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Hi everyone! This is my first time posting on this site, and I know you guys will be able to help me out.

So lets start out with my issue. I was in a secret santa kind of gift exchange, and for one of my gifts, I was given a betta fish and a 1/2 gallon container betta kit. Naturally I set everything up according to the directions, and started to do my research. To my surprise, almost everything mentioned on the box was incorrect according to my research I did. I read online on multiple occasions that a heater was necessary, flake food was awful, I need to change the water very often, the fish is never going to be happy or live very long in a 1/2 gallon tank, and so much more. This info I was reading was so overwhelming, and I don't really know what to follow or do as a next step.

I'm only a senior in high school, so I do have a limited amount of money here. I do have enough I believe to buy my fish what he needs though. I've become very attached to him in the past couple of days I've had him, and I was wondering if you guys could tell me exactly what to get and do as my next step. He seems pretty happy at the moment and is blowing the bubble nests I've been reading about. I really want him to last and have a happy life. Help me!

Thank you so much!
 

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Wow that's quite the secret santa gift. I mean, a cool idea but I don't know if I would do that to someone!!

There are a lot of options for you, depending on how much you want to spend. With a betta, they can breathe air from the environment as well as from the water, so many people keep them in an unfiltered tank very well. I personally filter all my tanks because in the end it's much less maintenance, and I'm lazy (and have 6 tanks, so it's a lot of time spent on water changes otherwise).

As for food, I know PetCO sells the Omega One betta buffet pellets, which are inexpensive and highly recommended around here. Flake food isn't going to outright KILL him, but it's kind of like eating pork rinds for every meal. Lots of fillers, not a ton of nutrition for a fish like a betta who is primarily an insectivore in the wild. You can also pick up frozen food like brine shrimp, blood worms, or daphnia as well and alternate feedings with those - just cut a tiny portion off the frozen cube, thaw in some water, and put the rest back in the freezer. It lasts a LONG time.

You definitely do need a heater for a betta. They are most comfortable about 75 degrees, preferably 78-80 - I have found my bettas are most active and brightly colored right around 80 degrees. There are a lot of good inexpensive heater choices, depending on what tank you get.

For tanks, I would get at least a gallon, but preferably 2.5 gallons. You can get a 2.5 gallon kit with a filter and light for around $30-35 at the chain pet stores, or you can get regular glass 2.5 gallon at Petsmart for $15 and buy a cheap sponge filter to add to that and just use a desk lamp for lighting. If you are in the U.S. (maybe Canada too - is there Petsmart??), Petsmart has their Top Fin 5.5 gallon aquarium kit on sale right now for $19.99. http://www.petsmart.com/supplies/aquariums/top-fin-5.5-gal-aquarium-starter-kit-zid36-17829/cat-36-catid-300065?var_id=36-17829&_t=pfm%3Dsearch. I have two of these, and they are nice little kits and you can't beat that price. You will probably have to baffle the filter - there is a sticky here with instructions on how to do this for free with a plastic water bottle. The only things you'll need to add to the kit are gravel, heater, and decorations. For gravel, you can get a bag of cheap play sand, a small bag of aquarium gravel, or even $ stores sell little bags of river rocks that you could use - just rinse any of these well in hot water until the water runs clear. For decor, live plants are always great, but another great option is silk plants. We try to steer away from plastic plants for bettas, as they can be sharp and snag/tear fins. But the pet stores sell nice silk plants. Bettas also like to have a "cave" and hiding spots, but a cave can be a simple as a ceramic mug from the $ store, rinsed and placed on its side.

Other purchases you might be interested in are a gravel vacuum (inexpensive and will be very helpful for tank cleaning and maintenance)and a floating glass thermometer. You can get both of these cheap at Walmart.

So, check out the stickies on "cycling" your tank, which will be your friend in the long run for less maintenance and better health of your fish. And ask around here - we are always happy to help!

I would also suggest checking your local Craigslist for tanks (if you are in the U.S., that is). I have purchased several cheap tanks that way.
 

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My sister pulled the same thing on me, she bought me a fish in a 1.5 gallon though, it was so depressing ;A;. To be honest, I recommend just getting a 5 gallon kit, you spend around 30$-50$ and it comes with a sizeable tank that can fit on your desktop or nightstand. The kits often include a light for your tank, heater, filter, starter water detox kit.

I spent less on my 10g kit than my 5g because I had to buy the water treatment, filter, and heater. (that and my 10g was on sale).

Try not to fall for gimmicks such as the "specifically for betta 1.5g" or...whatever. Go for the simple tanks.

+1 to givemethatfish for the frozen brine shrimp and the tips on dollar store items. You can probably fill his tank with DIY items if you're on a tight budget :3 I've seen the cutest little tunnels for bettas using mesh. Have fun with your new betta and keep watching him for his personality! I never knew how much personality these little fish had until my sister dropped one on me. <3
 

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Thank you guys so much for your input! Another small follow up question I have is, how long will I be able to wait until I need to move my fish from his current habitat? I am super busy at the moment, and don't know the next time I will be able to get to a pet shop. Also, what kind of maintenance should I be doing in the meantime for the small temporary tank he's in?
 

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As long as he is healthy and doesn't seem to have any issues...if you do a waterchange frequently he should be fine. The water can get toxic very fast. Someone else can chime in with the exact numbers of changes necessary. My guess would be at minimal of 2 water changes a week. one 50% change and one 100% change.

If you get a bigger tank then you do not have to clean it nearly as much.
 

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In a half gallon unfiltered container, I personally would do a complete water change every day.
 
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I'd agree, I'd do a full water change every day. Good luck with him, this forum has taught me so much
 

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I give you a thumbs up for doing your research!

I am limited on space and money and I have my two boys in their own heated 2.5gallon tanks, they get 2 water changes a week, a 50% and a 100% because they are unfiltered. I have some unused plastic cups for caves/hides for my boys. And unused Tupperware lids for floating shades.

I got my tanks at pet smart for about $12.99 each.

I wish you luck with what ever you decide!
 

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Good advice above, especially that long specific contribution by givemethatfish.

I highly recommend you get a bottle of Prime water conditioner by Seachem as soon as possible. Prime detoxifies ammonia. This is very important when running a small tank. Dose a drop of Prime every day and with every water change. And change most of the water every other day.

Read this:
http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/betta-fish-care/betta-basics-introduction-bettafish-care-232570/

Welcome to the forum.
 

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Good on you for making the best life for your fishy!!
Really great advice from everyone. Esp the daily water changes for him.
I just wanted to add some advice if you're new to fishkeeping in general - make sure you acclimate him EVERY time you take him out of the tank/bowl. Any sudden change in temp can be really bad for them.

I would prioritize a heater first, then at last a gallon tank... TBH if you're SUPER tight on money, you can get a rubbermaid tub and use that for him, or kritter keepers at any pet store, they're ugly plastic but they're cheap.
 
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Good on you for making the best life for your fishy!!
Really great advice from everyone. Esp the daily water changes for him.
I just wanted to add some advice if you're new to fishkeeping in general - make sure you acclimate him EVERY time you take him out of the tank/bowl. Any sudden change in temp can be really bad for them.

I would prioritize a heater first, then at last a gallon tank... TBH if you're SUPER tight on money, you can get a rubbermaid tub and use that for him, or kritter keepers at any pet store, they're ugly plastic but they're cheap.
Thanks for the great advice everyone!

I was just curious about the water changes and acclimation. How should I go about this? For the 100% water changes, should I just scoop him up in a big cup and change out the water? And how do I acclimate him before putting him back in?
 

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Oh I guess you don't have his petstore cup... those are the best for that. See if you can get some sort of solo cup or the like, and use that.

So scoop fish (it's best to not net them, if the bowl is small enough honestly you could just pour him in there...
Rinse out the gravel, make sure it's all clean... refill with tap water, condition that. Depending on how much water is in his cup, pour some of that off... I would leave just enough for him to be in the water, just really want to get as much of that old water outta there as possible. Float the cup in the bowl for at least 15/20 mins, and gently decant him. If you want to get fancy, you can slowly add a couple spoonfulls of new water to his cup after 15 mins, then again in 15 etc. That acclimates him to the temperature, and the water chemistry.
 
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That's the way to "acclimate." Don't chase him around with the cup. You can lure him in with a pellet and kind of "whisper" him in there. You'll both catch on in no time. It'll be lots easier once you get a bigger tank. Then you don't have to take him out.

The best suggestion, by Hyhyty, about the cheap plastic tub or Kritterkeeper. And the Prime.

Welcome to the forum.
 

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Thanks givemethatfish for that tip on the 5.5g on sale! I ran out and got one... and came home with a new betta. Gah, so addicting!

For the water changes, when I had my 2.5 up and running with my sick betta Chi, I would put the cup in the tank slowly and then use a lot of patience. I would wait for him to go in front of the cup, near the side and very gently lock him in the cup by pushing it flat against the glass. From there I would move the cup up to the waterline and wait until he swam to the back of the cup before gently swooping it right side up.
After a while he learned the drill and wouldn't freak out at all. I had to do daily water changes for him too so it was the way to take him out with the least amount of stress. Since he was sick, I just kept him in the cup and covered it to keep him calm while I switched everything and then slowly acclimated him back. Use a lot of patience and it'll go just fine!

I would also worry more about the heater than the bigger bowl as well. You can keep him healthy in a small, warm bowl but not in a larger, cold bowl.
Good luck with your new boy!
 
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