So I put my boy, Finn, in his tank yesterday, and he's really not doing well. I mostly suspect it's stress, but there are so many variables that changed recently, that I got nervous and just moved him back to his original tank. Here is the "long version" just to make sure all details are covered. I'm sorry it's long-winded. Nervous betta momma over here....
Originally, I had him in a 1 gallon tank, unfiltered, unheated. I know it says to keep the tank heated, but the tank was at 77 at night, and he was always completely satisfied. He had a plastic plant that he loved and big black rocks he liked to burrow in (and damaged his fins, so I took them out, against his protesting). Also included was a moss ball. I did 100% water changes every other day. He lived in this little world for 1 month and absolutely loved it.
Well, my order from Petco finally came in yesterday for the following, all of which were installed yesterday:
5 gallon mini-bow aqueon tank
50 W heater ("up to 20 gallons")
thermometer on opposite corner of tank
betta hammock leaf
5 lb natural colored gravel
Asian tower decor
10 watt fluorescent bulb
(also put plastic plant from first tank and moss ball in there with new tank)
(I also bought a java fern, which is set up in a separate tank for quarantine for the next 2-3 weeks)
Before installing everything, I cleaned everything with tap water. I rinsed the gravel until the water was completely clear. I used tap water to fill up, dechlorinated with water conditioner from Aqueon, and set the thermostat to 78-80.
So originally, my boy was still swimming around some when I put him in his new home. He loved his betta hammock leaf almost instantly. However, a few hours later, he swam close to the current, got carried off, became spooked, and he hasn't really moved from the bottom of the corner ever since. I've tried a plastic bottle baffle, which didn't help much. Today, I went to petco and bought a filter sponge and rubber-banded it to the filter flow. It's reduced the current significantly, but he still hasn't ventured very far to see that the current has been significantly reduced.
Nervous that he still seemed stressed (curled up in the bottom/corner of his aquarium, and his fins, I realized today began curling on the edges), I took a water sample to my local pet store and found these readings:
Ammonia: 0-0.25 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 0 ppm
Water hardness: "soft"
Alkalinity: 300 ppm <-- Not sure if this is abnormal? My novice assumption is yes.
Okay, so I came home from the pet store and immediately did a 50% water change with vacuum. After which, the pet store closed, so I haven't been able to resample my water. I plan to go first thing in the morning to get a sampler kit (Can someone please tell me if there is a kit that can tests all of these parameters in a single kit?)
Despite the water change, Finn hasn't changed from looking lethargic. In fact, about 2 hours ago, I noticed he had developed a lusterless/white-ish horizontal stripe on his side.
From reading extensively over this forum, I've learned it's not unheard of for a betta to be stressed in a new environment--especially from a suddenly bigger tank, addition of current, different temperatures, addition of unfamiliar substrates, etc. I also learned that new gravel may be the cause of the sudden increase in pH, and while a gradual increase in pH won't harm our finned friends, a sudden spike can shock them (One thing I couldn't find is if the gravel pH ever goes back down or will stay at a steady 8.4 for the remainder of its existence).
That is why I moved him back into his familiar 1 gallon home, at least for tonight while I sleep and can't watch over him (and more importantly, while I wait for answers for the ever-knowledgeable bettafish.com helpers!).
My question for everyone is where do I go from here? The 5 gallon tank never went through a nitrogen cycle, so I'm wondering if maybe I should keep Finn in his comfortable 1 gallon home for now and nurture his poor, stressed little self while ensuring his NEW home is in the perfect condition before re-introducing it to him. If that's the case, should I take some of the gravel and put it in his 1 gallon tank so he gets used to the increased pH? Also, is it safe to put a heater in a 1 gallon tank? And yet another question: with the addition of the java fern, can I put that in the 5 gallon tank for the nitrogen cycle, and will that be enough to count as "quarantine" from Finn? Or, is all this just wrong and I need to put him back in the new tank with all the new features and wait until Finn stops sulking?
I know this was long-winded, and I apologize for that. And I hope this is in the right forum (if not, please let me know and I'll move it promptly!). Please help; I am determined to figure out a quick-fix to Finn's comfort, as well as helping ensure his long-term safety. Your help is so appreciated. :)