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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,

I'm kind of a newbie when it comes to fish keeping, so I went to Petsmart for advice in starting my first betta tank. Turns out that I've made a horrible mistake. I'm hoping that you guys can help me save my betta's life.

I've had a Fluval spec V tank with a heater, driftwood, and decorations for about a month now. The people at Petsmart told me to keep the tank running and preform regular water changes before adding the betta. I was told to add API STRESS ZYME weekly to my tank. This went on for a while until yesterday, when I took my water in for them to test it. The employee told me that my tank had finished cycling and was ready for me to add a fish. I shouldn't have listened to them.

I purchased a beautiful blue and white male half moon betta. He seemed normal and healthy until I took a closer look and noticed that he wasn't moving his left pectoral fin. I of course noticed this after I had gotten home, and didn't want to return him. Since he seemed responsive and healthy other than that, I considered him to be a rescue fish and added him to the tank anyway.

He seemed fine in the tank last night, (after he was acclimated) swimming around and resting in the crevices of the driftwood. I decided to give him a day before testing the water. (I had purchased an API Master testing kit)

I came home today to find him swimming around, continuously flaring and looking distressed. When I did the water testing, I discovered something terrible... The results suggested that my tank had never cycled at all! These were the results of the test:
PH-6.4 D:
Ammonia-0.25 ppm
Nitrite- 0ppm
Nitrate- 0ppm

I had done research before on how to cycle a tank and how important it is, but for some reason I took the advice of the man at the pet store. I feel awful now... My poor fish is being tortured because of my silly mistake! (The PH really worries me, too.)

What should I do? I would appreciate any advice and hold myself totally responsible for this mistake.I'm just so anxious right now- I thought I had done everything right but it turns out that I was just foolish. I don't want him to die. If there is anything I can do to ease the suffering of my little guy, I desperately want to know.

Thank you guys so much in advance.
~Arrow
 

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You can do a fish-in cycle, but please purchase a bottle of Seachem Prime to protect your fish from the ammonia, nitrite, and chemicals. There's a good thread here called Nitrogen cycle-Betta specific:

http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=107771

If you have trouble with your PH, Seachem also makes something called Stability which does the same thing as Prime, but also also adjusts the PH to neutral. I'd get both Prime and Neutral Regulator (read the instructions because I don't think you need to use the Regulator very often).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Okay, Thank you so much!
The thread you posted helps a lot, but I'm still nervous that I'll mess something else up. Do you know if I need to add the Seachem Prime directly to the tank, or when I do a water change?

Small Update:
The betta isn't flaring anymore, and he seems a little calmer. I noticed that he is holding his left pectoral in a somewhat normal position now, (before he was holding it against side.) although he still seems unable to use it. In addition, I can't to get him to eat anything. I've dropped a couple betta pellets in his tank, but he doesn't seem to notice them. The current from the output carries the food to the wall, where they stay until I scoop them out. He ignores blood worms all together.

Is this normal?

Thanks again!
~Arrow
 

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Some bettas are picky about their food and my only suggestion is to wait it out or try some pellets soaked in Garlic Guard. They can go awhile without food and if he still refuses, you can try a different brand of pellets or some tank water-thawed frozen foods like brine shrimp, mysis, bloodworms, and daphnia. What's your tank's temperature?

Per Seachem, Prime and Neutral Regulator can be added directly to the tank, but they recommend adding it to the replacement water during a water change.
 

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In fish cycling is actually really easy. As long as you're testing (and - yay test kit!) you're already halfway there.

Here's another thread that explains the whole process another way, but breaks the process down to 2 sentences. http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=506714
 

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Don't beat yourself up; bettas are pretty hardy fish, and as long as you stay on top of your water changes, there is nothing wrong with doing a fish-in cycle. :)

Is the current from your filter strong? Bettas like water to be as still as possible, so if you have a lot of water movement, you might want to consider baffling your filter. How you do it depends on the type of filter you have. I basically stuff aquarium sponge in every crevice of my HOB filter. ;)

Like violettec said, it's not uncommon for bettas to be uninterested in food, especially when they are adjusting to a new environment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the link, GreenApp1es. It cleared a few things up for me.

Is the current from your filter strong? Bettas like water to be as still as possible, so if you have a lot of water movement, you might want to consider baffling your filter. How you do it depends on the type of filter you have. I basically stuff aquarium sponge in every crevice of my HOB filter. ;)
That was a great idea, LolaQuigs. I just punched some small holes in my air tubing to weaken the flow. He seemed to really appreciate that, seeing as he is now exploring the tank in its entirety. (He was staying clear of the output before)

I was able to get a closer look at his fin while he was near the glass. There seems to be a buildup of tissue under the skin around his pectoral. It forms a somewhat noticeable lump on his side, behind his gills. Whatever it is, it doesn't seem to be slowing him down at all.

Thanks again for all the help!
~Arrow
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I found my betta at the bottom of my tank today. I'm really sad to see him go, even though I'd only had him for two days. I really hope it wasn't me that killed him.

Thanks to everyone for their helpful advice. I appreciate it.
 

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None of your readings indicate that anything was wrong with your parameters. There are many things that can cause early sudden death. Most of them have to do with their condition at the store. You can't be held responsible for that.

There's nothing wrong with Stresszyme, but it does nothing useful for your tank.

You have the right attitude and the right equipment. I hope you'll try again, hopefully with a healthier fish.

By the way, poking holes in the airline to reduce flow is a pretty sophisticated yet simple solution for reducing current from a sponge filter. Did someone tell you to do that, or did you figure it out for yourself?

Welcome to the forum.
 

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Also, Seachem Stability does not do the same thing as Prime -- nor is it intended to. Prime detoxifies ammonia by locking it into a harmless molecule. Stability prepares the way for cycling bacteria by dissolving sludge and other organics and helping the biofilm where cycling bacteria live. As far as I can tell it does not contain cycling bacteria.

Stability does nothing to correct or modify pH. It is usually recommended that you do not try to modify your pH chemically.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Sorry for the late reply- I had quite a busy weekend.
I'm going to modify my setup and begin cycling it today.

By the way, poking holes in the airline to reduce flow is a pretty sophisticated yet simple solution for reducing current from a sponge filter. Did someone tell you to do that, or did you figure it out for yourself?
I originally punched holes in the airline because I had my heater with it in the same compartment and wanted the water to properly circulate. I simply cut bigger holes in the tubing to lower the output, which worked very well.

I discovered that my driftwood was the reason that my Ph was so low. I had so much of it in the tank that it caused the water to become acidic. My solution is to cut and sand down the wood so that it doesn't take up so much room in the tank.

Another addition to the tank will be live plants. Originally I decided against them because the Petsmart staff told me that my betta would eat them. I did some research and realized that live plants are usually betta-safe. I am going to tie java moss to my driftwood and attach some anubias nana to the rocks. I will not be using CO2 or fertilizers. It's okay to have both live and silk plants, correct?

I'm also considering switching from my natural colored gravel to something darker, like black rocks or sand. Would you recommend this?

Thanks again everyone. This is such a nice community- like one big fishy family :)
 

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Glad to see you were not discouraged by your misfortune.

Good lesson about the driftwood. What's you tapwater pH? Usually it's acceptable for Betta.

Live plants are nice if you can take care of them. The ones you're planning on are good low-light beginner plants which don't need added CO2. CO2 is mostly used by aquascapers and plant aficionados. Live and silk work well together, allowing a "jungley" tank, which Betta love, while requiring less maintenance.

Substrate color is the keeper's esthetic decision. White is stressful according to some opinions. Some of us think black allows the Betta's colors to "pop." But shows dirt.
 
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