Hi, for Christmas I got a beautiful 5 gallon aquarium with a Betta (Chulaloke) and a Golden Mystery Snail and all the stuff needed. He has a heater, a filter (but I think that might be too strong for him) and some lovely live plants. He was fine for the first few days, then we moved him to his permanent spot and yesterday and today his fins are clamped, he is spitting out his food and hanging around his heater or laying on his leaf hammock, he is very lethargic. The heat is around 79 degrees and I have tested the water and as far as I can tell it is fine...I am worried about him and if I am doing something wrong.
I have read the book and I don't think he is sick...but is there anything I can do. As for the filter, he seems to be fighting it, like the current is too strong, but it was the smallest one I could find (a Marina i25)so I have turned it off. I would appreciate any advice to keep my fish happy and safe.
What is the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels? Are you using an in tank thermometer (not stick on)? What dechlorinator are you using? What's your water source (tap etc)? What's the ph of the water? Photos might be helpful.
For a 5 gallon it's hard to find a filter with a soft current. Personally, I've only had experience with sponge filters or just doing weekly 100% changes (necessary if you're not using a filter), but there's another interesting thread here: http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=123432 I don't have any experience with this filter but the owner in this forum really likes it and if you do a google search it gets lots of good reviews. Might be worth a short.
The nitrate and nitrite levels showed up fine on my little tester, I don't know how to test for amonia, we used tap water with a declorinator, I am not sure what kind as it was set up as a surprise for me, but it was done to specs according to the book we have. There was a little filter at the pet store that had tubing attached but I thought this one would be better...I don't think it was. Do you think I should change the water tomorrow?
Don't panic is always the first step. (&& the hardest!)
You just got him on Xmas, right?
It'll take him a few days to get acclimated again, ESP since he has been moved around a lot. Ive heard stories of bettas not eating for a whole month! Keep offering him pellets and eventually he will succumb and eat.
If that doesn't work, garlic juice on pellets usually does the trick.
Just keep him warm, and maybe keeping the tank light off for a bit would make him feel better? And make sure the current from the filter isn't too strong. If it is, you could always try baffling it! (:
Good luck on your fishie adventures!
It's important any time you want to run a filter to cycle a tank (meaning not making weekly 100% water changes) that you invest in a drops test kit for ammonia, nitrite and nitrates and be monitoring actual levels daily. A lot of people use this kit: http://www.amazon.com/API-Freshwater...aster+test+kit Test daily for ammonia and nitrites. Any time you see ammonia or nitrites get to .25ppm you do a water change. In addition to this you do a weekly 50%+ water change. At first you will see an ammonia spike. After that ammonia will go to zero and you will see a nitrite spike. Eventually you will start seeing some nitrates and then eventually both ammonia and nitrites will be zero and you will be left with only nitrates. Those can be removed by weekly water changes. Cycling will take up to 2 months. http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=47838
If you don't want to use a filter you just do a 100% water change weekly. This is how to do a large water change without shocking your fish:
To do a water change, use a little cup like a plastic solo cup - this cup must be only for him and have never been used with soap or other chems. Scoop him up in this cup (keep him in the cup about 1/4 full of water - it doesn't need to be much because he won't be in it for long) and leave him in the cup while you change his water. To do the 50% use a turkey baster - dedicated only to him that has never seen soap or chems - and drag it through the gravel and try to suck as much of the poop out as possible, in addition to 50% of the water. Use a thermometer under the running tap to get it to be the same temp as the water that is normally in his tank. When the thermometer says the flowing tap is the right temp, fill back up his tank. At this point, add the conditioner (dose for how much water you change - if you change half the water you add half gallon worth of conditioner, If you do a 100% water change dose for the full gallon change). Float his plastic cup with him in it in the new water. Slowly add a couple tablespoons of the new water into his cup every 10 minutes for at least an hour. Finally, dump him in gently but try to get as little of the old cup water back into the tank as possible. When you do the weekly 100% you will do mostly the same thing except empty his tank fully and rinse everything in it very well under warm water but never use soaps or chemicals. Once it's fully cleaned/rinsed you can refill it and repeat the cup/acclimate phase.
Okay back to the issue at hand.. Are you using an in tank thermometer like this one to monitor temps: http://www.amazon.com/Marina-Floatin...na+thermometer Is his tank anywhere near a window or vent? those can cause temp fluctuations. The clamped fins are a sign of stress but beyond that it could be almost anything. I'd definitely get a kit and check ammonia, and go ahead and do a big water change now with dechlorinator. If it's been a week or more go ahead with the 100%. If it's not been a week yet do a 50% to start. Those snails make a lot of extra mess and he may need more often water changes. He may even need two changes a week with the snail - 50 100, but the ammonia test kit will let you know.
Are you seeing anything else wrong except clamped and won't eat? What does his poop look like? You might try a different pellet. I like Omega One Betta Buffet and New Life spectrum betta.
Use an aquarium sponge, cut to fit, and jimmy it into the outflow of the filter - use a clean rubber band to hold into place if needed. That will help keep the filter from being too strong.. or place inside the filter to see if that helps.
Since you had just got him, I wouldn't worry too greatly - it's the right temp, and clean with conditioner I wouldn't blame it on the tank (as long as everything was cleaned/rinsed off really well before placing it in there).
A lot of bettas shy from larger tanks as it's a sudden open space for them that they aren't quite used to. Breeders will remove males once they show sings of aggression, which could be as young as 5, 6 weeks.. they are placed in jars of various sizes (less than a gallon) and kept there for a few months until old enough to sell.. which then they are placed in either quarter size bags or cups and shipped to the store. So they are used to small/tiny places and then into larger water - which can be scary.
Also keep in mind most breeders keep the jarred males from seeing other males, so they don't get a chance to flare and work their muscles. So add to the new large space, they are a bit weak and swimming with heavy fins can be tiresome - so they will not swim a whole lot until they work up their muscles. Add in a stronger filter and the little guy just doesn't know what to do.
Now, this isn't for every betta, but many bettas do have this problem.
A couple things you can do - remove the filter and just not use it until he gains some strength back.. the tank doesn't need the filter, the plants will put the oxygen into the tank for the snail - weekly 50% water changes will be needed (no 100% as you have live plants). Once he is swimming regularly and flaring you can add in the filter and use the sponge to baffle it to a lower flow.
Place him back into the 1g and keep him there while he gets stronger, allowing your 5g to cycle as well.
Both cases, use a mirror once or twice a day for about 5 - 10 mins to get him to flare, that will work his muscles quickly. Even if he doesn't flare right away, keep using it and eventually he will - some are just a bit shy at first.
Another thing, which I am hoping it isn't, is that a lot of times we do bring home a sick fish, even if it doesn't look like it.. but I would try baffling the filter or taking it out or placing him back into his 1g and see how he does.. keep in mind some bettas will never like to be in anything bigger than a 1g.
I wanted to give you more options rather than spending more money if it's not needed. Sometimes a fish just needs time.
Thank you so much for all the advice, I do have a thermometer and he is not near a draft or a vent...I got a book from the library 'Your Happy Healthy Betta' which I read and prepared everything as well as I could. His tank and such was a gift and my brother also read the book and we got everything he needed. He was great the first few days, but has clamped his fins and is not eating. As I said I turned the filter off as that seemed to be what was stressing him. I am heading out this morning to get a sponge...had to google baffling but I will try it and I am going to do a 50% water change and hopefully he will be fine.
This is a great website and I am grateful for the patience to explain things to a nubbie like me. Once I figure it all out I will post a pic, he is a beautiful half moon betta that is red.