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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I put my boy, Finn, in his tank yesterday, and he's really not doing well. I mostly suspect it's stress, but there are so many variables that changed recently, that I got nervous and just moved him back to his original tank. Here is the "long version" just to make sure all details are covered. I'm sorry it's long-winded. Nervous betta momma over here....

Originally, I had him in a 1 gallon tank, unfiltered, unheated. I know it says to keep the tank heated, but the tank was at 77 at night, and he was always completely satisfied. He had a plastic plant that he loved and big black rocks he liked to burrow in (and damaged his fins, so I took them out, against his protesting). Also included was a moss ball. I did 100% water changes every other day. He lived in this little world for 1 month and absolutely loved it.

Well, my order from Petco finally came in yesterday for the following, all of which were installed yesterday:

5 gallon mini-bow aqueon tank
50 W heater ("up to 20 gallons")
thermometer on opposite corner of tank
betta hammock leaf
5 lb natural colored gravel
bridge decor
Asian tower decor
10 watt fluorescent bulb
(also put plastic plant from first tank and moss ball in there with new tank)

(I also bought a java fern, which is set up in a separate tank for quarantine for the next 2-3 weeks)

Before installing everything, I cleaned everything with tap water. I rinsed the gravel until the water was completely clear. I used tap water to fill up, dechlorinated with water conditioner from Aqueon, and set the thermostat to 78-80.

So originally, my boy was still swimming around some when I put him in his new home. He loved his betta hammock leaf almost instantly. However, a few hours later, he swam close to the current, got carried off, became spooked, and he hasn't really moved from the bottom of the corner ever since. I've tried a plastic bottle baffle, which didn't help much. Today, I went to petco and bought a filter sponge and rubber-banded it to the filter flow. It's reduced the current significantly, but he still hasn't ventured very far to see that the current has been significantly reduced.

Nervous that he still seemed stressed (curled up in the bottom/corner of his aquarium, and his fins, I realized today began curling on the edges), I took a water sample to my local pet store and found these readings:

Ammonia: 0-0.25 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 0 ppm
Water hardness: "soft"
pH:8.4
Alkalinity: 300 ppm <-- Not sure if this is abnormal? My novice assumption is yes.

Okay, so I came home from the pet store and immediately did a 50% water change with vacuum. After which, the pet store closed, so I haven't been able to resample my water. I plan to go first thing in the morning to get a sampler kit (Can someone please tell me if there is a kit that can tests all of these parameters in a single kit?)

Despite the water change, Finn hasn't changed from looking lethargic. In fact, about 2 hours ago, I noticed he had developed a lusterless/white-ish horizontal stripe on his side.

From reading extensively over this forum, I've learned it's not unheard of for a betta to be stressed in a new environment--especially from a suddenly bigger tank, addition of current, different temperatures, addition of unfamiliar substrates, etc. I also learned that new gravel may be the cause of the sudden increase in pH, and while a gradual increase in pH won't harm our finned friends, a sudden spike can shock them (One thing I couldn't find is if the gravel pH ever goes back down or will stay at a steady 8.4 for the remainder of its existence).

That is why I moved him back into his familiar 1 gallon home, at least for tonight while I sleep and can't watch over him (and more importantly, while I wait for answers for the ever-knowledgeable bettafish.com helpers!).

My question for everyone is where do I go from here? The 5 gallon tank never went through a nitrogen cycle, so I'm wondering if maybe I should keep Finn in his comfortable 1 gallon home for now and nurture his poor, stressed little self while ensuring his NEW home is in the perfect condition before re-introducing it to him. If that's the case, should I take some of the gravel and put it in his 1 gallon tank so he gets used to the increased pH? Also, is it safe to put a heater in a 1 gallon tank? And yet another question: with the addition of the java fern, can I put that in the 5 gallon tank for the nitrogen cycle, and will that be enough to count as "quarantine" from Finn? Or, is all this just wrong and I need to put him back in the new tank with all the new features and wait until Finn stops sulking?

I know this was long-winded, and I apologize for that. And I hope this is in the right forum (if not, please let me know and I'll move it promptly!). Please help; I am determined to figure out a quick-fix to Finn's comfort, as well as helping ensure his long-term safety. Your help is so appreciated. :)
 

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The horizontal line is from stress. He wasn't used to the current and that spooked him. It's not unheard of for a fish to be stressed for days when introduced to a new tank.
That being said, how did you introduce him to the new tank? Did you just pour him in, or did you slowly acclimate him for several hours? That will have a lot to do with how he reacts to the new water conditions and temperatures. Drip acclimation is the best in this case - float him in a container in his new tank, and slowly exchange the water from his container with the water from his tank. This should take several hours to do. Usually, people will trade out about a teaspoon or less every half hour or so until there has been almost a complete transfer of water. Floating him also helps him slowly adjust to the new temperature.
If he was swimming around and seemed to enjoy his new surroundings, you should put him back, it may take him a while to get used to the current. Does your filter adjust? If so, put it on the lowest setting, and then try baffling it. There will still be some current, and it will take him a while to get used to it. But I will tell you now, you freaking out and removing him every time he spooks or gets stressed will be worse for him in the long run. Quick changes of water parameters and temperatures can be deadly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Was I wrong to do the 50% water change after finding out the ammonia level had risen to 0.25? What should I have done instead?

And I know, taking him out and putting him back in his old environment was more for damage control until I could hear back from friends from this forum (and spammers, apparently), as well as get my hands on a kit tomorrow morning. I don't regret that decision, either, because Finn looks about 50 times happier already being back in his comfort zone.

No, I did not acclimate him via floating or drip acclimation. Instead, I poured his 1 gallon of water into the tank, added him, then slowly adjusted the thermostat to raise 1 degree at a time until it reached 79 degrees. During that time, I added a little bit of water at a time until it reached the top. Then after he settled in over night (he swam around some at this point, but definitely preferred sulking in the corning over swimming--especially after hitting the current), I added in the substrate just a little at a time this morning. After which, I'm assume the pH rose, and he became even more lethargic.

And yes, the filter is on the lowest setting, and when that didn't help, I added the filter sponge today because it was still too strong for him.
 

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There was a mod lookin at his profile, I think he'll get banned/has been banned
 

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A 50% wc was the perfect thing to do for the ammonia levels!!

Alright... The combined shock of the new tank, the filter tossing him around, and being dumped in new water is probably what's making him sad. Never just put a fish in new water. Always acclimate them to the temp!!
 

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There was a mod lookin at his profile, I think he'll get banned/has been banned

Good. =) I also reported it. how annoying x_x

adding to this thread,

I think your boy will be fine. I think when you did not accumulate him is how he got stressed. ^^ even though you added his old water it's still safer to slowly add the bettas in the water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, I started him off at the temperature his original tank first, then increased it slowly over time. I see now that the drip and floating acclimation is probably a little safer than the way I did it, but I did do some variation of acclimation, at least.

How do you guys suggest I go about this now? I highly think I'm going to keep him in his little tank at least over night because I think he's really appreciating being taken away from all the stimulus at least for now. Will the pH be okay for when I begin acclimating him, and is it okay to begin tomorrow morning? And if I do add him back in tomorrow morning, does that mean I won't be able to do the nitrogen cycle at all? If that's the case, how often should I do the water changes, and how much? Everywhere I have read for 5 gallon water changes is prefaced with, "If your tank is cycled....", which mine is not. :/

You guys are so great for your help. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
 

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Well, I started him off at the temperature his original tank first, then increased it slowly over time. I see now that the drip and floating acclimation is probably a little safer than the way I did it, but I did do some variation of acclimation, at least.

How do you guys suggest I go about this now? I highly think I'm going to keep him in his little tank at least over night because I think he's really appreciating being taken away from all the stimulus at least for now. Will the pH be okay for when I begin acclimating him, and is it okay to begin tomorrow morning? And if I do add him back in tomorrow morning, does that mean I won't be able to do the nitrogen cycle at all? If that's the case, how often should I do the water changes, and how much? Everywhere I have read for 5 gallon water changes is prefaced with, "If your tank is cycled....", which mine is not. :/

You guys are so great for your help. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I am doing this with my boy, from a 2.6 gallon up to a 5 gallon tank. right now he is loving the room. I have been doing a 50% water change every to every other day. I had tanks that are cycled and used some of the filter media to help the cycle along. but if you don't have that to work with just keep doing those water changes until you see the ammonia and the nirtites become 0. I have to cycle three tanks SLOWWWLY for a long while before. its takes time but it's so rewarding in the end. ^^
 

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When I moved Lir from his unfiltered 3 gallon over to the filtered minibow, he freaked out on me and hid in his cave for 2 days. I think some fish just take longer to adjust to a filter, especially if it was a bit strong at first. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I'm worried now that this may be more than just stress. I read that if a betta is subjected to ammonia, it can put him at an increased risk for disease. His fins are still clamped this morning, still lack-luster, and even in his 1 gallon happy-place, he's still lethargic and barely moving from the leaves near the top of his tank. The tips of his fins are still curled some, too (And I thought I saw some velvet discoloration, but I'm probably mistaken). I know these are still all signs of stress, but I just feel like his signs are pretty severe. Or maybe I just have a very dramatic fishy. :/

Still debating on whether or not to present him to his new tank again or not when he's not acting himself yet.... Especially if he might be sick. Also a little nervous to do that because I'm going on vacation for 1.5 weeks in a week, and not sure if my novice betta-sitters will be able to properly care for him and be as sensitive to his signs as I am. Oye. So much deliberation. :/
 

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Tank pH is 8.4 - what is the tap?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The last time I had the tap checked, it was within conservatively normal limits, but I don't remember the exact number. I'm about to go out now and get a Master Test Kit, then I will let you know the tap pH, the 5 g tank pH, and his 1 gallon tank pH (along with the other tests). Is there anything else I need besides the Master Test Kit?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
So, turns out the tap water is 8.0, after all. Finn and I moved here (to new tap water source...) a week ago, but I've slowly been introducing him to this water, so I wouldn't imagine that change in pH is what is causing him to act differently.

Here are my water levels for the tap water, the 1 gal tank that he is in currently, and his new 5 gal tank:

Tap water:
pH: 8.0
NH3: 0 ppm
NO2-: 0 ppm
NO3-: 0 ppm

1 gal tank:
pH: 7.8
NH3: 0.25 ppm
NO2-: 0 ppm
NO3-: 0 ppm

5 gal tank:
pH: 7.8
NH3: 0-0.25 ppm
NO2-: 0 ppm
NO3-: 0 ppm

Since I'm going out of town soon, I've decided not to put him back in his big tank until I return because I won't be able to monitor the levels carefully every day (and I don't think my sitters can monitor the levels + him that closely). And hopefully, in the mean time, my big tank will begin its cycle!!

I bought him a national geographic mini heater for his 1 gallon in the mean time.... Will keep people posted on how that works since it's a new product!! :)

Okay, so now for my questions..

Obviously I need to do a water change for him in the 1 gal since he has an outstanding ammonia level. Would you guys recommend a 50% water change or more? And if so, how often?

As an update to his condition, he looks like he's doing better.
-He still has some horizontal stripes on his body, but they look a lot less pronounced than they were last night. That part definitely makes me a little bit happier! :) Do you guys know how quickly stress stripes will disappear?
-He's swimming a tad bit more, and is preferring the top of his tank to the bottom. However, he's still not swimming all that much, and his fins are still clamped down.
-The tips of his fins are still curled, even though my LPS told me his water was soft. Do you guys think it's from the change in pH after we moved? And from what I read, then, I shouldn't worry too, too much about the curling fins, right?
-Also, I'm not sure I'm imagining this, but it looks like he's curling his body more often than normal, especially to the left. Also, for some reason, he likes tucking both of his ventral fins to his left side, so I'm wondering if that's a sign of a mild case of SBD. That would also help to explain why he's swimming a lot less, even in his little tank that he's normally so active in. Until now, I've attributed it to stress, but I'm wondering if that's another factor. I only gave him 1 shrimp this morning, and have decided tomorrow I'll fast him, just to be safe. Thoughts on this, too?
 
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