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!
I wish the editor of the fish website here on BellaOnline or someone else with knowledge of bettas would have commented here. I don't know much about these fish but it seems like you are doing quite a bit for yours, maybe even a little too much? I hope you were able to get your concerns addressed by someone at a reputable pet store.
How is your fish doing?
That is a great place to start - Betta fish are wonderful!
A lot of people think that fish are low maintenance, but as it seems you are seeing - they need a lot of care and attention and love like other pets. They are part of the family.
Right, the one gallon bowl could be a good place to start temporarily - it will be higher maintenance than an aquarium because the water will need to be changed more often since there is no filtration system whatsoever and the water becomes toxic quickly. the plant's great the gravel's great - the temperature's fine. Yes, depends on the cats - since they could be different ages and personalities - I have a cat (Sandy) who was a kitten when I got a baby betta fish and he loved that fish (Hemingway). They'd look at each other and Sandy would fall asleep next to Hemingway's fish tank. But, then again, it had a plastic lid that snapped shut and the two got used to each other from a young age. You can't just leave the cats and fish alone in a room all day and wait and see what happens. You'd have to supervise them to make sure the fish is o.k.
Yes, lamps heat the water. Yes, Betta fish are not only water breathers, but also air breathers due to their special labyrinthe breathing apparatus on top of their head. Yes, that's correct about drafts and breezes - so that may be a good place for them as long as they are getting enough air.
I've used both water conditioners and they are both good - but, yes, try to stick to one or the other if possible for consistency. Did you check pH and ammonia levels? You only need to use something extra for pH and ammonia if you have tested the water and are having that specific problem. You don't want to overdue it with other stuff in the water unless you need it, right? You are right, though - water is the main thing for your Betta fish.
Let me take a breath and I'll post more answers.
Yes, I'm with you - I like to save the sick betta fish, too. There are a lot of them unfortunately for the dear little betta fish.
Fin rot can be a sign of serious illness because it could have already spread to the fish's internal organs, but you can't see it. Not always of course. Yes, Betta fix is a standard treatment. It could work. I hope so. You have to be careful not to overmedicate, though. Sometimes, a good old-fashioned salt bath is better than medications. But, for now, since you have already added the pH and ammonia treatment and the Bettafix and your fish was already sick and some other reasons in your fish's situation, maybe you should hold off on the salt bath temporarily. He's got to eat first. This is a very serious sign if he is not eating. You can try feeding him a pea. You cook the pea, let it cool, peel it, and feed him tiny, tiny pieces.
Freeze-dried bloodworms can be constipating and the pea can help ease this. Freeze-dried bloodworms are a snack - not a meal for Betta fish. Bettas need variety in their diet to stay healthy.
Betta Bites are good for your Betta fish, too. You can also feed him frozen brine shrimp. Very tasty to Betta fishes.
A mad dash to the top of the bowl could be for various reasons - he could be going to eat a flake or he could be having a hard time getting back to the suface of the water to get some air.
Also, they don't so much get depressed as it is that they are just not feeling well physically. Although, if you get another Betta fish (a healthy one hopefully) and place him in his own separate fish tank next to your first fish's home, then the 2 betta fish will encourage each other to keep swimming around and around their own individual living spaces safely separated by the walls of their own habitat. This keeps them from ever seeming depressed or bored. If they do look like they might be, then they are pretty much definitely sick and need medical attention because with another betta fish to keep him company in the aquarium next door - betta fish are always happy and take an interest in each other and everything and everyone around them. Physical health is the key to happiness for them - but they don't like to just sit in a room alone all the time. A betta friend is a good solution to seeming boredom and depression. Of course, they do have to be in separate fish tanks because you know another name for Betta fish is Siamese Fighting Fish. Of course, we never let them fight - that would be cruel. We do our best to keep them safe and happy. They are part of our family.
Hi, Yes, Dashing to the top of the water could be for different reasons, but one reason could be that he is having trouble swimming and balancing and getting to the top of the water - possible because his swim bladder has been effected by a progression of the fin rot. Clean water is usually the best solution, but 24 hours is not long enough for the chlorine to get out of tap water - it takes 3 full days and nights - so you have to plan ahead accordingly. You can't shock him with a change in water temperature, either. You could make a separate hospital tank for him and in the separate hospital tank you would not have gravel or a plant or anything and yes, it would be warmer - from what you have written, he was pretty sick when you got him, you didn't have the water ready correctly when you got him home, and he is pretty sick, so in spite of possibly already having overmedicated him - he could actually be in need of a hospital tank at this point. Part of the logic behind warming the water in the hospital tank is that it allows some medications to work more effectively in the fish's system. Normally, in his regular aquarium, gravel is fine - of course, you have to regularly clean the gravel and the plant(s) and everything and anything in his living area that you create for him. Clean water is a big, big deal here for your fish's good health. Nothing's your fault. The lace cover won't be enough - betta fish are natural jumpers from their ancestors who jumped from water puddle to water puddle as the water dried up and they tried to find more water and survive in rice paddies in Thailand. Of course, the modern day pet Betta has been bred to be what you see today, but they are still jumpers and without an appropriate lid - some betta parents have reported finding their dear little betta fish dead on the counter after jumping out of their bowl with no cover on it while the person was at work all day. This is very sad and so you have to have a good lid with air vents of course and plenty of space between the surface of the water and the vented cover. Check out the fish department of your local pet store or aquarium store to see various possibilities as one more measure to keep your little jumper safe.
Thank you both for responding! Unfortunately, it is too late for my first Betta. He only lived 4 days :( I went back and got my "refund" (which seems so horrible) on a new male veil tale, as well as a feisty little female. I was trying to decided between the two actually, but when I saw him flare at her- I just had to get both! They are very active and now living side by side in the same set up I mentioned before.(Which I sterilized thoroughly in the dishwasher!) It seems he can only really see her when their containers are pushed all the way together due to the distortion from the curve of his bowl, so they are not constantly stimulated by one another. She is in a slightly narrower cylindrical glass container, which also holds about a gallon of water. They both seem very happy. My male builds bubble nests after every 100@ water change, as if to say, "Thank you, I am very happy here." Also I think this is because when I change their bowls, they get to see each other before being separated again. He gets excited :)
You are very right about the smaller bowls being MORE upkeep! I am already in the process of upgrading them both to their own 5 gallon tanks! I have some more questions concerning this new set-up, I will be using the Tetra 5 gal Starter Aquarium:
1. What is the best way to baffle a filter?
I know Bettas need still water, so I want to run my filter as gently as possible. However, I don't want to shut down the filtration by cutting off too much flow. Any suggestions?
2. The only downside I have read- other than excess water flow- about larger tanks for bettas, is that some REFUSE them and end up back in their smaller bowls! It seems this may be due to tankmates in many cases, and also a lack on plant coverage in the tank. I plan on heavily planting my new aquriums with live plants inclduing- Narrow Leaf Anacharis, Banana Plant, Cyperus helferi (grass-like plant), Common Hornwort, Moneywort, and Java Fern. I plan on a light colored sandy substrate- so I can easily see debris. (I have had it up to here with pebbles and glass rocks!)I haven't read anywhere about plants poisonous to Bettas and I think these should be ok- but I'd love input. Is it possible to OVER plant your tank? Obviously I plan to leave plenty of swimming room- but I figure with soft live plants they can swim right through them. My female especially likes to do this...
3. I am interested in getting a crayfish to skim the bottom of both tanks. This seems to be a better option then some of the bottom feeders from the catfish family, who grow very large and often bring snail problems. Is the growth/snails common among crayfish too? Someone I feel my Bettas will be more comfortable with a shellfish, because they will be the only swimmers... Thought?
4. This brings me to tankmates in general. I know 5 gallons is not a lot, although it may be for a betta. I don't want to introduce a lot of other fish into the mix because of ammonia levels and also so my Bettas can maintain their status as King and Queen :) However, I want to save all the Bettas in the world from their sick little cups. What I would really like to do is have a couple more female bettas if possible. I have read they get along swimmingly ;) with each other in most cases. I love the personalities of the females, and I think mine might take well to companions. She is very curious and playful- full of energy. I have read it is best to introduce all bettas that will be living together at once, so they can establish hierarchy and territory, etc. If this is the case, should I purchase my female bettas and have them quarentined and treated and ready to go, by the time I have my new female tank ready? OR should I introduce my Sissy first, see how she takes to it?? I don't know if it would be good to give her new friends, once she thinks the whole tank is her own...? Does anyone here have experience with female bettas together? I think a heavily planted tank will help a lot with them being comfortable and coexisting.
ALSO- what is the maximum # of fish you would put in a five gallon tank (keep in mind lots of nice ammonia-reducing live plants) ??? The females for instance 2, 3? What's a good number for a school of females? + crayfish... in 5 g??
5. Heating: I plan to buy a 2-10g heater for both tanks and keep it around 77 degrees. Right now my fish live at about 74/75 degrees and seem ok with that. However, I would like to warm them up a bit, esp in a bigger environment. Also, the plants I have chosen all seem to do good at around 25 deg. celcius, which is 77 degree f.So what do you think, Warmer, cooler? Any thoughts?
Thank you so much!
The more I read, I have found I need at least 10 gallons for a female group and there should be 4-5 females in the group so none get singled out.
You can baffle (reduce filter current) by buying a new pair of pantyhose, cutting out the toe, and wrapping the pantyhose around the filter intake and securing it with rubber bands. Also, since you were saying that you have a lot of foliage, this is also good since the betta fish can hide there away from the water flow!
These little nano filters work well for bettas....as long as the tank is at least 3gallons.
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You can also get them at Petco, PetSmart, your local petstores and aquarium stores, Target, Wal-Mart, Amazon.com, and you can see some ads for them in some of my fish care articles that are here on Bellaonline.com
What's the latest news on your fishies?
Hi, Lauren, Do you have fish, and what kind?.
Lauren, Hi, I just saw your message about your new Betta Fish. It just popped up. That's wonderful. I am so happy for you. Now begins a wonderful journey for you,
What was your "wow" message in reference to?
Sorry, this ipad is doing weird things. It's changing the order of the messages. O.k., I've got it figured out now. So, Lauren, how are you doing, and what's the latest news of your fishies, cats, and bird?
Yes, the Veiltails are considered more fragile and require more care to keep them healthy.
You are quite adventurous to try caring for a female Betta Fish. As you can see from the fact that there are many male bettas and few female bettas in petstores that most people get just male bettas to care for. Good for you!
That's great that you sterilized your set-up for your Betta Fish. You just have to be sure it is all completely rinsed off in clear water so there is no soap residue or anything else on the set-up so that any substances don't get into your fishes' water and effect your fish negatvely.
Yes, that is always a good sign that he is making a bubblenest. Yes, if there's a female next to him in another bowl, that would be more motivation for him to make a bubblenest. He's a happy camper.
I was wondering what was the end result of your Betta bowl set-up not having the snap-on lid to keep the kitties out should they try to "pet"your fish as you said. So, now, with a male and female betta fish next to each other in separate bowls and the male getting all excited and building bubble nests, as you say, it would be good to have vented lids on each Betta habitat. Bettas are jumpers and the male, for example, could feel determined enough to attempt to jump into her bowl. This could be disastrous because he could
accidentally jump onto the bookshelf and die being outof the water or he could make it into her bowl and kill her since mating Siamese Fighting Fish can be tricky.
Did you upgrade both Betta fish to their own 5 gallon tanks?
In answer to your question about wondering if Betta fish might refused being upgraded into a larger tank; it is better to gradually introduce them into a larger tank. I discuss this in my book that is for sale here at the Fish Site at Bellaonline.com where you order the
First, you can upgrade your Betta Fish from your 1 gallon tank to a new 2 gallon tank. After your fish gets used to that, you can upgrade him to a 3 gallon tank and so on. Sometimes, like you said, Betta Fish are not as "low maintenance" as people say, but, they are so worth it!
Well, as far as over-planting, Bettas have those beautiful, long, flowing fins, so they need room to swim... also, they need access to the surface of the water in order to breathe air through their labyrinthe organ on top of their head, so if there were so many plant leaves covering the surface of the water, that wouldn't be good for a Betta.
BettaSafe is a good water conditioner, and you don't have to always use the same kind. If it's working fine, and your fish is fine, then keep using the same water conditioner, and all things being equal, your fish will get better. On the other hand, if your fish is getting worse, just change one thing at a time to help your fish maintain his current state of health. This way, you can start to eliminate possible reasons your fish is sick or figure out which thing it is that is causing him to be sick.