Hi, all. I'm new to bettas and new to this forum, though I've been lurking quite a bit since I got my fishies and pretty much stalking this forum since they got sick. I'll try to make this backstory short, but basically:
1. I'm a first year university student sharing a teensy dorm room with another girl.
2. Upon realizing we're allowed to keep fish in the dorms, I got super excited. Then it was my birthday, and my parents came to visit, taking me out to a local pet shop on a whim for my birthday present.
3. Although I'd not researched bettas beforehand, I asked the pet store people tons of questions and was fairly confident that my fish would be happy, healthy and low maintenance.
4. At no point did I ever mention a desire to breed my fish. I just wanted a pretty little tank with fish, and after about two hours of pestering them with questions about care, compatibility, living space, water changes, etc., they sold me a 0.8 gallon designer tank, a few plastic plants and three bettas. They assured me that this was enough space and that they would all get along splendidly. In fact, I was originally going to get one male and one female, but the people advised me to get another female so the male would have 'choice' and therefore not pick on his girl. Because I'm not nearly skeptical enough, I bought it.
5. I set the tank up and it became readily apparent that this was not going to work.
So if you're wondering why I got these fish if I don't have the means to care for them properly, that's why. Thank you, pet shop.
After two horrible days watching the male try to eat the little blue female, I broke down and purchased two one-gallon tanks from Walmart. I put the male and the half-dead female in each of these, leaving the second female in the 0.8. This is how I've had them set up for about two weeks. I don't have a test kit, but I do condition the water. I don't have heaters or filters, and from my recent research I've gleaned that they'd be useless on tanks these small anyways. I'm always careful to remove uneaten food.
The female in the 0.8 died of ich. I realized too late what was happening, and the Ick Guard from Walmart didn't work fast enough. The male has had ich for about a week as well, and I've been trying to treat him as per the instructions on Ick Guard, but he's gotten no better. He's floating around the top all the time, and yesterday it became a thing for him to sort of roll onto his side and float there like a dead thing. Only time he moves is to dart around in an attempt to dislodge the parasites. At the beginning of the week he seemed bloated and he wasn't eating anything I gave him anyways, so I inadvertently fasted him for a few days. He ate a teensy-weensy flake yesterday, and a freeze-dried bloodworm the day before, so he's getting better, maybe? Except for the fact that his fins are rotting and falling off. At first I thought this was a side effect of the Ick Guard, but it's been a week with the stuff and the ich is still present, so I decided to up the dosage. It's tough to eyeball 0.5 mL, so I figured I was just not putting enough in. I did 100% water changes weekly and 25% daily for the ich-infested male, as instructed on the medicine.
That brings me to today. Male is lethargic, rotty, floating weird and covered with little white spots. His belly looks much better, at least.
The remaining female, who used to show her stress stripes every time I so much as opened the lid to feed her, seems to be doing splendidly. Her nipped fins, result of being kept with the other two for two days, have not rotted or anything. At the moment she's gone gray because of a two-minute-ago water change, but she'll probably be back to her pretty blue self by the time I'm finished this post. Which reminds me that I really should get to the point.
My plan is to purchase a five-gallon tank this weekend and buy/make a divider so I can let them share it. I won't be cycling simply because I'll have to relocate my fish to relatives' houses whenever I leave residence, and cycling takes too much prep for it to be worth it if I have to redo it every two or three months. On top of this, my roommate is iffy on the fish in the first place, and if a filter made any noise at all, things could get uncomfortable around here. I cannot go larger than a five-gallon due to space limitations; hoping I'll be able to fit one even that big on my desk. They'll be sharing because a) I do not have the money for two heaters, and b) I do not have the outlets to plug in two heaters.
So this is what I plan to do to fix my fish dilemma. If I'm horribly mistaken about what's appropriate for my fishies, please correct me. I am asking for advice on this new set-up (as well as how to cure my male):
Five-gallon uncycled tank with one heater, divided to house both a male and a female. 100% water changes weekly. No substrate, possibly glass beads. Fake plants, a hidey-hole thing for each fish if I can find some.
Again, I cannot go larger than five gallons. Does this sound okay to you? What would you do differently? Is there anything you can suggest to help me out a bit?
(thanks so much for reading my incredibly long ramble of a post)
Oh, before I forget. I'm going home for Thanksgiving this weekend, and therefore will be unable to medicate ich!fish for a few days. Can I just leave him in the tank with today's dose until Monday?