Hello everyone! I've owned bettas for most of my life. My first ones were my boys Blue and Magenta back when I was about 11 years old (dad who didn't know much about bettas put them in the same tank, byebye blue
). After that there was Gacktuar, Himynameisbob, Zakum, Musket, Vaporeon, Whiskers, and Captain America (the red, white and blue boy who is in my profile picture).
I confess I didn't understand anything about betta fish back then. Mine lived in 1-gallon tanks, no filter, no heater, with a water change every...two weeks or so? Now that I know more about this kind of fish, I feel terrible about it, but most of them did live 2-3 years each, surprisingly.
Anyway, I stopped getting bettas about two years ago because my last three boys- Vaporeon, Whiskers, and Cap- all died within 1-2 weeks after I bought them. They just kept getting sick and dying. I'd never had this problem before so I was pretty upset over it. I researched the diseases they had (fin rot and dropsy to my conclusion at the time), went out and bought all the proper meds, but there was no improvement, and eventually my poor boys died one after the other. I realized then that it couldn't have been a problem with them, but something I was doing wrong, so I threw out everything: food, tanks, gravel, decorations, all of it, and decided that if I was going to own bettas again, I was going to do research and get it right.
Well, here I am! I've done a lot of research and lurked around this site a lot as well, reading all the helpful guides, and I feel ready to start caring for bettas again. However, I'm being cautious this time. If I don't use what I learned from my past mistakes, it will feel like my last three boy's deaths meant nothing.
There are obviously a lot of knowledgeable people on this site, so I am going to post my "care plan" that I've devised and see what you guys have to say about it, like whether it can be improved or if I'm mistaken about something. Thank you tremendously in advance!
Cari's Betta Care Plan
1. Tank: No smaller than 2 gallons, placed in an area away from direct sunlight/drafts. I won't be using a filter.
2. Heating: Hydor mini heater set to 78 degrees.
3. Decorations: plenty of places to hide and plants (fake ones), they must all have smooth edges to prevent tearing any fins!
4. Water changing: 50% water change on Wednesdays, 100% on Sundays (and slowly acclimating betta to the new water over 15 minutes so it doesn't shock him!)
5. Buy conditioner/dechlorinator and FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS.
6. Buy water test kit (API master kit seems to be the best)
7. Feeding: high protein diet, feed once in the morning and once at night, adjust feeding over time based on various observations (poop amount, amount of uneaten food floating at the bottom, etc). Also vary it up once a week by feeding things like brine shrimp & bloodworms.
8. Exercise: flaring exercises once a day using a mirror.
9. Lighting: honestly I don't know how I'm going to do this yet, suggestions welcome.
10. Floating plant: hornwort looks to be the easiest to maintain, but I would have to put the tank in sunlight for around 15 minutes each day so I have to keep a close eye on the water temp.
11. NEVER use soap for cleaning, just hot water and vinegar if absolutely necessary.
That's what I have. I would love to hear the opinions of all the brilliant betta keepers I've seen while lurking around this site!
(Anyway, for those wondering, I did figure out the main reasons my boys had suddenly started dying. One, I would wash their tanks with soap, which I now know is extremely stupid. Two, at the exact time the illnesses began, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery to remove her ovaries, immediately beginning menopause. This may sound extremely odd, but trust me I'm going somewhere with it. Before then, our house was always at 72 degrees. When mom started having hot flashes, suddenly our house was always 68 degrees. I wish I'd known back then that bettas need the heat! A 4 degree drop in temperature definitely didn't help their health at all.)