I just got my little girl yesterday. I feel awful, though, because I was told she didn't need much room, and she is in less than a quart of water! (She's small, but not very happy with me.)
The store doesn't get bigger bowls in for another few days. When they do, I will be sure to get her a nicer home! (I can't get one TOO much bigger, because I live in a 150 square foot room!)
Here are some more of my comments/questions:
1. I heard that mirrors can really stress them out. I don't want to take a chance.
2. I'm scared to get her many decorations to swim through, because my friend had a fish that got stuck inside one and didn't make it.
3. Can I get gravel for her to "play" in? Right now, I have glass stones on the bottom, and she tries to hide in them but obviously fails.
4. I heard that bettas do not like a lot of change in their environment. Then I heard that they get bored and you should switch out their decorations. Which is true?
5. Are there certain brands (inexpensive please!) that are better for decorations, food, etc?
Ideally you want a bowl or tank of at least 4L, 1 gallon. Also important is a heater. I believe the Hagen Elite Mini 25 Watt is a decent brand for smaller tanks, but does require that you get a thermometer as well.
Female bettas do not need mirrors. You usually only use it on males to maintain their form and give them a bit of exercise. Females being shorter-finned will usually just swim around and exercise themselves.
Rather than decorations I like to use plants like java moss and anubias. These are next to impossible to kill and your female will enjoy having something to hide in and explore. Plus there is next to no chance of your female getting into trouble with live plants.
Since she is in such a small volume of water currently, just completely remove the stones. They are cutting down even more on how much water the bowl can hold and as you will need to be doing almost daily 100% water changes to maintain water quality in a quart of water, it makes removing feces and rotting food a lot easier.
I completely overhaul some of my betta tanks regularly and they don't care. They may be a little subdued or dull looking for a few hours afterward but then they tend to perk up. Moving some plants around or adding some gravel will not cause them great distress.
Seachem Prime is a great water conditioner and very cost effective. You just need a 1ml dropper for smaller tanks as you only need a quarter of a ml or so.
I would advise buying an API liquid test kit for ammonia as this is so important for owners of small, uncycled tanks and bowls. Ammonia can be harmful in amounts as little as .25ppm and without a test kit you are really flying blind in regards to water changes.
Otherwise I am not familiar with overseas brand so can't help you there.
Thank you so much for all of your help! I was really worried about the size of the home, and how often I should be cleaning it. You read my mind and answered my question!
The other thing I wanted to say is that I have learned that my little girl cannot eat pellets. She must eat flakes, because she chokes on the pellets. (Literally, grabs them, jerks around, and spits them out a few seconds later!)
Is there anything else I can do to help my little friend before I am able to get her a nicer home?
No worries. If 1 quart is equal to around 1L then I would definitely be doing 100% water changes every day. Better to do too many in a small container (particularly when you don't have an ammonia test kit) then to not do enough. Just ensure your water is basically the same temperature and that you have added enough dechlorinator to avoid shocking her too much when you change it.
It may be that the pellets are too big if she is very small. I use New Life Spectrum .5mm pellets for my juveniles and smaller fish and they can eat these no problems. Then I progress to 1mm pellets once they are big enough.
Be aware with flakes that they can cause bloating. People usually recommend to soak them first before feeding or feed conservatively to avoid this problem.
Really to me, a 'happy' betta is one that is provided with heated and clean water, as well as a space that is both mentally stimulating, and large enough to move around freely in. As long as you can tick all those boxes as well as provide an appropriate diet, then your female should be more than content.
I finally was able to find closer to a 1 gallon bowl. (I think it's about a gallon, when you add everything together. It didn't say how much water it holds, but it's almost twice as big as the old bowl, and it's probably as big as I can fit in my place.) Due to the fact that it's bigger, I added the stones in again. I don't think I will do any more to my little girl for another day or so. (She's been through a LOT of transfers in the past few days!)
Another thing: the fish food that I got says to feed 3 times a day. Most people I know only feed their fish once a day. Or simply put - how often should I feed my fish her flakes?
I personally would invest in a 10$ kritter keeper, they can withstand a heater, and are longer than a bowl, with more room for your fishy to swim, and more room for plants, and a hidy cave.. and as far as flakes go..I don't use them either for the fear that some sink..and cause ammonia build up..the micro pellets are the preferred choice..and very tiny, and easy to chew:)
You might try crashing up the pellets and see how she does eating those and feed her morning and evening a couple of crashed up pellets or a few flakes of food, what she doesnt eat use your net to try and get them out but since you have to change the water everyday I guess it really doesnt matter if any leftover food is in the water for a few hours, its up to you. Good luck with your sweet girl and welcome to the forum . Hikari Bio-Gold is very good brand of pellets and they come in baby size, just look at the bottom of the pack they come in and it will say what size they are, they are around 4 or so dollars depends on where you get them but will last a long time.
I just feel so awful. I really don't have enough money to buy an API testing kit. I may have enough money for a heater and a thermometer. I plan on buying a little toy with hiding places, and some gravel for her to dig in. I don't mind doing a daily water change, but I really can't afford anything else. (And I know she needs a heater because she's gotten very slow and hardly moves.) I thought I had done my research and could afford this fish, but I guess I didn't research in the right places. So now I'm just trying to make it work with what I can.
I do have a new question though. I read somewhere that gravel can affect the chemistry of the water. Is this true? If so, what brand of gravel should I use, or should I not get the gravel at all? (I'm REALLLLLY bad at chemistry!)
Try crushing up the pellets like someone else mentioned. Flakes are more like potato chips and should be fed sparingly. I feed my male betta 4 crushed up pellets in the AM and 2 crushed in the PM.
As for decoration/hiding areas unless they are real plants, you don't have to worry about her getting stuck. But if you have a log or something of the sort for her to swim in, make sure all the holes you can fit at least your thumb in. If you vote for silk/plastic plants rub pantyhose on them, if the pantyhose rip or tear so will your bettas fins. I use gravel, and I don't think it affects the water, just make sure you wash it in hot water (just don't burn yourself!!) when you open up the bag to wash away yucky shelf dust or whatever else may be in there.
The tank I have for Dumbledore is a 3 gallon Marineland Crescent 3 gallon aquarium with a filter. It's 11.5"H x 12"L x 6.75"D, so it doesn't take up that much space from Petsmart. It comes with a filter, but some people say you don't need a filter, some say you do, but it's all up to personal preference I suppose. I have a Marineland 25 watt heater that heats up to 8 gallons that I got from my local pet store. When you look for a heater, look for one with a thermostat. I made the first mistake of buying one without one and it only heated to 75.
I don't know if anyone's told you about water conditioner to take harmful chlorine and metals out of regular tap water. If anything that's the most important. There are chemicals in our drinking water that are safe for humans, but deadly to fish.
I think I've given you the idea of things. Don't be afraid to ask questions, and good luck with your fish :)