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Planning out a tank, could use advice!

341 Views 6 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  CanisInsanine
Hello there! If you've read one of my posts then you probably already know where I'm at and where I need to go, but if not, then here's the jist of things:

A few days ago, my dad got me a betta fish for my birthday. I have been openly talking about thinking about getting one, but hadn't made any definite decision, so on the 13th, he let me loose in Petco with some spending money, and I picked up this gorgeous guy, and a small tank kit. (see attachment)

Thing is... I didn't really know what I was doing. The tank kit seemed a bit small to me, but it was in the price range of what I could afford, and since it came with a plant, gravel, and food and a pack each of water conditioner and ammonia things that I figured would be fantastic since we use (highly filtered) well water, so that's what I got for him. It said on the box that it was perfect for betta..... but now I know that is way wrong. It's only 1/2 a gallon, and though it is bigger than the cup that Petco had him in, it's not big enough, and I'm ready to get my betta momma pants on and get him into a much better tank.

This is what I'm planning on doing, once I have some funds saved up.

I would love to get a 10 gallon tank, since I simply cannot find any 5 gallon tanks that don't look incredibly akward or expensive, so that's what I am planning on getting. And, since I am really loving this whole betta thing, I know I'll probably cave in and get one of the other bettas that I saw that afternoon if he's still there, a metallic boy marked as a butterfly betta, which means I'll need a divider, along with, well, quite a few other things. I've looked around a LOT online, and estimated total expenses for the tank, when going as low-priced yet nice-quality as I can with each of the items, that I'll need around $80 for the tank and its accessories, though it'll probably come a lot closer to $100 since once I get to decorations and silk foliage, I'm probably going to be even more picky (especially since his only plant has ripped up his dorsal fin pretty bad.... I don't want that happening again.)

So this is my list so far of things to get:

- Tank (I'm going to be looking in-store for this in a few places near me, looking for a 10 gallon since I'd like to divide it.)
- Substrate (I found a bag of 25lbs of National Geographic Aquarium Substrate that I think would be good in the tank. I went with black, so that I can be a little more lenient with the colors of decorations I choose and be able to change my mind on color palette when I look in-store for decorations.)
- Heater (I found a 10 gallon heater online for a decent price, and it's marketed towards bettas specifically, so I plan on getting it.)
- Filter (This one is for a 10 gallon tank, and has good reviews saying that the flow isn't too much for the betta in a 10 gallon tank)
- Thermometer (attaches to the side using a suction cup - I feel like this is pretty A+ to have)
- Leaf Hammock (Because I've seen a lot of it on this forum lol)
- Turkey Baster (Since I know I'm not going to be able to get a handy dandy tank vac I'll be getting a new turkey baster to clean out the tank)
- Bucket (for water changes)
- Decorations and Hiding Places (I'll be looking in-stores for these, so that I can physically make sure that it's not too rough for his fins or anything like that, and so I don't accidentally buy something that's too big for his tank, including soft silk plants definitely)
- Seachem Prime Water Conditioner (so that I can cycle the tank as stated in the sticky about it)
- Divider (I still have to look at these, but I'm not sure what the dimentions will be of the tank yet, so I'm not really searching hard for it yet)
- Varieties of food (just because I thin it would be nice for him to have a variety in his food, though he's eating the pellets just fine)

If you have any comments on any of this stuff or any advice, I would absolutely love to hear it! I do have some questions though...

1) How does filtration and heating work in a divided tank? Should I have one on one side and one on the other? I'm really confused about this.

2) Where can I find a divider for the tank? What if they don't have any that meet the dimensions of the tank that I get?

3) I should avoid getting a King betta, right? I really liked the one I saw in the store, but I don't think I would be able to divide the tank fairly that way.

4) Water changes will be a little different, won't they? I'll have to change it (from what I've read) 25% once a week depending on the ammonia levels, so do I take half of that from one side and one half from the other?

5) What should I beware of when getting a Betta from the store? I don't really know the signs of a sick or unhealthy fish, besides it floating belly-up in the cup... I feel bad for the sick fish there, but I don't feel like I have the expertise to take them in in order to nurse them back to health, especially not in a divided tank with my other betta.

6) What should I do with the little tank I have now??? I don't know if I should keep it as like a quarantine/hospital tank in case anything happens to one fish so that nothing happens to the other but only as a temporary housing (I'll get a silk plant and better rocks for inside it of course) or if I should just figure out something else to do with it? Do you have any ideas?

Thank you for reading and (in advance) for responding! It really means the world to me, I'm really excited to really get back into bettas and do it right :)


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First off, congratulations! Your fishy is so pretty, and he is very lucky to have a mommy who cares so much. Some people would stubbornly refuse to change anything, so for you to doing so much for him is really very special. You should be very proud of yourself!

My tank is quite a lot smaller than yours (about 3.5 gallons), so I can't help you with everything, but I will try, and hope someone else can correct me if I get it wrong!

-Tank: you get whatever you want to and can afford! As long as it is big enough (2.5 gallons minimum), you are good to go. Actually, I have seen this on the PetSmart website, which could be just what you are looking for, and at a great price!
-Substrate: Neutral colours is definitely a good idea. However, I would not recommend sand. I have seen a few posts on the forum about fish eating sand substrates, and it has wreaked all kinds of havoc on their intestines. Gravel would be a much better substrate. There are several neutral gravel options on the PetSmart website, any of which look good to me.
-Heater: I suggest getting a heater that is adjustable. There are 2 reasons for this. 1) The heater you linked to says that it will keep the tank about 5 - 10 degrees warmer than room temp. But if your room temp varies, so will the water temp. Not so great for fishy... An adjustable heater allows you to set the temp, so there are fewer fluctuations. Much better for fishy :grin2: 2) If your fish is ill, you might want to up the temp to assist with treatment. With an adjustable heater, you can do that too. Even better for fishy! 0:) This is the one I use, and I love it. It is slightly more expensive than the one you picked out, but I am putting it here for reference.
-Filter: Yup, looks good. Even though people say the flow is good, I would say that with any filter you want to keep an eye on it, and be prepared to baffle both intake and outflow if necessary. Some bettas are fine with a slightly stronger flow, while some (especially long finned types like your beauty) absolutely hate it.
-Thermometer: Again, a great idea. That way you can keep an eye on your tank temp to make sure it isn't going for a wander! Also, really handy at water changes for getting the new water to tank temp.
-Leaf hammock: Great idea! I don't have one, maybe I should...
-Turkey baster: I really would recommend a siphon. It doesn't have to be fancy, a cheap little manual one like this works fine, and I think would save you a lot of time an effort.
-Bucket: Absolutely! Make sure that you rinse it thoroughly with hot water (no chemicals!) before using it for the fist time. Also, only use it for your fish, don't put anything else in there. But I am sure you knew that :smile2:
-Decorations: You have got a good idea of what you are looking for here. You will struggle to get anything that is too big. Bettas love nice full tanks with lots of places to rest and hide. When you are looking at plants, make sure to get some with nice big leaves at various levels for him to rest on!
-Water conditioner: Great choice!
-Divider: This is beyond my knowledge, but I am sure I have seen at least one thread on the forum discussing the sort of things you want to know. Have a dig around, I am sure you will find it.
-Varieties of food: Again, good thinking! Humans could survive on just potatoes, but that would be very boring. Changing up food not only makes feeding time more interesting, it can also help with his digestive system. Score! New Life Spectrum betta pellets are the best pellet food out there, so with Christmas coming up, I am definitely going to be dropping some hints :p Bloodworm makes for a great treat. If you don't want live food (I can't stomach it myself :sick: ) get frozen, not freeze dried. Bloodworm is like sweeties to a betta. They love it, but it is rather fatty, so should be kept as an occasional treat. Other food like Daphnia and brine shrimp are also great for bettas, especially good for keeping the digestive tract in good working order!

As I mentioned, divided tanks are beyond my knowledge, so I hope someone else can come along to help you with that.

Regarding question 5, I would say look for a fish that is active, and reacts to you. If a fish is floating at the top, or sitting at the bottom, and hardly moves even when you pick it up, the fish is probably not happy. It could be as simple as it is fed up, or needs a water change, but it could also be a lot more serious. A healthy betta should be nice an brightly coloured, with open fins. Pet store fish may often have bitten fins, but could also have fin rot. Take a look at the sticky to learn the difference. Mild fin rot isn't serious, and should clear up when you get the fish into nice clean water. If a fish has growths, or anything that looks like it could be a parasite or infection, stay away! As you said, these fish need extra special care, and are probably not a good idea for a novice keeper.

For question 6, I would definitely keep your little tank. If you move house, it would be great to put the fish in for moving. Likewise if you do a big tank clean, you could pop him in there. I imagine it would also be great for doing medicated baths if he ever gets ill. Lots of reasons to keep it!

Phew, that was a lot of typing. I hope I have covered everything I can help with, but please do say if I haven't, or you have any other questions.

Finally, keep up the good work. You are definitely going above and beyond the call of duty for your little boy, and both he and you should thrive from it! :yourock:
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Wow, thank you so much! I'm really glad to hear that I'm on the ball with all this :)

On the few things that you mentioned I should change up...

The substrate - I did find a pack of gravel at about the same price on the PetSmart website, so that will be taken care of. I imagine with the cleaning hose you've suggested that Gravel would be easier to clean than sand anyways.
The heater - I didn't notice that when I looked at the description for it... I'm glad you did! I'll definitely look into that heater you've provided, since my room does vary quite a bit from day to night.
The Cleaning Hose - I didn't know something like that would work at all! I was thinking of some big super tech-heavy device... It definitely looks like it works (I watched the video) and I think I'll add it to the list!

And yes, I planned on keeping the bucket in my room and if I have to I'll paint my name on the side of it along with "Only for fish water changes - do NOT use with bleach/soap/chemicals" but I'm pretty sure neither my dad nor sister would try using it. We have plenty of buckets already, and if I wasn't worried about any chemicals inside them I'd just use them... but I am, and I would feel safer just getting a new bucket. I'll probably get 2 buckets, one for the dirty water when I clean it, and one for new water that I filled and conditioned earlier so that they don't have to wait too long with a half-full tank.

Thank you so much for the advice! It's been a while since I had a pet that's just my own (aside from a $200 puppy that I had for a week, then had to give away because my mother decided to kick me out and she is a high-energy dog who canNOT live in an apartment) and I'm glad I can do right by Meta.

EDIT: So here's the updated list:

- Tank (I'm still planning on looking in-store for this, because I saw a nice one with a lid for around $15 so I'm hoping they'll have them in the store)
- Substrate - I'll get three 5lb bags of this in black
- Heater - I'll get the one AuntyAmber mentioned in the 50 watt variety since my tank will be a 10 gallon :)
- Filter - Nothing changed, still this one, but I'll keep an eye on it when I put Meta in, to make sure he doesn't have issues with it, and if he does I'll buffer it.
- Thermometer and Leaf Hammock
- Instead of a turkey baster, I'll get this Siphon
- Buckets (2), decorations with hiding places and silk plants, Seachem Prime Water Conditioner, a Divider, and varieties of food.
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Things still seem to be a bit of a WIP but I think I have everything that I need, the tank, filter, heater, gravel, and I have 6 plants in there. I wanted to get silk plants, and will as soon as I get the chance, but they didn't have anything I could afford (I even went over budget by a bit... my dad had to help me out with a couple dollars). I got a nice heater, and also made sure to get him some new food and a siphon for water changes. I have a good bit of water conditioner left, enough for three more water changes, so I should be able to get Seachem by then.
I've got it all put together and everything is working beautifully! I'm just waiting for the water to hit 78^F (The heater is going to keep the temp within 2 degrees of 78 and it will stop heating when it's in that zone, but I'll be using a thermometer just in case) then I'll get him ready to go into it :)
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Also, I should add that I've abandoned (at least for a while) the idea of a divided tank, I'm just going to keep Meta in there and once I fill it more with better hiding places and such, I might get a small school (6) of Pygmy Cories, or a Nerite snail or something like that.
Glad to hear you are all set up, do keep us updated with your progress. I would love to see a picture of your tank with your little guy in it once he has settled down. Everything sounds really great, and your guy is going to be so happy!

I have a couple of Nerites in my tank, and they make a great clean-up crew. They are also really fun to watch; their little mouths are so cute, and they always wind up in silly places!
Thank you! I like the idea of Nerite snails... Do you think two would do well in the tank, or should I just go with one?

Here are some pictures! If I can get them to work...

He seems to be doing okay, though! I waited all day, and the heater is showing a constant green light, then I put him in a plastic baggie and had him hanging on the top for a while, and just about 20 minutes ago I let him out into the tank. He's been in only round containers, so the clean glass on the new flat-sided tank is giving him free reign to his reflection it seems, he's doing a bit of glass-surfing and almost flared a few times, but he's calming down now. He's liking that pink plant the best, he just layed there among the leaves for a minute then saw me and swam away xD

I am aware of his belly, and I've cut down on his feedings since it seems I've been giving him too much, and the tears in his fins from the previous tank are healing a bit but still have a ways to go. Other than that, he seems pretty happy, and his blue has started to get brighter and more shimmery (within the last few days) so I'm thinking he's doing pretty well!


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