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Old 06-15-2009, 03:01 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Jun 2009
My Son's new Betta Fish "Spiderman" looks in trouble.

Hi All,

I'm not sure where else to turn so I hope you can help.

My 5 year old son got a Betta Fish as a Kindergarten graduation present a week ago. Since he's Red with a tinge of blue, my son named him Spiderman.

I bought him a real 5 gallon fish tank (not a plastic kit) and all the goodies... a good filter, Betta Fish pellets, proper stone for the bottom of the tank and even a plant.

The tank is just under 2 weeks old.

Well Spiderman was doing great until a couple of days ago. We have an Easter Island type statue in the tank that he had been hiding inside for days. We got worried, so I removed it and he's been EXTREMELY lethargic.

He doesn't appear to have any physical signs of disease, but he's sitting on the bottom of the tank not moving... almost like he is asleep. When we tap the tank he moves around rapidly for a bit, then back down to the bottom.

I've had the lights on during the day 10 to 12 hours (as required for the plant) and off at night as suggested. We've been feeding him 4 pellets every second day (as suggested by TWO aquarium stores) and the tank is heated. I've used the chemicals that were included in the tank kit, Tap Water Conditioner, Cycle (beneficial bacteria) and Nutrafin Waste Control.

I'm going to have the water tested by the Aquarium Store (since I'm not paying $40 for a $4 fish at this point...) to see if that could be an issue.

The aquarium store guy said it could be that he's just bored... and maybe another fish (just not a Betta) would help. I'm not buying that though...

Spiderman hasn't puffed up his fins in days... and was always swimming around exploring until a couple of days ago.

Anybody have any suggestions? Could he be bored?

Any help is appreciated.

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Old 06-15-2009, 03:19 PM   #2 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Central Texas
Hello and welcome to FishForum. First of all, are you trying to cycle the tank? It may be that ammonia has built up and thats why the fish is so lethargic. If you plan on cycling, it will take a couple weeks to a month to cycle. This is the building up of beneficial bacteria in the tank. You can feed him 2 pellets twice a day. If you aren't cycling, you can do partial water changes once a week and 1 full change a month. This is what I do with my uncycled 4 gallon tank. Hope this helps.
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Old 06-15-2009, 03:45 PM   #3 
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Thanks for the advice dramaqueen.

I'm pretty new to the fish tank game, so I'm sort of following what the aquarium guy told me to do.

I guess I do want to cycle my tank. Though that opens more questions than it answers... lol.

Does that mean I should not be changing the water?

Will Spiderman fight through the build up of ammonia, while the tank builds it cycle? I do have some brown algae on the plant, which is apparently normal in new tanks.

I've attached a picture of Spiderman. Sitting in a corner, doing not much... he does swim around, he darts around for a bit and then settles back at the bottom.

He hasn't puffed up in days... that worries me.

Is it worth it to get a guppy or some similar fish known to be okay with Betta's?

The picture is a little blurry... auto focus doesn't like the fish tank glass. heh.
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Old 06-15-2009, 03:52 PM   #4 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
did you put conditioner in the water? have decorations in the tank?

both my betta fish did that when i first got them as a pet at work until a new distract manager demanded it be to removed from the store because we sell professional hair products and not fishes. i use to feed them some flakes and they loved it then gotten bored of it. so after three months, i moved them into my living room and i fed freeze dried blood worms and both of them go nuts.

try adding more plants into the tank so it feels like it's still in their natural habitat.

i know people have different ways of dealing with this but that's how i solved the problem.
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Old 06-15-2009, 06:08 PM   #5 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Central Texas
You can google fishless cycling to get info on it. Most people cycle without the fish because its stressful on them. Hopefully, some other members will give you more advice on cycling.Also, while you're cycling, you'll need a test kit to monitor your water parameters: ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Most people use the API freshwater master test kit. The strips aren't accurate. I wouldn't put any other fish with him right now until you get the cycling straightened out.
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Old 06-15-2009, 06:38 PM   #6 
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Location: Cartersville, GA
I would say make sure the water is clean, use conditioner, and heat...make sure his water is warm.
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Old 06-15-2009, 07:15 PM   #7 
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Location: Northern California
Most definitely do a partial water change. Since the tank is only 2 weeks old and it sounds like you haven't done any water changes the ammonia has probably built up. Siphon out about 25-50% of the water and add new tap water that has been conditioned with the water conditioner (to eliminate chlorine and chloramines). Make sure the new water is at about the same temp as the tank water.

You can (and should, to keep the fish alive!) do water changes during the cycle. I would try not to touch the filter media until the tank is fully cycled (when you have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and some reading for nitrates). The bacteria will colonize on most surfaces in the tank but will be mostly in the filter media. If it gets really gunked up you can swish it in some used tank water. Don't clean it with tap water because the chlorine will kill off your beneficial bacteria. You will need to get a test kit to test for ammonia, nitrites and nitrate and test every day or every other day. When ammonia or nitrite rises above .25ppm you'll need to do a water change. Cycling the tank is the hardest part of keeping fish. Once the tank is established it's a breeze and you'll only need to do weekly water changes of 25% or so.

Also, do not add anymore fish with your Betta. They like to be alone and the tank is really too small to add much else. I'm sure once you do a water change you will see an improvement in his behavior.

The other possibility is that he is too cold. Do you have a heater(and thermometer) in the tank? Bettas do best at temps of about 78-80F. For your 5 gallon a 25 watt heater should be fine.

Good luck and please don't hesitate to ask anymore questions.
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Old 06-15-2009, 07:53 PM   #8 
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Thanks for all the advice.

I did a 50% water change this morning, so hopefully that will help, and I did condition the water as well. The tank is only about a week and a half old, not quite 2 weeks, but I guess it was due.

My tank is heated... I have a heater that goes under the rocks in the bottom... however, my tank is about 82F.

I'm going to take some water to the Aquarium store tomorrow and have them test it for me. $1.99 for that or about $40 for the kit.

He seems a little better tonight.
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Old 06-16-2009, 07:00 PM   #9 
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Spiderman seems to be coming around...

I did a couple of things to help him

50% water change 2 days ago.
25% water change yesterday.
Conditioned the water.

Had the water tested at Big Al's and it came back perfect.

The lady at the store suggested a guppy as a tank mate for Spiderman, and they were $1.99, so I grabbed one. So far, Spiderman chases him around, but 80% of the time he leaves the guppy alone. We'll see if "Yellowie" lasts the night.

The good news is Spiderman is coming around. Got colour back in his face, and he is out and about again. Looks like he just needed a water change and some more frequent feeding.

Thanks all.
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Old 06-17-2009, 09:09 AM   #10 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Central Texas
I'm glad Spiderman is doing better.
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