"Temporary" Holding Habitat

gilltyascharged

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Back in November, I started a planted 2.5 gal tank to use for shrimp. Within a good couple weeks, it was home to copepods, then later ostracods. Introduce some detritus worms from another tank, and blammo!—mini community.
Well, fast forward to a couple days ago and I decided to use it as a temporary holding tank for a new betta (he can be a different thread). While it was only supposed to be while I set up his future home, an aquascaped 5 gal, he actually seems...happy?
When I first introduced the betta to the tank on Saturday, I was worried that he wasn't taking any pellets I was giving him. After about an hour of observation, I realized something—those odd, somewhat jerky movements he was making weren't an indication that something was wrong...he was hunting ostracods and detritus worms! In the four bettas I've kept, this has been the smallest habitat I've ever attempted. However, as odd as it may seem, I don't think I've ever seen any of those previous fish act this (dare I say) natural. He's nice and trim (not too round, but not skinny), and spends a good portion of his time either hunting, resting, or displaying at the cat.

I know I declared a while back that I would never feel comfortable keeping any fish in a 2.5 gal—especially one without a filter. This is where I'm conflicted. On one hand, it's a very small footprint. There's not a lot of room to explore, and this can make long-term maintenance an issue. I never want to stunt or otherwise jeopardize the health and happiness of a fish—especially if I know better.
On the other hand, this tank is one that has sat on my desk for about 8 months now. Even without shrimp (I'm just waiting for my next payment!), there's a beautiful mini-ecosystem in there that takes very little effort to sustain. The temperature stays at a regular 82°F (using an adjustable heater), and water parameters have been consistent for the past few months. If anything, I found it surprising as to how stable it seemed. That's not to say it won't change if I add another organism, but currently the duckweed, guppy grass, and Java moss are doing their job and keeping nitrates quite low.

To those more experienced—what do you guys think? He has a backup tank (the 5 gal I was originally setting up for him), so I can move him if need be. But should I? I'll update how he's doing over the next couple of weeks (while the other tank is cycling), but I'm genuinely wondering if this could be a long-term home.

(Note: please ignore the mess of plants and leaves, it's going to have some TLC soon 😅)
 

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He's acting naturally because he has some natural food. In a larger tank, he'd do the same.

This is always a quandary. I don't think 2.5 gallon tanks exist. They are just glass containers. They are a step up on the bottles and jars that are now the natural habitat of long finned, fancy Bettas. They don't exist in the wild except as short lived escapees from breeders, and have no natural world. It would be like releasing pugs to compete with wolves in the deep snows.

So can you keep them in small glass containers? That's the debate. As air breathers, they are not especially concerned with the cycle. In a 2.5, I would feel obliged to change out all the water twice a week, which would end the little ecosystem you have going. Long fins fold, and become vulnerable to fungi and parasites. That's your big concern in tiny quarters, as well as the ability of the fish to live a stimulating life.
 
He's acting naturally because he has some natural food. In a larger tank, he'd do the same.

This is always a quandary. I don't think 2.5 gallon tanks exist. They are just glass containers. They are a step up on the bottles and jars that are now the natural habitat of long finned, fancy Bettas. They don't exist in the wild except as short lived escapees from breeders, and have no natural world. It would be like releasing pugs to compete with wolves in the deep snows.

So can you keep them in small glass containers? That's the debate. As air breathers, they are not especially concerned with the cycle. In a 2.5, I would feel obliged to change out all the water twice a week, which would end the little ecosystem you have going. Long fins fold, and become vulnerable to fungi and parasites. That's your big concern in tiny quarters, as well as the ability of the fish to live a stimulating life.
Ah, that's fair. While I've always thought of some of the fancy goldfish being more akin to the pugs and French bulldogs of the fish world, I wonder if fancy bettas are the dachshunds of sorts—predatory instincts rivaling their ancestors, equipped with appendages that require some catering to. All joking aside, that's good to know about fin folding. I didn't even think of that with smaller space.

I am curious though: if I were to do a partial water change of the 2.5 and transfer it to the new 5 gal, do you think that would help start up another ecosystem of sorts? I'm not sure if that would kill all of the microorganisms, or if it simply wouldn't be enough to even kick it off the new tank.

Either way, I definitely plan on keeping him with live foods. While I've used them as a supplement in the past, I'm almost considering using them entirely for his diet (provided they don't cause nutritional deficiencies). As far as tank scape goes, I was planning on putting him in a nicer, cleaner aquascape, but have to admit that he looks really nice in a messier, more natural setup.
 
They might have a tendency to eat a little too much. When live food prospers. And they soon learn to keep their fins clamped to move faster... Not really good for the fins of a show off in long term.

But changing a large part of the water once a month is more than enough. with a 3 gallons cycled tank. Even more if it is already populated with all sorts of scavengers.

Too much decaying plants is really dangerous. so rotting leaves goes out instantly. Too much snails is not good too.

Like Gary said the betta splendens of today, lives in a test tube. A big tank is not required with long finned betta. they will lower activity in the next 8 months of purchase then live 2 to 4 years like old grumpy guys. And they will thank you for very low water movement. As long as it doesn't rot.

I'm not really into betta, But I had enough of them, to feel that at a certain point...

He's not greeting you anymore when you come, and looks at you like "What !" then a couple months later he seems to have become tired. and slowly fade away.

Some made me feel that even a water change was disturbing, looking at me with that "not again" face.

You can force them to have the best life they can in captivity, but they wouldn't last seconds.

In nature... They have no expectations.
 
And they soon learn to keep their fins clamped to move faster... Not really good for the fins of a show off in long term.
Please correct me if I'm wrong, I just want to make sure I'm understanding this right—are you saying that having them hunt their foods leads to health issues? It sounds like you're saying that fancy bettas tend to clamp their fins, which I assume causes problems...maybe I'm misunderstanding? :/

But changing a large part of the water once a month is more than enough. with a 3 gallons cycled tank. Even more if it is already populated with all sorts of scavengers.

Too much decaying plants is really dangerous. so rotting leaves goes out instantly. Too much snails is not good too.
Currently there are only two snails in the tank—two very small ramshorns transferred back from my 6.6 gallon. Whenever they begin to breed, I can either a) leave them to self-regulate, or b) transfer them to my other tanks, where they either become dinner or part of the clean up crew. Other than the dried duckweed (we went camping for a couple days the weekend before last, and I forgot to scrape of the dried duckweed before a top-off 🤦🏽), all plants are growing healthy! Any dying material is either attacked by the inverts (who are in turn eaten by the betta), or immediately clipped out and put in my mulm jar (where other microorganisms can easily be sucked up as food for other fish).

But regarding cleaning, are you saying that a large (I'm assuming 50-100% water change) once a month will be okay? Just want to make sure I'm not misinterpreting anything 🙂
 
I prefer weekly, smaller water changes over big monthly ones. Setting up for a water change is a little bit of work, but not much.

I also no longer keep Betta splendens, but I had them more on than off for close to 45 years - a lot of 5 year Bettas. I also had the privilege to be able to keep and breed wild caught short finned splendens brought back by a friend who worked in Laos.

My tanks were messy jungles, as they are for the killies I keep instead of bettas. I'm a neat freak's nightmare when it comes to tanks.

As long as the water has no chloramines or chlorine, the live food will transfer. You don't have enough of it though. A Betta will eat the creatures in a small tank very efficiently, and the population will stay very low. He'd need the addition of a few things cultured outside the tank - daphnia, white worms, wingless fruit flies or his dream food mosquito larvae. A lot of people find that daunting, and time consuming, not to mention a bit gross. I kind of enjoy culturing live foods because they are so nutritionally superior, if they are offered in a variety. But I also have a fishroom.

Plus live foods are far easier in summer than in winter.

Since he's an insect eater by nature (and digestive system) he would do well with soldier fly based bug bites type foods. I like flakes over pellets, as Bettas like floating targets best.

The fin point. People buy mutant Bettas because of their colours, and those great big fins. The fins are an impediment to swimming and natural movement, but we love them. Newly acquired Bettas can barely swim as life in a jar provides no exercise. Protecting the fins from tears, which would lower value, is the goal for the business side of fish, and they don't get to move. In a small space, they stretch their fins a lot. We love that.

As they gain muscle tone and strength in an aquarium, they learn that folding the fins up makes them faster. Wild bettas have tiny fins and are torpedoes. If they see a mosquito larvae, they rocket across the tank. Domestic Bettas start out swimming like they've fallen into a pool with a wedding dress on. Once they clamp their fins though, they can sort of fly. A lot of buyers hate this, as it's not the show they paid for. They want the constant fin flaring.

Bettas bred for fins so large they have to rest on things are the ones who die of fungus or bacterial infections that start in the folds of the fins. They need pristine conditions.
 
I prefer weekly, smaller water changes over big monthly ones. Setting up for a water change is a little bit of work, but not much.

I also no longer keep Betta splendens, but I had them more on than off for close to 45 years - a lot of 5 year Bettas. I also had the privilege to be able to keep and breed wild caught short finned splendens brought back by a friend who worked in Laos.

My tanks were messy jungles, as they are for the killies I keep instead of bettas. I'm a neat freak's nightmare when it comes to tanks.

As long as the water has no chloramines or chlorine, the live food will transfer. You don't have enough of it though. A Betta will eat the creatures in a small tank very efficiently, and the population will stay very low. He'd need the addition of a few things cultured outside the tank - daphnia, white worms, wingless fruit flies or his dream food mosquito larvae. A lot of people find that daunting, and time consuming, not to mention a bit gross. I kind of enjoy culturing live foods because they are so nutritionally superior, if they are offered in a variety. But I also have a fishroom.

Plus live foods are far easier in summer than in winter.

Since he's an insect eater by nature (and digestive system) he would do well with soldier fly based bug bites type foods. I like flakes over pellets, as Bettas like floating targets best.

The fin point. People buy mutant Bettas because of their colours, and those great big fins. The fins are an impediment to swimming and natural movement, but we love them. Newly acquired Bettas can barely swim as life in a jar provides no exercise. Protecting the fins from tears, which would lower value, is the goal for the business side of fish, and they don't get to move. In a small space, they stretch their fins a lot. We love that.

As they gain muscle tone and strength in an aquarium, they learn that folding the fins up makes them faster. Wild bettas have tiny fins and are torpedoes. If they see a mosquito larvae, they rocket across the tank. Domestic Bettas start out swimming like they've fallen into a pool with a wedding dress on. Once they clamp their fins though, they can sort of fly. A lot of buyers hate this, as it's not the show they paid for. They want the constant fin flaring.

Bettas bred for fins so large they have to rest on things are the ones who die of fungus or bacterial infections that start in the folds of the fins. They need pristine conditions.
Thank you for clearing up the fin issue—I'm more than fine if he isn't flaring often, but just wanted to make sure that wasn't a health problem.
While I doubt my parents would be all that happy with a live culture of anything, what they don't know doesn't necessarily hurt them (perks of living in the basement!) ;)
I've done very few water changes with this 2.5, other than using a turkey baster every couple of weeks to remove detritus build-up and topping off due to natural evaporation. However, with the combo of being on summer break and having a temporary new resident, I can definitely bring out that baster every couple days. Do you think that 10% water changes every couple days (as well as regular top-offs) will keep things nice for a week or so?
 
Please correct me if I'm wrong, I just want to make sure I'm understanding this right—are you saying that having them hunt their foods leads to health issues? It sounds like you're saying that fancy bettas tend to clamp their fins, which I assume causes problems...maybe I'm misunderstanding? :/

Holding their fin clamped all the time creates condition that are slightly more favorable to catch fungus and fin rot. It's not really an issue when the water is maintained in pristine conditions.

Currently there are only two snails in the tank—two very small ramshorns transferred back from my 6.6 gallon. Whenever they begin to breed, I can either a) leave them to self-regulate, or b) transfer them to my other tanks, where they either become dinner or part of the clean up crew. Other than the dried duckweed (we went camping for a couple days the weekend before last, and I forgot to scrape of the dried duckweed before a top-off 🤦🏽), all plants are growing healthy! Any dying material is either attacked by the inverts (who are in turn eaten by the betta), or immediately clipped out and put in my mulm jar (where other microorganisms can easily be sucked up as food for other fish).

But regarding cleaning, are you saying that a large (I'm assuming 50-100% water change) once a month will be okay? Just want to make sure I'm not misinterpreting anything 🙂

That's excellent, I do near 75% water change every 2 to 4 weeks maximum. I try to drop the water as much as I can without stressing the fish.
 

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