Q: G wrote,
[I] found your web site to be most informative and that is why I am contacting you.
Attached please find a picture of sparky, my 8 year old helped to name it.
Here is the set up that I have in place right now. It is a 2 gallon hex tank and I populated it with plastic plants and a couple of caves which he likes. I have an under the gravel filtration system and a good layer of gravel to ensure good filtering.
I use aqua plus and cycle in the water and I am changing it once a week. He seems happy, but could you please explain what signs of stress would be as I am not sure what to look for. As I said he seems happy and comfortable. I put a bent straw sealed at both ends, (no chemicals used) to create a boom on the surface of the tank to deflect air bubbles coming from the filter so he could have a clear space to come up and breath and to eat food. Seems to work quite well.
Another question is how can you tell if the current is effecting him and if he is struggling? Seems ok but you never know.
Food wise I am using freeze dried blood worms. Is there any other type of food that I should be supplementing him with? I do not have a heater for this small tank as the store where I purchased it did not have a small heater for the tank. Is there anything available on line? Is there alternatives?
I know that Betta’s do better in bigger tanks but this was a compromise that allowed me to purchase the little guy. I am happy to provide him a home as the store where I bought him kept him in a small cup with water in it that was only half full, they said it was natural for the Betta. I would like to let everyone know that the total set up cost of this tank and for the little guy was around $100.00, but the continuing cost look to be low and requiring more TLC then money. Spend a little bit of money for your fish to make his life better.
A: Hello and thanks for writing in and showing a photo of Sparky, who is just adorable. I’d be happy to go over some common signs of stress but first I will start with good signs of a healthy Betta.
Signs of Good Health
- Bright coloration
- Swimming actively and easily
- Building a bubble nest
- Strong appetite
- Greeting human at the glass
- Full finnage
- Good body shape (no bumps, bloating, missing scales)
- Smooth, clean gills
- Dark and clear eyes
Signs of Poor Health
- Dull coloration or gray color
- Sluggishness or Lethargy
- Loss of appetite, disinterest in food
- Uninterested in surroundings
- Clamped finnage, torn, shredded or missing fins
- Bloating, weight loss, bumps, missing scales, open wounds, red streaks
- Red or swollen gills
- Cloudy, protruding or sunken eyes
Of course, this isn’t a complete list but it covers the basics. I should also mention that any one little thing isn’t a cause for panic. For instance, if your betta won’t build a bubble nest, this doesn’t necessarily mean he’s stressed. More than any one particular signal, you really want to observe for drastic changes in behavior. For instance, If your betta actively approaches the surface at feeding time, has bright coloration and frequently explores his tank and then you suddenly notice he has no interest in food, appears pale and hides in the back, then you might want to start looking for stressors.
As for current, a struggling betta is fairly obvious. Since they aren’t strong swimmers a strong current will literally push him aside. In a large enough tank this isn’t generally a big deal because he can swim in areas where the current is less and venture into the current when he wants. If the current is overcoming the entire tank then he wont be able to swim much at all and will be forced to cower or take shelter. If he is able to explore his tank, then the current is probably fine.
To answer your question about freeze-dried blood worms, I think they are an excellent food for bettas but I do recommend offering a variety of other foods as well. Just blood worms alone are not a complete and balanced diet. You could supplement his diet with betta pellets or a variety of other foods like brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, beef heart, daphnia, live black worms or live white worms among other things. To learn more about feeding bettas and the types of foods available visit Nippyfish Feeding
There are also several heaters available for smaller betta tanks. I recommend a small 7 watt heater for a 2 gallon tank. I really like Drs. Foster & Smith for aquarium supplies. You can order from their catalog or from their online store.
Thanks for your idea of using the straw as a boom. That’s really inexpensive and easy way to cut the current and I think it will really help our readers. I hope I answered all your questions and good luck with Sparky!