New Betta Concerns – First time owner Syndrome? (FTOS)

BettaBoomer

Do I suffer from FTOS? Caveat: This is my very first time caring for a fish of any kind.

Background:
  • I'm doing a Fish In Cycle, Today is my (and more importantly Bubba's) 2nd day.
  • I have a 5 gallon tank, heater, filter and light.
  • I've had Bubba the Betta for approximately 40 hours
  • He spent more than 48 hours in FedEx truck prior to being delivered
  • He may be as young as 4 or 5 months old
    • I'm saying this based on his "product" number from where I bought him: RATF 5982 M 1.4” 4MTH
      • This is what I am taking from the code:
        • The "M" indicates he's a Male
        • The 1.4" is his length
        • 4MTH says he was 4 months old at the time of him being put up for sale
        • Depending on how long he was in inventory before being sold plus shipping time I'm guessing he would be 5 months old now
My questions and concerns ( especially since I'm doing a Fish In Cycle):
  • He was immediately active exploring his tank and not timid at all. He also likes to hide in plants at top of his tank. I would like to believe that he is there because it is a safe place and also perhaps because since they are top feeders he is waiting for "prey". He is not gasping for air spending an inordinate amount of time breathing for the surface. He just seems to like hanging out in the plants between forays around the tank.
  • He may or may not be eating. He has at least tried to eat and may have had one or two pellets. My concern, especially since he may be so young could the pellets be too large? I have tried Tetra BettaMin Small Pellets, Invert Extreme Color Betta Bits (which is what he has been able to eat I believe), Tetra BettaMin Worm Shaped Bits (broken in half) and am considering Fluval Bug Bites since they are almost a dust (but don't float). I am also soaking in tank water for 10 minutes before trying to feed.
  • Could his young age (assuming I am assessing that correctly) mean the food is too large? Or could it be he's still getting used to his new home and recovering from the shock of travel.
  • Later in the evening around 9/10pm he spent more time in the plants at top – could that be simply because he is sleepy?
Are these within the boundaries of normal behavior for a fish that has just been transported or any fish in this circumstance in general?
I’m nervous since this is my first betta (or fish of any kind). Am I overreacting or are these within in the norm?

There is a lot of stuff here to unpack and I don't expect anybody to respond to each point. A response of "Every thing is fine", or a comment about any one point that could be considered troublesome or even "Geez, man, relax, you're driving yourself crazy" are all welcome as well as general comments, suggestions or criticism.

P.S. (I wonder if I have created a new acronym FTOS (First Time Owner Syndrome) or is it already part of the Aquarist's venacular LOL))
Thanks you all, Thomas (the Intomidator - the nickname is a tribute to Dale Earnhardt).

I am attaching a photo of his tank to give you a sense of his environment and also a picture of "Bubba" himself.
 

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StarGirl

Gorgeous betta congrats!
Just give him some time to adjust. If he isn't doing anything that looks concerning don't worry too much.

Maybe try to feed him something really yummy like frozen blood worms or Brine shrimp. Feed them 1 at a time until you see his tummy get a little bigger. Maybe like 2-3 worms? Only thaw a small slice off a cube. You will be able to tell easier once you get to feeding him.

Make sure you keep up testing the water and do a water change anytime you see ANY ammonia or Nitrites. It will be a lot of water changes for a bit until you get cycled. Then after that you can go to a weekly water change.
 
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bcsay720

He's beautiful! What size is his tank and what are his water parameters?

He also needs some more hiding places. My betta loves swimming around, but he likes hiding under my floating plants and behind the heater when he wants to sleep.

Try feeding every other day for a week as he adjusts to his new surroundings and since you're doing a fish in cycle. Also, feed at the same time every day and in the same spot so he gets comfortable with where his food comes from.

What are you using to treat your water? I recommend Prime. It'll detoxify ammonia and nitrite up to 1 ppm, I believe. Do a 50% water change every other day or whenever the ammonia gets close to or above 1 ppm. It seems like a lot, but I actually like water changes because I get to spend uninterrupted time bonding with my fish. It's not important with a lot of fish, but it is with bettas.
 
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BettaBoomer

Gorgeous betta congrats!
Just give him some time to adjust. If he isn't doing anything that looks concerning don't worry too much.

Maybe try to feed him something really yummy like frozen blood worms or Brine shrimp. Feed them 1 at a time until you see his tummy get a little bigger. Maybe like 2-3 worms? Only thaw a small slice off a cube. You will be able to tell easier once you get to feeding him.

Make sure you keep up testing the water and do a water change anytime you see ANY ammonia or Nitrites. It will be a lot of water changes for a bit until you get cycled. Then after that you can go to a weekly water change.
Thanks. At least there wasn't anything especially abnormal that stuck out to you.

I don't have frozen blood worms but I do have Omega One Freeze Dried blood worms. Are they a suitable substitute? I also have Hikari Daphnia if that might work. I haven't really looked into frozen food yet since I'm still new.

Just wanted to mention I have seen a lot of your posts here and have learned a lot from you. I enjoy your posts and helpful feedback a lot.
 
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StarGirl

Thanks. At least there wasn't anything especially abnormal that stuck out to you.

I don't have frozen blood worms but I do have Omega One Freeze Dried blood worms. Are they a suitable substitute? I also have Hikari Daphnia if that might work. I haven't really looked into frozen food yet since I'm still new.

Just wanted to mention I have seen a lot of your posts here and have learned a lot from you. I enjoy your posts and helpful feedback a lot.
I would make sure to soak the freeze dried ones in some tank water before feeding them. They should be a treat not for food though. He may not even like them. Most of my fish did not. I have the Hikari pellets and they liked those. Try to get a variety of frozen and pellet food. Is your Daphnia frozen or freeze dried?
 
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bcsay720

I agree that pellets should be the main food source. I only do frozen bloodworms once or twice a week in small quantities since bettas can bloat easily.
 
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BettaBoomer

He's beautiful! What size is his tank and what are his water parameters?

He also needs some more hiding places. My betta loves swimming around, but he likes hiding under my floating plants and behind the heater when he wants to sleep.

Try feeding every other day for a week as he adjusts to his new surroundings and since you're doing a fish in cycle. Also, feed at the same time every day and in the same spot so he gets comfortable with where his food comes from.

What are you using to treat your water? I recommend Prime. It'll detoxify ammonia and nitrite up to 1 ppm, I believe. Do a 50% water change every other day or whenever the ammonia gets close to or above 1 ppm. It seems like a lot, but I actually like water changes because I get to spend uninterrupted time bonding with my fish. It's not important with a lot of fish, but it is with bettas.
Thanks for the compliment about Bubba.

My tank is 5 gallons and my water parameters have been all over the place. I tried a fishless cycle first but got nowhere. During that time the ammonia has never been above 2ppm but during the fishless cycle was mostly around 1ppm (the ammonia from my tap runs close to 1ppm), the nitrites have never been over 1ppm, nitrates maxed out at 8ppm and stayed there regularly).

Prior to starting the fish in cycle the readings were: Ammonia, .25, Nitrites 0 and Nitrates still hanging at 8ppm.

For the fish in cycle I'm using Tetra SafeStart Plus (I used Prime 24 hours before adding the TSS+). There is a long time member here who graciously has offered to help me so I'm following his plan (including feeding, testing and water changes) exactly the way he has recommended.

Oh, as far as hiding places, Bubba likes swimming through and hiding out in the rocks at the bottom. I also am getting additional plants. I have a cholla log that is actually a tube that he can swim through but I haven't added it yet because I'm concerned about him getting stuck in the holes (I had the idea of filling the holes with little bits of Marimo Moss Balls but thanks to the zebra mussels that idea is not longer viable)

Thanks for your feedback - there is some good information there and as a newbie I can use all I can get.
 
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Pfrozen

Thanks for the compliment about Bubba.

My tank is 5 gallons and my water parameters have been all over the place. I tried a fishless cycle first but got nowhere. During that time the ammonia has never been above 2ppm but during the fishless cycle was mostly around 1ppm (the ammonia from my tap runs close to 1ppm), the nitrites have never been over 1ppm, nitrates maxed out at 8ppm and stayed there regularly).

Prior to starting the fish in cycle the readings were: Ammonia, .25, Nitrites 0 and Nitrates still hanging at 8ppm.

For the fish in cycle I'm using Tetra SafeStart Plus (I used Prime 24 hours before adding the TSS+). There is a long time member here who graciously has offered to help me so I'm following his plan (including feeding, testing and water changes) exactly the way he has recommended.

Oh, as far as hiding places, Bubba likes swimming through and hiding out in the rocks at the bottom. I also am getting additional plants. I have a cholla log that is actually a tube that he can swim through but I haven't added it yet because I'm concerned about him getting stuck in the holes (I had the idea of filling the holes with little bits of Marimo Moss Balls but thanks to the zebra mussels that idea is not longer viable)

Thanks for your feedback - there is some good information there and as a newbie I can use all I can get.

It sounds like you're already taken care of you have some semblance of a weaker cycle happening already so you shouldn't have any issues running a fish-in with the TSS+. Just monitor and maintain like you've been doing. It likely won't take very long to establish a full and proper cycle

I am concerned about the ammonia in your tap water though. You will have to use distilled water and remineralize it or invest in an RODI system. I recommend distilled water because the cost will be negligible with a 5g tank and your salts will last a very long time. It'll take a year or two to break even on cost if you go the RODI route. Food for thought
 
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BettaBoomer

I would make sure to soak the freeze dried ones in some tank water before feeding them. They should be a treat not for food though. He may not even like them. Most of my fish did not. I have the Hikari pellets and they liked those. Try to get a variety of frozen and pellet food. Is your Daphnia frozen or freeze dried?
I soak all of his food including the pellets for 10 minutes in tank water before feeding. I will do that with the freeze dried ones too. The Daphnia is also freezed dried.

My plan is to use Tetra BettaMin Small Pellets and perhaps BettaMin Worm Shaped Bits as his primary diet and the bloodworms and daphnia no more than once a week as a treat.

Do you think my concern about the pellets being too large is valid because of his age and size? He has nosed up to them when I put them in the tank but he turns away before even trying them (perhaps it's not the size - maybe he is just a picky eater).
 
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StarGirl

I soak all of his food including the pellets for 10 minutes in tank water before feeding. I will do that with the freeze dried ones too. The Daphnia is also freezed dried.

My plan is to use Tetra BettaMin Small Pellets and perhaps BettaMin Worm Shaped Bits as his primary diet and the bloodworms and daphnia no more than once a week as a treat.

Do you think my concern about the pellets being too large is valid because of his age and size? He has nosed up to them when I put them in the tank but he turns away before even trying them (perhaps it's not the size - maybe he is just a picky eater).
If they seem big maybe they are...lol You could try soaking the food in some garlic juice too. They like it, makes it more tempting for picky eaters.
 
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BettaBoomer

If they seem big maybe they are...lol You could try soaking the food in some garlic juice too. They like it, makes it more tempting for picky eaters.
Garlic juice - I had never heard of that. Do I just mince garlic (I think I have a garlic press) and add water (and how much water) then drain the water? Or can I use the juice from bottled garlic as long as it doesn't have preservatives and additives - I'm wondering if I can buy a jar of garlic in garlic juice only.

Aside: I never dreamed I would be considering giving my betta garlic breath haha.
 
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StarGirl

I believe you can use some juice from the jars of minced garlic. (not the olive oil kind...just water) I would only do that if he will not eat though. As a failsafe kinda thing. If he gets used to it he may not eat when you want him to like if he gets sick or something. Use it like a enticer. I would try the other foods first.
 
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BettaBoomer

I believe you can use some juice from the jars of minced garlic. (not the olive oil kind...just water) I would only do that if he will not eat though. As a failsafe kinda thing. If he gets used to it he may not eat when you want him to like if he gets sick or something. Use it like a enticer. I would try the other foods first.
I think I may have been making it too hard. I did a little Goggling and found this: Kent Marine Garlic Xtreme for Fish, 1 oz - They claim " Used as a food soak, Garlic Xtreme is a strong attractant, enticing finicky eaters to begin feeding sooner. " Don't know if anybody else here has tried it but I like the approach that takes the least effort.

I really want to use it now to entice him to get started off eating.
It sounds like you're already taken care of you have some semblance of a weaker cycle happening already so you shouldn't have any issues running a fish-in with the TSS+. Just monitor and maintain like you've been doing. It likely won't take very long to establish a full and proper cycle

I am concerned about the ammonia in your tap water though. You will have to use distilled water and remineralize it or invest in an RODI system. I recommend distilled water because the cost will be negligible with a 5g tank and your salts will last a very long time. It'll take a year or two to break even on cost if you go the RODI route. Food for thought
That is food for thought. Before I try that (and the expense that goes with it) I want to see how much, if any regular water changes help. I also understand that plants may absorb some ammonia so I want to see how well that might work. But I will keep in mind your suggestion as my next option.
 
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Pfrozen

I think I may have been making it too hard. I did a little Goggling and found this: Kent Marine Garlic Xtreme for Fish, 1 oz - They claim " Used as a food soak, Garlic Xtreme is a strong attractant, enticing finicky eaters to begin feeding sooner. " Don't know if anybody else here has tried it but I like the approach that takes the least effort.

I really want to use it now to entice him to get started off eating.

That is food for thought. Before I try that (and the expense that goes with it) I want to see how much, if any regular water changes help. I also understand that plants may absorb some ammonia so I want to see how well that might work. But I will keep in mind your suggestion as my next option.

1 ppm is too much in my opinion, even with a strong cycle you'll be exposing your fish to toxic levels of ammonia for several hours
 
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