Hi! So, I've had my betta Raiju about a week now, and he's developed these two little pale patches on either side of his head that I'm pretty sure have gotten bigger since I got him.
They're right on the edge of his gill covers, roughly where his pectoral fins join his body, in the same place on both sides, though on one side of his head the patch is a tiny bit bigger, about the length of his eye, and half that width. They show up paler than the rest of his body (which is quite dark), and when I shine a flashlight, they iridesce more of a gold/bronze colour than the rest of the scales on the lower part of his head, which iridesce silvery.
Sorry, I couldn't get a good clear picture of them.
Is this part of his natural colour developing, or is it something to be worried about?
His behaviour seems normal (he's a pretty lively little guy), but I've read about velvet (though it's only those two patches) and fish scratching their heads on things in the tank.
Sorry if it seems like I'm overreacting, but this is my first time keeping a betta properly, in a big tank with filter and heater, and I want to make sure I catch anything wrong in time.
Without photos it's hard to be sure but it sounds like it's normal. Many bettas have two silvery lines on their gill covers, I believe it's from where they flex them when flaring. Unless he's acting weird or has any other patches I wouldn't worry. :3
Can you post a photo (even if it's not clear)? Sometimes, just seeing their general condition can be helpful.
How large is the tank?
Do you have a water testing kit?
-- If so, what are the current readings?
-- If you don't have a kit, when was the last water change, and what percentage of the water did you change?
OK, I got a couple of pictures of him where you can see it.
As for the tank, it's a 5.5 gallon. I cleaned it on Friday, about a 50% water change. I tested the water last night, and got 0.25 ppm ammonia (though I used Nutrafin cycle, which I heard can mess up the ammonia readings), and somewhere between 0 and 0.1 ppm nitrite.
That looks like normal coloring to me! What a lovely boy.
You should be doing 50% water changes whenever your tests show ammonia or nitrites, since they can get really high during cycling. Nitrites in particular are toxic, so you want those to be so low they hardly show up on a test. (Are you using strips or a liquid kit?) I've never used the Nutrafin cycle product, but if it's a bacterial supplement and you're still getting ammonia/nitrite readings after a few days, you might have gotten a dud.
Nutrafin Cycle does not contain the bacteria that causes the nitrogen cycle. It merely breaks up sludge, unclogs filters and promotes the bio-film on surfaces that the cycling bacteria live in. It's supposed to control ammonia, but I've never seen nor heard of great results.
Tetra Safestart, API Quickstart, MicrobeLift NiteoutII, Dr Tim's ONe-and-Only and a few others contain live nitrifying bacteria. They work fine as long as they have not been frozen or overheated, or left over 6-months on the shelf.
Cycle is not a water conditioner. What are you using to dechlorinate and condition your water?
I'm glad it seems like normal colouring. :) Now that you've pointed it out, I have noticed in some pictures of other people's fish, you can see similar marks sometimes. I just thought it was really odd against his dark colouring.
I have a liquid test kit.
I did a 50% water change today.
I started my cycle about 2 weeks before I got my fish (I used fish food to get it going), and since I got him I've been doing what I saw recommended on here- 50% just water and 50% with gravel vacuuming each week until my cycle is finished.
I use Nutrafin Aquaplus for water conditioner. I looked for the one everyone seems to use, Prime, but I couldn't find it at my store. The only reason I started using the Cycle stuff is because I bought it accidentally instead of conditioner when I was initially setting up my tank, and so I thought I might as well use it.
In the late 1980's, before Timothy Hovanec (Dr. Tim) discovered a way to keep nitrifying bacteria alive for a long time in a bottle, Nutrafin Cycle was about the best product there was for preparing the way for the bacteria to flourish. It stll need to come from somewhere, either an established tank or from the air (it's everywhere). Nowadays there are better cycle starters, but you have to get them fresh--- they are alive, after all.
Nutrafin Aquaplus is a satisfactory conditioner. It detoxifies ammonia. That's important in a small tank. Prime is only better because it's more economical and puts less chemicals into your tank.
So, after two weeks, what are your readings for ammonia and nitrite?
Like Rana says, you should do a 50% wc whenever ammonia or nitrite rise above 0.25ppm. Test every other day until you determine your own water change schedule/
I'm about 3 and a half weeks into my cycle at this point.
I took the readings this morning, after having done a 50% water change last night, and I'm still getting 0.25 ppm for ammonia, and my nitrites show up almost clear with just the faintest tinge of colour, so I'm assuming quite a bit lower than 0.1 ppm, which is the lowest my test will show.