I received a surprise betta fish during secret santa over the company holiday and I've been trying to take care of it, but there's so many things to learn @_@. I never had fish before, I did some research online but I'm still not 100% sure what I'm doing is correct, so hopefully you guys can give me some advice:
tank: 5 gallon fluval chi (I have a very small apartment). It has gravel about 1 inch thick and some live plants (small bunch of amazon swords, 2x some kind of fern), a carbon moss ball, and a piece of driftwood.
filter: the fluval chi filter which I put a bunch of rocks on so it doesn't bubble so much, the betta doesn't seem to mind the mild current and likes to play around it actually.
tank mates: 2 zebra snails, 7 neon tetras (I know now that it's too many things, I did not know it at the time when I got them :/, I've been checking the water carefully to make sure everyone is ok) they all get along well and don't bother the other species.
water: Ammonia 0-0.25ppm (This exist before AND after the tap water + conditioner) so I am wondering if my test kit is off. I'm using the API Freshwater Master Test Kit. Nitrite: 0.25ppm, Nitrate: 0ppm. pH: 6-7 I can't read the color precisely... I don't think any cycle is going since I only had the fish about a week. I've been doing 30% water changes every day - 50% changes every 3 days and using API Stress Zyme and API Quick Start.
food: I alternate between tetra freeze dried bloodworms (1-4? I mashed them up a little so it's hard to tell), brine shrimp (mashed into power), betta bites (1-4 pellets) and new life spectrum (1-10... he gobbles them up so fast and they are so tiny), he eats everything super fast :D, I am watchful of his stomach so he doesn't eat too much.
--- THE ICH DEVELOPMENT: so originally I had a hydro theo 25watt heater in the tank which did not seem to raise the temperature to above 74 despite putting it on the max setting. So I swapped to the Aqueon 100 watt which did manage to get my water to 80ish and maxed out at that point. I think this is when the ich hatched... I saw it on my tetras first and I immediately isolated them into a 1gallon bowl (with original tank water). Then I saw my betta also had spots on him and he was swimming around kind of crazily... I moved him into a 1g bowl as well (with original water as I didn't want to upset him with a dramatic water change) and scrubbed down the 5 gallon and washed all the things - right now it's empty with just a snail and plants - hopefully the ich in it will die off with no fish to attach to.
Treatment: so I put the 25watt heater and a thermometer in with my betta in his bowl to raise the temperature - after 1 day I saw more dots on him as I think the Ich is growing from the heat. I put some aquarium salt in (1/2 teaspoon) and some Petco herbal ich treatment which I am really dubious about since it had no ingredients listed. Now I am not sure what I can do besides wait for the ich to come off and dosing them with medicine.
1. Should I be doing 100% water changes with the salt dosing? How do I change the water 100% without upsetting the betta? He really hates being netted. The instructions I saw for 100% changes included just dunking the betta into brand new water which seems to be a good way to shock him... But if I preserve the old water there might be icky ich in them ARGGHhhh...
2. He is very sad in the 1 gallon bowl with no decor or gravel (I didn't want to risk ich sticking to things), only the heater and a thermometer, is it ok to keep it like that for 10 days or however long it takes to kill the ich?
3. He's hovering on top a lot not moving with clamped fins which worries me, however he still has a huge appetite. I am not sure if I need to do something special to get oxygen in the water or is he ok breathing on the surface. When I turn the light on he swims around a bit. (I've been keeping it dark to reduce stress?) Is this normal? I have no idea what normal is as I've never had fish before :/
4. How do you guys make sure the water you are adding is the same temperature? I mean besides using a thermometer, how do you heat the new water up? I've been just adding a little boiling water to my tap to raise it... is this ok?
5. He also has a bit of white under his head on his chin... I can't tell if this is natural or unnatural... >_>
thanks for listening, hopefully he'll get better in the next few days.