Help keeping a betta without heater and filter..

  • #1
My preschool has recently set up a betta in an approximate 2l acrylic tub to help with settling a child who has separation anxiety, and has tanks at home. Problem with the preschool is running a filter and heater in a glass tank is a safety issue. I talked to them this morning and explained that they are just like any other fish and need heat and filtering, but they are concerned about the glass and having power cords stretched out with outlets constantly in use.

So far, he has gravel and they are using water conditioner. I know they will keep the water pristine - probably a cup or so change every day or two. I will take up a live plant this afternoon, and a small ceramic pot that my old betta, Nelix, used to love. They're not a filter, but they may hold at least some good bacteria, and the plant might help suck up some waste.

They want to do things right, but are limited. If I add some of my gravel that is well established and put in this pot, and also perhaps some cycled filter noodles, could this cope with the bioload of just one betta? I'll tell them to do a cup of new, conditioned water each day, minimal feeding, and put in a live plant to help feed off the waste, could this tank stay healthy enough?

They are actually hopping to only need him there for a couple of months at most until this child is settled, and then they may very well retire him to a new home where he can have a filter and heater and stuff.

Any tips?
  • #2
A 2 liter tub is just not big enough for a betta to live happily in. I would recommend that you at least try and convince them to get a tank that is at least 2.5 gallons (Possibly even a 5 gallon) for the little guy, it will make him more comfy.

As far as keeping the tank clean, a daily partial water change will be in need (10% ~ 25%) to keep the tank as clean as possible. If they can, I would recommend switching their conditioner to Prime or Amquel+. I think the plant and your filter noodles (or whatever you are wanting to add that has BB on it) will be a great addition to the tank.

Heating, there needs to be something that can heat it. A betta will not be happy in cold water, plus there could possibly be fluctuations in the tank with the temp outside (causing stress on the fish)
  • #3

The betta is in an acrylic "tub"? Do you have a picture? When you say tub, I imagine a cheap plastic bucket-like thing that you can't see through.

If it's an acrylic tank, why not get a heater and a filter and run both overnight, when the children aren't around? Then just unplug everything before the kids arrive and remove the filter/heater. True, it's a bit more work for the teacher/teacher aides, but not much.

If that is not an option, then...
For heat:
First off, get a thermometer.
Get a lid for the tank. This will keep warmth in the tank and not allow it to dissipate.
If you can't put a lid on the tub, at least put a towel over the tub overnight.
Keep the tub away from doors where drafts can enter.
Place the tub near a window (I know it's winter, but sunlight will heat the tank and as long as you have a thermometer and the window is closed, this will help).

For filter:
It's good they will change out the water. I'd suggest double-dosing with water conditioner to add extra protection against ammonia.
Consider getting one or two ghost shrimp to help with uneaten food (check with the child's parents to make sure the child won't have a problem at the sight of shrimp).
Feed every other day, or every two days. It won't hurt the betta.
Get vacation food and leave that in the tank, so you don't have to feed at all, or at least, just once a week.

That's all I have right now off the top of my head!

EDIT: Sorry, just now noticed that you're in Australia, not UK So it's not winter there. But you could still use the sunlight to heat the tank IF needed.
  • #4
I must disagree with Donnerjay on the vacation food. Never ever us it! Especially for a betta. It's not that hard to keep them fed... Also, he would be perfectly fine going the weekend without food.

Would there be a different option other than something living to help the kid? Audio of his parents or something? The betta just doesn't seem very well thought out to me.
  • #5
Hey there Cichlidnut!

I was thinking of reducing the decomposition rate in the tub, since it's unfiltered.

Why not use vacation food? Is it harmful? Inquiring minds would like to know
  • #6
Its all gunk that's why. It leaves behind a nasty white lump of crud in a unfiltered tank and the food quality is the same most of the time. No issues with a betta going even a week without food.
  • #7
Ahh, got it. Thanks! Definitely do not want crud in a fish tank. There's enough in there already.
  • #8
The vacation feeders are low quality food that will contaminate the water far more than a few pellets. If they going to be doing small daily water changes, just scoop out uneaten food.

Wasn't trying to be mean to you or anything ,Donnerjay. Vacation food is just icky stuff.
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
Sorry, I meant one of those nasty critter keeper type 'tank's', the one with a coloured plastic lid with vents so you can put fish, mice, crabs, turtles, boa constrictors, crocodiles, etc in. They're useless for anything beyond an ant farm in my opinion, lol.

Heating overnight might be an option. I'll have to see exactly what their limits are. Thanks for the help. I'll update soon.
  • #10
Cichlidnut, no harm done and no offense taken. I honestly wanted to know, because I've seen pet stores use them (yeah, I know ) and I don't want to give incorrect advice to the OP. So, now I know. I'm glad to know. I like to learn. Life is good. (LOL, OK I'll stop now)
  • #11
Do you know approximate what the ambient temperature is?
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
The centre is reasonably regular with temperature, not dropping too low ever, and not getting in the high 20s. I'd say it is pretty steady at mid 20s - with winter approaching I hope he is rehomed by then.

I went up this afternoon and put in a bit of gravel (and maybe 1 or 2 trumpet snails), some ceramic noodles from my canister, a plastic rock ornament and some lace fern. He immediately settled himself in the fern and just generally seemed relaxed with things in his tank. Fingers crossed for now.
  • #13
Dont heat overnight. That would mean heating the tank and then letting the temp drop during the day. Not safe for the fish to go through temp swings like that. Are they positive there's nothing else they can do for the kids seperation issue? No favorite pillow, blankets, stuffed animals or ANYTHING. I honestly think its rediculos and not an exscuse to put a animal in danger intentionaly. I'm a cold heartless man I know.
  • #14
Why not make a collage of the tanks the child has at home or get a bowl and put artificial fish in it? Being cruel to a fish, even though unintentional, just doesn't seem like the right thing to do.
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
I'm not sure what the circumstances are with the child it is helping. I'm not at liberty to ask, and there are privacy issues that of course stop any suggestions from me. All that aside, they are becoming aware of what is needed to keep him healthy and happy long term, though I'm not sure if the plan is to keep him there long term anyway.

I might just write down a few important things such as feed only mon, wed & fri, remove 1/4 water every day and add 5ml conditioner to new water before pouring back in. He's a gorgeous fish, and is happier already with some toys in his little tank. Given the small water volume, the cycled media I have dropped in there just might maintain a cycle. If they do very small feeds, it just might be ok.

Thanks for all the advice
  • #16
That's a good update. Glad he settled into the jave fern. He was probably thinking, "Ahhh, nice."

Good for you in trying to do the right thing and keep all parties happy.
  • #17
I HIGHLY doubt a cycle will hold. In a tank that small it be more likley to crash and kill the fish. Having them dump all the water out 2-3 times a week would be a good call. parshils will lead to ammonia build and prime only converts ammonia into a temporary form that is less harmful to fish, its ment to be changed out with water changes on cycled tanks.

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