HOWEVER, I would consider putting him in the 6 gallon now and doing a fish-in cycle, using TSS to give the bacteria a boost. I would also use Prime to detoxify ammonia and nitrite (makes the cycle safer for the fish).
Okay, so should I replace the water? (I did add ammonia but only enough to get it to 1ppm, probably not enough to do the full fishless cycle, yet still too high to add the fish.)
Then with new conditioned water I should add more TSS and also Prime?
I test the water plenty and will keep doing so, but I'm really scared about seeing a spike while the fish is in there because I don't know enough to be able to fix it quickly and I understand that cycles can really hurt the fish even permanently.
This all happened because my dear 7-yr-old and his dad hatched a plan one day and came home with a bowl, a few supplies, and the poor fish--all at once--no heat source (our home is around 71 deg--it IS winter in NYC after all) and no sense of how little exercise the fish can get in that space.
So first I was scrambling to get the bowl temp up, and I've been trying ever since to get him set up with more space. If I were starting out the way we should have, I wouldn't mind taking some weeks to cycle the tank properly, but now I'm seeing some curling fins and I'm worrying (I've read that can be caused by low temps and lack of exercise--exactly what he's got in that bowl).
Sorry for the sob story. I just really want to do right by the little guy, so all the advice is truly appreciated.
Do you have a heater in the big tank? If you do and it's adjustable bump it up to 86*. This will boost the bacteria's metabolism and get them reproducing quicker. Go ahead and get the ammonia to 4-5 PPM. There is no such thing as an instant cycle and it's likely no offense but that stuff in the bottle is dead bacteria not living. Now as far as getting the guy some better digs for the time being. Go to Petco and get these items....
Since his fins are curling I'd get a small box of aq salt keep in that for 24 hours and change the water. You should see some improvement. Then adhere to the regular schedule mentioned above. Treat the water with 3 tsp for that tank size. http://www.petco.com/product/1697/AP...t=OnSiteSearch
Do you have a heater in the big tank? If you do and it's adjustable bump it up to 86*.
Yes, it's a 50-watt adjustable w thermostat... I just bumped up the temp and I'll add ammonia til I get the reading you suggest. Just before reading your post I took out a little water so there's more turbulence (thus more oxygen for the bacteria--is that right?).
I'll get the stuff you recommended (I should have a hospital tank anyway). I really can't thank you enough.
One thing I still really don't understand, though: where does the bacteria come from and how can I introduce it if I don't have access to an established aquarium? Everyone disagrees on whether the bottled stuff is "works" or even has live bacteria. I don't want to up the ammonia level if there's no bacteria to use it. SO CONFUSED.
I'm not sure where the bacteria comes from to be honest. If you provide the food (ammonia), heat, and water they will show up to the party in a sense. The oxygenated water (bubbling) will help some too. An aquarium is really a great place for bacteria to breed. Think about a sponge you lose somewhere moist it's going to get nasty with who knows what same thing with your tank. Just in this case you want it to get the bacteria to breakdown the ammonia.
Also when you do water changes in the future make sure to pretreat the water with conditioner in a container that hasn't been washed with detergents or soap. Then add the water to the tank If you add the chlorinated water directly to your tank you could crash the cycle before you get the treatment added.
Funny/weird about the bacteria. So it will just take longer because I don't have any I can "borrow" from an established tank?
I'm obsessive about making sure water is conditioned and also thoroughly rinsing anything that's been through the dishwasher, etc. I've even dunked things in treated water after rinsing with tap water for fear of the chlorine. :)
I must admit I'm bummed about the time it'll take to get this right, but I *do* want it done right--I just hope the switch to the hospital tank doesn't stress my little guy too much. (Obviously, I worry about him a bit much.)
Many many thanks for all your help. I truly appreciate it.
Yeah it's going to take longer because you can't or don't have the resources to seed the tank. On borrowing the bacteria some stores will give you a cup full of substrate (if they use it) from an established tank. The only risk with this is if the tank that you borrow from has something nasty in it such as a disease you get to borrow that too.
About stressing him out by switching to a hospital tank. My blue Betta Mystic used to get stressed every time I netted him. It got to the point that when I came around the tank to even watch him he would get stress stripes and stay real still. Probably thinking to his self you don't see me haha. Now that I do it daily since he got fin rot and have to treat him with aquarium salt cause I tried to cycle a tank he was in he is fine with me netting him. Don't get me wrong he still tries to get away, but he doesn't get stress stripes.
The bacteria that starts the cycle is in the air (type that eats ammonia).
I did a cycle with some Jungle Start Up bacteria and it cycled in a couple of weeks using the shrimp method to create ammonia in a 2.5 gal. I didn't take the shrimp out and let the cycle go over board on nitrate levels thus it started growing a fungus that is really hard to get rid of. Mainly I was just doing it to get use to reading water testing colors again which it did great at. After a complete clean up it will later become my hospital tank.
Farther reading told me that these non-refrigerated bacteria in a bottle you can buy are not the right kind of nitrifying bacteria you get in a normal cycled tank, though they do come in handy if you do something to a regular cycled tank to help out while the right kind of bacteria play catch up and multiply again (over feed or adding more fish than the cycle can handle). If you cycle with these bottle products and forget to add them with a water change you will have a spike and I didn't like the ideal of constantly having to add them with every water change. They are called Heterotrophic bacteria. True nitrifying bacteria can be bought in a bottle that has to be refrigerated and it will have a short shelf life along with being more expensive.
I read that both the shrimp and food methods can both lead to Saprolegnia (Fungus) getting started due to it rotting. I am now cycling a 5 gal tank using the food method, but that food is crushed, soaked and mushed to where it is basically a liquid so the fungus has no food to attach to and I'm also doing it the bare aquarium method so that the nitrifying bacteria get into the filter definitely instead of selecting the gravel or deco's. They can get into that later, your real cycling comes from them living in your filters bio media.
I like you hate waiting a few weeks to get the tank ready and if your concerned about his lack of exercise room then get a plastic container that will hold more water to give him more room in the mean time with doing regular water changes. Can't see them good through the plastic, but when you take them out into a glass container while changing water you can view them closely. Mine stayed in some Sterilite file containers for a while until I got some 5 gal tanks for them. They are only in 3 gallons of water since I have to change it to often until I can get the tanks cycled. Once 1 is cycled I'll use it to seed the other 3 from.
Since you test often and seem to only have one fish it would probably be pretty safe for you to do an in-tank cycle unless something might come up to where you couldn't change some of the water daily. Prime will lock up ammonia (converts the gas type that is harmful to the ion type which isn't-they convert back & forth depending on pH, etc.) and nitrites, but only for 24-48 hours. So using it for that is only a temp fix until you can do a water change in a non-cycled or one not fully cycled tank. Can also be used in a cycled tank to lock it up to help out until the nitrifying bacteria &/or plants can catch up with the load, but again the lock up only works for 24-48 hours. You will still get a high total ammonia reading (total ammonia=gas+ion types), but the gas type will be changed to the ion type which won't hurt the fish. I'm guessing the nitrate/etc. reading will be the same way, show up but still be locked up.
If you only have one betta, put a mirror to where it can see itself thus show off and try to fight itself which exercises it's fins and helps keep it healthy. Only do it a few minutes, so they don't over exercise or loose interest (reason store betta's rarely pay mind to each other) every day or when you get around to it.
If they get stressed cover the tank so it will be dark and they will feel safer. As for netting, a way around that is to scoop them up in a cup or container with the flow of water drawing them into it and then pour out some of the water back into the tank. Mine come up to the container checking it out and then I dip in down sideways to get them scooped in it.
Another tip I found along the way was about buying Seachems Matrix Bio-Media. If your filter doesn't have a location for it, it can be put into a medicine bottle with small holes drilled into it cleaned off to where the betta won't tear it's fins on the wholes. This gives the nitrifying bacteria a place to live and a backup to their locations in the filter or gravel. Also if you start another tank it is easy to move them.
It also comes in handy to keep your Mini-Cycle going in a non-filtered tank by keeping them in a bottle or just using it in the bottom of the tank. Since I have 3 more tanks to cycle after the 5 gallon makes it I'm going to not only be putting the filters from those tank into this one for a week before I start their cycles I'll also have some of this to use to seed the tanks and have as backups in the cycled tanks. Will also use it in my hospital tank when only salt is being used, but will take it out if other medication is used since that will kill the bacteria.
@freemike Good to hear your blue betta got used to being netted. Ours (also blue) seems to be getting more trusting and comfortable all the time. He doesn't freak out during water changes--I do partial every other day and 100% once a week--but he sure did at first!
I have the same concern about borrowing bacteria from the pet store. As I said upthread, I want bacteria, not diseases! I had to treat the guy for fin rot within days of getting him home, so I really don't trust the store. (His fin tips were turning black and falling off--I used Epsom salts and lots of water changes and he's been great until the curling started a few days ago.)
I noticed you're in Hickory, NC. What a beautiful place! I grew up in Asheville and moved to NYC 11years ago but still love going back for visits.
Oh, but back to fish. :) I got the ammonia up to 4.0 by around 3am, and then I had to get to bed. I'll try to get the temporary tank today, and I already have another heater like the one you linked to (I wanted a backup in case my main one suddenly stops but didn't want to buy two of the adjustable temp ones so long as this one's working).
Thanks SO MUCH. I'm not thrilled about how long this could take, but I'm glad to be doing it right. Now I'm gonna have a zillion questions when it comes time to clean that tank, but one thing at a time, right?
@BlueStar Thanks for all your advice. I especially like the idea of scooping with a cup as its VERY hard to net a fish in a bowl (the hard edges of the net are squared so he can slither around the curve of the glass). I'm always scared I'll injure him if I move the net quickly and accidentally hit his body.
Now this is funny: My son named our fish (a blue crown tail). His name is Blue Star! I did a double take when I saw your post.
I read your post twice last night but it was late, so I'm reading it again today. I also hope to get a plastic tank today that I can later use as a hospital tank. Then he can get more exercise. I tried the mirror trick the other day, but everything's too distorted through the curved glass of the bowl, so he didn't react. I'm eager to try it when he's in the tank freemike suggested.
Many thanks for sharing your experience and advice. It's very helpful and truly appreciated!
Your welcome whoiam.
Most of my knowledge comes from tons of reading stuff on the net from different locations.
Just changed all 4 betta's water and checked the tank I'm cycling. Feb. 28 will be 2 weeks since I started (2 days just letting the filter run to put a lot of oxygen into the water and let other gas escape from my well water before I started feeding the tank). Just using the strips to test, my ammonia is high and nitrites are showing up so the ammonia should start falling. Think I read it takes 7 days for each to mulitply, spike and lower except the nitrates which can only be lowered by water changes. Since not all my food was mush & flakes did get on the bottom (some rolled into balls probably from good bacteria glue) I have done just enough vacuming to get what hasn't stuck to the glass bottom up. I'm not feeding the tank since it's water is still cloudy (bacterial bloom plus mush food) and some food is probably also in the filter. When I get my ammonia & nitrates to 0 I'll do another clean up with water change to bring the nitrates down then add the gravel & deco's and check it a few days before I add the betta. Then I'll check it daily since he will add the bio load for about a week, then go to weekly depending on those readings. Comparing it to the last time I used shrimp & Jungle Bacterial started (wrong type of bacteria) it may have only saved me a couple of days off the time it took doing it the right way and only having the right bacteria. I'll hang onto it until it expires just in case any of the tanks get out of whack and need a little help. I hate trashing anything, but I wouldn't give it away to anyone who had plans to want to use it to cycle a tank since they would be stuck permantely buying the stuff.
LOL about the Blue Star name, but I can't use it for one of my fish since it was the original name I gave to my dog that was a road rescue. I passed her and a male one morning on a highway near some houses and thought they just got out of a yard. Coming home he was dead out on the road and she kept trying to go out to him. I pulled off and got her coaxed up to the car and then put her inside. Most I could do for him was pull him off on the shoulder since I was 40 miles from home and had no way to bury him. Anyway we came home under the stars and she slept most of the way (worn out from her ordeal). I had left my phone number at an all nights vet office on the other side of town and when no one called to claim her I used the Indian method to name her, Blue (she was found depressed and tired) and Star (they where beautiful that night). That name had to be shorten to Star only since my older dog's name was Blue Girl and they both came the minute I said Blue. In a few day's it will have been a year since I had to put Blue Girl to sleep and Star is so use to not using her first name it may only be used as her official name and just keep calling her by her nick Star. When I signed up to the board I used her full name since I couldn't do it at home :).
Blue is my favorite color and 3 of my betta's are Blue. The other is a Yellow/White color. DaddyO (full grown when I got him), Blue Girl since it was in a females cup but now has to only be called Blue since it's a male, Fancy Dan (crown tail) and Mac Fly (yellowish one is the most active one always showing off flying around and wanting all your time). I was only going to get a male and female (not for breeding just company to see on the other side of their homes), but ended up with 2 more being rescues from dirty containers at Wal Mart. Definately will not be getting any more. Have 2 dogs (1 with glaucoma), 8 cats, rabbit, 4 bettas, donkey and mule along with feeding coons down in the barn to keep them out of the cat food until the cats have time to eat. So getting these guys better homes has taken a while on a retired budget with drought hay/feed/vet prices.