Fighting his reflection

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the_dukeman

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Hello! Danger: long post ahead!

This is my first post here. Two months ago I set up a 5 gallon aquarium with some umbrella plants, in anticipation of re-entering into aquarium keeping. I had kept a 10 gallon tank for a few years, keeping mostly Platys, Mollys, and a Rainbow Shark (really a catfish with red fins). I never had live plants in it, though. After being away from the hobby for about 8 years, I purchased the Regent Eclipse 5 gallon aquarium from WalMart for $40 a couple years ago. It's a very nice for it's size.

After a month of losing leaves, I got the plants stabilized by leaving the tank light on for 12 hours a day. They now have new growth and no dead leaves the last 4 weeks. I put a male Betta (1st time keeping a Betta) in a month ago, hoping to get the tank to cycle. He (his name is A.B. for the "Alpha" Betta) seems to be doing well, but the tank hasn't quite cycled yet. My tap water always tests at 3.0, so I have a C-100 ammonia absorber bag in my filter chamber, installed a week before the fish. My tank water tested at .25 ammonia, 3.0 Nitrite, 20 nitrate, and 6.8 PH a week ago before the scheduled 2 week water change (I can't afford a test kit so I have it tested free at PetSmart) so I did a 40% water change. The water tested 2 days (Sunday) later at .25 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 20 nitrate, and 7.2 PH. I have been adding aquarium salt, between 1/2 and 1 tsp. per gallon. Salinity is at .2, so I won't add any salt for a couple changes. My estimate is that 1/2 tsp per gallon is OK. The PH of my tap water seems to vary between 8.4PH to 6.2PH. My procedure is to treat the tap water for the next change directly after performing one. Since the tank was so high in nitrites my plan is to test again on Friday and perform weekly 10% water changes.

I have a few questions: Does it seem my tank is close to cycling with those numbers? Friday's numbers should tell the tale, I think. I also went down to feeding A.B. once a day to reduce food waste. I found out yesterday that if I turn off the filter pump when I feed, almost all the pellets will float and he eats them straight away. Before, he would wait until they sank and chase them as the fell. He would miss almost half of them that way. His food is Aqua Culture Betta Pellets from WalMart. In May I'll get some freeze dried blood worms to supplement his diet. The Betta pellets are small, about the size of a pin head average. Package says a serving is 6-8 pellets, but I think 4-5 is closer to right. Any ideas on that? Tetra web site says his stomach is about the size of his eye, and that's little more that 3 pellets worth.

I have a 7.5 watt non-adjustable heater designed for tanks as small a 2 gallons. It keeps the water at 80-82 degrees (room temp is 70-72degrees year round). This seems Ideal for the Betta. I plan to add 3 Neon Tetras when I can verify that the cycle has occurred, then 2 more if A.B. doesn't harass them. I read rearranging the decor first might reduce the chance he'll do that.

I'm attempting to attach a couple photos. Let me know what y'all think! I'm really glad to have a tank back up!

The Dukeman

re: his reflection

I forgot to ask about this: My Betta seems to attack his reflection in the tank walls a few times a day. Sometimes it's just a couple gill flares, sometimes a couple quick bumps against the tank wall, but sometimes it more aggressively attacks, bumping and circling a couple times. He always stops right away, though. I have the light on 12 hours to keep my plants growing. The attacks seem to happen mostly when the light is on. Is this normal, or is it causing undue stress? Does it happen More with acrylic tanks than glass? BTW, I tried 8 hrs for the light, but the plants started losing leaves again, even with a split light schedule of 4 on, 4 off. There must be a happy medium on this. I thought he might be getting comfortable, since he started building a bubble nest. But did that make him more defensive? BTW, as per previous post today The tank is not 100% cycled yet. I'm not sure how much that affects this.

Also, does anyone have the specs on their eyesight? ??? Can they see into the room in focus, just a few inches, or maybe a few feet? My Betta seems to try to go towards the light of the TV or the computer screen sometimes, gently bumping against the tank once or twice, then going about his business. 8)

The Dukeman
 

chickadee

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Re: re: his reflection

The reflection problem is normal but gets worse when the room lights are dim or off and the tank lights are on. It should be the other way around the room should be brighter than the tank or he will think another betta is in there with him and can become overstressed. If he is fairly calm and does not go into a fixed stance and all huffy for more than a few seconds then it is probably okay but if it lasts for minutes at a time it could be dangerous to him. Ten minutes has been known to cause neurologiical or heart trouble or in some really severe cases death. This is why I ask people not to use mirrors to make their bettas flare for pictures even though I know that breeders do this to make them look neat to sell them but they are very careful to only do it for a few seconds. This is very stressful for them as they really believe that they are being attacked and they are preparing for an all out war and to protect their home.

I would say that just making sure that the tank lights are off when the room lights are or finding a small light to sit by the tank to keep the area about the tank lighted while the tank lights are on will help him not to get the mirror effect so much and he will get used to the fact that the "other fish" never gets into his territory before long and quit this behavior. Also 12 hours is the absolute longest you should run your lights or you will have a major algae problem.

Rose

I am going to move this to the other post as they seem to be closely related. You will find that posting several posts will not give you more information and probably only confuse us as we forget what you are needing. It is much better to post it all in one place if you can unless it is totally different topics. (i.e. different fish, different disease, different tanks)

First of all, I would not put neons in with a betta as he does not recognize them as a problem and they are fin nippers and will eat his fins and you will have a betta with badly infected fins and a bad case of fin rot and he could die. Sorry to be blunt but it is not something that we take lightly and it is the hardest problem to get rid of right now. Many of us work for months to repair the damage that finrot does and this could be prevented by simply not putting fin nippers with your fish.

Second, no salt in a betta tank. He is a FRESHwater tropical fish and salt is a medication for freshwater fish. I know there are many who would disagree with me but they do not call them Freshwater fish for nothing. The 7.2 pH is perfect, you do not want ANY ammonia as it is the #1 killer. The cycle is done when the readings are:

Ammonia 0
Nitrite 0
Nitrates Below 20

You are going to need to do weekly 50% water changes or twice weekly 30% water changes.

Have you read the Betta Care Guide at the beginning of this Part of the forum. A lot of your questions will be answered there.



Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle

Just a couple of things for you to get some information from.

Rose
 

genie

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I agree with everything Rose said. Spike fought his reflection and he was in the same tank you have, I got it at Wal-Mart as well. if you put paper against the sides he can't see himself. But Spike is getting used to looking at his beautiful self.
 
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the_dukeman

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Thanks for moving my posts together. I only wanted to get my questions down before I forgot them all, and didn't know how to add to my first post. I had read both of the referenced pages, but not soon enough to perform a fishless cycle. I was urged to add salt to the water by the fishmongers at PetSmart. I never used salt in my previous tanks. i assumed there was new, better knowledge at work here. They also saw no problem with the betta sharing a tank with Neon Tetras. I now see that they are really interested in selling fish, the more the merrier. I found no previous data about them being fin nippers on this site or anywhere else in my prior research. Their secret is now out (most fish charts only include a short paragraph with not much data). Otherwise I would not attempted to make incompatible fish share a tank.

About the 50% weekly or 30% twice weekly water changes: is this until the first cycle occurs, or forever? Is it due to the size of the tank? I'm guessing the tank will take longer to cycle the more water is changed out.

The Dukeman
 

COBettaCouple

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Try feeding your betta in the corner furthest from the filter. It will be the calmest point usually and ours have learned to swim right to that corner when they see the food coming. variety in his diet is good. if you can find hikari freeze-dried daphnia that's a good occasional treat and betta vitamin pellets or color-enhancing pellets. Also pea treats help your betta.. we take a frozen pea, thaw it 40-50 sec in the microwave and peel the skin off, then mince it up and feed each betta as much as 1/2 of a pea (1 little piece at a time). Whenever feeding, wait for them to finish a bite before the next one - this will help them digest their food better. We feed our bettas 2-3 pellets or betta flakes or an equal amount of daphina in the AM & PM 6 days a week. sundays we fast them. it's all to help them digest food and avoid constipation.

Rose is right-on about the salt and the water changes. what do you treat your water with? i'd recommend Prime or NovAqua+.

When you can, i'd upgrade the heater to a visitherm stealth 50w so you can control the temp exactly (if it fits in your tank):


Also, a little air pump & small air stone in the corner with the filter (with a gang valve for flow control) would be a good addition to the tank in the future whenever you get a chance to add it.
 
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the_dukeman

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This tank has the bio-wheel setup along the entire back of the tank, so the only place where there is little current is the corner with the filter pump intake. In fact, that's where he built his bubble next last week. I did have a visi-therm heater in my last tank, and really liked it. Too bad I gave all that stuff away when I last moved. I was afraid the 50W might be too hot for an acrylic tank so I got this small one instead. It does seem to be working fine.

I will try the thawed frozen peas. I always have them on hand anyway. I might try the toothpick trick I read about in a post on this site.

I have been using Tetra's Aquasafe to treat the water. My concern now is that my tap water has ammonia in it as well as the two C's. Will a properly cycled tank handle this, or will I have to always add some kind of ammonia reducer?
 

COBettaCouple

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We've got a visitherm in a 2.5 gallon acrylic and a tetra 50w in a 5 gallon hex acrylic. the acrylic tanks handle the heaters real well it seems. it's a great material.

We can't do the toothpick trick with our bettas, they're too aggressive in their eating and we worry they'd scrape themselves on the toothpick. we just drop one of the tiny minced pieces a little ways in front of them or stick the piece to a finger and the bettas will go after the pea that way.

Prime or NovAqua+ would definitely be for you it sounds like, they'll neutralize the ammonia when conditioning the water and would be best for conditioning water anyways. Prime especially is favored and goes a LONG ways if you measure it out as prescribed (5 mL treats 50 gallon so for a 1 gallon jug, it takes an eye dropper to measure the needed 1/10th mL)
What ammonia reading do you get on untreated tap water? I'm not sure of the effect it would have on a cycled tank to constantly be adding ammonia, but it could be too much for the beneficial bacteria depending on how much is in the tap water. I think someone who really knows the nitrogen cycle deeply can answer that question best.
 
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the_dukeman

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That sounds like a fun way to feed them the peas.

The ammonia in the tap water is 3.0 mg/L. I will look into the Prime and NovAqua+. There is something called Bacteria Supplement from Top Fin at PetSmart. Does anyone know if this is any good for getting the tank to cycle?
 
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