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SOS Please help! My betta is very sick

Discussion in 'Betta Splendens' started by Chloe07, May 7, 2019.

  1. Chloe07

    Chloe07 New Member

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    hello, this is my first betta fish.
    I bought him at petsmart about a month ago. He was not fully grown I guess.
    He was very very active and happy. He runs to me whenever he sees me. Also ate really well.
    This is my first fish so I did some research and did whatever that was necessary.
    however, I made a huge mistake of changing 100% of water 4 days ago. I bought him potted live plants, and the white sponge melted all over the tank so I remembered the water has to be clean so I changed that water, washed the little rocks, threw away the plant as well as the sponge inside the filter.
    My betta has red head and pink body, and while I was cleaning (he was in a small container) I noticed he was turning pale, specially his red head turned dark pink. I was scared and did quick cleaning, warmed up the water by adding little hot water then put the betta in the tank.
    He acted normally as before, very active swimming all around. His color didn't fully return but I thought he would soon. Ate normally and all that.
    The next day (yesterday) he kind of rested on the top of hammock or behind the heater more than before, and I thought he was sleeping because he ran swimming all over when I got little close.
    However, last night after when I got home, he ran swimming, ate 2 pallets, but acted as he was very tired.
    He swam, trembled his fins as normal then slowly stops, like he was turning off.
    CURRENT CONDITION: He is mainly just floating on the surface of the water with his mouth up. Mostly on top of hammock or behind the filter. He is very pale now, his red head turned all pink. Also, he opens his gill looking like he has hard time breathing, this never happened before, also makes little clicking sound as he opens and closes his gill. He moves but all of the sudden his entire body seems to shut down. He sometimes stays at the bottom but soon swims up to the surface. His body sinks down if he is not on top of hammock or a plant so he is constantly swimming to rest on top of something.
    I turned off the filter because he had no strength and even the light water current dragged him to the filter.
    I went to petsmart and bought amazon sword live plant and Api quick start as they suggested.
    His tank temperature is 77.5~77.9 and ph level is about 7.5
    WHAT I HAVE:
    5.5 rectangular tank, Aqueon quietflow 3 Internal power filter(for up to 3 gallons) which I also put carbon sponge behind the cartridge, small heater (Aqueon heater 50w)
    I used to fed him Omega one betta buffet, 2 pellets twice a day. The day when I did 100% water change I gave him 2 pellets in the morning and 1 dried blood worm at night (cut & soaked in water for 5min) Maybe the blood worm made him bloated??
    I use Aqueon betta bowl plus water conditioner. There is cave and 3 moss balls.
    The old live plants were thrown away, and today I added amazon sword plant.
    I did not do any cycling nor added good bacteria when I first brought him. (didn't know about those until I read this site)
    People at pet store told me betta fish doesn't really need filter, but many forums indicate that they do need filter 24/7, which is true? I used to turn the filter off at night so that my betta can sleep in peace, was that wrong?
    Today I went to Petco, Petsmart, Walmart and read and watched so many clips to save my betta. Well, everybody says different things so I'm confused, but it was my fault anyways. I really want to save him, I love him so much he is truly adorable, do you think this is swim bladder disease? or just stress? is he dying? Will the salt help?
    I'm just leaving him alone because he wants to hide, and I feed him only 1 pellet this morning. Is it good idea to not to feed him for few days? How do I save him? please help.
     

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  2. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Hi and welcome to the forum :)

    Summing up.
    You have had the fish for about 1 month.
    You did a 100% water change and washed everything under tap water 4 days ago.
    You changed the filter materials when you washed the tank and filter out 4 days ago.

    Did you dechlorinate the new water before you put it in the tank?

    Did you use a fish only bucket to wash the gravel and ornaments in?

    --------------------------
    What is the white sponge that melted?

    You don't replace sponges in filters because they hold bacteria that keeps the water clean. The only time you replace filter materials is if they are falling apart. If you use sponges, they should last for at least 10 years before they need replacing.


    All fish need a filter and the filter should be run continuously, 24/7.

    Labyrinth fishes (Bettas & gouramis) can survive in water with a low oxygen level. They have an organ in their head (called a labyrinth organ) that lets them take oxygen out of air they breath at the surface. Catfish can swallow air and absorb oxygen through the wall of their intestine.

    Filters aerate the water to keep the oxygen levels high, but they also house colonies of good bacteria that keeps the water clean and free of ammonia and nitrite.

    Anything that breaks down in water, be it fish food, fish waste, dead fish, dead plants, will produce ammonia. Ammonia builds up in the water and poisons fish, shrimp, crabs, snails or anything that lives in the water.

    Over a period of time you get beneficial bacteria that grow in the filter and they eat the ammonia and convert it into nitrite. A few weeks after that and you get more beneficial bacteria that grow in the filter and these eat nitrite and convert it into nitrate. When there are enough good bacteria in the filter to keep the ammonia and nitrite levels at 0, the filter is considered cycled. This process normally takes about 4-6 weeks but can take longer.

    Because ammonia is caused by fish food and waste breaking down in the water, the best thing to do is reduce feeding to 2-3 times per week. Do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate 4-8 hours after feeding to reduce any ammonia caused by the food. You should also monitor the aquarium water and do a 75% water change any day you have an ammonia or nitrite reading, or a nitrate reading above 20ppm.
    Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.

    Don't worry about the fish starving during this time. Unlike mammals that need to eat to stay warm, most fish take their body temperature from the surrounding environment (the water). This means any food they eat is used to grow and to move. This allows fish to go for weeks or even months without food and not die from starvation. Feeding the fish 2-3 times per week helps keep the ammonia levels low but still provides enough food to keep the fish healthy.

    Once the filter has cycled, you can feed the fish more often and do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate once a week.

    -------------
    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.

    When you buy test kits, try to get liquid test kits rather than dry paper strips. The liquid kits are more accurate.

    Do not buy test kits that are kept in a warm room or near a heat source or window because heat will cause the chemicals in the kits to break down faster. Check the expiry date on them too.
    When you get the test kits home, keep them in a cool dry place away from sunlight. I kept mine in an icecream bucket in the bottom of the fridge.

    *NB* Make sure children and animals can't get the test kits because the chemicals are pretty toxic.

    *NB* Wash your hands with soapy water after doing water tests.

    --------------------------
    The information about buying test kits also applies to buying fish medications. But do not buy fish medications unless the fish is sick and you know what is causing the problem. Most fish health issues are caused by poor water quality and doing a 75% water change and gravel cleaning the substrate each day for a week will normally fix most issues.

    The following link has info about fish health and what to do if your fish gets sick. It is pretty long and boring but worth knowing. I recommend printing it out and reading it in bed to help you fall asleep.
    http://www.fishforums.net/threads/what-to-do-if-your-fish-gets-sick.450268/#post-3804819

    --------------------------
    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.

    Water Changes
    I recommend changing 75% of the water and gravel cleaning the substrate once a week, or any day you have an ammonia or nitrite reading. You can buy a basic model gravel cleaner from any pet shop and they are worth getting. You only need a basic model gravel cleaner like the one in the following link. Do not buy the expensive fancy types because they are no better than a base model gravel cleaner.
    https://www.about-goldfish.com/aquarium-cleaning.html

    Turn the filter off at the power point. Leave the fish in the tank and use the gravel cleaner to suck the gunk out of the gravel while it is in the tank. You drain water out of the aquarium at the same time. When you have drained 50-75% of the tank water out, you stop gravel cleaning and refill the tank with dechlorinated water.

    --------------------------
    This is not a swim bladder problem.

    If you did not dechlorinate the water before adding it to the tank you might have damaged the fish's gills with chlorine/ chloramine.

    If you used any bucket from around the house (instead of a fish only bucket), there might have been chemical residue in the bucket from cleaning the floors or bathroom, and that has poisoned the fish.

    He might be dying but is most likely really stressed and unwell.

    Salt probably won't help.

    --------------------------
    Don't bother too much about feeding him now. Offer a few pellets each day and if he is interested, that's good. If he doesn't eat the pellets, remove them within a minute or so to prevent them creating ammonia.

    Lights
    Don't offer food first thing in the morning. Let him wake up first.
    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.

    -------------------
    Don't stress him out.
    Make sure the water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.
    Only use buckets that are specifically for the fish and have not been used for anything except clean water.
    Make sure you don't have any perfumes, creams, chemicals or anything on your hands when you feed him or work on his tank.
    Don't use anti-bacterial soaps or soaps with perfumes before working in the tank.
    Don't use hair spray, deodorant, smoke, paint or use air fresheners or do anything that releases fumes into the room with the tank in.
    Try to have some water movement but if the filter is sucking him in then leave the filter off.
    Do a 50% water change every couple of days. Make sure the new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.

    Monitor the fish and hope for the best.
     
    #2 Colin_T, May 7, 2019
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
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  3. Chloe07

    Chloe07 New Member

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    Hello Colin, thank you for your information and kind reply.
    -Yes I added "Aqueon betta bowl plus" which is water conditioner before putting my betta in the tank.
    -I used fish only bucket but also inside kitchen sink :(
    -The white sponge that melted was you know the soft white sponge that is around the root of potted live plants. maybe is paper? (when I was trying to do 30% water change, when I added new water to the tank, the white sponge pieces appeared all over the water, its more like paper soaked in water for long time) Today I asked petco assistant and I was told to just leave the white sponge in.
    I will keep in mind your advise. I will test the water as you suggested.

    My betta is more at the bottom of the tank since late night. does that mean he is getting worse? He is just paused at the bottom and then after several minutes swims up for air then sinks down again.
    Time to time he acts like normal; he swims up to me as if he is doing a dance. His belly seems sunken in and he looked hungry so I gave 1 pellet soaked in tank water, then he swam really quickly and ate it. His appetite is same... but I will not feed him as before as you suggested.
    After the pellet he moved very well for several minutes then started to slow down again.
    I took a picture from the top. Do you think his eyes and belly are normal? It looks that his eyes are popped up than before, but not sure.
    When he is at the bottom of the tank for long, I turned on the filter time to time so that at least some air gets in the water... Maybe this is stressing him but I'm so worried that he may die running out of air. OMG I hope he gets better soon :~(
     

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  4. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    You can reduce the water level in the tank and he won't have to swim up as far to get air. Just make sure the heater and filter don't come out of water. When I had sick Bettas I had them in containers with about 3-4 inches of water and that was it. I changed the water every couple of days and fed them whenever they would eat.

    If he eats each day then feed him each day, but do a partial water change every couple of days too. Make the new water up before doing the water change so it has time for the dechlorinator to remove all the chlorine/ chloramine.

    It's possible something around the roots leached into the water when the white stuff broke down.

    I can't tell much from the picture. If you take one from the front and side of the fish it is easier to see what's going on.
     
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  5. Chloe07

    Chloe07 New Member

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    Hello Colin, thank you so much for your advise! I never thought of reducing the water.
    I reduced the water and did about 20% water change. so now its about 2.5 gallon instead of 5 gallon. He is so much better, looks much more comfortable, does not open his gill as yesterday.
    His head is still pale, turned more brownish. I'm attaching the before picture with red head so that you can compare. The first picture is in April, he made bubbles and he was very happy. The rest pictures are taken today. His left pectoral fin was half off when I bought him :(
    I used gravel vacuum (gravel cleaner) as you suggested instead of scooping him out of the tank. He was relaxed, he has very curious personality so he wanted to investigate more than being scared. I fed him 1 pellet this morning but he was trying to eat his poop as I did gravel cleaning, so I gave him another pellet after the water change.

    Q. about water change:
    I'm not really good with chemistry and I'm confused.
    I don't really use tap water to add in the tank. I use under the sink filter water called "Pure Blue H20" (which is drinking water for my family)+ water conditioner. (I used few gallons of tap water last time when I did 100% water change because it takes time to load up this under the sink filter after few gallons)
    In their website it says "4-Stage Reverse Osmosis system that helps to reduce contaminants such as Arsenic (Pentavalent)1, Barium, Cadmium, Chromium (Hexavalent and Trivalent), Copper, Fluoride, Lead, Radium 226/228, Selenium, Turbidity, over 99% of Cyst, chlorine taste, odor, and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), down to sub-microscopic levels as low as 1/10,000 of a micron."
    When I do partial water change, I use this 'Pure Blue H20' filtered water. I read that I need to add water conditioner even in filtered water because they are as same as tap water, so I always added the Aqueon betta bowl water conditioner (5ml per gallon)
    But when I do ph testing, Pure Blue h20 filtered water is light green (ph 6.4) but when I add the water conditioner it becomes ph 7.5. And just regular tap water is also 7.6. I uploaded these pictures. So adding water conditioner (5ml/gallon) is making my Pure blue h20 filtered water bit too alkaline?
    As ideal ph for betta is 7.0, should I just add less water conditioner?
    If I have a bucket of Pure water h20 filtered water for a day outside, do I still need to water conditioner? What would be the best water for betta fish?

    Sorry for so many questions, and I really appreciate your advise, it helped me a lot. My betta, his name is Henry btw, seems to move better than last night, thank you :)
     

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    #5 Chloe07, May 8, 2019
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
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  6. Guppylover3x

    Guppylover3x Fishaholic
    Tank of the Month Winner!

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    What a beautiful Betta you have!

    I hope he gets better, good luck.
     
    #6 Guppylover3x, May 8, 2019
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
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  7. Chloe07

    Chloe07 New Member

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    Thank you :) hopefully he gets better soon.
     
    #7 Chloe07, May 8, 2019
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
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  8. PheonixKingZ

    PheonixKingZ Fish Crazy

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    Ok, so you said symptoms are mainly he was floating near the surface? Hasn’t eaten anything? Do his fins appear to be rotting away? I how your beautiful little guys gets better soon!;)
     
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  9. Chloe07

    Chloe07 New Member

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    The first day he was mainly floating, yesterday was mainly sunken down. Today as I reduced the water, he is little more active than yesterday, although he doesn't have much energy, at least he is breathing better I guess. His appetite is fine, he always had huge appetite. I fed him 3 pellets 2 times a day for the first week, and found out that its over feeding so I feed him 2 pellets twice a day. He seems still very hungry but I have to be careful to not to overfeed him :(
    His fins are not rotting away. The left pectoral was half missing before I bought him. Maybe he was born like that or he got injured somewhere, I hope it grows back someday.
    Thank you :)
     
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  10. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    A reverse osmosis (R/O) unit is a filter used to removed heavy metals, chemicals and minerals from water. Tap water is pushed through different types of filter media where these items are removed. You end up with almost pure water that is supposed to be free of chemicals and has no minerals in. The pH of R/O water is meant to be 7.0, and the GH is meant to be 0ppm.

    R/O units do remove chlorine from water but do not remove chloramine. If you contact your water supply company (by telephone or website), they should be able to tell you if there is chlorine or chloramine in your water. You should also ask them what the GH (general hardness) and KH (carbonate hardness) is.

    When water is under pressure (like in water pipes), the gasses can be forced out of the water and cause the pH to change. After the water is exposed to air for a bit, the gasses in the water settle back to normal and the pH can change. Normally the pH drops when water is in the pipes and the pH goes up after tap water has been aerated for a bit.

    Water companies also add various chemicals that change the pH, and the R/O unit could be removing these and causing the pH to drop. However, clean pure water should have a pH of 7.0.

    If you only have chlorine in your water, then the R/O unit should get rid of that and you don't need to add a dechlorinator to the R/O water that you add to the tank.

    If you have chloramine in your water, then you do need to use a dechlorinator in the R/O water.
    Either way, you should aerate any new water for at least 30 minutes before using it in an aquarium. This allows dechlorinators to mix with all the chlorine/ chloramine in the water, and it help the gasses get back into the water in the correct amount.

    A basic dechlorinator is usually more concentrated that the one you currently use and should not change the pH of the water.

    -----------------------------
    A pH between 6.5 and 7.5 is fine for captive bred Bettas. The main thing is to keep the pH stabile so it doesn't fluctuate when you do water changes or between water changes.

    I would fill up a bucket with R/O water at night after everyone has gone to bed. Then the R/O unit can refill overnight. Leave the bucket of water to stand for 24 hours and test the pH before and after. See if the pH changes, it should go up.

    If you chloramine in your water then use a basic dechlorinator that doesn't do anything except neutralise chlorine/ chloramine and bind with ammonia. Add that to the bucket of R/O water and aerate it for 30 minutes or so before using it.
     
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  11. Chloe07

    Chloe07 New Member

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    Hello Colin, thank you for your reply, I looked the Pure blue h20 website carefully, I thought R/O water has minerals like spring water but I was wrong. I didn't get email from the company about chloramine, GH and KH yet.
    Maybe I messed up the tank water by putting R/O water without any minerals and good bacteria.
    So I did some research and some people say to add pink salt for mineral but I was hesitant about it.
    My betta felt much better after reducing the water, swam constantly... ate well..
    Because my tank is about 90% with R/O water without any minerals added, I thought that was the reason my betta got sick. So I just did about 20% water change with the tap water that I had it in a bucket for 12 hours.(I know it should have been 24hrs but I thought adding mineral/tap water was more important) I added the water conditioner as well. Then soon, my betta stop swimming and paused like that day again...
    Yesterday morning, I reduced water and did 20% water change with R/O water (no mineral added), yet he seemed much more active, and now that I did doing additional water change with tap water he became like floating without energy again. I can't figure out what is really going on.
    Could it be the tap water? Because when I did 100% water change 6days ago, half of the water was tap water. But so many people are using jut tap water for their tank?! I live in California so my tap water quality is pretty bad, but I added the water conditioner, put the heater inside the bucket and measured the temperature so its same as the one inside the tank. I added the water really carefully to not to disturb him.
    My water conditioner is Aqueon Betta bowl plus. it says 'water conditioner Plus trace elements specifically formulated for betta. Instantly conditions tap water making it safe for fish and plants. Neutralizes harmful chlorine, chloramines, ammonia and heavy metals. Contains trace elements to promote proper health, color and natural slime coat production.'
    is neutralizing chlorine same as dechlorine? Which dechlorinator would you recommend?
    what am I doing it wrong? I feel so guilty.
    Is it possible that the tap water is making her sick? or is it just a coincidence.
    Would it be better to just use R/O water + Seachem Equilibrium + API Quick Start?
    This is bad... I don't know what to do :(
     
    #11 Chloe07, May 9, 2019
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  12. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Yes, it's highly possible the tap water is causing the problem. It could also be the conditioner you are using but it shouldn't be that because that is designed for fish. It is possible that something in that water conditioner is reacting with something in the tap water and causing this.

    -----------------------
    Do not add pink salt or any salt, or anything else. Just use clean R/O water and let the fish recover.

    -----------------------
    Bettas naturally occur in soft water without a lot of minerals in, so using R/O water for him will not harm him. The only problem you have with R/O water is the pH can drop suddenly because there are no minerals in the water to help buffer the pH.

    If the fish improved when you used R/O and got worse after using tap water with the dechlorinator, then just use R/O water for at least the next few months. This will give the fish a chance to recover and it will give the water company time to contact you about what is in the water.

    I would get a clean bucket of R/O water and aerate it overnight and use that for water changes. And I would add a couple of shells or a small amount of coral rubble to the tank to help stabilise the pH. You add 1 or 2 small shells and monitor the pH over a week. If the pH doesn't drop during that time then that is great. If the pH drops during that time then add a few more shells or coral rubble.

    -----------------------
    I won't recommend water conditioners until I know whether you have chlorine or chloramine in the water.
     
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  13. Chloe07

    Chloe07 New Member

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    Hello Colin, thank you for your kind reply.
    Yesterday, the R/O company said it has 0 GH, 0 KM, and that it removes up to 99% of ammonia & chlorine. The representative told me chloramine is also removed because its the combination o ammonia & chlorine. I'm not really confident if she knows that for sure.
    So yesterday I went to petsmart to do water testing.
    CURRENT TANK WATER:
    Ammonia: 0, Nitrate 20, Nitrite 0, Total hardness 150, Total Chlorine 0, Total Alkalinity 120, PH 7.8
    R/O WATER:
    Ammonia: 0, Nitrate 20, Nitrite 0, Total hardness 25, Total Chlorine 0, Total Alkalinity 0, PH 6.2

    Because they use stripe, I'm going to buy liquid testing.
    Also I bought little live plant for oxygen. He seems to like the live plants.
    Today, he seems better than yesterday, little more active. The good thing is his head color returned a lot. Comparing to his pale head couple days ago, his color improved. Yet he has not that much energy, so he is sometimes dragged into the filter so I turned the filter off last night as well. I'm just turning on during the day time. I'm going to buy sponge type filter that doesn't really drag bettas.
    My betta is really hanging there and he is a fighter :)
     

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  14. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Your R/O unit does not appear to be working as well as it should be. There shouldn't be any nitrate in R/O water. And your pH should not be dropping that low either.

    R/O water is regularly used on marine tanks because it is meant to be free of nitrates and phosphates. The fact you have nitrates in the R/O water is a concern and might indicate the R/O unit needs servicing.

    A pH of 6.2 is not an issue for Bettas but the pH should not be dropping as much as it is. Pure water like distilled or rain water, has a pH of 7.0. So why your R/O water is dropping to 6.2 is unknown. It could be your water supply is naturally acidic and the water company is adding things to artificially raise the pH. These substances are then being removed from the water by the R/O unit and the remaining water is acidic.

    ---------------------------
    If you do buy test kits, check the expiry date on them and don't buy kits that are kept near a heat source or in front of a window.

    Keep test kits in a cool dry place away from light to maximise their shelf life.

    *NB* Keep test kits away from children and animals because they have poisonous chemicals in them. Wash test phials under tap water after use. Wash hands with soapy water after using test kits.

    ---------------------------
    If you aim the filter outlet towards the surface, it might create less water movement in the tank and the fish will be less likely to be drawn into the filter.
     
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  15. PheonixKingZ

    PheonixKingZ Fish Crazy

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    I hope he gets better soon!! Have you tried feeding him a pea? Peas help with bettas digestive tracks. :)
     
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