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Hello! Newbie who's over her head in VA.


Nora
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Hey Y'all.  I had a few betas prior to this but after reading Co-op I realized I've been keeping them in a way too small tank.  So for my daughters Christmas present I wanted to do it right!  I got a 5 gal tank (Top Fin Retreat tank) with filter and added a heater.  I've been spot checking the heater and its been staying between 79-81.  I got a Plakat Beta (as they look a bit like Koi and she initially wanted a goldfish) and a blue mystery snail.  I set up the tank about a week before.  I got the snail and Fish on Thursday from a local small fish store (I think they breed them?).  The snail seems to be doing well, but the Beta is REALLY low energy.  He doesn't seem to want to eat either, and just wants to hang out by the Heater. There does seem to be a bit of film on the top of the water.  I'd really like to be able to give my daughter a live fish in a week (and honestly Im really excited about having a fish again).  

Ps. Currently only have faux plants because at some point we will be moving back to NYC and I figure moving a planted aquarium will be much harder.  But once we get there Im looking forward to starting a planted aquarium.  

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Well, I was going to and then i called a local Aquatics store (not where i got the fish) and they said I was over thinking it, betas are hardy just use some water conditioner and I will be fine.  Soo...I've been using Prime on tap water.  Do you have a testing kit that you recommend?  What do we do if it hasn't cycled but we already have the fish?

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Prime is good to use for a fish-in cycle, it will detoxify the ammonia and nitrite. However, it only does so for 24 hours, then the toxins will begin to build up once more. 

I recommend a freshwater liquid test kit by API. You can get them on Amazon for cheap: 

WWW.AMAZON.COM

They run higher at Petco, but you have the convenience of getting it immediately.

Test strips will work in a pinch, which you can get at any big name store.

Being able to monitor the cycle daily is a good idea, doing water changes as you need them. Ammonia and nitrite should always be 0.

Here's a video by Aquarium Co-Op about the nitrogen cycle:
 

 

Edited by H.K.Luterman
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If he's hanging around the heater then there's a chance that the heater might just be too small, a good size is a 50-75 watt heater for that size tank if you have a fairly variation temperature variation between seasons (Like NYC for example) If your kid is interested in chemistry/biology then this is a great place to learn, good luck and welcome!

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I'm brand new here, too, but I had the same thing happen with the first betta I brought home and put in an uncycled tank.  The pet store said the same thing--"they're hardy, here's some water conditioner."  And that wasn't even Prime--just a dechlorinator which I didn't need on our well water.  He also always hung out trying to hide behind the filter and in the back of the tank.  Prime's a big help, but my guess is it's the tank cycling that's making him uncomfortable.  The testing kit can help you with figuring out water changes, too, and I've personally had pretty decent luck with kick starting a cycle with Tetra SafeStart.  It's definitely not instant, but it might not hurt to give it a try to see if you can get some bacteria going in there!

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17 hours ago, Nora said:

Awesome thank you so much I will get that.  The video was great.  I may reconsider getting some live plants, I'll have to delve into the site for info on how to start that.

I would definitely encourage you to get live plants.  They can help with removing ammonia and nitrates from the water, and will also take up nutrients that could otherwise go to algae.  In addition to that, some fake plants can harm bettas fins.

When you get ready to move just remove the plants, seal them up in plastic bags with a little water, and replant them when you get to the new house.  They may melt back some while adjusting to the new water parameters, but if they do just remove any dead leaves and give them time.  They should be fine.

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Dancing Matt: We have had him about 5 days now, he was a bit more energetic the second half of yesterday.  

KaitieG: I am picking up a test kit today, Petsmart's prices were actually the same as Amazon for once, yeah! I had considered a starter like that, but then yeah got that "You don't need that" advice and didnt, we shall see what the numbers are.  

JettsPapa: Im glad to know that I can move the plants like that, I will work on getting live plants in there very soon, although I think i will need to change or add to my substrate, off to read some articles.  

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The temperature should be fine for him. If you wanted some rooting plants and got some hardy ones (or easy like crypts) you could likely use the substrate you just may need some root tabs for optimal growth. If you like your substrate don't feel you have to change it. @KaitieG is right. Plants that pull nutrients from the water column would be great if you are concerned about the substrate. There are different types of anubis and Java fern that are great at that. I have anubis nana petite (picture) with my betta but bigger varieties would be great to help create plant density. You could also put in floating plants but they can shade out lower plants and you would have to keep space on the water surface for the betta to breathe.

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I just started as well and wanted to have live plants and after watching videos I got anubius and java moss. and both are growing great. Both are super easy and you can grow them on basic gravel. The Java moss honestly can just float around it does not root. The anubius roots and I tied mine to small pieces of wood until the roots grabbed the wood. It grew so much I split the rhizome and have a few just with the roots in gravel. Just be mindful with anubius not to bury the rhizome.  
 

The fuzzy ball ones are java moss, and the leafy plants are Anubius I had one and it grew enough to split it into 5 parts. 

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Edited by TimeTraveler
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Hi all!  Thanks for all the great advice.  Several Updates.  On the 21st I picked up the water test kit and tested the water, the Ammonia and Nitrite levels were good and later that day the fish got a bit spunkier (he still may just be a kinda chill fish).  Soo glad I had the test kit, cuz here's what happened next!

Christmas eve I did a partial water change (1gal, tank is 5) since we had to remove some water to get the tank into its new location.  

Christmas morning my kiddo was soo excited about the fish and snail.  About 2 hours later it was a bit TOO quiet over by the tank annnndd... She says "Im helping Im feeding my fish!"  I had not put the food out of reach and the poor fish looked like one of those people in those money wind tunnels at a car dealership and the snail retreated into its shell (In my head he was saying "you people are asking too much of me to clean all this up!"  Kiddo had basically fed them about 2 months of food.  We vacummed a lot out with the siphon and thought it was pretty good, but by the evening the water was cloudy and when i tested both the ammonia and nitrite levels were very high.  So we took a risk putting them in a punch bowl (with heater) in water that had been treated with Prime only 12 hours earlier.  Well luckily it worked, we fully cleaned the tank and 20 hours later got them back into it.  Phew!  We now have the food locked under the tank as well as the mantra "A little, not a lot".  

The fish remains pretty chill and the snail gets the zoomies a couple times a day, kinda the opposite of what I expected their personailties to be.  

Oh also, this fishes name is Pumpernickel and the snail is Gary.

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2 hours ago, Nora said:

Hi all!  Thanks for all the great advice.  Several Updates.  On the 21st I picked up the water test kit and tested the water, the Ammonia and Nitrite levels were good and later that day the fish got a bit spunkier (he still may just be a kinda chill fish).  Soo glad I had the test kit, cuz here's what happened next!

Christmas eve I did a partial water change (1gal, tank is 5) since we had to remove some water to get the tank into its new location.  

Christmas morning my kiddo was soo excited about the fish and snail.  About 2 hours later it was a bit TOO quiet over by the tank annnndd... She says "Im helping Im feeding my fish!"  I had not put the food out of reach and the poor fish looked like one of those people in those money wind tunnels at a car dealership and the snail retreated into its shell (In my head he was saying "you people are asking too much of me to clean all this up!"  Kiddo had basically fed them about 2 months of food.  We vacummed a lot out with the siphon and thought it was pretty good, but by the evening the water was cloudy and when i tested both the ammonia and nitrite levels were very high.  So we took a risk putting them in a punch bowl (with heater) in water that had been treated with Prime only 12 hours earlier.  Well luckily it worked, we fully cleaned the tank and 20 hours later got them back into it.  Phew!  We now have the food locked under the tank as well as the mantra "A little, not a lot".  

The fish remains pretty chill and the snail gets the zoomies a couple times a day, kinda the opposite of what I expected their personailties to be.  

Oh also, this fishes name is Pumpernickel and the snail is Gary.

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Just a useful tip for the next time you need a test kit, try to look on resell apps like offerup or craigslist and look for people getting out of their hobby. Test kits are usually barely used and much cheaper. 

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