Betta's 2.5 Gallon Tank

  • #1
Hello all!

This is my first post to the forum, so if I mess up too bad don't be afraid to say something!
I'm a fishkeeper of 4-5 years, and have kept a variety of freshwater and saltwater tanks until I got out of the hobby last year after a major tank crash. However, Sunday I went to my LFS to get some food for my pups and left with a male veiltale betta. His display tank had cracked and they offered him and what was in his tank to me for $5 since they didn't have a free betta-friendly tank. So I took Oscar (the betta) home to an uncycled 2.5 gallon tank since that's all that I have. Money is tight right now, so upgrading really isn't an option. I have a tetra 15W heater (piece of , but it keeps the water at around 76) and a azoo palm filter with the sponge pad an a pack of carbon. I'm also using a Finnex 12" light fixture (not sure of model) that lights the little tank up amazingly well. I pretty much had to set the tank up and throw him in, which makes me pretty uncomfortable about the whole situation. I've never kept bettas before, so I don't really know how hardy they are and how well he's gonna handle everything. I'm 3 days in and he's got a lot more vibrant color-wise, as well as more active. He's also built what I'm assuming is a tiny bubble nest, which I've read is a sign of happiness. Is there anything I should look out for in the next few days? Symptoms of sickness or stress? Anything specific bettas need? I'm considering maybe trying to plant this tank once I've got money coming in and everything gets settled down.


(Oscar earlier today)


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  • #2
WELCOME to Fishlore!!!

I suggest you get a bottle of BB supplement such as TSS or Seachem Stability so that he won't get ammonia poisoning!
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  • #3
I have it ordered, although no local stores carry it and it won't be in for at least 3-4 days. Ammonia reads as just above 0.25 as of about 10 minutes ago, testing Nitrite now to see if maybe it's gonna be a quick cycle. One can hope!

Nitrite reads 0 ppm or maybe just a little bit more. Didn't figure I'd be that lucky, but was worth a shot lol.
  • #4
He's a good looking boy! A 2.5 galling is better than a broken, probably eventually empty, display tank. Glad he has a good home!
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Thanks Angel! He's definitely a pretty one. Especially with his personality... I've never seen such a sassy fish! It's funny to watch the look that he gives me whenever I do anything around/in his tank. Didn't realize that bettas were such a marvel. Is there anything I can do to make the cycle easier on him? I have Seachem Stability on order but it won't be here for a few days, meaning that at that point the cycle may be close to over anyway.
  • #6
Just water changes. Do you have prime? It works great with stability and will detoxify ammonia and nitrite up to 1 ppm. You prolly know that though. They like live plants.

I love my bettas and I haven't had them long.





Arizona. He just got a new tank setup today.


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  • #7
Beautiful tanks and bettas! Love the design in Arizona's tank. And I had a tiny bit of Prime left over that I used, but I don't know if it's going to be enough to matter. I had to use Aquasafe (yuck!) for the rest of the water. What sand did you use in Arizona's tank? Once all of this get's settled down I'd love to try something like this!

  • #8
Thank you. I have a lot of fun building the tanks. I used caribsea moonlight sand. Ordered it on amazon. It's like the sand in Destin Fl. Some people use pool sand. It's basically the same thing but a whole lot cheaper. But I didn't need 50 lbs. lol. I got the cave on amazon too and didn't know it was going to be so big. But it has grown on me. I also got too many plants. I have crested java fern leftover . Don't know what to do with it!

I loved Indiana's tank when I finished it, but I really like Arizona's too. They're like opposites!

The aquasafe does the job, but I like the ammonia part of prime. I have ammonia in my tap so it helps me feel better. I'm still cycling both these tanks myself.
Jocelyn Adelman
  • #9
Definitely pick up some prime, it will detoxify the ammonia and nitrites for you, you can dose the prime for tank volume vs. water changes multiple times a day. A small tank will be a bit harder to cycle (more frequent large spikes) and the prime will be a lifesaver!
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  • #10
Alrighty, guess I'll just have to wait for the Prime to come in then! No store nearby carries it. Do you think I should do some water changes to reduce the amount ammonia? Or should I just let him try to tough it out until the Prime gets here?
  • #11
Definitely do water changes. If his water gets bad it could lead to finrot and other ugly stuff. When you can, get a water test kit, like API freshwater master kit, and you can keep an eye on your water quality and only do changes when necessary.
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
I've got the API kit. Ammonia is reading 0.25 ppm. Nitrites are still at 0.
  • #13
Okay so if the ammonia + nitrite (combined) reads less than one, dose prime and stability for whole tank, recheck in 24 hrs. If ammonia + nitrite is greater than 1, do a 50% water change and dose prime + stability for whole tank. I started getting nitrite and got excited but they have disappeared

I didn't need to do a water change in Indiana's tank for a week but did one cuz it had been a week that's when my nitrite disappeared.
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  • #14
It's always awful when the cycle teases you just enough to get your hopes up lol. Thanks for the help! I'll try to keep this thread updated. Sorta off topic, but I was given Mondo Grass along with Oscar. I don't think they realized that it's not a true aquatic plant... But oh well. It's currently in the tank until I can figure out what to do with it. Do you think it'd do okay in the filter? I've heard of some people throwing plants like this into their HOBs or Canisters, so I'm wondering if this would help.
  • #15
I don't have experience with that. But my guess is I can't hurt. In the tank or in the filter.

Oh made me think...bettas don't like much current.
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  • #16
Yeah, I've got the filter turned down as far as it'll go, and enough media in there to slow it down to a trickle (he swims straight into it with no issues)

I know bettas are renowned for being extremely aggressive, but when I redo his tank, is a clean up crew out of the question? IE maybe a Nerite and possibly a ghost shrimp or two? If not, me and my handy tooth brush have got it covered
  • #17
I plan on putting snails in mine once they are cycled. I've read they need cycled tanks. Most people seem to have success with this. I'm thinking about switching their tanks and then adding snails while I switch them back. .

People also keep shrimp with them but I think it's a little more tricky.

I did have 3 neons in with Arizona temporarily and they were fine. It really depends on the fish. It's recommended to have the tank mate present before the betta, so it's not seen as invading his territory. But it seems really common to keep snails with them.

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  • #18
Alright, cool. I've been reading up on some pretty simple planting stuff and I'm looking forward to it. I thought I was done with this hobby for sure... guess not. I missed it though!
  • #19
I'm pretty new. It's addicting! And I LOVE learning new stuff! I'm getting ready to start a community tank. I've never been successful but I've never had this forum!
  • Thread Starter
  • #20
Communities are always fun! Are you planning on doing just a basic tank with fish, or are you going to plant?
  • #21
Plant. Don't really know why, I just want to see if I can do it! And I think planted tanks are really pretty. I like the natural look and that's hard to get with fake plants.
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  • #22
I agree! I don't know if I'll ever personally have a community tank again, but when I had them I always loved to get the most natural look I could. It didn't always work out, but it was fun!
  • #23
I'm pretty new. It's addicting! And I LOVE learning new stuff! I'm getting ready to start a community tank. I've never been successful but I've never had this forum!
We will definitely love to help you create a successful community tank! If you do decide to create one just tag me!
  • #24
  • #25
Bettas are decently hardy, do water changes daily or every other day to keep all levels to a minimum until you get your prime and stability. 0.25 ammonia isn't terrible but it's certainly not good for fish. I doubt your cycle will complete soon and it'll take a decent amount of time nevertheless because your fish in cycling. By the way, betta fish don't make bubble nests when they're happy or content, it's a common myth.
  • #26
Bettas for the most part are snail shrimp is a trial and error Betta is very peaceful...I have thrown in baby pleco's and corys when I have had tank issues and he has left them alone, but when I put ghost shrimp in 1 time thy were a snack lol, so to each (betta) their own...

Trapdoor and Mystery snails are pretty hardy ones for Bettas...Bettas don't need a ton of food and no flake food please, it gives them fat belly

BTW, hes a beauty!!
  • Thread Starter
  • #27
Thanks Sapphire! I'll keep them in mind. Just did a large water change to lower ammonia levels, dropped them back down to 0.25 ppm. I also moved the Mondo Grass into the HOB filter, as I've heard of people having success with them only partially submerged in Sumps and such. He's not showing any signs of sickness, if anything he's gotten even more personality. His color has improved, and he's actually got a bit of emerald on his fins that I never noticed before.

Oscar after his water change!

Edit: I just tested Nitrites (twice, just to make sure the readings were right) and it looks like it's darkening a bit, which is surprising. Happy day!

Not sure if this is allowed, so if it isn't, someone please tell me. But I'm going to use this thread to kinda work as a journal and let people tell me if I'm doing any wrong.

Pretty much same as yesterday, Ammonia is back up to just under 0.5 ppm, however, Nitrite reading has gone up. Doesn't look like a full 0.25, but its noticeably darker than yesterday. Oscar is still active, begging to eat, and has now figured out what his food container looks like. He also keeps pushing the floating thermometer around the tank, which is entertaining.

I've been reading about planting, and I was wondering if anyone had any tips on some non Co2 plants that would be small enough to maintain in a 2.5 gallon. I plan on picking up some planted substrate (any reccomendations? Thought about dirting the tank but Kentucky's soil has a lot of clay, and I'm not sure how well that'd do in a tank) and capping with black sand. Also need to get a new heater, plan on trying to keep the tank about 78F. There's next to no current in the tank, so that probably rules out all river plants. I'm fine with ferting, but I'd like to keep it simple. I can dose once a day, but I wanna keep away from dumping 30 bottles of chemicals in the tank everyday.


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  • #28
I hope it's not against the rules cuz I'm doing it too! Lol. It's not, you see it all the time.

I have a low tech system and these are the plants I have:
Java fern, several varieties available
Also called tropical fern
Crested java fern
Asian water fern
Anubias Nana
Water wisteria
Micro sword
Moss balls

Java miss, Christmas moss and many more are
also easy and popular

Many of the ferns have to be tied or somehow attached to a rock or driftwood, etc. if you plant the rhysome it will rot. Some Anubias, like nana, also.

I dose seachem flourish 1x week or so. I've gotten all my plants from LPS. Floating plants are also good. I did try some anacharis, which is supposed to be indestructible, and it melted so I removed it.

I wouldn't bother with eco complete or dirt unless you just want to. I just have plain sand. Black petco brand and caribsea moonlight. I'm using pool filter sand in my 38g.

If you get a new heater, I suggest an adjustable one. I was fighting ich using heat treatment instead of chemicals, the adjustable heater made it possible. I think it's worth the extra $$. I think a 25 or 50 watt will work in your 2.5g.

If you are still using the 2.5, a 5+ will give you more room and options.

Honestly I've found the planting part almost as fun as the fish! Keep us updated! We all love photos!
  • Thread Starter
  • #29
Thanks Angel! There's currently no route to upgrading to a 5. Maybe in a year or so but I'm not sure. I'm saving for a car and college... money's tight, as well as room. Will any of the plants you listed melt if put under too much light? This led fixture is crazy bright.
  • #30
I added a few plants I forgot in my list lol.

These are my setups with led lights. The equipment in each is identical. They are just $20 lights from amazon, but they are pretty bright. I try to turn them of for a few hours in the middle of the day to prevent algae, but plants didn't do too well in my first setup, a little 5 gallon kit from Walmart.


  • Thread Starter
  • #31
Alright, thanks. I'm really looking forward to getting this tank planted!

Do you guys think it'd be better to change the substrate to sand now before the cycle or after? I went to the LFS to pick up a moss ball (I need one in all of my Freshwater tanks...) and bought some sand while I was there. Should I wait to add it or no?

Okay, update! Done my research, and figured out that it might be best to switch to sand now. I'm so glad I did. The water was almost immediately clearer, my PH was brought down a bit and everything looks a lot more natural. Also got a moss ball.

Oscar this morning
  • #32
Looks great!
  • #33
I have a thread about my discus that I kinda rescued that I'm updating so I think its okay good luck with your betta!
  • Thread Starter
  • #34
Thanks guys!

The wait for the cycle to finish is killing me and it's not even been a week. Fun stuff.


Prime and Stability came in, on my way home with them now. Also picked up a variety of plants, including Anubias, Amazon Sword, a Banana plant, and a pretty large piece of Anacharis. Also got a piece of rock (it's river rock, straight from the Kentucky River) and a few Nerite snails (they were free hitchhikers). Will post pics after everything is settled into the tank!

Okay, so I added the recommended dose of prime into the water, and Double dosed Stability. I ended up having to throw some Anacharis out as there was simply too much for the tank. It's not neat right now, but I figured it was best to add everything in and switch it around to my liking after Oscar calms down. Oh, and the Nerite Snails that I mentioned were just a typo- I think they're Trumpet Snails which personally I don't mind (although some consider them pests). I also found a few Ramshorns on the Sword, which doesn't bother me. Worst comes to worst, I can throw a piece of cucumber in the tank and when they're all gathered on top of it I can just throw it out.

The store had the Sword listed as Micro, but I'm pretty sure it was just a regular Sword plant. It's HUGE, probably 10-11" tall and 4-5" across. I cut it back as much as I could just so I could fit it into the tank, although I think I'll eventually let it spread out or maybe even sell some clippings back to the store. Oscar isn't especially pleased about the entire situation, although he's already perched on the Sword leaves, so I think he'll be fine.

Full tank shot

One of the MTS snails busy burrowing into the sand
  • #35
  • Thread Starter
  • #36
Thanks! Hoping the sword does okay in such a tiny tank... I know they do fine with leaves out of water, which is fine by me, but I'm worried about the lack of nutrience as I was hoping to stay away from ferts.

Root tabs have been ordered, so I'm hoping it does fine till Wednesday when they're in. Just something cool I've noticed... There's a little cave under the centerpiece of rock! I don't know if it goes all the way under it, but the MTS have been using it as a highway from the sword to the front glass.

Okay, day 7! It's crazy that it's already been a week since I got this little guy. He's really grown on me!

I've double dosed Stability again, and I'm going to try to get an accurate Ammonia reading before I dose Prime. The little bit of fin-rot that Oscar had has now gone away completely, which is really good. He's actually even become more active. It's pretty fun to see him swim around his tank and inquisitively check out everything that he sees. Speaking of that, he's being aggressive towards snails... Meaning my shrimp idea is completely out. Oh well.

So far, everything is going well. The anacharis have begun to look quite a bit healthier, which is comforting. I moved the Anubias, Oscar got stuck in the roots trying to swim around the tank. I tied the roots down to the back of the rock to fix that problem. Other wise the Anubias seems healthy, no bad looking leaves. The banana plant... well. The bananas look deformed, but well colored. But both the leaves have holes in them with yellow around them. I don't know if it's a reaction to being moved, or if it has a nutrient deficiency or what's going on, so if anyone could give me any insight I'd appreciate it. The sword looks okay, except the leaves aren't as green as I'd like. They have a yellowish tint, which I'm hoping is caused by move. I'll have root tabs in tomorrow or the next day, so hopefully that'll help.

The snails are doing fine. Oscar attacked one of the MTS a few times, but gave up after he realized that all he was doing was ramming into the sand. I don't think he's even noticed the Ramshorns yet. If anyone has any tips on how I can make this tank look better, or make it better for any of the living things inside of it, please let me know!!
  • #37
No one mentioned your water temp, which you said is 76F. That's a little too cool for a betta. They prefer 80-82. I keep mine at about 81 all the time. Water Lily is another idea for a plant. I bought three on ebay, and now I have about 7! Little pieces break off, float for a while, and then settle in the substrate eventually. I love it because you don't have to keep buying them! And they have a lovely pink color. I have a Stingray light, and I can't grow a sword plant for some reason, but the lilies are doing fine! And yes, those are nerite eggs on the rocks!


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  • #38
Yeah, I'm aware that the water temp is a bit low, but I'll be getting a new heater soon. Thinking about the Aqueon Adjustable. I don't know when I'll be getting it, but it won't be long.

And I had some lilies in a community tank quite a while back, and liked them quite a bit. I think I'm more than stocked with plants for this tank, so I'll keep them in mind when I upgrade to a 5.5!

Nitrites! Wooo!

Got o.25 ppm of nitrite this morning when I tested. Exciting times! Not much has changed in the tank, other than it lost a MTS and a Ramshorn snail to my jararium.

Fun times!
  • #39
No one mentioned your water temp, which you said is 76F. That's a little too cool for a betta. They prefer 80-82. I keep mine at about 81 all the time. Water Lily is another idea for a plant. I bought three on ebay, and now I have about 7! Little pieces break off, float for a while, and then settle in the substrate eventually. I love it because you don't have to keep buying them! And they have a lovely pink color. I have a Stingray light, and I can't grow a sword plant for some reason, but the lilies are doing fine! And yes, those are nerite eggs on the rocks!View attachment 279835
poor balloon molly ! Hope you know the background of them
  • Thread Starter
  • #40
So I've done a couple of WC's and dosed prime to keep the Ammonia and Nitrites down, and everything has perked up in the tank... except for my plants.

None of my plants are doing well. I have an Anubias Barteris, a banana plant, and an Amazon Sword. None of them are doing well at all, with the sword having a yellow tint to it and the anubias just looking a little dead. Can anyone help?


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