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Discussion Starter #1
Hello there.

I believe my Betta, Neptune, is dying and need some advice to see if it is something I have done or just age :( I've always taken very good care of him, but the past week he has been very sluggish and slow, rarely coming up to the surface to eat anymore. The tank I had him in was always right in all conditions.

Unfortunately, an accident occurred with my tank and a crack formed, causing a leak (no stress to the fish). I quickly went to the local aquarium shop and got a new tank, filled it up 3/4 of the way with the water that was in the old tank, put in new gravel, then put him in. Water is warm and everything. But Neptune is barely moving at all. He won't even come to the surface to eat, so I tried putting one of those "vacation food tablets" for him to eat on the floor where he's hanging out, but he still won't eat. His fins are close together, and it looks like he's "breathing hard" from his gills.

Have I done something terribly wrong? Does the new tank setting seriously stress him out? But if it does, then why was he starting to act like this before the move? Is there anything I can do to help him? Or is it just his time? Any advice would help.

Housing
What size is your tank? - 3 Gallons
What temperature is your tank? - 75 F
Does your tank have a filter? - Yes
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? - No
Is your tank heated? - Yes
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? - None

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? - Betta Food Pellets
How often do you feed your betta fish? - Three times a day.

Maintenance
How often do you perform a water change? - Fifty percent every week and a half. Full change every month.
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? - See above.
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? - Water conditioner and PH Down (LA water is really basic).

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?

Ammonia:N/A
Nitrite:N/A
Nitrate: N/A
pH: 7
Hardness: N/A
Alkalinity: N/A

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? - Less fin showing, color from blue and red to a light blue.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? - Sluggish, barely moves.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? - Two weeks ago.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? - Warmed up water more and added aquarium salt.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? - No.
How old is your fish (approximately)? - I've had him for a year now, no idea how old he was when he was purchased from the store.
 

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I am sorry your betta is sick. Based on what you wrote perhaps the nitrates or other toxin had risen too high in the old tank? You were not really changing the water quite as often as is recommended. Perhaps doing daily partial water changes will help him bounce back. Changing 50% each day being sure that the water is conditioned and the right temp could potentially help. Also warming the tank up to about 78 degrees may help. I would remove the vacation feeder. They can pollute the water badly and often fish won't eat them anyway. If he won't eat you can try tempting him with a few frozen bloodworms.
 

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P.S. -

How much salt did you add?

Did you move your old filter to the new tank? Or are you using a new filter with the new tank? Is the new tank the same size or different from the old one?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
How often should I change my water for the future in a filtered tank? I apologize but this was my first hardcore tank set-up and such, and I thought I was doing an excellent job at it. Should I do more of a every week sort of thing, or every three to five days?

I put 2 tsp of salt.

I did not move the old filter to the new one. This new tank has this whole system built into it. The size is the same, 3 gallons.

I gotta be honest... the way he looks now, I don't think he'll make it through the night. I feel terrible I can't do anything at this hour to alleviate his suffering...
 

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Your water changes are way too infrequent, you should be doing twice weekly 1x50% water only and 1x50% with substrate cleaning by vacuum and you need to clean your filter media (just swish it in old tank water) every other week.

Is he showing any other symptoms other than lethargy and color loss. Do you know the pH of your tap water (without any additional products)?

How long have you been using aquarium salt, if it's more than 10 days, you should stop.

Firstly, remove the vacation feeder, it's useless. Get the tank in the 78 - 80 temperature range. Perform a water change, since the whole setup is new, you should do 50% change immediately and in 2 days then start then follow the suggested guidelines. After you perform the water change, if some of the old filter media is still wet, pack it in with the new media.

As you don't know your water parameters, I'd really suggest a water conditioner that can detoxify ammonia such as seachem prime when you perform your water changes. Also, start backing off on the pH down until you eliminate it, it's not really necessary for these fish and has the potential for causing pH swings that can be harmful to them.

Some warm clean water should start to fix him up quickly. Also, please let us know if you see any other symptoms.
 

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How often should I change my water for the future in a filtered tank? I apologize but this was my first hardcore tank set-up and such, and I thought I was doing an excellent job at it. Should I do more of a every week sort of thing, or every three to five days?

I put 2 tsp of salt.

I did not move the old filter to the new one. This new tank has this whole system built into it. The size is the same, 3 gallons.

I gotta be honest... the way he looks now, I don't think he'll make it through the night. I feel terrible I can't do anything at this hour to alleviate his suffering...
Your old filter was likely somewhat cycled and had some beneficial bacteria growing in it. The new filter does not have those bacteria so your water quality is likely much worse in the new tank than the old one. Take some gravel, plants, filter media, etc. from the old tank and add it to the new one. It may help get the bacteria going again.

For the time being, with your sick fish I would do 50-75% water changes each day. Then after he recovers you can go with 50% twice a week, with one including a vacuum.

It's hard to know the proper way to maintain these fish unless you really dig for the correct info. Most pet stores do not tell you "the right way" to keep bettas because they don't want to scare people off from getting them, or they are simply ignorant.
 

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Agree with the above posters basically by changing everything you literally are having to cycle the new tank from scratch.

I would recommend getting a Ammonia and Nitrite liquid test kit, so you can check your water paramerters. Your fish's behaviour sounds like a fish suffering the effects of raised Ammonia levels. you will need to be doing daily water changes until the tank cycles. Also agree with the use of seachem Prime water conditioner, that will help him out during this time.

I would stop with the salt I am pretty certain you are dealing with a ammonia issue the salt will not do anything for that, just add extra stress to the fish.

A 100% water change is what he needs right now, no salt.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you guys. I apologize for my infrequent changes. Again, I'm really focused on learning and doing it properly this time around and I thought I had a good handle on it, but apparently it didn't last so long :/ I've had Neptune a year now.

I did a 50% water change and used the Seachem Prime Water conditioner (went out and bought it). The heat of the water is now at 78. I removed the vacation feeder. I had only put in salt once, and did not put any with the recent 50% change.

When I did switch tanks I brought all the same plants and decor from the old tank to the new one. The only thing I changed was the gravel.

Neptune is still hanging out in the same spot, though his "rapid breathing" has gone down a bit. His fins are still clamped together. Still won't eat. Tried shrimp but he just won't move for anything...
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Is he showing any other symptoms other than lethargy and color loss. Do you know the pH of your tap water (without any additional products)?
Forgot to mention this. Right now our tap water is near 8.5 PH. There has been a time it was at 9 (Come on, Los Angeles). We have to filter all our water for drinking, mostly cause the taste just always feel a tad off.

I used to live in Culver City (an unincorporated area of LA) and that water was always perfect. No idea what they did differently.
 

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Forgot to mention this. Right now our tap water is near 8.5 PH. There has been a time it was at 9 (Come on, Los Angeles). We have to filter all our water for drinking, mostly cause the taste just always feel a tad off.

I used to live in Culver City (an unincorporated area of LA) and that water was always perfect. No idea what they did differently.
Instead of Ph down perhaps you could use bottled water or mix bottled water and tap water 50/50 just to lower the Ph a bit?
 

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Forgot to mention this. Right now our tap water is near 8.5 PH. There has been a time it was at 9 (Come on, Los Angeles). We have to filter all our water for drinking, mostly cause the taste just always feel a tad off.

I used to live in Culver City (an unincorporated area of LA) and that water was always perfect. No idea what they did differently.
This may be of interest to you as well:

"The third thing to know is that most fish, including bettas, can adapt to your water’s pH levels. Bettas can do very well and live long healthy lives in a pH of 7.8. The important thing to understand is that in basic water, toxins like ammonia and nitrite become exponentially more dangerous. Since your pH is high you will need to be very diligent about your cleaning regimen and I strongly suggest anyone with basic water cycle a tank for their betta rather then using a betta bowl where 100% of the water is changed regularly."

http://nippyfish.net/2006/06/02/adjusting-aquarium-ph-level/
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I thought I had to keep it always at 7. Thanks.

No signs of improvement yet. Still hanging in the same spot...
 

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Yeah, it's just that the new tank isn't cycled and needs more water changes than before. Also, heating the tank up to 78 would be much better than 75.

You don't need salt--this is a stress thing, not a sickness thing. The salt at its current concentration hasn't hurt him or anything, but you don't want to keep adding it with your water changes or anything like that.

Since you're trying to cycle your new tank, here's my suggestion. Instead of the traditional two 50% changes in a week, change 25% every day for two or three weeks. After that, you can probably get by with just doing one 60-75%ish change every week, because it'll be cycled.

About doing water changes in a fish-in cycle (which is what you are doing):
http://www.fishforums.net/index.php?/topic/226664-why-water-changes-during-cycling-are-good/

That link's a long read because there's a lot of scientific/statistic type stuff, but basically what it's getting at is that your good bacteria will only eat a certain amount of ammonia every day, and anything left after that should be changed out. So you won't hurt the growth of more good bacteria by doing little water changes every day--you just protect your fish.
 

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Keep on it, and don't feel too bad for not taking care of things that you did not know about. Good information really is hard to find. The "betta care pamphlet" that I got from the pet store was so off that it was laughable! The information on the water conditioner bottle was totally wrong for my setup, too!

My boy got very, very sick before I found this place. We all thought he would die. There were times when we thought he was dead. He'd just lay at the bottom of the tank and go completely still, only moving to breathe. He was like that for three full days before he started to get better.

He bounced back with proper care. Hopefully yours will, too.
 

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Check your pH after you've let the water sit out for 24 hrs and then conditioned it.

Remember, what is more important that having ideal parameters for him is reducing any rapid fluctuations in his water parameters.
 

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I would say your water changes in a new tank will need to be at least 50% a day. Ammonia builds really quickly in a un-cycled tank. I would be doing probably about a 90% change a day if it was me because Ammonia builds that fast. I know I am currently cycling a 5 gallon I am currently testing the water daily and having a reading of .25 or slightly below, but I am also using Seachem Stability which is basically bottled good bacteria which is supposed to cycle the tank quicker, it does seem to working somewhat as the Ammonia seems to be staying between 0 and .25 which it wouldn't without it. So maybe something you might want to look at getting.
 

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Don't worry about PH too much, this is the least of your concerns at the moment Betta's are really adaptable when it comes to PH, its the Ammonia that will kill him. Big water changes to keep that down is the way to go. And the stability may help you.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thank you very much guys again. I'm going to do my utmost to get him to bounce back!

One question though: how do I get this guy to eat?

My girlfriend is bringing an amonia test kit on her way home from work, so hopefully I can get a better understanding and reading.
 

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Make sure she gets a liquid one with the test tubes and liquid bottles. The strips are rubbish and give inaccurate readings. API is a good one to get.

If he is feeling S**t he is not going to eat. I cant remember what pellet you had, but New Life spectrum, betta formula pellets are one of the best brands, and Omega one, Betta buffet pellets are the two most recommended brands here. Keep up large water changes once the toxins in his system leave his body he will pick up and want to eat.

The other food to and try and tempt him to eat is frozen blood worms. and I mean the frozen ones, not freeze dried they are rubbish. you buy frozen from a freezer and will need to be stored in a freezer. To feed you defrost a small amount in a small amount of tank water in a cup and feed once defrosted takes seconds to defrost.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Okay, so I witnessed Neptune rush to the surface, grab some air, then come back down to his spot. First time I've seen him move in days.

He's kind of "sitting up" now rather than laying flat on the ground now. Is that a sign of improvement?

I'll get the test here for amonia in a few minutes.
 
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