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Discussion Starter #1
Hey Everyone!

I've just recently found your site, I've spent about the last two or three hours reading over as many posts as possible, but I'm still pretty overwhelmed with information, and just want to make sure I have everything I've jotted down correctly.

Really fast, here's some background information! I'm going into my second year of university, I've been highly stressed and overwhelmed at school and have heard of the amazing qualities of fish; I've heard bettas tend to be fairly easy to care for (though, now reading over this site, I'm starting to doubt...). My guinea pig also recently passed away, and now going off to school has left me feeling really lonely for a pet I can have with me at school.

Alright, enough of my sob story... hah!

So far I've figured out most of the basics:
- 2-2.5 gal. tank
- Betta pellets
- A test kit
- Hiding places/maybe plants
- A water conditioner (I've seen PRIME quite frequently?)
- A test kit
- A thermometer (though, look at my heater question below)

Here are the things I'm really confused on and really not sure what to be looking for!
- A heater
- A light
- A filter
- Plants
- Aquarium Salt

The heater: I've read through as much as I can without overwhelming myself. I really don't know what to do with this. I've figured out I should be getting a 25w heater, with an attached thermometer that I can use to set the temperature that I want. I've tried looking at a site such as Petsmart. I don't have a credit card (poor college student and I'm not ready to stress about credit yet) and ergo cannot order online, so I need to be able to find one I can buy in a store. Is that possible, or do I need to find a way to do an online order on something like Amazon? Even if I could just get a name of a heater or a reliable brand that would be wonderful. I'm trying to save money, but I'd rather buy a good and more expensive (not over the top, but you know what I mean, I hope) heater than a cheap one that I have to keep replacing!

The light: What type of light, what kind of wattage, etc. should I be looking for? I assume they carry pretty cheap ones at petstores, and probably even Walmart, I'm just not sure what I should be looking for. Searching for a <10 gal. tank light has just given me either no results or too many!

The filter: Do I need a filter for a 2.5 gal. tank? Could I get away with just a little water pump that keeps the water moving? I'm already going to have to change the water twice a week, from what I understand. Would a filter mean I'd have to change water less frequently?

The Plants: I'm also really interested in getting plants as I've had family fish that I've had plants with before that absolutely loved them (my mom took care of them for the most part so I'm really scared of not being a good enough "fish-mom"). I've seen plants such as "anacharis," "moss balls," and some others mentioned frequently on the forums. What kinds of plants are best for a small tank, and are the easiest to keep alive?

The Salt: I'm not sure what to do with this? This is just for sick fish, right? Obviously, it sounds like something to keep on hand just in case...



I'm really sorry if my questions are at all overly beginner, or if I missed something while reading.

I'm planning on getting him at the beginning of September, and really just want to make sure I know what to do to best prepare for him before I'm in over my head! Thanks to anyone who takes the time to reply!

- AJ :)
 

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Hi there,
I am in a similar situation like you (also study at uni) and also just got a Betta fish.
I love this website, so much great information and helpful people!
I think getting the Betta was a great decision, because watching her is really soothing, very nice and relaxing while reading, working and studying. I have her on a bed-side stand right next to my bed in my tiny room....
I really really recommend it! Love my betta!

As for what things to buy.
I got a really great deal with a Betta-fish kit- it had a 2.5 gallon tank, lid with LED, a small in- built filter and a 15W adjustable heater. My local shop had them on special. I am really happy with it.
I am sure with all those pet shop chains in the States it will be a breeze to get a similar special deal.

It is quite cold where I am (and we have winter right now!) so I do need a heater. Not sure how the weather is where you are from.

Plants- well, I started with only plastic and satin plants. I put some duckweed in that I got for free, but my baby apple snail that lives in the tank with the Betta is eating it all.... and just today I got a small blob of Java Moss, hope that turns out alright.... I have heard that Java moss is very easy.
but actually I am not too worried about having artificial plants in the tank. Just make sure they are not too sharp so the fish can injure himself.

I also made a small cave for my fish out of some plastic- have a look around this side, there is even someone on here that sells those betta tubes and tunnels.

The aquarium salt is only if the fish get's sick, I guess....I have some here, too, just in case....
 

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Hi! Most fish kits are not worth the money honestly, seeing as he companies that sell them do their best not to give you anything. The tetra half-moon kit is the best I've gotten so far (filter hasn't blown, came with a lot of stuff) but none of the tetra/aqueon kits come with heaters or thermometers. The tetra 3G cube is also good if you're ok with replacing the air pump in a year. In a 2.5 g tank I used a 50watt tetra heater, but anything adjustable is good. For 2.5 50watt is fine.

If you aren't getting live plants you don't need a light, just make sure you don't block the window in your room so that he has a night/day cycle

Easy small plants include moss balls and java moss, I'd start with those and use silk plants, moss shouldn't need much light

You wanna keep about a cup of AQ salt and a cup of Epsom salt on hand, plus you want a few real meds (never use a med ending in the suffix -fix) but honestly as long as you have ready access to a pet store and a drugstore (like you can go there any day without issue) just stash $10 and run out when he gets sick.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you for the replies!!

I'm not going to get live plants if I really don't need them, I just know that fish like them quite a bit as they're obviously more natural. Would having plants/filter make it so the tank requires less cleaning/water changes?

Thanks Sayla! So would something like http://www.petsmart.com/fish/aquariums-stands/marineland-3-gallon-crescent-aquarium-system-zid36-17291/cat-36-catid-300013?var_id=36-17291&_t=pfm%3Dcategory%26pfmvalue%3Dfaceted this not be worth it at all? I hadn't even looked into kits yet, I'm really new to everything, haha. :lol:
 

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This is from an article I put together and never posted anywhere. It was a while ago, so some of the prices may be a touch off.

Quality Setup: $96
A nice-looking, generously sized tank that will keep a betta happy for life. If you have the cash on hand for this, go for it! A tank like this can even be divided to house two bettas, if you like. Remember to do water changes according to how many fish are in your tank.
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5g aquarium with filter and light: $30
http://www.petsmart.com/gsi/webstor...829&SITEID=je6NUbpObpQ-yn.B7fxiYQRwBOUnIxbtoQ

Hydor 25w adjustable heater: $17
http://www.amazon.com/Hydor-25W-Submersible-Aquarium-Heater/dp/B0006JLPG8

Submersible thermometer: $3
http://www.petsmart.com/fish/heater...6-5203381/cat-36-catid-300016?_t=pfm=category

Seachem's Ammonia Alert: $9
http://www.petsmart.com/food-care/a...VKs5v7?_t=pfm=search&SearchTerm=ammonia+alert

Small bag of gravel or sand: $5
http://www.petsmart.com/fish/gravel-sand/cat-36-catid-300072

Small bottle of Prime: $5
http://www.petsmart.com/fish/water-...-catid-300029?var_id=36-17551&_t=pfm=category

OO Betta Buffet pellets: $4
http://www.petsmart.com/fish/food/o...catid-300008?_t=pfm=category&pfmvalue=faceted

Money for a few decorations and/or plants: $20
In all likelihood, you'll find plants and such that you want later on as well. It's a good idea to limit your spending at first and upgrade later on this. Give your fish some hides first thing, though.


OTHER THINGS
You may want to invest in some other basic things for your tanks and fish. They're not strictly necessary, but can be helpful to have on hand.

Frozen betta treats--preferably frozen and not freeze-dried, because freeze-dried food can cause bloating. Look for bloodworms or daphnia.

Aquarium salt--just a little carton of it. Not expensive, just a few bucks. This is the first treatment you use for a variety of fishy illnesses.

Unscented epsom salt--yes, this is a different thing from aquarium salt--you can get it at grocery stores or drugstores. Again, one carton, and it's maybe two dollars. This treats a different assortment of fishy illnesses.

API Freshwater Master Test Kit: $27 Highly recommended but not immediately necessary
http://www.petsmart.com/food-care/t...36-catid-300022?var_id=36-17465&_t=pfm=search

API Stress Coat: $6 for a small bottle
http://www.petsmart.com/fish/water-...-catid-300006?var_id=36-17508&_t=pfm=category
Stress Coat encourages healthy slime coat and helps if your betta has torn fins. It's not as good a water conditioner as Prime, but can be added to Prime if your fish need a little TLC.

Seachem's Flourish: a liquid fertilizer for aquarium plants: $9
http://www.petsmart.com/food-care/f...&SelectionCacheKey=8.5+Fl+Oz|&_t=pfm=category
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you so, so much. I definitely was over thinking it; but I'm pretty proud of myself, I had already written down that heater and was looking at that tank before I saw your post! I can't tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to type all that out for me. I'll have to save up a little bit, but I start my new job soon and have some money saved up already, so I'd rather spend the extra money now and make sure my betta is happy and healthy than end up having a sad fishy! :(

Again, thank you, I've written all of the products down (and PetSmart is having a pretty good sale at the moment, so I may purchase some stuff now and work my way up)! :) Here's to happy fishes!
 

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Now, some basic stuff you also might want to know.

Bettas technically don't need a filter; you don't need to worry terribly about the quality of the filter in that kit. All you need it for is to cycle the tank. It will grow beneficial bacteria that will take toxic substances that the fish produce, and turn them into less and less toxic substances. Live plants do this too.

Always research live plants before buying them. Good plants to have in a first setup: Java fern, java moss, moss balls, anubias, and floating plants like duckweed or frogbit or water lettuce.

If you fall in love with a betta in a store but you don't have a cycled tank yet, it's actually okay to get him anyway. His cup isn't cycled either. If you don't fall in love, though, I really suggest you wait. Why? Because if you have a fish in an uncycled tank, you DO need to do more water changes on it. If you don't, the fish is likely to get sick or die. So unless you see a stunner when you're buying your tank, hold off.

Prime is the best water conditioner because it detoxifies ammonia for a while. This effect lasts 48 hours, max. You can also dose Prime up to 5x its normal strength in an emergency; overdosing a little by accident won't hurt your fish.

Omega One or New Life Spectrum pellets--not flakes--are the best betta food.

Always soak any decor that isn't live plants for a week or two to make sure it's really aquarium safe. Bubbling, chipping, leaching, funny smells--all bad.

Don't worry: betta care is really easy after you get over the initial hump of "wait am I doing this right?" They'll live for several years with good care.
 

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Thank you so, so much. I definitely was over thinking it; but I'm pretty proud of myself, I had already written down that heater and was looking at that tank before I saw your post! I can't tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to type all that out for me. I'll have to save up a little bit, but I start my new job soon and have some money saved up already, so I'd rather spend the extra money now and make sure my betta is happy and healthy than end up having a sad fishy! :(

Again, thank you, I've written all of the products down (and PetSmart is having a pretty good sale at the moment, so I may purchase some stuff now and work my way up)! :) Here's to happy fishes!
Yep, it's cool. I'd actually written this down as a beginner setup guide a few weeks ago, so yeah. :)

A setup that a betta can live in comfortably for life typically costs $100 or so. I'll warn you, though, it's easy to get hooked on them! :D
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'm still a little unsure about how "cycling" works, I understand that there's good and bad bacteria and all of that, but I'm not entirely sure what that means as far as cleaning goes. Should I clean his tank more in the beginning, and after several weeks clean it less as bacteria builds up? Also, in the sticky that was posted about it, the OP mentioned not "over-cleaning"--how do I make sure to not over-clean? Thank you for being so patient!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
If you fall in love with a betta in a store but you don't have a cycled tank yet, it's actually okay to get him anyway. His cup isn't cycled either. If you don't fall in love, though, I really suggest you wait. Why? Because if you have a fish in an uncycled tank, you DO need to do more water changes on it. If you don't, the fish is likely to get sick or die. So unless you see a stunner when you're buying your tank, hold off.
I won't be able to fall in love! I'm travelling from VA to CO, so I want to get a cheap tank while they're on sale, but I'll have to wait until I get to CO to buy a fishy!
 

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hello! Welcome :D

I am sorry to hear about your Guinea pig, they are great little guys.

It's great to see you studying up!

I see you are discussing tank kits -- I am not a huge fan of what is in local stores, as they tend to be pricey and come with extras I cannot use.

In-stores, from what I've seen, the new 2.5 mini-bow with LED's looks fantastic and is on sale at Petsmart.

There are a ton of tank kits on sale right now because manufacturers are making the switch to LED lighting in kits. So if you don't want LED's in particular, they are a great deal!

Since you are a college student, without a credit card, you can always look into ordering using a debit card. If you go to a bank they can assist you in setting up a student checking account and savings account - there should be no annual fees, no minimum balance. They may require a certain amount to put in at first, but you can always take it right back out.

Most online sites will let you pay with Paypal, which you can set up with a debit card or link directly to your bank account.

Then you have endless online options :) Including fish!

If you do end up looking online, I highly recommend this: http://www.truaqua.com/aquarium-fish-tank-nano.html

I have a rescue betta in it right now and he is so happy. It came with a great, quiet filter and a clamp LED light that gives more bulbs than the mini-bow does. The filter has biological, physical and chemical filtration media included.

The tank is glass with curved edges on the front.

The only thing I tossed from this was the background, which did look great until it got wet. Not hard to replace, you can always just glue fabric to the exterior back pane. (I used a spare piece of background from an old tank)

and the free shipping is definitely nice.

So basically, for less than the cost of an in-store tank, you end up with a glass curved-edge nano with additions that can actually be used and enjoyed.

The additional things I got for the tank are substrate, a hiding place, and a heater (also ordered from the same website - they have great heaters).

I just keep going back and ordering more from this company, they're so great. :oops:

for plants: I think moss balls are the easiest, maybe a banana plant as well? A lot of people like banana plants. Anything low-light. Floaters are great, too -- red-root floaters and mini water lettuce are on the shopping list here :)

cycling: I highly recommend using Seachem Stability to give your tank a running start. It provides the beneficial bacteria needed to start the cycling. The smallest bottle would be more than enough to start a nano tank up. Seachem is very concentrated.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks so much! I do have a debit card, just wary of online ordering haha, I'm kind of a scrooge!

I will definitely bookmark that site!

EDIT: Thank you for my guinea pig, she was my baby. I miss her terribly. :'-( But she lived a very long, happy life. :)
 

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I'm still a little unsure about how "cycling" works, I understand that there's good and bad bacteria and all of that, but I'm not entirely sure what that means as far as cleaning goes. Should I clean his tank more in the beginning, and after several weeks clean it less as bacteria builds up? Also, in the sticky that was posted about it, the OP mentioned not "over-cleaning"--how do I make sure to not over-clean? Thank you for being so patient!
Sure thing. Cycling sounds more complicated than it is.

Basically, you've got a filter. If there is ammonia in your tank from fish waste or because you put it there, beneficial bacteria (BB) will grow. That BB will take the ammonia, "eat" it, and turn it into nitrite. Nitrite is also toxic, almost as bad as ammonia, but fortunately for us, the BB will eat that too and turn it into nitrate. Nitrate is okay for fish in quantities that aren't ginormous.

How do you remember the difference between nitrite and nitrate? A little bit of nitrate is A-okay.

Anyway. As long as there's ammonia to be eaten, the BB colony will grow every day. Every day, that colony will eat as much as it wants and then stop. Whatever it doesn't eat is left in with your fish. Since the colony starts out small, most people like to artificially add in ammonia to build up the colony before they add fish, so the fish don't have to wait in ammonia sludge water while the colony grows.

That's fine. But if you've got a fish, you can also do a fish-in cycle. That's where you don't add ammonia, but you just feed your fish and he'll produce ammonia. Then you do a 25% water change every day, which is about enough to take out what the BB won't eat while still leaving enough in there to make the colony grow. This isn't the greatest for the fish--unless you have Prime, and you're dosing the whole tank with Prime with every water change. Then he should be just fine. Modern chemicals, huh? :)

Now, about overcleaning.

You want to keep your fish's water as pristine as possible. But you DON'T want to always be doing 100% changes and whatnot. That will destroy your bacteria colony eventually, and it'll starve any live plants you've got. Oldfishlady has a water change guide sticky in one of the forums... I think it's the habitats one, but I'm not sure. Anyway, follow those instructions and you don't need to worry about overcleaning.

If you've got a few live plants in there, her instructions on that seem kind of ambiguous. If you only have a few small plants, just do what she says as if your tank didn't have plants. The only thing you want to avoid is uprooting the plants during water changes, that's all. That's why she says you don't want to do 100% water changes. Do 80% instead.

Also, it's a good idea to cup your fish if you're doing more than a 50 or 60 percent change.

Any other questions?
 

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You want to keep your fish's water as pristine as possible. But you DON'T want to always be doing 100% changes and whatnot. That will destroy your bacteria colony eventually, and it'll starve any live plants you've got. Oldfishlady has a water change guide sticky in one of the forums... I think it's the habitats one, but I'm not sure. Anyway, follow those instructions and you don't need to worry about overcleaning.

If you've got a few live plants in there, her instructions on that seem kind of ambiguous. If you only have a few small plants, just do what she says as if your tank didn't have plants. The only thing you want to avoid is uprooting the plants during water changes, that's all. That's why she says you don't want to do 100% water changes. Do 80% instead.

Also, it's a good idea to cup your fish if you're doing more than a 50 or 60 percent change.

Any other questions?
Yeah, that's the sticky I read! :) It just seemed to have quite a lot of lingo I wasn't caught up to yet. I think the only thing I was really confused about was the changes--it's going to be two times a week, every week for as long as I have the tank, right? I was just unsure as I'm planning on getting a 2.5-5.5 gallon tank (most likely the one that you sent a link to, as I was looking at that one already!), so I want to make sure I'm cleaning enough, but not over cleaning.

From her post I understood the 50% water change and the 100% (or 80%)--so that pretty much means say Monday I do the 50%, and then on Friday or Saturday I do the 80%? And when I do these changes, should I just add straight tap water and then put Prime in, or should I put Prime in before I add it to the tank? I feel like that's probably not that important, as long as the betta isn't in the tap water for more than a minute or two?
 

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Yeah, that's the sticky I read! :) It just seemed to have quite a lot of lingo I wasn't caught up to yet. I think the only thing I was really confused about was the changes--it's going to be two times a week, every week for as long as I have the tank, right? I was just unsure as I'm planning on getting a 2.5-5.5 gallon tank (most likely the one that you sent a link to, as I was looking at that one already!), so I want to make sure I'm cleaning enough, but not over cleaning.

From her post I understood the 50% water change and the 100% (or 80%)--so that pretty much means say Monday I do the 50%, and then on Friday or Saturday I do the 80%? And when I do these changes, should I just add straight tap water and then put Prime in, or should I put Prime in before I add it to the tank? I feel like that's probably not that important, as long as the betta isn't in the tap water for more than a minute or two?
I can define any lingo you don't understand. I've subscribed to this thread, so my forum control panel tells me when you ask a question ;)

The day-of-the-week schedule works, although I'd do Monday and Friday just 'cause you want to space them out pretty evenly.

It's up to you whether you treat and then add or add the new water and then treat. The only difference is how MUCH you dose. If you treat the new water separately, you only have to dose for the amount you're putting in. Otherwise you dose the whole tank.

So, say you did a 50% change. If you have your new water in a bucket, it might need 3 drops of Prime. But if you put that water in your tank first, it would need 6 drops because you've already mixed it in.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Huh, okay. That makes sense. So literally just dose based on amount of water.

I just read over that sticky; she said in a 5-9 gal. tank (with a filter) to do 50% water changes weekly and swish/rinse filter media a couple times a month, and with live plants to never do 100% (like you said) but didn't say I should ever do more than a 50% water change...?
 

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Hold on: you said you wanted that tank I posted. Which is a 5 gallon tank.

If you got that one--and yes, it has a filter, so you can cycle it--all you'd have to do is a 50% change once a week. If you don't have plants, cup your fish and stir up your substrate before you take out the water.

Like I said, a 5g is less maintenance.

There's also a guy called carlos puron in the Classifieds section of this forum. He'll sell you red root floaters and also some stem plants. (He also has Amazon Swords, but those need more care than you can give atm.) I suggest you buy a portion of the floaters and a portion of the stem plant called limnophila sessiflora (it's bushier than green camboba and will provide more cover for your fish). That's $16 shipped, doesn't require a bunch of care and will keep your water more stable. I have personally ordered from carlos, and my camboba and limno are both doing well :D

There are of course other sellers who'll sell you stuff a la carte, or in packages. Just make sure anything you get is low-light and low-maintenance. Plants are like fish: don't buy without researching first. The limno and the floaters won't need a bunch of care, just trimming now and then when they reach (or cover) the top.

Edit: haha, yeah, we thought of the same thing at the same time. There's your answer!

Oh, hold on, he's out of the red root floaters. But he has frogbit, so that works just as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Oh man, you made everything make so much more sense, thank you so much.

I now have to wait approximately two weeks to get a betta, but I'm really excited and a lot less nervous.

I'm definitely going to spend that time researching all these plants!! Thank you again!

Now I have to go to sleep because it's almost morning again here... :shock:
 
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