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Old 09-18-2013, 05:32 PM   #1
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Gumball Machine 3gal Betta Tank

Hello, and thanks for reading. Sorry this is a bit long.

I have been lugging around an old broken gumball machine for the past 3 years in hopes of one day converting it into a betta tank. I pulled it out and cleaned it up a few days ago, and have broken it down and stripped it of unnecessary parts.

I now have an empty base, a glass fish bowl that meets the dimensions of the original acrylic gumball bubble, and a lid.

I have everything worked out including an external heat source that will be attached to the bottom of the glass bowl via suction cups and housed on the interior of the base as to not been seen. I have run the power cord through the bottom of the base in the back as well. I tested the heat source and it keeps a stable water temp of 78 degrees, allowing for up to 4 degree temperature rise when the light is on or when the house is warmer in the winter time.

The problem I am faced with now is filtration. I know that betta fish are pretty versatile where filtration is concerned, and if weekly full water changes are done it is possible to keep one without filtration, but having kept a 50gal freshwater tank for several years I do not personally feel comfortable running ANY tank without a filter. So I have come to the masses for advice.

Initially I did not want any cords, tubes, etc entering the top of the bowl, as I felt it would detract from the aesthetics of the gumball machine theme. I now, however, do not care so much if I have an airline tube hidden by a plant or two. As long as the creature within is happy and well cared for. I also thought that if I change my mind and want a goldfish or frog, a filtered setup would better accommodate.

So, I've spent the day researching and surfing the web and decided to ask advice about two different filtration options for this small tank. (Larger tanks seem so much simpler where this is concerned) Obviously I would need a filter with a low level current for any one of my fish/frog options. The one that seems most appealing is the Lee's Round Under Gravel Bowl 2 gal filter, minus that ugly plastic plant. The other option was the Penn-Plax Smallword Pump & Filter Kit.

Both have their pros and cons in my eyes. But I am unfamiliar with either of these products and would hate to purchase one and regret it. Of course I plan on cycling for a couple of weeks before ever adding a live creature, to make sure the filter was doing it's job.

Also if anyone has any advice on lighting options I'd love to hear it. Initially I was just planning on affixing a battery operated waterproof LED unit to the inside of the lid via velcro for easy battery/bulb/fixture changes. But if I'm going to have the air tubing for a filter anyway, then there may be a better corded lighting option. (The lid is only about an inch deep and 4 1/2 inches in diameter.)
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Old 09-18-2013, 05:41 PM   #2
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Hello, and thanks for reading. Sorry this is a bit long.

I have been lugging around an old broken gumball machine for the past 3 years in hopes of one day converting it into a betta tank. I pulled it out and cleaned it up a few days ago, and have broken it down and stripped it of unnecessary parts.

I now have an empty base, a glass fish bowl that meets the dimensions of the original acrylic gumball bubble, and a lid.

I have everything worked out including an external heat source that will be attached to the bottom of the glass bowl via suction cups and housed on the interior of the base as to not been seen. I have run the power cord through the bottom of the base in the back as well. I tested the heat source and it keeps a stable water temp of 78 degrees, allowing for up to 4 degree temperature rise when the light is on or when the house is warmer in the winter time.

The problem I am faced with now is filtration. I know that betta fish are pretty versatile where filtration is concerned, and if weekly full water changes are done it is possible to keep one without filtration, but having kept a 50gal freshwater tank for several years I do not personally feel comfortable running ANY tank without a filter. So I have come to the masses for advice.

Initially I did not want any cords, tubes, etc entering the top of the bowl, as I felt it would detract from the aesthetics of the gumball machine theme. I now, however, do not care so much if I have an airline tube hidden by a plant or two. As long as the creature within is happy and well cared for. I also thought that if I change my mind and want a goldfish or frog, a filtered setup would better accommodate.

So, I've spent the day researching and surfing the web and decided to ask advice about two different filtration options for this small tank. (Larger tanks seem so much simpler where this is concerned) Obviously I would need a filter with a low level current for any one of my fish/frog options. The one that seems most appealing is the Lee's Round Under Gravel Bowl 2 gal filter, minus that ugly plastic plant. The other option was the Penn-Plax Smallword Pump & Filter Kit.

Both have their pros and cons in my eyes. But I am unfamiliar with either of these products and would hate to purchase one and regret it. Of course I plan on cycling for a couple of weeks before ever adding a live creature, to make sure the filter was doing it's job.

Also if anyone has any advice on lighting options I'd love to hear it. Initially I was just planning on affixing a battery operated waterproof LED unit to the inside of the lid via velcro for easy battery/bulb/fixture changes. But if I'm going to have the air tubing for a filter anyway, then there may be a better corded lighting option. (The lid is only about an inch deep and 4 1/2 inches in diameter.)
The only way I could see filtration working is if you had a little sump with it.
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Old 09-18-2013, 05:44 PM   #3
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I've never used either of those, so I can't say. I can say, don't even think about a gold fish for this thing. Betta, sure, but not a goldfish. They're too dirty, grow too fast, need too much space, and they like it cool, not warm.

I share the feeling that a cycled filtered tank is preferable, but having now kept Bettas for awhile both with and without filters, I know it's quite possible to keep them happy and content without one. I think I'd be more worried about good gas exchange than anything else, how much open air is there above the water in this setup ?

Have you thought about cherry shrimp possibly ? They'd do well, no heat needed or wanted and some low maintenance plants, like java fern or moss, would be plenty and not need a lot of light either. Just a thought.
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Old 09-18-2013, 05:51 PM   #4
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I've never used either of those, so I can't say. I can say, don't even think about a gold fish for this thing. Betta, sure, but not a goldfish. They're too dirty, grow too fast, need too much space, and they like it cool, not warm.

I share the feeling that a cycled filtered tank is preferable, but having now kept Bettas for awhile both with and without filters, I know it's quite possible to keep them happy and content without one. I think I'd be more worried about good gas exchange than anything else, how much open air is there above the water in this setup ?

Have you thought about cherry shrimp possibly ? They'd do well, no heat needed or wanted and some low maintenance plants, like java fern or moss, would be plenty and not need a lot of light either. Just a thought.
I disagree, cherry shrimp would DEFINITELY need a heater and a filter that gives good has exchange.

Bettas breathe air. So they don't need gas exchange.
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Old 09-18-2013, 06:09 PM   #5
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The fact Bettas can breathe air if they must does not mean they can do well in low oxygen water indefinitely.. and low oxygen can lead to stagnation, bacterial issues and smells too.

Why would cherry shrimp need a heater ? I keep them at 70, and they breed like mad. In fact they've been colder than that and continued to breed well. They prefer cooler temperatures than most fish, except the cool water species. They'll tolerate some higher temperatures, but don't need them.

But that's why I asked about gas exchange, as it happens. Filters don't necessarily provide gas exchange, it depends how they return water. It happens at the water surface.. CO2 comes out and is exchanged for oxygen there. Agitation of the surface, either with an air stone, or falling water from a filter outflow, helps gas exchange.
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Old 09-18-2013, 06:53 PM   #6
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I agree about gas exchange. There is about 3-4 inches of open air in the globe (bowl) once filled.I would never consider filling it more than that. I am hoping that the filter will work for surface agitation and oxygenation without creating a disturbing current for a betta. Seeing as how I have no experience with UG filters I'm leaning toward the Penn-Plax. I did some research and have seen this filtration unit used in a similar concept tank. I do not, however, know what the outcome was for the betta within.

Thanks for the advice about the goldfish. I've never been fond of them anyway. I did have an African dwarf frog for a long time, but they tend to be messy as well, so betta seems like the more logical choice here.
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Old 09-18-2013, 07:02 PM   #7
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Be nice to see pics when it's all up and running. Sounds pretty cool.
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Old 09-18-2013, 07:10 PM   #8
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I'll definitely post pics as it progresses and then the final setup.
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Old 09-18-2013, 07:58 PM   #9
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Old 09-18-2013, 08:00 PM   #10
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I highly reccomend put a container or a small food grade Tupperware box or something and make it a sump. Put an azoo palm filter (9$ on dr. Foster and smith) on it and a small return pump
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