Could Philodendron Kill A Betta?

Discussion in 'Betta Fish' started by Dancing Danio, Jul 12, 2017.

  1. Dancing Danio

    Dancing DanioNew MemberMember

    Hi All! I recently set up a betta tank in my office. It's 3 gallons w/ a heater kept at 78 degrees. Two weekends ago, I decided to do a thorough cleaning and when I came back to work, I found the betta was dead. I want to make sure that I understand why he died before starting over again.

    So background: I did 1/2 gallon water changes 2-3 times to week with minimal feeding. I did weekly water tests and the Ph was 7 with 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and almost negligible nitrates. I also have two moss balls in the tank. I originally had some anacharis but it started dying (probably too hot/stagnant), so I removed those and took them back to the home tank.

    About a month in, I did a thorough cleaning to get rid of all the stray anacharis leaves that I wasn't getting in the water changes. At the end of it, the ammonia had ticked up a bit, so I threw some philodendron vines that a coworker was propagating to eat up the ammonia.

    When I came back, the ammonia was gone, but the betta was dead. Could the philodendron have done that? Or is it just shock from me overcleaning the tank as well as possibly killing any beneficial bacteria? (I had seeded it with filter material from my home aquarium.)

    I'd like to keep the vines in the tank but not if it will kill my next fish. Let me know what you think!

    Thanks :)
  2. Demeter

    DemeterFishlore VIPMember

    Not sure what vines you are talking about, but perhaps it's another name for pothos? If so, then I doubt it was the pothos vines. I also keep pothos vines in my tank and it doesn't harm the bettas.

    Although, if the vines were being sprayed with a pesticide, dusting spray, or anything at all then that could be what killed the betta. W/o knowing much about how the betta acted before it died though, I can't say for sure what killed it.
  3. OP
    Dancing Danio

    Dancing DanioNew MemberMember

    Yep, pothos is another word for the plant, and sadly I didn't see it before it died either. That really helps, thanks!

  4. TexasDomer

    TexasDomerFishlore LegendMember

    Did the tank have a filter on it?

    It could have been from the thorough cleaning if you did something wrong.

    How much did you feed?
  5. Sean Smith

    Sean SmithWell Known MemberMember

    Any of those plants should do the opposite of harming the betta ..... honestly I love hygro ferns in smaller betta aquariums ... but unless ( like he said ) pesticide was on him . I doubt it was the plants . How long did you have the betta ?
  6. OP
    Dancing Danio

    Dancing DanioNew MemberMember

    The tank didn't have a filter, I went the old school partial water changes every other day route. 5 pellets a day (twice on Fridays bc of the weekend). The betta wasn't in the tank long, 6 weeks maybe? It came from an independent store that takes extra care of their bettas, so I think he was pretty healthy (looked healthy leading up to it anyway).

    I'm thinking I killed him w/ kindness w/ my cleaning. Glad to know the plants are ok, bc I found another vine today that some coworker "donated" to my tank. I don't think I could keep them from doing that from time to time now :)
  7. MissRuthless

    MissRuthlessWell Known MemberMember

    Pothos and philodendron are not the same thing. They are related and similar looking at a glance - but not the same at all.

    Not having a filter could likely have been the root cause of his death... though not for nothing, from a parrot owner's perspective - philodendron is known to be toxic to birds (to what degree I don't know for sure) whereas pothos is safe. My birds took my pothos down to stubs and the little rats are still here, lol. Knowing that phils are toxic to one animal I own, I wouldn't personally trust them not to be toxic to another.

    I put my pothos stubs in the back of my tiny whisper internal filter and they started putting up leaves within days - they're the amazing vines you see hanging out of people's tanks that make everyone jealous. They're also great nitrate eaters. Check the leaves of yours - if they have a defined, raised vein on the back side it's pothos, if the vein is vague and not really very visible from the back it's phil. Pothos leaves are also kinda folded toward the front when they're young, where phils are pretty much flat. They are very often mislabeled in stores, and I don't know if others keep actual phils in their tanks but I wouldn't.

    Then again, I'm a bird lady... they may be perfectly fine for fish and it was really lack of a filter on the tank that did your betta in.
  8. OP
    Dancing Danio

    Dancing DanioNew MemberMember

    Well, after looking on Google, I'm pretty sure the plants are Golden Pothos. And you are right that doing that much to the tank w/o a filter probably did it in. I"m not going to get a filter for other reasons but will stay on top of my water measurements. Thanks for the info, Miss Ruthless, it really helped!

    Also, this is helpful if anyone else comes here and wants to know the difference between the two plants:
  9. stella1979

    stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    First of all, I have no experience with Bettas or running filterless tanks. That said, it seems like you were keeping your parameters in check with the water changes. I just wanted to mention that there are very tiny in-tank filters available if that would make a difference in your situation.
  10. TexasDomer

    TexasDomerFishlore LegendMember

    You really should put a filter on the tank if you're going to keep fish in it. Your tank can't cycle without one, and ammonia will be a problem. Daily water changes would be best if you really won't put a filter on it.
  11. Sean Smith

    Sean SmithWell Known MemberMember

    You feed him way too much . Most Bettas only need 2-3 pellets a day and the bigger older males maybe able to healthily eat four a day
  12. OP
    Dancing Danio

    Dancing DanioNew MemberMember

    Interesting. Do you have a source I can read more on this? I read quite a few articles to determine this amount (at least a dozen) from various types sources and they all seemed to indicate that 4-5 pellets if feeding once per day (2-3 if feeding twice per day). I'd like to understand it more before I get a new betta.
  13. MissRuthless

    MissRuthlessWell Known MemberMember

    I feed four pellets a day in two meals, have always fed my bettas that way... though in a tank without a biofilter of any sort I'd probably cut down to two a day.

    If you're against a filter for reasons other than cost, you could set the tank up Walstad style and get a natural biofilter going that may be sufficient for a betta if done well - but you'll need to spend a small chunk of change on live plants, organic potting soil and a good sand to cap the soil with, you may need fertilizers, and with the tank being so small it just might not be able to handle a fish. I kept a small (15ish) colony of RCS in a gallon bowl for over a year this way. It would be much easier to buy or make a small sponge filter though.

    The issue is that without a filter system of some sort, there isn't enough space for bacteria to live, and with only 2-3 partial water changes and one test per week, I'd bet the parameters fluctuate regularly. Bettas can be kept healthy on the short term without a filter but it requires daily massive water changes and an understanding that there will be no beneficial bacteria to help you, and it also causes undue stress on the fish. You also have nothing providing oxygen exchange, and three gallons of hot, stagnant water with very little dissolved oxygen is bad news for any fish, even bettas who have the ability to take part of their oxygen from the surface - they really aren't meant to breathe 100% from the surface and cannot live long term that way. It all comes down to whether you want a fish to thrive in this tank, or just to survive for a few months before you replace it yet again.
  14. Jen86

    Jen86Valued MemberMember

    I agree with the others, you need a filter. The bacteria need a current to survive, they will starve and die without it. Seeding the tank with media from your home tank will do nothing, because without a current, all the bacteria in the media will die.

    The Walstad method is a possibility, and the tanks look beautiful, but they do require a lot more maintenance than a small, $10 internal filter.

    Other than that, I would recommend getting a fish from a breeder, instead of the pet store. They're younger when you buy them, you'll know their exact age, and they live longer. Pet store bettas are mass bred, the fish equivalent of puppy mills, and they're bred to look just pretty enough for just long enough to get sold. You'll probably have more luck with longevity if you get a fish from a breeder.

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