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Hey guys! Okay, so first off, I'm not exactly "brand new" to bettas, I've had a few in the past that I've given all my love to, but I just recently bought 3 off of AquaBid and I want to make sure I'm doing everything as perfectly as possible. I know there is a large portion of betta care that is opinion based, so that's what I would like some help with.

As of right now, I have a lovely little crown tail boy named Cloud that I rescued during my semester at college. Cloud's been with me through thick and thin, and has toughed it out in a cramped dorm room in a too small tank to a now nice sized critter keeper (I think its either a large or an x-large) with a heater and filter and all the hiding spots his little body can get into.

Anyway, as soon as I discovered AquaBid, I immediately began planning for new tanks and new bettas. So, when the time and money came, I ordered a 5 gallon tank kit, adjustable heater, etc, then went to AquaBid to start "browsing." 3 bids later, I was in need of a new tank. One sketchy ebay deal later, I now have a 16 gallon bow tank to pick up on Saturday. Awesome.

Now, I've been doing some serious research (including hardcore note taking) and countless hours just going through post after post and I think I have a pretty decent amount of knowledge stored away. But my problem is that since most of the items you buy for your betta's are opinion-based, I have no idea what the "best" items would be. And on top of that, the cheapest. I'm still a poor college student, and apparently my idea of being frugal is buying 3 bettas on AquaBid and 2 new tanks. Not awesome, but hey, that's life. No regrets.

ANYWAY, I know you betta lovers are some seriously thrifty people and I could really use some help. And I also have some probably noob questions, but whatever.

First, heaters. Best and cheapest, and where to get them? I have 3 hospital tanks that I'm assuming need heaters, especially if I also use them as quarantine tanks(?). My sketchy ebay deal comes with a heater for the 16 gal. but I have some doubts over whether it will actually work or not.

Second, medicine. I've seen some people who make "medicine cabinets" for their bettas, so is there any meds/vitamins/etc. that I should stock up on and have on hand? Or is it more buy-when-needed?

Third, DIY accessories. I know you crafty betta people are out there and I could definitely use any advice you guys have on making your own plants and caves and all that good betta stuff.

Fourth, cycling. Which tanks to cycle and why?

Fifth, real plants. I decided that for now, the only real plants I will get are moss balls, because I don't really have the money for anything else. BUT, in the future I would love to do some planted tanks, so any advice on what plants and where to buy them cheap would be AMAZING.

Sixth, fake plants. I bought some silk plants from Petco, because I read that they are best, but is this true? And what substrate, if any at all, do you prefer?

Well, super long post over. Any help/advice/friendly small talk would be greatly appreciated and I will send virtual cookies and hugs and all my love. Seriously though, you guys are the best, and I can't wait for my 3 new beauties to get here. Oh the life of a fish parent. Cloud sends his love too (and by love I mean his judgmental stare and sassy flaring. He's a little cocky now that's he's out of that god-awful toilet bowl cup and he thinks he's better than me. Watching me eat pizza and judging me. Brat) But any who, yeah, thanks :)
 

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Hello, and welcome to the life of betta keeping. ^.^ You seem to be very caring of your pets, and so I thank you for it. Some people just keep them in bowls. :I

Heaters - My favorites are the Hydor THEO heaters, I use 2 and one is in use. It is the most amazing heater ever! You want adjustable and dependable heaters? Hydor THEOs are the bomb. The others that I like are the Aqueon, Jager, and Visi-Therm. (all adjustable) I bought my Hydor on eBay. (best place to buy them IMO) Just search up the other heaters and find the cheapest place to buy them from. :D

Medicine - It is always best to have fish meds on hand just in case your fish gets sick. Aquarium and Epsom Salt are what we usually use here because they're the not-that-strong type. AQ Salt (sodium chloride) is used for external injuries such as fin rot and any open wounds, it keeps the fluids inside the body and makes sure no infection sets in. ES (magnesium sulfate) is used for internal problems such as constipation and buoyancy problems in the swim bladder; it helps get the fluids out. I always keep these two just in case. These salts are for minor problems, or major diseases that have been detected early. The other meds people keep just in case are Maracyn 1 & 2, Jungle Parasite Fizz Tabs, Furan, Stress Coat, Coppersafe, etc. Long list, I know. lol ^.^

DIY - People here make craft mesh tunnels or "hammocks" so their betta can lay on it. There are also dividers you can make and use even terra cotta pots for caves as you said. I usually buy stuff so I'm not good at this. hehe

Cycling - Cycling is the process of two special bacteria that eat up ammonia and nitrite which pose as invisible chemicals that can kill your fish. Fish produce ammonia by their poo and uneaten food, etc. etc. Bacteria #1 eats the ammonia and changes it into nitrite. Bacteria #2 eats nitrite and transforms it into a new chemical, nitrate. <- Notice the A? Nitrate is only dangerous when in big amounts, up to 40ppm and above. Once ammonia and nitrite are even above 0ppm, they already start to hurt the inhabitants. Cycling takes up to 5 weeks to complete and stabilize so that is why we suggest fishless cycling rather than your fish-in. Plants help with this process because they too, suck up ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Learn more here, here, and here. <(^.^)>

Plants & Substrate - Silk plants are the 2nd best you can possibly buy. They don't tear your fins, and are really soft. The best you can buy are real, live plants. As I said in the Cycling paragraph, they help with the parameters. They don't tear your betta fins either! As for substrate, what do you want? Gravel and sand are both nice substrates. I prefer sand, though. The food and poo stays on top and if you get a good brand like "CaribSea Super Naturals" the siphon doesn't suck up much sand. Just make sure you wash it out real well before putting it in your tank because it's pretty dirty. Gravel is awesome too, but the food gets in between the rocks. :s

Sorry for the long paragraph, lol. c: Have fun with your new bettas!
http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=107771
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you so much, that helps a lot! I think I'm going to be stuck with the fish-in cycle, though I might try the bucket one.
 
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