Aquarium newb planning a 10-15gal tank for betta - need suggestions

Chime
  • #1
Hello,

As the title suggests, I'm new to the aquarium hobby and am making plans for my first tank: a planted 10 or 15gal for a male betta and possibly some other critters.

I currently have my eyes on the Aqueon 15gal Column Aquarium stand and tank kit because it's more narrow, but if I can make a few more inches of space I'm also looking at a 10gal kit and stand.

Some questions I have...

What would make good tank mates for a betta? Since this is my first aquarium, the hardier the better. I'm considering a snail as one possibility. Any breed suggestions?

What plants do you suggest/what are easy to care for? I don't want to have to get an extra light for plants that need more light, and I don't know how much light the kits I'm looking at provide, so low-light plant suggestions are preferred.

Any other suggestions or advice you might have is more than welcome. I'm sure I'll need it.

Thanks!
 
Aster
  • #2
Save yourself the regret and don't get the 15 gallon column. It is too narrow for most fish and limits your choices. The 10 gallon may actually offer you more variety.

Are you absolutely set on a betta? If you want a betta community tank, at least 20 gallons is the standard. Anything smaller and the tension will build up quickly.

Easy plants are hornwort, anacharis, anubias, java fern, water wisteria, and water sprite.

https://www.fishlore.com/aquariumfishforum/threads/stocking-list-for-10-gallons.207629/
 
TexasDomer
  • #3
You can keep shrimp and snails with your betta though!

Do you know about the nitrogen cycle?
 
Chime
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
I've read a little bit about it, but nothing too in-depth. I'll definitely read up on it in more detail before actually throwing anything in. Thanks!
 
Chime
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Save yourself the regret and don't get the 15 gallon column. It is too narrow for most fish and limits your choices. The 10 gallon may actually offer you more variety.

Are you absolutely set on a betta? If you want a betta community tank, at least 20 gallons is the standard. Anything smaller and the tension will build up quickly.

Easy plants are hornwort, anacharis, anubias, java fern, water wisteria, and water sprite.

https://www.fishlore.com/aquariumfishforum/threads/stocking-list-for-10-gallons.207629/


The whole reason I'm starting an aquarium is for a betta. The original plan was to do a 5gal for under $100 but I quickly realized that even keeping it under $150 would be a struggle and that at that point trying to make space to go bigger would be worth it since it would cost about the same. With the 5gal it was just going to be the betta alone. Since I'm planning on going bigger I thought I might get suggestions on what would work for tank mates should I decide to go that route.

Thanks for the suggestions!
 
Aster
  • #6
The whole reason I'm starting an aquarium is for a betta. The original plan was to do a 5gal for under $100 but I quickly realized that even keeping it under $150 would be a struggle and that at that point trying to make space to go bigger would be worth it since it would cost about the same. With the 5gal it was just going to be the betta alone. Since I'm planning on going bigger I thought I might get suggestions on what would work for tank mates should I decide to go that route.

Thanks for the suggestions!

It's completely possible to get a 5gal under $100, I've actually been planning for one and the cost has come around $50. If you're interested, I can let you know the specifics

Depending on where you live, you may also be able to pick up a tank at Petco for $1/gallon (for example, 10 gallon tank for $10, 20 gallon for $20), since their sale is still going on.

The column, like most irregular sized tanks, is needlessly expensive IMO. Bettas also prefer horizontal space rather than vertical space, since it's tiring for them to swim up with their long fins. If space is a problem, just go with a 5 or 10 gallon. Having a betta with fishy tank mates is unsuitable for anything under 20 gallons anyway.
 
Chime
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
It's completely possible to get a 5gal under $100, I've actually been planning for one and the cost has come around $50. If you're interested, I can let you know the specifics

Depending on where you live, you may also be able to pick up a tank at Petco for $1/gallon (for example, 10 gallon tank for $10, 20 gallon for $20), since their sale is still going on.

The column, like most irregular sized tanks, is needlessly expensive IMO. Bettas also prefer horizontal space rather than vertical space, since it's tiring for them to swim up with their long fins. If space is a problem, just go with a 5 or 10 gallon. Having a betta with fishy tank mates is unsuitable for anything under 20 gallons anyway.


Specifics would be awesome. I've already went and bought the 10gal but if I can find ways to keep the remaining costs down, I will.
 
Aster
  • #8
I use this sponge filter for my 10 gallon and it works perfectly. It should also handle a 5 gallon with no problem. Bettas will appreciate the slow current it provides. You do need an air pump if you don't have one, which you can get pretty much at any store.

And you need airline tubing to connect the air pump to the filter.

All substrate is pretty cheap. I recommend sand substrate, it's a lot easier to clean than gravel. All the waste sits on top and is easily sucked up. For any heavy root feeding plants, just add some root tabs.


Cost depends largely on what you already have, too. For instance, I already have the basic supplies from my first tank, so I won't need to buy more of those. Since this is going to be your first tank, you'll need water conditioner (many of us here recommend Seachem Prime). water test kit (API Master Test Kit), fish net, fish food, siphon, etc. Then you get the tank, fish and decor/plants, and you're pretty much set!

EDIT: Oops, totally forgot about heater and lighting. I knew I was missing something!
 
TexasDomer
  • #9
How much did you pay for the 10 gal tank?

For the tank setup:

Heater - $20
I would buy heaters new, but you can find cheap ones on Amazon or Ebay. I like the Aqueon submersible heaters.

Glass lid - $6
If you don't want to shell out $20 for the aquarium glass lids, you can go to Lowe's or a similar hardware store and get them to cut a piece of glass that will fit on the rI'm of the tank.

Substrate - $8
You can buy Black Diamond blasting sand or pool filter sand - $8 for 50 lbs and save the rest of the sand for a future tank or use it to fill in holes in your backyard. Aquarium sand is more expensive and it's the same thing.

Filter - <$15
Use a sponge filter. Buy an air pump rated for a 10 gal tank. You can either buy a new one (~$10) or you can buy a used one (usually under $5). You need a sponge filter ($5 off Ebay or Amazon, and free shipping) and tubing (under $5, at your LFS or order online).

Light - $15
Buy a dome clamp light from a hardware store. If you're not growing plants, any light bulb will do. If you want to grow live plants, 5000 - 10000 K will grow plants, and 6500 K is ideal. Often you can find light bulbs in the clearance section of the store, but if not, they're not too expensive anyway.
 
Bbarb27
  • #10
Lowlight plants like anubias, java fern, wisteria and water sprite will grow well under a 6500K bulb and you can use sand as substrate for all of those plants. When I had bettas they enjoyed hiding in the wisteria at night.

Some bettas do well with mystery snails, but others will nip at the snail's antenna or siphon.
 
ahisma
  • #11
I've got a whole process for acclimating a betta. I did the same thing... I wanted to start a community tank around a betta.

First of all, you need to find articles about fishless cycling. Do this before you start. If you cycle the tank with fish in, they will struggle to survive. The store will say to get danios because they can handle the cycle. Great, but danios are too frenetic for a betta...
Don't use a betta to cycle... It's too hard on his fins. If you find a betta that you love while you are cycling your main tank, you can keep it in a five gallon bucket with a heater, decorations and thermometer. (No gravel) and change the water daily, or every other day. (Keep about 3-4 gallons of water in it.)
You can add a sponge filter, like penn plax small world. The carbon and zeolite will help filter ammonia. Still change water 100% every other day, if you are not cycling.

Or get a five dollar five gallon at Petco. The sale is now. It might be good to do that because you might need the five gallon as a backup tank. I'll post my very long acclimation process that worked for me. Good luck!!

Ok here it is! Very long winded and detailed.

Ideally, a larger tank is better. A 20 gallon long is perfect for a community with a Betta. One reason is that bettas need to reach the surface to breath air. Also, fish swim horizontally, not vertically, so a wider tank gives them more space.

Observe the betta to see how he reacts to other fish. You can tell I'm the store if it is aggressive, first of all. I've seen some that flair at fish, people, rocks and some that couldn't care less about the other males (in their cups).

Bettas actually swim all over in a bigger tank and they would look pretty silly in a 20 gallon long with no other fish.

If you are going to do a community tank with a Betta, you have to be thoughtful of the process. I see a lot of people who just chuck them into a tank with a fast current and a community full of barbs, guppies etc... I've seen three people do this. That is a recipe for disaster.

What I did was spend eight months researching tank mates, acclimation, environment, etc. it starts with selecting the right fish that is not aggressive in the store. Then setting up a proper low light, floating plant/heavily planted, (preferably black water) tank.

Get a floating Betta log (Zoo Med) that you train him to use while in quarantine, by feeding him in it. This becomes his territory and is an escape for him.

The filter flow needs to be slowed down so that it is a very low current, then use a sponge filter on the other side of the tank as a supplemental filter to make up for the low flow. (There is a lot of info on how to do this online.)

Finally, the Betta needs to be quarantined for a month to make sure he doesn't have any disease and treat it prior to going in a community tank. A plakat is best suited to a tank with a bit of a current because of the shorter fins, but any betta you choose should do fine, as long as the current is not strong.

After the main tank is cycled, add the tank mates that you choose first. Add fish gradually (as in don't add 20 fish at once) so the bacteria can catch up to the new bioload. Otherwise you will have a minI cycle, which is harmful to the fish.). Let these fish adjust to the new surroundings for a few days at least before adding the betta. You may choose to wait a month to be sure they are disease free, before adding the betta.

(Look up acclimation of new fish to a tank when you bring them home. You float the bag and slowly add water from the tank... This is a whole process to research)

After the other fish are alive and well, put the betta in a breeder box, in the community tank, for a few hours/day and when he is released into the tank, observe him for hours. Even check on him after lights out to see if he is sleeping like the other fish, or is he potentially attacking sleeping fish.

If it's not working out, he goes back in his own tank...

This process worked for me., but I literally spent 8 months researching, planning, performing a fish less cycle, acquiring plants and fish, and quarantining the Betta before I added him to a community tank.

I think it's safe to assume the horror stories of bettas attacking other fish are from people who have a community tank and grab a Betta on impulse, or who have a Betta for a while and then introduce new fish into his house without removing him and rearranging everything in the tank. Once he has established a territory, I bet he will not like tank mates, especially in a ten gallon. Same with being thrown into a community of potentially aggressive fish and fast moving current... This will stress him out.
 
TexasDomer
  • #12
Don't use a betta to cycle... It's too hard on his fins. If you find a betta that you love while you are cycling your main tank, you can keep it in a five gallon bucket with a heater, decorations and thermometer. (No gravel) and change the water daily, or every other day. (Keep about 3-4 gallons of water in it.)



Finally, the Betta needs to be quarantined for a month to make sure he doesn't have any disease and treat it prior to going in a community tank. A plakat is best suited to a tank with a bit of a current because of the shorter fins, but any betta you choose should do fine, as long as the current is not strong.



I think it's safe to assume the horror stories of bettas attacking other fish are from people who have a community tank and grab a Betta on impulse, or who have a Betta for a while and then introduce new fish into his house without removing him and rearranging everything in the tank. Once he has established a territory, I bet he will not like tank mates, especially in a ten gallon. Same with being thrown into a community of potentially aggressive fish and fast moving current... This will stress him out.
Keeping him in a 5 gal bucket with no filter and daily water changes would be the same thing as keeping him in an uncycled tank with water changes. Might as well save the space and put him in the tank.

Plakats aren't usually suitable for a community.

And no, horror stories can also come from situations where the people did everything right. Some bettas do not do well when kept with other fish. Bettas are not social fish, and they prefer to be kept alone. If someone keeps a betta in a community tank, they're doing it because they want to, not because it's best for the betta.
 
Aster
  • #13
Also, the Petco sale is limited to 10 gallons and up, unfortunately.
 
ahisma
  • #14
For the OP, there are so many people who are against keeping a betta in a community tank...

As I said, if you do everything as carefully as possible and you are watching him closely at the beginning... Then you may have to remove him if he is aggressive towards other fish or if the other fish are nipping at him unrelentingly .
I had a plakat in a community and he was fine. The tetras did nip at him initially, but after a few tries, they stopped because he turned and lunged at them to let them know it's not cool. He didn't bit or kill, just a warning to get off his arse.

After that first day, everyone was fine. You can tell when red phantom tetras are stressed because they school tighter and their black spots disappear. These guys were just chilled out loosely schooling and had great coloring. They did gang up on one of their own and they stressed him out, but nothing to do with the betta.

The cories were tiny 1", and they would occasionally swim back and forth at the front of the tank. The betta would calmly swim with them. Never any aggression or stress signs in the cories or betta.

It's really not natural to keep fish at all. If you really watch the fish, you can tell if someone is scared or being picked on. It can happen in any tank.

That is my stance.

The bucket is a TEMPORARY solution, but having a five gallon tank ready if things don't work out is best. You can use filter media from the big tank to cycle the five gallon and keep the fish in a bucket in the mean time, if you need to remove him. Or put him in the breeder box.
 
Aster
  • #15
For the OP, there are so many people who are against keeping a betta in a community tank...

As I said, if you do everything as carefully as possible and you are watching him closely at the beginning... Then you may have to remove him if he is aggressive towards other fish or if the other fish are nipping at him unrelentingly .
I had a plakat in a community and he was fine. The tetras did nip at him initially, but after a few tries, they stopped because he turned and lunged at them to let them know it's not cool. He didn't bit or kill, just a warning to get off his arse.

After that first day, everyone was fine. You can tell when red phantom tetras are stressed because they school tighter and their black spots disappear. These guys were just chilled out loosely schooling and had great coloring. They did gang up on one of their own and they stressed him out, but nothing to do with the betta.

The cories were tiny 1", and they would occasionally swim back and forth at the front of the tank. The betta would calmly swim with them. Never any aggression or stress signs in the cories or betta.

It's really not natural to keep fish at all. If you really watch the fish, you can tell if someone is scared or being picked on. It can happen in any tank.

That is my stance.

The bucket is a TEMPORARY solution, but having a five gallon tank ready if things don't work out is best. You can use filter media from the big tank to cycle the five gallon and keep the fish in a bucket in the mean time, if you need to remove him. Or put him in the breeder box.

The OP has a 10 gallon tank and said they don't have much space. Betta communities are best off in 20 gallons, which the OP doesn't have. Communities can be done, keyword "can", but it depends on the betta's temperament and it's still unpredictable. I've heard many stories of heartbreak where bettas coexisted peacefully with the other fish for years, then out of nowhere decided to kill them all.
 
ahisma
  • #16
The OP has a 10 gallon tank and said they don't have much space. Betta communities are best off in 20 gallons, which the OP doesn't have. Communities can be done, keyword "can", but it depends on the betta's temperament and it's still unpredictable. I've heard many stories of heartbreak where bettas coexisted peacefully with the other fish for years, then out of nowhere decided to kill them all.

Are you the same person that was saying that on another thread? Just curious...

I've never come across a story like that on line... The only people I know that own bettas, or fish in general, do not properly care for them at all, and I've never heard if this, even under bad conditions.

I'm not saying it can't happen...

They are fun fish to have because they do interact with people so much. I love the way they swim and their unique personalities.

They do so much better in a larger tank with a heater. A ten gallon does seem small for a community. I'd go with a bigger tank so all of the fish have more room to swim.

I'd like to know where you are finding all of these stories about a betta killing all the fish in the tank after a year.

I want to know about these experiences from the people who actually went through it.
 
Aster
  • #17
Are you the same person that was saying that on another thread? Just curious...

I've never come across a story like that on line... The only people I know that own bettas, or fish in general, do not properly care for them at all, and I've never heard if this, even under bad conditions.

I'm not saying it can't happen...

They are fun fish to have because they do interact with people so much. I love the way they swim and their unique personalities.

They do so much better in a larger tank with a heater. A ten gallon does seem small for a community. I'd go with a bigger tank so all of the fish have more room to swim.

I'd like to know where you are finding all of these stories about a betta killing all the fish in the tank after a year.

I want to know about these experiences from the people who actually went through it.

I don't think I'm the same person, what thread?
 
ahisma
  • #18
Thanks for posting the links. You said the exact same thing as someone else...

A backup tank is obviously a good idea... And a larger tank for the community.
 

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