Feeding Question & Set Up Check For First Time Betta Owner
Loving this site! Already finding LOTS of great help here, so thanks to all contributors! Was hoping someone could give me some guidance on feeding questions & feedback on or tank setup. I think his tank is great, and Fitzy seems very happy, but I want to make sure we are on the right track because I want this little guy as happy as he is making us! We have a 3 gallon tank set up with a heater, under gravel filter (the air stone & it's air flow is enclosed in a tube so it only creates a light current at the top & is very gentle, he clearly does not struggle with it at all & seems to enjoy hanging out near it), round glasgravels beads instead of rough gravel, a soft silk fir plant, a rubbery orange anemone decoration at the bottom, and a hood for the top of the tank. After we added all his "furniture" & the heater, the tank took a little over 2.5 gallons of water. He's in a nice spot in a room that gets plenty of natural light, away from the vents. Water temp holds steady at 78 degrees, even during the coldest nights. 25% water changes weekly with distilled & conditioned water. He swims strongly at all the depths of his tank, stretching his fins out nicely, comes to greet us, and has a favorite"sleeping spot." He even seems to have a bit of a schedule going on with sleep/activity times! Never thought I'd enjoy a fish this much! Lol The main concern I have is feeding. He HATED the first pellets we tried (TetraBetta mini pellets) and spit them out in disgust every time. I had a sample of TetraMin tropical flakes & offered those. Again, he was repulsed! He still tried "hunting" the pellets, so I thought maybe it was a size issue. Crushing them up didn't help. Last night I tried rehydrating a freeze-dried bloodworm, but he just looked at me like, "seriously? This is NOT happening." Wouldn't even try it. Next I tried Zoo Med Micro Betta pellets and he freaking LOVES them! Now he thinks I should be feeding him every time I enter the room. I DO NOT want to over feed him! As it is now, that would definitely be the case if I followed the guidelines of only feeding him what he can eat in 2 minutes. He'd still manage to stuff himself to the point of bursting, especially after the poor guy essentially fasted for almost 4 days before we found something he'd eat. The Zoo Med pellets are TINY, so I was thinking 2 in the AM, 2 in the PM, but that doesn't seem like enough, even for a tiny betta stomach. Am I crazy? I can't trust tricky little Fitzy to help me on this one, cause he's a piggy little liar now! Lol So any guidelines I should stick to? Also if there is anything I have overlooked or any feedback/suggestions on our tank setup, it would all be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance & sorry for the super wordy post!
Hey there, and welcome to the forum and the fabulously addictive world of betta keeping! ;)
Your setup sounds great, a good proper size and heated to a nice temp. Fitzy clearly has a very caring and loving betta parent. ;) So, from one to another, I only have a few bits of advice for you....
Careful with the natural light! If its indirect/not shining on his tank for more then a couple/few hours your probably fine, but frequent direct natural sunlight can cause some algae problems....which though is not really harmful can be very unsightly and quite a plain, so just be careful.
From what I understand about UGFs, they're no substitute for a biological filter and really have no sponge/media/place to grow beneficial bacteria so you can't properly cycle your tank with one. Cycling can be a little difficult in smaller tanks anyway, not really something a beginner should mess with IMO, so you will need to preform more water changes per week; 1-2 50%s and 1 100% should do it.
You can leave in or remove the UGF, up to you.
I'm not surprised he turned down the Tetramin. Those are terrible quality pellets, practically all fillers, and I've heard a lot of stories and read several reviews about bettas just outright refusing them.
Zoo Med looks to be OK, not the highest quality but certainly better then Tetramin....and if hes taking to him thats great!
Bettas are opportunistic feeders, so they don't have that "I'm hungry I should stop eating" little switch in their head....so the little buggers do always think they're hungry, even though their little stomachs are just the size of their eye. Such silly little things they can be. xD So, you've got the right idea about regulating his pellet intake. 2-3 pellets twice per day should do the trick, with maybe the occasional 4th if they are super tiny. ;)
Thanks! :) Well, now I'm kinda freaking out because I read a few articles about cycling tanks and realizing I totally FAILED and skipped such a super important step! The pet store had said that just adding the water from the cup he had been in at the store would add the beneficial bacteria he needed and start the cycle--but that DOES NOT seem sufficient now that I'm getting more in-depth! So the tank ran for 2 days before Fitzy was added, and now he's been in there for 4 days. About to do a water change for him now, but I'm really worried that he is in a dangerous situation because I didn't cycle the tank before and have no bio filter. Are more frequent water changes sufficient??? Anything else I can do? Also what changes can I make to avoid doing a 100% water change? I don't mind doing very frequent water changes, but I'd like to avoid doing a 100% change if possible so I don't have to catch him & remove him from the tank. And thanks very much for your help with the food DragonFish! :)
Sadly, even in a cycled tank the amount of bacteria in the water is so small that its completely useless to even seed another tank. The water in the petstores cup has absolutely nothing in it but probably a nice high level of ammonia due to the small space and their infrequent water change schedule, so that is indeed completely useless.
It is a good idea, as I'm sure you're finding, to generally take what a pet store employee tells you with a grain of salt and do your own extensive research. Sadly, pet stores don't properly educate their employees like they should.
Its only been a few days, so you're fine! Its not the end of the world, don't panic! Its okay. :)
Because you have a UGF, your tank isn't cycled and won't cycle because, as I mentioned previously, there is no surface for the beneficial bacteria to grow and colonize. Now, with Bettas, this is OK. Because they come from very still waters without much movement to create oxygen(like a river or lake might have), bettas have developed a Labyrinth organ that allows them to take a lot of their needed oxygen from the surface, so unlike other fish they do not necessary HAVE to have a filtered/cycled tank. It is a little more beneficial, and certainly much easier on the owner in terms of water changes, but bettas do just fine and can live long and healthy lives in an uncycled tank provided the water changes are kept up with and its heated. ;)
Now, because your tank is smaller and you have no biological filtration, you will have to preform 100% water change sin order to remove all the ammonia(a harmful chemical your fish is naturally secreting constantly through its gills, and it of course comes from poo and such as well)that, in a cycled tank, would instead be converted into food for the bacteria and broken down into the less harmful Nitrate, which you keep low by just weekly partial changes. Without the bacteria to do it, you need to remove the ammonia yourself, and the only way to do that completely is with a 100% water change.
Avoid using a net....instead use the cup your fish came in if you still have it or another clean(no soaps or chemicals!)similarly-sized plastic container to gently scoop up your fish. It may take a few trys to get right, but generally over time you learn how to surprise and scoop them up fairly quickly.....or you can even train your boy over time with a pellet or two to swim into the cup. Anyway, once you get him in the cup, just empty the tank and give everything a quick rinse, set it all back up making sure the temp of the new water is within a couple degrees of the old, and then re-acclimate your betta back into the new water(much like you did when you brought him home.....float his cup for about twenty minutes, empty some of the old water, add in a little new, wait about ten-fifteen minutes, repeat, wait again, then gently let him go).
Really, its not all that difficult or stressful. A normal healthy adult betta should take the process just fine without any problems.
The only way you're going to be able to avoid water 100% water changes is if you upgrade to something 5+ gallons. While it IS possible to cycle a smaller tank if you were able to sick in a sponge/HOB filter of some kind, tanks under 5 gallons can be tricky to establish cycles in as there is so little surface area, and often the cycles are unstable and hard to maintain....its definitely not a task I would recommend a beginner to take on. If you would REALLY like to avoid the 100% water changes....your best bet really is to start looking into a larger setup I'm afraid.
Now, something else that I did forget to mention.....any particular reason you're using distilled water? Most of the time unless your tap water is just positively atrocious, its best to use tap water conditioned with a good conditioner like Prime rather then distilled as the distilled water often lacks some very good minerals and vitamins fish need which are in tap water.
Well that was definitely the clearest, most complete explanation I have read on the subject! Now I get it! THANK YOU! :) And you put my fears to rest about the water changes. I am using distilled water because the water here IS pretty atrocious. I would not drink tap water here. Gives me a stomach ache! And I can travel across the country, drinking the water with no problems, but here? Yuck. Two other concerns I had about it were that the water here is EXTREMELY hard, about as bad as it can get. In addition, my town recently started adding fluoride to the water supply. I know there are probably ways to counteract each of those issues, but I figured at least with distilled water, I know exactly what he's getting. Besides, if I don't want to drink it, he shouldn't have to live in it! Even my mom's ancient behemoth of a goldfish had a hard time if the local water is added to his tank. I just did a 50% change for Fitzy, and it scared us both with him being in there while I tried to clean it up a bit. In your (obviously quite educated:) ) opinion, is there anything wrong with me going ahead and removing him any time I do even a partial change? I don't want to stress him, and that seems like the easiest way to avoid that. I might sound crazy, but I think we have a bit of a bond going. Maybe he can chill with me in the kitchen & watch me clean his tank. :) In other news, apparently he finds the color pink COMPLETELY INFURIATING as I discovered when I changed my shirt & went into "his" room. Almost made me feel guilty that his big macho flaring was wasted on me, and for a human that just... Isn't intimidating at all. Lol
Haha, glad I was able to explain it well! I've had lots of practice. xD I ironically enough, I fail at explaining just about anything else.
Eck, thats definitely no good about the tap water.....yeah, just used the distilled water then. You will want to purchase some special additives however to replace he minerals and such that the distilled water lacks, otherwise your little guy probably won't last too long.
I'm afraid I've never used such products, never lived anywhere where my water was terrible enough for the need for it, so I'm afraid I can't offer recommendations or advice for specific products there. :/ I'd suggest popping over to good ol' google and doing some searching, thats probably your best bet.
You could take him out for a partial change, but I never do with any of my boys. They don't necessarily like it, but they get used to it after a while.
What makes partial changes a little easier and less stressful though is a Gravel Vacuum. Like so: http://di1-4.shoppingshadow.com/imag...im+Jr+6+In.jpg
Very easy to use, they come with instructions and there are also plenty of videos on Youtube that show you how to use them, and in general they make water changes quicker, less stressful, and a little more efficient as opposed to just scooping out the water. There are also a few different sizes, so you should be able to find a smaller one that will fit in your 3 gallon. ;)
Haha, awww, how cute!! xD Well, at least you know what color is NOT his favorite! ;)
IMO/E-UGF are great provided that you maintain them by vacuuming the plates weekly. This keeps the plates free of debris/mulm so the bio-filter can function properly and the BB don't suffocate. More of the BB can be found in the substrate, on all the surface areas within the tank...etc....since the BB are sticky and adhere to everything-very little are in the water column itself- as well as depend on their food source to come to them.
I wouldn't recommend using distilled water due to it being sterile, void of needed mineral and even oxygen-all critical to support life. If your water is really bad I would do a 50/50 mix using your tap water and spring water-along with the proper amount of dechlorinator-this will provide everything needed to support a healthy system.
Water changes in a 2.5-3gal filtered tank-twice weekly 50%...1-50% water only and 1-50% to include deep vacuum of the UGF plates. I would leave him in the tank for partial water changes to decrease the chance of shock issues. Turn off your filter-vacuum-refill with like temp dechlorinated water-the water should clear within an hour after turning the filter back on. If not, you either missed a water change, over stocked or over feeding.
Nutrition-good quality varied diet fed in small frequent meals is best.
Look forward to pic and hearing more about your Betta keeping adventures.