Some background info: I decided I needed to get more in touch with my watery nature, and I thought a beautiful Betta would be a good place to start. I have two cats and a bird already, so I thought a "lower maintenance" fish would be best. I don't have a lot of money to invest right now, so I bought him a one gallon bowl (as I've read this is the acceptable minimum amount of water). I put one soft plastic plant with large flats leaves for him to rest on (I made sure there were no sharp edges for him to hurt himself). He also has gravel on the bottom- but I'm feeling unsure about this the more I read about gravel being a breeding grounds for bacteria. The room temperature of my water stays at about 75 degrees, I can bring it up to about 80-82 with a desk lamp near the bowl (I do not shine it directly in.) Right not he is living on a book shelf where his new Kitty friends can't stare at him or "pet" him. This book shelf has clear glass doors on it, but when closed there is a one inch gap between the doors. His shelf is about two feet below the shelf above it, allowing what I believe to be plenty of air to circulate. When I have the lamp on during the day, I do not close the glass doors, as I don't want to cook him. I have read posts from several people who say they light/heat their fish during the day and their temp. drops a few degrees at night when the light goes off and the fish are happy and healthy. Apparently the biggest culprits are drafts and breezes... I was thinking the glass doors on my book shelf would be effective at keeping some heat in at night and protecting him from the breeze of my fan. (I am interested on anyone else's take on my set-up, as it pertains to this.)
For treatments I have two types of water conditioner (because I was waiting for one to arrive in the mail, and I bit the bullet and went out and got my Betta). They are Tetra Bettasafe and Top Fin Betta Water Conditioner. (Does anyone have a preference or experience with either or?) The third similar product I bought is Ocean Nutrition Atisons Betta SPA, which has the Wild Almond Leaf extract from their natural habitat and is supposed to help with the Ph and Amonia levels. I am still waiting for this to arrive in the mail, but I'm wondering if it can be used in place of one of the other two? I like the idea of it being natural. I am already offended by the smell of these water conditioners and hate putting them in the water (which I have also let sit over night).
This brings me to my next point- My fish. I bought him and Petsmart. I read all about how to pick a healthy fish, etc. and of course I bought the sad little one I thought no one else would buy. I couldn't help it. He doesn't have signs of serious illness, just some fin rot which I am treating with BettaFix medication. (Is this effective? Is there something better?) He seemed obviously depressed in his little betta cup at the store, but he was curious about me and responsive to my taking an interest in him. So I brought the little guy home (He is the standard tail variety). He's been in his new home (as described above) since yesterday after noon. I do not have a Ph test kit yet, but plan to pick one up as soon as I can. I changed 50% of his water, while leaving him in the bowl, and added new water that sat over night and was conditioned. I used the BettaSafe conditioner this time as it takes less drops per gallon (which seems safer), but I used the Top Fin yesterday. Is it a bad idea to not use the same one consistently? Which is better?! (Help!) He's also not eating his food- nor had he eaten his little pellets from his betta cup when I bought him. For his food I have Freeze-Dried Bloodworms and BettaMin flakes. I just keep removing all his food because he had no interest in it what-so-ever. He'll let it float right by his head without even sniffing at it. At one point he did make a mad dash to the top of the bowl- and may or may not have eaten one flake. He could have just been going after an air bubble. Either way, I saw it a good sign that he has some energy and the ability to strike food- he's just not doing it. I've go to get him to eat, but because he is brand new, I'm not sure if its the food I'm offering him or the fact that he is a little sick that is preventing him from eating. For the most part he hangs around at the top of the bowl near the side, but he's not totally inactive nor swimming or floating weird. Just looks bored mostly. When I approach him and interact with him he comes around and acknowledges me and stares at me- but still wont take the food...
So basically- I know I didn't buy the healthiest Betta in the world- but I would like to get him healthy and give him a chance at a good fishy life. Secondly- I know the one gallon bowl is not the best place for him to live permanently, and I am not opposed to upgrading his set up. However, I am new to this and still need to master and understand Ph, etc. Also I have read about "Hospital Bowls" where you keep the temp warm and treat for illness. Does this mean the bowl IS a BETTER place for him for the time being until he is well again? Should I remove the gravel and plant to keep it cleaner? I also read that some people prefer to keep sick and healthy Bettas at lower temperature around 74-76 degrees to prevent bacteria from spreading. If I know he has Fin Rot, should I be warming him up with the lamp to 80 degrees or should I keep him at the room temp. of 75 degrees? I have not found a clear answer on this, but he appears to enjoy being warmer. I am wondering if there is anything I could be doing better for him, or if its just my fault for buying a sad little betta? I made him a lid for his bowl with lace and an embroidery hoop, although I don't think the little guy will be jumping out anytime soon. I also think he may just need time to adjust... I'm just worried about my little fishy. I know this is a lot of information, but this seems like a great forum and I am very new to the Betta game. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!