What have I gotten myself into? Help

Discussion in 'Betta Fish' started by brenkat10, Apr 16, 2010.

  1. brenkat10

    brenkat10New MemberMember


    My daughter (5 yesterday) has wanted a fish for a couple of years. I have always killed every fish I have ever had. It is VERY upsetting to me! I don't want to be a "fish killer" they are so pretty!

    So for her birthday my neighbor and dearest friend got her a male betta. Katie is SOOOO excited. She named our , light orange, new family member "Peaches".

    Peaches lives in a 2.5 gallon triangular shaped tank. It has multi colored gravel and a live plant.My neighbor knows lots about fish so she knew how to transfer him and keep his existing water from the cup he came in.

    He has Aqueon Betta Bowl Plus water conditioner/dechlorenator in his tank.
    I don't know what kind of live plant he has in there, i just spent an hour looking at pictures to try and figure it out. GRRR!

    He has not eaten his food AT ALL since he arrived at our house 2 days ago. I have read that its not cause for concern, but while i read this i have read ALOT of info telling me my "easy to care for" fish needs heaters and filters and water testing and who knows what else.

    I have tried the Aqueon Betta food and he not only wanted nothing to do with it it immediately sank to the bottom. So for 2 days twice a day he had food just yucking up the tank. My neighbor changed out the water (keeping his cups worth) and rinsed off the rocks and replaced the plant. She put in the solution again and put Peaches back in the tank. We tried to feed him "Wardley advanced Nutrition betta food" this food actually floats(thank goodness) but he didnt eat that either. I have been reading and came across that i needed to remove it if he didnt eat it........so its gone.

    Guys.............can you tell me what I need to do to just make sure the little guy lives a long happy life and so I can stop being so darn scared that I'll kill it!
  2. Lucy

    LucyModeratorModerator Member

    Hi Welcome to FishLore!!
    Here's our Betta Care Guide

    While some members keep their bettas in 2.5, Imo, 5g is better.
    I don't think a triangle shaped tank is the best shape for a betta, they like a bit of swim room and have to get to the top for air.
    I'm guessing the actual amount of water it holds is less than 2.5g's since you have gravel and can't fill it to the top.
    You should have a heater unless your house is kept very warm. Bettas are tropical fish and do best with a consistant temperature of 79-80F.

    If you can get a regular rectangle shaped tank you can add a small filter and heater and get the tank cycled, you'll only have to do weekly maintence.
    Walmart carries an awesome 5g kit (just add a small heater) and petsmart carries cute little rectangle 2.5's then you can get a small filter and heater.

    Sometimes bettas need time to gte used to their new homes or can be fussy eaters.
    You may want to try a different food for soak his food in garlic juice to stimulate his appetite.

    Read up on the Nitrogen cycle
    If the tank doesn't have a filter you'll have to do very frequent water changes, like every other day. You can use a turkey baster to suck up any food or fish waste.
    Ammonia from fish waste and left over food will build up rather quickly in that size tank.
    Ammonia is toxic to you fish.

    What you've gotten yourself into is the wonderful world of bettas.
    Truly a beautiful fish that's full of personality when kept properly. :)

    Good luck and post pics soon!

    Oh, if you want to post a picture of your plant in the plant section of the forum, someone will be able to ID it for you. :)
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2010
  3. midthought

    midthoughtWell Known MemberMember

    It's not abnormal for a betta to not want to eat in the first couple days. The trip and acclimation is stressful for him, and he may be listless because he's suffering from ammonia, nitrite, or too-cool water (more on that later). The best you can do is provide a clean warm environment and he'll perk up soon and eat like a piggy with fins, trust me. Bettas have a lot of personality. :)

    Your neighbor has the right of it. If he doesn't eat the food within a few minutes (and you're pretty sure he saw it and everything) then it's just going to start rotting in the water. You should remove it before it starts decomposing and making the water toxic.

    Your "easy to care for" fish is relatively easy for a few reasons: he can live in a small volume of water compared to other fish of similar size, he isn't terribly picky about his water parameters, doesn't succumb to stress (and death) as easily as some other fish, and he has a special organ which allows him to breathe air from the surface, so he generally survives for longer in worse water conditions compared to other fish. Bettas *can* live in water that isn't filtered or heated, but their lives are pretty grim that way. Not only that, but unfiltered water needs to be replaced *religiously* in such a small tank and it will be more maintenance for you in the long run. Also, your betta will be not be happy without at least 76 degree clean water, and will be a vastly different pet for your daughter than if you provide a good environment for him.

    If you have any hope of taking over the duties that your neighbor is doing for your daughter's fish, you should start by reading up on the nitrogen cycle: https://www.fishlore.com/NitrogenCycle.htm

    Basically, what you want is a certain ecosystem to develop and balance so that you can cut down your maintenance of the tank (i.e. remove about 20% of the water, remove debris and waste, and replace the water) to about once a week, maybe twice a week. The ecosystem is this: your fish produce ammonia as a wasteproduct (like pee), which unfortunately in such a small system as a fishtank is *toxic* to the fish. It actually burns the fish and you want ZERO ammonia in a tank ideally. There are bacteria in the water that feed on this ammonia but not enough exist right off the bat (with fresh water) to take care of *all* of the ammonia. These bacteria in turn produce nitrite (with an I) as their wasteproduct, which is ALSO toxic to fish and should be ZERO in the tank. There is one more part of the ecosystem and that is the bacteria that eat nitrite and in turn produce nitrate (with an A). Nitrate in large quantities is toxic to your fish but it should take about a week for enough nitrate to build up to matter. When your ammonia and nitrate are zero in the tank because there are enough bacteria to take care of each, and you only find nitrate in the tank, then you are fully cycled.

    Cycling a tank takes between 3 weeks and 2.5 months, if you're doing it from scratch. When you're doing it from scratch (i.e. with an empty tank and *no fish*), you need to give the tank the source of ammonia in order for it to grow the bacteria population.

    Cycling can be sped up if you can "seed" the bacteria population from an established (already cycled) tank. Although your neighbor's cleaning regimen of the tank doesn't sound to me like she handed you a fully cycled tank, you might ask if she has a cycled tank that you can borrow something from -- some substrate, filter media, even decor. The bacteria live in the filter and substrate; they don't free-float in the water so using her water won't help.

    Apart from understanding the nitrogen cycle so that you can provide your fish with a safe, clean home, you should provide him with a heater. I estimate for a tank of your size, that will run you between 16 and 21 dollars. If you can, get one that is adjustable. I have one that is rated for less than 5.5 gallons which is adjustable. Also get a thermometer (less than 2 dollars) so you can monitor the water temp easily. And invest in a water testing kit. You could buy individual water tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, water hardness, etc. and those are 6-9 dollars each. But you can save yourself money by buying a master test kit, which you can get online for something like 25 dollars. It's worth the investment. And *definitely* get a liquid test kit, not the strips. The strips are more expensive AND inaccurate. Also make sure that you pick up a water conditioner so that when you do water changes, your new water will be free of chlorine (which your tap water is treated with).

    Some more "extraneous" stuff are things like plants (plastic is fine if you don't want to deal with live plants) for your betta. Your daughter might have ideas of her own about what the fish would like to "live" in or "play" with. Bettas do appreciate taller structures to rest on (think tall plants with broad leaves).

    One more thing: many bettas are very good jumpers, so if you don't have a lid on your tank, do try to get one.

    Edit: :;nin2 ninja'd by Lucy, but looking at the wall of text I just posted, I'm not surprised...good lord, I go on and on, don't I? :;fim
  4. OP

    brenkat10New MemberMember

    By "triangular shape" i just meant that it was shaped like it was meant to go in a corner, Does that make sense? Its not easy to describe. I didn't expect my lil guy to cost so much money, but geez I just don't think i could live with myself if I killed another fish! Especially "Peaches" Katie is just IN LOVE with this fish. I took him out of her room because she is so active that when she jumps around, poor lil peaches' tank seems to be moving/sloshing too. I put him in the kitchen until he gets used to his tank. She misses him in her room already. I wonder if it will be ok to keep him in his tank for at least a few months? I don't want to offend my neighbor who just bought all that stuff for her ya know. I am willing to get a filter and a heater if I can find one that will fit in the tank. Yes he does have a cover.I will take pictures tomorrow, maybe I can get more advice then. Thanks sooooo very much for your help.
  5. Meenu

    MeenuFishlore VIPMember

    welcome to fl, brenkat
  6. Shine

    ShineWell Known MemberMember


    I think I would get the heater and filter and get the tank cycled before worrying about the tank. The main point to consider with the 2.5 tanks is that they require more maintainence then a 5 gallon would. I have a betta in both of those sizes, and I certainly need to do more water changes on the 2.5 then the 5! Both of them are quite happy in their homes, even if I occasionally feel a bit of guilt that one has double the space as the other ;)
  7. midthought

    midthoughtWell Known MemberMember

    I'm not sure I've ever seen a 2.5g corner tank, hmm. I just picked up a 5g corner tank myself today off Craigslist for 15 bucks. ;D

    I wouldn't fret *too much* about the size of the tank just now...2.5g is the smallest size I'd put a betta in, but I wouldn't consider it *cruel*. I'd just focus on making him happy with proper cycling and a heater for now. If you do upgrade sometime (and I don't know if your neighbor would be offended), a 5g or 10g tank would make a wonderful home for him. And also, larger tanks are less demanding on your maintenance time. With a 10g tank, for example, you could probably get away with water changes every couple weeks. ;)
  8. Lucy

    LucyModeratorModerator Member

    Oh, I understand what you mean. lol I was thinking it was a pyramid shape. lol. It's called a Corner Tank. :)

    He should be fine in the 2.5g. with every other day water changes. Be sure to suck up and left over food or waste during the change.
    Get a little thermometer. You can keep an eye on the water temp to make sure it doesn't fluctuate too much or drop too low.
    There are small heaters you can get if this happens.

    Peaches is an adorable name, can't wait to see him :)
  9. bolivianbaby

    bolivianbabyFishlore LegendMember

    Welcome to Fishlore! Looks like everyone has you covered on the important stuff.

    Once his tank is cycled, I must warn you...bettas are like potato chips. You can't have just one. I have 5, each in their own 5g tank. They have awesome personalities and are very interactive fish. I'm sure you'll be very happy with him!
  10. fishtroy

    fishtroyWell Known MemberMember

    Hi! Welcome to fishlore!
    May I ask, what are you feeding little Peaches? Perhaps he just doesn't go for it, bettas are usually pigs! :)
  11. midthought

    midthoughtWell Known MemberMember

    That's true. I have bettas that will eat anything (freeze dried worms, pellets, flakes, live insects, leftover bits of my pot roast before I cooked it :whistling:), but my new girl I just brought home treats all food and particularly pellets with suspicion. She's getting comfortable and starting to eat like a little piggy though. :p
  12. OP

    brenkat10New MemberMember

    What should I feed him regularly? The 2 types of pellets he refuses. I got him to eat bloodworms, but I shouldnt do that all the time right?
  13. midthought

    midthoughtWell Known MemberMember

    Right, too many blood worms are liable to make bettas constipated. Is he refusing to eat your pellets or or are you seeing him take them in his mouth and then spit them back out? I often see mine spit them back out but they'll eventually eat it; it's like they're softening them up.

    I believe flakes tend to be the worst *quality* food you can give him, but you might go that route; maybe that's what he's used to. You may want to just experiment with different brands of pellets. I'd also keep trying with the pellets you've got (but be sure to take out food if he hasn't eaten it within a couple minutes.) Other options include baby brine shrimp (freeze dried are available if you don't want to hatch your own). And with me, if I happen to catch a live insect that can fit in his mouth, my red one chomps on it like he's the savage conquerer of the tank. My pink delta tail betta has literally just watched bugs float to the bottom with their little legs wiggling helplessly. :p

    Also try to fast him for a day each week and feed him a cooked (microwaved is fine) shelled pea to help with any constipation issues. Just cut the pea into smaller pieces so he can eat it more easily.
  14. OP

    brenkat10New MemberMember

    he refuses the pellets, wont go near it no matter where I place it. I guess I can try flakes. Will he actually eat the pea if he hates pellets? This lil guy is more finicky than a feline!
  15. midthought

    midthoughtWell Known MemberMember

    You never know about the pea; he might gobble it right up. Maybe he's vegan. ;D It's a lot cheaper to test out than whole packages/bottles of other brands of pellets, at least!
  16. bolivianbaby

    bolivianbabyFishlore LegendMember

    Another option would be to fast him for a few days. There's a good chance he'll eat the pellets you're offering him then.