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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
While I have had a Betta or two in the past, I never knew much about them and must have gotten lucky. I now want to do it right. I Now have 2 Bettas (both in separate tanks). Prue, my female, I just got last night. I wasn't around to observe her in her new environment, so I waited until this morning to put her in her new home. She seemed ok at first, was exploring the tank and ate a few dried blood worms and half a pellet. Now she is laying on the bottom of the tank and seems to be breathing very fast. I'm worried about her. I believe she was stressed when I rescued her as she seemed pale and had horizontal stripes. Some of her color does seem to have come back. She is in a large vase that holds somewhere between 1 and 1.5 gallons of water. This is not meant to be her forever home and she will only be kept here until I can find and cycle a larger tank. The tank was running for about 5 days before she was put in and I changed about 25 - 30 percent of the water too. She has a filter and a heater, though the cartridge on the filter is old and I am leaving to buy a new one soon. I just tested the water and I have as follows:

Nitrates - 0
Nitrites - .5
GH - 150
KH - 300
pH - 8.4

I did not realize the test strips did not test ammonia when I purchased them. I know some of those numbers are on the high side but don't know how they effect things. Is there anything way off that I need to try to fix and how? Anything that I should do to try to help little Prue? Any answers or direction will be greatly appreciated! Oh and there is a ramshorn snail and a baby pond snail in there with her. And a live plant that does not appear to be at it's peek.
 

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The nitrites are a bit high, the tank/vase has definitely started cycling.

You need to do a large water change right away. any nitrite or ammonia present in the water is toxic to fish. Make sure the new water is the same temperature as the old one, you can do this by adjusting the hot and cold water from the tap, dont forget to use water conditioner! You don't want cold water to shock her.

When you get a larger tank, I recommend moving your fish and her current filter into the new tank. Your vase has already started to cycle, you may as well continue this in the larger tank.

If the plant is obviously not doing too well, I would take it out and put it somewhere else. A healthy plant is beneficial to water quality, but a dying plant will pollute the water and this will be toxic to your bettas health.

It is completely possible to do a fish-in cycle, and this is no more dangerous to your fish's healthy than keeping her in an unfiltered vase.
 

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Test strips are generally not regarded highly in this hobby. Their accuracy often seems to get called into question. However, if your readings are correct, as Ao has said, your nitrites are high enough that a water change would be necessary. My first betta fish died from nitrite poisoning, and it is as potentially lethal as ammonia at high enough levels.

Ammonia would be my next concern. Low levels of ammonia can cause stress and irritation to fish, and prolonged exposure can wreak havoc on their immune system and really depress their ability to fight off disease.

Have you tested your tap water to see what results you get? I know some hobbyists are unfortunate enough to have tap water that already contains ammonia/nitrites, which can make the cycling process more difficult.

A product such as Seachem Prime can be used to temporarily detoxify ammonia (and I believe also nitrite), which can give you some breathing space, and your fish some relief. However, IMO, it's really only a band-aid solution, and shouldn't be used in place of water changes.

Just to clarify, Prue is still in the vase at present? It's just you switch between tank and vase in your OP, so I wasn't sure if she was still in the vase. If she is, I also agree with Ao, that you may as well move her to the tank as soon as you purchase it, rather than wait for it to cycle. She is going to be exposed to the cycling process regardless of whether she is in the vase or in the tank, so she might as well be in something with a larger volume of water.

Also, you've only had Prue since last night. Some fish take longer than others to settle into a new tank, so her behaviour is not completely abnormal in that regard.

I personally would advise purchasing a bottle of Seachem Prime, and purchasing liquid test kits for at least ammonia and nitrite if you can afford to. Otherwise, there is a master test kit that contains every testing product you will need during the cycling process.
 

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I use the test strips, but that's only cause I haven't bought the Masterkit yet... which I really need to do, and soon. Tho I ONLY use the liquid test for ammonia. I don't use strips for that.

The biggest problem with the strips is that the ammonia and nitrates and nitrites are heavy and sink to the bottom of the tank... and the strips are swished across the top. There can be a fairly substantial difference between the two. When I test my ammonia with the liquid test, I suction water from the bottom of the tank to test.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I know it's been a couple of days but I wanted to thank you all for your replies and to say that I did see them all. I had a busy weekend and just couldn't reply!

Shortly after my post, Prue started to swim more in her new home, which yes is still the vase, although since it has a fish in it it became a tank in my mind so sorry for calling it two different things. I think I was being overly cautious with her. I saw her in the store 5 days before taking her home and she was a completely different looking fish at day 5 due to stress, so I was just worried. I've started changing half her water every other day and I've been adding Api stress coat + and stress zyme +. Besides a little constipation yesterday, she is doing great. She has more color and her stress stripes seem to be fading. I clipped all the dying leaves from her plant and have added a ceramic tunnel tied over the side of the vase so it is suspended near the surface of the water. All in all she now seems like a happy fish and enjoys pecking at the snail's shells, especially when they are in floaty mode!

I know that the test strips are not the greatest, but they were all I could get for now and I figured they were better then nothing. I lucked into a free 20 gallon tank over the weekend. Now I need to work on collecting the rest of the needed supplies and it will eventually house Prue and hopefully a few more females. Won't my boy, Riley, be envious!! (One day he shall have a 10 gallon instead of his 5.5, but he seems really happy for now too!)
 
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