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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Let me first say that I am an adult with Autism and ADHD. I get overwhelmed and confused easily when presented with new information and often have to ask for clarification multiple times to understand it. Also let me be the first to say that I have made about five million mistakes with owning this fish, but I am going to try to be as concise as possible so that someone can hopefully help me save my fish.

Housing: Fluval Spec V
How many gallons is your tank? Five Gallons
Does it have a filter? Yes
Does it have a heater? Yes

What temperature is your tank?
Right now it is 85.8 since I had the tank lid off to do parameter tests. I raised it (slowly overnight) to 86 from 80. Before this whole saga, I would normally have the tank between 78-80.

Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? I have an ayirstone recently purchased, but it is making huge bubbles that seem to be bothering my betta. I am going to look for a new one today that will hopefully make smaller ones, I think I got a dud.

Does your Betta have tank mates?
Yes. About two weeks ago I watched a video on YouTube by KG Tropicals saying that bettas could have neon tetras as tank mates in a five gallon tank so long as it was 6-8ish. I did pretty much no further research and bought the fish. Two days after introducing them my betta seemed aggressive still and I thought "maybe I should actually look this up" which Is when I learned that five gallons is allegedly fish abuse for neon tetras? I have no idea, but they are here now and everybody seems to be living in harmony with no losses as of yet. (I bought 7.)
(Oh and before you ask, no I did not quarantine the new fish before introducing because I am a dunce and did literally no research until after the fact, something I am hugely regretting.)

Food:
What food brand do you use?
I have multiple foods I have been using. I was using some pellets the store recommended but I changed recently to Hikari. The store offered no help on the neon tetras so I bought flakes but they seemed too big for their mouths and got all over the inside of the tank, so I changed them to Hikari Micro pellets too.

Do you feed flakes or pellets?
Right now everyone is on pellets. I havnent really thought of a way to prevent the betta from eating the tetra food. I give him 2-3 pellets of his own and I toss a pinch of micro pellets midway down the tank. He scarfs up a lot of the ones on the top and they go nuts for the ones in the middle and that sink to the bottom. I was thinking about possibly netting him into his betta log until they were done eating so I dont end up over-feeding him?

Freeze-dried? I have Hikari Brine Shrimp and Hikari Blood Worms available but am not using them too much at the moment (more on that in a bit).

How often do you feed your Betta? How much? Ugh so I was feeding him twice a day, 2-3 pellets a day, and the tetras a pinch a day, but then I was having some issues with ammonia and read somewhere to feed them much less to help get ammonia under control. So I skipped two days and fed them last night and then this morning. I honestly have no idea how much I should be feeding each animal of what.

Maintenance:
Before your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change?
This is basically where things started to get embarrassing for me (in terms of admitting my mistakes). I got the betta (named Sonic) in December of 2020. He was a gift to my 7 yr old son from his Grandma. My son who also has Autism ended up being upset by the fish, despite picking him out, so Sonic became my fish. We knew nothing about fish and never had a fish before this. My mother sent us a nano tank (I dont even think it was a whole liter of water) for him, decor, and a light. When we got the fish at the store and brought it home he didnt move much and some quick googling revealed he needed a bigger tank and a heater.

I ordered a 1.6 gallon tank off of Amazon that had good reviews, a micro heater, filter, some conditioner etc and some test strips. He perked up and I thought things were good. I was doing 100% water changes (for literally no reason other than I thought that was a thing) and cleaning all the plants and gravel 1x a week. I dont know when things started going downhill but by March he started looking really, really bad.

He was still eating but he was hiding behind his filter a lot and not moving around much. All his color was gone and he was missing most of his beautiful fins. We have no sharp decor so I didnt understand what happened. He looked like a completely different fish. I looked some stuff up and thought he must have had fin rot so I bought Pima Fix and Mela Fix and an airstone to treat him. I followed the directions but I didnt do the full treatment because about 4 days in I noticed he was skimming the top and seemed to be having extreme difficulty breathing. I also learned while I was treating him that those tanks were way too small for a betta, which is when I purchased the 5 gallon tank with new heater, new decor, etc etc. I also bought a liquid test kit and a bunch of other stuff (like quick start) I can list below somewhere later on. I felt that keeping him in the 1.6 gallon any longer was too cruel and decided to just go ahead and put him in the 5 gallon, which had been running for those 4 days. Almost as soon as I put him in the new tank I noticed a change in his personality. He was so much more active. He explored the tank, he wasn't hiding anymore, he was swimming around and laying in his leaf hammock again. A lot of his color came back and his fins are re-growing. He isnt as blue as he was when I first got him but it is definitely a huge improvement.

I realized I was doing water changes incorrectly and started doing 25% water changes once a week.

What is the source of your water? Tap water. I have tested the tap water for ammonia recently to discover that my recent ammonia issues are not from the tap.

Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water? I vacuum the substrate but in order to avoid ammonia spikes and mini-cycles I have very recently been only vacuuming the top as I have been doing a fish-in cycle.

What additives do you use other than conditioner? What brand of conditioner?
I use tetra aqua safe for water changes with stress coat. I have used quick start when setting up the 5 gallon initially. I have access to Seachem Prime and Aquasafe Plus if needed. I put a Aqueon Pure bacteria and enzymes ball to help with start-up and cycling.

That being said I just learned about tank cycling about the day after I bought the neon tetras. I still dont fully understand it but I am currently THIS WEEK doing 50% water changes and vacuuming the top of the substrate and minimizing feeding. I am going to start vacuuming the substrate though because of the ICH.

Water Parameters:

Ammonia: .25 Despite daily water changes for the last week my ammonia has been at .25. It was .50 so I guess lower is better obviously. I honestly wonder if my fish never had fin rot to begin with but had ammonia poisoning instead since I never had an ammonia test until recently.

Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: Seems to be 6.8-7
Hardness (GH): I only have test strips for this and KH but I believe that GH is 60
Alkalinity (KH): 80

Symptoms and Treatment:
When did you first notice the symptoms? First noticed white dots on betta head last night after doing 50% water change. Then I observed white dots on neon tetra.
How has your Betta’s appearance changed? Other than the white dots... nothing.
How has your Betta’s behavior changed? He has been still at the top of the tank more than usually. He is still relatively active, but not nearly as much as usual.
Is your Betta still eating? Yes, all fish are still eating.
Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how? not yet. I do daily water changes for the ammonia and vacuum substrate but thats it.
Does your Betta have any history of being ill? Yes. Not sure of exact dx.
How long have you owned your Betta? Since December.
Was he or she ill or suffering some sort of damage when purchased? Not that I am aware of.


Basically, I have spent almost $500 on fish supplies since December and I am certain I have bought things I didnt need or thought I needed. I need help to make sure I get the right things to help my fish. I honestly cannot buy another huge tank for these fish to separate them. I have no idea what to do.

I also need help figuring out dosage. How do I know how to dose? The 5 gallons? Is it less than five gallons since decor and gravel take up volume in the tank? How do I figure that all out?

What conditioning products should I be using with the medicine, and which medicine is best?

How should I proceed considering my tank is uncycled? Do I treat them and start the cycle again from scratch? If so, what is that process?

I know I need to take the carbon out if I use medicine, but so I need to remove the biorings too? (Those white cylinders).

Side note - two of my neon tetras are constantly in circles with each other. It seems like one of them is always picking on the other one all day long. Should I be concerned about this? Fins look a bit split but I dont know if that's ich related or tetra related
 

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There is a lot to address so I’m sorry in advance if I miss something.

A 5 gallon tank is too small for the 8 fish. Neon tetras are nippy even under the best conditions so in a smaller tank they are probably doing a number on the betta as well as each other. Also fish under stress are more vulnerable to disease, which is possibly where the ick has come from.
The bio load in a 5 gallon with 8 fish is more than enough for a cycle so you do not need to worry about leaving gunk in the substrate to turn into ammonia. In fact if it were my tank I would clean every other day with vacuum. Have you seen the cycling tutorial? I will link it below.
The treatment for ICH is to raise the temp to 86 and leave it there for three weeks. If you don’t leave it for three weeks you will not kill all stages of the disease and it will come back.
Do you still have the 1.6 gal? If it were my fish I would put the betta back in there and leave the neons in the 5. It may seem that he is less happy in the smaller tank but he will be far happier in there than living with the tetras (who will also be happier).
If you post pictures we can help determine if they do have ICH and address any concerns you have about fin rot etc.
Every person on this forum has made mistakes. Don’t be hard on yourself, you are doing great!


 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hello, thank you so much for your response. Sorry I tried to upload some pics but I dont think I did it right, I will try right now and I will look at the tutorial. I just discovered this site so I haven't seen all it has to offer yet.

So I should just keep the tank at 86 for three weeks and vacuum the substrate every other day, instead of doing the medicine?
 

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@BettaloverSara has given you excellent advice and I just wanted to underscore what she said in her final sentence. We've all made mistakes on our journey in this hobby. The important thing is that we learn from them and are receptive to correcting them. And you are. And you are to be applauded for that.

Yes, that's ich. And it appears you've caught it early. Good. Don't be alarmed if you see an increase in white spots. The elevated temperature speeds up the life cycle, which is good, because the heat will eventually wipe them out. If it were my tank I'd not add meds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
@BettaloverSara has given you excellent advice and I just wanted to underscore what she said in her final sentence. We've all made mistakes on our journey in this hobby. The important thing is that we learn from them and are receptive to correcting them. And you are. And you are to be applauded for that.

Yes, that's ich. And it appears you've caught it early. Good. Don't be alarmed if you see an increase in white spots. The elevated temperature speeds up the life cycle, which is good, because the heat will eventually wipe them out. If it were my tank I'd not add meds.
Thank you both for your kind words. I honestly was so scared to post because I feel like a terrible fish owner. I am going to take this advise very seriously and will post an update with some (hopefully good) news in three weeks.
 

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Yes I would keep it at 86 for three weeks. Also I would give them more food. Some of the neons are looking a bit thin to me, I can’t tell if the betta is or not.
As immal said, it’s all about learning. When they are done the 3 weeks I think it would be most beneficial to all fish involved to take the betta out. Best of luck! And welcome to the forum!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I forgot to ask, how much of the water should I be changing when I clean the substrate for the purposes of treating this ich?
 

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Hello, welcome to the forum! You are doing a great job! Unfortunately pet stores often don’t have the right information so you don’t know what you don’t know. What matters is you want to learn!

Unfortunately I have had many cases of ich over the years. Usually for me raising the temps was not enough.
Extra water changes will help a lot, I would start with doing 50-60% every other day. The other thing I would recommend is looking into aquarium salt. It is very effective against ich.

Salt is great to use when there are any issues anyway (in my opinion they’re the second best thing to do behind water changes). A full dose is one tablespoon per five gallons. It is best to start with a half dose and then put in another other half dose after about twelve hours. Especially if the fish are sensitive to salt which tetras can be.

Keep in mind that you need to dose salt again after each water change that you do. So if you have a full dose of salt and then do a 25% water change, then you need to dose salt for the 25% you changed.

I know that this is a lot of information, but I don’t usually raise the temperature when treating for ich and here’s why:

Ich cannot infect a healthy fish. Fish become susceptible due to stress, in my mind raising the temperature would just add more stress. That being said many people have raised the temperature and it has been successful so take it with a grain of salt.

good luck! Feel fry to ask any questions!
 

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Sorry you are having so many issues.

1. Follow the cycling tutorial. It says 25% water change at .25 ppm Ammonia or Nitrites. That doesn't mean you can't do the 50% suggested. Shove the plastic end of the siphon into the gravel and vacuum that one spot until the water runs clean. If that takes the entire 50% water change don't worry. Just do a different spot the next time.

2. As suggested, raise the temperature to 86 and leave it there for three weeks. Heat alone will eventually kill all life stages of Ich. If you wish to use Aquarium Salt that is perfectly okay. Do not use for more than 10 days and stop if the Neons act stressed or if anything stops eating.

3. Explanation is long so I'll skip that. Use Prime and purchase a SeaChem Ammonia Alert. If AA does not register but the API test does, you are seeing harmless Ammonium as the AA only registers the harmful stuff. You still need to do a water change but your fish are in no danger. Nitrifying bacteria feeds on Ammonium as well as Ammonia.

4. Feed the fish three or so times per day. Betta can be fed 12-16 pellets per day. Fed at once would be overfeeding; spread out over 3-4 smaller meals it isn't. The Neons are faster than a Betta so it's doubtful he'll over eat.

5. Viewed from the top, fish should look like the photo below: A smooth transitioning from head to base of their tail.
FishFromAbove.jpg
6. Post immediately if you notice or think you see any lethargy or appetite loss or anything else that doesn't seem "right." Don't wait.

Almost forgot: This Forum is nonjudgmental. So don't be afraid to admit it if you believe you've made mistakes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you so much for the extra information. I wasn't initially sure if I should follow the cycling suggestion on water changes for ammonia or something more through due to all the suggestions I've read online saying to clean substrate so hardcore due to ich, so I am glad to have some clarification on that.

My initial reaction is to not do the salt because that seems like something that I would mess up and be overwhelming for me, however upon looking into it, seems like it could be beneficial for my betta? Would that be too much considering how much I have been messing with the tank?

When you say 'use prime', do you mean in the way suggested in the cycling tutorial? Or in a different dosage/way? (Just to be clear.) I will look into the AA straight away as it sounds very useful since I haven't used prime yet and I was curious about how to discern whether my ammonia tests were good or bad after using prime.

THANK YOU for the very specific feeding info. It is insanely helpful and I also realize I have been underfeeding my fish pretty significantly.

One thing I will say - we sort of had an accident with the betta tonight. I was showing my boyfriend how to vacuum the substrate with the siphon tonight since he asked how he could help, as I have been feeling overwhelmed with it all. As we were removing a tank decoration to clean underneath it, the fish somehow got caught on it (neither of us realized he was anywhere near it, and it was a fizzy rock so I dont really know how he even got attached to it) until I saw him on the towel I had infront of the tank. I got him back in the tank ASAP but the dorsal fin he had just spent time growing is now shorn off again. He was laying on the bottom of the tank still for a while. He did move and swim around when I turned the light on later. (Not sure if he was sleeping as I have actually never observed him on bottom of tank before). Just thought this was worth mentioning. I am very worried about him and feel like literally the worst person ever.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Some pictures. I thought his dorsal find got ripped off last night. It's going to sound stupid but I literally watched him for so long and it was nowhere in sight. This morning I turn on the light and he swims right up to me with it in tact (but worse for wear of course) - so I am glad to see that it isn't completely gone.
 

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Don’t feel too bad, they always manage to hurt themselves. Just keep the water clean and warm and it will grow back.

If I were in your shoes I would add the aquarium salt. I would do it as a half dose and then 12 hours later add the second half dose. The aquarium salt will help him heal and not get infection along with the regular water changes. It will also help get rid of the ich.
If you do decide to add the aquarium salt, dissolve it first in warm water then add it to the tank.

for the prime just use it as its suggested in the tutorial.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Don’t feel too bad, they always manage to hurt themselves. Just keep the water clean and warm and it will grow back.

If I were in your shoes I would add the aquarium salt. I would do it as a half dose and then 12 hours later add the second half dose. The aquarium salt will help him heal and not get infection along with the regular water changes. It will also help get rid of the ich.
If you do decide to add the aquarium salt, dissolve it first in warm water then add it to the tank.

for the prime just use it as its suggested in the tutorial.
Thank you (and everyone of course) for your help. Is the salt dosed at half strength every time I do a water change?
 

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Thank you (and everyone of course) for your help. Is the salt dosed at half strength every time I do a water change?
just dose the salt for the amount of water you removed. So for a 50% water change you would dose half of 5 gallons, 2.5 gallons so half a tablespoon.
 

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Please do not beat yourself up or feel you are not a good caregiver. If you polled those of us who've had fish for a while we'd all say we learned so much more from the mistakes we made than the things we did right. At least, that's certainly true for me.

If I counted the number of times I've accidentally had a fish out of water (pun intended) it would be in the triple digits.

Pontificating here, but I believe if we do the best we can based on what we have been told or know then that's all we can do. People fairly new to fishkeeping have no way of knowing if what they are receiving is good information or not. So if you took advice and it was wrong I don't see how you can blame yourself. And not noticing a fish in an ornament? Happens all of the time.

And, yes, SeaChem Prime.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I had upped the tank temp to 87 and started vacuuming the gravel and changing the water between 35-50% every other day six days ago.

On day two my tank left the first stage of cycling and went to stage two, which was exciting but also nerve wracking. I was so happy to finally see a yellow ammonia tube but not so happy to see the nitrate and nitrite tubes register anything above zero.

On day three (second water change since starting treatment) I decided to add the salt as suggested. All fish were eating and seemed fine, however one tetra did seem a bit disoriented like he was having trouble finding the food.

Day before yesterday I came home from work and one of the neon tetra had passed. I did a water change since it would have been day 6 (third water change/vacuuming for ich) and during the process my aquarium thermometer broke.
Yesterday morning we lost another neon tetra buddy, as well as last night. All the neon tetra looked really rough. Covered in white spots, color lost, and filmy white sheen. There are doubt neon tetra left.

betta looks good, he has no spots on him, but has been swimming strangely recently, seemed disoriented during feeding like he was having a hard time finding the food, (but did eat) and last night he wedged himself between his log and the tank (pic). I have freed him multiple times and he keeps doing it so it appears intentional.

not sure what to do but I’m worried about him.
Going to get a new thermometer today. Bought a replacement the other day and I believe it’s inaccurate because it is cheaper (only one In stock) and says 82 when previous thermometer read 86-87.
 

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