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Old 01-20-2004, 10:14 AM   #1
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Another Valuable Lesson

Ugh...after everything else with these fish...another lesson has been learned.

We went away on Friday. The 7-year old was a little worried because no one was going to feed her fish while we were gone, but we were going to be back on Sunday, so I knew one day without food wouldn't hurt the pigs in our aquarium.

Our area experienced record low cold temperatures over the weekend. On Friday night, around midnight, a power surge and resulting power outage, kicked the breaker on our furnace. Since the breaker was kicked, when the electric came back on, the heat did not.

We have never put a heater in our fish tanks because we've always had a problem keeping the temperature BELOW 80 degrees. I have to leave the little feeding flap up all day to keep the water from getting too warm.

Well, as you can imagine, we had a mess when we got home. Bill the Betta was lying on his side in the bottom of his tank (his tank is too small for a heater anyway...it's only one gallon). One of the blackfinned tetras was leaning against the glass, but wasn't dead, the other was swimming around. Al, the Algae eater, was lying on his side on the bottom. My daughter freaked out. Luckily, she had a friend with her who pointed out that Bill's gills were moving and that Al's fins were moving.

We immediately ran to Walmart and purchased a heater. While I did that, my husband carried Bill's tank to the kitchen, removed a small cup of water and added some warm water to it. He immediately swam to the warm water. We sat him by the fireplace to warm the water slowly.

We scooped out (didn't want to suction the water because of the lethargic fish) about 25% of the water from the big tank and added warm water to it. As the temp rose slowly, the fish began to come around. We put the heater in, and I checked the temp often Sunday night to be sure it was coming up nicely.

We lost all four neons, the guppy (whose tail had just begun to get really big and fluffy) and the albino corydoras. I scooped them out and put them in a cup of warm water, hoping they might come around, but it was too late.

I checked the nitrite and ammonia Sunday night after the water had warmed up, and the nitrites had spiked to about .25. Yesterday morning, I did a 50% water change, vacuumed ALOT of gunk out of the gravel and changed the carbon in the filter (it was VERY gross...and the filter paperwork recommends changing it every four weeks...the advice on this site says otherwise). I checked the water today and the nitrites were 0 and ammonia was 0.

The temperature is now remaining steady at about 78. To calm my daughter, we went and bought five new neons, two guppies and three raspboras. I know that it sounds like a lot of fish for the 10 gallon, but I don't mind the added maintenance I'll do until we get the 55 gallon (which will be soon).

However, we lost one of the guppys already this morning. Figure he was sick when I got him and I'm taking him back to the store to be replaced today.

My question now is what sort of side effects can I expect from this sudden attack of winter on our guys? Can I expect a rash of ICH? Could we lose more fish even though they seem fine after warming the water?

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Old 01-20-2004, 10:31 AM   #2
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I am new to the fish aquarium hobby, but I can tell you that there is no reason to not have had a heater in your aquarium. The heater will not add additional heat to your aquarium until the temperature drops below a certain point and the thermostat kicks in. In the future I would reccommend that you leave it in even if your water is over 80, the heater will not be adding additional heat until the water drops to what ever you have the thermostat set at.
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Old 01-20-2004, 11:59 AM   #3
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I would be on the lookout for Ich, between the rapid temperature change and the new additions... I wouldn't be surprised if it hit.

Personally, I would slowly (using the heater) bring your temp up to 86 degrees, and keep it there for a week or two. Then ease it back down to 80-82 or wherever you keep it normally. I've had great luck treating and preventing Ich using heat alone and heat with salt.

Good luck! Sorry to hear about your misfortune!
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Old 01-20-2004, 12:47 PM   #4
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Yes, Roach, NOW I understand that...before it was just an added expense that we truly didn't need...trust me...I've spent a FORTUNE on fish in the process, and it seems it is always a learning experience.

The temp was at about 82-84 all day yesterday (causing the 7 year old even more stress because she was afraid I'd poach her survivors). It dropped back a little today. Once the temp in the house levels back off, I expect it to remain constant.

I already have the ich meds ready just in case (dealt with a minor flare up on Bill the Betta after he betta-dived to the carpet a few months ago, so know how to deal).

I did throw a little salt in the tank today since I'm sure the poor guys are stressed to the max. Plus, we added guppies who I understand prefer a bit of salt.

We really liked the silver dollars we saw yesterday, but saw they get fairly big, so we'll hold off until that 55 is ready. How do they deal with angels?
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Old 01-20-2004, 01:01 PM   #5
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My only comment is that a 1 gallon bowl is too small for ANY LIVING CREATURE. 5 gallons is the minimum tank size I recommend for a single betta.
He was probably tired of his living conditions when he 'betta-dove' to the carpet.
The only thing 'good' about a 1 gallon betta bowl is that its a tiny bit better than those stupid betta 'vases' you see everywhere.
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Old 01-20-2004, 01:15 PM   #6
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I think it is in poor form to insult someone by telling them that what they are doing is wrong. It is obviously working, and if you can talk fish to ask Bill the Betta why he did the betta dive, then you really don't know. I have 5 betta's each in their own 1 gallon kritter keeper, so are ya gonna tell me that I don't know how to keep fish? Betta's can take smaller spaces, and I think 1 gal is the absolute min. We are all entitled to our own opinions, I just don't think it's right to insult someone if it is working for them. She was having a problem with not having a heater. That's what this post is about...not to chastize her for keeping her betta in what YOU think isn't right.

Sorry to rant...I just hate it when someone tells you that you don't know what your doing! It is obviously working, and she is giving the betta a better home then the lil dixie cups at the pet store.

Good Luck Kweenbee, I hope things work out.
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Old 01-20-2004, 02:09 PM   #7
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Be careful with Ich meds! I swear that by using them I've killed more fish than I've saved!

I've had great luck treating ich with heat and salt, no meds... I think meds for ich are just an excuse for LFS's to make money.

Good luck!
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Old 01-20-2004, 02:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
I think meds for ich are just an excuse for LFS's to make money.
I have to agree. Heat works best and doesn't mess with your bio filter.
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Old 01-20-2004, 02:53 PM   #9
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I didn't say they didn't know what they were doing, I said I didn't agree with their fishkeeping habits.

I could lock you in a coat closet, slide food and water through the door...and you'd survive just fine wouldn't you? probably even put on a few 'healthy' pounds.
would you be happy? (that's rhetorical, no need to reply)

You can keep a betta alive in 4 oz. of water for years and years...it's what the betta breeders do...but that doesn't mean its a good quality of life for the fish.

I'm sorry but I'd rather have a few people p***ed off at me than to keep my mouth shut while more fish are kept in substandard living quarters.
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Old 01-20-2004, 03:51 PM   #10
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No need to argue and no offense taken....however, as I posted on the healthy fish forum last week, I did MAJOR research before we bought the betta. Basically, I bought the 1 gallon tank for the two goldfish my daughter won at a carnival, then added two more fish...duh...no clue that goldfish needed so much space. I then wanted something that would be okay in the 1 gallon tank, so we researched Bill the Betta before we bought him.

Basically, what I read on many, many, many betta sites, is that bettas DO NOT do well in aquariums larger than 2 1/2 gallons (some can handle five, but few can handle ten or more). Bettas are very territorial and a large body of water stresses them.

That being said, we don't intend on keeping Bill in the one gallon much longer. Bill will be moved to a 2 1/2 gallon probably next week as he seems to want to hide under stuff and the 1 gallon isn't big enough for him to have a plant. We will probably then put something else in the one gallon (any suggestions).

As far as his swan dive to the carpet...had nothing to do with his wanting to escape the tank. I was cleaning his tank and we normally put him in a little margarine tub while we clean it. Then, we sit the margarine tub in the water to get him used to the new temperature of the tank. I forgot about him and ran a quick errand with him still in the margarine tub and no cover over him. He apparently jumped and launched himself out of the margarine tub, but instead of ending up in the tank, he ended up on the carpet. We found him when we got home, tossed him back in the tank and he's been fine ever since.

I'm going to try cranking the heat up on the tank to prevent the ICH since I really don't want to turn my whole clean tank blue like I did with Bill's when he got it. I already added a little salt, so hopefully that will stave off any infection.
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Old 01-20-2004, 09:14 PM   #11
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I agree with others that if you know the fish are tropical, you should have got a heater. I unwillingly went out and did so for my christmasfish. I either have to offer them proper care or return them. It was all an unfortuneate and harsh lesson. I am surprised you purposely added new fish so soon after the tank community suffered such a shock. I sure wouldn't have took the chance.

As I disagree with the dark ages treatment of todays pet betta
I totally disagree with your MANY sites statement. I was surfing for specialty stock just this week week for my daughter, I saw ONE. Unless you count every half-baked webpage and blog out there by one-month experts of repeating hearsay. My history list has 47 different addresses that I know for sure are betta sites for 2 days alone.
I sure hope it wasn't an IBC member! I remember seeing it a moment spotting that little "article" and clicking out because that non-science based claptrap spouted as being a sound theory . I just said "nope, buy none from there"
It's that dark age justification that keeps bettas the mealy creatures I see today (my grandpa's Siamese fighting fish of the 70's were not available in many solids, but were vibrant, alert, clever and NEVER sick. And were not kept in bowls except for quarrantine, injury treatment or culling show from pet.) The second thing that brought me here to AA is sick Bettas. I never saw sick ones before.

That is the same line of reasoning that allows that claims the practices needed to produce veal are not that unnatural or cruel. just because something CAN survive and is conditioned to be content...doesn't mean it is healthy or right. If all fish with survival mechanisms can be put to test as a way of living, why are gourami not sold 3 to a bowl? Or lungfish as the pet fish you wrap a towel around and tie outside? No tank needed!

Big open spaces scare them temporarily if they were never in a tank before. Paugh! They do like hiding places. but I remember several species of Granpda's marine fish that got panicked and stressed if there were no hidey holes provided. Does that mean they prefer a bowl? Huh! Betta's live in swampy areas and rice paddies. Muddy and shallow, yes. But MILES of it. I'll go into tirade mode in a new thread.......
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Old 01-21-2004, 07:52 AM   #12
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Ok folks. That's enough.

The original poster came on here asking questions about the possibility of ich and other results from the cold. Not to be berated about the lack of a heater or the size of a betta tank. I understand some of you guys have an issue with the betta tanks; if you want to gripe about them start your own thread and do NOT hijack someone elses. As for the heater issue, if you read the post you'll see the first line is "another lesson has been learned". Beating a dead horse is useless and uncalled for.

I expect you all to play nice, or play somewhere else.

And I apologise Kwenbee; hopefully this won't happen in the future.
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Old 01-21-2004, 08:30 AM   #13
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No problem, Alli...I am definitely in learning mode about these guys. I do feel the need to address a few of the potshots though.

As many of you know, we began this journey when my daughter won two free goldfish at a carnival. I had NO CLUE about goldfish or any other kind of fish. We single-handedly tried to wipe out the goldfish population before switching to tropicals. Unfortunately, we switched to tropicals before we learned about cycling the tank. Thankfully, I found this site and almost everyone has been EXTREMELY helpful in getting our tank up and running.

Our house is kept extremely warm. I cannot stand cold. I hate cold. So, the heat in our house is relatively high (to the point when family visits they complain constantly about how warm it is). We have had the tank since October. The heat in the tank remained consistently at 80-82 degrees. As I posted, it got warm enough every day that I had to keep the little feeding flap in the hood open for airflow over the water. There was no need for the added expense of a heater in the tank. Remember, these free fish have cost us a fortune at this point, so any savings would be blessing!

We never thought that our furnace would kick a circuit breaker. We don't get severely cold weather for extended periods of time here. This has been a record breaking cold and it's been that way for almost a week. There is no way I could have planned for that. NOW I know that we still needed the heater, even if it never came on in the tank. We've rectifyed that situation and my concern was a bout of ICH with the survivors. By the way, they all seem to be fine....a bit agitated this morning, but maybe because of the newcomers.

As far as the newcomers...I KNOW it was not a good idea to replace fish so soon. But you weren't at my house when we arrived home and my daughter found six of her babies dead. She was horribly stressed and as a mom I will do anything to calm MY baby down when she's stressed. I have all intentions of very close water monitoring every day. In fact, I did a 10% water change today since the new fish caused a small ammonia and nitrite spike. I also know that we are pushing the limits of our 10 gallon tank, but we don't intend to only have the 10 gallon much longer, so the bioload will be reduced as soon as we can find the 55 we want.

Now...Bill the Betta. Christmasfish...you have NO IDEA how much research I did on Bill before we bought him. I read sites written by breeders, by live fish store owners, by scientists, by nature societies, I think even by the SPCA. And, no, they all didn't say that bettas do better in small spaces, but the majority of them did. And, whether you care to believe it or not, it makes sense to me. I don't dismiss what I read in websites just because they don't agree with my beliefs. Bill seems very happy, other than wanting a place to hide, and we are planning to do something about that this week. I keep his tank very clean and we talk to him every day. I would like to put another fish in there with him, but I'm not sure what would do okay with him, so for now he's alone.

Thanks for the suggestions about the ICH. I did raise the temp up on the heater to about 86, and I added a pinch of salt to the water. Everyone is eating fine, but the blackfin tetras seemed a bit agitated this morning...could be from the small spike, so hopefully the water change will correct that.
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Old 01-21-2004, 02:24 PM   #14
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Kwenbee, sorry to hear about your ordeal. Did you happen to find out why the furnace tripped the breaker? Maybe your breaker needs replacing. This was the case in an apartment I once lived in. You surely don't want any repeat performances!

Also, I would like to point out that what happened to you could have happened even if you had a heater. I urge everyone to check what other devices share the same circuit as your aquarium filter and heater. Any circuit can trip after a power outage if a large appliance such as a refrigerator is on it.
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Old 01-21-2004, 04:08 PM   #15
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Actually the 86F temp may be the issue with the tetras Kwen. Don't forget they're cold blooded creatures; the warmer the temps the more active they become *grin* You also may find everyone a tad more aggressive at feeding time, as their metabolism is running high.

Oh and btw; our boiler died last Thurs nite (you know, the below 0 temps? Coldest night of the year?). I feel for you LOL I really do; twas 45F in the warmest part of our apt that morning. I was tempted to swim in the tanks (those are kept at 80-82F) to thaw out. On that note, I keep my betta in about 80F water usually; it seems to be a good temp for em.
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Old 01-22-2004, 08:27 AM   #16
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This morning, Al the Algae Eater was flipping all over the tank. He was so agitated he was stirring up the gravel. The ammonia level was at about .25, which I expected with the new additions, so I did a water change (my morning ritual it seems). He REALLY likes the heater and lays under it all the time, so now I'm wondering if we've actually had the temps too cold for him.

He's not attacking the other fish, he just swims really fast all over the tank. This isn't really new for him since my original post on this site was about what I thought was his mental illness.

My husband and I have decided he JUST got warm and now he's pi**ed off at us, so this is his version of stomping around the tank. He's eating okay so I figure this is just a bout of our Al's personality.

The blackfins are much calmer today. However, the new danios (thought they were raspboras, but they're zebra danios) are very fascinated by the gravel vacuum. The swim up to it the whole time I'm trying to get the prime on the pump and I swear I'm gonna suck one of em up in it cuz they're so small right now!

Can they do okay with bettas? We bought Bill the Betta a 5 gallon tank last night, a little decoration (very smooth with a hole in it) and some plants. I considered the 2.5 gallon, but it was only $5 more to buy the 5 gallon. I would like to put a few very small fish (no more than two) in with Bill, but I just have no idea which fish won't nip Bill's fins or that Bill won't eat. I understand neons are sometimes the official snack of Betta's and I also understand that tetras are fin nippers. What about danios or guppys?

And as far as the furnace goes, the heater repairman told my husband that many furnaces did this in our area over the weekend. Apparently there was a huge power surge and then a power outage. The fish tanks are all attached to a surge protector, so hopefully they won't trip if this happens. Bill will also now have a heater on his tank so we won't be worried about him (although while in the 1 gallon, he was very portable, so we could take him to someone else to watch while we were away).
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Old 01-22-2004, 09:17 AM   #17
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I probably wouldn't go with guppies as it has been said that male betta's might mistake them for another betta because of their tale. Maybe white cloud minnows? Or maybe a couple of little cory's, that way they can keep the bottom of the tank clean. You might even be able to put some glow-light's or black tetra's in there. I've had both before and neither were fin nippers. HTH & Good Luck.

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