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Fish-in cycle with a betta

(14 Posts)
TheUterati Sat 12-Nov-16 21:32:20

I need to try and advise a friend and am not experienced enough to offer the right advice.

She has a single betta in a 20 litre tank. She did not cycle the tank before getting it. She has had it 3 weeks and it is not doing well. It is lethargic, keeps swimming at the surface, rubs itself against the sides and its tail is look dishevelled.

She has not added any dechlorinators.
Water temp is 24-26.

I tested her water tonight
Ammonia: 0.25 ppm
Nitrite: in excess of 5ppm
Nitrate: 5ppm, which is consistent with levels in tapwater
pH: 8.2 - she lives in London and has hard water.

So it looks like the first colony of bacteria is starting to work, but that the second has not got started yet. Not dechlorinating was not at all clever, and I have given her some of mine and told to add it.

What should she do? Water changes? Just hang in there and hope for the best? Would the chlorine have caused irreparable damage to the filter?

I think she now realises she has cocked up and will listen to advice. What should I tell her? I feel so bad for her betta - I cannot take it for her as my tank set up won't accommodate it.

mumonashoestring Sat 12-Nov-16 21:37:29

Hang in there and hope for the best, but only after stripping out the filter, washing it thoroughly and then giving it a soak in dechlorinated water and maybe adding some stress coat to the water in the tank? Don't change the water too often and only replace 2/3 at a time with a tank that small.

TheUterati Sat 12-Nov-16 21:52:18

Thanks. I take it she should rinse in dechlorinated water?

Is this the stuff?

Water change once a week? Once a fortnight?

I feel so bad for the fish. They had fish before. And they all died sad.

mumonashoestring Sat 12-Nov-16 22:49:59

That's the stuff. We have a little 20l tank for DS at the moment (not that he gives a monkeys grin ) and we don't clean it weekly - if hers is in full sun and getting a lot of algae growth/going green then she might need to clean it weekly.

Yep, rinse everything in dechlorinated water for a fresh start, get shot of 2/3 of the water in the tank and add more dechlorinated water, add the stress coat and see how it goes. Does the betta have anything in there it can swim/hide behind? Even if it's just a few plastic plants or a moss ball it'll help.

TheUterati Sat 12-Nov-16 23:42:28

Thanks so much! I've passed this all on to her!

Fingers crossed.....

froglou Sun 13-Nov-16 18:23:28

She should do a 20% water change once a week max once the ammonia levels are down to 0 she should be fine doing it once every 2 weeks. Check the flow of the filter as if it's too strong it can stress a Betta out and they will bite there own fins which can get infected and lead to fin rot. There fins clamp to there sides when they're stressed however if they do have rips or bite marks treat the water with melafix, about half a teaspoon should be more than enough) to reduce chance of infection. Also make sure there are no sharp ornaments or plants the tank, if it could snag tights it will rip a bettas fins.

Bettas should frequently swim to the top as this is how they breathe (they are labyrinth fish) if she can get a hammock and put it near the top so he can rest while he's getting oxygen.

Hopefully you my photo attaches and you can see each of my boys hammocks and also the sponge I've attached the filter outlet to slow down the flow.

TheUterati Sun 13-Nov-16 18:29:38

Thanks frog.

I went to get some stuff for my own tank today and spoke to the guy in the shop, who I trust. He said to give her some of my water for her water change (I have 200 litre tank, so a few litres is easy for me). My water is fine, with bacteria well established.

I hope the fish gets through this ok. I fear it may not - apparently it's worse since yesterday.

TheUterati Sun 13-Nov-16 18:31:17

Your Bettas are gorgeous!!!

ihatetosay Sat 19-Nov-16 22:09:01

if her previous fish died why on earth did she get another one without finding out how to actually look after them properly people like that make me so mad

TheUterati Mon 21-Nov-16 14:22:02

I agree! She is extremely intellectual (not going to say intelligent - as there is a difference!), so I do not understand why she didn't research how to look after a fish. It's not exactly hidden knowledge.

Fish is still alive. Nitrite is still very high, with no sign of nitrate elevation. Gave her another 5 litres of my water to do a water change. Will test again next weekend and give her another 5 litres......

froglou Mon 21-Nov-16 14:43:24

Things like old filter media and your unwashed used gravel will be more useful than the actual water as this is where the bacteria is living smile

TheUterati Thu 24-Nov-16 21:56:25

Well, it's still alive, but not doing well. As of this evening, she says it is losing its tail. I have no experience with Bettas and no experience of fin rot or anything else that could cause this. I have told her to call the guy in the shop (who I trust and who cares).
I am not sure how much she is listening to be honest. She was told to use Stress Coat almost 2 weeks ago now. But decided not to. That it would be better to wait.
If this fish makes it, it will be a flipping miracle sad angry.

MrsPnut Thu 24-Nov-16 21:59:19

She should be doing a 20% water change every other day at the moment and not cleaning the filter whatever she does. The filter and gravel is where the bacteria she needs are located.

TheUterati Thu 24-Nov-16 22:06:16

She's definitely not cleaning the filter or the gravel. I think she is changing 20% every week (and using my water for new). She's not going to do a change every other day. She's just not. sad

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