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I want a Dorm Betta Fish!

3750 Views 11 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  firefly0101
Hello everyone! :-D I am considering buying a Betta for my dorm, and I have A LOT of questions! I want to make sure I am able to keep a fish happy and healthy before I buy one. Anyways, I'll start asking questions and I hope you answer! Thank you :)

I have a glass goldfish bowl that I think is about 1.5 gallons, and I'm wondering if this would be a suitable home? I kept a large goldfish in it for awhile and he had enough room, so it might even be a 2 gallon. It's a pretty good sized bowl! But I'm not sure if it's suitable because it looks like it might be difficult to heat/light/filter if any extra equipment is required. Would some kind of plastic tank or pre-made kit be easier or better than the bowl? Does the bowl need some kind of cover to keep the fish from jumping out? (Yes, I know to be careful about covering a Betta, they need air!)

Do I need any special equipment? I'd prefer not to use a filter, I don't mind changing the water a lot or using water conditioners or whatever needs done. Is a filter necessary, or will it make things drastically better in the tank? If so, what kind of filter do I need to get?? I know absolutely nothing about tank filters or their care.

Do I need a heater? My dorm will most likely experience a lot of temperature changes, especially since the building people sometimes have the heat on when it's hot, the air on when it's cold, and vice versa. My room seems pretty stable and comfortable so far, but then again, it's only the 2nd week of school... Will my fish be fine without a heater? If not, what should I get?

What kind of water should I use?? Tap, bottled, filtered, distilled? Do I need a water conditioner? Do I really need all those complex test strips? Can I just use tap water, a conditioner, and do a 50% water change every day or two? Does the water need a filter?

Will a diet of flakes, pellets, and bloodworms as treats be ok?

Do I have to have gravel in my tank? I really hate gravel, it's messy to clean in a non-filtered bowl, and I don't like the look of it. And I don't know how to clean it with a filter. I might just put a few rocks, plants and little things to hide in a scenery.

Can I use fake plants that are made out of fabric or foam? I don't want real ones unless I need them. I know some fake ones can tear their fins, so what are some good plants to put in a tank?

How do I clean my fish bowl or tank??

Will my Betta be ok to leave for 2 or 3 days during the weekend when I go home? I would be leaving Friday afternoon and coming back Sunday night most weekends. Also, what do I do during longer breaks? Should I leave him there or try to transport him during the holidays? How do I move him without stressing him out too much?

Sorry about all the questions, I just want to be a "prepared" owner and have everything ready to go when I get my fish! :) Thank you!!
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I can post a picture of the bowl in question if needed! I remember it holds about a jug and a half of water when I had the goldfish forever ago...
I suggest a tank that is at least 2 gallons in size--bigger is better both from a husbandry standpoint and a maintenance standpoint, but 2 gallons is the bare minimum because most quality heaters are designed to be used in aquariums that are a minimum of 2 gallons. Bettas are tropical fish, and they're cold-blooded animals, so a heater is not optional. Since the temperature of the room is going to fluctuate, you need to invest in a heater that has a good thermostat. I recommend this 25 watt adjustable heater:

The larger the tank you get, the less maintenance you will have to perform on it and the happier your fish will be. A 1-1.5 gallon tank should have a cleaning and a 100% water change every other day, a 2 gallon tank needs a cleaning and 100% water change every 3-4 days.

Larger tanks can be filtered and can undergo a process called the nitrogen cycle. When this occurs, the harmful toxins your fish excretes as waste can be broken down into less harmful compounds by beneficial bacteria living in the filter--eliminating the need for frequent cleanings and 100% water changes. Instead you only need to perform one partial water change a week. Most of my tanks are filtered and cycled in this way--if you want an easy low maintenance setup, I highly recommend a 5 gallon tank kit. The Marineland Eclipse 5 comes with a filter and a good fluorescent light for growing low light plants that can improve water quality. It's a bit of an investment, but keep in mind that this fish could potentially be with you for the next 3-7 years--what kind of tank you get will have a significant impact on your lifestyle for a long time to come. Choose your equipment wisely so you don't waste money on upgrading later when you get tired of cleaning and changing.

You should use dechlorinated tap water in your tank. I highly recommend this product: it is concentrated, so it's the best deal for your money as far as dechlorinators go. Make sure you get a good thermometer so that you can accurately match the old and new water temperatures when you do water changes.

For food, I recommend a good high quality pellet supplemented with frozen foods. I use OmegaOne betta buffet pellets--other good brands are Atison's Betta Pellets, Ken's Betta Crumbles, and New Life Spectrum. Always soak any dry food in a little tank water before feeding--this avoids bloating and discomfort caused by the food swelling in the fish's stomach as it absorbs moisture.

Gravel is optional in uncycled, unfiltered tanks. If you like the look of something on the bottom, you can use larger river stones or glass stones. You can find them at the pet store or at craft stores. If you choose to filter and cycle your tank, gravel is a good idea.

Always choose silk (fabric) plants. Run your fingers over the plastic stems to make sure there are no sharp protrusions. If you find any sharp pieces, you can file them away with a nail file. Live plants are awesome, by the way. There are some very hard to kill plants out there such as java moss that absorb the toxic waste your fish excretes, promoting good water quality. They're also very rewarding to cultivate and grow.

To clean your uncycled bowl during water changes, rinse everything with hot water including the tank itself, the decor, and gravel/rocks. If the tank is cycled and filtered, you won't need to clean it--just use a cheap gravel vacuum like this one every time you do a partial water change:

Your betta will be fine without food for a few days--I have left mine for a week without food a few times for family vacations. However, food is not the issue when you're dealing with small, uncycled and unfiltered tanks. The issue is how much the water quality deteriorates without the needed water changes. You should definitely plan on taking your betta home for the holidays, and don't plan on leaving your fish long enough to skip a water change. Uncycled and unfiltered tanks don't give you much room for error in terms of water quality.
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I suggest getting a kit. 1.5 is too small to keep a betta happy and healthy. The rule is 2 gallons MINIMUIM! The bigger the better. I have mine in a 5 and he loves it. Go for a kit that has a light, a filter, and a heater if they have one. If not get a kit with just a light and buy a small heater. The temp should be around 81/81 degrees idealy at all times. For water, you can use tap water and buy water conditioner. This eliminates ammonia and chlorine and provides safe water for your fish. 3 Pellets every other day and a bloodworm in between will be a great diet for your fish. Gravel is nice to dig plants into and gives the fish a more natural feeling for his enviroment, so I suggest it yes. As for plants yes sometimes plastic ones can tear fins so other than real ones silk are a good compromise! Cleaning depends on the size of the tank 20-30 % twice weekly is good! and 100% every 2-3 weeks should be great! And lastly as for leaving, you can leave him for two days as long as he is fed right before you leave. During longer breaks I suggest transporting him. I am sure more members will give info too! Happy fish keeping!!
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I can post a picture of the bowl in question if needed! I remember it holds about a jug and a half of water when I had the goldfish forever ago...
You know you can measure water into the bowl to see how much it holds - 16 cups to a gallon. :)
Water temps need to be 76-80 degrees fahrenheidt, so you will need a heater as Adastra stated :)

If you want to keep your betta in a smallish tank (no less than 2 gallons) I STRONGLY advise you get a water testing kit ( ) to moniter your ammonia levels, and if you decide to cycle, your nitrIte and nitrAte levels.

If you decide to take your fish home with you over long breaks, I advise you read this : While you don't need to ship your betta, to keep him safe and not too stressed, it's a good idea to bag your betta for travel.

It looks like adastra and others have completely covered everything else :) Well, good luck with your betta when you get him.
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Thanks for all of your good advice! :-D I will definitely stop by my local pet store and look at all the kits they have! And I'll invest in a heater for sure :)
The Hawkeye 5 is *great* from Walmart. So is the Tetra 5 from Walmart - both come with a filter. :)
Ok, I'll be sure to look there too! :-D Thank you!
Sorry for asking all kinds of questions, it's just that I have been an unprepared pet owner before, and I want to be sure to do it right this time! NEVER bring home a pet without knowing what you are getting yourself into!

I randomly brought home a rabbit one day, and it wasn't till she get sick and outgrew her cage that I learned how to do things the right way! So I am being paranoid about bringing home a fish now :roll:
Hello and welcome to the forum. Ask as many questions as you want. That's what this forum is for! :) It looks like you got some great advice.
If you don't like gravel, there's these glass beads availible, called Nitrastrate, and they absorb the Nirates from the water. Ask your pet store to order them in.

As for travel, you can get a room mate to feed him, and change the water, but leave a DETAILED list of what to do, and how to do things.
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