new betta fish owner here...

  • #1

I am a new betta fish owner with some questions about my new friend, Dodger... ;D

I bought him about a week and a half ago, along with one of those starter kits...
I've been keeping him in the half gallon starter kit for now, until I go home from college and plan to get him a bigger tank...
He's been quite active, and fights with himself with his reflection often. I changed his water 2 days ago, and since then he has stopped eating. At first, he was eating a lot, I had followed the "feed your betta as much as it will eat in several minutes 2 times a day" direction, after some reading, I notice this is not the happiest or healthiest thing for the betta... Since then he has stopped eating, and has only eaten one pellet (HikarI Betta Bio-Gold pellets that came with starter kit,) in the past three days, I am worried that he is sick. Could he be just adjusting to the new water?
If he is sick, what should I do?

Thank you,

  • #2
Are you using a water conditioner to dechlorinate the water? I also notice there are a lot of bubbles on the sides of the bowl. This means the water has not been aged. You need to let the new water sit for a day or two in a bucket to "gas out".  Water that has not been aged can cause something called "gas bubble disease" which can be fatal.

What is his water temp? Bettas need warmer water of about 80F. Cooler water makes them lethargic and constipated.
Also, if you've been feeding him "as much as it will eat in several minutes 2 times a day"  then he is definitely constipated! Bettas should NEVER be allowed to eat as much as they want. Their stomachs are the size of one of their eyes. Pellets expand to about 3 times their dry size after being swallowed. He should be fasted for a few days and if he will eat, give him some green pea, (frozen pea, microwaved or defrosted with skin removed). He should only have a VERY small portion of pea, about the size of one pellet. Give maybe two pieces that size twice a day. Bettas can survive a few weeks without food so don't worry that he will starve in a few days. I give my Bettas one pellet per meal 4-5 times a day for the males and 3 times a day for females.

I'm afraid without a larger heated tank constipation is very difficult to cure. Cold water will slow his metabolism and keep him sick. Those "Betta Kits" sold by the petstores are really Betta Killers. I've never known anyone who could keep a fish alive very long in those. It is too small for a filter or heater which means the fish is too cold and exposed to high levels of ammonia in the water. The water would need to be changed every day to prevent ammonia poisoning. This stresses the fish as well. You may get away with changing the water every few days if you use a water conditioner called AmQuel+ or Prime, both of which neutralize ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. You need a test kit for at least ammonia (the liquid dropper test not the strips which are not accurate) to keep an eye on the ammonia. It should be 0. If you read ANY ammonia it is too much.

Try the pea treat and age his water and keep his water clean and ammonia free. Keep him as warm as possible. Get a larger tank (at least 3+ gallons) with filter and heater asap and make sure it is cycled (people here can help you learn how to cycle a tank). Hopefully he will make it that long. Sadly though, helping him in this tiny cold box will be very difficult. I wish these Betta Kits were banned from stores along with small bowls, lava lamps and all the other ridiculous things people sell as "Betta tanks". I'm sure you bought Dodger with the best of intentions but were seriously misled by the pet store about what is a suitable home for a Betta. Bettas are cheap to buy but are NOT cheap to care for. I've spend probably $2000 in the past 7-8 months on products, tanks and medication for my Bettas.

Good luck with Dodger and keep us updated. I hope he makes it and that you can get him a proper tank asap. Please feel free to ask as many questions as needed. Read through the posts here. You will find many of us have similar experiences that may be helpful to you.

  • #3
He's a beautiful betta. If his water is too cold and that kit is too small for a 25w heater from the petstore, you could put a lamp or your computer close to try to raise the temp.

Prime is the best for treating the water, but Novaqua+ is one I like too because of the assistance it can give a betta from vitamins.

The pea diet & fasting that phloxface recommended is the way to go and hopefully he'll soon clean out his system. It does sound like he just overate.. I don't know why they put on the food to feed so much. with our bettas we feed them 3 pellets/flakes/bloodworms 2x a day with fasting on sunday.

Once you get his constipation cleared & the water a little warmer, he'll be a happy betta again.
  • #4
I agree with all of the above. Be careful about using a light for heat, because when you turn the lamp out at night the temp will drop and that will stress your betta more. You could cover the bowl with a towel and leave the lamp on at night... Bettas need to sleep too. .
And for the record, my office betta Cobalt is fasted for 2 days (weekends) mainly because people in my office are always trying to feed him, despite the sign "Do Not Feed The Fish"!
  • #5
I just wanted to say welcome. I will let the experienced people hand out the good advice about your fish, since I have only had mine for about 2 months.

It is a little intimidating trying to sift through all the information that is available. Just know that you are trying to do the best for your fish, and that he will appreciate your efforts. I made all kinds of mistakes with Cujo, but I just learn from them and keep on trying.

Dodger is a great betta name!
  • #6
if you do use a light, you'll want to leave it on 24/7 and put a cave in it for betta sleeping time. if you put a towel on top, leave some of the top uncovered for air.
  • #7
This will give you some tips and I will give you a couple of links for a small thing that may make a small tank type thing that would work for you.

This will make a good tank and is big enough to be heated and filtered (see below)

Filter for the tank ... needs airline and airpump

Buy the best heater as this one has a lifetime warranty and keep the box and receipt and you never have to get another. The others only last about a year.

Quietest airpump in the world!!

To control rate of airflow

Safety measure to prevent water from backing into the pump in a power outage you don't need it if you keep the pump over the top of the tank

Just airline tubing

These are just a shopping list now necessarily to be purchased here, but to give you ideas. This is about as cheap as you will find them though. The postage is the only thing other than any tax there may be that is not included in the $42.73 that the above things would cost. Of course this does not include anything fancy or gravel or anything but you would find them yourself.

  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Thank you all for all your input and help

I will keep you all updated on Dodger... ;D


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