Q: I want to buy a small aquarium kit (clueless)- what would you recommend? I have two mutt bettas- 1 in a one gal with a under-gravel filter (dirty- I disassemble & clean every 3 wks);1 in a bowl. Saw your thoughts on the Explorer- how about Eclipse 3, 6 or a Mini-Bow (2.5, 5)?  Donít want to hurt my boy with a too-strong filter!

Question submitted by Cindy, Near Toledo - Ohio

A: You know what I would recommend? I would recommend NOT buying a kit. I would instead suggest you create your own betta paradise and put it together yourself. This way you have any option you want and you are not stuck with whatever the manufacturer of each kit has come up with. God knows some of them come up with lame ideas, such as betta bowls with a filter (great) but no cover (bettas WILL jump), or filters that are too powerful and CANNOT be regulated with a flow control (cuz they, like 'forgot' to add one !!).

Bottom line is, I declare that manufacturers should never put a betta kit on the market before first getting my blessings LOL. I mean, how dare they put it out there without my permission?? ;). Should they have checked first with me, I would have fixed their booboos right up!

Meanwhile, you and I are going to do a little virtual shopping: I'll tell you what to buy, you put it in the cart and (my favorite part) pay for it LOL. This is what I would chose if I were you. For each betta get:

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a good old 10 gal glass tank with lid and light. Will last forever and will NOT get all scratched up like most of the little plastic tanks. Heck if you look at them, they get scratched up! If you can afford it, favor neon lighting (does not heat up) as opposed to the cheap light bulbs. If you are on tight budget, forget the lighting, but DO get the glass top! Cost for the tank (without lighting) will be about $12 to $18.

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If you are on a budget, you can start with bare tanks. Bettas don't seem to care much. Later you can add FINE gravel and live plants to your set-up. (since you only have 2 bettas it is OK to go that route).

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Don't need a heater if tanks are kept inside a warm room. Otherwise you will need a small 50W heater. If you can afford it get SUBMERSIBLE heaters! Well worth the extra couple of dollars. They do not short and even if the water evaporates and level drops down, they will continue to work well since they are at the bottom of the tank. In my fishroom you can not find a SINGLE heater that is not submersible.

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a thermometer - the glass type with a suction cup work great and are cheap and reliable. It is a must to control temps and make sure they are in safe range (60F to 85F)

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MOST IMPORTANT purchase will be the filter. This is where you are at an advantage by putting your kit together yourself: You can chose whatever you darn please :)))). Oooooops, let me rephrase this: You can chose whatever I darn please! LOL.
And this is what I command you to get hehehehe: We will not get an undergravel filter, nor a corner filter. Instead we will select a power filter that hangs outside and is small but has good quantity of filtering media AND has a flow regulator. These usually have a way to move the intake tube either up or sideways or turn a valve to reduce the water flow. Either way is fine for as long as you can make the water flow as slow as I darn please ;). Penguin has a mini biowheel that works OK, but there are other brands to check into, so do your homework. Important detail: Look at the REFILLS and their costs. This is where the manufacturers get you. If the refills that are much more expensive, you might want to pick another brand.

Once you install the tank and the filter, you will make sure the flow is reasonable and test it before adding the betta. After you add Mr. Betta, you will carefully observe his body language. If he seems to be able to swim comfortably around, without fighting, or going sideways or being sucked against the intake LOL, then you are OK. Otherwise, keep playing around with the filter flow until you achieve the perfect balance. You want it as high as possible to maintain proper filtration BUT not so high that it disturbs the betta. One way to do this is to start at the lowest setting and increase water flow gradually until you can see the betta is starting to be affected by it, then decrease slightly from that position and check every day for a while to make sure betta is still happy with the way you have it set-up.

Voila my dear, you are in control when you stay away from pre packaged kits. Be smart and with a little help from your friend Faith, you'll get by ;).

 

About me

I am a member of the IBC, founder and President of LABS  (Los Angeles Betta Society) and have been helping the betta community through this website since 1998. 
I have over 
180  spawns and  4000 shipments under my belt and have been featured on national and international television.       
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