My betta, Max, just came home Friday night (a gift from my fiance) and I set him up the next morning in the 1 gal tank kit (also part of the gift) after letting the water sit out all night. The kit came with a gravel filter and air pump, and I was waiting for him to acclimate before I introduced some live plants and a hideaway for him. He didn't eat the first 24 hours, but I wasn't worried because I knew he was still getting used to a new environment and he was spunky, zipping around his little tank.
It's been 72 hours now, though, and I still haven't seen him eat anything. Worse, he's becoming lethargic and sleeping at the bottom of the tank a lot. I turned the air pump off last night, in case the noise was stressing him, but he still won't eat.
He's getting due for a water change -- especially with all the food not getting eaten and sinking to the bottom -- but I'm worried that another shock might make things worse.
Any advice? There is a small pet supply store about ten miles away (Max himself came from Kingston, 50 miles away) and I am planning to go there today and see if maybe I can afford a bigger tank and more specific supplies. Any guidance on what I can do, feed him, or add to his tank would be greatly appreciated. I can't stand to see this little guy founder, but I have no experience with bettas (though I am avidly reading as much as I can find on the web).
Hi Raven and welcome to the Forum.
First I would say that a one gallon container is pretty small but it does sound like you tried to acclimate him and are taking steps to find out the proper way to care for him.
I see you have an Air pump..I might suggest that you trade that out for a Red Sea Nano or a Azoo Palm filter which has an adjustable flow as Bettas do not like much water current.
You will also need a heater and want to keep your water temperature at 75 to 80 f Degrees..Bettas are Tropical fish and prefer warm water.
Bettas will take a day or two to acclimate so I would not woory too much about him not taking food right away but I would get out all the uneaten food from his tank using either a piece of small tubing like a siphon or a Turkey baster.
When you do a water change make sure the water you use to refill is the same temperature as the water you removed and you use a dechlorinator.
Check out the "Sticky Notes" as there is much Information in there about Betta care from our most experienced members
Good luck with your new Betta and feel free to ask any other questions that you may have
I got two betta males at once, and one of those approx 1/2 gallon divided tanks (opaque slider on clear screen). One of the fish? Happy as a clam, pigging out, making a big bubble nest (the big, classic betta). The other (smaller, crowned)? Unhappy. No eating, minimal swimming. He would flare at the other if I lifted the opaque divider, but lethargically.
I called PetCo (where I got him). They first said he was "hardy," and that I shouldn't worry, because the clerk had one, and only fed him "one or two pellets, once a week". That didn't seem like enough for *any* animal to live on... survive, maybe. But live?
I gave it a few more days. Then it was 6 days, no eating, more lethargic (and who wouldn't be, without food). I called them again, and their first suggestion? Same thing, "he'll eat when he's hungry." I couldn't believe that a happy fish would go a week without eating, and told them so. Their response? "Well, how long have you had it? Oh, it's under 2 weeks, so bring him back, and you can get another one."
I didn't really want to take him back, because 1) he was (small but) beautiful, 2) he seemed otherwise healthy, & 3) I was *sure* I could figure out what was the problem. So I asked for another option.
"Well, maybe he'd eat bloodworms," the clerk finally told me, when pushed.
So I went right out to the store, and got some bloodworms (the smallest jar possible, as I didn't know if it would work or not). And... it worked! He swam slowly up under it, seemed to "scent" it, and then... HE ATE IT!!!! I didn't realize how stressed out I was that he wasn't eating. I put a few more in, and he ate about 4-5 total, leaving a few. I scooped them out, so as not to foul the water (and his little stomach was probably shrunk up, too).
Now, it's... well, I got them around April 10th, so it's been like 9 week now, and he is doing fine. In fact, if you come to the tank, he hovers under the little opening in the prow, waiting for a treat.
Don't worry, that I'm torturing my babies with too small of a home. I've moved them around. Now, the big betta (Big Blue) is in a 3 gallon Eclipse aquarium, and the crowned betta (Spike) is in a 1 gallon tank (with filter). I feel bad for his little tank, but I need to find a 2 or 2.5 gallon on sale (I love the Eclipse, with the biofilter wheel) for the space I have. I *do* have a 5 gallon Hex, but I have 4 long-finned zebra danios in it, and I worry if I put Spike in there, they'd chew his fins off. The big female is a bear, and chases/nips at the other 3, anyway. Or does anyone have experience with that?
Welcome to the forum! Congrats on the new betta, but I'm sorry to hear he's not doing well. I would suspect it's a low water temp that's causing him to act lethargic. Bettas are most healthy and active at 78-80*. A heater is usually necessary for keeping bettas, depending on where you live. My bettas don't require heaters in the summer months, but they're needed in the winter.
What have you been trying to feed him? A high quality pellet or flake should be the staple. I prefer pellets for many reason - Hikari Betta Bio Gold pellets are great. One packet will last forever! Bloodworms, as mentioned, are a great supplement. Many people say to only feed one or two a week, although I feed my fish bloodworms regularly and have never seen any hint of a problem. I use the pellets as their staple diet, but they do great with the addition of bloodworms.
As far as buying a larger tank goes - do it, if at all possible. The minimum tank size for a betta is 2.5 gallons. A heater and glass thermometer are also necessary. A filter is a tremendous thing to buy, but my main focus would be to get him into a larger, heated tank and then buy a filter if you're able. It shouldn't be too expensive to set up a nice enviroment for him, and it will last the life of the betta and longer.
Those pet store people rarely know much of anything about the animals they sell (especially fish), as you've obviously experienced. Many of them mean well, they just don't have basic knowledge.
I'm glad to hear you got your betta eating, but I would continue to try to get him onto a pellet or flake as a staple. The bloodworms are great, but a pellet is more complete in nutritional value. But I understand that some fish just refuse to ever except prepared foods - I have a DP that eats nothing but live bloodworms and live crays. He would starve himself if I didn't give him those foods, even if he had prepared foods offered daily. He's a stuborn little bugger. Some people also claim that too many worms causes dropsy, although I've never seen it happen in my fish, which are fed bloodworms quite regularly.
Max is doing well, but still not a big eater. The day I posted, I went to the local pet supply store and bought a pH tester, pellet food, and freeze dried bloodworms. This was the max I could find at such a small store (the water pH is fine -- between 6.8 and 7 -- and I use conditioner to remove chlorine). Temp is not at issue, since we've been in a heat wave with temps between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, though I don't know how stable the water temp stays after dark.
When I switched from flake to pellet, he still didn't show any interest, but later when I gave him a bloodworm, he stalked it and nipped at it. He stalks all his food now, when I drop it in the tank. Most of it still sinks to the bottom though, and I remove it with the baster. I only give him four or so pellets in the morning, but at least he knows it's there.
I've been shopping online for a new tank and accessories. I've found the tank, hood, filter, and decor (wild west!), but I still need a heater, plants, thermometer, and a more comprehensive water testing kit. If anyone can point me in the right direction for these, I would greatly appreciate it. I am also looking for an online source of live bloodworms or brine shrimp, if anyone has a useful link.