10 Gallon Tank Typical newbie post.....

  • #1
A few weeks ago, I made the rookie mistake of spontaneously purchasing a tank and fish from a local pet store. I got home and set it all up feeling like this fish superstar. After losing two of my tetra over the next few weeks, I started to FINALLY do the reading I should've done before ever considering my purchase, and have felt horrendously guilty ever since - I'd been keeping five tetra AND a betta in a 1.3 gallon tank somehow, the remaining 3 tetra and my betta are still swimming on, and to be honest, they seem actually seem rather healthy all things considering... However, I just went out and purchased a 10 gallon kit. Here, I've grown a little uncertain. The more and more I read, the more and more differing opinions I hit. So, bare with me please, a few questions from a beginner who really wants to give some proper care to her lil fishies.
1. I've read you can create community tanks with a betta, but I'm leaning more towards keeping mine separate. I know bettas do thrive in a 10 gallon tank, but I really don't have that much space to work with. He seems content swimming around my 1.3 gallon (its a more vertical hexagonal model), and I'm curious if this is enough space to keep him happy. The tank has a kinda air pump, and no heater (like I said, the more I read the more surprised I am I still have fishies) but I know betta are pretty tolerant with water conditions. Just curious if I need to look at upgrading a tank for him too, or if he can manage.
2. I've opened the kit to wipe down everything, but have hesitated in setting it up immediately. I've read conflicting advice online - some say these starter kits are great, cheaper options for beginners, while others warn against them. Mines a 10G Top Fin brand kit; does anyone have any experience with these?? One site I found told me to immediately throw out my filter and get an upgraded one; is this necessary? In addition....
3. I bought a 10G for sizing reasons; I'd assumed I could just put it on top of my dresser (its a sturdy wooden monster that solidly holds my 115lb weight, so I figured it would work as a stand). However, I am hesitant to set it up just to feel the need to upgrade in a month. Still, I am living in an apartment, and will be moving in a few months. I had planned on buying a larger tank then, but when I realized how inhumanely I was treating my current fish I needed a more immediate solution. However... In yalls experience, should I as a beginner stick with the 10G for a few months through my move and to learn the ropes, or would it be easier on my fish/my wallet to go with a 20G now? And if so, moving a fish tank - how much of a challenge does this pose for a 10/20G setup?
4. Cycling questions... Since I do want to give my fish more space ASAP, I bought a bottle of tetra safe start, but I've also stumbled on some mismatched advice regarding this. Where do I add the TSS - just straight into the tank or into the filter? How soon can I add my fish? I'd thought my tetras would be good fish to start with, but now I'm finding this could be the contrary. Should I start with different fish, then add my tetra later??? Ah the confusion!! Also, was cycling just not necessary for my 1.3G tank, or did I just not notice it happening? And if I didn't notice it does that mean my tetras are good lil cyclers and should be fine starting up a 10 (or 20!) G tank?
Sorry for the mass of questions - I'm in my early 20s and to say most of my peers know nothing about fishkeeping would be an understatement. Considering my parents lost every fish they put info their fish tank, I'm unwilling to trust their advice either. Any help on any of my questions would be greatly appreciated thanks guys

PS- one final thought! Tank backgrounds... Yay, nay? Pros, cons? If so, are bright colors or darker tones better? Yet another thing to figure out before I start setting everything up.... The more I read the more I'm intrigued, but I can't believe I walked into this thinking the only thing I needed to prepare for was treating my tap water! Thanks again y'all

  • #2
Hi...I'm fairly new but kind of was at the same point you are now. I had just a betta and got a 1.1 gal w filter/no heater. He was miserable and the filter flow was too much. Kit said "perfect for Betta" but wasn't even close. Water temp was always below 68 bc didn't come with or mention a heater, his reflection drove him nuts and the water was hard to keep clean bcit was too small. Long story short...I have him in a 5 gal Top Fin kit which seems great. The filter is def too strong but a plastic bottle will fix that. I got it to cycle and have a good heater at 78-80. Background? I HAD to bc of the reflection...he went crazy and was flaring far too much. It depends bc most betta are unique. A ten gal should work good, in my opinion at least best of luck

Sarcasm Included
  • #3
I wouldn't really call it a newbie mistake, more like a everybody does it mistake.

I am unfamiliar with the kit but I wouldn't worry about the filter at this point. It more than likely is just not sufficient for the tank size, but having a small bio-load like a single betta wouldn't require a strong filter.

First, I would set up the 10 gallon and move the tetras to it, leaving the betta to the 1.5 gallon for now. After you move and set up the 20 gallon, I would transfer the tetras to the 20 gallon, fill out their school and move the betta to the 10 gallon.

Putting TSS in the water column or the filter will make little difference. It only matters that you immediately add the fish and it should be at least 24 hours after adding conditioners like Prime. You then allow 2 weeks for the bacteria to multiply before doing a water change. You may monitor with a liquid test kit, but you are likely to get stressed during the spiking of the ammonia at first. It should be just fine with the 3 tetras to cycle, which are obviously hardy given they made it through one cycle.

All tanks no matter what size go through a cycle as long as there is ammonia present.

Community tanks with bettas tend to be short term affairs that end badly. He would be much better off if you gave him that 10 gallon eventually with decorations to keep him occupied, live plants are a plus.

Backgrounds are a matter of personal taste.
  • #4
Welcome to FishLore. You are asking good questions and I am sure you will get lots of advice. Before you make any decisions read about nitrogen cycle unless you have already done so and buy Seachem Prime and API liquid test to check your water perimeters. Both cheaper on line.

I have a few Top Fin products and I am quite happy with them.

If you are close to PETCO, they will have a two week long dollar a gallon sale starting on June 29. You could save a lot of money buying a tank from them. You should also know that it is easier to take care of a larger tank, it is more forgiving.

Most other things you should get on line, after checking with us, your new community. Go slow. Remember impulse shopping or fish choosing is the worst thing you can do.

You will get conflicting responses about Bettas in community tanks. As some one who learned it the hard way may I advise you against it. You would be playing Russian roulette. All will go well for a while, until one day you will come home to a dead fish. Yes, your Betta will need a heater and filter.

Do not throw away your Top Fin filter, it may be a good one. You don't need strong current for Betta.

ABout TSS, use one bottle per tank. You cannot divide it. I usually buy the larger bottle even for a smaller tank.

1. Fill your tank with with clean water, or do 100% water change, add Prime or other dechlorinator, add 1-2 hardy fish and wait 24 hours.

2. Shake TSS bottle real well and add it in its entirety to your tank.

3. Do absolutely nothing for 2 weeks. Feed your fish sparingly. Check the water quality only if your fish acts sick. Otherwise, do nothing!

4. On day 14 or 15 do a 50% water change, 24 hours later check your water perimeters. You should have 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrites and some Nitrates.

You have cycled.

Good Lu.ck and keep us posted
  • #5
I bought a 10 gallon top fin kit nine years ago and it still serves me well. It is the petco in-house brand but it should do you right. Keep the gear even if you upgrade. Also, you only need to upgrade if you want fish that need it. 10 gals are limited but you can do fun things with them.

  • #6
HI there! Welcome to FishLore. I'd like to see if I can expand upon some of the advice given here.

1) The 1.3g will be better for the betta temporarily, long term he will need other arrangements. I agree with Sarcasm Included on this. However, he does need a heater. Unless you have a way to keep his water steady at 78 degrees, 80F ideally. Bettas are tropical and low water temp exposes them to illness. Also, in such a small tank, water quality will fall quickly. Daily water changes of at least 50% should do it but a water test kit will give you a better idea.
2) Unfortunately I can't comment here except to agree with the filter issue It's probably inadequate for anything but a betta, who has a low bioload and will enjoy little current.
3) I also agree with the above. A 20 gallon to complete the school of tetras, then 10 gallon for the betta when that happens. Lucky you the dollar per gallon sale is fast approaching!
4) I have to respectfully make a correction to the above post regarding the use of TSS. It is not recommended to do a 100% water change, these can be quite stressful for the fish. However, water parameters must be near to 0ppm when beginning to use TSS. So start with a water change of around 50%, then do back-to-back smaller changes until the levels come down. After this, you must wait 24 hours. Water conditioners can, in one way or another, negatively impact the newly added TSS bacteria (but will be fine once cycled). In approximately 24 hours, that conditioner will have dissipated and you can add TSS. As stated above, do not split the bottle. Shake it up and add the whole thing in. For the next 14 days, no water changes. I actually suggest you feed your fish normally so that the tank doesn't undergo a mini-cycle once you return to normal feeding regimen. But whatever you do, don't overfeed. I also recommend daily water testing, bearing in mind that you can sometimes see unnerving results and this can lead you to panic and do a water change which will interrupt the cycle. If the levels are less than 1.5ppm and not sustained for more than 24 hours and, most importantly, the fish are not acting stressed, you should be fine. If at any point they appear stressed, check the levels and water change if needed. The final step is the one I want to make another correction to, on day 15, do not do a water change before testing your levels. Water change first will give you an inaccurate idea of whether the TSS is actually done cycling your tank. On day 15, check your levels. If you have 0ppm ammonia/nitrite and a nitrate reading, the TSS cycle is complete. If it's close but not quite there, give it a couple more days. If it's complete, you may want to do a bigger water change (no more than 50%) and a (very light) gravel vacuum to help with nitrates but do leave the filter cartridges where they are, don't start swishing them out until your cycle has been stable for a couple more weeks. A new TSS cycle is quite delicate so it's a good idea to go gently with maintenance.

Good luck and welcome
  • #7
Poetic, are you aware that some of your advice contradicts Tetra's?

For starters, they want TSS users to use clean water. They even suggest that it is mixed in a clean bucket and then added to the tank. They do not recommend normal feeding, "one or two pieces a day per fish," they say, nor do they recommend water testing during the first 14 days.

I don't advocate 100% water changes, but I see no harm in starting TSS with clean water, especially, when dealing with a new tank.
  • #8
Oh, when starting with a new tank, yeah, clean water. The way I understand it is the point is that it works best with levels close to 0ppm (though Tetra Q&A says it'll still work at higher levels which I completely didn't notice the last time I read it). I can't really find anywhere where it says to do a 100% WC and I'm having trouble fathoming it...it would require total reacclimation of the fish if there are any readings in the water. Multiple, small changes till the bulk of the original water has been changed out is much safer (and only necessary if not using the TSS right away and there is ammonia/nitrite in the water). If you'd show me where it says that, I'd be grateful If it does say that, I apologize for misquoting Tetra, however I do disagree with it if that's what they recommend when there are fish in the tank/ammonia in the water. If it's a brand new tank then, yeah, add the new water, add fish, wait 24 hours and add TSS.

As to the feeding, that's why I said "I recommend" rather than that's how you do it, I apologize if that wasn't clear. I've seen other members recommend both ways as well, though it's been kind of awhile. The Tetra Q&A just says don't overfeed and stock the tank sparingly, but I wouldn't be surprised. I don't think it'll make too much of a difference either way.

For the OP, here is the Q&A - hopefully it will help address some of your concerns directly


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