Beginner Mistakes 1 Gallon Tank 

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FitzMama

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Hi everyone,

So, two days ago I decided to get a fish on a whim. I bought a dark blue Betta male (Fitz), along with a 1.5 gallon tank set, lots of fake plants, two hideouts, gravel substrate, fish food, and the tetra easy start (or whatever it's called).

I got home and immediately looked up how to set up the aquarium -- and ran into this website and learned that I'd done everything wrong. Luckily, since I looked things up right away, I knew how to wash things and I waited for the water to stabilize overnight before putting the fish in.

I now have Tetra safe start, easy balance, and aquasafe. My API test kit is coming today or tomorrow. My heater and thermometer are coming today.

The nitrogen cycle started when I put Fitz in and the water has been cloudy since yesterday. I did a 50 percent water change yesterday and have been using a lot of the safe start. I feel bad that I am doing a fish-in cycle, but unfortunately I didn't know until after.

My biggest question is - I know now that the tank is too small for Fitz. I bought a 29 gallon tank that I have yet to pick up, but I was hoping to run that one for awhile before putting stocking (I'm learning!). So, what do I do for now?

Picture as a thank you for reading :)

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AquaCaitlin

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It’s okay for him to temporarily be in a small tank.
When my betta fry grow they stay in 1 gallon “jars” until they are sold, with lots of water changes.
Keep doing what you’re doing, seems like you’re pretty on top of things.

Might I also suggest purchasing some Indian Almond Leaves? You can find them on Amazon for quite a decent price. I often recommend them to betta owners because the tannins they release keep the water quality high as well as serving as a natural medicine and health boost to the betta.

Hope this was of help!
 

eirynne

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It's always better late than never to learn about the correct way to have an aquarium. I had had lots of tanks growing up and even as recent as 6+ years ago but only found out that I had been doing it all wrong when I went to set up my most recent tank :oops:

It sounds like you've got everything under control & a fish-in cycle will still be better for Fitz than sitting in those sad little cups at the store so don't feel bad. You can use the entire bottle of Tetra's SafeStart all at once if you want, but mostly you'll just want to do daily water changes (30-50%) to keep the combined ppm of ammonia and nitrites below 1 (which you will be able to check once you can test). Make sure to use a water conditioner during water changes (Seachem Prime would be great here because it detoxifies toxins like ammonia and nitrites in the water on top of getting rid of chlorine/chloramine). I would also limit feeding to once a day / every other day & make sure not to overfeed when you do to avoid further soiling the water until your microbiome sorts itself out.

Good luck!!!
 

mattgirl

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Welcome to the wonderful world of fish keeping. You started like a lot of us started. We learned over time. I am glad you found us. We can help you through this.

The best thing to bought is the test kit. With it you can know exactly what is going on with the water Fitz is living in. You want to keep the ammonia and then the nitrites level when it shows up down as low as possible with water changes. If you do this your beautiful new water pet should come through this with flying colors.

And as eirynne suggested. Seachem Prime is a very good product to use specially when doing a fish in cycle.
 

PascalKrypt

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Yup, keeping a betta in an uncycled, small tank actually isn't a problem as a temporary solution or growth set-up, but do lots and lots of large water changes. Personally I wouldn't bother with cycling the 1.5 gallon at all since you will be moving the betta once the 29 gallon is cycled and if you get it within a week it will take about the same time anyway. Save the money for the bottled bacteria for just the 29 gallon. Do 50% daily water changes on the 1.5 gallon, do a near 100% change once a week. Just make sure to match the temperature and don't forget your conditioner.
Or alternatively you could go the route already suggested and get prime (though you'd still have to do a lot of water changes).
 

Noroomforshoe

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I suggest you remove the plastic plants, he can easily tear his fins on them.
I might even remove the castle, he needs a swimming room.
You should consider removing all or most of the gravel. It is trapping waste that will be near impossible to remove with water changes in such a small tank. And the ammonia from it will build up,
In your new tank, consider keeping only enough gravel to cover the bottom and hold down some plants. And use silk plants and hollow decorations that benafit the fish and are not just decorative.
 
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FitzMama

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Wait, why would I get rid of the gravel? Once the nitrogen cycles through, shouldn't the gravel not be a problem?

(Note, my castle is hollow, that's why I got it!)
 

Sheldon13

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FitzMama said:
Wait, why would I get rid of the gravel? Once the nitrogen cycles through, shouldn't the gravel not be a problem?

(Note, my castle is hollow, that's why I got it!)
With gravel the poop sneaks down in between the pieces and is hard to get rid of in a small tank, even with vacuuming. Sand would be better.
 

Noroomforshoe

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Your 1 gallon tank may not ever cycle. But even if it did, you still don't want a lot of decaying food waste and poo in your tank. You use a tiny tube to vacuum a one gallon tank, and you remove a very small percent of the waste each time.
Even in a larger tank, more gravel is just more places for waste to get stuck.

Even in a cycled tank, were healthy bacteria transform ammonia into nitrite, you want to keep your tank clean. Nitrates can rise to unhealthy levels, and once they do, it can be a pain to get them back down.
 

mattgirl

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Personally I wouldn't even try to cycle this 1.5 gallon tank. You are actually just wasting the TSS by pouring it in this tank.

Since you have the 29 gallon tank coming I would just be doing at least 50% water changes every day on this tiny tank until the bigger tank gets to you. Set it up and run it for a couple of days to make sure everything is working as it should and then move your little guy over to the big tank.
 

Truckjohn

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I ran a 1.5 gallon tank just like that for over a year with a betta. Tetra Safe Start Plus cycled it just fine. I had ZERO problems with ammonia/nitrite/nitrate. I gave that tank setup to my niece about 6 months ago and it's *still* running just fine.

Here's the procedure from where you are today:
1. Continue to run your bubbler powered filter. It oxygenates the water and filters. Do not turn it off at night.
2. Use an aquarium pH buffer product to control the aquarium pH. I use API pH 7 buffer.
3. Dump in the whole bottle of TSS.
4. ZERO water changes for the next TWO weeks. This is critical for getting TSS established.
5. Test the water after Week 2.
6. For the week 3 and week 4 water changes - Prepare the water a day or two ahead of time using your dechlorination chemical stuff.

For water changes - replace about 1/3 of the water (I used the bottom of the filter housing as a guide). After the 1st month it's OK to prepare the new water change water when you are ready to change the water.

I add a shake (probably around 1tsp) of pH buffer powder every month.

I like to dump the trash out of the filter housing when I change water as well as to rinse out the filter cartridge in the used water change water. Don't rinse the filter in your tank....

Follow the bottle directions for your dechlorination product... aka 1 or 2 drops per gallon. MORE IS NOT BETTER!!!!
 

Momgoose56

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I agree with mattgirl, there really is no point in using TSS or any bacteria culture in the 1.5 gallon tank if the 29 gallon tank will be arriving in short order. You can just move all your filter media, gravel etc to the bigger tank when it arrives just to transfer any beneficial bacteria that may already be colonizing in the small tank. You will need a filter and heater appropriate for the larger volume and you can add the smaller filters media insert into the overflow chamber of the new, larger filter.
What is the pH of your tap water? Your tank water?
I'd advise against adding anything that could change your pH before you even know what your tank and tap pH are.
 

Sheldon13

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Personal opinion, I think you should do 50% daily water changes now, then when your 29 comes don’t do a fish-in cycle because it takes longer and is harder on the fish. Cycle it with ammonia and get it ready to house all inhabitants. That way when you transfer him over he’ll go into a xycked tank and never have to go through an ammonia spike.
 
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FitzMama

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Thanks to everyone for the feedback! The cloudiness of the tank has started to clear and my API levels are 0.25 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 5 nitrates. pH is 7.4, which is a bit high, so I might buy something to help level it out. I already used most of the TSS in the tank, so oh well, but at least it seemed to have done something?

My overall plan wasn't to move Fitz into the 29 gallon right away. I was hoping to cycle the tank, get some plants set up, and add some shrimp and snails before adding any fish. You all seem very convinced that I need to add him right away, though, which is making me nervous.

As for the gravel, wouldn't removing the substrate at this point kill all of the bacteria that have started developing their colony? I understand that it may be harder to clean, but is it really that much worse? I'm looking for more fact than opinion here; I know you likely have all had experiences that tilt you one way or the other.

I ordered some silk plants yesterday and am still monitoring him closely! He's a curious little fellow and it's fun to watch him explore the tank and examine things when I add them to the tank.
 

Momgoose56

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FitzMama said:
Thanks to everyone for the feedback! The cloudiness of the tank has started to clear and my API levels are 0.25 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 5 nitrates. pH is 7.4, which is a bit high, so I might buy something to help level it out. I already used most of the TSS in the tank, so oh well, but at least it seemed to have done something?

My overall plan wasn't to move Fitz into the 29 gallon right away. I was hoping to cycle the tank, get some plants set up, and add some shrimp and snails before adding any fish. You all seem very convinced that I need to add him right away, though, which is making me nervous.

As for the gravel, wouldn't removing the substrate at this point kill all of the bacteria that have started developing their colony? I understand that it may be harder to clean, but is it really that much worse? I'm looking for more fact than opinion here; I know you likely have all had experiences that tilt you one way or the other.

I ordered some silk plants yesterday and am still monitoring him closely! He's a curious little fellow and it's fun to watch him explore the tank and examine things when I add them to the tank.
A pH of 7.4 is PERFECT for almost every tropical fish there is. I wouldn't touch that! Plus, while you're cycling, your pH is going to bounce around a little anyway. Trying to mess with it while the tank is cycling is pretty pointless.
We all don't think you should toss him in the 29 and cycle it with him in it. I think he'd be better off in the 1.5 while you do a fishless cycle, with ammonia, of the 29 gallon tank. You'd get it cycled faster and with less stress to him that way!
 
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FitzMama

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Oh, okay, thank you!! Definitely good to know :)
 

Smalltownfishfriend

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Are those cupcakes in your Avatar??!!!
 

PascalKrypt

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FitzMama said:
Thanks to everyone for the feedback! The cloudiness of the tank has started to clear and my API levels are 0.25 ammonia, 0 nitrites, 5 nitrates. pH is 7.4, which is a bit high, so I might buy something to help level it out. I already used most of the TSS in the tank, so oh well, but at least it seemed to have done something?

My overall plan wasn't to move Fitz into the 29 gallon right away. I was hoping to cycle the tank, get some plants set up, and add some shrimp and snails before adding any fish. You all seem very convinced that I need to add him right away, though, which is making me nervous.

As for the gravel, wouldn't removing the substrate at this point kill all of the bacteria that have started developing their colony? I understand that it may be harder to clean, but is it really that much worse? I'm looking for more fact than opinion here; I know you likely have all had experiences that tilt you one way or the other.

I ordered some silk plants yesterday and am still monitoring him closely! He's a curious little fellow and it's fun to watch him explore the tank and examine things when I add them to the tank.
I case just one post doesn't convince you, please please don't waste money and risk your fish' health to adjust PH. PH adjustments are almost never a good idea unless you are keeping specialty fish (which virtually no mainstream aquarium trade fish is, otherwise it won't be mainstream 99% of the time) or if you have a PH from the tap that is over 8.5 or under 6. That's it. You are right in the sweet spot. My PH from the tap is 7.8 and I keep fish that prefer acidic water just fine. Bettas in particular are very adaptable. Please don't mess with your PH.
 
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FitzMama

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Smalltownfishfriend said:
Are those cupcakes in your Avatar??!!!
Haha, yes, I made 500 cupcakes for my birthday 2 years ago and thought they made a nice avatar picture :)

PascalKrypt said:
I case just one post doesn't convince you, please please don't waste money and risk your fish' health to adjust PH. PH adjustments are almost never a good idea unless you are keeping specialty fish (which virtually no mainstream aquarium trade fish is, otherwise it won't be mainstream 99% of the time) or if you have a PH from the tap that is over 8.5 or under 6. That's it. You are right in the sweet spot. My PH from the tap is 7.8 and I keep fish that prefer acidic water just fine. Bettas in particular are very adaptable. Please don't mess with your PH.
You can set your worries aside, as I was not planning on messing with the pH after hearing that it is fine where it is. Thank you for the advice, though.
 

PascalKrypt

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FitzMama said:
Haha, yes, I made 500 cupcakes for my birthday 2 years ago and thought they made a nice avatar picture :)
500?! Are you a baker? O.O where did you fit all those cupcakes before it was time to hand them out? How long did it even take to bake all those?
 
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