Ok, so I guess it's a two gallon bowl. I thought it was 2.5, but I just bought a 2.5 gallon tank that seems to be a little bigger. I'm going to move him into the tank soon. Right now I don't have a heater or a filter. I have a thermometer, and the temp stays at about 75. I bought a heater though for the winter that's going in the tank, and the tank also came with a filter. But right now it's fine. I change the water at least once a week, but since he's not eating, sometimes it gets dirty so I have to do it twice. But usually I take out the food if he doesn't eat it. I was going to get water quality testing strips but they were fairly expensive so I decided I would only if he didn't eat the new food.
Maybe this has something to do with it: I just moved to UVM and I brought my old betta from home. He had always been a healthy fish besides having tail rot once, but he died about a week after I got here. I noticed the water from the sink tasted funny so I don't know if there's something wrong with it, but a lot of other people have had fish here without a problem. The people at Petco said it was probably from stress, and I thought that was a probable reason.
I've had several other fish live for years in this bowl with the same type of food and same care procedures, so I don't think I'm doing anything particularly wrong, but I'm not an expert.
Tank size is fine. The water is a little on the cool side for bettas, so if you have a heater I would get it in there, set to 78 or 79 degrees. A filter would be nice, but with frequent water changes in a tank that size it's not necessary.
When you change the water, do you change 100% of it? You actually may not want to do that. I would do more frequent smaller changes. I would change 1 gallon of water 2x a week, and a larger change with gravel clean 1x a month (maybe change 2 gallons once a month). Your bettas little ecosystem will do better if you don't completely wipe it out once a week.
My other thought, because this is a HUGE issue with bettas that isn't always realized and can vary from fish to fish, is the amount of plant coverage in the tank. Bettas need to feel safe, they need to feel alone, and they need to feel like they aren't in constant view. Your tank should look like a jungle. If you can always find your betta immediately upon looking into the tank, you need a lot more plants. Some are more sensitive than others, but more plants and more coverage is always better. This is blind advice on my end because I have no idea what is in your tank or how many hiding places he might have, I just know that this is sometimes underestimated and a HUGE cause of stress in bettas.
The water testing strips probably aren't worth your money. They are notoriously inaccurate, and if they are expensive than it is probably a waste. A liquid testing kit is a much better option, but those tend to be even more expensive.
Petco (or any petstore that sells fish and fish stuff) will test your water for free. Take a small amount in to the store and ask them to do it. If you think your water tastes funny I would do this ASAP. A word of warning- make sure they tell you the actual values. Get them to show you. I've heard too many stories of people being told by the petstore that their water was safe only to have all their fish die because the ammonia was at 2.0. Don't let them just tell you it's "safe," very very they don't know what they're talking about.
Do you use a water conditioner? If you don't, that is absolutely the next thing that you need to invest in, especially if you've moved and your tap water is different. You need something that will remove chlorine and chloramines from the water before it goes into the bowl.
It sounds like it's probably a water issue. Get it tested at the pet store, and while you're there get a water conditioner (if you don't already have one).
Yeah, I use Prime conditioner that removes chlorine, chloramine, and ammonia. I'll get the water tested, I know that they do that for free. Also, I have a silk plant in the new tank, but right now he only has a cave that he likes to hide in. I'll ask my mom if she could pick up a few more plants for me. Thanks for your suggestions!
Oh, and I have a question about the plants. In a 2.5 gallon tank, do you think silk plants or live plants would be better. The lady at petco said that the silk one would be better but I don't know if she knew what she was talking about. She's the one that said it was fine that my fish only ate two blood worms in the past 3 weeks -_- But I got the silk one. Should I buy more fake plants or get a couple live ones?
You have a couple options with the plants. I prefer real plants, but they can be more complicated as it's just one more thing you have to worry about keeping alive. Unless you have a lighted tank, you'll want to make sure you get plants that do well with low light (ferns are a good choice).
If you get silk plants, don't waste your money at the pet store. I went to the dollar store and got a "bouquet" of silk leaves that have been amazing for my office bettas. Get some with wide flat green leaves (2-3 inches wide, not gigantic). Trim them to size (they sometimes have wire in them but you can cut through it) and bury the bottom in the gravel so any sharp end from cutting is hidden. If they go all the way up to the surface, that's best. That way he'll be able to swim through the leaves and explore and feel hidden from you and everyone else.
I have a 5 gallon divided tank with 2 bettas at work. When I first moved them in, they were pale, stopped eating, looked miserable, etc. I had some small fake plants at the bottom, but nothing substancial. After about 5 days I went out and got the fake leaves from the dollar store- within hours they both started to get some color back, and the next day ate normally. It can make a HUGE difference.
Good luck! Let us know how it goes! I could be completely wrong, it could be something different that's causing him to stress and not eat but at least this way it's a cheap try if that's not it! And, it will probably make him happier even if it doesn't fix the problem.
Glad to hear about the conditioner. Prime is a great one!
Thank you so much! Since the new food made the bowl dirty, I'm cleaning it again tomorrow and moving him into the new tank. There's only one plant in it right now, but I'll definitely get a few more. Hopefully this will work!
I wonder.... if you have tried live foods? I use a mealworm for my stubborn eaters, cut off the head and hold the body/shell. They tend to tear it apart themselves as hunter instinct kicks in :) None of mine have passed that down...
Thank you for all of your help everyone! I think he ate 2 pellets today! I moved him into his new tank and put a couple in after, and they were gone when I got back from class. Either he ate them or they just sunk, but I think I'll be optimistic because he seems a lot happier in his new tank anyways. If he continues not to eat though, I'll try to find some sort of live food.
Haha yeah my friend's betta, likes day old pellets (yuck!) he won't eat anything on the top, he refuses flakes, he refuses live food!!! (he is genetically blind, but still... he could smell/feel it...) he likes sunken pellets that have sat there over night o_O some fish are just... picky. lol