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Old 02-02-2011, 12:46 AM   #1
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Stressed Betta, neons with strange ammonia situation

Hi everyone,

This is my first post so I'll try to give a full picture of what's been going on; thanks in advance for any insight you can give me. I'm brand new to fish-keeping. And sorry for the novel.

I started with a single male Betta about 4 months ago. Of course I tossed him in an uncycled 10 gallon tank. I didn't have a heater, a filter, nothing. Somehow, Reginald P. Superfish survived my ignorance. The only major traumatic event occurred when I bought a heater and cranked the temp up, causing Reginald to freak and develop extreme clamp fin. He was miserable, but I salted his water a bit and he actually recovered within a week. Lost some length on his fins but otherwise they fully de-clamped, and fast.

Now then, got a Whisper10 filter, temp stabilized at around 79, test kit, Stress Coat. Added two neons, one died right away, added two more, then two more at about 2-week intervals. Added an African Dwarf frog and a mystery snail. I won't be adding anything more.

I don't think Reginald has been fully healthy since enduring the nitrogen cycle and the clamp fin. He got some cottony patches that cleared up fast and then recently he's had little indented slice-looking marks on his head. I've given him Ich*Attack herbal remedy for all his random symptoms and they tend to clear up pretty readily. I tested parameters for the first time a few weeks ago and everything was brilliant.

Now in the past few days, I've decided that Reginald is looking kind of grey, and I think I can identify red streaks on his "cheeks" and some redness around the gills--both on him and on the neons. I tested the ammonia and it was at 3!! Seriously, they should all be dead. Nitrites at zero.

But they're not dead (the neons seem totally happy), and I did pwc's yesterday and today and then tested again--down to .25.

I think I may be overfeeding bloodworms. I went down this path because with my Hikari pellets, only Reginald and the fattest neon, Bunny, ever get any food. The ADF is too...special...to figure out how to feed himself unless I turkey baste worms onto his head. He manages to eat two and then everybody else comes and takes care of business. Then, because I feel like I've glutted the tank with food, I give them a day or two off, maybe with a pea shard in there somewhere. I'm thinking of soaking the pellets so they'll wind their way through the tank and everyone can get some--except the frog, who will just have to wait for worms. Better ideas for food types/practices?

Could my feeding them worms 2-3x a week this way have caused the ammonia spike? Too much waste produced in a short burst? Did my last purchase of 2 neons overload the environment? Could Reginald just be depressed because he doesn't want to share the tank with 7 others? He's never hurt anyone but I did notice some aggressive behavior toward the frog yesterday. Is out-of-character aggression another symptom of lowered immunity and stress?

Lastly, I have no gravel siphon. Can't get one til Sunday. I do pwc's religiously, but would you say that after 4 months the stress in the tank is due to toxic conditions resulting from filth under the substrate?

I guess I'm just overwhelmed with all the variables. Anybody notice anything amid all this info that needs addressing? I just want a stable, healthy tank for my guys. Last thing: when I do get my gravel vacuum, should I go easy so as not to stir up too much, since it's been sitting for 4 months accumulating waste? How do I proceed with keeping things much cleaner in a safe way? I'm super paranoid about ammonia now.

Thank you for any thoughts! Again, sorry this is so long and so full of random questions. Don't feel obliged to address them all! Just hoping that with the full picture, history, and by pointing out what I understand and am still confused about, something might leap out at you. I very much appreciate it.
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Old 02-02-2011, 01:07 AM   #2
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The red around the gills are probably ammonia burns.

Overfeeding is probably one of the biggest problems fish owners face. Some people never understand for years that everything their fish doesn't eat turns into instant pollutant waiting to rot and increase problems with their water. Try not to feed them too often. Remember the poop produced isn't the only thing which causes ammonia, so does the rotting food. So yes, it is possible your feeding did it, but not to worry, you know now.

I don't think sharing his tank would be a huge issue, but they can be territorial, usually not with neons though... The frog it might be trying to eat.

Yeah, four months without a gravel clean is pretty huge, if you're overfeeding too? Yikes.

The only thing I really think you need to do is cut down on the feeding (Bettas have tiny bellies, as do neons) and increase gravel cleaning. Water changes are a good thing too, 20-30% each week is good.
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Old 02-02-2011, 01:23 AM   #3
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Are you overcleaning the filter? That can also cause your beneficial bacteria to crash and cause the tank to cycle.

Definately watch how much food you put in the tank. Once a day with enough to feed them all in three minutes is more than sufficient.

If you can't afford a real siphon right now, buy some cheap tubing at a hardware store for a couple of bucks. It will probably be too powerful to get too close to the substrate, but it will kick up all that loose debris and get it a lot more out of the tank than using a bucket or whatever.

Too much food and poop will lead to high nitrates, which is a breading ground for both bacteria (the disease causing kind) and fungus.

You have to use your mouth to start the suction with plain tubing, but it is better than nothing. I also use this method on my small tanks where a siphon won't fit.
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Old 02-02-2011, 02:30 PM   #4
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Okay, I will be extra careful with the worms and other food. Should I keep the worm quota down to 2x/week, say? Is it best to do dry food as a basis, with worms or whatever treat far less often? Probably... I guess I didn't think I was overfeeding, although maybe even though I was only feeding 3x/week, I was overfeeding at those times.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Wheatley View Post
The red around the gills are probably ammonia burns.

Overfeeding is probably one of the biggest problems fish owners face. Some people never understand for years that everything their fish doesn't eat turns into instant pollutant waiting to rot and increase problems with their water. Try not to feed them too often. Remember the poop produced isn't the only thing which causes ammonia, so does the rotting food. So yes, it is possible your feeding did it, but not to worry, you know now.

I don't think sharing his tank would be a huge issue, but they can be territorial, usually not with neons though... The frog it might be trying to eat.

Yeah, four months without a gravel clean is pretty huge, if you're overfeeding too? Yikes.

The only thing I really think you need to do is cut down on the feeding (Bettas have tiny bellies, as do neons) and increase gravel cleaning. Water changes are a good thing too, 20-30% each week is good.
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Old 02-02-2011, 02:36 PM   #5
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K, I will do the tubing in the meantime. I haven't done anything to the filter in about a month, and it's probably due. I'm not sure how to deal with the cartridge though--snip a piece of it off to "seed" the replacement? Is it bad to just replace it with an uncolonized filter? There *ought* to be plenty of bacteria in the substrate etc.

Well I still can't say I know whether I'm overfeeding or not, then. Frankly, when I put anything in the tank, it's gone within about 30 seconds, and I don't even do that every day. But I'll try to be extra careful anyway.

Thank you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mudraker View Post
Are you overcleaning the filter? That can also cause your beneficial bacteria to crash and cause the tank to cycle.

Definately watch how much food you put in the tank. Once a day with enough to feed them all in three minutes is more than sufficient.

If you can't afford a real siphon right now, buy some cheap tubing at a hardware store for a couple of bucks. It will probably be too powerful to get too close to the substrate, but it will kick up all that loose debris and get it a lot more out of the tank than using a bucket or whatever.

Too much food and poop will lead to high nitrates, which is a breading ground for both bacteria (the disease causing kind) and fungus.

You have to use your mouth to start the suction with plain tubing, but it is better than nothing. I also use this method on my small tanks where a siphon won't fit.
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Old 02-02-2011, 03:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquabella View Post
Okay, I will be extra careful with the worms and other food. Should I keep the worm quota down to 2x/week, say? Is it best to do dry food as a basis, with worms or whatever treat far less often? Probably... I guess I didn't think I was overfeeding, although maybe even though I was only feeding 3x/week, I was overfeeding at those times.

Thanks for your thoughts.
Next time you are in the fish store look for TetraMin Tropical crisps and take a look at the back. There is a good image of how much food for the fish you have. The betta belly is no bigger than the tetras. The food in that container is about 1/3rd of an inch, and it's ONE of those per fish, per feeding. And I'd only feed twice a day. If you have fish that you don't feel are getting any food it can often be because they really aren't interested as they're eating something else. I'd do bloodworms once a week at most for that tank. They'll be finding them (or eating poop loaded with them) for days anyway.
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Old 02-02-2011, 03:23 PM   #7
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Gotcha; that helps. Thank you. And there's probably something to be said for letting your fish work it out for themselves--if someone's hungry I'm sure it'll find a way to grab something.

I just worry because the oldest fat neon gets Marlon Brando-triangular-obese at feeding time, while her brothers just look on, sort of terrified and anorexic. I'll calm down though and just try to keep to a steady, regular, conservative food schedule.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Wheatley View Post
Next time you are in the fish store look for TetraMin Tropical crisps and take a look at the back. There is a good image of how much food for the fish you have. The betta belly is no bigger than the tetras. The food in that container is about 1/3rd of an inch, and it's ONE of those per fish, per feeding. And I'd only feed twice a day. If you have fish that you don't feel are getting any food it can often be because they really aren't interested as they're eating something else. I'd do bloodworms once a week at most for that tank. They'll be finding them (or eating poop loaded with them) for days anyway.
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