I'm new here, having found this forum after searching for information on the care of Betta fishes, which I didn't even know existed until yesterday. So here's what happened ...
I came home last night and bumped into my roommate in the lobby of my building, who, upon seeing me, immediately started telling me about how this poor fishie had been abused and could we take him, please please please?
Brooklyn (as we call him now) was sitting at the front desk in a small plastic jar with "NEED A GOOD HOME" written on it. Apparently, the building staff had rescued him from abandonment by his previous owners, who had left him IN THE TRASH, SWIMMING IN A JAR FULL OF ORANGE JUICE / ORANGE JUICE COLORED WATER. To die.
This morning we bought him a much bigger proper glass fishbowl (one of the 2.5 gallon drums), some glass pebbles, Betta food pellets, and a net. We let the water sit for a bit but probably not enough (though we have a Pur water filter which we'll use from now on); I found this forum THIS AFTERNOON and spent the rest of the day at Petco trying to find him some Java moss and a cave.
I have read the FAQ, and plan to get the water tested and a thermometer tomorrow, but there are still a lot of things I don't understand. I would really appreciate any help you guys could give, like:
Where do you actually get a good cave? Everything at Petco either didn't look safe or looked sharp, like lava rock. Would something like this be OK?
What's all this talk about cycling and cleaning the tank/bowl? Are there any instructions on how to do it properly?
How do you change the water 100% while still aging it properly? Do we have to get another 2.5 gallon container just for that?
Are there any other supplies that are absolutely essential that we're missing? Yes, I know about the heater, but it's really warm in the house, even at night, so we're not going to worry about that until winter.
Not posting any pictures, since right now the bowl literally just has Brooklyn, glass pebbles, and the paper bag I partially covered the bowl until he gets a proper shaded environment.
That cave will be ok. Any cave from petco should do just fine.
To cycle your tank you would need to get a filter and a liquid test kit. Ideally you would cycle without the fish in the tank but it is possible to cycle with the fish in the tank, it just requires a little more work. Cycling establishes beneficial bacteria in the tank which turn Ammonia created from fish waste into Nitrite which is in turn changed into Nitrate which is safe for fish at low levels. This makes it so you don't have to do 100% water changes but can get away with doing one partial change a week.
If you can get a bucket you can use it to age your water. Hit up local restaruants. Many get 5 gallon buckets with pickles, etc in them and just throw them out and you can get one for free. Then when your ready to do a change just cup your fish and rinse out the gravel/tank and put the new water in.
I highly suggest you get a thermometer for the tank, especially if your not going to use a heater. It is imperative that the temperature be stable and not go up and down drastically.
I would get some plants (real or fake). Bettas love plant cover and most will prefer their plants over a cave.
yeah petco would probably be fine. i got one from petsmart for $5 if you wanna go check that out(i know what you mean about it looking sharp, the petsmart ones looked "Safer" to me). Cycling... ^^stated right up there. It's NOT NEEDED, but highly helpful. you basically wait for ammonia to spike, then drop, then nitrite to spike, then drop, then nitrate to grow. Usually takes a couple of weeks. 3-6 most likely. and yeah, get plants. Silk would be good, real best because some plastic cuts up the bettas fins. also some water conditioner if you're using tap water to take out chlorine and other chemicals in it. Just make sure you keep the temp between 78-82 degreees.
In your 2.5g tank with a filter make twice weekly 50% water changes and without a filter make one 50% and one 100% water changes a week.
If you don't have a siphon you can use a clean plastic cup dedicated to the fish and dip the water out, if you have a filter-on one of the 50% water changes stir up the gravel and dip out the debris, you won't get it all and that is okay
Turn the filter off with all water changes and once you turn it back on after you re-fill it, the tank should clear after an hour.
The only chemical additive you need is a good dechlorinator if on city water supply to be added to any water added to the fish.
Keep the water within a couple of degrees from new and old water to prevent any temp related issues
Filter media-give it a swish/rinse in old tank water with a water change 1-2 times a month and when the water flow slows to get the big pieces of gunk off, you want the filter media to look dirty.
You need a heater to keep the temp in the 78-80F area
For a cave you can use a clean coffee mug or a terra cotta pot until you find one you like
That "cave" may not be good if it is made form the natural rainbow rock stuff. I have heard that these rocks may raise your water hardness--which bettas do not like. If the piece is resin/plastic it should be fine, but if it's real rock, I probably wouldn't. They're also really rough and might rip betta fins. Terra cotta pots are great--but you MUST expand the hole in the bottom so the fish can swim through, or you must plug the hole with something. A lot of bettas have been seriously injured getting stuck in the drainage hole of terra cotta pots.
As far as cleaning goes, Old Fish Lady is right. And if you don't have a dechlorinator, you will need one. I suggest Prime or Amquel+, these remove chlorine as well as chloramines and heavy metals that cannot be removed by aging your water.
For aging water, I suggest getting a plastic storage bin, like the rubbermaid/sterilite ones you find at target or wal mart. These are only about $2 and are great for keeping your fish or water for water changes in. They make excellent hospital containers and quarantine containers as well. They're safe for fish and safe to be heated.
You do need a heater. Bettas are sensitive to the cold and usually don't do well at normal room temperature--if you get a nice heater with an adjustable dial, it will help keep the temperature from dangerously fluctuating. After all, you cannot really predict if you will suddenly experience a cold spell that could harm your fish.
Okay, I'm about to take the water to Petco to be tested; I also just gave him a 25% water change.
We got Aqueon's Betta Water Renewer ... the pet store guy told my roommate that it's a dechlorinator, but the bottle itself doesn't seem to say that. To be safe, I'm filtering the water using a drinking water filter that specifically reduces chlorine (Pur stage 2), aging it, and then adding the water renewal later. Do you think this will be enough for dechlorination?
If the natural rock is bad, what if I were to use a piece of Mopani wood? I will also try a ceramic cup.
I know I need a heater, but right now room temperature is very steady in the safe range, and Brooklyn's arrival was very sudden. Getting a thermometer for his bowl ASAP anyway.
I don't have a filter. Should I just wash the pebbled every time I do 100% water changes?
So long as the wood is hard wood, not soft wood, and it has been boiled several times to get the unwanted stuff out, and the sharp edges have been removed/sanded down, then yes, you can use it. Anything cermaic or glass or food safe is alright for bettas. :)
Don't wash your pebbles with soap and water, as residue from the soap could kill your betta. Only use hot water to rinse the gravel and the tank with.
I would rinse the pebbles/gravel every single time you do a change. This will make sure you get all of the waste out and keep your water conditions pristine. Mopani wood would be a great addition just make sure it doesn't have any sharp edges, if it does just sand it down a little and you should be good to go :)
Errr. The one problem with using any kind of driftwood, mopani or malaysian or otherwise--is the fact that it needs to be boiled and then soaked to remove the tannins. If you simply drop it in, your water will be so dark you won't be able to see your fish in the morning. You should boil each piece multiple times, and then soak it, preferably in a bucket out in the sun so that you get some bonus heat to help draw out the tannins. Bettas naturally come from an environment rich in tannins, so they don't have much of a problem with it as long as it isn't too saturated--but many people find it unsightly. I'm sure with some googling you could learn more about the process.
Petco also offers pre-soaked malaysian driftwood, this is what you'll see in their stock tanks. This wood is pre-soaked, and you won't have to do as much work to keep up with the tannins. However, if the stock in the driftwood tanks doesn't look healthy you still might want to boil the pre-soaked piece for the sake of sterilization.
1fish2fish is spot on about the cleaning--you will need to rinse out everything with hot water with every 100% water change.
Also, the main problems that can't be cured by water filters or aging is the chloramines and the heavy metals. If the dechlorinator doesn't specifically state that it removes both of these things, get another. I suggest Prime or Amquel+.