"The Epic Tale of Tian-Tian the Betta"... we're new.
Hello, everyone! My name is Eva; I'm a first-time Betta owner/college student and I have a veil tail Betta named Tian-Tian.
Here's a link to a YouTube video of him... I start coddling him like a puppy and he reacts. Funny fish! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8pCtR2Ei7c (I've given him a 100% water change today and moved a lot of his plants around, so he's not so hidden as he is in this video... as seen below. The lighting in the video is not that great; he's actually much more colorful in person.)
I bought him back in early March. He has a bit of a story... ( Warning: long post ahead....)
I had been living in the dorms alone for a few months (my roommate had to drop the semester). I felt that I needed someone, or something to keep me company (I'm a pretty social person). I literally woke up one early Monday morning and said, "I'm buying a Betta fish today."
I spent nearly that whole day researching everything I could about how to keep Bettas. My friends made fun of me for this, telling me that it was "just a fish" and not some huge commitment. I've grown up around animals and I knew that if one took a pet lightly, even "just a fish", things would eventually lead to disaster and/or heartbreak.
That evening I headed to the nearest pet store to find a Betta. First, I needed to decide on a tank. I'd heard everything from "you have to keep your Betta in a 20 gallon tank or it will die!!!" to "it's fine in a bowl; it's not a baby!" I was very confused about these arguments and settled on buying a small 1.5 gal. cube tank with an LED light built in on the top, a small drawer underneath and a small Whisper filter. I had heard that Bettas hated filters, but I wanted to at least have the option (I figured, long-term, if the Betta died, I could always get some guppies, which generally need some form of filtration).
Then it came down to selecting my fish. I went to the stack (yes, I said stack) of male veil-tails and started looking around. It was a little dark in the store, so I couldn't get a good visual on any of the Bettas. Some were literally having panic attacks in their tiny cups, while others looked half dead...
And then I stumbled on what looked like a black Betta. He was calmly swimming in a circle, then swirling the other way. I wanted a brighter color, so I kept going back to the stack and back to this dark fish I had first selected. For some reason, I felt that I was meant to take that fish home with me. So I did.
I carefully prepared his new tank with water and let it sit overnight (until I could get some water conditioner... I forgot to get some, ha). I set my Betta down by the tank and turned the LED light on once I had finished aranging his fake plants (silk, pink lily flowers and long grassy stuff, etc).
It was like watching a young child looking at a Christmas tree!! His tiny eyes got so big looking into all of the new space that was before him! I giggled and watched him carefully. I later went to bed, promising my fish, Tian-Tian, that I'd put him into his new home first thing in the morning.
I awoke to a bright sun streaming through the blinds... and that's when I recieved the worst shock of my life: Tian-Tian was covered in ich and fungus!!!
He was sitting in VERY filthy water and he looked a downright mess. Even his lower fins were ripped some. I was heartbroken! What person in their right mind could leave a Betta sitting in such filth?? The ich worried me the most and I knew right away I'd have to get some sort of "fish medicine" to cure him.
I rode the bus for a full hour, both ways, just to get some extra filter cartridges and a small three-dollar medicine dropper filled with dark blue liquid (it looked like food dye...). I prayed and hoped for the best...
A few days later Tian-Tian showed his true colors... literally! He went from an inky black to a beautiful greenish-blue tail and fins, purple body and blood-red underbelly. His head was a dark brown, with little flecks of blue scales dotting here and there. His fins started to heal and I was frequently changing both filter and water, trying to make sure all of the ich and fungus was gone. Despite the work involved, I was quite glad I had stuck with this Betta after all.
My timing to buy my new friend couldn't have been worse, however. Spring Break was a week away! I wound up carting Tian-Tian, and his tank, home to my hometown, a whole hour and a half drive away on one of the coldest nights of the year. (gosh darn freakin' South Texas weather; it's really unpredictable!)
I wasn't sure if the poor thing would make it! But Tian-Tian proved to be a very hardy fish. Not only did he survive the week home with me, he also survived the trip back to my dorm.
It was then that I noticed something odd about my Betta... he was very lethargic. He would literally sit in one corner of the tank all day and never really move, except to get air. He had a voracious appetite, but seemed otherwise mellow. It baffled me! Everything I had heard about Bettas was proved wrong with Tian-Tian... he wouldn't even 'flare' or make a bubble nest. Fearing the worst, I braced myself for his eventual death. I had done everything I could....
Thursday morning of last week, I got online to check my email at my desk, looked over to the window where Tian-Tian's tank sat, and discovered a BIG BUBBLE NEST!!! I was absolutely delighted!! To add to my euphoria, he was swimming all over the tank like a happy little puppy. And then, just to strut his stuff, he FLARED at me for the first time!!
I've been really worried about him due to his unsteady health, but Tian-Tian has proved to be quite the entertaining fish. I've discovered he hates blue M&Ms (he would flare like crazy if I held one up next to the tank, but not so much to the other colors) and flares at my Wacom Bamboo tablet pen the most. He loves hanging out by his filter and watching people, and birds, go by outside the window.
I'm happy that he's a happy fish. Here's to more fun times ahead!
Aww, great story! You're a great person to stick by him like that and I'm sure he appreciates it :) Do you have a heater for the tank? That's one thing you didn't mention, and could be the reason he was lethargic for a while. He's beautiful by the way!
I can tell you're a very observant reader! I didn't have a heater at the time, but now I do (in his new 2.5 gal. tank) and he's been even more active (though he LOVES his corner grass, still. He'll just sleep for hours on end in it even though the water temp. is at 78 degrees F.).
I goofed when transferring him to his new tank and have had to battle off a re-infection of fungus and ich this week. The ich has cleared out and the fungus is about to get utterly obliterated by my new Jungle Fungus Clear Tank Tablets. Here's to hoping!
Also, he is VERY opinionated about things. I just got a small filter today to see if I could get rid of most of the still-floating fungus out of the water and he was flaring and fighting with the filter! I took it out after it did its job, of course, and he's calmed down since (though he's still patrolling that corner of the tank as I type). He's an absolutely silly fish!
Haha, yep. I think he LOVES his heater though. He hasn't flared at it once and will sometimes just float just above it, basking in it's warmth.
Speaking of flaring, I noticed something interesting when he flares. I've done a few experiments over the course of a few weeks with him.
Here are my findings so far:
Shiny duct tape folded into a fish shape: No reaction at first, but when I began to jerk the 'fish' around in front of the tank he was aroused from resting and came closer. Kept staring for some time, fluttering his pectoral fins. I suddenly moved the nose of the fish upwards, facing the whole body towards Tian-Tian, and he flared.
My finger: At first, no reaction. Staring, fluttering pectoral fins. Gradually came closer, started following my finger. Would sometimes move away, but would eventually return to flutter again and stare. When I pointed my finger directly at him, or in an upwards direction in front of him, he would flare, but only once at a time.
My Wacob Bamboo black tablet pen: LOL HE HATES THIS THING. So I hold the pen vertical in front of the tank. No reaction. I point the pen directly at him, or in a random direction in the tank, and BIG FLARE REACTION. He would follow it everywhere, flaring constantly!! It never fails!
M&Ms(I am repeating this one as I did not record the first run-through. This experiment round is being done with the M&Ms held still with the 'm' facing him):
Red- stared, then swam away
Blue- when held up in the first experiment he flared. Second time around, aggressive fluttering of his pectoral fins in the direction of the blue M&M.
Green- was shocked and swam away!
Brown- staring, fluttering pectoral fins
Orange-no reaction, staring, no fluttering
Yellow-no initial reaction, swam away
New Filter: Swam up to it and flared at it from below. Repeatedly tried to attack it. (the filter was removed shortly thereafter for his safety)
Conclusion: Male Bettas have a natural instinct to feel challenged by jerky movements, or become very curious. It seems that when a threat comes from above (or a potential opponent points its body upwards) the male Betta will become very aggresive.
Color generally does not seem to matter, though Tian-Tian displayed some aggressive behavior towards darker objects (particularly the long, black pen). This brings up another question as to whether size affects whether a Betta will react by flaring or not (as evidenced by his reaction to the new filter).