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Old 03-24-2010, 01:12 PM   #1 
SilersAngryMeow
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Betta Bowl Cleaning 101?

My co-worker friend left for a month, and left a betta in a 5" wide bowl at her desk with no directions to anyone about how to take care of him. I'm glad I found this, did she think he was just gonna be fine for a month?? This poor guy's water is half empty (... lol, I guess that makes me a pessimist?) and completely murky. I don't know if his water has EVER been changed. He is living in poo. I gave him a little bit of betta food, which he ate, and now he's laying at the bottom of his bowl. i guess he's cold.

I've never had a betta, but I've read enough to know that these are miserable conditions. I'm going to fill the bowl (gradually, don't want to shock the little bugger) and then, later, I suppose i need to clean it somehow. In my online reading, people say to take the fish out, put him in some dechlorinated water, clean the bowl, put him back into new water. Does this sound right? Doesn't this completely get rid of any bacteria? How do these fish not die of ammonia poisoning?

Also, since I don't have any Prime or anything at work, do you think I can just use bottled water? Is that dechlorinated? My coworker said to put DI or milliQ water in there (I work in a lab) but I think the chemistry of those waters would probably be too different from the poo/tap water this fish is accustomed to.

Poo-fish and I appreciate any advice you have! Thanks!!
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Old 03-24-2010, 01:34 PM   #2 
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Wow. Ask her if she'll give you the fish? Dechlorinated tap water is probably best...as long as your area's water supply isn't heavy in metals...the minerals in the tap water can help the betta's health. Bottled water, in most cases, can be used. That size bowl, the water could/should be changed daily. Yes, that frequent changing of water will not allow the proper bacteria to grow adequately, however, changing the water frequently can avoid ammonia spikes. If you can rinse with dechlorinated water when cleaning you can try to keep the "good bacteria" alive in the gravel (no soap or chemical). The temperature should be kept 76 to 82 degrees F. Poor guy...your a good person to help him!

Last edited by BerkB33; 03-24-2010 at 01:48 PM.
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Old 03-24-2010, 01:42 PM   #3 
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Yeah, I figured I should stick with tap water. I guess I'll wait to fill his bowl until tomorrow, so I can pick up some dechlor.

So, daily water changes. Got it. What percentage of water do you change? In my regular fish tank (29 gal) I do 10% - is it the same with a betta bowl, or do you change more?

How do I get the poo out? A 100% water change? Sounds shocking...
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Old 03-24-2010, 01:56 PM   #4 
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You can use some of the bottled waters...I read someone on here say stay away from distilled water...I have no experience with distilled water so I can't speak to that personally. I'd go 50% daily or every other day. As long as your trying to make him more comfortable.....a little larger "tank" would perk him up for sure...and a silk plant would reduce his stress...just bill your co-worker when she gets back...LOL! Tell her the SPCA came by on a betta tank inspection raid!
If you get some dechlorinator you can treat a bucket of water to rinse out the poo and still make an effort to keep the "bacteria."

Last edited by BerkB33; 03-24-2010 at 02:00 PM.
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Old 03-24-2010, 02:17 PM   #5 
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Don't worry about killing any good bacteria... unless they are living in a running filter supplied with lots of oxygen and nutrient-filled water they don't exist.

100% bowl changes are absolutely fine and will not shock the fish so long as you match these three things in the new water to that of the old water:

-pH
-hardness
-temperature

Obviously if you are using the same old tap water hardness and ph will not be hard to match, just run your finger under the water and fiddle with the tap until you can get the temperature similar to that of the bowl.

For cleaning out all the waste usually the easiest way to go about it is to dump all the gravel or marbles into a cheap dollar store strainer and rinse them out in scorching hot tap water.

Perhaps you can bring some prime to work in tupperware or those glas stubes you get with liquid test kits?

Poor guy... kudos to you for stepping up to the plate!
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Old 03-24-2010, 04:59 PM   #6 
SilersAngryMeow
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thanks so much to both of you for all the information! I found some dechlor (another lab had some) and am going to add some clean, dechlorinated tap water slowly to his bowl. Once he's up to volume, I'll do some partial water changes, and then go for the full-on bowl scouring. Hopefully that will get him used to the chemistry of clean water before a 100% water change.

Temp shouldn't be hard to match, btw. Poor guy is at room temp. :( Maybe I should just take him home and tell my friend he died while she was gone. Wouldn't be too hard to believe :P
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Old 03-24-2010, 05:03 PM   #7 
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You should! Poor guy.... good luck!
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Old 03-24-2010, 05:39 PM   #8 
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Obviously if she doesn't care about him anymore, it'd probably be the best if you did take him home!
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Old 03-24-2010, 05:45 PM   #9 
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Yeah. (If you can, see if you can get pics Hehehe.)
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Old 03-24-2010, 06:02 PM   #10 
SilersAngryMeow
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I love how all y'all are rooting for me to engage in fish abduction!!

Here's a pic of him now, on my bench. It's not great b/c I took it with PhotoBooth on my computer, but you can see him in the front. It's almost like he's begging for help. ;)
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