So, I just got back from a 6 day trip home and checked on my little Biebs. He was ok, swimming around, and he ate when I fed him. He hadn't been fed for 5 days and there hadn't been any water changes during that time. Then I checked the levels in my 2.5 gal tank...
Nitrate and Nitrite were both 0ppm. But the Ammonia looks like it's up to 1ppm! I ran out of "Betta Basic" conditioner that I was using and had been using Aqueon Water Conditioner (that was all that PetSmart had when I went to the store).
I'm going to do a 50% water change now, and clean the gravel (maybe I'll get a siphon?), but the thing I'm worried about is that I'm leaving again early tomorrow morning for another 7 days, so I can't do a daily water change! I can do one early tomorrow before I leave, but is there anything else I can be doing? I'm worried about this darn ammonia!
Change the water 100% right before you go, make sure its heated and conditioned. For a quick fix, try picking up a stemmed plant before you leave from the store- anacharis, hornwort, cabomba, etc., they naturally suck up tons of ammonia.
A better fix, though, is to get a larger container so it will take longer to build up ammonia. Rubbermaid (make sure the brand is QUALITY).. containers do well. You just add the clean coniditioned water, decor and the heater and put him in after you clean it. Make sure, if you do this, there is an adequate lid. It needs to have holes so he can breathe. Getting a 5+ gallon one will work well in this case. You should feed him well before you leave, and maybe even leave a couple pellets (only a few, and only if youre doing the bigger tank/plants idea) in the substate/sink them so when hes hungry he'll hunt for them.
Ok... If I'm going to get a larger container, I feel like I should just get a new tank. So maybe I'll go purchase a 5 gallon today, add new water and substrate, wash the decor from the old tank, get a plant and change the fish. Is it really bad to change all of this right before I leave? I'm so worried now!
I wouldnt worry. Heck, go get the tank, that'd be great for him.
Do all of what you said, make sure things are nice and clean (and do it asap so he can adjust..) but, if it has a new filter, dont run it because you cant monitor it. Make sure he's properly acclimated first and he should be fine.
Those rubbermaid things are like $10btw- if that other tank usually works for you, keep it and do this. If you leave a lot and for a long time, getting a larger permanent tank is best.
Alright... so I rushed to the pet store, nearly in tears, and talked to two of the people who work there (after asking if they knew anything about bettas...it's a small, independent, cozy pet store... not a big chain). I told them my situation, and she immediately asked about the filter, which I then realized I hadn't changed it in a month. She suggested that I change the filter, do a 50% water change, add Stress Zyme to the new water, in addition to Prime. Then she said to check the levels tomorrow morning before I go. Also, I should have my friend come in mid-week, test all the levels, and if they're still high, do a water change mid-week. She said she didn't think I needed to get the larger tank yet, just keep an eye on the filter, try the stress zyme and the prime, and do the usual water changes.
When I took the filter out to change it, it was NASTY! Like, all brown and gross... I can't believe I didn't think to change it! I'm hoping all of this will help bring the ammonia down...
Pewpewpew, thank you SO much for all of your help. The 5gal tanks were too expensive for me right now, and (surprisingly) I couldn't find the rubbermaid anywhere. When I get some more "Betta funds" I'm definitely gonna get him a bigger place. Hopefully it will help these issues. But fingers crossed that this will work for now...
That filter just has becteria on it, its not affecting the ammonia levels, ha. The carbon might be dead, but that has nothing to do with it. Mine has that on it, and if left to cycle, it will cycle and look like that.
She's right, you dont need a new tank, no, but you said you were worried about the ammonia building up.
And wait. Why in the devil did you not say someone could come in and change it for you? Why not just have done that to begin with? Frankly, that just wasted my time.
Have the person stop by and change the water halfway into your trip about 50%. It'll be fine. Wow.
And frankly, I have never heard of Stress Zyme working. Its usually to cycle the tank, but it is not refrigerated, which usually the bacteria are dead. And this won do anything, I dont think, if your tank is clean. You would need to add when it isnt. And again, if they add that, then just change the water and dont mess around with this stuff.
The day before you leave, change the water 100%. Mid week, have a friend you trust come in and do at least a 50% change. Or, if you can, have them come in twice spaced out and do a 50% change each time.
That's all you needed to do...
Sorry, just angry for this; just getting that water change in that factor means none of what I said needed to be said, and you couldve saved money in the process....
Oh no, PewPew! I'm so sorry! Seriously, thank you SO MUCH for your help. I just found out that my friend could come in. When I posted earlier, it was still up in the air and she just said she could come by.
I had read so much that having any ammonia is really bad, so when I saw today that it was 1ppm, I was really scared. I didn't think that, even with doing the water change today and one mid-week, it would get it down to a normal level. I was under the impression that I needed to get it down to 0 immediately.
I did a 50% a little while ago, and checked the levels again (I have a little bit of OCD... and I'm just anxious), and already the ammonia was down to .25ppm. Should I do another one early tomorrow morning (I have to be at the airport by 6:30, ick), or just have my friend come in a few days for another 50% and forget about trying to do it at like, 4 in the morning?
Again, I am so sorry, Pewpew. I really do appreciate all that you told me, and I'm definitely going to try to get a bigger tank when I'm back from this trip. I didn't know that would help delay the ammonia build up.
If someone ever tells you to replace all your filter media or to rinse it in anything other than dechlorinated water, they generally have no idea what they are talking about.
Never EVER replace your entire filter media because you will be destroying whatever beneficial bacteria has established itself there. I think you can change out up to a third of your media at a time and it should recover, but anything more than that and it can cause your cycle to crash.
If you have a smaller tank 1-2.5 gallons, I wouldn't bother trying to cycle it. It's often too small of an area to maintain a balanced cycle as the ammonia often accumulates at a level faster than your beneficial bacteria can process it.
Since the water changing has been taken care of, I would just like to say make sure your friend knows to match the temperature of the new water with the tank water, as well as using dechlorinator (Prime is one of the best on the market) before any water goes in.
Its okay. Im glad to hear that it hadnt been the whole time you knew that... Forgive me, Ive had lots of people pming me and wasting my time latley :c
I would do a 100%-75% before you go. Like, as soon as you get up (and get up earlier by a bit) unplug your heater and let it cool and get ready or whatever for about 10mins, then come back and cup your fish and take him out, dump all that water out of the tank, swish the gravel in clean water and dump again to get the poop out, and fill it back up with lukewarm water, slightly cooler than that, actually...
Quickly put the decor back in enough to where its secure and wont derp and float or is in a place where he can wedge himself (like a solid object against the tank wall or under something) and then bob him and add a bit of the new, conditioned water in for 5 minutes, and repeat over the course of 15ish+ minutes... Then let him back in, feed him, make sure the temp is okay, the heater's on, all that. Dont let the old water back in. Kiss goodbye and be off :p Dont leave his light on, but leave a light in the room on so he can see but isnt stressed from too-constant of light.
When your friend comes, tell them:
(Im assuming a 50%+ change..)
Cup the fish (leave that out for them)
Turn off the heater (show where)
Take out 50%+ of the water and replace with warmish but not at all hot water (opt for 78') (leave a cup to do this with)
Condition the water (leave out and tell how many drops needed for a 50%-100% change)
Put the fish in its cup back in to bob, add about a tsp of new water in there every 5 mins for at least 10mins. Make sure he doesnt sink!
For purposes of ease, tell the friend to remove as much of the oldwithnew water form the cup as they can without endangering the fish, then to gently pour him into the new tank after that minimum 10mins.
Plug the heater in, make sure the water is over 76' and under 82' andis conditioned.
If he lets your friend, feed one or two pellets in that one shot theyre there. Dont want to bloat him. He'll be dandy with those extra noms.
If they wanna do the 100%, a better idea, just do all the same but rinse the gravel and get as much poo out as you can.
And it doesnt really delay it, per se, its just more space and less concentration. There's a good deal on fish.com for a 5 gallon right now, under "discounts/clearance". If you can get one, I love my 5 gallon marineland <3
Ive heard decent things about this. Not the cave though, get rid of that... http://www.fish.com/item/aquatic-edg...-5-gal/701002/
Even if you dont need all these things, this isnt a bad tank in and of itself. For the $25 bucks you can get this and probably a glass 5 gallon, though a hood might not come with it, but probably not most acrylics in stores..
Actually, for this price you might* be able to find a bigger tank, like a larger critter carrier or even a 10 gallon (probably no hood/lid)...but then you'd need a new heater and filter, but most importantly a heater!