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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have three one gallon tanks each containing a Betta. All unfiltered/unheated. I have one adult that does have a 7-watt lightbulb that heats up a little bit but I only have it on at night for maybe an hour. I have two babies in their separate tanks on a bookshelf near, but not in the direct beam of the window so during most days their water is heated.

My question is, how fast does ammonia build in these tanks? I change the tank water monthly and have had no troubles with sick Bettas. The tanks have glass rocks covering the bottom, which I know helps with beneficial bacteria. I have been wondering about this lately and I thought you guys could help me out :)
 

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Hi! Ideally in tanks that small you should be doing 1-2 50% water changes plus one more 100% water change weekly to keep the ammonia level down in the range where it won't be having an adverse effect on your little guys. Once a month is not enough in my opinion and it's kind of surprising that you've had no health issues, you must just be a natural Betta keeper :) Also there were some other things that I did not address as they were not part of your question.... But be prepared for some other comments regarding the housing/environment that your Bettas are being housed in :) ..... I recommend reading this sticky too! It's very informative and helps a lot. http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=232570
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Mo. Yes, I am fully prepared to receive some well-intentioned guff from other members. :)

Im not allowed to have filter or heater and basically I'm limited to bowls and critter keepers. Bettas were the only aquatic creature that came up for suitable Ina one-gallon. I would really love to continue fish keeping so if there is any other fish or inverts--I've seen that 2 glo danios can be in a one gallon; is this true?--that can be comfortably kept in a .5 or one gallon tank, please let me know!

Thanks so much Mo!
 

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Haha yeah I'm not so comfortable like saying a lot of other stuff because I'm not as confident with that and feel like I'd be saying the wrong thing, I'm just waiting for a more experienced member to come by. Also, to my knowledge there aren't any fish that can be permanently kept in a tank of that size but there are certain inverts such as shrimp that can... What are you interested in?
 

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I wouldn't keep Danios in a one gallon, I believe they need a 10 gallon.

I would encourage you to up the amount of water changes you're doing on your bettas. I've recently acquired a rescue betta who was kept for over a year in a two gallon tank with weekly water changes. That wasn't enough, and he came to me with ammonia burns all over his sides, and blind, from the conditions he was in. I know these are hardy little fish, but sooner or later it will catch up with them.

I do every other day changes on him and my boy in a 2.5, but I'm probably overdoing it a bit, lol.

The babies should really be getting every other day water changes, or they will get stunted. This thread is awesome for reading about baby betta care: http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=457330&highlight=PetCo+Baby+Care+Thread

Also thought you might enjoy this thread. People share their 1-2 gallon tanks with happy, healthy bettas. :) (Sorry, didn't mean to make it highlight the babies, but I'm on my phone and changing it is difficult.)
http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=117828&highlight=Petco+baby+betta
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Anything! Nothing with super-specialized requirements, like high powered filters or live plants or only eats Mexican food and stuff like that. :) you get my drift. I'm looking for the beginner live aquatic critters. I would like to know more about red cherry shrimp also.

I will continue to keep my Bettas because I don't feel comfortable with anyone in my area (including my LFS) taking care of them. At least they are in better health than they would have been in the original pet store cups.
 

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if you ask me, the only aquatic critter for a unheatef, unfiltered 1gal is a Ramshorn, pond or mts snail. Other then a moss ball, everything else atlesst needs a heater, and most definitely will benefit from a filter
 

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Is there any way you would be able to purchase heaters for your fish? Even though they seem healthy now, being exposed to constantly fluctuating temperatures will eventually take its toll. There are a number of diseases and parasites that will take advantage of a stressed fish, and some of these are particularly nasty, and will require a stable temperature as part of their treatment. You've been very fortunate that your fish sound especially hardy.

I am not someone who is rabid about tank size, but I do think an aquarium heater is a mandatory piece of equipment save for very few circumstances.

I would definitely agree with everyone that you need to increase the number of water changes that you are currently performing. If you have the funds, I would strongly recommend purchasing the liquid API ammonia test kit. It is one of the best investments as a hobbyist you can make. We can't see when our water quality is deteriorating. What looks clean to us, may be deadly to fish due to the build-up of toxic chemicals. An ammonia kit would allow you to test your water, and work out when it needed changing.

I understand if their living environments and care is out of your control, but it would definitely benefit your fish if you could at least provide them with heaters. Betta splendens are a tropical species in spite of what some fish store employees might say.
 

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+1 to getting heaters if at all possible. This would really help to keep the health of your little guys stable.

+1 also to more frequent water changes, and getting a water testing kit if at all possible. With 1 gallon tanks I'd do 2-3 50% plus 1 100% for the adult weekly - and as already noted the babies need more frequent water changes as they release a growth-stunting hormone that needs to be removed from the water.

Otherwise - I'll have to give you a little bit of warning about MTS. They're awesome for a planted tank, but they reproduce asexually. Therefore, even if you were to get one, you won't END UP with one. I had 1 in a small tank - I've now got 30-40 in that tank (and that's without overfeeding my fish) and am looking for people to take some. I've got even more in my larger tanks.

A snail is a really good idea though. I've got ramshorns as well - they look more stereotypically "snail-like" and though they'll reproduce like mad as well, you need two tango...so to speak.
 

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My question is, how fast does ammonia build in these tanks? I change the tank water monthly and have had no troubles with sick Bettas.
That's actually a rather complex question since several factors affect just how toxic "ammonia" really is (to fish). First, in an aquarium, ammonia is found in two forms depending on pH. At low acidic pH, you get more NH4+ (ammonium) which is less toxic. At higher alkaline pH, you get NH3 (ammonia) which is much more toxic. Second, temperature also plays a role: cooler temps = less toxic whereas higher temps = more toxic. Third, fish are usually the major source of ammonia, meaning the more they eat, the more ammonia they produce.

That said, under breeding conditions (2-3 feedings/day at 80-82°F), one betta in an uncycled, bare-bottom 1 gallon tank can generate 0.5-1.0 ppm ammonia in one week as measured by the API liquid test. (Which also means a >50% water change every other day to keep up.) However, API tests for TOTAL ammonia (NH4+ and NH3). It doesn't tell you how much of the more toxic ammonia is present in the tank. (One reason why I prefer Seachem Ammonia Alert over API, since it only detects NH3.) If the water is cooler and more acidic, the amount on more toxic NH3 is less, which may explain why you've yet to have any problems.

At 77°F: (These numbers will change depending on temperature!)

EDIT: For comparison, here's Seachem Ammonia Alert: (Safe is considered <0.02 ppm.) "As free ammonia, the ALERT color corresponds to about 0.05 ppm, ALARM to about 0.2 ppm, and TOXIC to about 0.5 ppm. The ALERT concentration is tolerated for several days, ALARM for a few days, and TOXIC is rapidly harmful. This product is not recommended for use at acid pH."

However, in the end both NH3 and NH4+ are toxic, just because the betta doesn't immediately flop over twitching doesn't mean that it's healthy. Ammonia exits a fish through it's gills, either by passive diffusion or by active export. Long-term exposure to low levels of ammonia actually causes changes in the structure of the gills, ultimately preventing the necessary exchange of ions/metabolites/oxygen. It's the same idea as liver failure in alcoholics or smoker's lung. The gills eventually stop working. And then that's a dead fish.
 

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+1! I change my 3.5 gallon weelkly, or sometimes every 5 or 6 days. It probably isn't enough.
I'd do water changes every other day in your tank. And in a 1 gallon, I'm not sure a filter is a good idea, as a filter may put too much current in the water in such a small tank. But, as others have said, if you can, get a heater. (but it is hard to safely heat anything less then 2 gallons.)
 

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I probably wouldn't do shrimp in that size of a tank since they like well-established cycled tanks. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's really hard to cycle a 1 gallon tank. Shrimp are also super sensitive to water changes, so you'd have to do tons of little water changes a week. They look super cool, so if you can ever get a larger tank and cycle it and have lots of live plants, they'd be good. Most of them scavenge food particles, and some eat algae.

The ammonia test kit will tell you how fast the ammonia builds up to bad levels. You can use it as a guide to how often you need to change the water. I was told 1/month on my 10 gallon by store employees, but even that isn't enough.
 
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