I have learned so much from this forum since joining about 1.5 yrs ago. With all that knowledge, my daughter and I were able to keep our most recent betta happy and healthy until he got sick suddenly while we were away on vacation and died yesterday. My daughter really wants to get a new fish asap but I am feeling discouraged. We have had 5 bettas die in 2 years now and I am worried about getting another one. A big part of the problem is that we travel as a family for a week or more 1-2 times per year and even though we have people look after them while we are away, every single time we go away and return, a fish gets sick and dies shortly after. The first couple of deaths were related to water change errors on the part of the fish sitters, so more recently I decided to try to avoid having them do water changes but then fish got sick and died anyway, presumably from ammonia poisoning.
I am starting to think maybe we need to upgrade to a bigger tank with a filter (we currently have a 2.5G heated/unfiltered in which we have been doing two 50/100 water changes weekly but that gets disrupted when we go away) so that the fish can survive for more than a week without a major water change. But to be honest, the idea of cycling a tank intimidates me. People talk about how easy bettas are to care for and I have no experience with other fish to compare, but really I do not find them easy at all if one is going to care for them properly.
I guess I am looking for advice or suggestions on how to more successfully keep a betta alive long-term given that we inevitably have to leave it for 8-10 days several times per year. Relatively low-cost suggestions particularly appreciated, since we have cumulatively already spent a lot of $$ on fish and fish care. Appreciate any thoughts.
Since the tank is 2.5 gallons, you don't need to do a cycle. Make sure everything works, set up the tank, and buy the fish! But be very diligent about water changes. 50% twice a week I think would be good. Or 100% once a week (not entirely sure, someone pitch in!). Best of luck!
If you do want to upgrade to a larger tank, don't be intimidated about cycling - it's not nearly as tricky as it sounds. It is just a case of encouraging the growth of good bacteria with an ammonia source. You can do fish-in or fishless (my preference) and using substrate from your current tanks will help a little.
I think it is a good idea if you go away a lot - cycled tanks are more stable so there is less to go wrong for the sitter. :)
It's so inexpensive and has worked well for my fish. Maybe you can could join an aquarium society in your area to find an experienced fish person to watch your fish when you are away or post in the classifieds her to see if you can find someone here.
Some professional aquarium cleaners could be hired to do the cleaning for you if you are worried about your sitters doing water changes. I worked in an hair salon with a large marine fish thank that was professionally cleaned and maintained for us by a specialist.
a bigger cycled tank with a moderate amount of plants basically makes water changes monthly or less, my big tanks I do a 25% water change like every 2 weeks/month or so I just test the water and see hows it's going but it's usually 0-0-0
I got a 5 gallon tank and knew nothing about cycling. I just did one 25-50% water change a week. Then I found out about cycling, so I tested my water and found out that it had cycled on its own.
So long story short, you don't have to worry about cycling, if the tank is big enough, it will do it on its own.
Reguardless of which way you go, if you leave for such an extended period of time on a regular basis you need a filtered tank. This will maintain water quality longer and improve the overall health of the fish, which will give it a better chance of survival.
Don't be intimadated by cycling. People often make it seem a lot more difficult than it really is. It's just a natural happening. I have a fully cycled 2.5 bowfront and it only gets a 50% water change once a week. Makes my life easier, less stress on the fish, and a more pleasent experience overall.
Get a sponge filter and let it do its thing. You can read all about them by clicking the link in my signature!
We're going to be going away this summer for about a week, and I was worried about my bettas too. Recently, I got a 10 gallon tank and divided it for my two bettas. I planted it too, to help with the cycle and keep the ammonia down.
If you're planning on getting a bigger tank, I recommend getting something within the 5 to 10 gallon range. I baffled my filter with a Fluval Edge intake sponge and part of a water bottle over the outflow to slow it down and redirect it. Cheap and easy. The only thing that can be a little pricy is the light bulbs and plants. The plants I got are generally about $3 each, but some you can get in bunches and divide, like Wisteria and Moneywort, two types of plants I have in my tank. I haven't tested it yet, since I don't have a test kit yet, but my fish haven't been showing any signs of ammonia poisoning or anything. I've been doing water changes, about two 50% a week. 100% breaks the cycle, so that's a no-no. I use a gravel vacuum to suck up all the poo and whatever else is on the bottom, and it sucks out the water too, so it's an easier way to get the water out of the tank without having to actually get a cup and scoop it out like I used to with my smaller tanks. When the tank is cycled, water changes can be fewer and it should be safer to leave the fish alone for a week or two without worrying about it getting ammonia poisoning. The plants can suck up ammonia, so it isn't that big of a threat. If the fish aren't fed during that time, that also reduces the amount of ammonia build up.