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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all! I bought my first betta and my first pet from a big box store. And, despite my efforts it is still very much alive!

I bought an inexpensive 2.5 gallon tank (turns out it is pink) and a female betta fish (not pink). I was a little disappointed after researching further that betta fish prefer to be solitary. I went back to the big box store today and purchased some snails on their recommendation. I wanted to have something else moving, than just this little fish. I just introduced the snails and they are making a mess with slime, which I know will stop once they are no longer stressed. My betta does not like them, so far!

I have been really impressed with my new aquatic companion. I think we had some goldfish when I was a toddler, but I don't remember the fish being so attentive to my presence. This betta seems to get so excited when I am near the aquarium, and it is always curious about what is happening outside the water. I put a bunch of rocks and hollow objects in the tank to entertain it, but it seems much more interested in what I am doing.

Anyhoo, I have been doing a lot of research online and wanted to find a place to post my questions, so I signed up to this forum. I hope to get a lot of ideas and inspiration for my new hobby here. Very happy to get started with my little companion.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
the big box store called them "mystery snails" although they look just like the periwinkles that I see on the coast... the body is a bit bigger... thankfully they have stopped producing all that slime now..

some of the things that I want to try doing for my betta fish is harvesting misquito larva from a bucket trap and trying different types of feeds. I have been feeding it different kinds of things, and it really likes bits of rice and the insides of snowpea pods. I love sharing my chinese food dinner with it. I even cut up my take out carton and used the metal handle to make an obsticle that it can swim around. It seems to be having a great time with it!

I also want to figure out how to make a DIY water siphon, since it is such a little tank, I don't think that I need an expensive system. Right now, I have a half-pint squeeze bottle that I suck up stuff from the bottom, but I think that I can do better.

And since it is summer, I figure this is a low priority, but I want to get some sort of low power heather (maybe even USB powered) that I can use to heat the small tank in the winter. I would love to repurpose a coffee warmer from the second hand store, but I don't know whether such a thing would be submersable. Would like to hear what other people have jury-rigged for solutions.
 

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Hi. Welcome to the forum.
Careful what food you share with your betta. Make sure its not oily and easy to digest. And careful with expanding foods, like noodles.

Making a siphon is easy. All you need is a hose (air line tubes will do), preferably slightly longer than the distance between tank and waste bucket. You can tie one end to a stick, long enough so that your hands don't need to touch the water. This helps you drive the siphon to specific spots. Further, you can attach something thin but stiff enough at the end of the stick to help scrape off unwanted build ups on tank floor and walls.

If you're using substrates, you can attach the hose to a small long plastic bottle - cut the bottom off. Punch a hole on the cap for the hose (it has to fit tightly). Push the hose about 1" into the cap. . . . When sucking, push bottle into the substrate. Before the substrate reaches the hose, release/lift the bottle. Substrate should drop to the floor while gunk gets sucked into the hose. . . . "Squeeze and release" hose to alter the needed suction power.

*** The higher the tank (water surface) from the bucket, the stronger the suction.
 

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I love Mystery Snails; but, they produce a lot of waste. Because of this. In a 2.5 tank you will need to do two 25%-50% water changes per week. With just the Betta you would only need to do one. If the tank does not have a filter you will need to up it to three times per week with the snails; twice with just the Betta.

Betta do not need tank mates; that is something we do for us. Know that I have had Betta-based community tanks for 40 years so I'm not against tank mates.

You can also use a pill bottle as one end of the siphon. However, you can buy them on eBay for $3-$4 with free shipping.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Can you provide a link to an inexpensive hose siphon online? I don't have any spare hose at all. Maybe I just need to visit a local hardware store. Sounds like I am going to need to change a lot of water, and putting my hand down there is not going to work out.

Thank you for all your suggestions. I have learned a lot already!
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I got some floating plants for the aquarium. The betta is always swimming around the surface, and I thought it might bother her. She LOVES to "jump" over the leaves and navigate the roughage. Not interested in consuming it, though. My neighbor was giving away parts of her "Wandering Jew" water plant, and it seems like a good addition to the other water plants that I have foraged.

The betta has learned to tolerate the Mystery Snails. I think she likes to have differences as she swims around. I noticed today that, in addition to pausing to look at them, she sometimes pokes them and gets them to fall off the sides. Funny times.

My landlord had a dozen feet of tubing, and I did my first water change yesterday. Piece of cake. I put a metal rod on it (attached it by rubber bands) so I can really get it under the rocks to suck up the gook. I also used the top of a plastic spray bottle to pump the tube, and get the water siphoning started. It also works to clean the tube afterward.

Thanks for everyone's advice, as it is really appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
when it comes to living with tank mates, if your tank is the apropriate size and you have some good foliege and hiding spots no hurt in trying it out
The betta was still looking bored, and I was increasingly worried. It was not fun to view a tank with a fish that just pushed up against the side. I had already put the mystery snails into the tank, which worked out well, so I went to the big-box store again to buy some companions.
I was hoping to get some bottom-feeders or something without any flash, as I kept hearing bettas do not like flashy fish. The only fish that the big-box store clerk felt comfortable selling (and I had to talk them into it) was a couple of guppies. I did everything that I could to give them a chance: I acclimated them in a floating bag for 10 hours, I bought more plants so they had some hiding spots, and I fed my betta before releasing them.
Unfortunately, for the guppies, the next several hours was a non-stop horror show, where the betta cycled through hunting-darting-resting every twenty seconds. Eventually, it pinned one into a corner where it died. It continued with the second one, at which point I removed the survivor from the tank. The betta then went back to looking listless again, and the snails are started consuming the dead fish. The whole thing was rather distressing to watch.
 

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Sorry about your guppy. It's an individual character - some may live peacefully with guppies while others don't.

In any case, 2.5g is rather small for a community, especially if you have an aggressive fish. It's best to keep your betta with snails only, unless you can get a bigger tank.
 

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Kudos to the store clerk for not wanting to sell you any fish for that tank. Sounds like someone who knows what they're talking about. Sadly, those who work for a big box store must eventually give in. :(

Agree with indjo. Nothing but a snail in a tank that small. Only solitary fish can live such a tank. In addition, a shoal smaller than six is not natural and not really fair to a species. According to species profiles (as opposed to what someone on a forum or FB has done), other than a Betta, few fish can live comfortably in any tank with shorter than a 20" width (10 gallon); especially if housed with a predator.

The one thing you do not want to jury-rig is a heater. Bite the bullet and buy a Hydor 25 or 50 watt. I have found them cheaper on eBay than anywhere else. They are the same length so if you can get a 50 watt that will also work with a 5.5. You can even use a 50 watt in 10 if there's not much difference in ambient temperature and needed tank temperature. So the 50 watt would serve you should you get a larger tank. Don't forget the thermometer. :)

Another thing you want to buy is an API Master Test Kit or at least a liquid Ammonia test. More bang for the buck with liquid over strips. There's a sticky in Diseases and Emergencies which list all the diseases triggered by poor water quality. Ammonia should always be 0 ppm.

Hope this wasn't TMI.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Instead of more fish, I should have realized that my betta already expressed joy in the plants. I introduced new plants, and they being enjoyed by the both betta and snails, immensely. The plants are growing great and the water is crystal-clear!
As for the surviving guppy, it found a new home. My little nephew has his first pet. Surprise!
 

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Your last sentence made me smile.

I agree about the plants. My Betta and other fish seem to enjoy them. I tell people I have fish so I can justify my planted tanks.:)
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Things my betta likes to eat, in order of preference:
Topfin Betta Bloodworm Treats (goes crazy for them)
Omega One Freeze Dried Brine Shrimp (very happy to see crumbs of these cubes)
Canned Tuna Fish (takes a big bite while most falls to bottom of tank)
Aqueon Betta Food pellets (gives me a dirty look but does finally eat it)
Snow peas (shelled) (spits them out, probably reminds it of insect larva)

Things my mystery snails like to eat:
Brussel Sprouts (blanched) (rushes across the tank to eat)
Licking the side of the tank
Squash Zucchini (blanched) (will eat when hunting)
Spinach (blanched) (pokes at it)
Celery leaves and stems (blanched) (will eventually nibble)
Carrots (uncooked) (waits until it rots a bit to examine it)

Would love to add some live food for the betta to eat, as apparently it loves to hunt. The big-box store said not to introduce brine shrimp that are commonly found in tide-pools near where I live. I would love some suggestions on something that I could mail order or find locally that would not be too expensive. Has anyone had success making a mosquito trap to collect larva? I love experimenting with adding new elements to this closed system, and I like seeing my betta and snails investigate new items.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Wanted to sing the praises of the local second-hand store! They had an 2.5 gallon aquarium kit for $5 that contained a bowl, tons of cool decorations, two bottles of half-full, not-expired water conditioner, a mostly-full container of betta food, and ... best of all ... a 50watt submersable heater.
Was ready to pay $20 for the heater alone, and I was there looking for decorations. I had been looking at Craigslist for people posting about aquariums, but I should have gone to the second-hand store before going to the big-box pet store. I am glad they got my business, but I could have saved a lot of time by buying someone else's set up.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Has it already been a month? My little betta girl (named her "Fishy") has brought me so much joy. She is always excited when I sit near her, and she swims back and forth, to look at me.
The best thing for a fish is provide differences in the environment. Everytime I put a new decoration into the tank, she loves to explore it. She swims around it, she weaves in and out of it, and she makes new swim patterns. A lot of people keep telling me that a bigger tank is the solution to everything. It's true bigger is better, and lord knows that I would personally like a bigger "tank" to reside, in these days of social isolation, but I think providing creatures with changes in their environment is enough. My betta is very happy, and I always try to do the best that I can mixing up food and environment.

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