Fish people of the world, I need help! I have a couple of questions that need answering…sorry in advance for the long post. I hope you will bear with me and read through the whole thing.
I am not a fish person, but I came across my male Betta fish, Sir Floatley Geoffers, a little over a month ago and fell completely in love with him. The tenant who moved out of the apartment I was moving into just left him there, poor thing, so I took him. He was in a tiny vase with dirty, smelly water, so I scrambled to get him a new home. I got him a 2 gallon bowl and a little heater, but the water was still under 70 degrees, so, after some research, I recently got him a 10-gallon tank. I decorated it with lots of plants as well as space and a couple of hiding spots. The two filters I tried had very strong currents, so he doesn't have a filter right now. I don't think the tank is cycled, but it is spacious and he is the only one in there. I am about to test the water. He was happy in his bowl and built a bubble nest before I moved him, but he hasn't built one in his new tank. He comes to the front of the tank when I am there, and he has done some circles of the tank, but most of the time I see him curled around the heater (or staring at it from close by) near the surface, which is set at about 78 degrees (it's hard to tell exactly on my heater). He also stares out the side while he is next to the heater…almost as if he's staring longingly at someone or something he loves. I tried turning the heater up, fearing he was cold, but his behavior didn't change, so I turned it back down because I don't want him to cook himself. I am pretty sure he's constipated, but I don't know if that has anything to do with it…he seems bloated and there is something poking out of his vent. I plan to get fibrous food for him tomorrow. I am concerned that this behavior is either a sign that he is sick or a sign that he does not like his new tank, which leads me to my next question…
Do Betta fish have any sensitivity to color, specifically red? I put a bunch of red plants (as well as green) in the tank so he would feel he had something to blend into (he's dark red and turquoise, simply gorgeous!), but he rarely goes into the little forest I made for him. Should I change the environment around? Is he unhappy, or is he still getting used to his surroundings? When I moved him from the vase to the 2g bowl, he instantly starred frolicking and swimming around. He still flares at me without a problem.
I also recently bought an under gravel filter and an air pump (I got one for a 5g tank so the current would be weaker) and I need to get it into the tank…I'm assuming I need to take him out completely, along with most of the other stuff, in order to set it up? Also, is the water dangerous if a new filter doesn't get a chance to run before you put the fish in? I bought some of the live bacteria solution and some stress coat, but I am nervous about changing the stuff in his water and accidentally making him sick or stressed.
I know I did all of this backwards, but I was so eager to make him happy and healthy and take care of him, which is the opposite of the way he was treated before. I wish I could actually speak to someone and have them talk me through all the technical stuff…
I got a glass cover for the tank the other day because I was worried about all the random bits of stuff that seemed to be floating into the water, and wondered if that might be what is creating the cloudy film at the surface. The condensation accumulated very quickly on the underside of the roof, and the drops now fall into the water. Will this cause him stress? It does seem to startle him sometimes.
I hope I have not made some horrible, fatal blunder by doing all of this too quickly and without thinking ahead. Can anyone help me? I am used to dogs and birds, fish are new to me, but I am doing my very best to do right by my sweet little knight. I probably also forgot some of my questions. I've been doing lots and lots of research, but everyone's got a slightly different approach to Betta care, and I could really use some personalized advice.
Thank you so much for your help. I love my little fish so much, and I really want him to be happy and healthy. If anyone needs me to post pictures or video, I can do that. Just tell me what to show you.
The filter questions are likely better answered in the tanks forum, the people there are experts on cycling and filter managment, but I can help you with some of his problems.
Fish in a new environment do sometimes establish a home base they hover in while they adjust which seems to be the spot near his heater. As he learns to trust his new environment you will see him open up and explore more over time so I do suggest you wait and see how he goes after a little time to himself.
The film on the surface is from a new tank and is common, you can just scoop it out with a net for the time being. it comes with the new setup the same as white sheet algae can as well. Both of these go away after a while so just do your best to suck it out as you see it.
While bettas do love size keep in mind you dont know how long he was in that tiny vase, he may be completely overwhelmed by his new home and is taking time to get used to thinking it is HIS. Imagine if you lived in a one bedroom flat and suddenly woke up in a palace. bet you would be confused too! :D
Also dont be too harsh on yourself, you have given him all the things a betta needs and are obviously trying hard to be a good fish parent, especially when you consider he was sprung on you completely by suprise.
take a deep breath and relax, there is nothing you have done to be worried about, he may well just need to adapt to his new environment.
The heater he may well see his reflection in it or he just may feel comfortable sitting near it, I wouldn't worry too much.
The red plant is fine, I have red one it seems to be my boys favourite.
For adding the filter, it is up to you really how you want to do it, if you want to take out some water so you can get your hands in the tank and move gravel carefully you can do it and leave him in the tank, or just guide him into a cup and leave him to float in a cup in the corner of the tank, until you are ready to release him.
The plants you might want to space them out a little, Betta's need easy access to the surface, too dense and it might discourage him from swimming around them, although they do like cover, but also easy access to the surface for air.
so far you have done a great thing for this little guy, but you can relax, would love to see some pictures of him.
Agreed. He just needs some time to get use to his new home. Plus, I bet laying on the heater feels nice to him after all that time in a tiny cold vase.
You could get him a tank mate. A lot of times it helps them relax when they see something else moving around in a big tank other than them. Snails like Mystery, Zebra, or Assassin (snail killer btw) are good for hard water. Corys (the smaller breeds) or Otos work for soft. Ghost or Red Cherry Shrimp for just about any hardness (although Mr betta may think they are dinner and not new neighbors XD ). Many people have good luck with African Dwarf Frogs or White Cloud Mountain Minnow, but I have no experience with them myself so I leave that up to you. If you go with anything but snails or mountain minnows, I would change the tank over to Caribsea Supernatural Sand so they can't get hurt by the gravel.
Tetra Whisper filters have a weak current. I had my internal 10-30i in my 10gal tank for a while and the current wasn't near as bad as I thought it would be. I have it in my 25gal now. Have you looked at the 2-10i before?
Here are a few things I've learned...
Turkey basters make great aquarium spot vacs.
Good food is well worth the cost because it lasts them months. I like Omega One Beta Buffet myself.
Feeding twice a day is NOT a necessity (just like with dogs), but there are some health benefits.
Having him on a schedule IS important. Lights and feeding are most important. His eyes will start getting ready for the change beforehand and his body will do the same thing for meals. Try to do PWC around the same time and day too. You can even schedule him an enrichment/playtime so he will come to expect something interesting (like a mirror, a ball, or just your finger) and be more engaged/curious.
They are little pigs. And they are not above begging. Unless he is a Giant, he should not be fed more than one to five Omega One pellets a day.
Live plants rule. They suck ammonia out of the water for you and multiply (unlike fake which must be purchased one at a time and then scrubbed or thrown away)
Betas like caves. Try to have one simi-transparent (like dark glass) and one solid (like a cave or cleaned PVC) so he has choices.
Try to have a floating plant (real or fake) so he has somewhere to lay near the water's surface when he wants to nap.
Betas like to be talked to and interacted with. Call him by name when you feed him and talk to him as you clean his tank. If he understands you aren't scary or threatening his space, he may become a bit affectionate over time (mine comes when I call and lets me pet him) and easier to cup when need be. Posted via Mobile Device
Thank you for your responses. I am trying to take a picture of him, but the lighting is all wrong, and you can't really see him well. I didn't put a lighted hood over the aquarium because I didn't want to give him anything else new to stress about.
He has started to roam around the tank a bit more, much to my relief. However, I'm now noticing a slight size difference in his eyes, and I am worried that he has popeye (which I know is a symptom of many other things). It's barely noticeable, but I did notice it, so I am concerned.
I fasted him and fed him part of a cooked pea today, which he chased to the bottom of the tank and gobbled up like Cookie Monster. Hopefully he will be less bloated soon.
I do have an in-tank thermometer, and it's showing a lower temperature than the heater, so I turned up the heat. I noticed that his fins seem a little clamped at the ends, but I also don't recall him ever having them totally spread out since I found him. Though they do seem a little closer to him than usual. I will continue to try and capture some picture or video...is it okay to shine a light on him if he's not used to it?
Another thing...one of his small side fins is white-ish at the base. This has been the case since I found him, and it didn't change when I treated him for a fungal infection, so I'm wondering if it's from an injury or a previous, untreated illness? He has two pinholes in his fin that have also been there since I found him. I discovered that this meant he had fin rot, but they have not changed in size or shape since I adopted him, so I think it may have cleared itself up when I moved him to clean water. However, if the white base of his fin is a red flag, please let me know!
I might just be paranoid, but there is no way for me to tell exactly what horrors he's been through, and I want to eliminate all possibility of any enduring or approaching horror. He deserves a break, poor little thing! I am moving to a new apartment soon, where I will put him right in the middle so he'll never be alone. However, if he's sick or stressed, something tells me moving him might not be the best idea just yet.
I will post this as a new thread in the diseases forum as well.
Do yourself a favor and get rid of the under-gravel filter. They are more trouble than they're worth, especially for a new keeper. You have an airpump? Get a small "sponge" filter (as they're called) that works with an airpump. Circulation from the filter will even out the heat in the tank.
New Life Spectrum Betta pellets or Omega One Betta Buffet are the best food you can get. Prime is the most recommended water conditioner. Change at least 3-gallions of water every week dosing Prime @2-drops gallon of tank size.
Put in more plants, LOTS more, especially near the surface.
Please try not to post your threads twice. Most of your questions are answered here:
I was gonna suggest ditching the undergravel filter as well and go with a sponge filter since you already have an airpump. Where I live, the only way to get them is online. Ebay and Amazon are the best bets. You can get a super cheap one from an Asian seller, but it will take 2-3 weeks to arrive.