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10 Cheap/DIY Modifications For Your 5 Gallon MarineLand Tank To Setup For A Betta Fish

What this all-in-one aquarium is missing for betta fish keepers

The MarineLand Portrait and Contour nano tanks are near-perfect starter kits for aquarium hobbyists, whether it is due to the components already included at a competitive price or the sleek, yet affordable rimless aesthetic.

However, here are 10 things to take this fish tank to the next level!


1. Install command strip on the lid for easy convenience

Taking the lid on and off can be cumbersome due to its minimalist design. While adding an adhesive handles like these is a possible option, command strips offer both a more affordable and discrete option.

Tip: Get the clear command strips. You can either use just the adhesive strip or both the strip with the hook and taking the lid on and off for feeding, cleaning or maintenance will become a breeze.


2. Add a pre-filter sponge to diffuse the water output

Betta fish prefer little-to-no flow in their tanks and a pre-filter sponge is the perfect solution to accomplish just that. Pre-filter sponges allow adequate diffusion of the output without sacrificing flow rate, which would be detrimental to the tank's filtration.

Tip: You can get these dirt cheap for packs of 8+ online and they have multiple uses in the aquarium hobby. These are the ones I use.


3. Cut holes in the powerhead tube

While the back compartment of the 5 gallon tank provides a clean look to the overall aquarium, it is notoriously known for stagnating flow back there. You ideally want to keep water flowing in both compartments to avoid any unwelcome build up or water parameter spikes. This is also essential for circulating the water around your heater!

Tip: Using a drill is cumbersome in creating holes in the plastic tubing, instead:

  1. Use a blade or scissors

  2. Pinch the tubing

  3. Cut out little diamond slits in a "V" fashion to create adequate holes


4. Add filter floss to the intake hole

Filter floss will provide extra polishing to your tank through added mechanical filtration. Wrap the filter floss around the included black filter sponge for best results.

Tip: Using polyester quilt batting will allow you to essentially buy filter floss in bulk and for cheap!


5. Ditch the activated carbon cartridge

This one is moreso personal preference. But not only are these proprietary carbon cartridges expensive to constantly replace, but my plants did poorly in this tank whenever I had chemical filtration. If you decide to add real plants to your tank, consider tossing these cartridges!

Tip: The, now empty, compartment in this 3-stage filtration will provide the perfect space for you to add your biological media on the following step.


6. Put in some form of biological media

Interestingly, MarineLand claims sufficient biological filtration through the provided filter sponge. Do your betta fish a favor by buying biological filter media (bioballs, ceramic rings, lava rock). My favorites are Fluval biomax filter media and MarineLand's ceramic filter rings also work.

Tip: Too cheap to buy filtration bags? No problem! Buy pantyhose at the dollar store and cut out numerous mini bags from it.


7. Stock the tank with low-light plants or floating, medium-light plants

Let's face it, while the included lighting in this kit is adequate, it is more suited for low to medium light plants. Medium-light plants will more likely thrive only if they are floating, given the depth of this tank. Anubias and floating water sprite worked great for me personally. Frogbit had trouble propagating.

Tip: Given the depth of this tank, it is essential that you have something floating that the betta can happily rest in. If floating plants aren't to your liking, try the floating betta log or suction betta leaf hammock.


8. Adjust the powerhead to the lowest setting

In conjunction with steps 2 and 3, this step can further decrease the flow for the tank, thus making a happy betta.

Tip: If you personally do not want to sacrifice flow and filtration rate, steps 2 and 3 can be good enough for flow dispersion, which is why I put this later on the list. Feel free to play with the powerhead settings to see what suits you.


9. Add a 25W-50W heater that fits in the back compartment

Bettas are happy at warmer temperatures. I keep my tank anywhere between 78-80ºF using this heater and it has worked great. I use this 50W heater to avoid any overclocking. Since it is an adjustable preset heater, I can conveniently set it and forget it.

Tip: Your heater's usefulness will largely be dependent on how well you do step 3. Otherwise, the heat won't be adequately circulated throughout the tank.


10. Add a timer for the included LED light!

Most tanks only need 6-10 hours of light per day (some even less!), depending on how planted the tank is. Given the overall low power of this light, I have been able to get away with 8-10 hours per day. Anything 12+ is just asking for algae problems. I really like timers like this one because of the flexibility of when you can turn the light on.

Tip: Allocate a majority of "on" hours when you're back home from work so that you can enjoy your tanks more! Don't worry, the betta's circadian rhythm will remain normalized if your room gets sunlight.

Hope this helped!


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Hi! If you're looking for a place of informational integrity, you're at the right place! My name is Harry, I'm a Pharmacist with a love for fish keeping and the aquarium hobby. I'm not the most experienced fishtuber/fish keeper out there, but if there is one thing pharmacy school taught me, it's how to learn, diligently and efficiently. My mission is to address the misinformation and lack of accessibility of accurate information in the fish keeping hobby through tips, tricks, reviews and research-based best practices.

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-Harry, PharmD

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