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Betta Fish Isn't Swimming a lot

Discussion in 'New to the Hobby Questions and Answers' started by HalfTailedOwner, May 22, 2019.

  1. HalfTailedOwner

    HalfTailedOwner New Member

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    Hi, I am a new fish owner... but before I'll start I'll provide some information on the betta habitat:

    Tank temp: 26C
    Tank size: 10 Gallons
    The betta fish is the only fish in the tank
    Water is dechlorinated
    Has a biofilter
    Has a heater
    Has an air pump
    The betta does eat

    However, when it comes to cycling... I'm not sure. I bought the betta after completing the tank setup. I was told by petco employees who also had bettas that they didn't require cycling compared to other fish, and so I bought it. I was originally planning to wait 5 days, but upon hearing this I followed that advice. They mentioned that bettas don't move a lot or aren't very active, which I was relieved (at first) when I then moved it to the tank after acclimating it to the environment. I was sure I was doing things right, until I decided to do more reseaerch on indicating whether a betta was happy or not--and was shocked when I noticed on pet sites, stating that they are usually very active and interact with the owner. Instead of that, my betta usually stayed near the bottom a lot, hiding in the decorations I bought. Occasionally it would swim around, but only for a duration of 3 seconds and then just stop moving where it was last and just hover. I'm starting to get worried about what I'm doing wrong--is this normal for new betta fish? Was it because I was not cycling the tank prior to getting one that it just floats around? Is it depressed? I would like to know what you guys think.

    Here are some imgur links that show my betta not moving around...
    http://imgur.com/gallery/PxKAtO3
     
  2. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Hi and welcome to the forum :)

    All fish (and shrimp, snails, etc that live in water) need an established (cycled) filter on their tank. It doesn't matter what sort of fish it is, if it lives in water and breathes water, then it needs a cycled filter.

    Bettas are not active fish but do swim around. Fish that I consider to be active swimmers include barbs, danios and rainbowfish.

    If the Betta is sitting on the bottom most of the time, then there is probably a water quality issue, which is most likely caused by the tank being newly set up and not having a cycled filter. The best thing to do is a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate now. Then monitor the ammonia and nitrite levels (with test kits available from pet shops), and do a 75% water change any day you have an ammonia or nitrite reading, or a nitrate reading above 20ppm. However, you won't get nitrates until the tank has been set up for at least a month so nitrate testing isn't that important at this stage.
    Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it's added to the tank.

    Reduce feeding to a couple of times a week and do a 75% water change and gravel clean 4-8 hours after feeding. When the tank has cycled in about 4-6 weeks time, you can feed the fish more often and do water changes once a week.

    The pictures of the tank looks milky cloudy and that is typical of a newly set up tank that has uneaten food or rotting organic matter in it and there is usually ammonia in the water. A big water change should help.

    --------------------------
    You can buy round/ cylindrical sponges for some brands of internal power filter. These sponges have a hole through the centre of them and they fit over the intake strainer of most external filter. They stop fish and other large articles from getting sucked inside the filter and can help the filter last longer.

    --------------------------
    Bettas like floating plants and the best plant for them is Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides/ cornuta). You only need 1 plant because it grows rapidly on the surface, and it can also be grown in the substrate. Floating plants use ammonia and help keep the levels lower.

    If you get some plastic airline/ tubing and a joiner, you can make a loop and put the floating plants in that to stop them spreading across the tank and being sucked into the filter. You can tie the loop to a suction cup and stick the suction cup to the side of the tank about half way down the side. The string will allow the loop to move up and down during water changes but should stop the loop floating into the filter.

    You can also use a breeding net to keep floating plants in but it is bigger and doesn't look as nice.
     
    #2 Colin_T, May 22, 2019
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
  3. HalfTailedOwner

    HalfTailedOwner New Member

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    Oh okay. So it should be normal then... he is moving around but I really thought the worst. Aside from that, I just gravel vacuumed the tank, removing a small portion of the water. Should I have replaced most of the water instead at that moment?
     
  4. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    No it's not normal, but it is common in new tanks that haven't developed the colonies of beneficial filter bacteria.

    You need to do big (75%) water changes each day until it clears up. Small water changes don't do anything to dilute nutrients.
    Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it's added to the tank.

    If you do a 25% water change each week you leave behind 75% of the bad stuff in the water.
    If you do a 50% water change each week you leave behind 50% of the bad stuff in the water.
    If you do a 75% water change each week you leave behind 25% of the bad stuff in the water.
     
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  5. HalfTailedOwner

    HalfTailedOwner New Member

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    If I may ask, why exactly every day? Wouldn't the water clean up on its own after the bacterial bloom?
     
  6. HalfTailedOwner

    HalfTailedOwner New Member

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    I must also add that I did get the water checked today at Petco. They said that the results were fine too, and that it's appropriate for them to swim in. I'm already starting to doubt this though, considering I still need to clean it. Aren't drastic water changes bad though?
     
  7. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Whilst the tank should clear up on its own over a period of time, whatever is causing the cloudy water is going to adversely affect the fish. Doing big daily water changes will dilute most of whatever is causing the problem and make it safer for the fish.

    Big water changes will not harm the fish as long as the new water has a similar temperature and water chemistry (pH and GH) to the tank water, and as long as the new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it's added to the tank.

    When you get the water tested at the pet shop, ask them what the results are in numbers, and write the results down. If there is a small amount of ammonia in the water, it can become quite toxic if the pH is above 7.0. Knowing what the actual results are (in numbers) can provide a lot of information about how the tank is progressing through the cycling process. :)
     
  8. HalfTailedOwner

    HalfTailedOwner New Member

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    I see, thank you for the information. I did change a lot of the water while ensuring it was dechlorinated and at the same temperature. As a result, the tank is much clearer. I also scooped out food and debris as well. I do have one more question--how will I ensure that the betta knows it's feeding time, especially since he's new?

    Like I want to grab his attention; he looks at me but doesn't do anything. Is it because he is still getting used to the tank?
     
  9. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Bettas normally feed from the surface so when something small drops onto the surface, it should get his attention and he should investigate it. Within a few days of that he should see you as food bringer and swim to the top whenever you go near the tank.

    You can wiggle your finger in the water to get his attention too if he doesn't go for food that you drop in.

    Don't feed him first thing in the morning. Give him time to wake up. And don't feed him just before lights out.

    Stress from tank lights coming on when the room is dark can be an issue. Fish don't have eyelids and don't tolerate going from complete dark to bright light (or vice versa) instantly.

    In the morning open the curtains or turn the room light on at least 30 minutes (or more) before turning the tank light on. This will reduce the stress on the fish and they won't go from a dark tank to a bright tank instantly.

    At night turn the room light on and then turn the tank light off. Wait at least 30 minutes (or more) before turning the room light out. This allows the fish to settle down for the night instead of going from a brightly lit tank to complete darkness instantly.
     
  10. HalfTailedOwner

    HalfTailedOwner New Member

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    I hope I'm not bothering too much, but in your case: how long did it take for bettas (if you have any) to realize that you brought them food? I'm still trying to wiggle my finger to grab his attention but to no avail. I know it would take time, but is it simply because he is a new fish? I've only had him for three days.
     
  11. Deanasue

    Deanasue Moderator
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    He’ll get use to you. Some are shyer than others. What type of tail does he have? Can you include a pic? If your betta has a heavy tail then he will swim less and slower. You can give him tall plants to rest on. I have a rosetail that I provide plenty of plants for. Good luck!
     
  12. FishFinatic77

    FishFinatic77 Fish Crazy

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    New fish need time to learn their new feeding schedule.
    Do you feed at the same time every day? This will help him learn when his food is coming.
    This may kind if sound rediculous, but I show my fish the food bag before I feed them. They have jow learned that when they see the bag, food is coming.
    My guppies even remebered what time of day I fed them, and would start swiming back and forth at the water's surface.
    Fish are very smart and can remeber a lot. You just have to give them a little time.
     
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  13. Deanasue

    Deanasue Moderator
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    I even say, “ Hi,babies. Time to eat. Come and get it.” They know my voice and come out of their caves when I start talking. They are smart fish!
     
  14. HalfTailedOwner

    HalfTailedOwner New Member

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    I can provide a picture, but please give me a moment. He is a double tail betta, and usually likes to hide in his plants. He is starting to get used to me being around but still scurries away when I try to grab his attention.
     
  15. HalfTailedOwner

    HalfTailedOwner New Member

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    Yes, I do feed my betta every day at 7 am., and then at 6pm. I usually can't watch him while feeding because I suppose he doesn't feel comfortable? However, I do come back 5 minutes and he happens to eat it because the food is no longer there. I do also try to shake the food and show it to him in order to help him recognize that it is feeding time.
     

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