Hello everyone! I'm new to these forums, but so far this is looking like a great place for a wealth of fish knowledge, which I believe I'm in need of. The stickies were a great help, but I have more questions.
My current situation:
About a week ago I came into the possession of a male betta when one of my friends said they no longer wanted their betta, that it was just 'too much work' and that they 'didn't like the fish anymore.' They were simply going to flush the poor thing, so I volunteered to take him instead. Alas, it's been more than five years since I took care of any aquariums (Marine Science class, and those were all saltwater), and I'm more than a fair bit rusty.
He came with his tank (3.5 gallon), light and food. I got some water conditioner and did a complete water change in his tank as soon as I got him home, as I don't believe that they ever changed the water in the tank (seriously, it was red and full of floating red muck - surely the uneaten flake food leftovers) and it was quite disgusting, had to wipe down the sides of the tank, they were covered in a brown film, and I just completely replaced the substrate, as the pebbles they had in there were equally coated in... goo. He has some smooth glass stones in the bottom now, I believe they will be easier to keep clean, and just all around look better.
I began looking for information on the web after that on info to care for the little guy, and I'm wondering, was I perhaps too rash in doing a complete water change and cleaning the tank? Did this cause even more unnecessary stress on this fish? He has become considerably more active over the course of the past week, but I am not sure if this is because of the cleaner tank making him happier, or is he just stressed out over his new environment?
His tank is unfiltered, but I am going to be sticking to 40-50% water change twice a week, which I believe will be sufficient to negate the need for a filter. I do not have a heater for his tank, but I have been monitoring the temperature and it is the same temperature as my room temp, which has been hovering between 75 and 77 degrees. I live in Florida, and it stays fairly warm here, and I like to keep my house on the toasty side, even in summer (house is normally 80+ in summer), will a heater be necessary if the house is kept at this temperature range anyhow?
The betta came with flake food, which he eats with no problem, but my research so far seems to indicate that betta pellets are the preffered feeding method. I went and got a bottle, but so far all he's done is swallow the pellet and spit it out half a dozen times before ignoring the pellets completely. Should I not bother feeding him pellets and stick with the flakes? Should I persist in trying to switch him over to pellets?
Also, I've read on several sites around the 'net that in Thailand betta-keepers would often place a dried banana leaf or indian almond leaf in their betta's tank, as this was supposedly a natural remedy to help improve their betta's health? Well I don't have Indian almonds, but I have an abundance of banana trees growing in my back yard, and I am considering trying this with my betta. Do any of you have advice or experience on this? Should the leaf be submerged in the tank, or left floating at the top? My trees are free of pesticides so I'm not worried about any poisons tranfering to the tank's water, but honeslty this is the first betta fish I've ever kept and I dare say their requirements are a fair bit different than what I remember when I cared for brown-banded bamboo sharks and oyster toadfish.