Some Questions From A New (betta) Fish Owner

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by Tinoki, Apr 24, 2017.

  1. Tinoki

    TinokiNew MemberMember

    I just brought home a lil' Betta buddy yesterday. I've never owned a fish before, so I spent the entire day researching it (probably should have spent longer than a day, haha). I kept coming across somewhat contradicting/confusing information which I'm hoping I can clear up, here :)

    I got a 10 gal tank, a few Anacharis bunches (I'd like to get some Java moss when I can find it), a filter, gravel, and water conditioner. I'll be getting a heater tomorrow.

    1. What is cycling? Was I supposed to do that?
    This is the most confusing thing to me, and now I'm worried about my fish. I had read an entire lengthy guide on how to set up a Betta fish tank, and then how to introduce the fish to the tank and put him in never mentioned anything about cycling the tank. Yet other guides on setting up generic fish tanks kept stressing how important cycling is, and then I started reading about some sources saying Betta's should have their tank cycled.

    2. Do I need a siphon? Or can I just scoop the water out with a cup when I do a weekly cleaning?
    I know siphons aren't expensive or anything, but they do take up room in my small apartment, and if I could just use a cup to change the water I'd rather do that for now.

    3. Speaking of weekly cleaning...
    As I understand it, for a 10 gal tank I should remove about 25% of the water, add fresh water the same temperature as the tank water, then add conditioner. Should I condition the fresh water before adding it?
    Should I add conditioner for 10 gals or only for the amount of water that I'm adding back into the tank?

    4. How should I go about adding the heater?
    I know it would have been ideal to get the heater going before adding the fish, but the pet store had a very poor selection of heaters so I decided it would be better to order one. Can I just put it in, turn it on, and keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't get too hot? Is there any risk of shocking my fish with temp change?

    5. How much should I feed him?
    So far I've been feeding him 3-5 pellets twice a day. The package says 5-10 pellets 2-3 times daily. but that seems excessive to me. I've read somewhere that it's good to give your Betta one "fasting day" a week so they don't get that a good practice?
    Is it necessary to give him a variety of food?

    6. Best ways to engage and entertain him?
    I only have a few plants in his tank right now. Eventually I think I'd like to get him a leaf hammock, some more plants, and maybe some smooth rocks. Are there any DIY Betta toys I can give him right now? Any ways I can play with him? :)

    I got some sort of volcanic rock thing, but when I got home with it I started thinking it may be too sharp to put in the tank. How do you know if something is too rough for a Betta?

    Finally, any other risks I should be aware of? I'm so paranoid of losing my new friend too early. He's so pretty and I love him so much, I didn't think I could become so fond of a fish! I'm worried I may be missing some important info or something. Any tips or advice are welcome!

    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017
  2. rrbauer96

    rrbauer96Valued MemberMember

    Can't answer all of these since I don't own any bettas, but I can answer #2 & #3 :) A siphon isn't necessary, but it does help if you tend to over feed like I do haha. It just helps get rid of any debris in your gravel or sand. And yes definitely condition your water before adding, assuming your getting your water from the tap since you haven't cycled and don't know your water parameters yet. I know a little about cycling but there's some masters about it on here that could better explain than I ever could...just wait an hour and you should have your answer :)
  3. KinsKicks

    KinsKicksFishlore VIPMember


    I promise to answer all your questions, it's gonna take awhile to type out the post, so just a heads up! Wanted to let you know we see you!
  4. aquatickeeper

    aquatickeeperFishlore VIPMember

    1. So, when you cycle a tank, you add in ammonia. Bacteria then grows (unless if you use a bacteria supplement, you will be adding in bacteria) to feed off the ammonia which then produces nitrites. Different bacteria then forms to feed off the nitrites which produces nitrates.

    So, this is how you cycle a tank:

    1. First, you add an ammonia source (pure ammonia, fish food, etc.) which is a food for the beneficial bacteria. If you are doing a fish-in cycle, you do not add in an ammonia source because the fish's poop will be the ammonia source.

    2. You can either get a bacteria supplement or choose to cycle without it. If you cycle without a bacteria supplement, the cycle usually gets done in 2 months. If you use a bacteria supplement, cycling gets done in weeks. Tetra Safe Start, for example, can cycle your tank in 2 weeks. If you choose to do a fish-in cycle, I will recommend using Seachem Stability and Prime (to detoxify the harmful levels so your fish can live in a nice environment).

    Ammonia is toxic to fish when levels are more than 0 ppm, same with nitrites. Nitrates are toxic when levels are more than 20 ppm.

    Cycling a tank is necessary because you need bacteria to feed off the waste your fish produces. Once your fish produces waste, bacteria will feed on it, so ammonia won't grow, which keeps your fish safe.

    2. I suggest using a siphon because you can easily remove the debris, fish waster, etc. and it shortens the water change time if you were to do a water change by using a bucket to scoop out the water.

    3. You can dose the conditioner in the tank first before you add the water in OR dose the tank in the bucket. And you dose for the whole tank volume NOT the amount of water you're adding in.
  5. ashenwelt

    ashenweltWell Known MemberMember

    1. What is cycling? Was I supposed to do that?
    Yes. You are doing fish IN cycling. I would personally grab some "Seachem Stability" or "Tetra Safe Start Plus" or some "Dr. Tim's One and Only" and use the bacteria boster to speed up the process... but that is what I always do. :)
    2. Do I need a siphon? It can be helpful. A bucket is usually more important (just any food safe bucket).

    3. Speaking of weekly cleaning...
    So I ALWAYS add confitioner (prime) to the water being added, not directly into the tank. I know that is a variant from others... but I add, swirl and give it five minutes (or longer).

    4. How should I go about adding the heater?
    Get one that has a thermostat. That is the absolute most important thing. Then youould set it somewhere between 78 and 80. And leave it.

    5. How much should I feed him?
    Fasting days are good practice. Though honestly I do more of a fasting meal, and I do 2-4 pellets. But then I vary the food during the week and give him some options. Honestly, Hern (said betta) ussually doesn't care unless he gets big cichlid pellets... then he goes nuts.

    6. Best ways to engage and entertain him?
    There are betta toys, but you are on a good path. Mirrors that you play with him with are fun and get his blood moving.

    Finally, any other risks I should be aware of? Just keep maintenance and make sure he is stimulated mentally.
  6. aquatickeeper

    aquatickeeperFishlore VIPMember

    4. I would suggest getting a heater that can adjust the temp. The ideal temp for a betta is 78-80 degreesF

    5. A few pellets once a day is okay for a betta. It is always better to feed a variety of foods, because nobody wants to eat the same thing everyday, right? You can feed pellets one day and an occasional bloodworms the other day.
  7. KinsKicks

    KinsKicksFishlore VIPMember

    Ok, this is going to be very long, but I hope you can derive soemthing from this :)

    •1) you do have yourself in sort of a rut with cycling. Cycling is definetly important to maintain a balance of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. However, it takes weeks to establish,and is quite stressful for fish, and you have a Betta now, leaving you a few options on how to proceed. (If you want more info about cycling, feel free to rummage around the forum, there is a whole thread or so dedicated to it...but if your still confused, ask! Sometimes it is confusing, especially for a newcomer :) )
    -1) run a "blank" cycle WITH your Betta. Depending on how hardy your Betta is (which may or may not be the case, those lps store cups are full of ammonia and may have weakened your fish). I cannot guarantee a survival of your fish, unfortunately. But Bettas are sometimes used to run a with-fish cycle because they are hardy. Additionally as well, (and the hopeful part) because bettas do live in the high ammonia concentration and somewhat adapt to it, he probably had a good chance withstanding the demands of the cycle.
    -2) (and the better option, but may or not be more difficult) go back to your lps or lfs and ask if you can have some gravel (or filter media, IF they're willing to spare it, this one is harder to come by). Or/in addition to, if they use spongefilters, ask if they can squeeze it out for you in some aquarium water. Hopefully, they lend you some and this will kick start your cycle as the bacteria are "found" on media such as gravel or the "stuff" in filters and then run the cycle. This should shorten the time it takes for the cycle to complete.
    *-3) similar to other options(and the best option IMO), and said above, getting bacteria in a bottle is a good way to kick off the cycle as well. This is probably the safest way too.

    All in all to sum up this part, unfortuantely, you will have to run a cycle with him/her, it's how long it is going to take that is the real question. If you can, get him/her out of that cup...although it's the least ideal option, cycling in a 10g is better than living in a ammonia polluted cup where there is no filtration and his chance or survival is worst.

    2&3) agree with above. Personally though, I add conditioner to the tap water that is going in the tank separately, this way, you know how much you need to put in and aren't under/overdosing (although u really can't overdose, just wanna stretch those dollars!). Also, if a siphon is too much, you can use a turkey baster, but you will I'll spend quite some time cleaning!

    4) Most heaters have instructions on their box on what to do, but the basic rundown is: put your heater in, unplugged, and about 15 min to acclimate the glass (funny, I know). Then plug it in and adjust if you get an adjustable one. If it preset, then your good to go. It will take awhile for the water to warm up. If adjustable, it is recommended to change temps after 24 hours of the "old" temp, to avoid shocking, if it's too high or too low. If preset, then you really can't do anything about the temp. Getting a thermometer as well will help in watching the temperature of the tank

    5) 4-6 pellets 2x a day is good enough. And a fast day is a good idea as well. I do this with mine and he is as happy as could be. A variety is always good with any fish diet, and if you can afford it, it would be good to give him/her some. I feed mine freeze-dries tubifex worms every other day and bloodworms once a week (harder to find in my area). U may have to feed less pellets depending on the size of your Betta, mine is quite large, so he gets a bigger meal :)

    6)there are lots of Betta toys! But what u have is a good idea and it's always customizable. To tell if something it too sharp, bring a pantyhose with you when buying decorations and stretch it tightly over the decoration. If it tears, it's not good for fins; it also indicates which parts may be too rough/sharp. Trust me, you won't be the first to have done this!

    Finally, grab yourself a test kit. API master is a good basic one.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017
  8. sassymomma

    sassymommaWell Known MemberMember

    Hi, and welcome to fish keeping

    Congratulations on your new guy

    I won't confuse you with more information because you already have good information in the comments above me. I will answer #6 for you

    Betta are pretty hardy fish, but have sensitive fins, which they can tear occasionally

    I recommend keeping aquarium salt and Tetra fungas guard in your Betta's medicine cabinet, so that if he needs a little help healing from a fin injury, you can be prepared

    Don't panic if you see fin damage-you can post a photo, along with your tank information, here on the forum for us to help you decide on the best actions to take :)
  9. Aster

    AsterWell Known MemberMember

    Welcome to the forum :)

    You've gotten good advice so far! Just a few things to add.

    To monitor levels during cycling, I'd pick up an API Freshwater Master Test Kit. It lets you test pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

    I do 50% weekly changes on my tanks, water changes are crucial to maintaining water quality and replenishing minerals that the fish need. As long as the tap parameters and temperature matches your tank's, larger water changes are fine and beneficial to fish health. If you're using buckets, dose for the amount you're putting back in. You can dose for the full volume of the tank, but it's not necessary and usually people only do that if they're dosing before directly adding water to the tank.

    What food are you feeding him?
  10. Hill Dweller

    Hill DwellerWell Known MemberMember

    Hi! It sounds like you are approaching the care of your new friend very carefully and intelligently. He will have a wonderful life in his new home!

    Don't feel too badly about not cycling first, lots of people fall in love at the shop and/or get given poor advice by staff or friends. As others have posted, you can do a fish-in cycle and it will be fine with proper attention and water changes using conditioner.

    If you have gravel the siphon helps you to get out the disgusting funk that ends up nestled down there between the stones, I have a 10 gallon too and by the time I have cleaned the sand and the gravel (I have both in different sections) it's taken out about 1/4 to 1/3 in just a few minutes, cleaning and water change in one action!

    For some bettas moving things around a bit each week keeps them curious, some play with toys, I have read a ping pong ball works for some people, and some like caves and crannies to explore.

    I had one who would play in the airstone bubbles whenever I turned it on. Just try different things, but already with a 10 gallon palace with some live plants, he will be in heaven!

    Look forward to a picture of your new friend!
  11. KinsKicks

    KinsKicksFishlore VIPMember

    Also, on filtration, you don't wanna anything too strong; their swimming ability has been sacrificed for their beauty! Dampening the flow can be done with a sponge filter/ adding a sponge to the intake.
  12. OP

    TinokiNew MemberMember

    Thanks so much to all of you! Very helpful.

    I really appreciate all the time you put into this! It's so helpful.

    - So about fish-in cycling, all I have to do is buy something like Tetra Safe Start and monitor the ammonia and nitrate levels? Should I be monitoring nitrite and PH levels too, or is that not necessary for Betta?

    - I'm feeding him Betta Bio-Gold right now. He really scarfs it down! When I go on my quest for Java moss, I'll look into getting him some freeze-dried tubifex worms too (or something) as suggested.

    - And well, this is embarrassing...I just looked at the box of my filter and realized it's intended for a 3 gal tank. The stream is really gentle, though! Hah. Guess I should have paid more attention. Pretty sure it was the only filter in the store that didn't seem to have such a strong current, though. Any suggestions for a good, affordable Betta filter?

  13. KinsKicks

    KinsKicksFishlore VIPMember

    For the cycling part, you will have to monitor ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. In essence, their presence indicates how well their respective bacteria-fixers are doing. Ph is inportant, but as long as it isn't too acidic or basic and stays relatively stable, don't devote your life to it, bettas are hardy, so they'll be ok in a fairly flexible range of ph (someone feel free to disagree). He's very pretty, btw. Such a lucky guy!
    Aqueon quietfliw is a good basic brand, I have one on my Betta tank and he's doing just fine with it. But I do have a sponge filter over the intake cuz it's a teeny bit to strong, but he's doing well anyhow. But this of course depends on your gph as well
  14. aquatickeeper

    aquatickeeperFishlore VIPMember

    1. Yes, buy Tetra Safe Start. You don't have to test the levels in the 14 days of cycling, it is actually not recommended to test in the 14 days, because it can give you the inaccurate results.
    Seachem Stability is recommended when cycling fish-in, so you can dose prime to detoxify the harmful levels. You can't dose prime when cycling with TSS, BTW.

    2. What is the gph of the filter?
  15. pixelhoot

    pixelhootValued MemberMember

    To add even more to this thread:

    This is a pretty comprehensive article about playing with your betta fish! btw I just saw the photo! He's super cute!
  16. OP

    TinokiNew MemberMember

    The filter I have does 20 GPH.

    What is dosing prime? Do I need something special to do that?

    Thanks for that article, Pixelhoot! I'm so in love with my cutie
  17. aquatickeeper

    aquatickeeperFishlore VIPMember

    For a 10 gallon, you need at least 80 gph. I would use a sponge filter instead.

    Prime is a water conditioner, it removes chlorine, chloramine, and heavy metals. It also detoxifies ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate for 24-48 hours so that your betta won't suffer in the harmful levels.