Russ, I have all my bettas in filtered tanks, and I absolutely think they're happier and healthier for it. Plus, it makes it less stressful on them because you're not having to do 100% water changes--just about 25% a week, unless you have troubles with cycling. (You should test the water in the tank about once a week, too, with a test kit or at least strips, to make sure you don't have bad water parameters for them. Bettas are pretty tough, but they can be fragile just coming home from the petstore.)
My kids each have two PetCo bettas in divided, filtered, heated, 10-gallon tanks from PetCo that were a great deal. With the Pals card, you get the tank, filter, heater, everything for $50. I was at our PetCo yesterday and saw the deal still on. I highly recommend a filtered tank! The flow on most filters is adjustable and won't bother your betta at all. My kids have had their bettas for over a month now, and the fish seem very happy and healthy. My spoiled PetCo betta is in a 12-gallon Edge filtered tank and makes bubble nests galore.
Most water conditioners don't remove ammonia, Russ. If you're on well water, you may not even need to use water conditioner, since you shouldn't have chlorine. Are you using warm water when you do your water changes? It should be as close to the temperature they were at as possible.
Bettas actually like soft water, so that's in your favor. :)
Thank all of you for your replies. I have not been using any water conditioner, I thought that was only needed when using city supplied tap water that would have chlorine in it. We are on well water. When I do 100% water changes I clean tank & deorations with hot tap water, and boil the rocks.
Then I fiddle with the temperature, & ph levels until they are right. But I had not been gradually acclimating the fish back into the tank.
Do I need to start treating the water with conditioner everytime I change the water? the only thing I have been adding everytime is aquarium salt.
I obviously don't need a chlorine remover. Please recommend a general conditioner, health maintainer ( Fishy Multivitamins if there is such a thing ). I started this hobby because I was told they were so easy to keep....so far I'm not convinced. I don't want to have to add 10 things to the water everytime I
change it. Is there 1 product that should help improve the general health of the fish's environment. Along with the advice about how to transition that has already been provided.
Russ, I think you're actually trying too hard. You absolutely don't need to do all that when you do a water change. Whatever beneficial bacteria you've built up are being destroyed. You might want to look at the thread on the Nitrogen Cycle: http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=111960
Also, from the sticky on "Water Chemistry Basics":
What happens if I use Well Water?
The two main differences between well water and tap water is the fact that well water would contain no chlorine or chloramine, as well as the pH will be different. As a nifty tidbit of information I learned from my classes, water that is stored in wells or groundwater also have higher amounts of dissolved Carbon Dioxide gas in them. This causes the pH of the water to decrease, making it more acidic. What can I do to fix my well water pH? Leave well water for a little while in a bucket to allow the carbon dioxide gas to escape, and returning the pH to normal. You could probably aerate it by stirring it around from time to time or put a bubbler in it.
I honestly think, with well water, you probably don't need to add anything to the water. I don't.
It sounds, too, like maybe you don't have a heater, since you say you "fiddle with the temperature" until it's right. Bettas NEED a heater. They really need one. The water will not stay a constant warm temperature all on its own.
Wait.... why are you adding aquarium salt? Bettas are sensitive to this. Using too much, or for too long, can cause kidney damage, fluid retention, bloating, etc.
I would not adjust the pH. Soft, slightly acidic water is perfect for bettas. This is what you already have.
I believe that we often over complicate things. My opinion:
A 2.5 gal unfiltered tank is fine.
Do one 100% and one partial (about 50%) water change per week. You don't need to boil the rocks, just rinse them off. (Be sure to acclimate when doing the 100% water change.)
Even if you're using well water, I would add a water conditioner. Many of them have additives that protect the slime coat. If you opt not to use conditioner, let the water sit overnight before using it.
If you live in a climate or home where the temperature isn't "tropical," use a heater and a thermometer. (Walmart has floating glass thermometers for less than $2. The Marina Betta heater is $12 at Petsmart.)
Feed a quality pellet food. (Pellets are easy to count out, and don't make a mess like flakes do.) New Life Spectrum betta pellets and Omega One Betta Buffer pellets are the two most frequently recommended pellets on this forum.
Enjoy watching him.
I feel that if you keep them in warm, clean water and feed them good food, then they generally do pretty well.
If you want to add a vitamin supplement, look into something like Vitachem, but personally, I don't feel that additional vitamins are needed, as long as you're feeding a good pellet food.
Years ago on our acreage we used well water. Our water was tested for heavy metals and contaminants twice a year. The results from the first tests were quite alarming and we had to use chlorine bleach and and filters to rehab the well even though it smelled and tasted ok.
Now Im not saying this is the problem here only that its a possibility and your water could need treatment. City supplies are monitored and treated constantly often well water can go years between tests. You may want to have it tested for heavy metals and bacteria. There are water conditioners available that do work on metals but knowing the concentration level and which metals could be active via testing would be helpful.
* Prime® detoxifies nitrite and nitrate, allowing the biofilter to more efficiently remove them. It will also detoxify any heavy metals found in the tap water at typical concentration levels. Prime® also promotes the production and regeneration of the natural slime coat. Prime® is non-acidic and will not impact pH*