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Discussion Starter #1
So a little context will help here. I've had several Betta fish in the past, which have all died due to my inexperience and lack of knowledge in caring for them. I just got a new Betta yesterday and I want to get it right this time. I want to keep him alive and healthy for as long as possible. Here's what I have right now:
5 gallon tank
assorted plants and shelter
gravel and glass beads on the bottom
Aqueon betta food
elive water conditioner
50W heater
gravel vacuum
I have some other food (some shrimp or something) somewhere. I misplaced it but it's bound to show up soon.

So here are my questions:
What else do I need in the house? if anything. Money is pretty sparse so I'm looking for stuff that I absolutely need to have in the house, and I can't go out and get in case of an emergency or whatnot.

How often should I change the water and how much should I change at a time? Is changing it while I vacuum the gravel alright?

What else should I do to keep the fish healthy?

Do you have any other tips?

How much of the food should I give him?

Thank you for helping me, I'm determined to prove my family wrong in their thinking that I kill every fish I get, and I'm determined to keep this one healthy.
 

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What else do I need in the house? if anything. Money is pretty sparse so I'm looking for stuff that I absolutely need to have in the house, and I can't go out and get in case of an emergency or whatnot.
As long as you have a place for him to hide, you are all set. Just make sure none of the plants and ornaments are sharp/rough. Plastic plants are known to rip their fins. To check, run the plant/ornament through some pantyhose. If it doesn't damage the pantyhose it should be fine. I would also have a thermometer in the tank, just so you can check the temp and adjust the heater as needed. Sometimes heaters break and the water gets too hot, thus boiling the fish. :( If you check the temp every day, you are avoiding any accidents in regards to heaters.

How often should I change the water and how much should I change at a time? Is changing it while I vacuum the gravel alright?
There are some great info on water changes on this thread: http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=115758. And yes, while you vacuum the gravel you will be removing the water. Use the gravel vacuum while you change the water. :)

What else should I do to keep the fish healthy?
I would invest in an ammonia test kit to ensure the water has no ammonia in it. Warm, clean water is the best way to keep a fish healthy.

Do you have any other tips?
I would keep Aquarium Salt (for freshwater fish, such as API Aquarium Salt) and Epsom Salt on hand (which can be found at a chemist/pharmacy). These are inexpensive and great for treating illnesses. Here is a thread on betta diseases and treatment you might like to look at: http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=73332

How much of the food should I give him?
Depending on the size of the food. Probably about 3-4 a day, or 2 twice a day. An adult betta should only be fed once a day. Remember that the stomach is the size of the betta's eye.

If you want any more advice from me, you are more than welcome to send me a message on my profile or a PM. :) It is really great that you have decided to care for your betta properly.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'll see if I can get an ammonia test kit tomorrow, I read elsewhere on the forum something about a special water conditioner to bind ammonia? do I need that too?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I have another question, when I got my betta and introduced him to his tank he swam around quite actively for several hours exploring. He was butting the glass quite a bit and swimming all around his tank, that was yesterday. Today he has sat around all day hardly moving. He's floated up by the surface and has barely moved. He is alive because I've seen him swimming around a little bit, and he ate when I fed him, but he seems largely inactive. Should I be worried?
 

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What else do I need in the house? I keep a few things on hand. I keep aquarium salt (used to sterilize wounds(Ripped fins, etc), I also use it to clean things shared between my tanks, like a gravel vacuum) Epsom salt (For bloating), API master kit (To test water), a couple net, Kanaplex (a medicine), extra decor, heater, etc and frozen food is always good, I have frozen bloodworms and daphnia, my fish get it 1-2 times a week in addition to their pellets.

How often should I change the water and how much should I change at a time? Is changing it while I vacuum the gravel alright? I would do 2 25% changes a week. I do one 25% a week with my 5 gallons, but mine are fully cycled and planted, you dont have live plants and your tank isnt cycled yet, so until it is (which you need an API master test kit for) 2 changes a week should be done.

What else should I do to keep the fish healthy? A variety of food (aqueon btw isnt good, too many fillers. Try New Life Spectrum or Omega One.) Warm, clean water, safe decor, etc. I check my fish every day when I turn on/off their lights and feed them. Oh also, fasting them (not feeding) once a week is good. Helps them digest food.

Do you have any other tips? Make sure he has a good light cycle, a steady temperature (i keep mine at 80* but anywhere from 78-82 is good), keep the tank clean and food a quality food.

How much of the food should I give him? Depends on the pellet size. For example, one of the foods I feed is Omega One betta buffet. Its bigger sized pellets, so I give the bettas 2-3 a feeding, and do 2 feedings a day. I also feed New Life Spectrum (cant remember specific kind) and it has tiny pellets, so I feed 6-7 of those 2 times a day. I feed a pellet at a time so there is no uneaten food left in the tank.

Good luck with you new betta! Sounds like your off to a good start. Feel free to ask me any questions!
 

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i'll see if i can get an ammonia test kit tomorrow, i read elsewhere on the forum something about a special water conditioner to bind ammonia? Do i need that too?
yes!!!
 

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For me, i got
aquarium salt by api
Api stress coat water conditioner and prime
Omega one betta buffet food
Api liquid test kit
Api betta fix

And thats it

You have to make sure to test your water straight from the tap to see if it has ammonia my tap water doesnt but i still use a water conditioner for heavy matals
 

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I'll see if I can get an ammonia test kit tomorrow, I read elsewhere on the forum something about a special water conditioner to bind ammonia? do I need that too?
Prime is a very good water conditioner that binds ammonia. I would use that instead of your current water conditioner if you can afford it. Prime is great value for the money, as it is very concentrated.
 

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I have another question, when I got my betta and introduced him to his tank he swam around quite actively for several hours exploring. He was butting the glass quite a bit and swimming all around his tank, that was yesterday. Today he has sat around all day hardly moving. He's floated up by the surface and has barely moved. He is alive because I've seen him swimming around a little bit, and he ate when I fed him, but he seems largely inactive. Should I be worried?
He is probably just stressed with his new environment. Give him a few days. Cover the tank to de-stress him.
 

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do I cover the whole thing? will he be alright without light?
Just cover him for a few days (2-3 days should be enough). And yes, he will be fine without light. It will keep him calm. :) Make sure there is a gap or a hole somewhere for oxygen to get in. As he needs to breathe oxygen. I would just wrap the towel around the tank so he can't see any activity outside the tank but leave the top uncovered so he has access to oxygen. And turn his light off, they actually prefer low light.
 

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How much of the food should I give him?
Depending on the size of the food. Probably about 3-4 a day, or 2 twice a day. An adult betta should only be fed once a day. Remember that the stomach is the size of the betta's eye.
While all the advice and info is great, I don't really agree with this. it's best to feed your fish twice a day, regardless of whether it's an adult or not. You should just feed it smaller meals. It's the same with us: it's better to have a few smaller meals throughout the day than one big one. It's true that the betta's stomach is the size of his eye, however, the stomach is meant to expand which is why you should feed until your betta's belly is nicely rounded but not bloated. This will provide him with energy to be active throughout the day and until the next feeding. Some people feed more in the morning and a little less at night as the fish won't be using that much energy when it's sleeping.

I suggest you return the Aquaeon food (if you can) and get some NLS or Omega One - those two brands are the most recommended on this website as they are low in fillers and of really good quality. Personally I haven't used them as they aren't available where I live, but you'll see countless references to these throughout the forum.

As for things that are good to have on hand, aq.salt by API is great but it's not an absolute must: if you have some money to spare, go ahead and buy some. But because it can be found in just about any pet store, you can just get it when you need it. The freshwater master test kit (also by API) is a great thing to have, but it can be quite pricey. You can find it online on places such as ebay and it's much cheaper than in store. I got mine for about £20 and it's £35 at the pet shop, so I got it for almost half price which was a great deal.

Kanaplex is a good medicine to have on hand as it can be difficult to find locally: in case of an emergency you may have to wait a few days for it to get to you which obviously isn't ideal if your fish is sick.
 

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While all the advice and info is great, I don't really agree with this. it's best to feed your fish twice a day, regardless of whether it's an adult or not. You should just feed it smaller meals. It's the same with us: it's better to have a few smaller meals throughout the day than one big one. It's true that the betta's stomach is the size of his eye, however, the stomach is meant to expand which is why you should feed until your betta's belly is nicely rounded but not bloated. This will provide him with energy to be active throughout the day and until the next feeding. Some people feed more in the morning and a little less at night as the fish won't be using that much energy when it's sleeping.

I suggest you return the Aquaeon food (if you can) and get some NLS or Omega One - those two brands are the most recommended on this website as they are low in fillers and of really good quality. Personally I haven't used them as they aren't available where I live, but you'll see countless references to these throughout the forum.

As for things that are good to have on hand, aq.salt by API is great but it's not an absolute must: if you have some money to spare, go ahead and buy some. But because it can be found in just about any pet store, you can just get it when you need it. The freshwater master test kit (also by API) is a great thing to have, but it can be quite pricey. You can find it online on places such as ebay and it's much cheaper than in store. I got mine for about £20 and it's £35 at the pet shop, so I got it for almost half price which was a great deal.

Kanaplex is a good medicine to have on hand as it can be difficult to find locally: in case of an emergency you may have to wait a few days for it to get to you which obviously isn't ideal if your fish is sick.
I am sorry, I was told once a day by many others and thought that was the general opinion. I shall start feeding mine twice a day but smaller portions. I agree with the food, I have NLS and Ocean Nutrition Betta Pro. I can't get Omega One but have heard good things so I would recommend it as well. About the Master Test Kit by API, I don't think the poster can afford it. It is really expensive, thats why I suggested just the ammonia test kit. Because that is the most important. Also I forgot to mention it is better to get test kits in liquid form, not the test strips. I also agree with having Kanaplex on hand, I wish I could get it in Australia but it's actually banned now! I wish the original poster all the best. And thank you, Kisiel, for not being rude about my suggestion on food, you were very polite. :)
 

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I don't see any reason to not be polite :) I agree that the ammonia test is probably the most important, but based on the prices here, it's honestly worth saving up for the master kit. The individual tests such as ammonia, pH and what not are around £10 here, so I think it's better to just save up and pay the £20 for all four - ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and pH. Obviously the prices where the OP is located will be different, but I'm just saying as an example.

+1 on liquid tests being better than strips. I found that test strips can be just as expensive as the liquid tests, and they don't even last that long. Not to mention that they're not exactly accurate. I have some left from when I first got my fish and in all honesty, they're a waste of money.
 

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I don't see any reason to not be polite :) I agree that the ammonia test is probably the most important, but based on the prices here, it's honestly worth saving up for the master kit. The individual tests such as ammonia, pH and what not are around £10 here, so I think it's better to just save up and pay the £20 for all four - ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and pH. Obviously the prices where the OP is located will be different, but I'm just saying as an example.

+1 on liquid tests being better than strips. I found that test strips can be just as expensive as the liquid tests, and they don't even last that long. Not to mention that they're not exactly accurate. I have some left from when I first got my fish and in all honesty, they're a waste of money.
I guess in Australia, we have to pay heaps more plus GST. Sucks to be here when it comes to products for fish keeping. I paid $80 AUD (£43) for my master test kit. Ridiculous right? Everything is so expensive here. I hate it. But it's a great country otherwise. Depending on where the OP is and how much the test kits are, and how much they can afford, I would suggest the master test kit too if they can afford it, if not, at least get the ammonia test kit.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I guess in Australia, we have to pay heaps more plus GST. Sucks to be here when it comes to products for fish keeping. I paid $80 AUD (£43) for my master test kit. Ridiculous right? Everything is so expensive here. I hate it. But it's a great country otherwise. Depending on where the OP is and how much the test kits are, and how much they can afford, I would suggest the master test kit too if they can afford it, if not, at least get the ammonia test kit.
The master test kit is a bit out of my price range right now, I really don't have much to spend right now. I think I'll get an ammonia test kit and then get the master test kit down the road.
 

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The master test kit is a bit out of my price range right now, I really don't have much to spend right now. I think I'll get an ammonia test kit and then get the master test kit down the road.
OP, I see you're in the US. Just so you're not thrown off by the $80 Australian price tag (wow! what a bummer that is!), in the US the API Master Test kit is about $25 on amazon. If you're planning to cycle your tank, I really do recommend saving up for that one. If not, it's true that the ammonia is the most important one - the ammonia-only test is $6 on amazon. Make sure you get the liquid test, not the strips.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thank you for the advice. I really don't have much money right now, so I'll just get the ammonia test kit to start and then get the master kit in a few weeks when I have more funds. If you know anything about it, I think my new fish might have an infection of some sort. I detailed it here.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
So I got the master test kit (it was conveniently on sale) and here are the results:
pH 7.4-7.6
ammonia 0.25 ppm
nitrite 0ppm
nitrate 0ppm

What does this tell me I have to do?
Also the water is a bit cloudy, any idea how to fix it?
I'm sorry to be pestering with all these questions, I just want to know how to deal with all of this stuff.
 

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So I got the master test kit (it was conveniently on sale) and here are the results:
pH 7.4-7.6
ammonia 0.25 ppm
nitrite 0ppm
nitrate 0ppm

What does this tell me I have to do?
Also the water is a bit cloudy, any idea how to fix it?
I'm sorry to be pestering with all these questions, I just want to know how to deal with all of this stuff.
Does your tank have a filter? Are you sure there is ammonia? I would post a pic of the test tube next to the ammonia indicators. There should be no ammonia. If you use Prime, then the ammonia should not be as toxic but when the pH is higher than 7, ammonia is more toxic. You should perform a water change whenever there is ammonia. The cloudiness in the water is normal in a new tank.
 
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