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Dinky Dorm 2.5 Betta Tank + Shrimp Bowl

26999 Views 35 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  mosspearl
Current bowl!

3 Golden White Cloud Minnows
3 Cherry shrimp
? Ghost Shrimp
Too many snails

Been missing my puppy out here in the dorm boondocks, so decided to get a small aquarium kit (2.5 gallon as desk space at a premium) a few weeks ago and see what fishies would fit inside. Petco told me betta + some shrimp would be best as nothing else would be happy in such a small area, so I grabbed a little veiltail and ghost shrimp along with a few plants.

Family had a 10 gallon with random tetras and scary number of pond snails growing up, but beyond cleaning out tank and siphoning off gunk from the bottom, I don't really know much about fish care! Had vague idea that more plants = longer between water changes + more stable tank = good for long weekend travels.

Theplantedtank and other aquarium forums have been a great learning tool. :)

Initial setup:

My betta (all bettas??) is a pretty pathetic swimmer, so I sacrificed a pantyhose to his comfort and wrapped up the filter. He's much happier now, but the water movement seems kinda low for filtering purposes. Also ended up filing down driftwood and holder thingies to reduce snags on his fins. Why do people breed such handicapped fish? :icon_eek: Possibly should have gotten girl betta (always more sensible than the males right? :)).

Current setup:

2.5 gallon corner tank
2 x 13W lights
25W heater
Mini-might internal filter

Amazon Swords
Ludwigia repens
Marimo ball
Java Moss
Anubias something
Narrow-leaf Java Fern

Male Betta
3 Ghost shrimp
1 Amano Shrimp

Went to buy more gravel at LFS to help keep plants, well, planted. Informed that my Amazon swords would surely wither and die in anything but high-lighting and these other plants would be much better, so I freaked and have been keeping the top off so desk lamp can shine all its 13W down. Probably not high-light still, but plants not dead yet, yeah! OTOH, ghost shrimp have been needing rescue from suicidal leaps. Looking into purchase of acrylic sheet for lid.

Added some sad looking and also fuzzy (??) wisteria and ludwigia in the far back. May be bad idea to buy plants from Petco.

The ghost shrimp don't put up with any funny business from betta, so I thought it might be fun to add some cherry shrimp. Silly me! Betta made ferocious attack on one half his size and promptly choked for a few minutes trying to swallow it. Such a smart fish. :icon_roll

The remaining 4 little guys are hiding out in the moss I liberally stuffed around the back and sides of the tank to try and save their tiny lives. Betta occasionally traps himself in said moss whilst pretending to be a reef shark--feel like inbreeding may be to blame for this behavior. Seriously, why???

Some small amounts of greenish brownish algae (?) growing on the anubias that I've been rubbing off with a cloth during water changes along with brighter green tint on tank walls. Maybe bigger algae shrimp. Or snails. But they are slimy and gross and likely to exit tank. :( Do know enough about fish not to dump in bleach!

Tank now ~3 weeks old, have not yet seen ammonia/nitrites/nitrates that fish people seem very interested in. Oh well. Water changes 2x a week too much?? :confused1:

And shrimpie bowl:

~2.5 - 3 gallons

Dwarf Sag
Water Wisteria
Lucky Bamboo

Pond snails and MTS
~4 ghost shrimp
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35 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you! Wake up every morning worried that evereything has melted/died. :icon_eek:

Rearranged moss/driftwood a bit to get more circulation in the tank and added one Amano shrimp! Who promptly fled and hid under the decor. Awesome. Maybe a snail would be more friendly...

On the plus (ish) side, Ghost shrimpies doesn't afraid of anything:

Marino ball a big hit with both shrimpies:

And betta, who enjoys draping himself over it to watch shrimp underneath:


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434 Posts
Looking good! But amazon swords end up like this

and are heavy root feeders. It looks great right now though! You can always return/sell it later if it gets too big or starts dying. Also, did you know about plakat bettas? They're just short finned bettas. I don't especially like bettas either that can't swim, though they can be gorgeous. Here's my baby. I can't resist a chance to show him off. :)

I've heard that veil tails are actually the least inbred and are the mutts of bettas because the droopy tail is not as desirable anymore.

OH and ghost shrimp can turn out to be huge evil monster shrimp that attack fish. Or they could just gnaw on the bettas fins while he lays down. Watch out for torn fins.

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35 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Omg, your guy is gorgeous :) Cellophane color? And looks like he can actually swim! XD Would probably get a plakat betta like that or a girl if I were doing this again. There were some at the store with perma-stuck open fins (half-moons, I think) that looked like they'd have an even worse time trying to get around, jeeze.

The swords haven't really been growing up/out so far, but are throwing out roots and new leaves like crazy--if they start getting too big, will try and foist them off on somebody and replace with...something. I bought some liquid fertilizer at the pet store with iron and potassium that they said might be needed for the plants in the substrate. Will see how it goes!

I noticed some tears in his tail around the time ghost shrimp were introduced and moved shrimpies to a fish bowl for a few days, but tail kept getting more tattered even with them gone. Caught betta sleeping nestled up against filter intake vents (why???) with his tail partially inside, so I suspect that may have been the cause. Moved shrimpies back and panty-hosed filter, everything's been good so far!

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1,369 Posts
Most swords can be co-erced into staying relatively smaller thru rigorous pruning. Periodically remove the largest leaves by sliding a pair of scissors down the inside of the stem (this puts the blades point outward, helping make sure you only cut the stem you've selected) and cut the leaf off as close to the base as possible.

If you get too thick of growth, remove a greater number of leaves--choosing those both on the outside and inside of the mass. Obviously, this is also a great time to get rid of any damaged or algae edged leaves or any that have grown to a size or in a direction that obstructs part of the tank you want to be open swimming space.

In time, if growth is too vigorous, you can do a much harsher pruning by lifting the entire plant out and trimming off the largest, thickest roots and roughly 50% of the leaves before re-planting.

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434 Posts
Ha, my betta sleeps against the intake sometimes too! But fins don't get caught in it since they're short. ;) If you ever want another betta, just get a female. Petco/Petsmart usually have younger females which could be fun to raise.

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35 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·

Cherry shrimps alive! Well, at least a couple. Sneaky buggers are only popping out waaay late at night during bathroom visits. They are also dinky--1/2", if that. Hoping they will grow bigger!

Moved ghost shrimpies to time-out bowl as they were being naughty. A squirt of gravel vac from main tank every couple days and fill up when low:

Also, have been trying to set up dirt bowl ~3 gallons. Not working out so well! Plants wilting and covered in whiteish...gunk. Suspect that they might be diseased as the ones from the same bundle I stuck in beta tank also mushed, while moss and riccia seem to be doing ok. IDK.

Pretty gross!

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35 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
...Is that Nico Robin from One Piece?
Yes it is! Friend got it for me at an anime convention. :)

Anyways, small update: Lots of stuff has been growing in the big lake-muck bowl, and the ghost shrimp I tossed in seem to be doing well while eating substrate stuffs. Some tiny white worm things and tiny snails and almost invisible darting...things zipping around. Pretty neat! :D Unfortunately, none of it has been plant growth except the floating riccia. :( Both the sad-looking ludwigia and the wisteria stems went completely liquid, which was pretty disgusting. Leaves remained mostly ok and sprouting many roots. IDK what to make of this, so I snipped off some healthier looking leaf nodes and let them float and threw away the slimy brown stuff.

Maybe I buried them to deep? Substrate is ~1" park dirt and 1" lake sand. Even the stems that I put into betta tank just slightly stuck under gravel melted, too, though. Ah well.

Bowl was looking empty, so I added a lucky bamboo stem that should be very happy. I braved the Seattle weather today and went to a non-Petco fish store nearby to get more rooting plants that grow quickly. Slightly suspicious of LFS staff that recommended anubias and java fern as good choices to hold substrate together. Aren't they mostly slow growing tie-to rock things?

Ended up buying some grassy stuff and taller red leaved potted thing with big roots that I could see--apparently dwarf saggitarius and crypto something. The crypto leaves were weak in the center and some ripped down the middle during planting. :(

The dwarf sag looked very healthy and I split it up into 6 or so bunches to plant. It's very hard to plant stuff underwater. Poke a hole in dirt, sand immediately fills it up! :icon_eek: And roots were nearly as long as the leaves so they kept poking up and floating out and breaking off and omg this was stressful. They are mostly planted now. Extra bunches went into betta tank, so I can compare growth!

Water super cloudy after my planting exertions:

Can see a ghost shrimpie and a hitchhiking teeny snail on the glass.

Betta has been enjoying sleeping on his riccia mat:

Gave me a minor heart attack yesterday when he decided to go carpet surfing (probably via launching off said riccia mat), but he seems to be fine back in the water. This dumb fish.

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Bettas can have trouble swimming due to long fins. This is part of why they sleep on the intake of the filter, less work to stay still.
My male flares at his reflection until his tail becomes a bunch of ribbons, it's very common.
I don't understand why they jump, I've never had a jumper, but I assume it has to do with being energetic in a small space.

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35 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Bowl's cleared up. except for a little yellow tinge to the water:

Inhabitants are 6 ghost shrimp and an unknown number of pond snails that ninja'ed their way into the bowl. Also they can slide upside down across the water surface to eat gunk. Awesome!

Been brushing off some fuzzy algae that is probably a mix of diatoms and hair from my remaining stem plants--they are looking surprisingly healthy underneath. Kinda want some of those tall bottlebrushy looking plants in the back as IIRC they are really hard to kill and grow fast.

Debating whether to get a little air pump for water movement--shrimp seem very happy, but IDK how healthy stale water is or how much O2 is getting down to the bottom. We shall see!

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35 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Added some elodea to the bowl to help keep water clean. Plants seem to be pretty happy, and I was able to buy some trumpet snails to help keep algae off them/mess up substrate! Also have a few little egg packets that I suspect are the pond snails enjoying themselves.

Unfortunately, shrimpies seem to be having trouble with moulting, at least I think. There were 6 total in the bowl (2 big ones and 4 smaller ones)--3 original that have been with me a month and 3 new ones I got a few days ago from the store.

Saw a molt yesterday evening after a small water change, woke up this morning to (near as I can count) 5 shrimp, then saw another molt tonight and the molter next to it moving very slowly and somewhat hazy in the body compared to the very clear non-molted ones.

Went to fix some dinner, came back see to other shrimp eating thorax of molted one! :icon_eek: I'm not sure if they are dying after molt, then getting 'cleaned up' by their fellows, or if they are just especially vulnerable at that time and unable to escape the bigger shrimps. Even not molting, they tend to be pretty aggressive towards each other. OTOH, Seattle water is apparently some of the softest in the country, and I wonder if there isn't enough calcium/whatever minerals they need in the water. May go get a cuttlebone and crumble it in the substrate to see if it helps. :fish1: Thoughts? :redface:

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137 Posts
What are you using for your 2x weekly water changes? RO, distilled? Tap? If anything is having problems in a tank that is getting that much water turnover, I'd have to assume it's something about the water going in and not something "in tank"; chloramine or too hard out of the tap maybe? I see you're up in WA, I think you guys have pretty soft tap (like us in Portland) but chloramined for sure.
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