I am 12 years old and I want to get an aquarium with one male betta fish. My mom says I can have one if I do the research first and promise to take good care of betta fish. Can you tell me what I need to start the aquarium? Can you also tell me if a betta is a good first fish? Thank you.
A: A betta is an excellent first aquarium fish if you take the time to learn about them beforehand. Your mom’s advice to do some research first is smart and responsible. You are already way ahead of most adults. Here is a list of equipment to get you started. Some people may recommend you start with a betta bowl since you’re young but I think most kids are a lot smarter then we give them credit for and are more then capable of learning how an aquarium works. Actually, one of the best tropical fish breeders I know I met when he was just 14 and he knows WAY more about fish breeding then then I will ever know.
A 5 gallon or larger fish tank. Many come in kits with a tank, filter and light hood. These are great first tanks. The Mini Bow 5 is a good choice. It is inexpensive and available in a variety of fun colors. You can find them at PetCo, PetSmart and Wal-Mart.
Substrate – sand, gravel or marbles are nice
Water Conditioner – Kordon’s AmQuel and NovAqua work great together to detoxify harmful chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals found in your tap water.
Heater – Bettas are tropical so 25 watt aquarium heater will be needed for a 5 gallon.
Thermometer – You will need to check the temperature everyday to make sure the heater is working properly and the temperature is stable.
Food – Try some betta pellets to start with like Hikari Bio-Gold
Net – You may want to buy an inexpensive net in case you ever have to scoop out your fish for any reason.
Siphon – A siphon and tubing will allow you to clean out your gravel and do partial water changes every week.
A bucket – To pour the siphon water into.
Water Test Kits - Since you are young you might not want to buy liquid test kits because many of them contain dangerous chemicals. You may want to consider the inexpensive 5-in-1 dip stick kits and a separate ammonia test kit. Visit All About Water to learn what you are testing for.
My advice is you set up your tank a week or two before you buy your betta. This will allow you some time to learn how the aquarium and the heater work and to get everything nice and stable before it is time to acclimate your betta.
There is a ton of information on Nippyfish.net for beginners like you so feel free to read it over. Don’t worry about learning every little thing right away. A lot of keeping fish is trial and error and is an on going process. Start with Betta Splendens 101, Choosing a Tank, and All About Water. If you have any questions or if something is confusing and you need me to simplify it, just write in your question and I will do my best to help you.
Have a great time with your new pet Betta and good luck!