Need Help Setting Up Betta Tank Please!

LeticiaM
  • #1
Hello!!
I am in the process of setting up my first tank. I have done a lot of reading, thought we were ready, but things are already not going smoothly and was hoping someone could help me.
My son wanted a Betta, so we found out what we needed-we bought a 5 gallon tank, filter, heater. No Betta yet
We rinsed all the decorations, and the gravel, but did not boil them. Filled the tank with water, decorations, and a live java fern, and started the filter. The tank kit came with 3 sample bottles made by Python Products Inc-step 1 water conditioner, step 2 bio support, step3 bio clean. We live on a farm, so we have well water without chlorine, but did step 1 anyway due to the possibility of other contaminants. We did day 1 of the step 2 product on the same day (it has a 3 day protocol). I haven't done the step 3 product yet...should I? One pet store employee said we didn't have to because there is no organic waste to break down in a new aquarium.
Day 3 of treatment with step 2 was yesterday (or the day before, I can't remember!)
Today I went to look at the tank and there was white fuzzy material on the leaves of the java Fern in places, as well as on the roots. I removed the Fern from the tank. It's in time out in a vase!! Then I went to move one of the decorations and it felt slimy! Picked it up and there is a small amount of black slime inside the decoration!
Can anyone tell me what is going on? Is the slime harmful to a fish? Is it normal? There are no fish in the tank at the moment. Do I dump the whole tank and start again?? Do I try the step 3 bottle to break down organic waste? Where did I mess up?
At the first pet store I was told to just follow the bottles and I could put the Betta in the tank in a few days. I asked if I needed to test anything and they said no (they also tried to tell me not to buy the 5g, Bettas are fine in a smaller space, and that I didn't need a heater). Gah!!
The next store I asked said I needed a heater, but I didn't need to test ammonia with only one fish, but sold me different test strips (nitrite, nitrate, etc-$25 for 25 strips!).
No one mentioned anything about adding ammonia to start cycling the tank, I naively thought these little bottles would do it.
I am honestly so confused I want to just abort mission But my son would be crushed.
Can anyone help me figure this out?
Thank you so much for your time!!
Leticia
Ps I have pictures of the white material on the ferns and the black debris in the decoration of that would be helpful!
 
Iverg1
  • #2
Hello welcome to fishlore. Sounds like your doing pretty good. Some things to remember. Yes you do have to add ammonia. You can get it at the store just make sure it's pure. You can test if it's pure by shaking it if bubbles stay after a minute that means it is not pure or you can use fish food. Stop with bottles 2 & 3 (idk what those are really for) you can keep the water conditioner though
1. Make sure decorations don't have any sharp edges that your betta could cut himself on. Also make sure that fake plants be made of silk or just use real plants (like you did!)
2. Make sure the filter has a nice slow flow. Bettas don't like strong currents. Also cover up the filter intake by putting pantyhose over it and rubberbanding it. This will guarantee it will not wreck your bettas fins

3. Somewhere down the road you will want to get you betta a friend a recommend a nerite or a mystery snail. You can also add shrimp which your betta might eat the shrimp but I think it's good to have add some variety to their diet they are carnivores after all! let me know if you have more questions!
 
FishWithTim
  • #3
Sounds like you are doing more than fine. Iverg pretty much covered everything you need to know. Good luck!
 
HelloThere
  • #4
Yea literally sounds like youve done everything way better than my first betta.
 
FishWithTim
  • #5
Yea literally sounds like youve done everything way better than my first betta.
Same! My first betta lived on a 1 gallon bowl for 4 years. In the final months of his life I upgraded him to a 10 gallon fish tank. Then that's when I really got into the hobby. His name was knorville.
 
HelloThere
  • #6
Same! My first betta lived on a 1 gallon bowl for 4 years. In the final months of his life I upgraded him to a 10 gallon fish tank. Then that's when I really got into the hobby. His name was knorville.
Haha, not as bad as me, I put a betta and a goldfish together with no heater or filter in a almost no planted 10 gallon tank ... I feel so bad for Bubbles (My goldfish) and Inky (my profile picture betta)
 
Inactive User
  • #7
No one mentioned anything about adding ammonia to start cycling the tank, I naively thought these little bottles would do it.

I'm assuming that you know about the nitrogen cycle already (if not, click on the blue text to be redirected to an article that discusses it).

There are two ways to cycle an aquarium: fish-in and fishless. The distinction is that in a fish-in cycle, fish provide ammonia that's necessary for the growth of beneficial bacteria. In a fishless cycle, there are no fish and one needs an external source of ammonia, generally a solution of ammonium chloride.

In your case, because you're only supporting a single fish in your 5 gallon tank, it's unlikely that ammonia or nitrite will accumulate to toxic levels with regular water changes (25-50% per week).

In addition, depending on the temperature of the room in which the tank is located, you might need a heater. I'd recommend it regardless.
 
LeticiaM
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Thank you everyone for your responses!!
Just to clarify, Minnowette, because there is only going to be one fish in the tank, is it okay to do a fish-in cycle? Or should I get ammonium and start it that way? Either way, do I need to test the tank prior to adding the Betta?
Iverg mentioned using fish food to cycle the tank, I do that without a fish in the tank?
I do have a heater for the tank, it seems to be keeping the tank at a steady 80F
Do I need to worry about the white filamentous growth on my java Fern? I took it out of the tank and washed it off. Is it safe to add it back to the tank or is it something that could transfer to fish?
Do I need to worry about the black slimy growth in one of the decorations?
Sorry for all the questions, I really want to do what's best for our (future) fish!
Thank you!
 
Inactive User
  • #9
because there is only going to be one fish in the tank, is it okay to do a fish-in cycle? Or should I get and start it that way? Either way, do I need to test the tank prior to adding the Betta?
Iverg mentioned using to cycle the tank, I do that without a fish in the tank?

Fish-in cycle will be absolutely fine! You needn't add any external source of ammonia if you're doing fish-in. It's always a good idea to test a water's pH, temperature, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate before putting any fish in. It's never a good idea to assume that an aquarium with fish has o ppm ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. This is mostly because these compounds can be present in your tap water.

People only add excess fish food if they can't source a solution of ammonia for fishless cycling. Feed your fish as normal when you get it, and it'll create ammonia through eating.
 
LeticiaM
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
That makes sense! Thank you so much! We are heading away tomorrow for 6 days, there is nothing alive in the tank at the moment. I am going to turn off the heater but leave the filter running. We will turn the heater back on when we are home, test the water and if things look good, go pick out our new Betta!! Then order some marimo moss balls for him
Thanks again for everyone's help!!
-Leticia
 
LeticiaM
  • Thread Starter
  • #11

IMG_9161.JPG
IMG_9163.JPG So we are home and picked up our Betta! Actually, we adopted her (I think it's a her!) from kijiji. We actually ended up with two...I will have questions about the other one as well, I can start a new thread about him (he is in a different tank). Anyway, acclimatized her very slowly to her new home and she has seemed very happy in her new digs!! Feeding her 2-3 soaked Betta pellets twice daily, which she eats well.
I only have API test strips that tell me nitrate, nitrite, gh, pH, kh. The pet store employee told me I didn't need to check ammonia because "there is only one fish in 5 gallons". From reading this forum I know now that I should order the API master kit, which I will do, but it won't be here for days.
I did a reading with my strips this morning....gh 120-180, kh 180, pH 8, nitrate 20-40, nitrate 1 maybe? The strips are hard to interpret!!
I will attach photos of the strips for your help, but should I do a 25% water change? She has not even been in the tank 48 hours...is it possible the nitrite is already too high?? Is it hard to know what to do without ammonia reading? I am trying not to panic!!
I have another newbie question...can I just mix water with the conditioner in a stainless steel mixing bowl if I have rinsed it well and make sure no soap residue remains (since it was washed with soap after use like a normal kitchen bowl! Ha!)? Please help!
 
helpmyfishplease
  • #12
It wouldn't hurt to do a 25% water change (make sure you use water conditioner and match the temp in your tank). Instead of a bowl, can you get a 1 gallon water jug and use that? I have one that I wrote FISH on in black magic marker, so it never gets used for anything else.
 
LeticiaM
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
Thank you helpmyfishplease !! That makes total sense! I checked the parameters tonight and they are the same. Shocker (my 10 year old named her!) ate well and is swimming around like crazy. Is it urgent enough I should use a previously used jug I already have tonight (rinsed in hot water like crazy), or can it wait 24 hours for me to purchase a new one? Thank you so much! Sorry for the dumb questions, this is all very new!
 
Iverg1
  • #14
Can we see pictures of her? I'm excited to see!
 
helpmyfishplease
  • #15
I think either way is fine
 
LeticiaM
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
Thank you so much!! I have so much respect for all of you who have such amazing knowledge in this field! Honestly, I had no idea until I started looking into this Betta for my son, how much was truly involved. Kudos to all of you! A beautiful, healthy tank is art and science combined! I love it!!

HI Iverg1 !! I will send some pictures, but keep in mind the decor is all picked by my 10-year it was difficult to get a picture of her, she was swimming everywhere!! She has never had this much space! Her previous home was a 1/2 gallon cube. Her marimo moss balls should be here next week, and I hope to get her a snail friend in a month or two!

Thanks again!
 
LeticiaM
  • Thread Starter
  • #17

IMG_9200.JPG
IMG_9203.JPG Oops! Forgot the pictures!
 
Iverg1
  • #18
Don't forget to cover up the intake of the filter! Her fin looks a bit ripped but I wouldn't worry about it
 
LeticiaM
  • Thread Starter
  • #19
Thank you for reminding me!! I will get one of those sponge covers for it tonight, I looked at home and I don't have pantyhose for a DIY version!
I feel like her fins looked a little raggedy when we got her, but maybe it happened with us
As an aside, my other Betta is in a different tank with a tetra whisper filter, it's intake is much different. Should that intake be covered at well?
Thanks again for all your help!! I really appreciate it!!
 
Iverg1
  • #20
Yeah
 
LeticiaM
  • Thread Starter
  • #21
I am sorry, I have additional concerns/questions!!
So I did a 20% water change Thursday night, treated with 0.5ml of Prime directly to the tank (5 gallon tank). This morning I checked with my strips and nitrite was high - it looked like 0.5-1 so I did another 20% water change and again added 0.5ml of Prime directly to the tank.
I now have my API master test kit - I tested it just now and nitrite is 0.5, nitrate is 0-5, pH is 8.0, ammonia is 0.25
Do I do another partial water change (larger?) now, or since I did it this morning wait until tomorrow morning? Test and change daily until nitrite is 0?
Should I be changing/cleaning a filter at all? It has the Aqueon quiet flow 10 filter which has been running July 25th-Aug 5th with no fish and since Monday with one betta in the tank.
Thanks again to everyone who can offer assistance!!
 

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