View Full Version : Overcoming challenges

08-31-2009, 03:10 AM
I got my betta, Puck, right about a month ago. Got him set up in his very own 5-gallon tank, filtered and cycled. He's seemed pretty happy all along (even built a couple of bubble nests), but showed no interest in food. At first I thought he was just adjusting to the new tank, but it never changed. So I tried a few different foods -- pellets and flakes -- and didn't see much difference in his interest level. Sometimes he'd take a pellet and spit it back out. Even tried the sinking shrimp pellets I have for the corys in the 30, just in case. Those got some interest, but not really a good solution. The only thing he ever seemed excited about was a shelled, crushed pea... but I don't think that does much for him nutritionally. Yesterday, I finally found a food he likes. I doubt it's a very good one nutritionally, but at least he's eating! It's BettaMin Tropical Medley, which is small flakes and freeze dried brine shrimp.

On what I hope is a related note, I noticed yesterday that his fins were suddenly looking really ragged. Not really terribly horrible, but pretty surprising since they hadn't been noticeably bad the day before. I try to give him a close looking-over every day, so it wasn't gradual. They seem a little better today, or maybe I'm just optimistic. I did a water change and vacuumed the gravel in case that was the issue, but the parameters look fine and, like I said, the tank is cycled. I also had one very soft plastic plant in there, which I've since pulled out just in case. I doubt it was the problem, though, since it was in there from the beginning. Is there any chance he could have been nipping his own fins due to hunger? I'm hoping that finding a food he likes will solve that problem too, but thought I'd ask how likely it is.

His tail doesn't look to me like the pictures of fin rot I found online, so I'm hoping it's not that. Is there anything I should do to help his tail heal? I'm planning to do more frequent water changes for the next little while, until it looks better, and get really aggressive about cleaning the gravel because of the food he wasn't eating. I do have a couple of small pond snails in there that hitchhiked in with the anacharis and I've let them stay for now. Are they doing any good or should I just get rid of them? They've been in there for two weeks and I haven't seen a population explosion yet.

Sorry for the long, rambling post. I'm just a little worried about this guy and want to make sure I'm doing right by him.

08-31-2009, 03:27 AM
Sounds to me like you're taking good care of him. Good for you.

It is possible that he was eating his own tail - some might say even probable given the length of time he went without eating. Is there a dark or red edge to the fin? That's a sign of fin rot. If not, just make sure to keep the water clean, and the fins will grow back rather quickly. Dirty water will only lead to stress and disease, but it sounds like you're on top of that.

None of my bettas have ever refused freeze dried bloodworms. It's always the food I break out when a new fish isn't eating. Works like a charm! That and wild-caught mosquito larvae. They go crazy for them! If those aren't around I also feed them my livebearer fry. A bit harsh in some people's opinion, but it keeps the population under control since the fish in the other tanks seem too well-fed to bother with food that actually moves away from them.

It's strange that you have snails in there. Most bettas love to eat them, especially the tiny translucent ones. They won't do him any harm - it's the plant's you might wanna keep an eye on.

Do you have any other fish you could temporarily put in with him? One that would eat your flake food? Mine don't eat flakes unless they see the other fish doing it. It takes them a while to come around to new food. If not, just stick with what you have, he'll eventually learn to stop being so stubborn.

It sounds to me like you're being a really conscientious fish keeper. Good luck with him!

08-31-2009, 01:26 PM
I don't see an edge on the fins like you described, although he's a mixed red and blue color so there is some red on the edges of the fins, but I *think* it's his normal coloring. I'll try to compare it with a picture I took of him early on to be sure. They seemed to look slightly better overnight -- still a bit ragged, but a smoother ragged, if that makes sense.

I'll remember the bloodworms and mosquito larva for future reference! He's still eating the BettaMin stuff pretty enthusiastically. I'm feeding him small amounts a couple of times a day to try to get him back in shape from fasting so long.

The snails are small (half the size of my little fingernail) with dark colored shells -- they look like the pictures of pond snails I've seen. I've seen eggs, but no baby snails. I don't know if Puck could be eating the eggs or baby snails, but the adults ones seem to be surviving.

The other fish I have are so far are corys and cardinals... the cards eat flakes, but I don't know that they'd do well being moved between tanks. If it would be worth it, my LFS does stock some very small fish... I've seen Galaxy Rasboras and Pygmy Corys. Also Scarlet Badis, but I hear those are picky eaters. If any of those would be ok to go in with him in a 5-gallon hex I could do that, but I've kind of assumed the tank is too small for other fish. If the BettaMin stuff is ok for him, I don't mind sticking with it. It does have brown rice and wheat gluten, but the first ingredient is fish meal.

Thanks for all the help; I really appreciate it and so does Puck, even if he doesn't know it. :)

08-31-2009, 01:41 PM
Well it sounds like you are on top of everything and he must be getting food from something if he is lasting this long!

Mine also likes the frozen blood worms, I try to switch it up and give him those a couple times a week, just an ity bity chunk. I got mine from my LFS for my other fish but I know he likes them too. If you haven't dealt with them before, it is kind of gross for awhile. They come in packs of two individual size "sheets" and I cut up a bunch of tiny chunks, reseal packs and just get out a chunk as needed. Of course they are frozen but when you get them out and they thaw around the edges, it does look like blood. Really you get used to it tho the fish love it and I feel like they are healthy for fish. I use Hikari (sp?) I know PetCO carries them in a little fridge in the fish section. I think I paid $7 for mine and it's lasted me months with how little I use. Whenever I use them I wash my hands really well after, and rinse out the brine net (I use it to thaw FBW in the fish water for about 30 seconds before swishing it out for the fish to eat, not supposed to feed them frozen). And whenever I cut up the chunks I make sure to bleach and clean counter really well. Just some word of advise on FBW if you haven't used them before....:22:

08-31-2009, 03:34 PM
As long as he's eating happily (the little buggers are ALWAYS hungry) I wouldn't worry about taking any of the other measures I mentioned. That was only to get him to eat something that he wasn't happy about. Though bloodworms and mosquito larvae do make good treats from time to time.

If the fins are growing back, you've got nothing to worry about. Just keep the water extra clean until they've fully recovered, just to make sure. Bettas are tough little guys, and tend to recover very quickly.

If the snails have dark shells they're probably too hard for Puck to eat. Mine picked off the tiny babies and the eggs that came in on some of my plants, but left the parents alone. I had to trap those buggers to get rid of them.

Sounds like Puck's on the road to recovery. Sometimes they just need some time to come around to YOUR way of keeping them; it can be kinda traumatic to suddenly be taken care of after having to live in a small cup in the shop. Good job, and good luck!