What size is your tank? 5 gallons
What temperature is your tank? 79*F
Does your tank have a filter? No
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Is your tank heated? Yes
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? Fake plants
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Omega One Betta Buffet flakes & pellets
How often do you feed your betta fish? Every other day
How often do you perform a water change? Once per week
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 100%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Stress Coat +
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?
Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? Not as brightly colored, fins are shorter, he looks thinner
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? He just sits on leaves on his fake plants or on the floor of his tank. Sometimes I think he's dead because he's lying on his side, but then he moves.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? 3 weeks ago
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? No
Does your fish have any history of being ill? No
How old is your fish (approximately)? I got him on September 25, 2011
Is this normal aging or is my little buddy Gustav sick?
A few things I'd like to comment on though. You should feed your Betta every day, mostly the pellets as the flakes are messy. You can feed him up to 8-10 pellets if he'll take them but don't just throw them in and leave. Put one or two in at a time so that he can actually get at them and they don't sink to spoil your water. If you leave food in this is going to really spoil your water and be bad for him.
As for water changes since it doesn't have a filter you should do twice a week changes but just do 25% not a full 100%. It will be slightly easier for you and less stressful on him.
Also how do you do water changes? Do you use a siphon? and do you put the water conditioner in the bucket of water before it goes in the tank or after?
Wow, that seems like a lot! I've always read on here that they can only eat an amount the same size as their eyeball. I always make sure to watch him eat, he sometimes needs a little coaching, but he usually gobbles it up. I change the water with a gravel vacuum and a big bucket. I put the conditioner in after the water is in the tank, because I fill up his tank directly from the faucet. His fins don't have any fin rot on them, they're normal color throughout, just duller and less shiny.
Also, he's been kind of lethargic for months, but it's gotten really bad recently. He used to swim laps and patrol his tank, but now every time I look at him, he's just hanging out sideways on a leaf of one of his fake plants or on the floor of his tank.
You don't feed as much as you would say goldfish; only a few pellets a day to twice a day like lilnaurgrim said, but a regular dietary routine is good to have. Having a warm temperature around 78-80F will definitely be beneficial for digesting, so provided you don't overfeed you can feed daily. There's no harm in fasting for one day a week, but that's personal preference.
Since you're filling directly from faucet, condition the tank prior to filling and dose for the entire tank volume. That gives a chance for the water to be dechlorinated during filling and will be less stressful. Make sure to fill up slowly.
If you do 100% water changes, you need to be matching the temperature and pH otherwise it can be very stressful, so it's important to know those values for tank and tap. But as Lilnaugrim said, smaller but more frequent changes would be better.
It would be good if you could get the parameters tested. Your local fish/pet shop should be able to test the water for free :)
Ok, so I should put Stress Coat + in after I take water out, but before I put water in? Any reason why other than it will be easier? I take Gustav out of his tank during water changes, so he doesn't get exposed to the new water before it's safe for him. Also because my gravel vac is the kind where you have to move it up and down in the water a lot to get it going, and that splashes the water back and forth and would create too much turbulence for my buddy. I always match the temperature by making it a little too cold by about 5 degrees and then turning on the heater to get it up to 79 degrees. I also acclimate him to the pH, etc very slowly by pouring a bit of water from his cup into a bucket and putting some fresh tank water into his cup. I repeat that process for about 10 minutes, and then I let him free.
It's not their stomachs that are the size of their, it's their brain actually. Their stomachs are much bigger than that, but it depends on the pellet size. NLS and Omega are smaller pellets, hence you can feed more of it in one sitting than if you have TopFin, Aqueon or whatever brands you have.
So let me get this straight for my own good lol; so you take him out, and you use the siphon. Is the siphon and auto-changer or do you siphon it into a bucket? Then from there do you use a bucket or again, does the water go back through the siphon?
But yes, use Stress Coat after you remove the water and before you put new water back in. Either way, it still still be better also for Beneficial Bacteria to grow. I know you don't have a filter but beneficial bacteria will still grow from the natural Nitrogen Cycle that happens. And chlorine will kill them so you want to keep them alive, hence put the conditioner in before you put the tap water in.
Beneficial Bacteria or BB is what helps turn ammonia into nitrites and nitrites into nitrates which are then taken out by water changes, basically they keep your fish safe and are responsible for keeping tanks safe for all creatures ^_^ but if you kill them, then that won't help much lol but really if you do a water change at least once a week there won't be harm with too much ammonia build up.
As far as his color and being lethargic it could be due to a slightly older age, he could also be stressed which will cause him to lose color momentarily and become lethargic and kind of boring so to say. It could be that he doesn't have enough energy to perform better since he was only fed every other day, just like you if you didn't eat for a whole day you probably wouldn't feel or look very good either lol so feeding him once every day might certainly help unless he's got something internal or external that's bothering him such as Ich, Velvet, Body slime infection, fin rot, internal parasites, bloating, constipation, just to name a few although most are obvious.
Does he look bloated at all, does he poop regularly? Is it brown/orangy in color and is it solid or is it white/stringy? Does he try to "itch" himself against decoration, does he have twitches that aren't the normal Betta twitchy swim?
My water change routine is: take him out/lure him out with food, unplug heater, siphon water out into a big bucket, dump the big bucket of water in the bushes outside my apartment, carry tank to bathtub, get the water going at a good temp, fill up the tank, carry tank back to desk (with help, I'm not The Hulk), add water conditioner, plug heater in, wait for temp to get up to 79*F, slowly acclimate Gustav to the water chemistry, and let him free.
He doesn't look bloated, and his poops are normal-looking. Same color as his food, mini swirly shaped.
Edit: no itching and no twitching either
New development: this morning, I tried to feed him a flake (they were out of pellets at Petsmart), and he grabbed it, did a victory lap with it sticking out of his mouth, and then dropped it and swam away :( I got it out so it wouldn't mess up the water chemistry, but he wouldn't eat again when I tried again.