July 1

Betta Care: Set Up & Costs

Hi! I’m starting something of a series on basic betta care. This first post will be about setting up your tank and keeping costs low.

Can you afford a betta and a tank?

A lot of people like to get betta fish because they don’t require a gigantic tank and are relatively low maintenance pets. Also, fish are pretty cheap to keep as the only maintenance costs you’ll pay throughout your fish’s life is their food and tap water conditioner (both of which are inexpensive — food is usually around $3-6 and tap water conditioner (500mL) is usually around $10.

Both last a long, long time before you run out, too). The most expensive part of keeping betta is the initial set up costs. I hope this post will help you be economical with your purchases, while also providing the best for your new betta!

The standard equipment that you will need for a happy and healthy betta fish are:

  • A tank (of course!)
    • Please do not fall into the trap of thinking a betta likes small tanks. They like lots of plants and hiding places, which I guess started the myth that betta likes small spaces. There’s some debate about the minimum size, with some saying as low as 1 gallon. Most people will say 2.5 gallons, with 5 being much more ideal. If you can get 10, even better! Those little betta cube tanks simply don’t cut it.
    • You might ask, can a betta be in a gigantic tank? Like 20 gallons, or 30 or whatever? Yes they can, I’m sure they’ll love the room! Just be sure to fill it up with plants to swim around and caves to hide in. Also, be aware, that bettas do much better in long/wide tanks, as opposed to tall vertical tanks.
  • A heater + thermometer
    • Bettas are tropical fish and require their water to be around 78 degrees Fahrenheit (give or take). If you live somewhere warm where the water can stay around that temperature without a heater year-round, then you just need a thermometer. I live in Canada and need a heater during the winter, but my tanks stay warm without the heater turned on in the summer months. The thermometer is in case your heater goes crazy and breaks or something, without you knowing — and it DOES happen!
  • A filter
    • Bettas like still water, so try to get one that isn’t too powerful. Look up ‘how to make a water baffle’ on Youtube if your filter is creating too much water movement. In very small tanks, some say you don’t even really need to use the best fish tank filter, but you would have to do more water changes.

Other things that aren’t TOTALLY necessary but of course, would make your betta happy and be more aesthetically pleasing:

      • Gravel
      • Decorations
        • With decorations, keep in mind that bettas like to swim around the surface a lot, as they get air from there, so tall plants that reach the surface water are great. Also, try to avoid pointy plastic plants (find silk plants, if you are using fake plants) as they can tear your betta’s fins (although, I must admit, I have several plastic plants in my tanks and my bettas have never torn their fins on the decorations … but still, err on the side of caution).
      • Aquarium light

A lot of people sell their used aquarium tanks on Craigslist, so if you want to keep costs low, I suggest checking out your local Craigslist postings. Most of the time, these are people who are upgrading their tanks to bigger ones and getting rid of their smaller 2.5, 5, or 10-gallon tanks, which are perfect for bettas. I have seen many posts where people will include a filter, decorations, and sometimes a heater as well. You can looking for the best led aquarium lighting here.

After setting up your tank and filling it with water, please note you should preferably cycle your tank before you add any fish. If you do not know what that means, check out this web page, it does an amazing job of explaining it simply!

My Own Set Ups + Costs

Here are my own betta setups and approximately how much I spent on the items (all prices are in Canadian dollars). I hope this will help give you a rough idea of how much you may need to spend, and whether getting a betta as a pet is a realistic financial decision for you. Please keep in mind that I do tend to overspend on my tanks. I also want to note, everything I bought was brand new. If you get second-hand items, I am sure you will spend a lot less.
This is my smallest tank, at 2.5 gallons, which houses one crown tail betta, Diablo. It’s great for me because it doesn’t take up a lot of room. This tank I do not have a filter. It is very small so a nitrogen cycle probably wouldn’t even start in it. A filter would also cause too much water movement for the betta. I have to do more water changes for this tank.

– 2.5-gallon tank ~$17 from PetSmart
– Mini aquarium heater (not adjustable) ~$15 from PetSmart
– Thermometer ~$3 from Wal-Mart
– Clip-on aquarium light ~$30 from Petland (I feel like I got ripped off though)
– Gravel ~$7
– Decorations ~ approximately $25 worth in this tank, from various places such as PetSmart, Petland, Wal-Mart, etc.
– Betta ~ $12 from Petland
– Approximate total for this tank set up:  $109
This is my medium-sized tank, at 5.5 gallons. It was an aquarium starter kit from Pet Smart that included a filter, hood, and lights. This is also a nice sized tank as it is not too large, but gives your betta plenty of room to swim around. I do want to add that this aquarium kit was a birthday gift, so I didn’t spend that much.

– 5.5-gallon aquarium starter kit (included lights and filter) ~ was a gift, so I don’t know the cost, but I think it was maybe ~$40, from PetSmart
– Adjustable glass heater ~$30 from PetSmart
– Thermometer ~$3 from Wal-Mart
– Gravel ~$14
– Decorations ~ approximately $45 worth in this tank (the log cost like, half that amount), from various places such as PetSmart, Petland, Wal-Mart, etc.
– Betta ~$4 from PetSmart
– Approximate total for this tank set up: $131
This is my largest tank, at 10 gallons. I also bought it as an aquarium starter kit from Pet Smart, and it included a filter, hood, and lights. However, I replaced the filter with a different one, because I hated the one it came with. This tank houses my 5 betta girls (called a sorority). A betta sorority requires lots of plants and decor for the fish to hide from one another, so I got more decorations than I normally would. This is by far my most expensive tank for sure.

– 10-gallon aquarium starter kit (included lights and filter) ~ $45 (was on sale) from PetSmart
– New filter ~ $12 from PetSmart
– Adjustable glass heater ~$30 from PetSmart- Thermometer ~$3 from Wal-Mart
– Gravel ~$20 (I think? I can’t remember)
– Decorations ~$120 (I think, hard to remember all the costs!), from various places such as PetSmart, Petland, Wal-Mart, etc.
– Bettas: 3 were from PetSmart, $3 each, and 2 were from Aquarium West, $8 each. Betta total is ~$25
– Approximate total for this tank set up: $255

That was really scary, calculating the costs. Anyway, betta set up costs certainly have a large range, and as you can see, I have spent a LOT more on decor than is strictly needed (well, to be honest, I just LOVE decorating my tanks too), which ballooned my costs. I am sure there are many ways to cut costs (for example … useless decorations, haha), but please, please, please, do not cut corners by getting a crappy 0.5-gallon cube or deciding not to get a heater! Here is a cheap set up that I think is totally feasible:

Cheap Set Up
– 2.5-gallon tank from PetSmart ~$17
– Nonadjustable mini heater ~$15
– Gravel ~$7
– Decorations: A $6 plant, and a $1 terra cotta pot from the dollar store for a total of $6
– Betta: $4 from PetSmart
– Approximate total for this tank set up: $50

And of course, if you buy second hand from Craigslist or wherever, you can probably set it up for even less than $49 CDN.

Best of luck!

May 2

How to Avoid Rotating Emergency Water

I have done a ton of research over the past few months about water storage.

(Did you know that, in case of an emergency, you should have a two week supply of water for each member of your family?  One gallon per person per day is the general recommendation.)

Okay, so here’s the problem with storing water.  There are all these RULES about it.  Like, you have to use food-grade containers.  That’s a no brainer.  Things that are number one plastic should be avoided because they’re meant for one-time use and then they leach things into your water that you don’t want to be drinking (though it’d be fine for cleaning, flushing toilets, etc.).  You should purify your water with a few drops of bleach when you first store it to kill any possible bacteria in it and prevent them from growing.  And you shouldn’t store your water right on the cement of your garage or basement, because chemicals are absorbed through the plastic into the water.  Rules rules rules.  So many to keep track of.  And the one that I hate the most?  Rotate your water every 6-12 months.  SERIOUSLY?  We have like 75 gallons in our garage.  That is a lot of work.  The last time I did it, it took me two days of dumping water, refilling, relabeling the date, etc.  A lot of work.  A lot of water.  I did not enjoy it.

So then I heard that there are filters you can buy, and then you don’t have to rotate nearly as often (like every 10 years if at all).  Automatically my ears perked up.  And so I researched and researched like crazy.  There are SO many options.  I read tons of good things about Berkley systems, but those are like $230 if you get a good deal!  This is just for an emergency that might never happen.  Obviously, I want something, but I don’t want to break the bank getting something.  And so many of them had filters that only filtered a certain amount of water (like 20 gallons) before needing to be replaced, or some of them expired just with time due to shelf life.  I was really trying to find the best bang for my buck.

And I’m here to report what I ended up getting and all of the reasons WHY in case you’re sick of doing lots of research too, or in case you never even thought of this before but are so happy because now you don’t even have to do ANY research!

I got the Sawyer Point One Emergency Water Filtration Kit.

This is why:

  • It NEVER needs a new filter.  They guarantee a million gallons.  That’s a lot of stinkin’ water.  You do have to rinse the filter with clean, filtered water when using really dirty water, but that’s better than buying replacement filters.
  • It filters fast, up to 500 gallons per day.  Some filters only did like one gallon an hour.  I don’t want to have to be waiting around for water to be ready.
  • It’s super small and easy to store, and it’s lightweight too (the filter weighs 3oz).  The whole box with everything in it is like 6″ x 3″ x 3″.  That I can do.
  • It only cost $58 and never expires.
  • It has awesome reviews from every reviewer I could find online.  Five stars across the board.
  • The kit contains a variety of adapters:
    • There’s a pouch that you can fill with contaminated water, and it has a pop-up cap that you can drink straight from.
    • It can screw right into a water bottle or soda bottle and you can drink right from the pop-up cap.
    • It can connect to a faucet with an included adapter so you could use it during international travel or during times where you’re told to boil your city water.
 (I can’t find a picture of this.  Boo.)
    • There’s a bucket adapter kit so you could fill one bucket with dirty water and have it filter through to a clean water bucket beneath.
  • They use this kit in tons of third world countries where people are constantly dying (every 20 seconds!) due to the lack of access to clean drinking water.  People can literally fill buckets from the river, filter it through, and drink it.  You can find more information about the company and this outreach program HERE.
  • It filters and purifies water, removing sediment, bacteria, protozoa, cysts, and other contaminants.  Some only filter and some only purify.  This does both.

They also make a Sawyer Point Zero Two Filter that does the same thing, but it filters out viruses as well.  That one runs about $129 on Amazon.  I decided against it because I’m hoping to avoid using river water in case of an emergency.  Hopefully, the water that I have stored will be sufficient.

Have I actually used it yet?  No.  But I trust user reviews, I like the features, and I loved that it didn’t empty my bank account.  If you’re stressing yourself out doing research over a water filter, I hope you can benefit from the hours that I put into it!