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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 7 year old son has a beta in a 1 gallon bowl, no heat, no filter.

Yes, I know how horrible and crewel it is. He bought this setup, and fish with his birthday money over a year ago. Long story short; at the time I didn't know any better and let it all happen. Shortly after I started my own, well researched, planted tank and have since developed a severe case of MTS.
My son has anxiety issues and doesn't do change very well. Since I have learned more about fish keeping I've tried several times to upgrade this fishes tank, but he always says "Little Mack likes his bowl, and would be sad in a new one." Well today, while I filling a bucket for water changes out of nowhere he said to me "I think Little Mack is old enough now for a bigger tank, as long as he can keep his crystals."
Well now I'm scrambling to figure out the best way to make this change. I currently have a spare 10 gallon, bag of Ecocomplete, Aqueon 20 HOB filter, sponge filter, heater, and plant clippings. I'm only missing a lid, I could in theory throw something together and move Little Mack into his new home tonight. Or would It be better to leave him in his bowl while the new tank cycles? Everything in his bowl (crystals, fake plant and java moss) is going to get moved into the new setup, and the bag of Ecocomplete says it already contains the bacteria needed.
I told him that it was too late to start tonight, but that we could set it up tomorrow. Do you think the sponge filter or HOB would be better? (Neither is cycled). This is very out of the ordinary for him to request a change on his own, and I don't want it to end badly. How would you go about making this transition?
 

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Its not as cruel as you think for a beta. Betas are a labyrinth fish which means they sort of have a lung that they can breath with instead of gills. Thats why they can survive in those little cups at the shops and not drop dead. Of course maintenance is still important even if there is no filter. If yours survived over a year you guys must be doing the work and are keeping it healthy. Moving it over into an uncycled tank might be the cruel thing to do actually. Even though it can survive in different parameters than some fish it still produces waste and the nitrogen cycle will still be at play. So you'll want to make sure you've got a cycled tank/filter before moving it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Moving it over into an uncycled tank might be the cruel thing to do actually. Even though it can survive in different parameters than some fish it still produces waste and the nitrogen cycle will still be at play. So you'll want to make sure you've got a cycled tank/filter before moving it.
Thank you for the advice. I had the same thought, but then wondered, since I'm moving everything that was in the bowl, over to the new tank then the amount of beneficial bacteria would be the same, minus whatever was on the bowl's wall. I have a sponge in a different filter I could move over, that should cycle the new tank real quick.
 

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Can you set up the new tank side by side with the bowl, so your son can see the betta as checking out the new space? He might feel better about moving his fish over to the 10g if he can think that the betta had a chance to see the new home and get used to it before the big move. Might keep him from changing his mind (not sure that he would, but if that's a concern for you) during the wait for the cycle to finish.

That said, if it were me, if you've got established filter media you can transfer over from that other filter and you're moving the contents of the bowl and it's bacteria. I'd get him into a tank with a heater (and filter) sooner than later and just be really good about testing and water changes for a while. In my experience they're a lot happier and more active if they're not cold. Might reassure your son his betta likes the new tank and he made a good choice, if he can see his fish being friskier in the warmer water and exploring his new digs.
 

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I have been there- kept bettas in bowls my kid got as a prize, didn't know any better until I joined a site like this one. Moved my betta up into a ten gallon tank a year later, so glad I did that. A sponge filter works great- the gentle flow is perfect for a betta. If you're moving media in from another tank and all his decor already with the bacteria on it, I would guess you'll get an 'instant cycle'. I've done this several times setting up a new tank and had no issues. Still, keep a constant eye on the fish behavior and check the water every day for a week or two.

I deliberately got rid of my 1-gallon bowls after my bettas moved into filtered tanks, to avoid the temptation of getting another fish to put in them... Then there was no way I could go back. I thought my bettas were content before, in their bowls, but they are so much more active with steady warm temps and room to swim around in.
 

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maybe the bowl can fit inside the tank? Would look kinda cool.
Let the tank cycle for bettas, they get really unhappy during cycling and have a tendency to get fin rot with high ammonia.

I have a small 3W hob filter on my betta tank. The guy likes swimming against the stream for exercise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
maybe the bowl can fit inside the tank? Would look kinda cool.
Let the tank cycle for bettas, they get really unhappy during cycling and have a tendency to get fin rot with high ammonia.
I have a small 3W hob filter on my betta tank. The guy likes swimming against the stream for exercise.
That's actually a really good idea, I'll have to see if the bowl is buoyant enough to keep the top above water. If it is then the temp inside the bowl would be better regulated while the main tank cycles. I'm going to play with this idea while he's in school. Thanks.
 

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Move fish and all decor. There will be a lot of bacteria on the decor, and this will make the transition.
Add a bottle of Nitrospira species of bacteria to make up for any loss in bacteria during the transition. The right species can be found in Dr. Tim's One and Only and Tetra Safe Start.
 

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Sorry didn't read much of the thread, just skimmed over.

Hmm, I'm curious of the water quality in the bowl. Test the water in the bowl for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate (if you don't have a test kit, take a water sample to the pet store to test for free).

Is there a lid on that 1 gallon bowl as well? Not only is there no filter (I know nitrifying bacteria can establish on all surfaces), but lack of surface agitation resulting in low dissolved oxygen levels, I would think there would be not much beneficial bacteria at all. What little beneficial bacteria there may be I would think most of it would consist near the water surface (higher oxygen levels) or maybe at the bottom of the bowl (higher concentration of ammonia near lying fish waste, especially since no filter to evenly circulate, though not sure since lack of oxygen levels at the bottom), might more likely be colonized on the rougher material (crystals, decorations, plant) rather than the smooth surface glass (I know bacteria can attach to biofilm on smooth surfaces, but attaching to rougher/edgier surfaces is easier).

Not to mention there being no heater, which temperature does have some effect on beneficial bacteria performance (colder is slower functioning). Then again it is just one fish (though 1 gallon is not much).

Not bashing you. Just reasoning it out/thinking out loud.
Anyways, it doesn't matter much now.

The 10 gallon alone is significantly better than the 1 gallon in sheer water volume alone being able to dilute any pollution a whole lot better. Simply fill the 10 gallon with new dechlorinated water (try to match temps as close as possible), add all the crystals, decor and plant from the bowl to the 10gal. The objects alone should have enough beneficial bacteria on them. Supposedly the nitrifying bacteria reproduces/doubles in 24 hours (not so sure I believe that personally due to some experiments I have seen, but it's supposed to be true), so the little bacteria present should grow to the appropriate colony size very quickly. But if you wanted to be extra sure, you could add the bowl itself into the tank (not floating, but submersed resting on the tank floor), although I would think you wouldn't want to keep the bowl in there forever (once you take it out, you take out the bacteria with it, which made it rather pointless haha). BUT you can wipe down the walls of the glass bowl with your finger to dislodge some beneficial bacteria from the bowl walls and have them become suspended/free floating in the water, and just dump the tank water into the new tank. Wala, all good to go! Just add in the Betta. (you can set it aside in a separate cup/bowl in some tank water while you prepare his new tank). You can literally do all of this within 10 minutes and all will be fine. Don't worry about cycling too much.

Get a heater too. If you wanted, you could throw some of the crystals in the new filter (if you get one, make a DIY one if you want) to act as some simple biomedia (with the now better flow). Recommend a sponge prefilter on filter to protect Betta fins from getting sucked up.

Could also add more plants to deal with the bioload if you wanted.
Could use a bottled bacteria product like Diana mentioned, but it is just one fish, so I am sure you will be fine with what you already have.
 

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If you move some of the decor from the bowl into the new tank I can't imagine there would be a problem. Its not a like you are going to lose any stability or filtration capacity by increasing the water volume tenfold.

Hell just let the bowl sit at the bottom of the 10g and you literally have the exact same setup with 5x the water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
We set up the filter and substrate last night. I did put the grimy sponge from the other tank into this filter, so I think it's pretty much ready to go. This morning we added everything else, and then after a drip acclimation, Little Mack went into his new home. He seems to be doing really well. Right away he began attacking everything that was moving in the current.

I think were going to put a banana plant in the big empty space in the middle. Thank you everyone for helping us through the transition.
 

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When you do your next water change, clean the filter media in the water you siphoned off.
The best way to avoid high nitrite and ammonia, is to remove it's sources. Using the old water is easier on the bacteria, than chlorinated tap water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
When you do your next water change, clean the filter media in the water you siphoned off.
The best way to avoid high nitrite and ammonia, is to remove it's sources. Using the old water is easier on the bacteria, than chlorinated tap water.
Agreed, I always rinse sponges in old tank water.
 

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It looks a bit cloudy, but I am sure that's just particles from the substrate, sponge, or other decor you moved over that may have had crud on it.

But still would be wise to keep an eye on ammonia and nitrite just to be safe.

By the way, it looks like you have the driftwood leaning on the outlet of the HOB filter. I am not sure if you did that to keep the flow down for the Betta, but that is probably obstructing circulation throughout the tank and Bettas can tolerate the mild flow just fine (the water surface doesn't have to be perfectly still, still nice to have a calm spot for a bubble nest though). Bettas do like less flow to constantly swim in, but if there is an option, Bettas actually do like to play/exercise in stronger currents (maybe that's why they are so grumpy :)) from time to time. It is a Betta though, so the circulation and flow isn't that crucial so it's probably alright the way it is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It looks a bit cloudy, but I am sure that's just particles from the substrate, sponge, or other decor you moved over that may have had crud on it.

But still would be wise to keep an eye on ammonia and nitrite just to be safe.

By the way, it looks like you have the driftwood leaning on the outlet of the HOB filter. I am not sure if you did that to keep the flow down for the Betta, but that is probably obstructing circulation throughout the tank and Bettas can tolerate the mild flow just fine (the water surface doesn't have to be perfectly still, still nice to have a calm spot for a bubble nest though). Bettas do like less flow to constantly swim in, but if there is an option, Bettas actually do like to play/exercise in stronger currents (maybe that's why they are so grumpy :)) from time to time. It is a Betta though, so the circulation and flow isn't that crucial so it's probably alright the way it is.
Thanks for the concern, the wood is there to block some of the current, also for he aesthetics of the tank. There is an undertow type effect where the water runs off the wood, and I have seen him swimming up into the current there. I do want to keep the surface still-ish in the other half of the tank for bubble nest and floating plants to be added in the near future.
 
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