Newbiefish with questions

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Kobura

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Greetings! My name is Kobura and I'm new here (duh?).

I was recently bitten by the Betta bug and I've been doing as much research as I can to try and prepare myself for the joys of Betta Mommyhood. I've had two Betta before, but the first one was when I was 8 and I barely remember him and my last one was kept in a fishbowl with no heater/filter and I dumped untreated water in with him during water changes. Yeah, ouch. (Though on the plus side he lasted 5 years before he died and I can't ever remember him getting sick.)

This time I want to do it right and I think I'm almost ready to give it a shot but there are a few questions I wanted to ask before taking the plunge.

What kind of tank cycling is best? I've never cycled a tank before and I read about a few different ways and I was curious if one way was better than another when dealing with Betta (or any fish for that matter)

What kind of substrate is best? I've read that gravel can be difficult to clean and you can just have a bare tank with no problems. I've already read that sand is pretty good. What are your opinions?

Are there any decorations I should avoid? I've read that certain things shouldn't be added because they release stuff into the water that could harm or kill certain fish.

Should I get live plants or should I get fake ones? Since I'm just starting out should I go for fake and then try live plants later on?

Sorry it was kind of long, but I want to make sure I don't mess up on my first day.
 

chickadee

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The Best cycling method by far is Bio-spira but this is expensive and I cannot lie to you. I costs $19.95 for an ounce pouch that is good for a small tank (up to 30 gallons) but you need to use the whole thing for less than that. The other part that makes this expensive is that it needs to be shipped overnight which also costs $19.95. It is worth it if you want an instant cycle. It works like this. Shake the pouch, pour it in and add the fish. That fast and the fish are safe. There are other methods that are okay but can take weeks. The next best method is to get a piece of filtered and seeded filtered filter media from someone else who has a tank or a bag of gravel from a cycled tank. Then there is the ammonia method where you add ammonia to the tank every day until the tank is cycled but some of the members have complained on how long this method takes.

The methods to use are under Fishless Cycling in the following:
https://www.fishlore.com/NitrogenCycle.htm

I would not use sand as I had a Betta who ate sand sized substrate and died of the clogging up that resulted. I have never had a problem getting the gravel clean and use Kordons Gravel that is sold at Petco. It is epoxy coated and is smoother than a lot of the other brands. I would not use the glass stones as they are hard to clean.

Just do not use plants that have sharp edges or caves that have only one opening or openings that your thumb will not move in and out of easily. Bettas need to be able to get in and out of easily and cannot turn around in things easily. They should also not have decorations that are made of lava rock.

Bettas LOVE live plants and you can get some nearly unkillable plants like Anubias, Java Fern, Wenditi. There are others but those are the most available. Those are very easy to grow and if you want to you can mix the fake plants in with them as long as they are soft and not sharp edged. They do like one tall plant that goes near the top of the tank so they can sleep in it. They go to the surface to breathe through the Labyrinth Organ on the top of their heads (when you see them butt the surface of the water with their heads) and when they are sleepy at night this keeps them from having to swim all the way to the surface and then back when they are tired. Just a little gift of love for a sleepy little buddy.

I do hope this has helped and I want to welcome you to Fishlore.com. We are a group of all ages, interests, and from many countries. Please feel free to browse our posts and comment or questions wherever you please.

Rose
 
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Kobura

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Thanks for the welcome and the help. You've helped me very much and it is much appreciated.
 

chickadee

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You are very welcome.

Rose
 

gammerus

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I find natural pebbles also make a good substrat. You can find a 3lb bag at home depot for $3..... just be prepared for a lot of rinsing
 
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Kobura

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gammerus said:
I find natural pebbles also make a good substrat. You can find a 3lb bag at home depot for $3..... just be prepared for a lot of rinsing
Too bad I don't have a Home Depot near me or I'd check it out. I've always liked the natural looking substrates.

Speaking of substrate, and I probably should have asked this in my first post... but are there any substrates I should avoid? A specific brand I mean. I've been looking at different gravel and the only real difference between a few of them are who makes them.

Also, what kind of filter and heater is good for a ten or a twenty gallon tank? I'm either getting a ten or twenty and I don't want to get a heater that's too strong (Betta soup isn't what I'm going for after all.) or a filter that sucks so bad I might as well not have a filter for all the good its doing.
 

chickadee

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These are too expensive for the whole tank I think but would look neat mixed or sprinkled on top of something like the second link.



This stuff is epoxy coated and smooth so is easy on fins where some other types are sharp and can rip fins.



or if you like colors this is the same stuff.



Hope this helps.

Rose
 

gammerus

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do you have a lowes or other major home improvement store? they all sell the stuff as yard decoration.
 

chickadee

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Cement or places that sell driveway rock will often sell it as "River rock" also for landscape rock as gammerus has said. Just give it the vinegar test before you buy it. Take a bottle of vinegar with you to the store and pour a little on the rock, if it bubbles it is not suitable for the aquarium.

Rose
 
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Kobura

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Yeah, there's a Lowes around here. I'll check them out before I buy any gravel from my LFS or Petco/Petsmart.

Vinegar test, huh. Never heard of that before. What does it show by reacting?
 

0morrokh

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Ah, the old vinegar test. You do that on any rocks before putting them in the aquarium. If the rock contains minerals which could leach into your water and jack up the hardness and pH (not good), the vinegar will react with these substances and start bubbling. If it bubbles, don't put it in the tank. If it doesn't bubble, be sure to rinse the heck out of it before putting it in there to get off the vinegar.
 

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There is also a brand called "Marina" which makes smooth coated gravel that won't hurt your Betta's fins. I have it in 3 of my tanks. Light colored gravel will help brighten the tank by reflecting light and makes it easier to see dirt when you do your gravel vacumming so you don't miss any. Try to avoid really bright unnatural colors like florescent red, blue, green etc. Bettas react to colors and can be stressed by certain colors. Go with white, beige or natural river pebbles.
 

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Let me jump in here too. I setup a 5 1/2 gallon tank today and want to go thru the whole cycling bit before I get my first Betta. I haven't had one before but it sounds like they a pretty cool little fish. Anyway, I wanted to just put gravel in the bottom and a clay pot from the garden center with some silk plants around the pot. I want to cover the front of the pot a little so the fish has some privacy. Anyway, I poured a little white vinegar on the pot and it didn't bubble so I am assuming that I can use it in my tank. Is that correct?

I used bio spria to set up my goldfish aquarium but it has only been established for about a month now so I don't want to take any gravel from it so I'm going to cycle using ammonia. I'll have to make sure I stay away from the Betta cause I'll be really tempted now.

Lisa
 

lisab53

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OOOPs I pressed send and forgot one other question. I was going to buy a 25 watt heater but the young fellow at That Pet Place told me the florescent light in the hood would keep the water at around 78 degrees however what about at night when the light is out? I think I should get the heater but that's more space taken out of the small tank. What are your thoughts?

Thanks,
Lisa
 

chickadee

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That young fellow needs to come to the forum and learn how to set up a tank. You need the heater because fluctuating temperatures are bad for bettas and at night the temperature will fall several degrees and take quite a while to warm up after the tank light is turned on.

Yes you can use a NEW clay pot in the tank as long as it has never had dirt or chemicals used with it. They make good caves as they have nice wide openings for the betta to be able to get in and out of. I would plug the little hole in the bottom with some aquarium sealant or something though as they love to get into tight places and can get stuck. Unless you can get your thumb into and out of the hole easily it is too small. If you can then they can have it open. You will also want to make sure that all the edges are smooth and this can be accomplished by rubbing with a nylon stocking and if it snags then you need to work on it a bit with a fine sandpaper to knock off any rough bumps. Then rinse it well and try the stocking again. Once it is smooth you have a GREAT CAVE.

It sounds like you have a great beginning of a super tank. Your betta will love it.

Rose
 
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Kobura

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Phloxface said:
There is also a brand called "Marina" which makes smooth coated gravel that won't hurt your Betta's fins. I have it in 3 of my tanks. Light colored gravel will help brighten the tank by reflecting light and makes it easier to see dirt when you do your gravel vacumming so you don't miss any. Try to avoid really bright unnatural colors like florescent red, blue, green etc. Bettas react to colors and can be stressed by certain colors. Go with white, beige or natural river pebbles.
How do they fair with black or darker (Purple/Green/Red/Blue/Etc) colors?
 

LZ Floyd

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Welcome to the forum Kobura and lisab53!

Kobura, while all Bettas have many things in common, each Betta seems to have his or her own personality, likes and dislikes.  As to how your Betta will do with the different gravel colors you mentioned will be up to your Betta.  But I do agree with Phloxface about the lighter colored gravel being easier to keep clean through gravel vacuuming and that is extremely important.  We used some of the gravel that was light blue mixed with aquamarine green and it was nearly impossible to vacuum out pea slices that had gotten past our Betta to end up on the tank's gravel.  I had wanted to use that color combo specifically to be able to see fish waste that needed removal.  Now we have a beige color.

lisab53, the heaters we've had the most success with are the <a href=" Visi-Stealth types</a>.  The temp control is completely variable (not high/low, or incremental) and the heater is totally submersible.  The space they take up is nothing to be concerned about.  (Ours likes to drape himself over the suction cup when resting; it positions him nearer the top where getting to a breath of air is easier, provides a little cubby-hole to hang out, and allows the fish to find the warmest spot in the tank, if he chooses.)

Mike
 

Phloxface

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I had black gravel in my 5 gallon Hex tank until recently (I had a problem with parasites so I replaced all the gravel) and it does look really nice but doesn't reflect light so the tank always looks darker. It always looks clean as you can't see the dirt and it makes vaccuming the gravel very hard. You don't want to leave any dirt in there that can infect your fish. Even multi colored gravel can make dirt harder to find. I have pure white gravel in three tanks and natural river pebbles in one and it's much easier now to keep it clean. The white gravel really brightens the tank even with low light because it reflects light which is good for live plants too.
I just won't use dark colored gravel anymore because keeping the tank clean and my fish healthy is most important.
 

lisab53

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Thanks for the welcome

And thanks Rose for the suggestion of filling the hole in the bottom of the clay pot. I bought some aquarium sealant today and did just that.

Mike, I'm going over to That Fish Place tomorrow and check on the brand heater you suggested, it's a huge place and they seem to carry just about everything and every brand you can think of. I remember years ago having the ones with high and low and turning the knob trying to get the right temp. I decided to take some gravel and a filter cartridge from my goldfish tank to start the cycle on my small tank. I believe I read that it helps speed up the cycling if you raise the water temp.

Thanks again for the help, I'm sure I'll be back.

Lisa
 
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