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Old 01-12-2013, 09:32 AM   #1 
AbesMom
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Betta started flaring constantly?

Several months ago, I rescued a betta from Walmart. Abe was a bit shy and didn't want to eat for the first month, but eventually decided he preferred flakes over pellets.

I have him in a half gallon tank, no filter, and do 50% distilled water changes/poop cleanup once a week, and fully clean the tank every 2 weeks. I originally used tap water with the dechlorinator, but it made him sluggish. The tank is on my dresser, away from sun or direct draft. I also switched out the small plastic plant for a larger silk one, so he can swim/hide in it without snagging his fins.

He was doing great once he started eating. However, as of about a month ago, every single time he sees a person, he flips out and flares! If I leave the room, I can see him swimming around calmly, or hanging out behind his plant. If anyone walks in, he flares and swims around manically. This has been going on every day, and I can't figure out why. Sometimes I actually have to cover the front of his tank with a tea towel so he can't see me... I feel guilty that he seems to hate people!

Any advice? I don't know how much stress is normal for a betta, and he seems stressed just being around me. Hopefully this is an easy fix, because I'm totally stumped by this fairly recent switch in behavior.
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Old 01-12-2013, 09:38 AM   #2 
asukabetta
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I do not know but some bettas are skittish in nature, there are some people who have bettas thinking that they are invading their territory and just do that - flaring-. Perhaps put him in a less traffic area, and make sure he sees you while feeding him, if he associates you with food then he will not be nervous around you. Also, does your fish have enough hiding spots to feel safe?

As a side note, I would use conditioned tap water than distilled, because it doesn't possess the minerals a fish needs, nor oxygen-- and it's not very recommended and it is more expensive than treating your tap water. Perhaps you want to use a different brand of conditioner, and make sure you are adding the proper amount.

I never heard tap water with conditioner turn a fish sluggish, unless it is cold. Is your tank heated? It helps with the activity and keeps a stable temperature.

Last edited by asukabetta; 01-12-2013 at 09:41 AM.
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Old 01-12-2013, 09:45 AM   #3 
AbesMom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asukabetta View Post
I do not know but some bettas are skittish in nature, there are some people who have bettas thinking that they are invading their territory and just do that - flaring-. Perhaps put him in a less traffic area, and make sure he sees you while feeding him, if he associates you with food then he will not be nervous around you. Also, does your fish have enough hiding spots to feel safe?

As a side note, I would use conditioned tap water than distilled, because it doesn't possess the minerals a fish needs, nor oxygen-- and it's not very recommended and it is more expensive than treating your tap water. Perhaps you want to use a different brand of conditioner, and make sure you are adding the proper amount.

I never heard tap water with conditioner turn a fish sluggish, unless it is cold. Is your tank heated? It helps with the activity and keeps a stable temperature.

He can always see me when I feed him, which is why this is so weird that he's suddenly afraid of me. And he does seem to like his hiding spot behind the plant, so maybe moving the tank and trying a new conditioner will help. I had originally used the sample bottle that came with the tank, so maybe it went bad or something?

UPDATE: I just went in to feed him like I always do, and he actually alternated eating and flaring at me.

Last edited by AbesMom; 01-12-2013 at 09:58 AM.
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Old 01-12-2013, 10:36 AM   #4 
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It seems you may have to acostum the betta to your pressence, make sure he sees you during feeding :) give it time, if it doesn't change then well, he just considers you an invader it happens.

Usually sample conditioner is crap. Prime is considered one of the best brands :)

You know you could add an Indian almond leaf and keep one always in the tank, it will tint your water brown but it acts like a stress reliever and tranquilizer. My betta is skittish and a tail biter and with IAL he stopped biting his tail.
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Old 01-12-2013, 09:02 PM   #5 
AbesMom
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So during his normal biweekly tank cleaning/water change, I used the tap water and conditioner as recommended (aqueon brand). Now Abe is sitting in the bottom of his tank, very sluggish. Is this just him adjusting to the change in water, or have I ruined my fishy friend's life? I want him to get back to his normal, active self!
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Old 01-13-2013, 12:31 AM   #6 
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Does he just have the one plant in his tank? Bettas love lots and lots of hiding places. Perhaps he feels threatened that you appear to be in what he considers his territory.
Also, if you changed his conditioner without adapting to it first, that will cause sluggish behavior. Bettas are extremely sensitive to water changes and it is recommended that if you switch any of the water parameters, such as water conditioner, you do it slowly. For example, you would only put in 1/4 of the new water conditioner and 3/4 of the old the first time, then half and half the second time, then 3/4 of the new and 1/4 of the old the 3 time, and then the 4th time, you would completely use the new. Distilled water is actually harmful to your fish because it lacks the essential nutrients and minerals that they need.
Also, for a tank that size, you need to do two 100% water changes and 2 50% water changes a week in order to keep him from getting ammonia poisoning - check out the link at the top of this forum on water changes. Note that it does not list anything smaller than 1 gallon because the general rule for all fish is 1 gallon per inch of fish to keep them healthy.
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Old 01-13-2013, 12:33 AM   #7 
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Oh and I forgot to mention that he needs a stable temperature between 76 and 82 degrees to remain healthy. They are tropical and although they can survive in room temperature water, temperatures that cold will compromise their immune systems and they tend to not live as long or be as healthy. Water below the optimum range will also cause sluggishness.
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Old 01-13-2013, 03:44 AM   #8 
billysurf
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Give time to your fish, remember that you've caught the wallmart and everyone will look at the fish and hit the glass etc. my advice feed him well asle water changes every two or three days of 100% and so you always see it start to get used again to the people
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Old 01-13-2013, 11:30 AM   #9 
callistra
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In something so small you need 50% change every other day (if not daily) and 100% water change a week.

Bettas need 2g minimum... some people will try for 1g but they will live shortened lives... you're not going to see any 5-7 year bettas in 1g bowls. They can usually live 2 years or so in a 1g but in a half gallon being changed like that 2 years would be a long time.

They need a heater with an in tank thermometer to watch temps that will hold things at a constant 78-80ish degrees.

They need a place to hide and soft silk plants to lay on.

Here's how you can do a large water change without shocking:

Quote:
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.
Suggest having a read through the care sticking in this forum.
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Old 01-13-2013, 11:39 AM   #10 
Syriiven
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+ Everyone above me - they're right, a bigger tank means fewer water changes then what you should be doing for him right now, and more space for him to swim, and more decor for him to hide in. The heater's make a big improvement in their lives too.

The only thing I would think to change is the flakes...they have a tendency to lead to bloating (even if they havent yet) and they dirty the water pretty quickly. A good betta pellet would be best for him, and if he doesnt like the whole pellet, you can use a spoon to crush it and then feed it to him. I had to do that for a little while with a small guy.

I'd suggest Omega One or New Life Spectrum as the best brands to get, and only 2-3 pellets in two feedings a day. One tiny jar will last you a long, long time, so it's worth the couple extra $$.

Hope he feels more active soon though!
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