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Old 03-01-2008, 12:53 PM   #1
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Filter for 5 gal tank w/one betta

Hello! I've have my 5.5 gal tank set up for a month. It has one betta in it with live plants (anubia, wisteria & java fern) and a stealth heater. The tank is fully cycled thanks to a large borrowed canister filter which I need to return at some point.

When I started, I had a Penguin bio-wheel HOB filter on it but it is a little too deep for the Versa cover and it felt unstable. I replaced it with a Tetra Whisper 10 filter but the current prevents my betta from swimming anywhere near it. I rigged up a sponge cover over the outtake to soften the current but I read that isn't healthy because it cuts down on the aeration.

Can someone recommend a good set up for me? I'd like a filter that does an excellent job filtering the water, provides sufficient aeration and is quiet. Is there one that can do that and also be adjusted so my betta can use the full tank? I would consider a internal filter with an air pump but my borrowed canister filter came with a Rena Air 100 pump and I can't stand the vibration.

Thank you very much for your advice! I'd love to get this settled so I can stop obsessing about it and return the borrowed canister.
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Old 03-01-2008, 01:17 PM   #2
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Welcome to AA! I have had bettas in 5.5 gallon tanks. I used this filter: the Duetto DJ-50.

Duetto Multi-Filters

You can adjust the flow direction and the flow strength so it's not too turbulent for a betta. To adjust the flow direction, turn the knob on top - it turns a full 360 degrees. I have mine aimed at the back wall of the tank. To adjust the flow strength, remove the top of the filter - the motor - from the plastic media area and you'll see the red dial in the impeller cover. Turn this dial, and you can see the holes getting bigger (more water flow) or smaller (less water flow). In the 5.5 gallon I had my dial turned a little more than halfway closed.

I also removed the carbon cartridge and put in regular filter floss (just a little bit, don't pack it too tight). Yiou'll have to replace this floss weekly or you'll see the flow decrease greatly as it gets too packed down.

I really like this filter. I upgraded my bettas to 10 gallon tanks (I was tired of uprooting the plants every time I stuck my hand in that little 5 gallon!) and the DJ-50 is working out just fine in the 10 gallon too. It's a versatile filter, and very quiet.

Edit: The DJ-50 is not pictured on the website but it looks just like the DJ-100. The DJ-100 is 7 inches tall while the DJ-50 is 5 inches tall. The DJ Mini is too weak even for a 3 gallon tank.
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Old 03-01-2008, 01:49 PM   #3
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Thank you, sounds really promising! Can I use the DJ-100 or would the current be too strong? The flow rate is closer to the Tetra & Penguin.
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Old 03-01-2008, 02:23 PM   #4
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The DJ-50 would really be sufficient for a betta in a 5.5 gallon. With my DJ-50 in the 10 gallon, I don't even have the flow strength adjustment dial opened all the way.

I used a Tetra Whisper filter in a QT tank once with a betta and he got "stuck" in that return flow area - that cup-shaped top.
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Old 03-01-2008, 02:27 PM   #5
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Eeek! I put netting from a filter bag over the intake on the Whisper and the Penguin. Can I do that for the Duetto too? Is it necessary?

Also, I thought you weren't supposed to replace floss but just rinse it in the tank water on water change days. I thought it retained the needed bacteria that way.
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Old 03-01-2008, 03:05 PM   #6
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I put a pantyhose toe over that open area of the Whisper. It's not a great filter but for a QT it was somewhat ok.

No, you don't need to put any type of covering over the Duetto. There is nothing that can hurt the betta. Mine even sits on the top of the filter (behind the flow direction knob). Floss can be replaced weekly - it will get dirty and you can put nice clean floss in to polish the water. In a canister filter, you don't have to replace the floss that often. In this little filter, I found that the floss got compacted and would affect the flow rate. I guess the Duetto filter really isn't designed for floss, but I tried it and it works just fine. The floss does polish the water nicely. Just remember to change it weekly. You should open the impeller area at every water change, usually weekly, and clean/rinse the impeller and make sure the flow holes aren't obstructed. I put a Q-tip in the impeller area to clean it out a bit.

The beneficial bacteria resides in the sponge in the bottom of the plastic housing, and also on surfaces in the aquarium, in the gravel, on the plants, etc. Rinse the sponges only in removed tank water to clean them a bit. When you set up the Duetto you can squeeze out the filter you have been using in a bucket or bowl. The water should be somewhat brownish. Squeeze the new Duetto sponge in that water. You'll be getting some of the good bacteria in the Duetto sponge that way.
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Old 03-01-2008, 03:26 PM   #7
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Sounds perfect! Thank you! I have the bio-wheel, which was running for about 3 weeks, in a filter bag in the tank and I will leave it there. The Whisper has only been running for a week but I'll swish the sponge and pad in the removed tank water.

Do I need anything further for aeration? I leave about 1 1/4" of air at the top of the tank so my betta can't jump.
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Old 03-01-2008, 05:05 PM   #8
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When you say Versa cover (in your first post) do you mean the glass hinged tops? I have those on my tank. I have read that bettas can be jumpers but in my almost 6 years of betta-keeping, I have never had a jumper. It's better to be safe than sorry, though, so I use the Versa top. I do try to leave a little airspace since that's important for a betta, but I fill the aquarium so that the water level doesn't show below the black trim.

The Duetto has a little flap on it that you can attach a hose (I think the hose is included) and this hose pulls in air and mixes with the outflowing water. I never used this attachment. It might be noisy. Bettas can get supplemental oxygen from the air. Did you ever see your betta go to the surface of the water and take a "breath"? There is a labyrinth organ behind the gills that allows them to get oxygen in this way. So using more aeration on a betta tank is probably unnecessary. Too much turbulence also interferes with their getting to the surface.

It's a good idea to leave the bio-wheel in the filter bag for a week or two in the tank after getting the new filter in, even if you do squeeze the new filter media in the "brownish" water.
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Old 03-01-2008, 05:24 PM   #9
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Yes, I mean the hinged lid. I see him come up for air frequently. Why do you fill the water in the tank so high? I figured, if I left 1 1/4 inch clearance, there would be plenty of air for him and he would be less tempted to jump. Once I remove the Whisper, there's going to be this big hole in the plastic which I'll have to cover with some kind of open fabric, so that will add more air. I'm glad to know I don't have to add an air pump, based on my experience with the borrowed Rena.

I can't wait to go buy this filter! Tomorrow morning I'll find a place that carries it. The sooner I get it set up, the sooner I can remove the borrowed canister. It takes up about a quarter of the tank. The owner agreed to let me keep it for as long as I need it but I hope the Duetto will be up to speed in a month so I can remove it. I thought, after 3 weeks, I'll turn off the air pump to the borrowed canister and see if the water can retain its quality without it.

My plan is to keep the bio-wheel in the tank indefinitely. I mean, why not? There ought to be some bacteria growing on it right?
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Old 03-02-2008, 12:00 PM   #10
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I have always filled to about the middle of the black trim. It just looks nicer and there is still enough airspace for a betta. The surface area of the water is important too. A 5 or 10 gallon tank gives the betta plenty of surface area to breathe from. That's another reason I don't like to see bettas in small bowls or vases - besides the lack of temperature stability, the surface area in those small bowls is not good for bettas that need to get atmospheric oxygen.

I don't really think it's necessary to keep the bio-wheel in the tank indefinitely. A few weeks to a month should be fine. 5 gallon tanks are not that big so keeping the bio-wheel in place may take up room that you'd like to arrange with more plants or some driftwood.
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