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New Betta is hanging out at the top of tank

Discussion in 'New to the Hobby Questions and Answers' started by KateeR, Nov 24, 2018.

  1. KateeR

    KateeR New Member

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    Hello, I got my first betta (Mr Fiji) yesterday, I'm new to owning fish and I'm a bit worried because he's spending most of his time at the top of his tank.
    He was healthy when I got him (despite being kept in a tiny betta bowl): he had a bubble nest going and no fin or tail rot, and yesterday when I brought him home he did swim around quite a bit but now he's mostly stopped.

    He can swim just fine, because if I move the lid he gets spooked at darts away, so it's not a swim bladder issue or anything like that.
    He has a floating log and two artificial plants so he does have hiding spots and things to entertain him.
    His tank is a standard rectangular 5 gal. tank with a filter on very low, a heater keeping the water 79 degrees F, and a ventilated lid with a LED light.

    Is it possible he's still just nervous and getting used to his new habitat? Or maybe he's jut lethargic from not eating? I'm very worried about him because as soon as I brought him home I fell in love.
    I do have two concerns:
    A) I'm worried that I may have over-treated the tap water (if that's such a thing). The bottle I used says to add 10 drops per gallon, but when I started adding drops they came out two or three at a time.
    B) I'm worried maybe he doesn't have enough space at the top of his tank. He has about 3.5/4 cm of air space from the surface of the water to the lid. I wanted to give him more space but the thermometer I got had a water line indicator that was pretty high.

    If someone could help me out that'd be great, thanks so much

     
  2. Jessie J.

    Jessie J. Fish Fanatic

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    When a fish stays close to the surface and are generally inactive, it usually means there's not oxygen flowing in the water. More surface agitation means more oxygen in the water. Try upping your filter setting and see how he does; but since bettas are labyrinth fishes I'm not completely sure how they would react to low oxygen in the water.
     
  3. KateeR

    KateeR New Member

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    I had the same idea with the filter, but unfortunately he is hanging out around the filter. I tried turning it up a bit and it was pulling on his tail so I immediately turned it back down
     
  4. Phil Fish

    Phil Fish Fish Fanatic

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    How long has the tank been up and running? Can you check the water parameters? If the tank is cycling you need to do frequent water changes. At least a couple of times a week for 4-6 weeks. However sometimes these little guys come home with illness. I know I just saved one. The best course of action is to keep his water clean and try feeding him either fresh or frozen food like bloodworms or brine shrimp. Forget dry food right now. You need to build his immune system up. Also makes sure there's at least an inch of space at the surface so he can get oxygen.

    Don't worry. If you take care of him he'll get better. :)
     
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  5. KateeR

    KateeR New Member

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    It's been up for about a week, he's been in it for a day. I've offered him bloodworms and pellets both but I think he's still a bit to stressed from his move, he didn't eat them so I scooped them out and let him be

    I'll try a water change for sure, I'm just very paranoid of scaring him lol.
     
  6. Phil Fish

    Phil Fish Fish Fanatic

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    If he's only been in it for a day he may just be a little frightened. Don't worry you're not doing anything wrong. I know about being paranoid about my fish since I am a new Betta owner too. I guess I was lucky since all three of my Bettas adjusted to their new tanks quite easily.

    Hopefully he'll get used to the tank and will take some food. If he continues to reject his food he might be sick but I wouldn't worry until that time comes. Just keep monitoring him.
     
  7. KateeR

    KateeR New Member

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    I think he's just frightened too, but he's starting to swim around a bit more!
     
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  8. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Hi and welcome to the forum :)

    As a general rule you don't feed fish on the first day you get them. They need time to settle into the tank and most fish won't eat straight away.

    If the fish is acting nervous and skittish there is usually something wrong with the water quality. It can be ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH or some other chemical contaminant that has gotten into the water.

    Did you use "Fish Only" buckets to wash everything out in and to fill up his tank, or did you just use any bucket in the house?
    If you used a bucket that has previously been used to clean floors or have soaps or chemicals in, it might be the issue. Try to get a couple of new buckets and use a permanent marker to write "FISH ONLY" on the buckets. Keep those buckets purely for the fish and don't let anyone use them for anything else. Keep them near the tank with the fish keeping gear in (nets, gravel cleaner, etc).

    Make sure you don't have any cream, grease, perfume, soaps, disinfectants, or anything else on your hands when working in the tank.
    Do not use fly sprays, hair spray, perfume, air freshener, smoke, paint or do anything else that creates fumes in the room.

    You can try doing a 75% water change on the tank using dechlorinated water. Put a small amount of water into a Fish Only bucket and add the correct amount of dechlorinator for that bucket , then fill the bucket up with tap water, aerate for 30 minutes and then use that to do a water change.

    -------------------------
    You can overdose with some dechlorinators but you have to add heaps, and as a general rule most dechlorinators can safely be double, triple or even quadruple dosed without causing any harm to the fish. Many dechlorinators actually have 1 dose for chlorine and a double dose for chloramine.

    Chloramine is a mixture of chlorine and ammonia, and it stays active in water for much longer than chlorine and continues to kill microscopic organisms for longer. When you use a dechlorinator in water with chloramine, the dechlorinator breaks down the chlorine ammonia bond and neutralises the chlorine but leaves behind the ammonia. Some dechlorinators will bind with this free ammonia and trap it in a safe form for 24 hours so the beneficial filter bacteria can break it down. In a newly set up tank there won't be any beneficial filter bacteria to break down this ammonia and you could get ammonia readings in the tank that will eventually harm the fish.

    If you can test the tank water for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate & pH it will give us more information to go on.

    You can check with your water supply company to see if you have chlorine or chloramine in the water. It might be on their website or you might have to call them. You can usually get the general hardness (GH) and carbonate hardness (KH) from them too. These are worth knowing but not normally a major issue.

    If your water supply company does not have the above info you can get a sample of tap water and test it for ammonia. There should be none. Add some dechlorinator to the sample and shake it up or thoroughly mix it. Test this sample for ammonia again and see if there is any. Theoretically if there is chloramine in the water, you should get an ammonia reading after dechlorinating the sample.

    Some countries have chlorine and some have chloramine. Australia generally has chlorine whereas the US and UK normally have chloramine.

    -------------------------
    As for the surface area, he should be fine with a couple of inches of water surface and a ventilated cover. Bettas are labyrinth fishes that can breath air from the atmosphere when oxygen levels are low and a couple of inches of surface area are sufficient for him to take a mouthful of air if and when he requires it.

    -------------------------
    Only feed the fish once every couple of days for the next month or so, and remove any uneaten food after a minute. Do not worry about him starving, fish can go for weeks or even months without food and don't starve like terrestrial animals do.

    Do a 75% water change 4-8 hours after feeding him. Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.

    -------------------------
    See how he goes over the next few weeks. If you can post a clear picture of the fish it will give us something to look at (yeah we are nosy and wanna see what your new fishy looks like:) ) and we can check him for signs of disease.

    There is more info about sick fish at the following link if you have some spare time and want a read. It is long and boring and best printed off and read in bed to help you fall asleep :)
    http://www.fishforums.net/threads/what-to-do-if-your-fish-gets-sick.450268/
     
    #8 Colin_T, Nov 24, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2018
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  9. Jeremy180

    Jeremy180 Member

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    As you mentioned that you just got him, and your tank has only been running a week, it is unlikely that your tank is fully Cycled.
    For more on the Nitrogen cycle, please read:
    On the Nitrogen cycle in general and fish less cycling:
    http://www.fishforums.net/threads/cycling-your-new-fresh-water-tank-read-this-first.421488/
    Please note: never add ammonia to a tank with fish or invertebrates in it!
    Since you already have a betta in the tank, you will have to be doing a fish in cycle.
    This post explains how to cycle a tank that already has fish in it.
    https://www.fishforums.net/threads/rescuing-a-fish-in-cycle-gone-wild-part-il.433778/
    The next two links are scientific papers on the subject, that, while not required, may be of interest.
    On the toxicity of ammonia:
    http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/m/#publication?id=FA031
    On the toxicity of nitrite:
    (PDF document)
    http://vri.cz/docs/vetmed/50-11-461.pdf
    EDIT: As far as stress from Water changes, as long as you keep the water level above the height of his fins, he shouldn't be overly stressed, but don't forget to unplug the heater if it will be out of water, as it can destroy itself if it turns on then.
     
    #9 Jeremy180, Nov 24, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2018
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  10. CometBetta

    CometBetta New Member

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    Did you acclimate him to the new tank? Or drip acclimated some of the new tank water into the bag/cup he came in? He probably is at the surface because of the sudden change in water parameters. Or there isn’t enough oxygen for him. If the current filter isn’t making enough surface tension then there won’t be a lot of oxygen. More surface tension=More oxygen.
     
  11. CometBetta

    CometBetta New Member

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    Not to mention it seems the tank wasn’t fully cycled, a full cycle can take from 2-4 weeks. As you said, you had it running for only a week.
     
  12. Phil Fish

    Phil Fish Fish Fanatic

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    That's good! Don't worry once he gets acclimated to his tank and starts wandering around that's a good sign.
    If you can please test his water. Even if you can get some water test strips at least they'll give you a ball park idea how his water quality is. It's great you have him in a 5 gallon tank. They're easier to maintain and the water quality will be more stable.

    Glad to hear he's feeling better!
     
  13. NickAu

    NickAu Member
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    Hi

    What is this magic product that requires 10 drops per gallon to treat water?

    Are you using tap or bottled water?
     
  14. KateeR

    KateeR New Member

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    Hi! This is the water conditioner I bought and used. I used tap water.
     

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  15. KateeR

    KateeR New Member

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    Thank you so much for all the information! I did use new pitcher to fill his tank with.

    I tried to go to my local pet store to get a testing kit today but I’m silly and forgot they close early on Sunday, so when I got there it was closed D: I will have to go back after I get out of school Monday

    I did his first water change today and it went well, like I said he’s much more active now (he seems to be most active at night, he prefers to just hang out in his log during the day; I’m not sure if maybe the commotion during the day is a bit too much for him or what) he’s just not very interested in food. Sometimes he will inspect the food (I’ve offered pellets, bloodworms, and some tropical fish flakes; he was most interested in the flakes) but he doesn’t even nibble at it.

    I also included the best photo of Fiji I’ve been able to get (he’s very scared of me and typically hides behind his plants when I come up to the tank)
     

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