it before or knows more about indian almond leaves.. Sorry I can't help much there...
Great!! ^.^ Good to know that the heater is maintaining a good temperature. Seems like with heaters for small tanks, it gets somewhat old going through several different heaters just to find the perfect one...
Nice ^.^ I had to order my duckweed online- there aren't any nursuries that carry aquatic plants or pet stores that sell duckweed/a large variety of plants where I'm from.... Make sure you keep an eye on your tank since you didn't quarantine your duckweed- it's not mandatory to quarantine plants, but sometimes you get unlucky and the plant(s) can carry things like snail eggs, other misc. critters/parasites, or bacteria... Not trying to scare you or anything, but just wanted to put that up there for future reference when introducing plants. I've quarantined a few plants, but others I haven't.. Been lucky so far ^.^;; I'm glad Dart likes the duckweed!! ^.^ He should feel right at home, especially since bettas like having cover- makes them feel more secure. xD And I can see why Dart is such a fitting name! lol... You can post the pic wherever you'd like, this is your thread and so long as it's related to the topic and you're okay with it, then you can post it here or you can show off your lil guy in the pic section- or both!
No prob ^.^ Depending on how your duckweed looks you might want to reduce the water changes to 50-75% once a week so it can get enough nutrients/eat up that ammonia- especially when you add more plants. Not quite sure how fast duckweed takes in nutrients, but as I've said, it is fast growing. But yeah, hope all that helps out as well. Good luck on your NPT ^.~ It's a bit of work, but it's a very exciting thing to have! And I'm sure Dart'll definitely appreciate it and feel more at home!
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Old 02-17-2012, 04:26 PM   #7 
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Well, the bad news is that I got sick so I wasn't able to keep up with mineralizing the soil schedule -- that is going to be a long time in coming, it seems. -.- But that's okay. Patience will pay off in the end, I think. Meanwhile, I was diligent in doing water changes and Dart is looking pretty happy. :) My sister donated some stem plants even after I told her about the roots getting damaged when I change out the gravel, but again, since the soil is going to take a while, I figure it's basically a good thing to have plants in the interim. Dart certainly enjoys having extra leaves around. ^^

I've done some ammonia testing, and it seems to be somewhere below 0.25 ppm but not 0. That seems good for the plants, right?

Thanks for the tips about keeping the cloudiness down when I get the soil in. I'll keep them in mind for when the time comes.

I got a new light bulb! It's a 6500 kelvin CRI 98 Zoo Med. It looks really good -- so wonderful to see Dart's natural nuanced color -- and the plants should thrive under it. I'm thinking an 8 hour timer schedule?

Wow, the dragon pump really looks cool! The height thing is a problem. I was a little annoyed with the heater I got since it requires a min. water level and at the same time needs to be an inch above the substrate. Kind of a pain to manage in my shallow tank. >< I see you had a betta log in there too -- was that a hit with your scaly friend?

Oh my gosh!!! Quarantine! I didn't even think of it for the duckweed! I'm so glad nothing bad happened. I will remember to do that from now on.

Thanks for the tip about Prime; sounds really good. I'll get that once I run out of the stuff I have.

Okay, I'll have to figure out how to do photos on here...
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Old 02-18-2012, 03:35 AM   #8 
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Ah, that sucks.... I know it makes it really difficult to be diligent to your maintenance needs like that- I was cycling my tank and got really sick a while back, but I had my boyfriend do water changes for the time being so it worked out regardless xD But anyway... I'm glad he's pretty happy ^.^ So long as the stem plants aren't nutrient relient you should be okay. Whenever you get your soil situated instead of just sticking them in with the roots you can just clip them where needed and basically replant them as new without having to worry about damaging roots- they'll grow roots on their own. I've done that with my wisteria and it turned out just fine.
Less than .25ppm is great ^.^ Once you get a lot of plants in and well established you'll start seeing 0ppm for all readings. Also nerd fact: it's not necessarily the ammonia the plants feed off of, but what happens is they convert the ammonia in a way to where it turns into nutrients for the plants- which is why heavy ammonia (or high pH) in the water can hinder a plants growth or even kill it.... and also why most people say that plants eat ammonia because it lowers the ammonia level- they're more or less inadvertently eating the ammonia, but the actual statement that 'plants eat ammonia' is more or less false.
Don't thank me on that tip- I got it from OldFishLady- she's a plant expert! ^.^
Awesome ^.^ My fish Zabimaru has white in its scales so he seems like he glows under my 6500k bulb xD 8 hours is definitely where you want to start at. After your plants seem establish themselves, you might want to see about slowly increasing the time- that way you can see where the 'sweet spot' is for your plants that will encourage their growth, but still keep algae at bay. I believe 10 hours is usually the ideal time span for most plant growers, but no more than 12- the reason that is is plants only have a photoperiod of 12 hours max; anymore and the plants won't take in the nutrients from the light and your more or less providing extra nutrients to encourage algae growth.
Yeah, I really loved my home made filter.... ;__; If I had a bigger/taller tank and it wasn't in my room I would've kept it.. lol that does sound like a pain in the ass xD My problem with my filter was of how powerful it was- it came with the tank, but it was for 5-10 gallons, but since the 5 was a minimum and bettas don't like hardcore flow... yeah it was obnoxious -.- My betta absolutely LOVED his betta log!! The only problem is after a while the log wants to disentigrate... it's really not water friendly for long periods of time- however, whenever I get the chance I plan on getting another one and coating it with aquarium safe sealant so it won't fall apart on me xD If it ends up being too heavy I was gonna stick some suction cups on it and voila! Kind of excessive, but my fish seemed to really enjoy the log when it was still in his tank.. If anything, when it flakes, it's nothing toxic and the paint more or less dissapates in the water so you don't have to worry about your fish eating chips of paint (apparently that's happened before >.>;;;...)
Can't wait to see pictures of Dart =^.^=
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Old 02-18-2012, 02:24 PM   #9 
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It's great your boyfriend helped out like that. :) It's good to have someone there to pick up the slack in emergencies.

Yeah, the "plants eat ammonia" thing is weird and interesting. It's so cool having a bio system going like that in our houses!

From your profile pic, Zabimaru looks like a gorgeous fish! The glow effect of the light on the white scales is no doubt breath-taking in person especially!

Aww, the betta log saga! So sad that it started deteriorating. I think the sealant plan is a good one. Maybe I'll give that a go myself. ^^

Ok, here's an early pic of Dart:


I'll make a post in the pic section for more. ^.^
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