new to the world of bettas

  • #1
hello all, for a short introduction, I have a 29 gallon tank (cycled), a ten gallon tank (cycling), and now a 5 gallon tank on my desk at work. I'm planning on getting a betta for the five gallon, but I do not know very much about bettas.

Tank specs: 5 gallon; heater; 15 watt light; silk plants; fake drift wood looking thing for hiding. Not yet cycled, but I will take the time to cycle it fishless

My questions for ya all are...
1: are there any tank mates that would be suitable for a betta in this size of tank
2: any good live plants that the betta will like and are easy to grow?
3: do I have a good set up for a betta? if not, what do I need
4: where is the info on how to cycle a tank fishless?

Thank you for your responses!
  • Thread Starter
  • #2
It was suggested to me by a co-worker that an african dwarf frog would be a good tank mate. Is this true?
  • #3
To answer your question about tank mates. My Betta doesn't have any yet, but not because I don't him to have any. He is going through an illness, a recovery from a med and I'm trying to mend his tail back to normal also, so I don't want to cause him anymore stress then what he's going through now by adding a tank mate. In any case, to answer your question I have heard that they do get a long with African dwarf frogs. They both tend to keep to themselves. However, it does depend on the Betta. You will have to very slowly introduce him to it as with any fish or any kind of amphibian that you might want to put in with him. Especially since he is so used to being by himself. I was told also that Otto's get along very well with Betta's. Be very careful that you don't put too many fish in there with him. I would only put maybe 2 in with him, but be aware of the size that they get. I wouldn't get anything any bigger then an inch long since you only have a 5 gallon. Otto's only get about an inch long. The miniature African Dwarf frogs only get about an inch long too. I was told though too that if you were to get tank mates for him that the tank should at least be a 10 gallon. However, I'm sure that if you only get 1 o r 2 fish that doesn't get any bigger then an inch long it should be OK. Only get one or 2 though. No more then that. Cory catfish are good tank mates also. When I do decide to get a tank mate for Mr. Red it will most likely either be Otto's or an African dwarf frog. I haven't decided yet. I hope I was helpful. I'm still pretty new to the Betta world also, but I'm getting know them. Natalie
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
I was thinking about going with the frog b/c both ottos and corys and most any of the other small fish I can think of, like to be in groups... which would mean too much fish per gallon in my little desk top tank. I think I'll try the frog. Unless anyone thinks it's a bad idea.

Should I get the frog first or the betta first? after the tank is cycled of course!

Or, on a different line of thought.. should I get a snail to keep the tank clean?

Would one betta, one african dwarf frog, and a small snail... overstock the tank? I don't mind doing more frequent water changes, but I want them all to be happy! If I have any problems, I can rehome any of these in my 29 gallon, which is far from overstocked at the moment!
  • #5
Whatever fish/critters you keep with the betta should ideally come first. A betta can adapt somewhat to new tank mates but they get very territorial. You ideally want peaceful tank mates that can hide from them or swim away fast enough if the betta gets aggressive, which is not a constant but is a factor to be concerned about. Bettas can swim into surprisingly small spaces but will avoid swimming quickly into planted areas in my experience, so a dense plant cover for smaller tank mates might help. I've found that bloodfin tetras make decent tank mates in that regard. I had bad luck with corys but you might have better.
  • #6
The above is a good place to start when looking for some basic information on the care of the betta.

As far as the tank mates, you can use a frog but be careful that it does not nibble the betta's fins as the betta will not see it as a threat usually and will just let it happen (unless you get a very aggressive betta in which case I have known of them killing the frogs). If you have fin nippers in either frogs or fish the betta is going to end up with a case of fin rot and lately fin rot has become much more tricky to treat. Poe is VERY correct that the other occupants of the tank should establish their territories first. It does not insure a docile betta but it helps sometimes. It is certainly more likely to cause a problem if the betta is given a chance to dominate the tank and then has company added.

The bettas that I have love the tall plants to sleep in, but they also like sword plants with wide leaves to rest on during the day. They do not like to have the tank so stuffed that they cannot swim around the leaves but they do like to have a lot of plants and places to explore; caves, and rocks and wood with little holes. Just be careful not to have things with really small holes as a betta will try to get into anything and they do not swim backwards so they either need a place with 2 holes big enough to go through so they have a way in and a way out or a place big enough for them to turn around when they get inside. 3" minimum inside I would say. They also like bridges and things they can swim under and around. Now you are not going to be able to get a lot into 5 gallons but choose a couple items for them to explore like your wood and some plants and maybe a small cave and they will love you. I saw a small octopus at Walmart that my Bettas love. It is very small but has several holes but they think they are hiding inside even though they are perfectly visible. Plants; you may want to try Anubias nana, Java Fern, Amazon Sword, Anubias petite, Java Moss (it is a mess but they LOVE it ~ it is like a big pillow for them ~ but they trail it all over the place. If you want a neat tank do not get it.) These are all low light plants that are easy to grow. They will be easy to purchase too if you find a place that carries plants they should have these as they are the common ones. They are also good at keeping nitrates down.

It sounds like your set-up is going to be good and you have given it much thought. I would not get a snail if your objective is to clean the tank. Snails are large waste producers and will add more dirt than they will clean up. If you are wanting algae cleaners then Otos are your best bet. I have all 5 gallon tanks and in 2 of them I have Otos to clean up the algae. They do an excellent job if you do not OVERFEED them on algae wafers. You do have to feed them some but not everyday if there is algae present. I have 2 Otos and a Betta and I think that is the perfect match in the 5 gallon tank. Otos are also the least affected by being chased by a frisky betta. Other fish are sometimes intimidated. They get ruffled up and then settle right down and after a while do not even let the betta bother them. Mine have even been known to swim right past the betta's nose just as if to say,
"hahaha, can't catch me" . I do find it a little hard to feel sorry for them when they do this.

There are several methods to cycle a tank fishless and all of them are on the page of this website that deals with the nitrogen cycle:

As you scroll down the page you will find an area for "Cycling the Tank Fishless" and there are options of ways to do this. I have personally only done Option 3 but they all work with varying lengths of time and work involved. You will need a Master Test Kit and not the Test Strips to do this. We here use the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Master Test Kit more than any other, more for uniformity than because it is superior to the other Master Test Kits. The idea is that the tests need to be done with a liquid reagent and in a test tube instead of by dipping a stick as the dip sticks have been known to be very inaccurate and fail to identify the presence of unsafe levels of chemicals.

I do hope this has been helpful. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have and make any comments you need to. If we can be of help please let us know. It is a great life owning a betta. There are rewards that you will only find as you get to know your little one on a one-to-one basis. No one can tell you exactly what it will be like because every betta is a different personality and will surprise you and us with their little idiosyncrasies. Good betta hunting, the fun is going to be just beginning .

  • #7
I would not keep African Dwarf Frogs with bettas. They could attack them. Some do and some don't. It is kind of a gamble. Other suitable tank mates are corys and otos and snails.
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Thanks for the advice. You have all been VERY helpful!!!

I'm going to the pet shop today to get some used filter media from their tanks. I can't wait to get this all started, but patience makes for happy fish. I've also found a store that keeps their bettas in with the other community fish. They are kept in those small boxes that hang on the wall of the tanks, but at least they have seen other types of fish before.

About the frog, I'd love to have a one, but I also want the betta to have a clean tank, so I guess I'll go with the ottos!... I want them all to have enough space!
  • #9
sounds like you found a great store.
  • #10
I am so glad that you are considering Otos for tank mates.  I do not remember if I told you but they have their own website!  Before you buy Otos, be sure to read up on them and then you need to look for a few things:

A nice white red streaks or red areas
A nice plump (not bloated) starved or flat tummies
A busy little fish....not a lethargic little one
A nice black stripe on the side....muddy looking otos may not be well.

Otos should look well fed.  If they look flat tummied or sunken, they have probably lost the ability of digest their food.  They have a bacteria in their stomachs that digests their food and if they have been starved the bacteria dies. You can feed one of these little ones a whole bag of algae wafers and he will still die as they are no longer able to digest anything they eat.

Their website is:  otocinclus catfish

They are very sweet little fish and while they are mainly out at night after lights out, when you see them during the day it is a real treat.  (you also feed them only a couple times a week so they will eat the algae from the tank - give about half an algae wafer each time and do not feed again until all is gone)


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