A member of our team recently received the MiniBow with SmartClean Technology Aquarium and thought it would be enlightening to journal her experience of fish keeping along the way. Follow along each week to see how to set up an aquarium, what fish she chose, perform water changes with the newest technology and everything in between
Week 1: Tank Setup & My Newest Coworker
Since working from home has become a new normal, I wanted to bring a little life to my new office space. I asked Santa for a small aquarium to keep by my desk and he generously found a 5-gallon MiniBow® aquarium with SmartClean™ technology. This tank claims water changes in under 2 minutes, but we will try that out later. Right now, it is the perfect size for my office and brings a little relaxation to what can be some long days of spreadsheets and emails. I setup the aquarium according the Setup Guide and found a video on Fish Acclimation on our YouTube page which was helpful.
I went to the local fish store and tried to select my new coworker, which was a lot of fun, a little overwhelming, but fun, nonetheless. There are so many options, shapes, size, color etc., to choose from. Ultimately, I selected a betta fish. His colors and energy were charming, and I thought it would be fun to watch his personality grow in my new aquarium. I read that bettas have different personalities and that appealed to me, as well. I'm thinking of adding a small catfish later, but I wanted to start slowly with one fish, plus it gives me an excuse to go back and look again. Along with adding the Water Conditioner sample that was part of the kit to make my tap water safe, I did add one of the Aqueon PURE spheres to help start the biological filtration in the aquarium. The package says one PURE will treat 10 gallons of water but since it cannot be overdosed, I thought it would be fine. The sales associate said it would be best to add directly to the filter as the beneficial bacteria will live on the filter cartridge. (You can see the sphere in the picture on the left side near the filter arm).
I was very excited to let my Betta out and explore his new home, but I did want to make sure that introduction was done correctly. I opened and rolled the bag outwards, so it created the "float ring" mentioned in the video. It helped keep the bag from sinking into the tank. The aquarium was setup and running while I went to the fish store, giving the filter time to circulate the water and heater time to warm the aquarium to temperature. I let the bag float for a little over the 10 minutes suggested, I got a little sidetracked with the laundry. The slight delay to his release appeared not to bother him. Once out of the bag, he swam all around the aquarium checking out his new surroundings.
So far, he seems very happy with his new home. He spends a lot of time swimming around and seems to like the plants. I am thinking of adding another short plant or two to the bottom. Maybe a decoration piece he can swim in and out of, too. I'm not sure but that's part of the fun, right? I also want to get a food specifically for Betta fish. I have been using the Aqueon® Tropical Flakes that came with my kit, which he seems to like, but I think a food specifically for bettas might be better for him.
Week 2: Feeding and Food Choices
The start of a new year typically means thinking about a New Year's Resolution. Some want to spend more time with family or lead a healthier lifestyle. As I thought about my own diet, this got me thinking about what was in the food my Betta was getting. The sample pack of Tropical Flakes was running low, so I started doing some research on what foods are out there for bettas. The main choice seems to be between flakes and pellets. While feeding the flake samples, I found it hard to regulate the amount of food I was feeding. Sometimes the flakes were quite large and other times quite small. I decided to narrow my research to pellets or granules.
There were many foods that claim a "complete diet" and "color enhancing" but ultimately, I switched to PRO Betta Formula pellets. This diet claims to be formulated by Fish Nutritionists based on the natural diet of a betta fish. This made me think of those television commercials about the dogs or cats who crave a diet like their wild ancestors. I have visons of wild bettas swimming around in the wild rice fields of Thailand. This pelleted food is also formulated with something called "Wellplex® Blend" which helps with my little guy's immune system. It is made up of a blend of natural vitamins and algae that have been studied for their immune system enhancing properties.
Every morning when I get into the "office" he comes up to the front of the aquarium to say "Good Morning! Breakfast Please." At least that's what I think he is saying. He is more enthusiastic about the new food. I give him a couple pellets in the morning and one or two in the evening on workdays. I try to feed him twice on the weekends but sometimes life is a little busy, but he is always fed. I'm sure you know the feeling. The other good news is that the aquarium still looks fresh and clean. I have not taken my water to the pet store to be tested but since it has only been a couple of weeks; I imagine it is still healthy. There has been minimal algae growth which I am a little surprised by if I am honest. I thought I might see something by now. I probably jinxed myself, but I'm going to keep an optimistic outlook. (That's my New Year's Resolution)
These few weeks have flown by. I cannot believe it's been about three weeks since my new coworker moved in. And thanks to our followers to help come up with a name, we have decided to name him Finnegan; Fin for short! Taking a few moments break to enjoy his company and the water ripples has been great on the stressful days of hours spent working on spreadsheets or data analysis. I noticed the water evaporated relatively quickly, which I imagine is a result of the dry winter air. I noticed the water condensation on the top of the lid, so the evaporation could be greater if the aquarium was open top.
The picture shows how low the water dropped before I was able to top it off. I had to run to my local pet store to get some more of the Water Conditioner. I noticed they had our version specifically for betta fish called Betta Bowl Plus. This water conditioner was formulated for betta fish and the dosing instructions reflect the smaller aquarium sizes. The blue cap has small measuring notches to help with dosing. With the traditional Water Conditioner, 5ml treats 10 gallons of water, while the same amount of Betta Bowl Plus only treats a ½ gallon. Since the aquarium is only five gallons in total, using the Betta Bowl Plus will be much easier to treat the proper amount of water. I am not sure how I would measure the amount of traditional Water Conditioner needed to treat a ½ gallon of water. I will need to buy the Betta version more often than the traditional Water Conditioner; it is much easier for me to use and I am not worried about adding too much chemical to the water.
There is still no algae! Now that the water has been topped off, it looks as good as the day I first set it up. I have been keeping the light on for eight hours max each day. I decided to get a little fancy or techy with the light. I bought one of the plugs that can be used with an app to turn it on and off as well as Alexa or Google devices. I was reading the article about "Fish Sleeping Habits" and it suggested keeping a light on a timer. I know there are several less expensive timers out there, but I got a new Google speaker for the holidays and found a deal on a two pack smart plug so I figured I would use one for the aquarium. The other nice thing about using the timer is I know to start winding down the workday once the light turns off. I wrap up the projects I'm working on (or at least get to a good stopping point), check my To Do list and make sure I completed all pressing projects for the day, then make sure all important emails have been answered before calling it a day.
Week 4: First Water Change
has been a full month, well four weeks, since Mr. Fin moved in. Aside from the water level dropping, I thought the aquarium looked pretty clean. I have been doing my best to monitor the feedings so there isn’t extra food floating around, but he doesn’t seem to make much mess. I was surprised to see the filter cartridge when I opened the top to do the water change. There was more brown “dirt” looking stuff in the filter cartridge than I imagined would be. I guess if I really think about it, I do vacuum and clean the house weekly rather than once a month.
When doing the water change, I didn’t realize how quick and easy it would be with the SmartClean™ technology features. I think I had it done in under 5 minutes for sure. I found a jar, which is now solely used for water changes, so I did have to fill it up a few times to reach the recommended 25% total tank volume. Considering how easy this was, I’m going to change to a weekly water change style. I have done some research and there seems to be a lot of different recommendations out there for frequency and volume of water to change at a time. The “Setup Guide” that came with the aquarium says to change 25% of the aquarium volume once a month, which is what I followed this far. In some readings, I have seen suggestions that smaller, more frequent water changes are better. Since the SmartClean™ feature is so easy to use, I am going to start doing smaller, more frequent water changes. Sounds like something fun to do on a Friday afternoon, right?
Not to be a broken record, but the SmartClean™ feature is very convenient. I watched the video on Aqueon’s website and read through the Owner’s Manual before doing this first water change. Being a more visual person, it was nice to see the video along with the illustrations in the manual. I did find that I had to hold the filter down in order to pull up the nozzle elbow. It wasn’t hard to pull it up; it just needed a little opposing force to keep the filter in place since it just rests on the top frame. The water flow stopped once fully extended upward and it smoothly swiveled over the side. The whole thing took minutes; I think the longest part was walking to the bathroom to dump the dirty water and bring back clean water. I added the Betta Bowl Plus water conditioner to the water in the jar before I poured it in the aquarium. I wanted to be sure it was mixed in the water well, so I put the lid on the jar and gently shook it to make sure it was mixed thoroughly. It might just be me, but it made me feel better that it was able to react with the water making it safe before adding.
Is it wrong I am looking forward to my next water change? Why can’t cleaning my house be this easy? 😊