I can't wait any longer to re-do this...
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Old 11-11-2012, 04:06 PM   #1
Silmarwen
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I can't wait any longer to re-do this...


I've been holding out for a while re-doing my betta's tank, since my parents were hinting at financial assistance for the project around Thanksgiving, but my most recent paycheck was fairly substantial, and Pearlicus has been battling what I think might be fin rot (no black or red on the edges, but there is definitely some fin loss that I can't attribute to biting), so I've decided that his no-tech really needs to be changed, since I'm sure despite twice-weekly water changes, he might benefit from some additional filtration, as well as a heater (Which I was going to get for the winter anyway).

My budget is ideally around $50 for this project. Petco has a small heater for $17, that's supposedly good for up to five gallons, and I was going to go ahead and order two Azoo Palm filters from the Drs Foster and Smith website (one to use, plus a spare up-front, since shipping is kinda steep per order), since there have been a number of positive reviews for those regarding quality and adjustable flow, which are $9 each, plus $7 for 1-2wk shipping.

This puts me up around my limit (an pushes my time frame back) and edges out the cost of the 5.5 gallon tank I was going to get as well ($13 at Meijer).

Does anyone have any thoughts on that setup, alternatives that might be more cost-effective, etc? I will also be acquiring some more plants to fill up the 5g, including another pack or two of the petco "betta bulbs" (apongenton sp.), since I've actually had some luck with them so far, plus another bunch or two of anacharis from the lfs, all of which will come up to another $15~ish.

What do you think I should do ASAP? What can I wait a bit on? In the meantime, I'm back to daily water changes again for Pearlicus, which I'm afraid is terribly stressful on top of everything.
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"Aquariums are like science, art, and hypno-therapy, all rolled into one," I insisted.
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10g "Community" of nothing but Danios - 2g (barely) planted Betta - 2.5g Betta - 1g Pond Snail Repository

My aquascape style tends towards 'tall in the back, short in the front, lots and lots of green and stuff. And maybe a rock somewhere...'
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Old 11-11-2012, 05:28 PM   #2
eisBear
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Hi!

I'm quite new to all of this, but, hopefully you can learn from a couple of mistakes that I made with my late Betta (RIP), Scarlet (a wonderful pet).

You said you were getting a heater anyway. Unless the house is 80 through the winter all day and all night long, that sounds like a great investment.

Beware of a heater that instructs the user to unplug it if the room temperature is above a certain level (this means that it does not have an internal thermostat). This does not mean that it must be the [more expensive] adjustable model, but it is easier to keep the temperature more constant if there is at least an internal thermostat. Unless the temperature in the room with the betta is very constant, it is much easier to have one that can turn itself on and off, either pre-set or adjustable. I got one at petco that's good for up to 15 (i think they have a smaller model), it is a round glass tube with an internal thermostat and indicator light.

The betta will like temps into the 80's, but certain plants may not do as well. The pre-set models will keep it at a pretty constant level between 76-80f (constant within that range). Of course, if you buy an adjustable one, you can crank it up to where the betta gets his full 82f degrees.

As to the filter:

I suspect that you do not have a very large colony of beneficial bacteria to support a full nitrogen cycle in the 2G at this point. If this is the case, you will need to continue water changes even when/if you add the filter. If the water changes seem stressful, you could do more like 25% or 30% every day, and use a small-diameter tube (like an air-tube, maybe even with an air-control needle valve) to siphon the water into the tank slowly in order to reduce potential stress. Make sure the water is the same temp as the water in the tank (or very close) and siphon it in slowly. The water won't really cool that much waiting to go into the heated tank unless it is REALLY cold inside your house.

The plants will also be able to do some filtering for you, but much more if they are doing really well and growing strongly. You may need to examine your lighting and the nutrients for the plants.

based on that, what if you got a small filter and a small heater and continued with super-frequent water changes of smaller amounts to reduce the stress. You could also work on growing some of what you have and propagating them to have more bio-mass and you could then later move it all to the 5 gal. After a while, once the filter and gravel cycled, then you won't need as many water changes. If you move to a 5gal, you can move all of the 'guts' (all plants, gravel, filter, everything but the tank). At that point you may need to do more frequent water changes for a little while and then can reduce after a week or two once the 5 gal has a full cycle.

If you get the 5gal, you'll want a hood of some type so that you can fill it to the top without the betta jumping out; if you want to have even more plants, you may want a filter a little stronger than the palm filter.
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Old 11-11-2012, 05:51 PM   #3
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That all looks like sound advice, thank you

I'm not sure if the filter I was looking at has a temperature sensor, but that is definitely something to check for; I don't think it would be good necessarily to have it a constant-on heater, since I'm sure the temperature in the house will fluctuate somewhat as well...

I am a bit confused, though, if I have more plants, why would I need a stronger filter? I was under the impression that plants reduced the need for filtration (by a tiny bit, admittedly, but..)? Am I missing something, or can you clarify?

I don't think the speed of the water leaving the tank is terribly traumatic, but the water re-entering the tank, despite my efforts to account for temperature. I've gotten better at pouring it over my hand to reduce the flow buffeting my fish around, but he's a halfmoon betta, with the outrageously long fins to go with it, so there's a certain element of "it's going to happen," I think...
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"Aquariums are like science, art, and hypno-therapy, all rolled into one," I insisted.
"You're not putting a hundred gallon tank in the living room," my roommate replied.


10g "Community" of nothing but Danios - 2g (barely) planted Betta - 2.5g Betta - 1g Pond Snail Repository

My aquascape style tends towards 'tall in the back, short in the front, lots and lots of green and stuff. And maybe a rock somewhere...'
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Old 11-11-2012, 06:20 PM   #4
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Can you do one of the filters now with an acceptable replacement from your lfs at a future point where the budget allows? Is the an acceptable filter available from your lfs that can get you covered? Is there an option available on e-bay or on the forum that can meet your price needs?

A good heater, btw, has a thermostat that will only turn the heater on when the water temp warrants.

I feel for you! Been there, doing that! Thinking outside the box can work wonders with a strapped budget.
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Old 11-11-2012, 06:24 PM   #5
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How about an air driven sponge filter? it should do a good job filtering your tank, enough biological filtration and not blow your betta around
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Old 11-11-2012, 06:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silmarwen View Post
That all looks like sound advice, thank you

I'm not sure if the filter I was looking at has a temperature sensor, but that is definitely something to check for; I don't think it would be good necessarily to have it a constant-on heater, since I'm sure the temperature in the house will fluctuate somewhat as well...
yeah, not very practical w/o the sensor, but they are sold, and i've seen them at petco. I tried to time one of these on a timer against our summer room thermostat (80 day / 68 night) and it was major cat & mouse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silmarwen View Post
I am a bit confused, though, if I have more plants, why would I need a stronger filter? I was under the impression that plants reduced the need for filtration (by a tiny bit, admittedly, but..)? Am I missing something, or can you clarify?
right, I'm kind of mixing the concept between circulation and filtration. Even if the plants are doing all of the filtering (with the help of beneficial bacteria in the gravel and on everything else), you may discover that it is easier to have some circulation, filters rely on and create their own circulation. circulation will ensure even distribution of nutrients, and, even if the plants are doing all the work, it will circulate the water through the plants to aid in this. Its basically a way to keep the water 'even' throughout the tank.

Agreed, you don't want the betta blowing around, so there has to be a balance. But circulation will also help distribute the waste into the filter and more evenly over the substrate to the roots and to keep biological wastes from settling on the plants.

I don't know that particular filter, so, it may be fine. As you get more plants, the plants themselves cut down on the water circulation by buffering it, thus, necessitating a filter rated for higher circulation to compensate in order to maintain the same given level of circulation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silmarwen View Post
I don't think the speed of the water leaving the tank is terribly traumatic, but the water re-entering the tank, despite my efforts to account for temperature. I've gotten better at pouring it over my hand to reduce the flow buffeting my fish around, but he's a halfmoon betta, with the outrageously long fins to go with it, so there's a certain element of "it's going to happen," I think...
Oh, I saw him in your profile, very handsome! The point of pouring in very slowly is because of the differences between the water coming into the tank and the water already in the tank. These are hopefully very slight differences but they will still be detectable by the betta, and will cause him to have a degree of stress. Agreed, however, that if they match exactly, its no problem, but they will never match exactly and if you're changing more than 30%, those changes will be magnified. The hope is to spread it out over time, giving him time to adjust and not feel the change as much and enjoy the fresher water rather than 'worry' about a change.
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Old 11-11-2012, 06:31 PM   #7
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Well, I've been scouring the lfs here, and neither them nor petco or meijer have filters suitable for nano tanks, unless I want to get a $20 sponge filter setup (which I actually am not sure how sponge filters work anyway...). I could get one Palm for now, but with shipping what it is, I feel mildly horrified to be basically spending so much money on a single filter.

I also actually do not use ebay if I can help it. I know that there are a great many legitimate sellers on there, but even buying new products on there makes me uncomfortable. I wouldn't mind buying from someone on the forum, though, so I might look into that.
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"Aquariums are like science, art, and hypno-therapy, all rolled into one," I insisted.
"You're not putting a hundred gallon tank in the living room," my roommate replied.


10g "Community" of nothing but Danios - 2g (barely) planted Betta - 2.5g Betta - 1g Pond Snail Repository

My aquascape style tends towards 'tall in the back, short in the front, lots and lots of green and stuff. And maybe a rock somewhere...'
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Old 11-11-2012, 06:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eisBear View Post
right, I'm kind of mixing the concept between circulation and filtration. Even if the plants are doing all of the filtering (with the help of beneficial bacteria in the gravel and on everything else), you may discover that it is easier to have some circulation, filters rely on and create their own circulation. circulation will ensure even distribution of nutrients, and, even if the plants are doing all the work, it will circulate the water through the plants to aid in this. Its basically a way to keep the water 'even' throughout the tank.

Agreed, you don't want the betta blowing around, so there has to be a balance. But circulation will also help distribute the waste into the filter and more evenly over the substrate to the roots and to keep biological wastes from settling on the plants.

I don't know that particular filter, so, it may be fine. As you get more plants, the plants themselves cut down on the water circulation by buffering it, thus, necessitating a filter rated for higher circulation to compensate in order to maintain the same given level of circulation.
Ah! Excellent. Thank you for the clarification, that makes so much more sense! I'll have to see what I can get figured out...

Edit: Aiya! People keep posting! (Haha, this is a good thing. But I keep missing posts while I'm typing.) I considered a sponge filter, but I actually don't really know how they work? Would that in fact be a good idea? Can they be done cheaply?
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"Aquariums are like science, art, and hypno-therapy, all rolled into one," I insisted.
"You're not putting a hundred gallon tank in the living room," my roommate replied.


10g "Community" of nothing but Danios - 2g (barely) planted Betta - 2.5g Betta - 1g Pond Snail Repository

My aquascape style tends towards 'tall in the back, short in the front, lots and lots of green and stuff. And maybe a rock somewhere...'
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Old 11-11-2012, 07:04 PM   #9
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I considered a sponge filter, but I actually don't really know how they work? Would that in fact be a good idea? Can they be done cheaply?
when you use an air pump to make bubbles go up through the water column, like with an airstone, those bubbles 'drag' the water upwards with them, creating a current. An airstone even on a small pump in the back of the 2g would create quite a fair current.

Sponge filter uses this principle but draws the current though a sponge (google sponge filter or diy sponge filter). there are good points and bad about them.

IMHO, any established (cycled) filter of even the smallest scale would be plenty for the comfort of the betta on the 2 or the 5. With just the betta, once it is cycled, you can probably only do a 10 or 20% water change each week.

I think the rest has to do with how your plants are doing and what you want to do to grow them. things like how much current the filter needs to create will depend on the needs of the plants and how much the betta can tolerate (obviously, they prefer zero current, but, you can have areas within the plants that have virtually no current where they can hang out). A sponge would be great and with a strong enough air pump, plenty of current at least of the 2G and under certain circumstances, for the 5G, but you should research their drawbacks, like space occupied inside the tank and cost. Despite their perceived cheapness, you still have to buy an air pump.
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Old 11-11-2012, 09:49 PM   #10
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A sponge filter works like this:

Hollow sponge.
SOMETHING draws water in through the sponge, and out the top of the sponge.
As the water passes through the sponge the debris is filtered out.

There are 2 ways of powering a sponge filter.
You could get a small air pump, then put up with the noise and splashing,
or
You could get a very small (the smallest) pump or power head.

Either way, power head or air, I think the water movement in that small a tank (the 2 gallon) will be more than the Betta would like. Might work in the 5, but I would skip it.

Here is how I would handle this:
1) order the Palm filters. Take advantage of the shipping and go ahead and get 2.
2) Add as many plants as you feel comfortable with to the 2 gallon tank.
3) Do as many water changes as you can, as often as you can.
4) Get a heater that controls itself. Get one that is rated for your future tank (5 gallons). It will be OK on the 2.5 gallon tank.
5) Budget the larger tank, perhaps when the Thanksgiving funds are available. In the mean time keep the current tank as healthy as you can.

How to do a water change without the whirlpool:

Put the new water in whatever bucket, jar, whatever that you can lift above the Betta's tank. Hopefully 2 gallons.
Put some air tubing in the bucket.
Tie a knot in the air tubing, but leave the knot pretty loose.
Begin siphoning water out of the tank, slowly. I would use air tubing for this, too.
Start siphoning new water in at the same time. If it is coming in too fast tighten the knot in the tubing until it is coming in at a rate that is OK.
Get some clips that will hold the new water tubing in a good location. If the new water slides in along the side of the tank it is less disruptive to the fish.

The net result is that the new water is coming in just a bit slower than the old water is leaving. Plenty of water remains in the tank. This creates a blend of old and new water, so you are not doing as large a water change, so make up plenty of new water.
If you took out all the water and put in all new, that would be 100% water change, but by running in the new while still draining the old I think the actual water change is only about 30%.
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Old 11-12-2012, 12:42 PM   #11
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Oh, that water change idea is brilliant! I will need to figure out where to put the new bucket so that it's above the tank (which is on a nightstand), but I believe I can wrangle it. And thank you for the explanation of the sponge filters! You're right, that's likely too much for a 2 gallon. I'll look into it for the 5 though. If I surround the output with dense planting, it might buffer the current enough to make it okay? We'll see. Thanks for your input!
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"Aquariums are like science, art, and hypno-therapy, all rolled into one," I insisted.
"You're not putting a hundred gallon tank in the living room," my roommate replied.


10g "Community" of nothing but Danios - 2g (barely) planted Betta - 2.5g Betta - 1g Pond Snail Repository

My aquascape style tends towards 'tall in the back, short in the front, lots and lots of green and stuff. And maybe a rock somewhere...'
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