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Hi all,

I'm painfully new to this, so I was looking for some advice.

I'm giving my daughter a small starter tank (a Tetra Water 1.5g "Little Mermaid") to house a single Betta. This is supposed to be a surprise for Christmas, so I've sort of painted myself into a corner about how to pull this off, but without killing off poor Mr. Betta in the process.

I have no experience with aquariums or fish, etc. Over the last few days I've been researching Betta care, which lead me to also read about different tank styles. Eventually, I stumbled upon this planted tank community, which I have been fascinated with over the last few days! I've enjoyed reading about these planted tanks so much that down the road I would love to put together my own nano tank for my office, but that's another story for later!

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I've read a lot about the Nitrogen Cycle, and how a tank should be cycled before introducing the fauna (news to me!). I really wanted to be able to give the tank and the fish and get it all setup for her on Christmas morning, but now after I read about the cycle, I'm not sure I can do this in good conscience without possibly harming the Betta. Not to mention, the possibility of dealing with an elaborate Betta funeral a few days later does not appeal to me!

Considering the 1.5g tank and a single Betta fish, and my Christmas surprise predicament, what do you guys think my options are? Is cycling absolutely necessary?

Thanks for any advice!
TCB

p.s. Forgot to mention, that at least initially there will be no live plants in this tank. Just the Betta, gravel, and the "little mermaid" statue.
 

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Hey, welcome to TPT, and it's great you want to provide your new Betta a proper environment and are doing your homework first!

The good news- if you can maintain daily or partial water changes every few days, you can make sure that the water stays clean and safe for the betta. I'd strongly recommend getting a master freshwater test kit (API makes a good one, it's only $20-25) so you can keep an eye on the ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates and work the tank through the cycle. You'll want to make sure the ammonia and nitrites stay below 0.25ppm if at all possible.

The bad news- it can take a lot of patience to get a small tank to cycle and STAY cycled, so you'll need to be very diligent with those tests and water changes.

More good news- you have a great opportunity to turn this into a learning experience for your daughter, if she's old enough to understand it!

It will help make sure the tank stays cycled if you make sure to get a good filter, including some biomedia or space to add your own biomedia.
 

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Go to yopur local grocery store and buy a couple gallons of drinking water that has been RO (reverse osmossis) filtered. This process will be on the label. The water should be less than a dollar a gal. The fish will be just fine.
This should buy you some time to do all the other things in the future.
Merry Christmas
 

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Go to yopur local grocery store and buy a couple gallons of drinking water that has been RO (reverse osmossis) filtered. This process will be on the label. The water should be less than a dollar a gal. The fish will be just fine.
This should buy you some time to do all the other things in the future.
Merry Christmas
I don't want to be mean, but this is NOT good advice. Putting your fish directly in RO water WILL kill it. This will put your fish under osmotic stress / shock because there are NO dissolved solids / salts in the water whereas there are inside your fish. People who use RO water in tanks to make sure it is clean MUST condition the water by replacing those salts. Please trust me on this, i used to work in a zebrafish research lab, we used RO water to make sure it was clean and then added back the salts. We had an undergrad accidentally use RO water instead of tank system water to set up matings one day and the next morning 80+% of the fish were dead, the rest did not look good. The bottom line is whatever kind of water you use, you will need to cycle the tank anyway because it's the fish that produces the ammonia, not the water itself ;) Anyway, enough science / lecture!

As for the cycling thing, the advice LauraLeeLLBP gave is very good advice. I don't have too much more I can add to it. I will suggest, however, that live plants will also help to keep the tank stable and cycled, even just one small one, perhaps behind the little mermaid statue, so it's something to think about! :) Oh, and don't forget to use a dechlorinator before adding the water to the tank. Most people on here use Prime. I've personally always used Stress Coat with good results so either should work just fine for you, whichever they carry at your local fish or pet store :thumbsup:

I also have to second what LauraLee said, props to you for doing your research first! :proud:

HAVE FUN! :biggrin:
 

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My wife has used our home-brew RO water in all her bettas for at least 10 years.The smallest is about 3/4g and she changes 100% of the water every week. She also rinses the marble size stones in tap water. Only one has a filter, it's one of those candy combo tanks and I take care of that one. When she's cleaning her three I just look the other way and shake my head but the fish do fine. RO water isn't by necessity mineral free.

SteveU
 

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My wife has used our home-brew RO water in all her bettas for at least 10 years.The smallest is about 3/4g and she changes 100% of the water every week. She also rinses the marble size stones in tap water. Only one has a filter, it's one of those candy combo tanks and I take care of that one. When she's cleaning her three I just look the other way and shake my head but the fish do fine. RO water isn't by necessity mineral free.

SteveU
Fair point, that definitely makes me cringe though....perhaps because it's "home brew" it doesn't take out as much in terms of disdolved solids as our super-high-tech-for-research-fish did? But it definitely killed our zebra danios if used on it's own. Some fish do handle osmotic stress better than others though.

I suppose it's really here nor there because the question is about cycling, and since the ammonia comes from the fish not the water, tap water should work just as well as long as it's dechlorinated, no need to purchase water :thumbsup:
 

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People talk about using RO water especially with bettas and I believe(but am not 100% sure) that it is because the betta's fins will break in hard water. But I have kept my bettas in hard water and they were healthy and happy for years. The crowntails however do seem to suffer the most fin breakage so if you do not want to have to buy water, as this must be an annoying task, or buy the expensive RO system, I would consider buying a veil tail, plakat, or perhaps a half moon. All are sold at my local petco and will have less fin breakage. Whatever water you use just be consistent! This will be a great present for your daughter. Also, if you havent already bought a tank may I suggest you get her a 2.5 gallon minibow? its colorful and children love it and it'll give your betta a bit more room!
 

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RO water isn't by necessity mineral free.
This is true, some of the time. This is what separates RO water from distilled water, which is 100% H2O with nothing else dissolved or suspended in it.

tcbonline, one thing you can do to make the cycling process a little safer for the betta is to add some plants. You don't even have to plan on keeping them, but if you have live, photosynthesizing plants in there, they will basically take all the ammonia and nitrites and turn it into food, leaving behind good, clean water for the betta.

Some of the best plants for cycling are available at every Petco, Petsmart, or any other fish store you might have around you. These are Rotala, Wisteria, Bacopa, Anacharis, among many others. Those are just the most common ones.

Then, if you use the testing kit Laura mentioned to you, you will soon know when the cycling has completed, and you can remove the plants at that time (or keep them!).

Congratulations to you on doing your homework and researching this all, instead of just buying a betta and stuffing it in a stocking (hung by the chimney with care)! I wish more people would follow your lead!

:)
 

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My wife has used our home-brew RO water in all her bettas for at least 10 years.The smallest is about 3/4g and she changes 100% of the water every week. She also rinses the marble size stones in tap water. Only one has a filter, it's one of those candy combo tanks and I take care of that one. When she's cleaning her three I just look the other way and shake my head but the fish do fine. RO water isn't by necessity mineral free.

SteveU
RO water will have very low TDS. Distilled water is essentially pure h20. Now if you over use your cartridges, they have bypass, or are just old(which most home RO units suffer at minimum two of the above) then they will have more TDS. RO water is definitely not designed for life to thrive in, but is very commonly used as the base for sensitive species such as reef tanks or discus.
 

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People talk about using RO water especially with bettas and I believe(but am not 100% sure) that it is because the betta's fins will break in hard water. But I have kept my bettas in hard water and they were healthy and happy for years. The crowntails however do seem to suffer the most fin breakage so if you do not want to have to buy water, as this must be an annoying task, or buy the expensive RO system, I would consider buying a veil tail, plakat, or perhaps a half moon. All are sold at my local petco and will have less fin breakage. Whatever water you use just be consistent! This will be a great present for your daughter. Also, if you havent already bought a tank may I suggest you get her a 2.5 gallon minibow? its colorful and children love it and it'll give your betta a bit more room!
Halfmoons are sensitive too, you have to watch the water quality with them all though. I use to breed bettas. You can just use treated tap water, and change the water every 2-3 days to avoid the ammonia build up. Acclimate them each time, and have treated water in a container that is room temperature ready and it will be fine. If you don't want to go through that everytime, cycle a tank while you keep up with the water changes. Breeders even change their water everyday with no ill results. :proud:
 

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Here is your best bet. Do you know anyone that has a tank already set up? Get a small amount of gravel from them, store it in a plastic bag and bring it home. Without rinsing it, add it to your daughter's tank. This will help jumpstart the cycle.

Also, make sure to try and do small daily water changes to help keep the ammonia down until it has a chance to cycle. Just adding in fresh water will help in the meantime.

For really good advice on bettas, http://www.ultimatebettas.com/ is an awesome forum on this little trooper.

Welcome!
 
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