Aquarium Adventures: Daily Journals of a first time Betta Parent
The following will be a serialized documentation of my first time experience as a pet owner of a one betta splenden. I'll be doing this as a blog of sorts to recieve feedback from the community to correct future mistakes before they happen. Bear in mind that this will be written retrospectively for the time being until further notice so I'm going to tell it how it is. I will go above and beyond to have the mistakes corrected by the time you are reading this but dont hesistate to call foul on anything that I do that is wrong. We did the research, but that is nothing compared to hands on experience that I intend to draw upon from this forum community. For those not interested in reading long posts but would still like to help out a budding aquarist, please scroll down to the bottom of each of my entry as they will usually have a question that I have not yet found an answer to. And so, without further ado, I give you...Aquarium Adventures!
We were at my brother's house during father's day and my girlfriend sees a fishbowl belonging to my niece that housed a fighting fish. During the event I was the designated family photographer, my first hobby, so I didn't hear much of what they talked about. In the end though, she mentioned to me how amazed she was of the fighting fish's resiliency despite poor conditions; that fighting fish are a hardy bunch that are both beautiful and
easy to take care of. After that, for the following weeks to come she kept talking about it and how she is interested in keeping one. Bit by bit her eagerness grew, with me blissfully ignorant of how serious she was about it...
until one day she says she is going to the pet store to look at some aquariums. "Look" she says, but she came home with a 2.5 gallon aquarium, 1 floral decoration (plastic), a dechlorinator, a bottle of pellets, and a filter. Right around this time we had a talk about how far she was willing to go with this. I told her that I will be onboard as long as she does the research and maintenance. I will be the observer.
So we set up the tank encountering our first issue; where to set it up. She lives in a condo where the windows are located at the front end and the back end. Ligthbulbs in between. She wants it in between, where there is a large
antique table in the hallway. Her mom agrees with this location too. I on the other hand say that the back end, where the kitchen and dining area share a countertop will be ideal. Natural light during the day, and in plain sight
where we can view the fish on a regular basis. Without knowing too much about fishes, I knew that having it so close to the kitchen cupboards and sink will most likely cause a certain amount of stress on the fish from cupboards
closing abruptly and dishes clanging. On the other hand, the dark hallway may be calmer to a certain extent, but the fish would probably be lonely as I will not be able to share his company as the chairs in that region are not meant to be put in the hallway and if I did, it would be blocking the way. Also, before bringing home the aquarium, they believed that a 2.5 gallon tank would not fit on the countertop so this was the best place to put it. Their house, their rules right?
Where did we end up placing the aquarium? What did we name our fish? And can a siamese fish do the "puppy eyes" look? Stay tuned to find out.
As I mentioned, for your entertainment, this will be written retrospectively so feel free to speculate, critique, and feedback is still welcome because even if all this has already happened, I still value everybody's input and suggestions will be taken and applied in the present. For objectivity's sake, I will limit my involvement in this post as much as I can until I have enough time to catch up to the present, though I will be checking in from time to time. This format shall continue for as long as the contents of these journals remain PG-13. At the first sign of trouble, I will bring everybody up to speed.
No beta splendens were harmed during the writing of these journals. And we'd like to keep it that way
Question of the day: How much do I feed the fish? Sounds easy but I'm getting conflicting information. From what I gather it's in the ballpark of how much the fish can eat between 1 to 5 minutes. I'm with the people who agree that those recommending a 5 minute feeding time are the companies looking for their best interest. My best guess is 1 minute. But then there are others who say that the fish's stomach is equal to the size of his eye. If that's the case then they can fill that up in under 10 seconds! I'm gonna go on a limb here and say that, like humans, their eyeball-sized stomachs can, at the very least, double in size which supports the 1-5 minute feeding regimen.
I will bite and say the dank dark hallway, my fish are in the rooms I occupy the most the livingroom and the bedroom so I can actually see them, the ones in the bedroom are for me to watch while I am trying to sleep insomnia can be a living torture at times but having the fish to watch helps a ton.
Now as far as feeding now that depends on what you are feeding them, all the brands pellet sizes are different omega one and NLS the 2 most popular ones on this site are on the smaller side so 4-5 pellets x 2 a day for most of my fish depending on their actual size the smaller ones 3-4 my giant 7-8 some people feed more some feed less, and usually they all get a treat of frozen brine shrimp or bloodworms 1-2 a week and have a fasting day of no food 1x per week
I started writing this one last night but couldn't finish. There was simply too much narrative to cover. So I'm going to pull a Peter Jackson on this one and divide it into three posts. Part 1 is below, Part 2 will be posted soon as I wake up, and Part 3 will be posted after we get home from the pet store.
I don't live in the same house as my girlfriend. It's her house and if they feel that the dark hallway is the best place for the aquarium I will not argue, though I have my reservations. Sure it's a nice quiet place, but if I were the fish I would find it very dull. TVs are on either side of the house so nobody would ever be around the area for the fish to see for entertainment, aside from dark shadows passing by without ever saying hello, which would probably freak out the fish even more. Personally I would trade a few years off my lifespan, in exchange for adventure and stimuli. Surely this fish has coping mechanisms and will adapt to a rowdy environment. For the time being, I did win a small victory in that after setting up the tank, my GF realizes that she cannot place the aquarium in the hallway at the moment as there is something called a check valve that didn't come with the filter but is required if the power plug will be lower than the aquarium. So for now, the empty dechlorinated aquarium will be in the kitchen counter. Marbles, decorative plant, a teracota cup laid sideways for hiding spot, sticker thermometer and filter are all set and ready to go.
It was 7PM. To World War Z, or to the pet store? That was the question. We opted for the pet store. Brad can wait. We manage to arrive with one hour to shop before the store closes. We made a bee-line straight to the betta section and immediately I was appalled at their living conditions. It's a cup! Rows upon rows of them. I share Tyrion's sentiments when he said "I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards and broken things." But this is a topic for another day. Today we had to choose. Veil, delta, crown, blue, dark blue, red, orange, snobbish, lethargic, ADD, hyper, big, tiny...it was alot of varieties and factors. I kept getting drawn to the multi-coloured veil tail while my GF was more inclined towards the light uniformed coloured deltas.
The deciding factor ended up being the look this one guy gave me when we made eye contact for the first time. After seeing the initial batch on display at the front row, we then methodically began sliding the front cups from side to side so that we may peer at the other cups in the second row. We were at about 3/4 of the way down with 3 picked out when I slid this one cup to the side and immediately the fish behind perked up and looked at me. Straight. To me, that one look spoke volumes, both of sadness from part and joy on his. I don't know how long he was kept in the back row. Maybe just that day. Maybe his whole life. All I know is that as soon as I increased his field of view so that he could see a simple store hallway, he seemed very appreciative.
He had that "pick me, pick me" attitude but in a reserved kind of way. I ran my finger across the glass and he followed it but he had me at hello. I felt that this is a fish that appreciates the simple things in life that we take for granted, even as simple as increasing his field of vision simply by removing the cup of his neighbor in front of him. If he was this happy now, I couldn't wait to see how happy he'd be in bigger tank (I know a 2.5 gallon tank is not luxurious; I'm still working on convincing my GF and her mom to greenlight the 5.5 gallon)
So we left the store with the little guy, predominantly pinkish white with some dark blue scales at the bottom. The fins are dark blue with red tips, but there is a strip of white on the dorsal running from the body to the tip [I'll be posting pics in the near future]. Don't know what that is about. I asked my GF who is the fish expert between the two of us and she says if it's fin rot it would be black. Body length is one inch, not including the fins. Out of the 40+ fishes we saw that day, he'd prolly be in the top ten for being the smallest so I'm hoping he's not that old. I asked the guy helping us and he says he should be no older than a few months. I'm hoping less than six.
So we left the store with the little guy, a fish net, a calcium block, and a package of bloodworms. Apparently the store has been feeding them bloodworms and is the food they are accustomed to. GF wasn't thrilled with the idea, she's a bit squeemish, but I told her that she has to make sacrifices if she wants to raise a healthy fish. Also the little guy will be introduced to a new environment. Might put him under stress. I wanted keep some things familiar to him, hence the bloodworms.
The subway ride was interesting. Crowded, standing, holding a bag of water. Halfway through I was able to snag a chair and held the bag more steadily. Times like these I appreciate that plastic bags are opaque. He was in a clear plastic bag inside the regular bag. Glad that he didn't see all the people passing by. Woulda prolly been more scared had it been clear. Though I worried that he might think that he ended up in a worse place as now he couldn't see anything at all. Every 5 minutes or so I would look down the bag to see how he was doing. Nothing, just chilling at the bottom. I guess he was sad and scared at the same time.
The trip ended 20 minutes later and then it was just another 15 minute walk home, albeit with a stop at A&W for a quick bite. By this time it was 9:30 PM and in my wind breaker jacket it was a bit cold and very windy. I began worrying that the temperature in the tiny bag might be dropping to dangerous levels. Wished I worn my cotton sweater instead and was considering wrapping him in the polyester material of my jacket but decided it would be useless. Not unless his 1 inch body was capable of warming up the water he was in all by himself even if he was wrapped in my jacket. In the end we just decided to briskly walk home.
Upon arrival we dumped the calcium block in the shape of a frog. I don't know why we need this. Pet store attendant says we need it to keep the Ph levels balanced. That I do understand so we dumped it in, though my GF says we don't need it. We dumped it in, though I told GF to research what exactly it's for.
Now for the exciting part; the transferring of the fish to aquarium. And, honestly, I didn't have a clue on how to proceed. I mean, I had somewhat of a clue, we did buy the fish net, but I didn't like the idea of putting something so foreign to the fish that close to him, taking away his freedom of movement, taking him out of his element, no matter how brief. But it was something this fish was gonna have to get used to so I decided to give it a go. Fish bag in the left hand, fish net on the right, and there I was thinking how this was physically impossible. We'll technically nothing is impossible, I just didn't have enough experience. What if I crush the little guy with the fish net on the way down? What if I get the fish net all the way down and he was on the wrong side. How many days off his life am i taking from the stress if I have to keep redoing it just so that he's on the catching side of the net? What if I just poured the bag into the aquarium? What if I poured the bag over onto the sink and my GF catches the little guy with the fish net? What if we miss?
From the voice of experience...make sure you put the stopper in the sink first. With that said, fish do enjoy the kitchen. My fish begs just like a dog every time I come in the room. Somebody has been giving him snacks when they stop by...
On the way home my GF says that we are not putting the bag water into the aquarium. May contain nasty parasites. I told her to do the transfer herself, but she was as reluctant as I was. So I propose that we simply open the bag (forgot to mention that the bag has been acclimating to the aquarium water for about 20 minutes). The idea was to open the bag while it was on it's side in the aquarium so that the little guy can swim out on his own and then as soon as he was clear, the bag would be raised up open end first so as to scoop water out rather than spill more in. Worst case scenario, half the water from the bag ends up in the aquarium, 250 Ml. Best case scenario, a quarter of the water ends up in the bag, half a cup. We reasoned it out between ourselves. If the water is contaminated, then the little guy is already infected. The tank is empty so we aren't putting any other fish in danger. We decided to go ahead just this one time, for lack of any better options. Why did we buy the biggest fish net, to scoop out a tiny fish from a tiny bag? Oh the joys of being green.
So we removed the rubber band and the fish just sat there looking at the open doorway. Was it a trick? Are there hidden dangers? I could see these questions going through his tiny head. It lasted a moment then he slowly swam towards the opening. Right before he reached the end of the bag, there was a fold in the plastic that allowed him a final place to hide (in a translucent bag, :) ) where he rested for a few seconds. If the puppy look was what convinced me that this was my fish, the "Point of no Return" moment was what convinced me that fishes do have personalities.
I'd like to leave it here for a cliff hanger ending but there really isn't much more to say...he swam, then he swam, then he swam some more. Did a few circles around the plastic plant, inspected the teracota, swam behind the filter a few times. On two occasions while close to the filter I saw him jerk and dart really fast behind the plant. My best guess is that he felt the preassure from the water fall effect of the filter as the water came down from the surface. Filter was acting like a spout, an inch drop for the water to reach the top water level.
Yeah, day one was finished. All that was left was to give him a name. On the phone on my way home to my house we ran through our options. Daenerys Targaryen? But he's not girl. Viserys? Rheagar? Drogo? Why are we in a song of ice and fire? Ooohh, Jason Mamoa! Flip? Sashi? Last name Mi? Oh that's mean. Timothy? Fish? President's Choice? Little guy? I've been calling him little guy all night, may was well let it stick. Buddy? We can't call him buddy cuz that's what uncle so and so calls grandson so and so. We decided not rush the name. He was gonna get stuck with it for a long time so it had to be something we both agreed on.
All in all it was a fun day. In the days to come we would end up watching World War Z, but ten years from now, I'll probably forget the night we watched this summer's blockbuster and it's plot, but I'll never forget this night (but just in case, my GF kept the bus pass, with date and time stamped on it). My only regret was that we didn't video record his first baby steps as he swam out of the bag and into his new home.
I wonder what happened to that bag?
Thank you for reading the post. I know it was a long one.
Question of the day: Water change, how frequent is too frequent, if that is at all possible. So I'm thinking we are gonna hafta do 50% water change q2days for the 2.5 gallon. What if I tweaked this schedule so that instead of 50% every two days, I change 25% everyday. I have alot of spare time at the moment, and it's prolly better spent changing the water instead of just watching a fish for hours on end. Also, are 100% water changes absolutely necessary? I'm still hesitant about using the fish net. Might it not be enough to drain enough water so that the little guy can still swim about at the bottom and refill from there? That would be around 80%.
First whole day Betta will spend in his new home. First thing I asked GF soon as I woke up was "How's the fish?" to which she said was ok, swimming back and forth up and down. I was pleased to hear that. Buddy must have been happy to finally be able to stretch his legs. When I got there though, he was not like how he was last night. It was late in the afternoon and I spent roughly half an hour looking at him but he seemed lethargic. I asked my GF what happened and she didn't have a clue. He wasn't like that an hour ago she says. It's getting a bit hazy...the temperature was 76 on the first night, this day it was 76 still...yeah it was crummy weather, cloudy. We knew it was below what he is supposed to be used to, but why was he happy in the morning and not in the afternoon? Maybe he just didn't like seeing me? During that time her mom came home from work. That was the only explanation we could thing of, that maybe he got scared of the new face and the racket she made in the kitchen. Or maybe he was hungry so we fed him a small amount of bloodworms. He downed it all in less than 10 seconds.
It was cloudy outside but natural light was pouring in and I finally saw his true colours. He was purple, not pinkish white at all. They must be using non-daylight balanced lightbulbs/leds at the pet store that we bought him from. This irritated and pleased my GF at the same time because she didn't wan't a purple fish because everybody in the family knows that purple is her favourite color and didn't want to be teased for being so predictable. Hey, we looked white in the store...So it was me in the kitchen, him on the kitchen counter, and a sliding door roughly 2 metres away. The effect was the same thing you see when doctors put the x-ray film on those white lighted walls, and looking through his fins like that, I can tell that something is not right with his top fin (dorsal?) The white stripe that I noticed last night was not really white at all but mostly due to lack of any pigmentation whatsoever. Don't know what's going on there but will keep an eye on it. Also his tail fin is raggedy. Again, don't know how he got it. We are just hoping that with frequent water changes, they will take care of themselves. Bubbles around the perimeter of the aquarium, but no nest. Filter bubbles I think.
Anywho, we had to leave to watch a movie, and we didn't come home til late. When we came back though he was up and perky again. While we were out, I kept thinking about the guy, and when I wasn't, i was on my phone on the net doing more research. Anyways, that's when I got all confused with how much to feed him, whether it was based on how much he could eat in X amount of minutes, or equal amount to the size of his eye. We ended up giving him another batch of bloodworms, but this time even less than before since we dont know how much was too much. We did look at some pictures online for comparison and his belly grew to a healthy size, not overfed or anything.
On my way home, we once again discussed his name. We decided to name him Sashi. GF didn't like it initially when I proposed the name last night, but when she told me that her reasoning was because it sounded girly, I LOL cuz that was the intent. Male bettas are pretty. No arguing that. Sashi sounds like an androgynous name, like Tweety bird. Though events in days to come would reveal just how feisty Sashi's personality can be.
No question today, mostly because Day 3 update will be posted rather soon. But, Stone, your answer didn't really help as I am using bloodworms, but then i decided to open up the pellet bottle that we have lying around and I took a look at the size of those pellets. When you say 3-4 pellets, what I did was feed him the same amount, mass-wise, in bloodworms. Seems to do the trick. As for the water change schedule, my question in now N/A. Stay tuned to find out why. But thx for the answer though. It was the same conclusion I came to. I haven't clicked that link but will probably be more useful now that the situation has changed.
Bubble Nest!? Lets start at the beginning. Wasn't going to see Sashi today. Got work. Asked GF to buy more supplies: scrubber for the glass and a test kit. I got a picture message at work from her of what she says looks like a bubble nest. It looked like a bubble nest but was real small. Less than the size of a toonie. Happy Canada Day by the way. But back on topic, I doubt that it was a bubble nest for two reasons, it look way smaller than the images posted on the net, and Sashi has only been at that aquaruim for 2 whole days. I simply can't believe that he was already comfortable and confident enough to claim the aquarium as his territory. I was expecting him to be shy and fearful of us for the first few weeks, let alone the first couple of days. Nope, my GF says, he's swimming back and forth as usual, and not scared of her when she approaches the tank.
We had a disagreement bout how much to feed. She says she put in enough, but also says that Sashi gobbled it up in 3 seconds. I don't think it was enough, I was still going with the X amount in X amount of minutes, but since I was not there I can't really say. After much research, we both agreed that bloodworms everyday may not be the best meal for our little guy daily. Heard it was "too rich" and should only be used once a week as a treat. If this was the case, we then questioned why the pet store we got him from was doing this for their bloodworms. We came up with a plan to change his diet. Continue feeding him bloodworms because he was still SUPPOSED TO BE getting used to his new home (although it didn't look like it, if those truly were bubble nests). Continue with that until tomorrow, fast the day after, and then on the following day, when he is at his hungriest, bait and switch him with the pellets. We came up with a plan, but only time will tell if it will work.
Temperature of tank was 78. Summer's finally here. Good thing too because we don't have a heater.