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dogmelissa July 21st, 2006 04:16 PM

Terrarium + Betta?
Ok, I know the Betta topic has been covered in quite a lot of depth here, but I read through most of the posts related to them and I can't find what I want. I also did a fairly extensive internet search and can't find what I want. So here I am, back to my trusty pet lovers at!!

I have a 10 gallon fish tank (was used as a dwarf hamster cage until the hammies died). I have been bitten by the gardening bug, and recently ran into the concept of terrariums in fish tanks (see [URL=""]Sample Ambhibian Terrariums[/URL] or [URL=""]Kid's Terrarium[/URL]). I don't have space in my house for anything as big as the first link and the second one rules out the possibility of having a fish in the tank. So, what I want to try to do (key word; try), is to somehow make a water-proof barrier across part of the tank, so that I can set up a terrarium on one side and put the Betta on the other. Failing a permanent barrier, I'd like to have a terrarium in a smaller jar or container that's in the tank, but not in the fish-water. (I can picture this in my head, I just don't know if the description is coming across). Something like an island or one in each corner of the tank or something.
Ok... have images in your mind of what I'm trying to accomplish? No? Ok, here's a link to something that's getting close, but obviously this water isn't self-contained: [URL=""]Terrarium with water[/URL] In my mind it's just a simple acrylic divider (maybe in an arch or interesting shape) that's siliconed to the bottom and sides of the tank to the height I want. The stuff on one side for the plants won't leak over to the fish side, and the water in the fish side won't leak to the plant side.

Beyond the construction of the fish-tank partition, what I really need to know is how do I set up a Betta in a 10 gallon (or 5 once I have it divided) so that I don't have to turn the tank upside down and completely empty it to clean it? Can I set up a filtration system to keep the water clean? I know that bubbles in the water are bad for Bettas, so I'm not sure how to go about doing this. Obviously I will be changing the water, but I'm also not sure how to do that when I will have things in the tank that can't be moved. My thoughts are that the Betta would be probably in about 2 gallons of water (maybe a little less once it's all done) and would be the only fish in there.
Links, photos, etc would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

phoenix July 21st, 2006 04:44 PM

Cool idea!
However, in 2g, the water would have to be changed pretty regularly... and you'll have to heat it too, and that amount of water is hard to regulate.

Could you do a sandy beach type idea, sloping to one side, (like a frog tank) [url][/url]... and have aquatic plants and terrestrial plants? You could run a filter through that. I have my betta in a 10g, and the waterflow from my aquaclear filter doesn't seem to bother him.

dogmelissa July 21st, 2006 05:02 PM

I'm not sure what the total amount of water would be once it's done. It would depend on how I set up the divider and the depth that I fill it to.

The link that you posted basically has what I wanted, except I was thinking of a higher divider than the 4" posted there. I was thinking I could use acrylic, because it's more flexible and easier to work with (ie if it's cut a little too big, I can just trim it down, or bend it to fit).

I'm not sure I understand how a sloping tank would work, in terms of keeping a Betta in there. By the time the slope got to the other side of the tank (in order to keep the slant such that it didn't all slide to the bottom of the tank), there wouldn't be any space above water left for the plants. I like the idea of having water plants in there, and will likely find some bottom-growing water plants to put on the Betta side of the tank regardless of whether I fully divide or slope the tank.

Oh sure, they had to go and mention a tank that had a waterfall.. now I can picture me trying to build a filter-system that runs the water down a mini-stream where the plants are and then back into the fish part of the tank. My imagination isn't good for my wallet. I think I'll need a much bigger tank to achieve what I want, and I don't have space in my house for anything bigger. Grrr.

My bf had a Betta previously, in a very small (1 gallon maybe?) vase-type container. He changed the water once a month, completely. Fish seemed happy and lived over 2 years, which I know isn't super-long, but I understand that's about average. I don't mind changing the water, I just need to know how I'd do it in a tank that I can't manipulate. Do I just suck/siphon out some of the water and put clean water in? Or would I have to put the fish in something else and then siphon out all the water and change it? What's the point of filters if you still have to change the water completely?

Thanks for the link and your help so far.

Edited to add; I found this link for a build-it-yourself viquarium (really what I'm looking for). I figure with a few modifications, this concept will work for me! [URL=""][/URL]

Puppyluv July 21st, 2006 05:33 PM

What about doing the opposite of your second idea? Instead of putting an "island" in it, put a "lake" in it (with the beta) and then have the terrarium part surrounding it. That way, you could just pick up the lake and clean it, without disturbing the surroundings. You would need something like a double lining, so that when you pull out the lake, there is still something there to hold the soil etc in place, but that wouldn't be too hard to find.

dogmelissa July 21st, 2006 05:57 PM

That's a thought, too.... not sure if I could find something for the "lake" that would be big enough for the fish but yet not so big as to fill the tank... and I like the idea of being able to see the fish from the outside, though I suppose if I found something rectangular I could put one edge of it on the edge of the tank (or in the corner) and then I'd still be able to see the fish.

Not sure... talked to bf and he's told me this needs to be a winter project as we have too many house projects going that require good weather, so I'm trying to come up with ideas but not get too excited about it. Tough.


phoenix July 22nd, 2006 10:00 AM

about changing the water... yeah, you'd use a siphon; take out 1/2 the water at a time and replace with conditioned water (ie. water with the chlorine removed)... the fish could stay; moving it would cause a lot of stress.

About your bf's fish... yeah, he survived, but that is no way for a fish to live IMO.

Anyway, your project sounds cool, can't wait to see how it turns out.

dogmelissa July 22nd, 2006 01:38 PM

While I agree with you that it wasn't ideal for the fishie, he didn't seem too unhappy, and mf bf was quite upset about losing him. But sometimes you just do with what you're given and the fish, bowl and plant were all gifted to him as a housewarming present, and he wasn't really in a place big enough to allow for a bigger tank; not even 5gallons would have fit in his place without being a huge hassle.
So, live & learn and move on to make the next fishie happier.

I'll post photos when it gets done, but it likely won't be until winter; we have a lot of house projects on the go.


Sneaky July 22nd, 2006 07:02 PM

Hello Melissa,
Have you considered a different type of tank, called a Paludarium?
This is a tank where the top 50% of it is open, and only the lower
50% has water.
Often, mangrove plants or tall emersed aquatic plants are grow to grow up
and above the water.
You can silicone ledges of glass inside the aquarium sides to create platforms
for semi-aquatic critters like newts or frogs or mudskippers, etc.
Just one idea for you, but maybe more difficult in a small tank like 10g.

Another option, to create your divider for soil one side and water the other,
take the measurements and go to the glass cutters and get a small peice of
glass to fit inside the tank, say 6-8 inches tall, that you would then
silicone into the tank at the bottom and sides to create a water tight barrier.
Place this about 50% across the the tank, or so, and in one side put your land and the other your water.
Id recommend a soil type substrate for the land side, so in case your betta jumped out, he would be too abraded by sand, and I would slope it, so he could flop back into the water if he did jump out.
You could plant your moisture, humidity loving plants in that side.
Get a small air stone driven sponge filter for the betta side, and youre
good to go. Just remember you will have to keep the room fairly
stable and warm year round, as bettas prefer temps of at least 74-76 degrees.
Personally, I think this would work best in a 20g setup at least,
but it could be done with careful planning in a 10g.
You could also get a small fully submersible heater for the water side as well.

dogmelissa July 23rd, 2006 10:59 AM

I don't think the Paludarium idea would work in this situation. I don't want to have any other animals living in there (bf would freak, I already have a zoo of furry creatures) and if the upper level fully covered the lower, I'd have no ability to change the water in the fish tank part. Neat idea, though.

I'm just not sure I want to use a piece of glass in the centre, but I think the concept of putting a barrier in the centre is a good one. I'm not sure yet how I'm going to pull it off, but I'd like to have a hole in my barrier through which I can run a pump hose (off the filter if I can), and have it basically pour water out on the plant-side to run down a little stream and then back into the fish tank. I think I might end up having the barrier go about 2/3 the height of the tank (haven't measured it yet) but I'm not sure if I'd put the plants up that high.

What would I need for a top on this whole thing? I have a wire-mesh cover now. Would I need to get something a little more solid (or alter the one I have to be solid)?


Sneaky July 23rd, 2006 07:50 PM

This is what I mean by a paludarium:



dogmelissa July 25th, 2006 07:34 PM

Ok, I can see where you're going with that idea, but I'm not planning on having that many (if any) water plants in the terrarium. I was just hoping to have a section for plants that like lots of humidity and then the fish-side. But I'll keep the idea in mind when it comes time to build it.


opacwhite June 3rd, 2010 02:57 AM

1 Attachment(s)
just saw this and i know its old no idea if you made your thing or not but i had the same idea a few months ago and made my corner tank into just what your thinking of i think here is a pic of it i like the way it turned out and am thinking of putting some type of small fish maybe a betta in it

MyBirdIsEvil June 3rd, 2010 03:16 AM

[QUOTE=opacwhite;924136]just saw this and i know its old no idea if you made your thing or not but i had the same idea a few months ago and made my corner tank into just what your thinking of i think here is a pic of it i like the way it turned out and am thinking of putting some type of small fish maybe a betta in it[/QUOTE]

That looks really good!

I can't tell from the picture how much water volume you have though. Looks like it might be pretty small even for a betta. If it's a few gallons of water it would be ok though.

Of course you appear to have a water fall, so you now have natural biological filtration by the water running over the rocks. But you will still have to keep in mind it will take about a month to fully cycle after fish are added (or better yet do a fishless cycle) so you'd have to watch your water perimeters and do water changes until it cycles fully.
The plant growing in your rocks (I'm assuming it's also real) would also help filter any nitrates out of your water. Any plant whose roots have contact with the water in fact will gain nutrients from the water.

Do be careful, of course, about the mulch or any fertilizers you use getting chemicals into the water though.

opacwhite June 4th, 2010 03:02 AM

yeah its about 4 or so gallons of water I'm still not sure if i want anything in it or not yet so if i do cycle it i will do a fish-less one and yeah the mulch stuff was kinda for look so it wasn't just soil lol and i made sure nothing got into the water not sure if the plants would like that stuff in there

MyBirdIsEvil June 4th, 2010 03:29 AM

It's too bad it's so small. That would be an awesome setup with a four eyed fish. You could put some insects in and they would catch them.

Not sure if you've seen them before but they're really neat.


That size would be fine for a betta though, and better filtration than most of them end up with too.

dogmelissa June 14th, 2010 12:52 PM

That is AWESOME!!! How did you do it?

On a related note, how much water is needed for a Betta?


MyBirdIsEvil July 18th, 2010 04:32 PM

I wouldn't go under a gallon for a betta. Mainly because anything under that will build up waste too quickly, so unless you want to do water changes constantly. I don't believe in making them tolerate foul water just because they can breathe air.

And I would make sure there's more surface area than depth. It's more important that they have room to swim side to side rather than up and down.

14+kitties September 7th, 2010 04:21 PM

This thread is more than 4 years old. How about you start a new one to share your knowledge? I bet more people would read it. :thumbs up

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