Received Betta for White Elephant, Noob at Fish Keeping, Fish seems Sick! SOS!

snake90890

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Hello everyone!
I've been very stressed about my Betta, Dobby, I received him for a white elephant gift and I'm determined to be a good fish dad! Everything is new, tank, heater, lights, plants, filter, etc. Dobby won't eat and is hanging at the top of the time and is very lethargic! Took a sample of water to get tested at my local fish store and she said everything looked good there was some nitrite but acceptable for a new uncycled tank. I have 4 different kinds of live plants and I just recently tried feeding Dobby blood worms, he didn't eat them and hasn't eaten for me since I received him on Sunday. He did just swim away from me when I took these pictures and made a noise. I don't notice any decoloration but I'm a complete noob so I don't know what to look for. I don't know what to do so anything helps, thanks in advance!
Tank size: 10 gal
Tank Age: Brand New (not cycled)
pH: Unknown
ammonia: 0
nitrite: Low
nitrate: Acceptable
kH: unknown
gH: unknown
tank temp: Heater set to 80F (the thermometer is coming it's in the mail)

Fish Symptoms (include full description including lesion, color, location, fish behavior):
Lethargic and hangs at the top of the tank all day and gasps for air, won't eat

Volume and Frequency of water changes:
Haven't changed water yet, not sure if I should or not!
Chemical Additives or Media in your tank:
I treated my water with conditioner before putting dobby in the tank waited around 30 minutes for it to do its thing
Tank inhabitants:
Just Dobby the betta with some plants
Recent additions to your tank (living or decoration):
Recently put in the plants and Dobby
Pictures:
IMG-3622.jpgIMG-3623.jpgIMG-3619.jpgIMG-3620.jpgIMG-3618.jpgIMG-3617.jpgIMG-3615.jpgIMG-3616.jpgIMG-3613.jpgIMG-3614.jpg
 

Colin_T

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Hi and welcome to the forum :)

There is no acceptable or safe level of ammonia or nitrite. If you ever get an ammonia or nitrite reading above 0ppm, do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate every day until the levels are at 0ppm.
Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it's added to the tank.

Because this is a new tank, you will be doing a fish in cycle.

-------------------------
WHAT TO DO NOW.
Reduce your feeding to a couple of times a week until the filters have developed the beneficial bacteria that keeps ammonia and nitrite at 0ppm. It usually takes about 4-6 weeks for a filter to cycle. After that you can increase feeding to once or twice a day.

Do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate any day you have an ammonia or nitrite reading above 0ppm, or a nitrate reading above 20ppm.
Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it's added to the tank.

Get some live floating plants like Water Sprite (Ceratoptiers thalictroides/ cornuta) into the tank and they will help to keep the nutrients down. You can grow Water Sprite on the surface or plant it in the gravel.

Make sure live plants get 10-16 hours light per day, but they need at least 8 hours of darkness.

-------------------------
MORE IN DEPTH EXPLANATION OF THE INFO ABOVE.
Anything that breaks down in the water, be it fish food, fish waste, dead plant, dead fish, etc, produce ammonia. In a healthy tank with an established filter, the ammonia is eaten by beneficial bacteria and converted into nitrite. You get more good bacteria that eat nitrite and convert it into nitrate. You get rid of nitrates by doing water changes.

In a new tank the bacteria is not normally present and you get a build up of ammonia that harms and can kill the fish. A few weeks after the tank has been set up, you get the first colonies of good bacteria that eat the ammonia. A couple of weeks after that you start to get the other good bacteria that eat the nitrite. It normally takes about 4-6 weeks for an aquarium to develop the colonies of good bacteria that keep the ammonia and nitrite levels at 0.

When the ammonia and nitrite levels have gone up and come back down to 0, and the nitrate levels start to go up, the tank will be considered cycled (developed the necessary good filter bacteria) and you can feed the fish once or twice a day and do a 75% water change once a week. Until then you keep feeding down and water changes up. By reducing the food going into the tank, you help to keep the ammonia levels lower. By doing big water changes, you help to dilute any ammonia in the water.

In a newly set up aquarium, you should feed the fish to 2-3 times per week. Don't worry, the fish won't starve. You should also do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate 4-8 hours after feeding. And you should monitor the ammonia and nitrite levels and do a 75% water change any day you have an ammonia or nitrite reading above 0, or a nitrate reading above 20ppm.
*NB* Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.

The big water changes will not harm the filter bacteria or fish as long as any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.

-------------------------
During the first month of a tank's cycle, you monitor the ammonia and nitrite levels. You normally get ammonia readings for the first few weeks. The ammonia goes up and as the beneficial filter bacteria build up in numbers they gradually convert the ammonia into nitrite. After a few weeks the ammonia level will suddenly drop to 0 and the nitrite will start to go up. A couple of weeks later the nitrite levels drop to 0 and the nitrates start to go up. You get rid of nitrates by doing water changes.

During the cycling period you do not test for nitrates until the ammonia and nitrite have gone up and come back down to 0. Nitrate test kits will read nitrite as nitrate and give you a false reading. So you monitor ammonia during the first few weeks and then start monitoring nitrite as well. Once they have both gone up and come down to 0, you start monitoring nitrate.

-------------------------
CLEANING FILTERS
Do not clean the new filter for the first 6-8 weeks. This allows the filter bacteria a chance to settle in properly and stick to the filter media. Two weeks after the filters have finished cycling, you can start to clean the filter.

Established filters should be cleaned at least once a month and every 2 weeks is better.

To clean a power filter or internal sponge/ box filter. You get a bucket of water from the aquarium and squeeze the filter materials out in the bucket of tank water. When they are clean you put them in the aquarium. Wash/ rinse the filter case and impellor assembly (for a power filter) under tap water. Remove any excess tap water by tipping the filter case upside down, then put the filter materials back into the filter and set it back up and get it going.

-------------------------
If you have a filter that containers pads/ cartridges that need replacing on a regular basis, do not replace them. Go to the pet shop and buy some sponge for a different brand of filter (I use AquaClear sponges but there are other brands), and use a pair of scissors to cut the sponge to fit in your filter. Keep the sponge and filter pads together for 2 months, then remove the pads and throw them away. Replace the pads with more sponge.

Sponges get squeezed out in a bucket of tank water and will last 10+ years.

You can also get round/ cylindrical sponges for some brands of internal power filter. These round sponges have a hole through the centre and they fit over the intake strainer of most external power filters. They add extra filtration and prevent small fish and bits of plant from being sucked into the filter.
 
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snake90890

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Hi and welcome to the forum :)

There is no acceptable or safe level of ammonia or nitrite. If you ever get an ammonia or nitrite reading above 0ppm, do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate every day until the levels are at 0ppm.
Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it's added to the tank.

Because this is a new tank, you will be doing a fish in cycle.

-------------------------
WHAT TO DO NOW.
Reduce your feeding to a couple of times a week until the filters have developed the beneficial bacteria that keeps ammonia and nitrite at 0ppm. It usually takes about 4-6 weeks for a filter to cycle. After that you can increase feeding to once or twice a day.

Do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate any day you have an ammonia or nitrite reading above 0ppm, or a nitrate reading above 20ppm.
Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it's added to the tank.

Get some live floating plants like Water Sprite (Ceratoptiers thalictroides/ cornuta) into the tank and they will help to keep the nutrients down. You can grow Water Sprite on the surface or plant it in the gravel.

Make sure live plants get 10-16 hours light per day, but they need at least 8 hours of darkness.

-------------------------
MORE IN DEPTH EXPLANATION OF THE INFO ABOVE.
Anything that breaks down in the water, be it fish food, fish waste, dead plant, dead fish, etc, produce ammonia. In a healthy tank with an established filter, the ammonia is eaten by beneficial bacteria and converted into nitrite. You get more good bacteria that eat nitrite and convert it into nitrate. You get rid of nitrates by doing water changes.

In a new tank the bacteria is not normally present and you get a build up of ammonia that harms and can kill the fish. A few weeks after the tank has been set up, you get the first colonies of good bacteria that eat the ammonia. A couple of weeks after that you start to get the other good bacteria that eat the nitrite. It normally takes about 4-6 weeks for an aquarium to develop the colonies of good bacteria that keep the ammonia and nitrite levels at 0.

When the ammonia and nitrite levels have gone up and come back down to 0, and the nitrate levels start to go up, the tank will be considered cycled (developed the necessary good filter bacteria) and you can feed the fish once or twice a day and do a 75% water change once a week. Until then you keep feeding down and water changes up. By reducing the food going into the tank, you help to keep the ammonia levels lower. By doing big water changes, you help to dilute any ammonia in the water.

In a newly set up aquarium, you should feed the fish to 2-3 times per week. Don't worry, the fish won't starve. You should also do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate 4-8 hours after feeding. And you should monitor the ammonia and nitrite levels and do a 75% water change any day you have an ammonia or nitrite reading above 0, or a nitrate reading above 20ppm.
*NB* Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.

The big water changes will not harm the filter bacteria or fish as long as any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.

-------------------------
During the first month of a tank's cycle, you monitor the ammonia and nitrite levels. You normally get ammonia readings for the first few weeks. The ammonia goes up and as the beneficial filter bacteria build up in numbers they gradually convert the ammonia into nitrite. After a few weeks the ammonia level will suddenly drop to 0 and the nitrite will start to go up. A couple of weeks later the nitrite levels drop to 0 and the nitrates start to go up. You get rid of nitrates by doing water changes.

During the cycling period you do not test for nitrates until the ammonia and nitrite have gone up and come back down to 0. Nitrate test kits will read nitrite as nitrate and give you a false reading. So you monitor ammonia during the first few weeks and then start monitoring nitrite as well. Once they have both gone up and come down to 0, you start monitoring nitrate.

-------------------------
CLEANING FILTERS
Do not clean the new filter for the first 6-8 weeks. This allows the filter bacteria a chance to settle in properly and stick to the filter media. Two weeks after the filters have finished cycling, you can start to clean the filter.

Established filters should be cleaned at least once a month and every 2 weeks is better.

To clean a power filter or internal sponge/ box filter. You get a bucket of water from the aquarium and squeeze the filter materials out in the bucket of tank water. When they are clean you put them in the aquarium. Wash/ rinse the filter case and impellor assembly (for a power filter) under tap water. Remove any excess tap water by tipping the filter case upside down, then put the filter materials back into the filter and set it back up and get it going.

-------------------------
If you have a filter that containers pads/ cartridges that need replacing on a regular basis, do not replace them. Go to the pet shop and buy some sponge for a different brand of filter (I use AquaClear sponges but there are other brands), and use a pair of scissors to cut the sponge to fit in your filter. Keep the sponge and filter pads together for 2 months, then remove the pads and throw them away. Replace the pads with more sponge.

Sponges get squeezed out in a bucket of tank water and will last 10+ years.

You can also get round/ cylindrical sponges for some brands of internal power filter. These round sponges have a hole through the centre and they fit over the intake strainer of most external power filters. They add extra filtration and prevent small fish and bits of plant from being sucked into the filter.
Thank you for all the great information this helps so so much! Thank you, Thank you! So you think that Dobby is just experiencing some ammonia stress and isn't sick? Maybe the stress of a new environment with a non-cycled tank is causing his lethargy? I don't know if anyone sees anything particularly wrong with Dobby from the pictures? Asking for reassurance from professional eyes! Also what if Dobby doesn't eat at all when I go to feed him? Should I feed him the blood worms with tweezers?
 

Circus

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I don't know if anyone sees anything particularly wrong with Dobby from the pictures? Asking for reassurance from professional eyes! Also what if Dobby doesn't eat at all when I go to feed him? Should I feed him the blood worms with tweezers?
In my non-professional opinion, he looks to have no injuries, and is not too discolored (which is actually a bit shocking). I would keep up on very frequent water changes until you are sure the tank is cycled. He is likely not eating due to stress, I have had fish not eat for a week after being brought home or after switching tanks. Remove any uneaten food, as it will rot and can cause ammonia spikes in uncycled tanks. A turkey baster may come in handy, for food removal.

You should be warned though, that your bushy looking need plant (common name Hornwort) will most probably shed like a 4 month old Christmas tree. Do not be alarmed. This is the plant adjusting. Hornwort does not grow roots, as it absorbs nutrients through its stem. it will generally grow very fast, which is good for you. This means it will be absorbing nutrients very quickly, which makes things better for your fish. It is one of my favorite newbie plants.

Just keep calm and keep up on water changes. Things will probably turn out just fine.
 

Colin_T

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So you think that Dobby is just experiencing some ammonia stress and isn't sick? Maybe the stress of a new environment with a non-cycled tank is causing his lethargy?
The fish appears fine on the outside in regards diseases so his lethargy is probably from stress and poor water quality (ammonia and nitrite).

Doing big daily water changes should help improve water quality and he should improve after that.

Don't leave uneaten food in the tank because it rots and releases lots of ammonia.

You can offer him a few bits of food but remove any he doesn't eat straight away. He can go for a few weeks without food so he isn't going to starve after a couple of days without food.
 
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snake90890

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@Circus @Colin_T
Thank you both so much for taking the time to look at Dobby and check him over! I just changed the water for about 50% water change and vacuumed through the gravel! He still won't eat anything though, I removed the food right away when he wasn't interested in it! The hornwart is already shedding and I got a good amount of the needles out when I cleaned the tank. Thank you again so much for the help I will give updates when he eats!
 

hansgruber7

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You can try different foods. Sometimes they just don't like certain foods. Try buying a different betta food and see if he likes that. I've even fed reluctant bettas live fruit flies (which you can get at a pet store). Sometimes, the live insect is more interesting to them. But probably your betta is just stressed from a new tank with nitrites and he should come around soon I hope.
 

JuiceBox52

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While it's not urgent for him to eat at this point, you could try soaking his food in garlic to help his appetite
 
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snake90890

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Sadly Dobby passed away last night due to fungus infection and it seemed he did have ich that seemed to come all at once overnight! Very sad! Thank you for all the help regardless, I'm not sure how to get rid of the fungal infection though. Do I need to get rid of the plants and dump all the water and clean the tank? I don't know any advice would be appreciated.
 

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