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Old 10-13-2011, 04:10 PM   #1 
chicagojo
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Most important next steps to keep our bettas happy & healthy

Hello,
I'm a newbie so please forgive any potentially repetitive questions, although I have reviewed lots of the stickys already so hopefully it won't be too bad .

Our family adopted 2 bettas named Feathers and Rock N Roll about two months ago when they were suggested by staff at our local pet store as potentially good first pets for our furry-animal-allergic kids (ages 5 & 7).

Unfortunately, Feathers died over the weekend, after which I found this forum today trying to figure out how to keep Rock N Roll healthy and how to best care for Feathers 2, who came home with us on Sunday.

Reading some of the stickys here I am learning that care of these fish is MUCH more complex than the pet store folks let on. Here is a quick run-down of what we have been doing and things I already know we need to change but I'm hoping someone can help me prioritize because my husband will freak out if I come home and announce that we need to spend a couple of hundred dollars to create optimal living conditions for these fish.

So, here goes:
- Currently, they are each in a separate acrylic bowl. I am guessing they are 1-gallon bowls. They each have aquarium gravel, a little plastic plant, and a couple of "aquarium toys" in there.
- We are doing 50% water changes 2x/week. We are using water conditioner and being VERY careful about having no soap residue on the kids' hands. After Feathers died we had the pet store test the water and they said everything was fine (the ammonia was a tiny bit high but we would have done a water change that morning had Feathers not died the night before so they thought it was ok)
- We recently started using aquarium salt (about 6 grains per bowl) after each water change.
- We are feeding every other day these little worm-like things that we were given when we bought the fish.
- They do not have a filter or heater

It sounds like ideally we would make these changes:
- Get each fish its own larger tank with fliter & heater
- Switch to the pellet food

Getting the new food will be easy. I'm worried about the water temperature mostly, though, because the weather is getting colder here and when we do the water changes the water we pour out feels quite cool to the touch. Is there such a thing as a heater that is compatible with the little bowls like we have? Or do we need to get a whole new system? The ones the pet store had were expensive, like $60 each just for the tank and then the heater would be on top of that. Is there a good source to get fish care items at a discount?

Also, I had a hard time getting consistent info from the pet shop staff about how much aquarium salt to use. The recs ranged from 1-2 grains to 7-8 so we have been doing 5-6 with just the last 2 water changes but I don't want to overdo it and harm the fish.

And is feeding every other day what is generally recommended? One theory the pet shop staff had was that Feathers may have died due to overfeeding, or a piece of uneaten food may have caused a little spot of high ammonia concentration that she (well, really he but my daughter was convinced Feathers was a girl so we called her she) swam into and couldn't recover. So we just switched from every day to every other day for both fish.

Yikes! I am stressed out by all of this. My DD was so sad when Feathers died (I was too) and I hate to think that it likely had to do with sub-optimal living conditions or care but I want to do the best we can for Feathers 2 and Rock N Roll. TIA for any guidance - MUCH appreciated!
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Old 10-13-2011, 04:45 PM   #2 
Micho
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Hey welcome to the forums, first off lets get rid down to business, sorry to here Feathers pass.

I would not recommend the constant use to AQ salt, AQ salt is used as a conservative treatment, so long exposure to AQ salt will decrease it's effective-ness when you do use it to treat something like fin rot, etc. Also Bettas are fresh water fishes so they don't really like salt.

I would suggest buying something two gallons higher for Betta fish, some people recommend five gallons and so on and so forth, one thing is for sure though the bigger the tank the less maintenance you have to do. Anything above five gallons is recommended to cycle which builds up beneficial bacteria. I would recommend a filter, unfiltered is okay. Heater is a must, Bettas are tropical fish so I definitely recommend getting a heater, preferably one that is adjustable.

Your old one gallon bowls can be used as QT tanks or as temporary homes if you decide to get more Bettas. Also I find that the bigger the tanks the cheaper they are, my 10g was cheaper than my 2g in general.

Pellets are easier to measure, I would suggest four to six everyday split between two meals, depending on the size of the pellets of course.
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Old 10-13-2011, 06:56 PM   #3 
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My answers in red below! Split into two sections because of word limit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chicagojo View Post
Hello,
I'm a newbie so please forgive any potentially repetitive questions, although I have reviewed lots of the stickys already so hopefully it won't be too bad.

Welcome Chicagojo!


Our family adopted 2 bettas named Feathers and Rock N Roll about two months ago when they were suggested by staff at our local pet store as potentially good first pets for our furry-animal-allergic kids (ages 5 & 7).

Unfortunately, Feathers died over the weekend, after which I found this forum today trying to figure out how to keep Rock N Roll healthy and how to best care for Feathers 2, who came home with us on Sunday.

Sorry to hear about feathers. :(


Reading some of the stickys here I am learning that care of these fish is MUCH more complex than the pet store folks let on. Here is a quick run-down of what we have been doing and things I already know we need to change but I'm hoping someone can help me prioritize because my husband will freak out if I come home and announce that we need to spend a couple of hundred dollars to create optimal living conditions for these fish.

Unfortunately this is quite common for pet stores to sell Bettas as hardy, low maintenance, low initial outlay pets. The partial truth is that they are very hardy fish, because of this hardiness they are taken advantage of to the extreme end of neglect. To pet stores Bettas are low profit quick sales, with a small niche market surrounding undersized tanks, razor sharp clown puke coloured substrate and other useless products.

The positive side of things are that it won’t cost you hundreds of dollars to create an optimal living condition, it will cost you more than the pet store initially indicated, but not that much more. Betta fish require only the most basic of aquarium items to live happily and most importantly, healthily. As with any animal it is important to ensure you can provide the most basic needs of the pet. Fish will always require a higher outlay to ensure their natural environment is replicated as close to possible in comparison to dogs, cats and other furry friends.

But once the initial setup is purchased, that’s pretty much all done. With only minor purchases for food required in the future, and compared to ongoing costs of furry friends, you win financially. As you have probably read, the basic recommended setup is:

-Tank (preferably 2.5g or larger)
-Heater (adjustable heaters are the best, relatively inexpensive. But you will find they won’t fit into small tanks)
-Internal suction thermometer (allows you to effectively monitor the water temperature ensuring no malfunctions on heater freeze or boil the fish)
-Substrate (pebbles, gravel, sand or nothing at all – comes down to personal choice)
-Filter (totally optional, if you are wanting to cycle a tank - which reduces the need for water change amounts and occurrences, you will need a filter. If not, don’t get one)
-Decorations (personal preference, you can always DIY using mugs, terracotta pots and so on)
-Betta food (I recommend Hikari Bio Gold)
-Water conditioner (API Stress Coat is the best)
-AQ Salt and Epsom Salts (only to be used when sick)

That’s it. Tanks are relatively cheap depending what size and brand name you go for. Heaters are much the same, with the only issue being 1g and 2g tanks can only really fit the ‘betta heaters’ into them, which are adjustable and will always heater 5 degrees above room temperature – in summer or hot periods, this can be deadly if not monitored. The advantage of a larger tank is you can fit adjustable heaters into them which switch themselves off once the present temperature is reached, and the larger tank allows for less % water changes and more room for betta!

In all the setup, in American pricing and availability of products will fall below $100 easily I imagine. Even better when purchased online I believe.


So, here goes:
- Currently, they are each in a separate acrylic bowl. I am guessing they are 1-gallon bowls. They each have aquarium gravel, a little plastic plant, and a couple of "aquarium toys" in there.
- We are doing 50% water changes 2x/week. We are using water conditioner and being VERY careful about having no soap residue on the kids' hands. After Feathers died we had the pet store test the water and they said everything was fine (the ammonia was a tiny bit high but we would have done a water change that morning had Feathers not died the night before so they thought it was ok)
- We recently started using aquarium salt (about 6 grains per bowl) after each water change.
- We are feeding every other day these little worm-like things that we were given when we bought the fish.
- They do not have a filter or heater

In regards to aquarium plants and decorations, we need to be careful of sharp and snagging edges. The fins of a betta are like pantyhose, if you snag or rip a pair of pantyhose on the decoration or plant – no good. Silk plants are preferable and roughly the same price. You can get them off eBay and other online aquarium stores or local stores. My local charity store had a box full of them for $2 per 5.

For water changes I recommend 50% mid-week, 100% end week. Otherwise you won’t effectively remove all traces of ammonia (fish waste).

Do not use AQ salt consistently. AQ salts are antibiotics to fish, humans over time have taken antibiotics for everything, and as a result diseases that used to be killed by antibiotics are now resistant stronger. As humans we can develop stronger anti biotic, but none exist for fish other than AQ salt. So we do not want to build up a resistance in your betta dude, should something occur in the future.

I think the worm-like things you were given are blood worms. These are great as treats, staple diet is widely accepted betta pellets. Once you obtain some, I recommend Hikari Bio Gold Pellets, 2-3 per feeding session will be sufficient. Their stomach is as big as their eye, so it is important not to overfeed. I feed my guys once in the morning, and again the evening.


It sounds like ideally we would make these changes:
- Get each fish its own larger tank with fliter & heater
- Switch to the pellet food

Getting the new food will be easy. I'm worried about the water temperature mostly, though, because the weather is getting colder here and when we do the water changes the water we pour out feels quite cool to the touch. Is there such a thing as a heater that is compatible with the little bowls like we have? Or do we need to get a whole new system? The ones the pet store had were expensive, like $60 each just for the tank and then the heater would be on top of that. Is there a good source to get fish care items at a discount?

As I covered above, the smaller the tank, the harder it is to heat because you are restricted to the un-adjustable betta mat heaters. If you decide to continue with the 1g, that is really your only choice to go. That said however, tanks are generally cheap, but if your area is limited in regards to choice per price, and you have no success using online aquarium stores. Try going to hardware places, plastic containers function just as well, there are many different plastic tubs with lids that are usually used for storage. Clear ones, coloured ones and so on! :) Then all you would need is a heater!
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Old 10-13-2011, 06:58 PM   #4 
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continued...

Quote:
Originally Posted by chicagojo View Post
Also, I had a hard time getting consistent info from the pet shop staff about how much aquarium salt to use. The recs ranged from 1-2 grains to 7-8 so we have been doing 5-6 with just the last 2 water changes but I don't want to overdo it and harm the fish.

As stated above, do not use AQ salt unless the betta displays signs of sickness.

And is feeding every other day what is generally recommended? One theory the pet shop staff had was that Feathers may have died due to overfeeding, or a piece of uneaten food may have caused a little spot of high ammonia concentration that she (well, really he but my daughter was convinced Feathers was a girl so we called her she) swam into and couldn't recover. So we just switched from every day to every other day for both fish.

Just reiterating again as above for ease, I recommend Hikari Bio Gold Pellets, 2-3 per feeding session will be sufficient. Their stomach is as big as their eye, so it is important not to overfeed. I feed my guys once in the morning, and again the evening. Giving them 3 pellets per meal, 6 total in the day. You can fast them if they bloat, but take that as it comes, and if you are unsure take a picture and ask us here! We’re always happy to help. Betta fish can go without food when healthy for up to a week, some members like to feed during the week, fast on the weekend. I just feed my boys because my VT is growing into a giant thus far, and my HM is only young and still growing. They are both hyper active, and in 78’F temperature meaning their metabolism is quite quick and there are ready for the next meal before I can give it to them. Bettas will eat themselves to death given the chance!

Ammonia doesn’t have ‘spots’ of concentration, well, they do kind of. Waste can rest on the substrate and when disturbed will raise ammonia levels in the whole tank. But rather ammonia affects the water evenly, I doubt she passed from ammonia poisoning solely. It may have been a pre-existing issue from the pet store, a sick or weakened Betta is more susceptible to further issues or problems.


Yikes! I am stressed out by all of this. My DD was so sad when Feathers died (I was too) and I hate to think that it likely had to do with sub-optimal living conditions or care but I want to do the best we can for Feathers 2 and Rock N Roll. TIA for any guidance - MUCH appreciated!

Just remember you don’t have to spend all out on the best items in the market. You can source from eBay, and substitute tank options and DIY decorations. At the end of the day, you will see a personality change for the best. He will love you guys :)
…..end!

Phew that was an effort to write. Hope I’ve alleviated your concerns, just remember we are always here to help and assist where needed. I would love to see some pictures of the little dude also!!
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:07 PM   #5 
Myates
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chicagojo View Post

- Currently, they are each in a separate acrylic bowl. I am guessing they are 1-gallon bowls. They each have aquarium gravel, a little plastic plant, and a couple of "aquarium toys" in there.

A 1 gallon is fine, but it will be harder to decorate/heat. You can get a medium sized kritter keeper from Petco for around $8 and they are roughly 2 gallons, a tad under I believe. Or you can go for the large size.
Bettas love medium to heavy planting.. either real or fake. Silk plants are preferable, but if you decide on plastic make sure there aren't any points nor is it sharp. Think of wet tissue paper.. easily ripped. Those toys and little statues are fine, as some bettas like the stimulation. Male bettas really enjoy caves. As long as it doesn't take up the whole tank, a cave of sorts would be welcomed. Even a tipped over coffee mug would work, or as in one of my tanks, I use 8 oz cups that are colored, but clear and my boy in it just adores them. You can also use the tubes that are meant for gerbils, hamsters, etc., (The plastic see through kind as well) for a simple yet fun decoration.


- We are doing 50% water changes 2x/week. We are using water conditioner and being VERY careful about having no soap residue on the kids' hands. After Feathers died we had the pet store test the water and they said everything was fine (the ammonia was a tiny bit high but we would have done a water change that morning had Feathers not died the night before so they thought it was ok)

For an unfiltered tank under 5 gals it is best to do a 1 50% and 1 100% water change per week, with full dose of the conditioner for the 50%. Always a full dose regardless how much water you remove/replace.

- We recently started using aquarium salt (about 6 grains per bowl) after each water change.

It is highly recommended not to use AQ salt on a regular basis as prolong use it has potential to harm the internal workings of a betta, as well as the fish and the bacteria will soon become immune to the beneficial healing properties of the salt. It is good to have AQ salt, as well as Epsom Salt (purchased in the pharmacy of any store that has a pharmacy, such as Walmart has a decent size container for under $2) on hand for emergencies. If you wish, you could add in Stress Coat with your conditioner, a few drops in the tank if you feel as if they are stressed out or a fin gets torn. I always add in a little bit after a 100% water change to help keep them soothed.

- We are feeding every other day these little worm-like things that we were given when we bought the fish.

Most likely it is Freeze dried bloodworms. Anything freeze dried is best as a treat 1-2x a week. You want to make sure anything freeze dried is soaked in tank water prior to feeding as they can expand in the tummy and cause bloating. If it's frozen, then you can feed a few more of them during the week. I would stick with 2-3 per meal of FD and frozen.
Pellets should be the main staple in their diet. Look for ones that have the highest Crude Protein %, as well as fish meal as the first ingredient and not Wheat. Sometimes it's hard to find, but it is best as bettas are insectivores and do best with a meat based food. For "mini" pellets, 8-10 a day spread between 2-3 feedings, or for the common medium size pellets, 4-6 a day spread through 2-3 feedings. A lot of people suggest fasting them one day a week. I don't, but then again if I feel one is getting a little bit pudgy I give him less. It's your own choice whether you can refrain from their begging dance or not lol.


- They do not have a filter or heater

Filter is not needed. I personally don't like filters in anything under 5 gals as it can be tricky to get the current just right (they should have little to no current), as well as it takes up space. You would just be cutting out the 100% water change and exchange for another 50%.
As for a heater, assuming you are in the northern hemisphere, it will get cooler. I would recommend getting a thermometer to keep an eye on it and if it stays below 76-78 a heater will be needed. They can be sensitive to temp fluxes (night/day) so it is best to get something to keep it constant. You can find mini heaters for around $12, try to look for one that you manually adjust, if not, then keep an eye on the automatic ones as sometimes they don't heat enough/too much and you may have to replace.


Getting the new food will be easy. I'm worried about the water temperature mostly, though, because the weather is getting colder here and when we do the water changes the water we pour out feels quite cool to the touch. Is there such a thing as a heater that is compatible with the little bowls like we have?-
Marineland Mini heater

Or do we need to get a whole new system? The ones the pet store had were expensive, like $60 each just for the tank and then the heater would be on top of that. Is there a good source to get fish care items at a discount?
Discount Pet Supplies may be cheaper for you.

Also, I had a hard time getting consistent info from the pet shop staff about how much aquarium salt to use. The recs ranged from 1-2 grains to 7-8 so we have been doing 5-6 with just the last 2 water changes but I don't want to overdo it and harm the fish.

If ever a need for salt in an emergency (external problems only such as fin rot, Ich, missing scales, etc) it is recommended to do 1-3 tsp of AQ salt per gallon, daily 100% water change, for no longer then 10-14 days.

And is feeding every other day what is generally recommended? One theory the pet shop staff had was that Feathers may have died due to overfeeding, or a piece of uneaten food may have caused a little spot of high ammonia concentration that she (well, really he but my daughter was convinced Feathers was a girl so we called her she) swam into and couldn't recover. So we just switched from every day to every other day for both fish.

(Suggested already above)

Yikes! I am stressed out by all of this. My DD was so sad when Feathers died (I was too) and I hate to think that it likely had to do with sub-optimal living conditions or care but I want to do the best we can for Feathers 2 and Rock N Roll. TIA for any guidance - MUCH appreciated!
I'm so sorry for your loss =( Sadly, you will find a lot of pet store employees will give you the bare minimal information just enough to keep them alive.. barely.. and sometimes not enough. Bettas have the rep of being "no hassle" type of fish, and that's just sad because of all the misinformation out there, too many pass away. Once you get them all settled in and you get into the routine of water changes, you'll see it becomes a little less stress and more enjoyment. Soon you'll be seeing your boys swim up to you, dance for you and watch your movements around the house. They really do enjoy human attention and company and soon you'll have two very happy, healthy boys =)

Any more questions, concerns just ask!

Last edited by Myates; 10-13-2011 at 07:12 PM.
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:07 PM   #6 
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I type too slow.. bah Banicks! Sorry! =P
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:38 PM   #7 
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LOL all good Myates - lucky you chose blue otherwise it might have become confusing!
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:38 PM   #8 
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I know, right? hehe You did great =)
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:56 PM   #9 
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Thanks Myates, most if not all of the information I pass on has been taken in from you and other experienced members who have helped me. So really the credit should go to you :)

Comes in quite handy with the differences in time-zones. When your asleep I'm busy relaying on info to the night owls!
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:59 PM   #10 
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lol good unintentional teamwork!

Most I have learned, I learned from this forum. Then basing off what I've learned here, I've gone about and done a lot of reading/research. (I have too much free time during the day when my daughter is at school lol)
But it's great that we all learn from each other to help out others! You do a great job with your boys!
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