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Old 02-18-2012, 12:00 AM   #1 
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One Week In... Want to make sure I'm getting things right?

So I'm having new-mommy syndrome with this betta. :) Worried about every little thing! I just want to make sure I've figured things out right. After reading quite a few threads, things can start to get confusing.

So first, his behavior. He's still fairly active and he always comes to check me out when I'm doing something with his tank, but he doesn't seem as energetic as when I first brought him home. Is that because he's settled down, or should I be watching for illness? I can't see any physical symptoms. I've noticed he's started resting his head on top of the heater, which allows him to get air without moving. Should I get some more things for him to rest on at the top?

I did my first water test today and I was glad to find no nitrates, nitrates, ammonia... but the pH was 8. After that I discovered my tap water is actually pH 8 too, yikes! I see this is at the upper limit of the comfort range for them, so is it worth getting something to bring the pH down?

Now for water changes... I have a 5.5 gallon filtered tank. So... 25% once a week, and 100% once a month...? This is where I'm getting really lost, haha. And then, even for the small changes, I need to put him in his cup, float it, and slowly adjust him to the new water for half an hour?

And finally... how do I know he's getting enough to eat? I've given him two pellets twice a day but he always seems to still be hungry and waiting for more. But, my dogs do that too when they think they can fool me! So I'm not sure what to think.

Umm... I think that's all I had for now. Phew!
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Old 02-18-2012, 12:12 AM   #2 
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I wouldn't start worring about his behavior unless he becomes lethargic or you see other syphtoms like white fuzz.

As for the high PH, I have heard that its better to not mess with it, even if its a little high. They will adapt to it as long as it remains stable.

I "think" you can leave him in for small water changes if you have a siphon. I did for my 5 and 10 gallons. Unless I was doing a a total water change, then I would take them out and accumulate them when I added them back in. I dont have cycled tanks though. If you do, you wont have to do the 100% water changes, I don't think.

They will eat as much as you feed them. I give mine about 5 pellets a day since the pellets are smaller and one day of fasting. And if I have it on hand, one day of bloodworms as a treat. Usually only 1-2 bloodworms each. Frozen is better then freeze dried but I have heard that they can get parasites from the frozen ones.
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Old 02-18-2012, 03:21 PM   #3 
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+1 to Tikibirds.

Do grab a siphon so that you can leave him in the tank during water changes. Much less stressful for both of you. I'd also advise against 100% changes. Have a look at doing a fish-in cycle instead, since you have a filter. Don't change your filter cartridge either, if you have been doing so. :)
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Old 02-18-2012, 06:15 PM   #4 
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Thank you so much for the advice, both of you! It's so helpful (and reassuring) to have a knowledgeable community to turn to for answers. I think I'm going to cycle-- after the initial startup sounds like it will really be worth it and make things easier.
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Old 02-19-2012, 10:43 AM   #5 
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if you just have a betta in the tank you dont really need to cycle it. just keep the water clean and treated.

i have a 5gal and a 10gal and with one betta and about 12 ghost shrimp split between the two and i do a 50% change with a siphon every 4 days. i also use a small kosher salt [has no iodine] with my water conditioner.

both fish seem to hate the filter noise and current, even the one that i can lower to almost nothing. i turn it off sometimes so they can stretch their fins

regarding resting on the heater, you dont need to get him anything else. that's probably his favorite chair now. that's what mine did until i turned my heater horizontal.
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Old 02-19-2012, 01:52 PM   #6 
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Originally Posted by Tikibirds View Post
They will eat as much as you feed them.
A happy healthy betta will eat like a pig. They will eat things that you wouldn't classify as food, but that's how they act.

As for cleaning, get a siphon as Bomb suggested. I'm thinking one 50% change a week with cleaning the gravel. This will make sure any nasties in the gravel (or whatever substrate) is removed.

As for resting on the heater, it means he's resting in the best spot of the tank, where he can be warm and lazy at the same time! As long as he perks up when it's food time and doesn't start to develop any physical symptoms he should be just fine with lounging on his bun (fin) warmer.
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Old 02-19-2012, 02:21 PM   #7 
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His behavior is probably normal, "settling-in" behavior. But it never hurts to be in the habit of checking on him and looking him over for signs of illness.

What are you using for substrate? Fish are constantly excreting ammonia through their gills, so, since you have a filter and an ammonia source (the fish itself), as long as you are using gravel or sand as substrate, your tank will cycle on its own (this is called a "fish-in cycle"). While your tank is cycling, I suggest doing two 50% water changes per week. After two months it should be safe to say that your tank is fully cycled, but you can always double check with your test kit. Once your tank is cycled, you can scale down to one 50% water change per week if you'd like.

This is all assuming you have gravel or sand as a substrate. If you have a bare-bottom tank or are using decorative gems, your tank probably won't cycle because bacteria tend to flourish in the substrate. If you don't have gravel or sand, then you will need to do regular 100% water changes as well--I believe one 50% and one 100% per week. That can be a hassle, so I always suggest a filter and gravel/sand for people with 5g+ sized tanks.

As everyone else said, in a 5g, it's not hard to do a partial water change with the fish in the tank as long as you have a siphon and gravel vacuum, you just have to be careful.

What temperature is your tank? It's possible that he's staying close to the heater because he's cold. Or he could just be comfortable there. Bettas can be quite lazy and they often love to lounge around on things. They are particularly fond of objects close to the surface because they don't have to put in much effort to get to the top for a breath. If you don;t have any, get some silk plants, bettas really love ones with large flat leaves that they can rest on. Whatever decor you get, just make sure it isn't rough enough to snag the betta's fins.

Don't do anything to mess with pH; a high stable pH is much better than one that is always fluctuating, and doing things to adjust it almost always makes it fluctuate. Bettas are very hardy adaptable fish; my pH is around 8 and it has never caused a problem for my bettas, or even for my cories, which are more delicate.

He's just trying to trick you into feeding him more, don't fall for it! It sounds like you're feeding a good amount.

Good luck!
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Old 02-19-2012, 02:52 PM   #8 
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You don't need gravel or sand to cycle a tank as long as it has a filter. The filter can hold all the bacteria you need. I cycled a 5 gallon tank, fish in. It started off bare bottom, then I got big flat marbles for the bottom. Well after it was cycled I put in gravel, decided I hated it, then took it back out, lol. NEVER change the filter media of a cycled tank. NEVER. Unless you want to re-cycle.

While it was cycling, I did 2-3 50% changes a week,, vacuuming bottom each time, depending what the water parameters were. I got an API Master Test kit (recommend getting it online if you're going to get it - it's waaay cheaper online). After 8 weeks, the tank was cycled and I did 50% changes once a week, vacuuming the bottom each time. This is the most recommended water change schedule for a cycling/cycled 5 gallon on this website.

Definitely leave the fish in for these water changes! They get used to it after a few times. It's way less stressful to leave them in than to take them out and re-acclimate them and all that.
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Old 02-19-2012, 03:55 PM   #9 
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Hiya! Welcome to the wonderful world of betta keeping. Ah, I remember well the new betta mama feeling :D

+1 to not messing with the PH - they adapt :)
+1 to siphon - you can get a cheapy at PetSmart for about $5, doesn't have to be fancy

As for cycling, it is doable in 5 gallons and up. As kfish says, don't change the filter media though as that's where a lot of the good bacteria live. Give it a swish every other water change in the used tank water. If it has charcoal in it, you can cut it open and replace using loose charcoal from the petstore (will be sold with the other filter media). I do this about once a month but it really isn't necessary per se :)

Food - how big are the pellets? Depending on the brand/size, 2 could be plenty or it could be not enough. I have small pellets and feed 4 per day spaced out.

And then generally +1/ditto to what everyone else said :)
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Old 02-19-2012, 04:30 PM   #10 
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Jason, just a couple of things about what you said:

Originally Posted by jasonh View Post
if you just have a betta in the tank you dont really need to cycle it. just keep the water clean and treated.

i have a 5gal and a 10gal and with one betta and about 12 ghost shrimp split between the two and i do a 50% change with a siphon every 4 days. i also use a small kosher salt [has no iodine] with my water conditioner.
As Lola said, if you have a filter running with a fish excreting ammonia in the tank, your tank is either cycling or cycled, mate. I suspect you can probably back off a little on the water changes there, since I'm guessing your tank has probably been running long enough to cucle now.
Also, hold off on the salt. Extended use (with every water change, for instance) can do more harm than good. Save it for when he needs it.
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