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Old 01-27-2013, 04:47 PM   #1 
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Exclamation Two weeks. One dead. One seeming Ill. My poor fishies need your help!

I lost Bigfin about 10 days ago. I had him just a year. I used to do everything wrong (small bowl, no heat, 1/month water changes) and had them living longer than that!

NOW - I thought I was doing it right for Bigfin. I did a lot of research here before getting him. I have a 3 gallon tank. It is heated to between 75-80 degrees (depends on air temp here, not programmable, but it keeps it in that range). I changed the water weekly - 100% - because there is a ton of yukky poo and food particles in there usually. I would rinse the plants and tunnel, rinse the glass rocks, use a paper towel to wipe down the sides, refill with the same temp of water, and put in water clarifier (Tetrafin for all fish, not the betta only one). Then I would re-enter Bigfin and he was happy for 11 months doing this. About a month a go he got really slow and started hanging out at the heater cord instead of in his beloved floating tunnel. Temp was still in the right range, so that was weird. Then he got clumped fins, fin rot, white fuzz - etc. I treated with some Jungle Brand Fungus Clear fizz tabs. He still died. I did change his water when he got sick right away, and again in a week later, which is about 5 days before he died.

I have the API master test. I tested Bigfins water with the fungus stuff in the so not sure it was accurate.

OK, so, after a thorough cleaning (I boiled the glass rocks, scrubbed the floating tunnel and plants with a fish only toothbrush, and put scorching hot water in the tank and re-washed all the fish stuff I had scrubbed, then refilled with scorching water and then rinsed very well. I let all items dry overnight and for about 15 hours. I wanted to do that to make sure all fungus was dead from the old fish.

I filled it up, treated the water, got it to the right temp, and then brought Phineas home. I floated his bowl in the big tank for about 10 hours then set him free in it. He was SOOOO happy for a few days and then started hanging out and not moving near a (plastic) plant for two days, and now for 3 he has been living at the bottom. I can barely get him to move.

I feed him Betta Flakes. They are about a year and a half old but Bigfin did fine on them. I fed him once a day.

I tested his water that day that I put him in and the ph was 7.8, and Nitrites seemed fine. I lost the paper I wrote it on but remember those two.

Today I tested and his PH was about 7.6-7.8, Nitrites were .25, Ammonia was 1 and Nitrate was 0. The tank water is one week old.

I just read that maybe I should just change his water partially to lower the PH, so I just did a 50% water change. Now I need to re-enter him, but want to make sure he lives. He is a crown tail - my first one, and he is so beautiful!

I am concerned about the Ammonia, but read in the Api test booklet that sometimes that surges and then falls over a week or two.

It seems weird not to change the water 100% but I will do what is best for him.

I am trying so hard to give these guys a good life. I like my fish friends.
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Old 01-27-2013, 05:01 PM   #2 
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Here are links to the tank, heater, and thermometer I use. The thermometer is hard to read, but it is always in the green area or just into the yellow area right above the green area. It is about 3 inches down in the tank. I do notice it is warmer at the top of the tank than at the bottom, so I imagine the very bottom of the tank is more like 72-73 degrees usually.

The awesome floating log. Some of the log look has rubbed off, but it is really their favorite thing ever!

Last edited by Dragonfin; 01-27-2013 at 05:03 PM. Reason: added a link
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Old 01-27-2013, 05:10 PM   #3 
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The constant up and down of the temperature is not good. Mine does that too and I orderer a new one on it is an Aquatop 50watt adjustable. I'm crossing my fingers with this one.
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Old 01-27-2013, 05:15 PM   #4 
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As others have noted these temp swings are a problem. In a tank this size you want a 25w adjustable heater and I would give it a 24 hour test run in similar size container w/in tank thermometer to make sure it will hold one constant temp between 78-80 and then acclimate your betta to the higher temp at no more than 1 degree per hour and 5 degrees per day.

Your tank also needs to be placed on an interior wall away from exterior windows, doors and any vents. These can also cause temp swings.

I also suggest finding a good quality pellet whose first two or three ingredients are whole fish not fish meal or pellets because flakes muck up the water faster because some of them will dissolve into the tank and some will get lodged in the bottom no matter how you try to keep any off the bottom. This may be contributing to such high ammonia.

However, you still need to increase changes. Ammonia and nitrites are both a problem. 1ppm ammonia is a big problem.. even <1/4 of that is too high. You should be doing twice weekly water changes of 50% and 100%.

What conditioner are you using?

How do you do water changes and how to do acclimate after a 100% water change?

Last edited by callistra; 01-27-2013 at 05:19 PM.
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Old 01-27-2013, 05:16 PM   #5 
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Sorry that you lost Bigfin. It happens, even when we try to help them.... Congratulations on trying to give Phineas a good home.

Here are a few things that I noticed in your post:

Things that I would CHANGE or FIX:
  • Do you have a filter? If not, then more frequent water changes are needed. Per OFL's recommendation (on the stickied thread) for a 3 gal, you should do one 100% and one 50% per week.
  • You don't need water clarifer. You do need a conditioner that neutralizes chlorine and chloramines, and removes heavy metals.
  • If there are food particles left in the tank, you may be feeding too much.
  • Betta Flakes aren't the best food. Pellets are better. People here recommend two brands of pellets: New Life Spectrum (NLS) and Omega One Betta Buffet.
  • Ammonia is too high! More frequent water changes will prevent this.
  • Ammonia will not surge unless you have a tank in the process of cycling. It doesn't sound like you're cycling a filtered tank, though. (If you are, then 100% water changes will restart the cycle each time.)
  • Lowering the water level will NOT affect the pH of the water. But the pH of your water is completely acceptable. You don't need to mess with it.

Things that look GOOD:
  • A 3 gallon tank is good.
  • Heated is good. Dropping to 75F is a bit cool, but ok. At least you have a heater in there. Maybe you can eventually get one that doesn't have so many temperature fluctuations.
  • Rinsing the decorations during the 100% change is good.
  • The API Master test kit is good. If you don't have a filter, then the most important test will be for ammonia. You want to keep that as low as possible.
  • pH is fine. You don't need to change it at all.

When you say, "I floated his bowl in the big tank for about 10 hours then set him free in it." Did you do anything more than floating the bowl? Did you slowly add water from your tank into the bowl in order to get him used to your tank's water chemistry?

Last edited by LittleBlueFishlets; 01-27-2013 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 01-27-2013, 06:14 PM   #6 
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Hmmm, no I didn't think to slowly add the new water to the old water in his bowl. I just knew to get it to the right temp. for him slowly.

The tank is in an interior wall, but I live in Northern MN, so two days ago the high temp outside was -17 Fahrenheit (with a -35 degree wind chill) and now today it is 30 degrees out - we went for a long walk without hats or mittens! It felt like summer! We keep our house heater set to 67-69 degrees, but wind chill, even when away from the windows, creates drafts that chill the air before the central heat can catch up.

The water conditioner is - Tetra

Does an unfiltered tank cycle?

I could lower the water level of the tank to keep the temp a bit warmer in there - less to heat - that may work.

BAD NEWS THOUGH - I put Phineas back in there after writing the post, and now noticed he is LAYING on his SIDE and barely moving his gills. I think he is a goner. I cried when I saw him a bit ago. He seemed so excited when i first stuck him in there earlier - went strait to his tunnel, but then apparently croaked? - Or almost croaked?

I don't want to keep killing these pretty fish that I am trying to give a good life to.

He has no appearance of fungus or anything. He looks beautiful and normal, but mostly dead.

I started doing the once a week changes instead of 5 day changes because I was API testing the water and looking for the ammonia to go up and it never did until day 9 or 10 at least so I figured 6-7 days was probably safe.

So I should be doing partial once a week and full once a week? In such a big tank?

How in the world did my others live in a 1 gallon tank, unheated, that I only changed once a month? I had one live two years in there! My sister has her fish in tiny bowls that are so full of scum you can hardly see the fish, and they are 3 and 4 years old. How do some live no matter what, and others die when we try to do everything right?

Poor Phineas. I tried, buddy. At least you had a good life for a few days.
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:07 PM   #7 
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What the hey - now he is swimming around like normal - and he ate! I am SOOOO confused!

Sorry I am post hogging my own post. Still looking for advice - chime in!
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Old 01-27-2013, 09:13 PM   #8 
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The Tetra AquaSafe Water Conditioner that you're using is fine. It will take care of the chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals. So that's fine.

He may have been suffering from the shock of being put into the tank without being acclimated first.....

Every time you do a 100% water change, he needs to be acclimated. There are some different techniques, but basically:
1) Note the temp in the tank.
2) Put him in a cup while you change the water in his tank.
3) Do the water change (with conditioner). Make sure the water temp is the same as (or VERY close to) the same temp it was originally.
4) Float his cup for 15 min so the temp in/out is the same. (More time is fine. Less time isn't.)
5) Add a SMALL amount of new water from the tank to his cup. Let him sit for 15 min. (More time is fine.)
6) Remove a small amount of water from the cup. Discard it.
7) Repeat steps 5 and 6 multiple times. Some people say to repeat this at least four times, others say to continue doing it for an hour.... But slower is always better. There's no such thing as acclimating too slowly.
8) Then release him into the tank.....

As for the temp.... Since it's so cold outside, then I'm sure not going to argue with being able to get his tank temp up to 75! Brrrrrr!

Since you don't have a filter or live plants, then your tank isn't going to cycle. You just do regular water changes to keep the ammonia level down. You don't want it to go up - not ever. Ammonia is bad. The ideal ammonia reading on your test kit would be zero. (Meaning none is present.)

Glad to hear the little guy is up and swimming! Yay!
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Old 01-27-2013, 10:23 PM   #9 
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Thank you! That is so helpful! I suppose maybe the transition, not to mention the being put in a little bowl and then dumped back into the big tank while cleaning probably wore him out. Maybe he naps on the rocks in a half dead position. He was seriously laying on his side!

I do remember now that when I first got Bigfin that he looked like he was going to die the first week or two also. Perhaps they are in shock that they have such a wonderful universe, now. Much different from their little cup at Walmart. I told my husband the first night that Phineas had never seen dark perhaps - living in a Walmart that is open and lit up 24 hours/day.

I hope Phineas lives a long time. I am running out of names with the word "fin" in them. We have had Finn, Finnagain, Blue Fin, Dragon Fin, Clarafin, Finley, Little Fin, Big fin, and Finley. That is 10 fish in 8 years, but a couple died after only a day or two. One lived two years in his little unheated gallon tank. Most lived 8 months - 1.5 years.

I want to do it right. I thought I was until Bigfin died. Bigfin was the first fish in a bigger, heated tank with weekly water changes.

I hope Phineas recovers fully! He is so beautiful and I love him already!

Thanks again, LittleBlue!
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Old 01-27-2013, 10:28 PM   #10 
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One more thing - With the ammonia at 1 today I did a 50% water change. Should I do a 100% tomorrow? Or just test it again to see if it is better?
I hate to disturb him again so soon.

Also - Bigfin always made a bubble nest on days 4/5/6 of the tank water. I felt so bad destroying it all the time on day 7. Wouldn't a beautiful bubble nest indicate that he was happy?

Thanks to any and all.
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ammonia, api, jungle fungus clear, sick

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