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Old 07-26-2011, 09:34 AM   #1 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Bigger Better Habitat= Sad Bettas

I had 2 female bettas at work that were both in small bowls (existing pets when I was hired). I felt bad for them, so I went to the pet store and bought a 5 gallon tank for them. I added a clear mesh tank divider so they both have 2.5 gallons of swimming space now. I know this is still less space than ideal, but I am now funding this fish environment out of pocket because my office doesn't care about them, and I'm trying to keep things as inexpensive as I can get away with while still providing a nice home for them. I got a 10i whisper filter for them that suctions to the inside of the tank, it's not a HOB filter. This was probably my biggest mistake.

They fish always seemed relatively happy in their tiny bowls (we're talking smaller than 1/2 gallon bowls here). They were near each other so they could chase and stalk each other through the glass, and they were always bright and colorful and excited about food everytime they saw me. Now that I've put them in their new environment, neither of them have been as brightly-colored as once were since I moved them. They're pale all the time and I just feel terrible.

Here is the situation as it stands: 2 bettas, 5 gallon divided tank (mesh, clear divider). Both have gravel and some fake plants and hiding places. I have decided to remove the filter because a little of the color comes back in them when the filter is turned off. When they were in stagnant tiny bowls they both seemed happy, why are they now so sad and scared and stressed out?

I am willing to do large and frequent water changes (50% every other day, 90-100% on Mondays after being left for the weekend) to make up for the lack of a filter. Is this an OK alternative (I KNOW they would be better with a filter, I know I know I know, but buying a new one is not an option. I tried baffling the old one with sponges and mesh, it still stressed them out too much)?

Help would be appreciated, please don't chastise me for a) small tank b) no filter. I know both of these things are sub-par for bettas but they are better than the way I found them.
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Old 07-26-2011, 10:31 AM   #2 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Welcome to the forum and the tank is fine...filters are optional....

Sometimes when a fish has been kept in a small container for a long time-more space can freak them out and they need time to adjust.....

What is the water temp and how is the appetite.....

In a 5gal unfiltered tank-divided with two adults-I would make twice weekly 50%...1-50% water only and 1-50% to include the substrate by vacuum or stir and dip method with a monthly 100%...

Feed a good quality varied diet in small frequent meals.....
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Old 07-26-2011, 11:03 AM   #3 
Join Date: Jul 2011

I feel much better. I think I've been freaking them out a lot by messing with the filter as well, trying to ease the current and moving it around the tank and such.

Water temp is about 78 degrees, I keep 2 gallon jugs full of filtered water on a shelf near the tank in between changes so they are always getting fresh room-temp water.

Their appetites have been fine, they still eat each time I feed them, they just aren't as excited about it as they used to be. It's only been about 3 days in the new tank, so I'll give them a week or so and if they still seem really stressed I might re-think the divided tank. I actually have a couple 10gal tanks at home that are well-established and a bit understocked and I've been thinking of putting a female betta into one of them, so I could always take out the divider and take one home. I'd rather keep them both here though.
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Old 07-28-2011, 02:14 PM   #4 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Doing Much Better!

After a full week of my poor bettas (Turtle and Monster) looking incredibly pale and scared, Monster started to lose her appetite. They were both VERY enthusiastic eaters in their bowls. I realized that while I had put a lot of small things in their tanks, none of them were really hiding places for either betta, and they were in full view of the other at all times.

I went out and got a bunch of fake greenery from a fabric store for $1, MUCH cheaper than anything they sell in a petstore. I picked something with soft, wide, 3" leaves that overlapped but still left plenty of space for a betta to squeeze through. I trimmed the stems and bundled a few branches together for both sides of my tank, and covered the bottoms and the stems with some larger smooth white stones.

Almost instantly the color started coming back. Turtle is now brilliantly red again, from nose to tail. Monster is coming around a little slower and seems to be more timid of the new addition to her swimming space, but already seems to be perkier and brighter than she has been.

Sometimes it's the little things I guess. I needed a reminder that bettas like to hide, and don't feel safe unless they have somewhere they can retreat to.
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