I'm At A Loss

Georgie Girl

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I have a five-gallon tank with one betta. I lost my previous betta, Edith, because she stopped eating.

I got my new betta, László, about two weeks ago. He was thriving until a couple of days ago. He stopped eating. Just like Edith.

What is wrong with my tank? I'm a fish killer! :'(

Tank

What is the water volume of the tank?
5 gallons
How long has the tank been running?
about 9 months
Does it have a filter?
yes - sponge
Does it have a heater?
yes
What is the water temperature?
79-80
What is the entire stocking of this tank?
one giant betta

Maintenance
How often do you change the water?
2-3 weeks
How much of the water do you change?
as much as I need to finish vacuuming, but no more than 50%
What do you use to treat your water?
Prime
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water?
substrate, too

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish?
yes
What do you use to test the water?
API kit
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.

Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 20
pH: haven't tested

Feeding
How often do you feed your fish?
2x daily
How much do you feed your fish?
2-3 pellets, sometimes frozen bloodworms instead
What brand of food do you feed your fish?
sorry, don't remember (I'm at work)
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods?
frozen, never freeze-dried

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish?
2 weeks
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms?
2 days ago
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms?
he spits out his food, and doesn't have the energy he's always had
Have you started any treatment for the illness?
no
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase?
no
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all?
he's become lethargic, and he's starting to clamp his fins

Explain your emergency situation in detail. (Please give a clear explanation of what is going on, include details from the beginning of the illness leading up to now)

It's pretty much explained above. I'll just say that both of these fish were happy and playful. It's heartbreaking.
 

lilirose

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828
I really think that "no more than 50% every 2-3 weeks" is not enough water changes for a king betta in a 5-gallon tank. There are biologics that build up in water that don't show up on standard water tests. As the experts say, "dilution is the solution to pollution".

My betta is not giant, he's also in a 5 gallon tank with a sponge filter, and I change 50% of the water every week without fail, regardless of what the water parameters say. I test the water with a Master Test Kit (pH, ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites, using vials and not strips) twice a week, as I had a betta randomly die at the start of July and I never ever want to go through that again, even though he was not my first Betta by a long way- just the first that I made an extreme effort to keep properly.

I also think you should be testing the pH so you know whether it's staying stable. If you have an API Master kit (not strips) it's extremely easy to do this and I'm not sure why you wouldn't (the strips actually include it as well so I'm doubly confused as to why you aren't testing for this). The API strips are notoriously inaccurate- the Master Test Kit, if you aren't using it already, works out cheaper in the long run.
 

WTFish?

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I agree that more water changes would be beneficial for sure. I’m also wondering if he could be overfed? I know nothing about giant Bettas so maybe 6 pellets is fine per day? Maybe a photo would help diagnose anything as well.
 
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Georgie Girl

Georgie Girl

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lilirose said:
There are biologics that build up in water that don't show up on standard water tests.
I'm largely ignorant of anything besides the cycle, testing, and water changes. I didn't know there is yet more harmful stuff.

How can I know what the pH should be? Does it depend on the fish?

Thanks for your advice.
 

lilirose

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You should test the pH of your source water so you know what you are starting out with, and then use that as the basis when testing the tank water between water changes. There is a problem if your pH is unstable (meaning that it changes a lot- and with the way pH works, a 0.3 change in the number counts as "a lot"). Unstable pH will make your betta sick.

This is far more likely to be a problem when keeping a small tank like a 5 gallon. This is the reason that I test the water in my betta's 5-gallon tank twice a week.

For example, my tap water gets a 7.0 right after I add dechlorinator. If water testing shows that it's gone under 6.7 or above 7.3, I can do a water change to get it back to baseline, which is 7.0. I don't let it change more than this.

Bettas can handle a wide range of pH values. They cannot handle an unstable pH, however.
 
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Georgie Girl

Georgie Girl

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I'm not exactly a noob.... I guess I'd say I'm a weak novice.

I'm upgrading my betta, László, to a 10 gallon (from five) and I have questions about the tank I want, the substrate I should get (I'll have live plants), what to do about diatoms, the best pH for a betta, and more.

Is this the right place? Truly, I have so many questions.

If this is the right place, here's my first question: what's the best substrate for my little one-fish planted universe? I've looked at a few today, and each time I decided "that's the one," I'd start finding negative reviews of it. Your thoughts?
 

Crispii

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Any substrate should do fine when growing plants. When growing plants in either sand or gravel, you're going to need to find ways to feed your plants either root tabs or liquid fertilizer. If you're not going to give your plants root tabs, then you can either use dirt capped with sand/gravel or use aqua soil. Best brand of aqua soil includes ADA Amazonia, Fluval Stratum, and Mr. Aqua.
 

candiedragon

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1,450
Depending on the type of plants you are interested in should definitely impact your substrate choice. If you're just going to do epiphytes like anubias sp., bucephelandra, and java fern then substrate will not matter. These types of plants should generally avoid being planted as they're more adapted to growing onto other surfaces like driftwood and rock work. However, if you're going to do something like maybe a sword plant or a lily plant, those plants definitely absorb most nutrients through their roots so you will want to consider either a nutrient-rich substrate or having a regular supply of root tablets embedded in the substrate every couple months for the plants if you have plain substrate.

If you do plain substrate like sand then you should consider the grain fineness. If it's too fine (play sand) then it easily compacts over time and can negatively effect proper root growth which will in turn have an effect on the plant health. Gravel on the other hand seems to trap crud quite easily so you should make it a habit of vacuuming the gravel to keep your general water quality good.

Aquasoil is generally recommended over potting soil just because it is cleaner. I went with potting soil a few months ago because I was inspired by walstads and dirted tanks, plus the price point was enticing lol. However, I did have a LOT of tannins released from the soil and my tank was nicknamed the "Golden Tank" by my family because of it. If you don't like the look of tannic water then I hope you will like doing lots of water changes LOL. However, bettas do benefit from tannic waters so it wouldnt be a bad thing, in fact tannins aren't a bad thing at all... unless maybe if you have almost no kH.

I remember looking at aquasoils and reading negative reviews. I always look at negative reviews first, and I've learned to take it with a grain of salt. Most people are not very bright and think they know what they're doing but the harsh reality is that they dont. I usually just prepare myself to do as much precautions to avoid the potential issues and I usually don't run into them. I think maybe you need to figure out what you need and what you can handle and just dive right in.
 

Brenden

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From personal experience, my luck with plants is horrible. The only thing I have found that kept my plants alive and helped on the maintenance end is fertilizer gravel.

Just make sure whatever fert you buy doesn't contain copper cause that will kill snails if you plan on getting a snail.
 

jdhef

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Diatoms will go away on their own in time. One thing about diatoms is that unlike green algae, diatoms actually thrive with less light. As far as pH goes, probably what comes out of your tap will be fine. The only thing is that at a pH below 7.0 ammonia starts turning into ammonia and by the time your pH reaches 6.0 all ammonia has turned unto ammonium. The good thing about ammonium is that it is far less toxic to fish. The bad thing is that it is a terrible food source for the ammonia converting bacteria and if you pH is too far below 7.0 it may become anywhere from difficult to impossible to get the tank cycled.
 

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