Basement Bettas

Raising Show Quality Bettas

Water In, Water Out

Valves controlling flow to betta barracksI realized I had not finished the series on my barracks. We left off getting them online with the sump. I put the first barracks on the top 2 racks and did my plumbing, guessing on the placement of the bottom two. When the time came to add these in, I had to cut and redo the PVC. I also had issues with water leaking out of the fittings I set up for the lower barracks. So, in the future, I will build these from the bottom rack up.

My output is a ½” hole drilled in line with that back gutter. It is located relatively close to the bottom.. the bottom edge of the fitting about ¾” off the bottom. The bit I used to cut the hole did not make the opening big enough for the fitting to slide through, so I took my Dremmel with a sanding bit, and sanded a bit off to allow the fitting to slide through. I then took aquarium sealant and put it on the inside around the hole. This is done before adding that back piece of the barracks to make it easier to work in this area. I also added sealant to the opening itself and around the outside opening. Then, insert the fitting and twist slightly to spread the sealer. I then sealed even more around both the inside and outside.. completely covering the edge of the fitting. Set the barracks aside and allow them to set up and cure.

The water into the barracks is accomplished with a piece of PVC drilled with a hole over the center of each cell. I used the Dremmel with a small drill bit to drill holes along the length of the PVC. The end is capped and the other end has a fitting that is attached to the PVC and has a hose nipple as well. Water is pumped from the sump to the valves that control water flow up to the barracks. These hoses attach to the PVC that lies on the top of the barracks. Water is pushed up to the PVC and it flows across the pipe and through the holes that were drilled. The flow rate is controlled by the valve. Having the valve is nice as we can shut water off to a barrack and remove it for cleaning or maintenance. We can also use a gentler flow for younger betas till they get bigger.

I had originally wanted to use tubing attached to the output and just bend it down to the filter in the sump. The larger ¾” tubing is not easy to bend. So, I came up with using a short piece of tubing to join two nipples… one from the output and the other attached to a PVC drain. I used 1” PCV for the drain because it was the biggest I could cut with my cutters. It seems to handle the water flow ok. But, if you have the means to cut the larger sizes you might go with 1 ½”.

Each barrack is lined up over the one below so the drain can run straight down. I have a length of pipe leading up for overflow protection and for air. You do not want to cap this as the air is needed to drain properly. The water over flows the back of the barracks, runs down the gutter and out the output and into the drain. Water falls down the drain to an elbow that routes the water to the filter in the sump.

I had plans of water flowing in the sump through various mediums.. each filtering the water a bit more. I opted to get a basket from Lowe’s that you put pond plans in, and put a filter medial that houses bacteria to filter the water in it. On the top I  have a pad that reduced nitrates and over that a sock filled with peat moss. The water flows through the peat in the sock where the ph is lowered and heave metals and other things are filtered out. Then the pad removes nitrates and then trickling through the filter media will remove the ammonia, nitrates and nitrites. The water then is heated in the tank and pumped out again with a submersible pump.

Every three days I siphon the bottom of the cells and run a tooth-brush along the water line to remove deposits there. With three barracks online right now the system holds about 45 gallons of water. I probably remove about 20 gallons when I clean, so do about a 45% water change. So far the fish are thriving. The length of the cells [9” long by 6” high and 4” wide] allows for lots of swimming that I hope builds strong fins.

Overall I am pleased with the design and performance of my barracks. I am happy enough with them to do another four in time to hold about 96 bettas. My older barracks, with smaller cells, I have hooked to a 10 gallon sump. Water in that system flows sideways through each cell rather than out the back. I prefer the newer design but these will still accommodate my betas just fine. I will house my show fish in the 22 cells of this system and adjust the water in the sump to be similar to the water they will experience at the show they are headed for. I will also be able to run meds in that if needed should they be exposed to anything.

As much as I enjoy my fish, doing hours of water changes is not a way I like to spend my time. The barracks do require a bit more expense up front. The cost per cell is about $4.17.. a bit more than beanies.. and you still  have the sump and plumbing costs. But instead of taking an hour of every day to clean 48 beanies, I spend 15 minutes every third day. Beanies also need to be scrubbed out at least every other week as they get nasty.. even with care. And that takes even MORE time. The barracks have been running 3 months now and look like the day I installed them. They have given me a lot more time to do what I enjoy.. looking at my fish and hanging out with my son.


November 12, 2010 - Posted by | Betta Housing, Fish Room | , ,

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