I am a new fish owner. I would say just Betta owner, but honestly, I've never had any other fish in my life. I chose a Betta because they are so pretty and from what I had heard and experienced (from family and friends), they are relatively low maintenance.
So first I have a sad story, my first betta that I got died the day after I got him. Someone that I worked with didn't want him anymore, so since I already had my tank prepared for a new fish, I said I would take him. They said they didn't like him (I have yet to figure out how you "don't like" a fish). He was in a small, dirty, cold plastic tank. I took about 5 hours transitioning him over to the tank in my room. He seemed to be OK that night, maybe a little lethargic, but when I woke up the next morning, he was acting a little strange. He would swim up really fast to the top of the tank, then sink down vertically (tail first). At the bottom of the tank, he would lay on his left side. I checked the water temp (about 78), and the pH (about 7.5 - a little high I guess). He kept going up, then one time, he did a nose dive to the bottom of the tank. I freaked out. Unfortunately, I had a Dr appt and couldn't stay to check on him. When I came back from the appointment, he was dead. I don't know if I did something wrong, or if maybe he was already sick when I got him. I was incredibly upset.
So, I changed out all the water in my tank and this time I used bottled water (because the tap water here is disgusting and thought that might have contributed to him dying - even though I had treated the water). Once again, I got the temp to 78 and the pH between 6.5-7.0. I now have a new Betta. I have yet to name him because I want to make sure he does OK and so I can get a good idea of his personality. He made the transition well (this time I took 8 hours to transition him to the tank). He ate right away and was exploring his new tank the first day. Yesterday, he didn't seem quite as active, but still ate just fine. Now today, he swims around a little but didn't eat this evening. I am trying really hard not to freak out. So I have a few questions:
1. He seems to love hanging out near the top of the water on a plant. I know they need to breathe from the air and they are generally "lazy" fish, but is it normal that they do it a lot?
2. Should I be concerned if he doesn't eat at every single meal I give him?
3. I tried putting a mirror in front of him to see if he would react and he didn't. Is it because he doesn't care or because he doesn't feel good?
I know these are probably stupid questions to most of you, but I've spent hours doing research and took weeks making sure that everything was perfect for my new tank, only to have my first fish die. If I'm doing something wrong, I need to know. I don't want to be the cause of some poor fishes demise because I'm making a novice mistake. PLEASE HELP!!