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Old 08-10-2010, 11:37 AM   #1 
Ashkeldir
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A newbie's novella; ode to my Betta Splendens

Ok, well, not really an ode, but more like a hello and a cry for help

Ok ok... not really a cry for help either, just some questions, and a sort of introduction.

My wife and I won a male Betta splendens at a wedding reception (it was in a bowl on our table)and since my wife had had some before, but had kept them in small bowls, I decided to research their environment, etc., here and on a few other sites.

Firstly, let me say thank you for this site and for the tons of information contained herein! It is a treasure trove, and what I have been dealing with comes largely from what I read on these pages. Now, on to the purpose of this post!

During my research, I discovered what I expected to discover - that I didn't want to keep the Betta splendens in a tiny bowl, but instead bought a 10 gallon tank, and decided to also add some community fish. I talked to the wife about it and used a German Shepherd analogy - if we kept one in our bedroom and only opened the door to feed him once or twice a day, and cleaned his poop once a week (or worse, once a month), he would survive, but I doubt he'd be very happy! So, here we are.

I bought some product to get rid of chlorine/heavy metals, etc, and some biological quick start bacteria, because I had already added the Betta splendens to the aquarium before I learned about cycling an aquarium. (The people from whom we had bought our aquarium had literally just acquired their pet store the same day we showed up - and so they didn't know about cycling aquariums yet either!)

Now, I don't profess to know everything now, but since I did my homework (better late than never!) and have learned about cycling, what types of fish to include, etc, I thought it would be interesting to tell you all where our aquarium stands after less than one week of ownership, and into the cycle process.

I purchased a test kit and have been watching the ammonia/nitrite levels - when they reached 1ppm (3 days ago), I did a 20% water change and then two days ago I added an ammonia clear tab (to neutralize it). I have also added a fair bit of the cycle bacteria (a little more than suggested per the directions), and I have added Easy Balance as well as a product that claims to control fish waste and waste from decaying food. I added another ammonia clear tab again last night after testing and finding the ammonia at .5ppm (not bad for day 6, right? I mean, it would be much worse if I wasn't doing what I'm doing)

Let me back up - I'll start at the beginning.

We got the fish on Monday of last week (Aug 2/10), purchased the 10gal tank with a Whisper filter on Aug 3rd and put the Betta in there that day, along with gravel and some plastic plants (and the ball of Java Moss that came with the original small bowl). I also added a 200w heater because I did not know I should have bought a 50w (same place I bought the aquarium and the owners didn't know either), but it is barely ever on, because room temperature is near 79deg F, and that is my goal for keeping the water temp (it has been pretty much 78-79deg consistently). I added an in-tank thermostat to make sure of the temp. On Aug 4th, we added 5 Glowlight Tetras and 6 Black Neon Tetras, along with a plastic "Titanic" and a "Betta Log" with a hole on the top for him to breathe. He loves the log and the ship - the tetras aren't huge fans of anything other than hovering around in open space - but Omen chases them around somewhat. He hasn't nipped any, though I'm not sure if that's because they are fast enough that they can get out of the way, or because he's just playing... I guess we'll find out eventually if he eats one of them!

Yes, the Betta splendens is called Omen. My wife's last fish was Nemo, so I figured we should call this one Omen, since we wanted a replacement for Nemo, who had died three weeks ago, and we got Omen at a wedding reception and didn't have to pay for him - and he's similar in color - and we just got married three months ago. He's a good Omen, so far anyway. ;)

Back to the topic at hand...

I bought a Gravel Vac to do thewater changes, and I will now list my plans for the upcoming weeks.

Since I was told that the cycle will probably be 'complete' in about 3 more weeks, my intention is to do a 20% water change once per week (unless ammonia/nitrite levels spike over 4ppm, but I'm hoping to never even see them hit 2ppm), to add two ammonia clear tabs per week (double the regular dose), to add the waste management chemical once per week (assuming that is all that is needed, ie, assuming the ammonia doesn't spike much, and I don't expect it will), to add Easy Balance once per week, as recommended, and to test PH weekly.

I didn't write down the PH but it was only very slightly acidic.

The Betta is somewhat picky about food and he sometimes won't eat the Betta pellets, but will eat the tropical flake food that we give to the other fish - and I guess that's ok, as long as it doesn't hurt his intestinal tract. We also bought some Tetra Bloodworms but we haven't organized ourselves well enough yet to feed them to him while they are hydrated, so he tries them while they are still dehydrated and spits them out, and doesn't try them again... I am guessing he will like them better once we get organized enough to feed them to him after hydrating them. I am thinking of using a shot glass with aged water, and some tweezers; my plan is to drop the bloodworms in the shot glass for a minute or so before putting them in the tank with him.

Something else that gets me : the tetras are not rushing to the surface when we feed them. They like to hang out near the bottom, near where the pump's waterfall cascade is most active, (ie where there is the most water movement) so they typically only see the food after it starts to get pushed down towards them by the pump's waterfall.

The problem with that is that a lot of the food ends up on the bottom (or back in the pump's filter) and I can't accurately judge how much they are eating. I have tried turning off the pump and just letting the food sit on the surface of the water, but it sits there forever - they do not come to the surface to eat it... I am at a loss.

All I can think to do is to continue feeding them with the pump on and hoping they actually get enough. I am trying to establish a routine: turn the flourescent light on in the A.M. and turn it off at night, around the same time (planning on getting a timer, soon), feed them around the same time, preferably three times per day, but at worst, twice (morning and evening) - but again, it is hard to say if they are eating enough. They are still very small, so I think they'll be fine if I just keep on keeping on, but I thought I'd mention it in case someone has some advice on this subject.

One more thing: I am trying to figure out how to calm the water's surface for the Betta's sake (the pump creates endless waves, but I want Omen to have some calm space), and I have an idea, but am wondering if there's anything better out there... I was thinking about creating a mid-sized curtain (maybe a circle of about 6 or 8") of java moss, perhaps attached to some mosquito netting, hung in place by attaching some fishing line, and some fishing weights (outside the tank) and to either have the java moss curtain hanging directly in front of where the water falls, and have it facing the waterfall, to have it absorb the shock, so to speak, or the second option is to have it hanging halfway across the tank, kind of like a screen separating the two halves of the tank, though I wasn't going to make a complete separation, perhaps shape a disc that takes up 1/3 the space in the center, with a hole in the middle for the fish to swim through (though that may be bad, since the netting would be plastic, and Omen's fins could get caught - unless we can find a plastic ring that we can attach... anyway, the mesh/netting hanging across the middle of the tank to separate the two halves may be a bad idea - or may be a good idea? Or maybe the first idea is better - a "Java Moss mesh netting baffle" may be the perfect thing? Or maybe there's a better idea out there for providing a Betta in a community tank the opportunity to build a bubble nest, if he so chooses, without having the motion of the water disturbing it every time he starts to build. Or.... Maybe not?
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Old 08-10-2010, 12:03 PM   #2 
Oldfishlady
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Welcome to the wonderful world of fish keeping....

You can make things much easier on yourself and the fish by first-take back some of the fish, you are over stocked-one of the schools need to go.

Exchange the 200w heater and get a 50 watt

Toss all the chemical additives except for the dechlorinator

Test the water daily and any time the ammonia or nitrite are 0.25ppm or higher make a 50% water change

Once you have reading of nitrate 5-10ppm and 0ppm ammonia and nitrite for several days without any water changes you are most likely cycled (4-8 weeks) and can then stay on a regular water change schedule of 50% weekly along with vacuuming in all areas that can be reached without moving anything in the tank.

Make sure the water temp is within a couple of degrees from new and old water and use dechlorinator with any new water added to the tank with water changes.

Remove any uneaten food after feeding and don't over feed, small feeding during the cycling period.

Filter media needs a swish/rinse in old tank water with a water change 1-2 times a month and when the water flow slows to maintain good water flow

You fish are stressed from high ammonia levels in a overstocked cycling tank, ammonia over 1ppm can start to cause lots of problems for the fish today and also long term due to scar tissue and this can affect breathing.

You don't want to cover up problems with chemicals...water changes are the best method for the sake of the fish

Freshwater fish thrive best with fresh water

Look forward to seeing pic and hearing more about your fish and tanks...
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Old 08-10-2010, 01:29 PM   #3 
Kokonoko
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OFL's got it covered o.o You are definently over-stocked.

The bafflers always going to be a difficult situation -.- Atleast for me it is as well. Right now I have a simplistic plastic bottle baffler, but I'd eventually like to make something more intricate as well, and a little bit more stylish. I'm unsure of the durability of java moss though? With no experience answer of my own, I'd be afraid that it might cause somesort of fog in the water with it constantly being beat on *Shrugs* Although it sounds pritty interesting!
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Old 08-10-2010, 02:31 PM   #4 
Lion Mom
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OFL has it covered & she knows her stuff so I won't bother with any of that. :)

To slow down your current for the filter, get an AquaClear sponge & rubber band it to the front of the filter where the water comes back in. I'm including a picture of one of my tanks that I baffle that way so you can see what I'm talking about.

One thing I really like about my system over the half plastic bottle is you can actually change how much flow there is - pulll the sponge up & it flows more, pull it down farther & it slows down. :) Another thing I like about it is the sponge is another place for the "good" bacteria to grow.

I have to ask, why did those people open/buy a pet shop since they obviously don't know what they are doing?
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Old 08-10-2010, 02:58 PM   #5 
Adastra
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Wow, OP, that is a long post. (it rivals some of mine, hahaha). People are more likely to be able to help you out if you can condense your information into much smaller pieces.

I would say that this is a heavily stocked if not overstocked tank, but you're definitely not in a place you want to be when you're still cycling your tank. For this many fish I would have opted for a fishless cycle--but what's done is done, I suppose. You will have to be very diligent about testing and changing a lot of water very frequently--I would not let the ammonia creep over .25ppm. As OFL stated, nothing trumps the value of fresh water--ammonia tabs and chemicals aren't going to cut the mustard, especially with this bioload.

If it were me, I would probably return one of the schools of fish to the store--there will be a lot less pressure on you if there are less fish to continuously add ammonia to the tank.

As for the feeding issue, once the tank is cycled you could get a few shrimp and snails to help clean up the bottom of the tank. The tetras probably will catch on to your routine soon enough, it's possible that they got used to a different type of food at the pet store and the farm, and they don't like the taste or smell of what you're feeding them.

As for the bloodworms, I don't feed my fish freeze dried foods because they cause really bad constipation, but if you must feed these to your fish you should definitely allow them to rehydrate. I keep a betta cup near my community tank, and right before feeding I scoop a little water out of the fish take and let the flakes/pellets soak before feeding, then dump the water with the food in it back in, or use a pipette.
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Old 08-10-2010, 03:22 PM   #6 
noenyu
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Originally Posted by Adastra View Post
Wow, OP, that is a long post. (it rivals some of mine, hahaha). People are more likely to be able to help you out if you can condense your information into much smaller pieces.

I would say that this is a heavily stocked if not overstocked tank, but you're definitely not in a place you want to be when you're still cycling your tank. For this many fish I would have opted for a fishless cycle--but what's done is done, I suppose. You will have to be very diligent about testing and changing a lot of water very frequently--I would not let the ammonia creep over .25ppm. As OFL stated, nothing trumps the value of fresh water--ammonia tabs and chemicals aren't going to cut the mustard, especially with this bioload.

If it were me, I would probably return one of the schools of fish to the store--there will be a lot less pressure on you if there are less fish to continuously add ammonia to the tank.

As for the feeding issue, once the tank is cycled you could get a few shrimp and snails to help clean up the bottom of the tank. The tetras probably will catch on to your routine soon enough, it's possible that they got used to a different type of food at the pet store and the farm, and they don't like the taste or smell of what you're feeding them.

As for the bloodworms, I don't feed my fish freeze dried foods because they cause really bad constipation, but if you must feed these to your fish you should definitely allow them to rehydrate. I keep a betta cup near my community tank, and right before feeding I scoop a little water out of the fish take and let the flakes/pellets soak before feeding, then dump the water with the food in it back in, or use a pipette.

Thank you Adastra! I thought the freeze dried bloodworms were making my fish constipated but didn't know for sure. Just seemed like every time I fed him one he would become constipated.
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Old 08-11-2010, 10:52 AM   #7 
Ashkeldir
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Originally Posted by Oldfishlady View Post
Welcome to the wonderful world of fish keeping....

You can make things much easier on yourself and the fish by first-take back some of the fish, you are over stocked-one of the schools need to go.

Exchange the 200w heater and get a 50 watt

Toss all the chemical additives except for the dechlorinator

Make sure the water temp is within a couple of degrees from new and old water and use dechlorinator with any new water added to the tank with water changes.

Remove any uneaten food after feeding and don't over feed, small feeding during the cycling period.

You don't want to cover up problems with chemicals...water changes are the best method for the sake of the fish

Freshwater fish thrive best with fresh water

Look forward to seeing pic and hearing more about your fish and tanks...
Unfortunately, since it has been over a week, I don't think that returning any of the fish is an option. I suppose I could ask, but I don't have any way to get them back to the store.

However, unless I misunderstand the 1" per 1g rule, the reason for that rule is to make sure that all of the produced ammonia and nitrites are processed (turned into nitrates) - as in, if the bioload is too high, the bacteria won't be able to keep up and therefore there will be ammonia and nitrite build up in the tank. If that is the case, and I do regular changes based on how fast that builds up, I can keep it to as near 0 as possible, no? Is there another reason I don't know about, or is it just for water quality? The tetras are basically the same size, and the major difference is the stripe color, so they are shoaling together, it is like one big school, rather than two separate ones. Does that play into your recommendation to take some back?

I am certain they won't take the heater back, it has been in the tank for a week and I don't have the packaging - but I think it is ok. I have it set so that it rarely comes on - and when it does, it flashes on for a few seconds and then goes off. I am guessing that you suggested I return the 200w to get a 50w because you were worried that I might fry the non-fry in the tank (yea, I know, not berry punny!), or might not know how to set it, and if that is the case, then you need not worry.

I should have mentioned that I'm 43 and normally I'm an RTFM kinda guy - just had no idea about fish until we were given this one, and I started researching it that night and bought the aquarium the next day - and would have known to cycle the tank first if the shop owners had had a clue...

Thankfully, I can get our tap water to come out at the same temp as the tank's water. I'm keeping the tank at 79F and the fish seem happy enough with that.

I will take your advice on the fresh water being best, rather than adding chemicals. I was wondering about those tablets... I felt kind of funny adding all those chems to the tank, but thought I had no choice. That was because I didn't realize that the bacteria aren't really water borne, so I don't have to worry about losing the bacteria during water changes - and I'm now trying to find an AquaClear sponge to put on the filter/waterfall to help add more bacteria and to slow the water flow. I have to wonder though, if the sponge prevents proper aeration - I mean, is the tank going to get enough oxygen for the tetras if I put that sponge on? There will be no waterfall, and therefore no bubbles at all - so the aeration will have to come from water surface to air contact within the pump filtration area, or am I missing something?

I have been picking out some of the food - will have to be more diligent though, too much is ending up at the bottom near the pump - they just aren't eating those big pieces! (Going to have to break them up)

PS (as if this wasn't long enough already!) I have written much longer posts, but I'm trying to be concise... LoL The first post wasn't really a cry for help, it was more of a 'hi, this is what I've experienced so far' and a 'if you have some advice to offer and haven't fallen asleep reading my post, I'd be glad to hear it' :)
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Old 08-11-2010, 10:55 AM   #8 
Ashkeldir
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I thought I had mentioned it in my OP, but it doesn't appear to be the case.

I had intended to get some Cherry Shrimp and some snails (not sure what kind) and a tank cleaner (not sure what kind, especially since I'm already high on the bioload) another pet store guy showed me a tiny little silver sucker type, stuck to the glass - he said they're very efficient
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Old 08-11-2010, 11:19 AM   #9 
Oldfishlady
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The 1in/gal rule is out dated and often misunderstood-for example-by that rule we should be able to put a 10inch fish in a 10g tank......

You also have to stock in regards to the adult size of the fish, not the current size, after all our goal is to keep fish long term.

You also have to stock with the fish social needs, swimming need, territorial needs in mind.
When these needs are not met, often the fish can become stressed and stressed fish can have compromised immune response and in turn soon become sick and/or die.

The nitrifying bacteria are sticky and adhere to everything in the tank like the-walls, decoration, plants both real and fake, in the top layer of substrate and in the filter media-very little are in the water column itself-so water only changes will not up-set the cycling process.
During a fish-in cycle with a high bioload-daily 50% water changes may be needed, if not twice a day to keep the water safe for the fish long term health.

With a high bioload or over stocked tank even after cycling you may need to continue with more frequent water changes.

You also have to remember that 10g tank is not usually 10g of water-it is closer to 8-9g depending on how deep you have the substrate and what level you fill it.

Adding an airstone may be helpful as well, baffling the filter is good in some cases...not so good in others.....

What about another tank...20g maybe....this is an addictive hobby.....lol......

And to add, I rather enjoyed reading your post.......at least you space between paragraph and that sure helps old eyes...laffs....
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Old 08-11-2010, 11:20 AM   #10 
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"I have to wonder though, if the sponge prevents proper aeration - I mean, is the tank going to get enough oxygen for the tetras if I put that sponge on? There will be no waterfall, and therefore no bubbles at all - so the aeration will have to come from water surface to air contact within the pump filtration area, or am I missing something?"

There should be SOME waterfall. Just pull the sponge up till you get a nice gentle fall. You will be able to tell if your other fish need more oxygen - they will be hanging at the top of the tank.

Actually, AquaClear is a brand - I just use it to describe any aquarium sponge/foam. Imagine is another brand. Hopefully, you will be able to find aquarium foam or sponge - it is called either/or.

I know some on here have had success using certain grocery store sponges, but I don't know the brands they have used. I'm too chicken to try anything like that not made specifically for aquarium use.
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