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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys, I'm new to the whole fishkeeping thing, and so far I like it. I bought a small 1.5g starter tank, that came with a bubblestone, and under-gravel filter, I bought some silk plants for my betta, and he's swimming happily.

I have a few questions though: I was reading about heaters, and my room is quite cold most of the time, I saw a 7.5 watt square-ish heating pad like thing, I was thinking would be perfect. Agree, disagree?

Also, I'm not sure that my 'under-gravel filter' is actually working? Should there be only a minimum of gravel on top of it? Somehow it's supposed to filter as the bubblestone is down at the bottom of the tube? I'm just confused as to how it's filtering.

Please let me know, I'm really hoping to get into the hobby, and I love it so far, I just want to make sure I can keep my betta healthy.
 

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Welcome the the wonderful of fish keeping. The heat pad should be fine as long as it is designed to go in the water and has a built in thermostat to regulate the temperature. With regards to the gravel filter they do best with at least an inch of gravel over them. You will be unlikely to notice the flow of water through the gravel but it's ok it is happening as you will find when you stir it up to carry out a water change. Try and get some sand snails normally free from fish shops as they will help keep the gravel fresh and clean. Also bettas like plant so get some cabomba plant to float near the surface. Good luck with your tank and have fun
Neil
For help setting up and ideas see my blog www.bombina.co.uk
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hey Thanks!

I do have lots of plants in there, little silk ones, he loves them so far (Swims in them constantly) but I seem to have a new problem, foam o_O

I know because bettas have a labyrinth organ they don't need bubbles, but I would assume the airstone is what is driving the 'gravel filter' so how can I avoid the fact that I have a large layer of foam (bubbles even) at the top most of the time.

I know he Bubblenests, it doesn't seem like the bubblenesting, it seems like it's being sustained by the airstone. Thoughts?

Thanks again for the help!
 

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Ok cool, is the airstone in an uplift pipe attached to the undergravel filter? if so you should not get bubbles or foam. i would suggest you carry out a 50% water change but try not to stir up the gravel when you put the water back try pouring it in over a flat rock or similar as it is most likely the very fine sediment from the gravel causing the foam. you can also try scooping it off the surface with a fine mesh net (be careful not to catch the betta he will be curious!) Good luck with that and try to get some real plants soon
 
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Most of the little paddle type heaters I have seen do not adjust for heat. They are preset and do not do more than heat the water a couple degrees warmer than the room temperature. Since bettas need to be kept at about 78 to 80 degrees you need to have them with a heater that has some control mechanism on it. And since the smallest one of those that I am aware of is a 25 watt size and needs at least a 2.5 gallon tank to heat in safely Mr. Betta cannot have one in that small tank he is in now. So you need to either get him a slightly larger tank and the 25 watt heater or keep the room in the neighborhood of around 75 degrees to give the paddle heater a chance to keep the betta at about the right temperature in his present tank.

Sorry for the bad news but there are so many cool water diseases that they pick up like ich, velvet and fin rot if they are kept in cooler water. The chances of constipation is also raised if they do not have a high enough metabolism and that is determined by the temperature of the water around them since they, like all fish are cold blooded creatures. If he starts to show a fat tummy or swollen area behind his ventral fins you will need to raise his temperature and cut his feed for a few days as this means that his is either becoming constipated or beginning to develop a swim bladder problem and both of these are generally caused by overfeeding or cold water constipation.

Also undergravel filters have the reputation for doing just the opposite and not doing anything much but drawing the poo under them and letting it fester there. Eventually it has to come out and in the meantime it has caused a myriad of problems. (especially these small ones) If the filter is hooked to a small airpump anyway a very small sponge filter is very cheap and will actually filter the ammonia and nitrites and nitrates out of the water once it is cycled. That is the goal. Unfortunately until you have a cycle of some sort, you need to do the cycling artificially. That means frequent (daily) water changes of about 50% to keep the toxins from building up. Are you using an agent to dechlorinate the water by the way? You need to be using something of that nature before you add water to the tank always. Probably the one that I recommend is Prime as you use only one or two drops per gallon so it goes a LONG way where some of them use a capful per gallon and are gone quickly. Get an eyedropper and a small bottle of Prime and you have enough for a year or more.
You need something to use to test for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. Those three for sure. The test strips are notoriously unreliable although a lot of people like their ease of use. I have had a lot of time when they give false negatives. The best tests are the ones that use the liquid reagents and the test tubes. They cost about $5 each but they are the only way to really know when your tank is cycled. When you get the ammonia test you need to test with it every day starting with day one.

You should never let the ammonia levels go above 0.5 without changing the water (at least half of it)
After 4 or 5 days you start testing for NITRITES (with an I) as well as ammonia every morning.
You need to make sure the Nitrites never go above 1.0 and the ammonia over 0.5 without changing the water (half)
Then in a week you need to add the test for NITRATES to the other two tests so you will be doing all three tests every morning. You will probably be doing a half tank water change most every day and the readings need to stay below:

Ammonia 0.5
Nitrite 1.0
Nitrate 20

If any of the readings are above that or even close to that you need to do a big water change. If the 50% water changes are not keeping up with the readings and they are getting much higher than this then go to 75% water changes every day but try not to change more than 75% at a time or you may set back your cycle.

Thanks for listening and I hope that you are not too overwhelmed. Sorry it took so long to get back to you.

Rose
 
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Discussion Starter #6
Many thanks again guys,

Like I said, he is my first fish...I'm still kind of new. You said I could add a sponge filter instead of the air stone? I'm not sure what that means? What I did is moved him to a small clear bowl for about half an hour while I went and removed some of the gravel so it's not so tightly covering the gravel filter.

I also have stopped worrying about a heater, apparently, the lightbulb above the tank (there's a small enclosed 8 watt lightbulb to light the tank) keeps him quite warm, it makes the plastic cover pretty hot, and clearly conducts that to the water (I have a tiny floating thermometer) He's being quiet for right now...I think I shocked him a bit changing the water and stuff. But it's much clearer, and already no more foam.

I also heard suggested that the stone might be too large, is that possible? It came with the tank and is around the size of my index finger in width, and around an inch or two long. I thought it was small but apparently there are smaller? Would that even matter?

I am kind of overwhelmed to be honest, I can't imagine having an aquarium requiring daily water changes! My best friend has a rather large one, granted it has filters and such, but I don't think they even change the water, except to clean the tank? And their fish always seem healthy and happy.

I'm just concerned, he's not eating the little betta pellets I got for him, and while he flares up if I touch the tank, he seems to be overly calm (The water temp is normal, and I used those little...strip things, two of them, both reading normal, and healthy.) I don't worry about chlorine in my water as I live in the boondocks, I have a well from deep within the mountain side I live on, he couldn't have fresher water! :D

Just to clarify about my 'filtration setup' it's like this: The tank is triangular, the filter is this plastic black thing with ridges in it, that sits on the bottom, with a clear tube sticking up through it, down in the tube is where I was told to put the stone, perhaps I misunderstood the instructions? Straight down the tube, not under the black thing and UP the tube, right? I know it's best to have a larger tank, right now I don't have the space, I live in a very small one bedroom, one bathroom apartment. A 2.5g tank is a very possible FUTURE...But right now, it's not feasible, does that make sense? Considering he was living in a cup, I'm sure 1.5g is quite luxurious to him as of now.

By the way Rose, your Betta in your avatar is absolutely gorgeous! I'm hoping I can get my little crowntail well enough off to look like that some day.
 

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Hi there . . . I have a friend that got a 1.5 gal tank. She added a flat self adjusting heater . . . they are hard to find for 1.5 gal. and most start out for 2 gal. and up. Her fish fried. Have you thought of bumping up to a 3 or 5 gal if adding heater? A three or five gal is not that much bigger but is far better. The price of these are pretty low and makes life easier on you and your fish. You could also do a decorative element with air stone to make life easier . . . instead of worrying about tubes and such. Get a fake coral decoration or something that you add air stone to underneath and inside and you will have a nice bubble stream floating to top of tank. Adds air and looks good. Replace stone reg [and in between wipe off stone with something rough to renew it until get new one]. You'll need a small filter system . . . most tanks come with them in kits that are cheap. Underground filters are not needed as far as I am concerned. Some tanks have them already attached but you don't need them. An inch or less of gravel . . . vacuum it once a week [or regularly] . . . do 1/4 water change weekly and don't overfeed. Bettas love live plants too.

Good luck . . . X

P.S. With a slightly bigger tank set up . . . then you don'e have to tramatize your betta as much by removing him to clean tank and such.
 

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When I asked you to change the water in the tank I am not asking because of cleanliness but because the fish is continually putting out ammonia and other waste products into the water. This needs to be filtered out of the water and since the filter has not "cycled" through the Nitrogen cycle that allows bacteria to build up to handle the ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates that normally build up in the tank. (a normal function in any aquarium) and is normally done before buying fish to add to a new aquarium by experienced aquarists. Unfortunately you added the fish without cycling the filter first and it is too late to do it now without making the fish sick or killing it artificially. So the only way to cycle the filter is to allow it to be done gradually by allowing the bacteria to form from the waste products put out by the fish normally but not allowing them to build up enough to kill the fish. This is why you need to change out half of the water daily to keep the toxins from building up and yet allowing enough of them to stay in the tank to allow the cycle to take place. Otherwise your fish will die of ammonia poisoining within the first few days or weeks of his life because of the build up of toxins in the tank. The tank filter is not set up to remove them yet as the normal bacterial bed has not formed normally to take care of the problem normally. It will take a period of up to 4 weeks or longer for this to take place if you are lucky and do not disturb it. It has nothing whatso ever to do with the cleanliness of the tank. If the light is helping to heat the tank I would forget the heater too and just hope for the best but realize he is going to be cold at night. Also realize that well water is okay if it is not chlorinated and does not need to be treated. Just treat anything that contains chlorine. I would switch him to freeze dried bloodworms if he will not eat the pellets. A lot of bettas will not eat the pellets for a lot of reasons or if you would feel better call the store where you got him and find out what they fed him and get some of it. That is what he is used to eating and that is probably what you will have the best luck with. But I have always had the best luck with the bloodworms.

I do however think the recommendation about the larger tank has merit. They do much better in a larger area.

Rose

Rose
 
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