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Old 03-14-2013, 05:06 PM   #1 
ashleigheperry's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Baltimore, MD
On a rescue mission - HELP!

So it was recently brought to my attention that my sister got a new pair of bettas. When I was a child we kept three bettas in tiny bowls in the bathroom. We never did water changes, there were no heaters, and we didn't always remember to feel the poor creatures. We had fish live for years like this, and it isn't until recently that I've realized how atrociously we cared for them.

Now my younger sister (one of three, but this one is 11) has two of her own in those same tiny cramped bowls. I'm visiting on Saturday and I'm bringing my 3G hospital tank with me. I've given it a good scrub and included some plants and water conditioner. I'm going to try and get her to put one of the fish in that tank, and the second one is coming home with me (hopefully). I'm going to direct her to this site and talk to my parents about adding water changes to her chore chart.

Any suggestions/opinions about how to make it go smoothly?
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Old 03-14-2013, 05:30 PM   #2 
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Maybe teach her how to do water changes and somehow make it seem fun? I'm in the same boat, almost, as my younger sister is 10 and has a betta (poor thing has fin rot that just won't go away, though he is making some progress). He's in a one gallon bowl with no heater or light, and only one decoration and a fake plant on top of some gravel. She isn't lazy and she really does want to learn how to clean the tank herself, but her little wimpy arms are too weak to carry it into the bathroom to clean it and she's afraid she's going to hurt him when trying to get him out of the bowl for cleaning. I already told her that she should get him a heater and something bigger, and she was all for that, but I told her she should learn how to take care of the cleaning on her own first. I tried to give her my old heater, but it wouldn't fit and kept falling back out.

I'm glad to know that she wants to give him a better life by giving him a heater and a bigger tank and lots of decorations to hide in and around, and a light, but with all that comes a need for money, which we don't really have handy at the moment. Otherwise, I'd love to help her set up his new tank. :(

I guess, for your sister, you could try to teach her some cool facts about them and make them seem more fun than she might think, so she'll be more eager to care for them properly. My sister has a calendar and I had her mark every other day with a fish in the corner to remind her to do a water change that day, so she'll be able to keep up on it and hopefully make him healthier.

Maybe you could help her set up the tank too, and make it fun. :)
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Old 03-16-2013, 09:46 PM   #3 
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Thanks for the advice!
I executed my plan today. My mom gave me the expected "they're fine and when they die we replace them" nonsense. I nodded, respectfully disagreed and set up the tank anyways. She said it "didn't look as cute as the bowls" but I'm fairly sure she isn't going to move it or change it or anything. Arden, my sister, really liked it and so did everyone else. I put her preferred fish in it after a few hours of acclimating, and took plenty of photographs, which I'll post when I can.

The fish she's keeping looks a bit battered but alright.
The one I'm taking is in horrific condition and I don't know if he'll make it even for the duration of my trip. We're not staying here, so I'm worried I'll come back to a dead fish. If he's alive, he's coming with me. I did a 100% water change and moved him to a slightly larger container. We'll see what happens.

My mom has refused to buy a heater or water conditioner, so I'll be sending those (I left them with enough water conditioner to last for a couple changes) home in the next few weeks. I'll still unsure where to put this poor male - I might have to keep him in a large bowl/jar until he's healthy again. Which means I've got to get my hands on another heater. /sigh

Wish me luck!
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Old 03-16-2013, 10:01 PM   #4 
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Images of the betta she's keeping and then the bowl with the new tank next to it - keep in mind the bowl is much closer to the screen than the tank. Finally, and image of the container that the other betta is being housed in and his condition. Poor guys. :C
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Old 03-16-2013, 11:01 PM   #5 
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You are a saint. I hope those Betta get better quick! I had the same problem as a kid, kept a gorgeous green-blue Veil Tail I won as a prize from a school fair in unconditioned tap water in a tiny 7oz wine glass and fed him on bread. I was terrible!

The white one looks in much better health, he's really pretty! It's hard to tell if there's anything wrong with him though because he's so translucent... I'm assuming the one in bad shape is the darker one? Poor things D:
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Old 03-17-2013, 12:58 AM   #6 
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If you can get her to keep up on the water changes, that would be great.

My sister is the same way "they are just fish" but she is 26 and had goldfish in a 10G and never changed the water. I got her a 20 gallon (not the best but still better then a 10G,) an aquaclear filter rated for 70 gallons and she still will not change the water. She knows WHY its needs to be changed but to her and my mother "its JUST a fish"

try ebay for heaters
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Old 03-17-2013, 01:41 AM   #7 
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Something I posted in another thread:

Firstly, 'it's just a...' has been used to justify all kinds of cruelty throughout the centuries all around the world. To Hitler, they were just Jews. To white Americans, for a long time they were just blacks. To the British, they were just savages. And to most of the world, at some point or another, they were just women. To other people, it's just a dog, or just a cow. But how many of you can watch a video of a cow being brutally slaughtered and not be effected? To me, seeing a fish suffering gives me a similar feeling: helpless rage and sadness. To me, "it's just a..." never justifies killing or neglecting anything.
Secondly, and this relates to the first point, how do you classify what is "just a..."? People will probably think I'm a bit mad for comparing a fish to a Jew, and I admit, I don't see fish on the same level as humans. I'd always save the human from the burning house before the fish, and I suspect I'd probably save a dog or a cat before the fish, too. But that doesn't mean the fish has no intrinsic value, just because it doesn't rank as high on the scale as another creature. After all, I'd save the fish before the cockroach. So it's worth more than something.

A lot of people use a fish's price to justify this mindset, which frustrates me enormously (you also see it a lot when people don't want to pay for their $10 rat to have a $200 life-saving operation, or even $50 worth of medication). If you got were given or adopted a dog for free, would you value it less than the dog that you had to pay $200 to adopt? Why? How much you pay to adopt an animal shouldn't dictate how much you pay on its upkeep.
Thirdly, if it is just a fish, why did you buy it? You just bought an animal (yes, it's an animal). That's making a commitment to care for it. It's whole world is in your hands, even more than a cat or dog - you are responsible for what is breathes. You have complete power over its tiny life (and by the way, size is not a justification for mistreating something either - children are very small when they are born!), and if you've watched Spiderman you'll know that with great power comes great responsibility.
Fourthly, clearly fish matter to some people. If someone loved their dog, would you really say, "Pssh, it's just a dog" to their face? If I love my fish, why is it ok to say that about my animal?

There is a fair amount of literature suggesting that fish do indeed feel pain (they have nociceptors that lead into the brain and spinal cord, very similar to mammals, and a number of experiments have proven that they respond to negative stimuli in the same way as mammals), and they are intelligent (as we who teach them tricks will attest). Their ability to learn makes them more intelligent than some children I've met. :p
Would people say, "When it dies I'll replace it" about a dog? No. Why? How can they justify the different, in light of the whole pain/intelligence thing? Why is it less of an animal? Here, in all but one state, fish have the same legal protection as any other animal (in theory, anyway - in practice it doesn't happen, due to attitudes just like this!).
I'm also convinced that fish emote, to a certain degree; I've heard of cichlids mourning for their mates, and I'm fairly sure my girl Artemis became 'depressed' after losing her last sorority sister. Of course, there's no scientific evidence for this.

I have to disagree with your mum, Ashleigh - that bowl is ugly, dirty and a wierd shape. The tank, on the other hand, is all kinds of cute!

Scuse my little rant: I'm actually writing a presentation for my law class about precisely this issue (legal protection of fish) so I'm a bit passionate about it at the moment. :p

Hopefully some of your and your sister's enthusiasm will rub off on your mother! :) It's great that your little sister is so on board with it all. Keep us updated, and best of luck with the little guy!
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Old 03-17-2013, 09:43 AM   #8 
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Bomba, with that post, you have beautifully summed up my feelings on the matter. Well-done, I applaud you!

And Ashleigh, I applaud you, as well! You have done a great job of helping your sister, and hopefully, she'll see the difference!
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