I'm not convinced Aloe Vera is all its cracked up to be. It's a topical ointment effective for injuries or burns on mammal hides and skin. The small amount infused into aquarium water is more for soothing the keeper than the fish, I think.
Only a pack-a-day smoker would think 1.0ppm ammonia is acceptable.
I've ordered the little sponge filter, air pump, tubing, check valve, and a better heater with a thermostat (yikes!). I can't wait to get the filter changed.
In the mean time, it's been 4 full days since I received the NLS Betta formula. He went for it the first 2 days, but now that he is very aware of the change, he is rejecting the food. He ate 1 pellet this morning, so I thought he'd be hungry for supper tonight. No dice, as he spit out the first pellet I offered to him. So now I guess we play a game of wills over his food, to see who breaks first. I won't worry unless he goes a week without eating, but I sure do miss seeing him chomp down his meals. He'd gotten fast enough that I could leave the filter on and let him catch the pellets as if they were bugs - it's fun to watch. Now I'm back to unplugging the filter and waiting while he circles around and around the interloping pellets, eyeing them suspiciously. Game on, little fella.
My new thermometer came today. I'd been using an under gravel betta bowl heater. It warmed the water enough, but I was having to unplug it on warmer days and check the temp constantly. I bought a 25w Hydor Theo because it looked small enough for my tank. It fit without any trouble. I placed it diagonally so I could easily see the temp dial, and to place the power cord closest to the gap in the hood. Boy, does Axl hate change. He flared and flared at the top of it, and he swam it little circles to stay away from where it hangs. He seemed really threatened. I turned off the lights near him and left him alone, to try to not add to his stress level. Six hours later, I went to check the temp, only to find him perched at the top end of the thermometer. Like, sitting on top of the control dial. It's the funniest thing. In the past, this fish had completely ignored the betta hammock I gave him. I used to feed him above it, but he never used it as a resting perch. So it was really funny to see him using the heater as a perch. Crazy fish!
He is really going to hate the sponge filter. It is supposed to arrive next week.
Feeding is going great - for the fish. I totally caved.
Fish: 1. Me: 0
I should say, I changed strategy. He was refusing the NLS. He'd watch for the pellet, swim up to it, sometimes touch it to his mouth, then swerve around it to the side, swim to the bottom of his tank and hide. If he did take a pellet, he'd crunch a bit and spit it out. It didn't matter if the food was dry, or if it had gotten soft from tank water. He was acting more and more fearful with each feeding time. The last time I tried, I stood there for 20 minutes trying to get him to take one pellet. He'd go hide, I'd pick up the pellet and place it in again. He'd do a "swim-by", hide, repeat....
He was acting so scared and stressed that I decided to put the switch on hold for a bit. The next day I went back to the inferior Top Fin Betta Bites. He hesitated at first, but after tasting the first pellet he came back for more. Then his new heater came, and I figured one change at a time was plenty for him. He still flares at the heater, too, but I also still find him sleeping on the top end of it. What a kook!
Once I earned back some trust in regards to his feeding, I started a new approach. From behavior modification theory, I know that random reinforcement produces stronger behavior changes than other reinforcement schedules (or none at all). His old food is the reward; eating NLS is the target behavior. At his last 2 feedings I started with the old and snuck in 1 or 2 NLS. He took them, and he ate so quickly that he didn't fuss over them like before. I'll keep doing this for a while if he keeps eating them. Hopefully after a while I can reduce the Top Fin and increase the NLS, until he is so used to the NLS that I can stop the Top Fin altogether.
When the sponge filter comes he'll have to endure another big change, so I'll have to see how that goes, too.