Add Sick Betta Now? Or Wait for Tank to Cycle?

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OneMom

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Hi All:

I am new here.  Our Betta (named Angel) was given to us as a X-Mas gift one year ago in a little vase.  We moved her to a 3 gallon bowl.  Now that the temps have dropped here in Wisconsin, she is listless, etc.  We bought a 10 gallon tank for her, a 50 watt Marineland Visi-therm Heater and a Tetra Whisper Power Filter, test kits, etc.  All this for a fish we didn't even want!!  I guess she has really grown on us!

After researching, we started to cycle our tank yesterday.  However, my husband and I are worried that Angel may not make it the 2-4 weeks it could take our tank to cycle.  (We did add "Cycle" yesterday when we started the tank.  We have since read that product is pretty useless.)


So....should we gamble and add Angel to the tank now?  Or should we keep our fingers crossed and hope that she will survive until the tank is cycled?  I think we will have a heart attack if she dies before the tank is ready.....We purchased all of the equipment especially for her benefit.  We don't really have a burning desire to purchase and care for other fish.

Thanks for your advice!!
 

Stradius011

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I think you should add the betta after the tank is cycled. More survival rate (in my opinion).
 

Phloxface

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I disagree...
Although it's always better for the tank to be cycled first, if your fish is doing badly in the bowl I think it would be okay if she was put in the 10 gallon heated filtered tank. You could try to quickly order something called BioSpira which would cycle your tank right away. The link is  (thanks Rose!) In the meantime while you are waiting to recieve your BioSpira use your water testing kit and test the tank every day. You may need to make partial water changes every day until you get the BioSpira (in about 2-3 days) but I think the fish would be better off in a large tank than freezing in a bowl. Both my fish were bought on impulse to save them from bad conditions I found them in and I bought 10 gallon tanks for both and put them in the tanks uncycled (not the best plan but they both would have died in the store had I waited) I made partial water changes daily and both fish did just great. From the moment I put them in the larger tanks they perked right up and never showed signs of stress, but I watched them carefully and made water changes to keep ammonia levels down. I had no water testing kit at that time so I had to just go on instinct and watching them carefully but if you have a testing kit that would be even better. It took about 2 weeks to cycle my 10 gallon tanks. (put in some live plants too, it really helps!!!) IMO ammonia builds up faster in a bowl than in a large tank with only one fish plus the danger of getting other diseases such as ich and finrot from the cold water in the bowl.  

Make sure you slowly pour small amounts of the warmer tank water into her bowl over the period of about 1/2 hour until she becomes used to the new water temp and then add her to the tank.
 
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OneMom

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Yikes! That's one for wait for the tank to cycle & one for add her now. I will order the BioSpira right away - regardless of what we decide to do. It is great to hear that both of Phloxface's fish survived!!
 

Stradius011

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That is a great idea Phloxface! I never thought about the BioSpira!
 

Phloxface

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I wish I had known about the BioSpira when I first got my fish. I would have ordered it to speed up my cycling too. If I should decide to get a third tank I will get the BioSpira for it.

OneMom: When I got both my fish they were near death (I would have given them a day or two more in the store before they died) and all I had when I brought them home (I got each one at different times) was a small 2 gallon tank with no heater or filter at first. At least the slightly larger space did save their lives but neither was very active or happy in the small tank. When I bought them each a 10 gallon tank with heaters and filters I decided not to wait and put them in 24 hours after setting it up. Both had the beginnings of finrot when I got them and I treated them right away, one with Maracyn antibiotic and the other with Pimafix and Melafix. I also added some aquarium salt (not table salt) to their water and put them in. Within about 2 hours they were completely different fish! They swam like crazy and seemed so much happier in the nice warm water. The salt is a great tonic IMO when a fish is very stressed or sick.
Make sure she has lots of plants (live is best) in the tank to hide in. Moving from a tiny container to a large tank for the first time in her life could be overwhelming and having plants to hide in will make her feel more secure until she feels at home. Live plants have so many other healthy benefits as well! They cost no more, and often less than the plastic plants.

Keep us updated on how she's doing and post a photo of her in her new tank! We love to see photos! 
 

chickadee

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Please do not put salt into your tank if you are going to add Bio-spira to it. If possible use spring water from the store to set up the tank the first time or treat your tap water with a good dechlorinator like Amquel+ or Prime. Heat the water to 80 - 82 degrees to give her the best temperature for her and float her in a baggie of her own tank water for about 15 minutes in the tank to get her used to the temperature change. Then put her in the water in the new tank and immediately put in the Bio-spira. The filter should already be running so the water will stir itself. Just be sure and SHAKE the pouch of Bio-spira first or you will leave all the good stuff in the pouch when you dump it into the tank. Keep it refrigerated until you are ready to open it and use it.

The place where the link is said they are out of Bio-spira for a few days but they will be stocking it in a few days so if it is important you can still order. It is always sent by expedited mail as it needs to be kept cold. That is why it is so expensive. It must be sent by OVERNIGHT OR 2ND DAY AIR.

Please let me know if you need anything else. I hope you do keep us informed of your progress.

Rose
 

Phloxface

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I didn't know you couldn't add salt with BioSpira (I've never used it before). Is that just when you get it started or always?
 
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OneMom

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Well, we put Angel in the 10 gallon tank today. First we did a partial water change to the tank. Then we added Angel. At that point we turned on the thermostat & set it at 79 degrees. It took approx two + hours for the tank to heat.

So far, Angel looks happier & more lively than we've seen her since this summer. Her color has deepened & she's been swimming around & exploring the plants & hiding places. Her fins are also less clamped looking. She ate the food we gave her, but then later I noticed the pellet floating on the top of the tank. Do they spit food out?

So, as long as I do partial water changes & testing on a daily basis for a while, do you still think I should order the BioSpira?

Thanks for all of your responses!!
 

Phloxface

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I would definately still order the BioSpira because the tank is still new so it won't be showing ammonia, nitrate, nitrite yet but it will start cycling now and those levels WILL go up. The BioSpira will cycle it right away so you can avoid that. Angel should be just fine for a few days while you are waiting for it. Just test her water and do partial water changes as needed. I would turn her water temp up to at least 80-82 degrees as they do best at that temp. Her fins are no longer clamped because she is warmer so this is a good sign. My Betta used to spit his food out sometimes too. What brand of pellets are you feeding? Some brands are very large and Bettas have a hard time eating them. I feed Hikari Betta Bio-Gold which are excellent quality and fairly small. As long as she is eating something she should be fine. She could be a little nervous and excited about her new home and might go off her food a little for a few days.

Post up a photo of her and her tank if you can. We'd love to say hello to her! 
 

chickadee

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Yes  they do indeed spit their food out at you.  I always just feed a pellet and watch for chewing vigorously before I give another. 

It is true that it will probably be okay for you to still use the Bio-spira but do not assume that there is not going to be enough ammonia or nitrite or nitrate build-up to deal with.  I have had to put one betta in a 5 gallon q tank that I was not prepared for and did not have cycled and it took ONE day to get to an ammonia problem.  They still have to be tested every day if they are not cycled and if the ammonia is over .25, nitrites over .5, and nitrates over 10 I would say you need to do at least a 25% water change to avoid weakening Angel.  The care you give the little one now is going to be reflected in the lifespan of your little one. 

Also be aware that it is going to be quite normal for there to be an ammonia spike after you add the Bio-spira in a day or two.  It is the Bio-spira settling into the filter and does not mean that your cycle is failing.  Just watch the level and do a small water change if it gets too high but generally it will not.  Be sure to post a question if you feel unsure or uneasy about anything. 

It sounds like Angel is loving her new home and the more active fins can mean she is feeling much better. 

Now, about the issue of salt in the water.  There are 2 types of Bio-spira one for freshwater and one for saltwater, they are both really meant to be used on new uninhabited aquariums.  The fish are generally added within minutes AFTER the Bio-spira.  So for this reason there should be no reason to have any other chemicals other than those that are absolutely necessary for the set-up a new aquarium in that tank when you add this product.  Any time you add any other chemical (and salt is a chemical NaCl) you change the character of the water.  You change the fish's ability to adjust to the water you are using and if you are measuring in pinches and sprinkles and such you are going to end up with a different concentration every time you mix.  This is hard on the system of the fish.  This species of fish is not bred in saltwater, it is not kept in saltwater and it is not meant to be kept in saltwater. 

Salt in the water is occasionally used to help with some skin lesions or irritations but not on a regular basis.  All salt does is increase the slime coat on the fish therapeutically.  But it can make it harder for the fish to acclimate to its environment if the salinity of the water is continuously fluctuating.  Medications (and whether you like to think of it this way or not salt IS a medication to freshwater fish) should never be used indiscriminately and never without the greatest of care to keep the dosages exact and consistent.

Rose
 
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OneMom

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Hi Again!

I tested Angel's water today. Everything is at 0 (ammonia, nitrites, nitrates) except High Ph is at 7.8 We upped the tank to 81 degrees.

We've had so much fun watching her. She is so active, she's back to greeting us every time she sees us come near her. If I get close to the top of her tank she does a little jump - she wants more food! I've only been feeding her a pellet in the am and a pellet in the pm. I think I remember a past post of Rose's that she gives 2 pellets in am & pm. Maybe I'll increase her food.

We leave on vacation in two weeks. I'm feeling anxious about leaving her for that amount of time - the tank is so new. Has anyone tried those slow-release 7-14 day feeders? What if the chemical composition in the tank goes crazy while we're gone? Yikes!! This is tooo much stress!
 

chickadee

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Sorry to say the slow release feeders do not work for bettas. They contain the wrong type of food and are generally made for community tanks of several fish. Your baby will either not eat the type of food offered and it will foul the water or overeat and make herself very sick and perhaps die of constipation. Not good either way. Is there no one who could come in and watch her for you? This is going to be a rather critical time in the development of the tank unless she has had the Bio-spira before then. Also how long are you going to be gone? She could maybe go without food for a few days but not more than a week. (and with just being not well I would doubt that) Do you know a neighbor who would at least come in a couple times a day and feed her? She could probably do without a water change if you do a sizable one right before you leave, but not without food and attention of some kind. Even if she had one meal a day it would be adequate. She could have 3 pellets in one meal and it would do her for the day and she could get by until you got home. Maybe someone at work? at church? give it some thought - this is going to be important I am afraid if you are going to be gone for long. I have seen the feeders that hang on the side of the tank that you put one meal in and they time the meals and drop one meal in every so often but I have no idea how they would work for a betta.

(14 meals could be one meal a day for 14 days)
(thing is this one could be used for a year but these things are EXPENSIVE) - there are several other selections I just put a small sample here.

I do hope this is a little helpful I hope you can find some one.

Rose
 

Gunnie

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I would not leave the betta without food for 2 weeks, especially since she is probably still recovering.  Your best bet would be to either have a friend come in and feed her, or invest in a reliable auto feeder.  2 weeks is too long for her to be without food.     

Also, I agree that you should not add the bio spira to the tank if you added salt. Although salt can be a good thing, I don't know how it would affect freshwater bio spira. Logically it should work just fine, because it's the same bacteria as in a cycled tank, but there may be more to the formula of bio spira that we don't know about. I know they also have a saltwater bio spira, but it's different bacteria, and I don't know if it would work in your tank. I kind of doubt it would, and bio spira is too expensive to not be sure.
 
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