New baby Betta in UnCycled tank

  • #1
So we went to Petco today and got ourselves a baby Betta. I got the tiniest one they had. I thought it would be really awesome for my girls to watch the transformation in their very first pet! I have always been super interested in fish and aquariums and sort of pushed the idea The employee told me that he recommended a BettaminI 2.5 tank because it has a filter and comes with some food and the conditioner... Said all I would need is to have my girls pick out some decorations and also said to only feed 2 to 3 pellets a couple times a day. So off we went with our new fish friend and we put the the tank together and I got to the part where it said to run it for at least 24 hours... I called Petco and spoke with the guy and asked if I needed to do that or if I needed to slowly add tank water to the cup... He said no you have the conditioner, just put the fish in so we did! And then I came across all sorts of things about cycling and stressing or shocking the fish.. And also that we should have a heater??? Well now I am afraid that our poor little fish won't survive! The fish that my daughter named Girl has been in the tank for about 7 hours and it is 1030 pm here in alaska. I basically have no idea what I am doing and feel so bad for the poor thing... Any advice to help us save our little baby would be so greatly appreciated and I will be going first thing in the morning for whatever we need!! TIA!
  • #2
Welcome to fish lore! I'm not a betta expert but there are many folks here who can help you out!

You can do a fish-in cycle with proper water conditioning, testing and frequent partial water changes.

If you don't have it, I would get Seachem Prime water conditioner. It will bind the bad stuff so it's not harmful for 24 hours and the water changes will remove it.

Also, get an API master test kit. The bottles and vials one. Test strips are quite inaccurate and the liquid kit will give you much more accurate numbers.

Your little fish friend should be just fine ... just follow along and I'm sure some other folks will chime in with more specifics for you!
  • #3
Okay 0.0 go get a bottle of tetra safe start plus, the smallest they have and it will say for start up add this whole bottle for up to this size tank and if it says whole bottle for up to ten gallon tank add a quarter of bottle ect. Don't worry about adding a little too much and it doesn't have to be exact. Then also get a heater that stays at 78 degrees the smallest heater that you can get at the stores in NY that have that is the Aqueon 50W. You'll probably see the Aqueon 10W that's less expensive but it will FRY your fish. It has to say on it that it stays at 78. The 10W says "has overheat shutoff" or something and people think that it shuts off at 78 when in reality basically if it gets really got it will shut off once and never work again and by the time it gets to the one time shut off your fish will already be dead. I run the Aqueon 50W in my 2.5 gallon, my two 3 gallons and my 10 gallon. Now here is where it gets expensive. You should really have an API freshwater test kit. This runs from $25-$45 depending on where you are. That way you can make sure your water is okay. If I were you I would go on Amazon or other online place and order it because you will probably not need it for about a week. It is MUCH less expensive online. You really should have one though. Also for a baby Betta your should make sure you have proper food/ it's big enough to eat the pellets you have. Also lastly, you should post a picture of it here so we can look at it for any visible signs of illness because believe it or not, at least 50% of the bettas at petco are sold to you already sick.

Here is your list in easy format!
-tetra safe start plus (yellow bottle)
-heater stays at 78 degrees (probably Aqueon 50W)
-within a week API freshwater master test kit
  • #4
If you can find prime water conditioner that would be a lifesaver. It will detoxify the ammonia your fishy makes until the tank cycles and can process her waste. You'll need to do water changes often, like at least 3 times a week I'd say to keep the levels safe while it cycles.

Dont feel bad, I did the same thing when I started. It seems a lot of people here did. My original stock was 4 platies, 6 cories, 4 tiger barbs, 2 white skirt tetras, 6 neons, 2 angelfish, a pictus cat and 2 common plecos... In an uncycled 10 gallon tank �� That's what tends to happen when you listen to employees at stores. Most of them just talk to hear themselves speak I think. I lost two of the platies to shock switching tanks and rehomed the plecos, but everyone else is alive and well. My pictus got really sick and lost his barbels but luckily I was able to get him into a decent sized tank and bought a few more to keep him company, and yeah. At one point my ammonia was literally off the chart - 8ppm or more - but somehow everyone made it out alive, and the tank is healthy and thriving now. I owe most, if not all of my success with all that to what I've learned on this forum, there's a lot of bad info on the internet but the people here know their stuff and will tell it to you straight.

do you have a water testing kit yet? If not you should look for the API freshwater master test kit, it's about $30 but lasts forever and is reliable. Don't buy strips, you'll be throwing your money away. You'll need the test kit to know what's happening with the cycle, and to know whether you need to detoxify any ammonia or nitrite with the prime. Prime is kinda expensive too but you use so little that it ends up being cheaper in the long run. I had to get a tiny insulin syringe from the pharmacy to measure it for my betta tank. You'd only need .25ml to dose your tank for 24 hours.

what's the temperature like in your house? My betta tank doesn't have a heater right now either, but it's warm enough here that my unheated tanks sit at around 75 degrees. They'll all need heat in the fall and winter but for now it's alright I think.

Dont panic!! You've come to the right place. If you're willing to do what needs to be done, the people here will help you figure it out and your fishy will live a long happy life.

EDIT: I didn't mention safe start because you're not supposed to do water changes for two weeks after using it, and without prime that might not be feasible. I did use safe start in a few of my tanks and it worked well, but you have to neutralize the toxins if you're using it because you can't remove them with water changes. Also you have to SHAKE the bottle A LOT!!! I wasted two bottles and couldn't figure out why nothing was happening...
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  • #5
Thank you guys so so much! This is great information and I will get all these ASAP! the temp in my house right now is 73 and I have the light on in the tank. So I'll try to post a photo.... Also... I already put aqueon Betta bowl plus conditioner.... Will that react with the prime??

I'm trying to get a good photo but she is staying right up at the top against the side? Do you think she could survive until the morning?
  • #6
My petco doesn't sell prime but my tap water comes out with .25 ammonia and tetra safe start takes care of that. Also tetra safe start will give you the best start on your cycle you're going to get at this point. Also I live in HawaiI and it's 84 year round making my tanks a perfect 78 degrees at all times UNTIL I moved into an apartment with air conditioning which at 75 degrees lowered my water temperature to 72 which is not so great at all. So I think you definitely need the heater. You're not supposed to touch the water after using tetra safe start for 14 days but here is your best bet
-Do a 25 percent water change (add new water with proper amount of conditioner)
-dose with the amount of tetra safe start discussed earlier
- after 7 days do a 25 percent water change (always with conditioner) and add the water change amount on the bottle (5ml per 10 gal I think)
-Then leave it alone 7 days
-then again 25% water change and add the safe start water change amount again
Then from then on just do 25% water changes every week and no longer use safe start.
And no offense to anyone else but I've had a lot of experience with bettas in uncycled tanks using this method.
Also after the water changes your should test the water and if ANY ammonia or nitrite comes up do another 25% WITH SAFE START and test again after. That might be necessary these first four weeks.
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  • #7

Here are a couple more.

I am so excited about this forum... I already downloaded that app! You all seem so knowledgable and I have already found my self just staring at the baby and oddly feeling very calm and peaceful... I am really hoping this will turn into something I could really enjoy!

  • #8
I would like to put forward Stability, which is bacteria made by the same company as Prime, simply because you can do water changes while using it. You will have to do a fish-in cycle, and it can be nerve-wracking to use TSS+ with fish in the tank because you are supposed to leave the tank alone for two weeks until the bacteria is established. Also, TSS+ claims that Prime interferes with their bacteria. Here is a link to the Q&A about that:

I'm not familiar with Betta bowl plus conditioner, but Prime is a water conditioner. It detoxifies chlorine, chloramine, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates.

I'm not experienced with bettas, but a new home is stressful for fish, so it's possible that she's just stressed out. Your pictures won't load for me, but maybe someone else will have a suggestion. Bettas survive in those tiny bowls for a while, so I'm feeling like a 2.5 gallon tank with fresh, conditioned water will be okay overnight.
  • #9
Tetra safe start only works if you have fish in the tank? The bacteria die within 48 hours if you don't add a fish. You'd be dumping the bottle for nothing. You are supposed to leave the tank alone for two weeks but I have found that the routine I have posted works best for my Betta cubes. It simply cannot go two weeks without a water change because of Betta bio load. Before I knew about the nitrogen cycle I cycled 4 bettas tanks using tetra safe start over the years and after testing the water on day 7 I found that a water change was necessary one tank held out until day 9. I found that by adding the small amount recommended for a water change it didn't effect the use of the safe start (which your link confirms). 3 of the bettas I cycled with this method died of old age after having them for 2-4 years and one is still alive. I've never used stability but have heard GREAT things about it however the only store we have is petco and ours doesn't have it. If you find it then by all means use it because of the reasons mothercrow stated! Prime may interfere with tss+ bacteria but this is not a problem for me because my petco doesn't sell prime and it's not what I use. However I think that is talking about using it with ammo lock or similar product not prime as prime is just water conditioner. I didn't read beyond the first post though. Maybe if OP has prime it would be something to look into? Although I doubt OP would because they, like me have a petco which doesn't have it. Again, if you can get seachem stability tomorrow morning I would because of the benefits mentioned but because the matter is urgent if you cannot find it I would just do the safe start method I've done.

Although it should be noted I've never had a baby Betta with or without this method. I've had 3 bettas with no cycling (it was a long time ago and I didn't know but lived surprisingly long) 4 with tss+ method and 1 with cycling. Also my filter broke in main tank and I didn't know for about 3 days at which point the bacteria was beat and I had some serious ammonia and nitrite going on and I did a 75% water change and used the tss+ method because I had nothing else. In the tank was a Betta, 6 neon tetras and a mystery snail and there were no casualties. I left the same media but the cycle had crashed. But really I know nothing about baby bettas and I know nothing about stability but I vote for it
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  • #10
Lol! Thank you!

I'll keep you guys posted on what I am able to find in the morning!
  • #11
I think both methods are valid. If you choose to go with TSS+, I would be cautious with Prime or use a different water conditioner, because Tetra says Prime interferes, and because Pringlethesnail's experience is with using a different water conditioner. I wish I had had Pringlethesnail's experience to work from the first time I tried to cycle my tank, it would have made working with TSS+ easier for me.

If you choose to go with Stability, it's made to work with Prime, so I would recommend the two together. I am a control freak and I have to mess with everything, and I couldn't handle a TSS+ cycle--I caused mine to fail because I used Prime too close to the time I added the bacteria, and then I had to mess with the tank. Poor bacteria never had a chance. Stability worked better for me, using a formula provided to me by another member of this forum, because I had my chance to tinker with the tank every day.

I think it's good that you have an idea of some options, because it's entirely possible that your store might not stock some of these items, and because you can choose what sounds like it will work best for you.

It's 3am for me, so I hope I didn't come off sounding too unhelpful.
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  • #12
Thank you mothercrow.... Our store doesn't open for another 45 min and I'm not sure the fish is looking so well.... She is just staying at the top not moving much and she is pressed right up against part of the filter... Okay never mind! She is swimming some now.

So I have another question, while I am there should I get a bigger tank?? Obviously the sales man told me the like small tanks and I shouldn't get bigger than a 2.5 but I have been learning that it's not so true about the smaller spaces for bettas? I was considering taking the other back if they will let me. Any suggestions?
  • #13
I think bigger tanks are always better!! My betta is in a 5 gallon and will soon be moving to a 10 I think. When I first put him in the tank he was petrified, and just say on the bottom panicking because I think the huge amount of space scared him after having lived in a cup all his life. He is so happy now though, he thinks he's the king of the world lol.

I wasn't aware of the prime/TSS+ issue, strange because I used prime for my last two TSS cycles to protect the fishies, and it actually didn't stall the cycle. A stroke of very good luck I suppose. With the info that was just posted though I think I'd prefer stability next time if I needed it. But hey, once you catch MTS from us you won't need bacterial additives anymore, you'll have seeded media to feed the disease with
  • #14
Bigger tanks are better, IMO. My understanding is that they are easier to keep stable, easier to heat, and they've got more room to soften the effects when something does go wrong. It's something that everyone has to decide for themselves. Bigger tanks also mean bigger water changes, more stuff to clean, and it can be difficult to find tank mates for more aggressive bettas. Some people on here have a bigger tank that they've placed dividers in so they can keep multiple bettas.

Keep in mind that I don't currently have a betta, I'm just researching them. 2.5 seems a little small to me, but I'll go see if I can find the specs for your tank.

ETA: looking at the reviews for the betta mini, it looks ok, but I would probably still prefer a 5 gallon because the people who keep bettas on this forum seem to consistently say that that's the minimum size they'd recommend. If you do end up keeping the betta mini, don't panic, you can work with it. Fishkeeping is harder than it looks, but addictive once you get the hang of it. Let us know how it goes.
  • #15
My petco sells prime. Amazon may be your friend though. They carry a ton of Seachem products.
  • #16
I kept many bettas in 2.5 gallon tanks like that so it is fine but bigger is better. Right now I have 2 in 3 gallon cubes and one in a ten gallon and I don't plan on upgrading the 2 in the 3 gallon cubes. It's whatever you think! If you can afford it id say so it! If you have a store called "ollies" that is where I get the 3 gallon cubes. They have the tetra brand cubes with the not attached filter and light for $20 at mine which is like $54 at petco.
  • #17
A few things.
1) Welcome to fishlore.
2) Get some sort of bacterial supplement either TSS make sure it's the start up not the maintenance, or stability. And some sort of water conditioner. with TSS The instructions say to not use any water conditioner for 24 hours prior to using TSS. Then not touch the water for 2 weeks. EG: No water changes, no nothing. I'm too OCD for that. So I opted for the Prime/Stability route. You can still do water changes, and use both together. Prime is the water conditioner, stability is the bacterial supplement. It will help cycling the tank. You can use prime safely up to 5 time the recommended dosage, and stability there really isn't any way to overdose it. But it has general guidelines on how to use it on the back that work well. Dosing prime will detoxify the ammonia for 24-48 hours as the tank is cycling, and you can use it every day if you want.
3) Bigger tank is easier to maintain and keep stable. Think of it this way. Let's say you have half a cup of salt. Which have a lower salt level. 2.5 gallons of water or 10 gallons of water. It's the same for fish waste. More water means more to dilute into, so slower ramp up of toxic things.
4) advise getting something like the API freshwater master kit to monitor your levels of Ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and even PH. If you don't know about the nitrogen cycle click on the words and learn it. That is the biggest thing for cycling a tank and keeping fish healthy.
5) Fish jsut like everyone else take a little while to get used to their new home. How long does it take depends on the fish just as it depends on a person when they move.

You may need to do several water changes a week to keep water fresh for the pretty betta which is why I would advise the prime/stability route, but each person has their own preference.

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  • #18
Should I be putting more conditioner with the new water? I live in alaska and the water here is very very hard and high in chlorine. All I have is a Petco and they didn't have the prime or stability but ordered it... 3-5 days... They were completely out of the TSS. The lady kept assuring me that bettas can withstand being put in a tank that has not been cycled. it seems I don't have a choice but to wait for the products to come in. I hope our fish can hang on for that long. I did get the heater and I turned the lights off on top of the tank and she came out swimming a little more instead of hiding under the filter. She has been staying at the very top of the water. I am going to go ahead and order the master tester today on Amazon. I saw it in the store but was much more expensive. The lady at Petco did say that I can bring in a water sample for them to test. I am thinking of doing that.
  • #19
You can always do that.

As for the water. It really depends on if it's chlorine or Chloramines they use for treating the water. Chlorine will actually evaporate from water in 24 hours. So you could just fill a bucket or something withe the top open. and let it evaporate out for 24 hours. if it's Chloramines then they don't evap off.

I personally don't like putting any chemicals or anything directly into my tank. I always mix them with a little tank water then pour them in, if not doing a water change, if doing a water change I put everything in the water for the water change.

Taking it to them is definitely helpful. The harder thing is don't know if petco uses test strips or liquid tests. Most likely strips. Strips can be fairly inaccurate ((if kept dry they are OK but liquid is better)). They are really sensitive to if they get any moisture it will throw them off. If you take it there make sure to look over their shoulder or ask for what the actual numbers are. Not just if it's good or not. A lot of people at pet stores will just say "yup water is good" and actually not know how to read the strips.

Bettas are fairly resilient but are still living creatures and do need a proper home.

I do understand the struggles of living in AK. Nothing gets there fast and almost always has to go by boat (unless you pay insane shipping), Company I work for now has a store in Anchorage, and previous company I worked for had clients from Sitka to Fairbanks. And think even further north and west. Always a pain sending things there.
  • #20
Breathe. You're having to absorb a lot of information, but you can do this. Just some things in general:

1) Nitrogen cycle. Take a few moments to just try to understand it. Don't worry about your betta in those moments, just learn it. Get a good base to work from, then go back to figuring out how to get your betta's home as safe as it can be.

2) Water condtioners come in many varieties. They remove/bind chlorine and chloramines that have been added to tap water to make it safe for humans to drink. Chlorine and chloramines will harm your fish, so unless you know that your water has no chlorine or chloramines, you should always add conditioner before putting any water in the tank. Some conditioners do extra things, like help the fish's slime coat. Prime is a condtioner that also helps detoxify ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. You don't have to use Prime, and a lot of people use other conditioners happily.

3) Pet store people, even when they mean well, sometimes tell you the wrong thing. My experience would be that they often tell you the wrong thing. I had a very disappointing conversation this weekend with the owner of a local, actual, dedicated fish-only store in which he claimed that bettas didn't have a minimum tank size, because they come shipped to him in a tiny bag. There are a lot of opinions on keeping fish, but it can be difficult to tell what is true. People on forums have often done a lot of research that they share, but it's also important for you to do your own research to figure out what will be the best method for you.

4) Your betta has only been in there for a day. Right now, the water should be reasonably clean, you have a filter, you have conditioner. You have an idea now that you need more information, and you're actively seeking it out. Breathe deep, you can do this.
  • #21
I didn't read everything above, I just skimmed it.
I would definitely get a bigger tank if possible, a 5-10 gallon would be amazing.
You will need a heater, bettas should be kept at 80 degrees, they are tropical fish.
Considering your betta is a baby and doesn't look so good(s/he is incredibly skinny and has clamped fins) you should be doing daily water changes. I breed bettas, and I feed my fry frozen and live baby brine shrimp until they are large enough to eat pellets. Betta babies need to eat often to encourage growth, I would feed at least 3 times a day if possible. Daily water changes and feeding often will encourage growth, helping it become more resilient to cycle stress.
TSS isn't suitable in this case, a baby needs daily water changes. You would be best with stability.
The gender listed on the baby betta Petco cups isn't always correct. Your little girl CD could end up a boy.
  • #22
You can get Seachem Stability from Petsmart if you have one near you.

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  • #23
Just wanted to throw it out there, my betta usually stays at the top of his tank. Sometimes he swims around but mostly he just chills up at the top in his plants. Can you get live plants? My bettas have always loved water Sprite
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  • #24
That is very good to know! You have all helped me so much and I am not feeling so overwhelmed anymore! I can most certainly see what type of love plants are available. Thank you!
  • #25
I would do just an Anubias as your first plant because most plants can be tricky especially with the not so great bulbs on those little tanks. I keep fake plants in my Betta cubes due to lighting. Anubias is generally considered the easiest and bettas love to sit on their big leaves. Bettas also should have something to sleep in/on at the top of the water. My bettas each have a suction plant and a floating log for this. I'll post pics. Don't get any fake plants unless they say Betta on them
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  • #26
I really like those!

Ok so I think our fish may have died it's not floating but I don't even see the gills moving but it went to the bottom. I swear the water started to look a little cloudy but everyone else says no. Can I post a photo of the fish? Is that weird?
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  • #27
Never mind.... It's for sure dead so now what steps should I take to get it ready for another one??

Sorry I have so many questions. Should I take the water to get tested now even though the fish died??

  • #28
Get a bigger tank and cycle it first don't listen to the people at the pet store get your information from the people on here

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  • #29
Does it need to be a specific type of tank? Can I choose any 5 gallon?
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  • #30
I feel so silly... I wish I could talk to someone... I am more a verbal and visual learner and trying to read all this stuff feels a little overwhelming... Like j am making it harder than it needs to be
  • #31
You might be able to get a 5 gallon starter kit at Walmart but if you really want to make your Betta happy I KNOW for sure Walmart sells ten gallon starter kits for bete $20a and $30 he'd really love that just make sure you cycle it before you get your Betta

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  • #32
I could pm my number to call me in a time that works for both time zones but I don't know anything about the seachem stuff you ordered so I feel like I wouldn't be helpful. I've only ever done tss+ cycles. I would really read into the nitrogen cycle and the product you ordered and get the test kit so you know when the cycle has completed. Any 5 gallon would work. If you have a choice choose a horizontal rectangle rather than a vertical tank or a square. Square is okay but vertical is no good. I would get an aquaclear filter as well.
  • #33
Don't let anyone guilt you into a ten gallon. My Betta has been in his ten gallon for three months and has blown his tail out twice from trying to swim around so much space so quickly. I love my Betta all my bettas equally and my two in three gallon cubes are happy as can be. The picture is there of one of them "flame"s big nest! I have any empty 2.5 gallon tank that I don't use because I prefer the 3 gallon setups. I have the means to move my two boys to 5 or ten gallon tanks but the water tests perfect and they love their lives in the cube. I often consider moving my Betta back into a 3 gallon cube from the 10 gallon because of his tail. I think a 5 gallon is perfect. I really do.
  • #34
I've had bettas in a 20 gal with no issues, but I'd say a 5- 10 gal would be better.

Those long flowing tails make it tricky to get around at fast speeds, so they're not great with fast currents or huge tanks. They are also labyrinth fish, which means they occasionally go to the surface for air, so you don't want that to be a long journey for them.

Decor- if you aren't going to do real plants, go with silk over plastic. Plastic can be pokey and tear, while silk is safer and looks a lot better. Bettas like to rest themselves on broad leaves, and if there is a leaf or floating log, they will usually build a bubble nest there.

Bigger tanks are easier to maintain water chemistry, but if you go with a 10 gal I'd add plenty of decor and plants to give them something to explore and not have so much open space to blow out their tails. A gentle bubbler could be fun for them to play in as long as it's not too strong a current.

If your tank allows for tank mates, be sure to stay away from fin nippers like tiger barbs! Bettas can get along in a community, but may mistake long finned fish (like fancy guppies) for another betta and become aggressive. A single snail is usually a good tank mate, especially in a 5 gal.

All in all, as long as your tank has a filter, heater, and enough space for them to comfortably explore, bettas are pretty easy keepers and are an absolute pleasure to have. They have always been one of my favorite fish, never lacking in personality. Even a lone betta in a tank is enough to keep your interest, and adds a feeling of tranquility.
  • #35
I feel so silly... I wish I could talk to someone... I am more a verbal and visual learner and trying to read all this stuff feels a little overwhelming... Like j am making it harder than it needs to be
I'm so sorry for your loss. :-( If it helps, I watch Youtube videos to supplement what I learn on here. Sometimes seeing the video helps make the information click.

If you are considering a larger tank, ask your Petco if they are having a dollar-per-gallon sale.
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  • #36
Thank you mothercrow.... Great idea and I will ask... I really appreciate all the great advice
  • #37
Sorry for your loss. I know it's hard explaining to kids about this ((my almost 3 year old found one of her fish dead a little while back. Had to have a short talk about it))
  • #38
I'm so sorry about your fish. I hope that next time it works out for you. :'(
  • #39
I'm sorry

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