View Full Version : why do my bettas die?

04-30-2008, 04:35 PM
I have lots of fish and many gallons of water in my house. *I have everything from black ghosts to oscars to rams and....well lets just say it's very diverse. *Everyone does great except bettas (and card. tetras but nevermind that). *Apparently bringing a Betta to my house is a death sentence for them and I don't know why.

I buy one, then in about 6 months or so, they get dropsy. :cry: *and soon die. *I feed them betta bits and they don't get treats (bloodworms and krills) like the other guys do and I always put them in their own little 5 gal tank. *The temp stays at 75-76 dgf and the ph stays at 7.0-7.2 they have a few little live plants and a cave and the little crap in tank filter that works okay enough I suppose for the tank it's in anyway.

could it be inbreeding or do I just have bad luck or the touch of betta death?? 8O

so far every single one of them has died this way and the time is always about the same, 6 months then BAM!!! it's over.
got any idea guys?? I sure don't.

Almost forgot, it does not matter where I get them from either. be it a lfs or walmart or where ever.

04-30-2008, 04:51 PM
The number one thing that people talk about when having Betta's is the lack of water changes.
My betta has been living for close to 1 yr in his bowl, but every two weeks just like the other tanks in the house I actually empty his tank 100% out, clean the gravel and then I add completely 100% fresh water into his bowl. *There is little to no filtration in tank and therefore they need frequent water changes just like the other fish in the house.

just my 2c worth.


04-30-2008, 05:03 PM
You do 100% water changes? That's too much, isn't it? I do 30% every week. I figure the bacteria is the same as with regular tanks.

Lucy, are the bettas in bowls or are they in a 5 gallon tank? Is it just 1 in the tank? How big are they usually?

04-30-2008, 05:29 PM
I have twelve bettas, and he is right about doing the water changes....I have 3, 3 gallons tanks, 3 one gallon tanks, and one ten gallon, i change the water about every two to one week, especially if the tank is under 5 gallons, i clean them regularly. Complete water change is a key to there health in my opinion too... so they can stay happy :D

04-30-2008, 09:14 PM
phoenix, are you saying you need to do complete water changes? Because that really doesn't seem right....but if so...guess I have more work to do with my water changes - hah...I've got 20 adult bettas...

04-30-2008, 09:38 PM
on the smaller tanks, yes, i do complete changes, to keep the water fresh and clean, not all my tanks are filtered.

04-30-2008, 09:59 PM
Do either of you use stress zyme when doing water changes? *It is cheap and only requires small amounts but is suppose to promote beneficial bacteria. *Personally, I am a fan of using plants to keep water on the non-toxic scale. *Just cause plants eliminate nitrites and convert to less harmful nitrates. *
Either of these help water conditions. *Sorry to hear about your fish. *I had death problems with owning guppies. *I rarely purchase them anymore. *I know complete water changes too often can kill off beneficial bacteria and be hazardous, but I think live, healthy plants can be just as beneficial as bacteria. *
Hope you can find a working balance.

04-30-2008, 10:25 PM
Question - don't mean to be taking away from Lucy's problem, but I'm sure this stuff will help her, too. *I'm curious about the water changes. Maybe if I do over 50% weekly water changes from now on? *And I was also thinking about adding java moss to all my betta vases. *Is this better than what I'm doing?

04-30-2008, 10:43 PM
I think the two things you need to worry about when doing water changes is chlorines in the water, and removing too much beneficial bacteria. *Other things such as using an internal or HOB rather than a UGF or none at all certainly contribute. *Mosses could help your tank or you betta could get caught in it and perish. *

One thing I have started doing recently is filling up bottles with tap water and leaving them out for a few days because I read chlorine evaporates fairly quickly. *I use this water to top off my tank between water changes. *I use to take my tap water and dechlorinate and run an air pump for a half an hour before using the water during water changes. *This was overcautious and once I got a python I found that I could put tap water directly into the tanks (with dechlorator first of course) and my fish would be just fine. *The python saved me alot of time, but first I needed to find that balance that worked for me. *

There is alot of factors. *With guppies I eventually gave up on the species because I found more hardy species that worked better and that I enjoyed more. *I cannot imagine trying to maintain a marine tank. *When I get one of those expect me posting every week freaking out.

04-30-2008, 11:04 PM
Because I clean the tank out 100% of all the water every two weeks there usually is not enough "problem ammonia" and other issues in my Betta tank. *I have noticed my betta does like it when he is put in fresh water

05-01-2008, 12:01 AM
dj, I already have some moss in with one of my bettas and he never seems to get stuck in it and I think he actually enjoys it (plus it makes the vase look a little less plain). I'll start doing larger water changes on my betta vases - I just don't think I can bring myself to do a full 100% water change...just seems so wrong (not to mention extremely time consuming in 20 vases).

Thanks for the help guys. I hope some of this helps Lucy. Bettas are awesome and I hope you can figure out how to keep them alive long enough to fully enjoy them : )

05-01-2008, 12:24 AM
If you have a big betta bowl with a filter system, then you need to be aware of the "nitrogen" cycle. *And you should do partial water changes monthly.
If you have a small betta bowl or no filter system, then you need to do a complete water change weekly.
If you use Houston Tap water you will find that they use chloramines, not chlorine. *Chloramines last longer in the water and then break down into chlorine and Ammonia. * Be sure the water conditioner you use works on chloramines. * If you prefer to age your water, plan on waiting a week for the chloramines to evaporate.

Food - bettas eat bugs - * They prefer live food, daphnia, brine shrimp. black worms, sketer larva & snails. * They do better with a varitey of high proteen foods.
If you feed dry foods, be aware that they swell up when they get wet, so presoak the pellets before you give them to your betta.

Bettas need exerxise. *Place them next to another betta or a merror for an hour a day. *They will flair and develop strong beautiful fins. * between exercise peretriods, card them (place an index card between their bowls) this will prevent them from becoming complacent.

Plants & decorations are up to you. PP (Personal Preference)

05-01-2008, 12:40 PM
PhishPhreek to the rescue! Haha. I have a question for you, though - can the plants stress out the bettas? I have some java moss in with one of my bettas and he honestly seems to like it. I've never had any problems with him getting stuck or anything. Does it really matter?

05-01-2008, 04:35 PM
You mean you have to do water changes??? :twisted: *(just kidding)

I do maintanence on the betta tank (5 gal acrylic bow front) just like any of the others I have. *which means every saturday it gets about 1.5 gal. removed and replaced and every two weeks it gets vacuumed. *I use a conditioner that breaks down chloramines and heavy metals. *I have (had - tank on standby right now and empty) a few little plants for him to lounge about in. *I feed them 3 small feedings per day. *And the filter is one of those cheap pen-plax deals that gets a bubbler attached to it and you cram it into the tank, not the best but I figured it would do for a 5 gal with one betta in it.

My first betta (beef cake cause he got HUGE) lived for about 2 years before he died (in a 42 gal tank), but it was dropsy that got him too. *First he *just like all the others) got acites (swollen abdomen) then he got all pineconed then he died. *None of them stopped eating until they were within 24 hours of death. *

Right now I'm laying the blame at my feet (perhaps poor quality food or malnutrition :( ?) but thought I would see what others thoughts were.

Just as a side note, I did not have this problem years ago when I lived in a different state and kept bettas in my community tanks, so it could be something to do with Houston's wonderful :roll: *water quality (maybe I should do something to it that I'm not doing now).

05-01-2008, 04:48 PM
can the plants stress out the bettas? I have some java moss in with one of my bettas and he honestly seems to like it. I've never had any problems with him getting stuck or anything.

I know quite a few betta breeders that use java moss in their spawn tanks and later in their grow out tanks. *Baby *bettas are acustomed to hunting in the java moss for infusoria (tiny food critters), daphnia and such. *Also it makes the water softer and lowers the pH. * All things that Wild Bettas expect.

I also know more than one who keeps java fern in all of his adult betta containers for similar reasons.

05-01-2008, 04:51 PM
You mean you have to do water changes??? :twisted: *(just kidding)

Just as a side note, I did not have this problem years ago when I lived in a different state and kept bettas in my community tanks, so it could be something to do with Houston's wonderful :roll: *water quality (maybe I should do something to it that I'm not doing now).

The local water here in Houston comes from the muddy brazos river. The water company has to add a lot of lime to the water to make the mud settle out so we have a hardness of 200. They also add a lot of chlorameans to the water to kill all the little things that grow in the water. By treating it with amquil & salt and *ageing it in a 55g barrel with oak leaves, almond leaves or Peat in the bottom, I get useable fish water

If you want to use RO water, for long term fish health, you will need to add minerals back to your RO water after you make it.

What passes for "spring" water has always amazed me. Read the fine print on the label.

Which one is better? *Hard to say. But you can do side by side testing. 8^D

It all depends on what you're willing to pay for water quality. (time & money)

05-02-2008, 04:37 AM
So java moss for the babies and java fern for the adults - got it. I'm gonna try this out when I get back to Plano : ) *I mean, I've always had java moss for the babies (don't worry, I'm not that bad of a mother!!!), but I never though of the java fern for the adults. Personally I've never really liked the look of it, but I have it in my 30 gal at home and it's growing on me (and my tank!!!), so I think I'll try that out.

Thanks for answering all my questions, phish.

And Lucy, I hope you figure it out!! I know that College Station water REALLY sucks so I use a water purifier (like Brita) and then add salt and dechlorinator and let it sit for about 30 minutes before I do water changes. Maybe that will help? I dunno - but I agree that the water down here is HORRIBLE! I refuse to drink it, so I can't really expect my babies to live in it. Haha

05-02-2008, 11:20 AM
Lime is added to our water?? I don't remember seeing that on my water report (thing the city sends out once a year with a break down of the water chemistry and other info. about the aquafers ect.)

Does anyone know what else lime does, other than funk up my coffee pot and make the water super-hard??

I also use salt in my tanks but I don't know anything about oak leaves, almonds leaves and peat?? *Can anyone supply a link to a good informative spot where I might could read about this leaf thing?? *

Thanks for all the great info you guys posted, it has been helpful *:D

05-02-2008, 02:02 PM
peat (http://www.aqua-fish.net/show.php?h=aquariumpeat)

water chem (http://faq.thekrib.com/begin-chem.html)

05-02-2008, 02:34 PM
Thanks PhishPhreek, the peat link was useful, sorry to say the water chemistry link was kinda like going back to middle school (it just took me 4 times to spell school right....I may need to ge back) *but I would have loved to have been linked to that water chem site back years ago when I got my first tank and thought I could just add water and fish.

Thanks man!!! *(oh yeah, I decided that peat isn't for me) *at least not yet...I have to do some more checking on this lime in the water thing though.

05-02-2008, 05:32 PM
Decent link on Almond Leaves:


I keep Apistos, Rams and Discus ...all soft water fish...I use Peat (in canister) bog or driftwood and almond leaves. My water is slightly brownish (more noticeable in smaller tanks than larger) and leaves litter floor, but the fish I keep love them. I am especially impressed with their antibacterial properties.

06-08-2008, 10:45 AM
This is an old thread but I'm bumping it up as I still don't know why my bettas die and I really want to get another one to add to my 42 gal. comm. tank.

can/will anyone recommend to me, a good quality food to feed them as i think the problem is nutritionally related. *I think this because they all die after the same amount of time and nutrient deficiency is one of the causes of dropsy, which is what they are all getting.
Thanks a ton!

for whomever posted the "can plants stress the betta"
they live in rice patties in china, they love the plants and tend to get stressed without them, at least that is my understanding. *Please correct me if I'm wrong.

06-08-2008, 12:42 PM
Lucy -- mine who has been living for a year gets TopFin Betta Pellets (cheap Petsmart brand) and Tetra dried out bloodworms -- sometimes I will give him some frozen bloodworms, but no more than like 3 or 4 worms. *I dont like it when food hits the bottom of the bowl because I dont ever see him looking at the bottom for food.

06-08-2008, 02:26 PM
I have two pair living in two separate tanks (yes, a male/female pair living together in harmony with other fish). *They eat whatever I put in. *I rotate with NSL, blood worms, brine shrimp, flakes, crisps, color bits.... I guess I am just lucky.

06-08-2008, 02:41 PM
We have 2 bettas living in large bowls (I know, I'm waiting to run across a good deal for a couple of 1g - 5g tanks). *We feed them 4-5 pellets a couple times a day of the Hikari Betta Bio-Gold. *We also do 100% water change about every 10 days. *However, one of the cats has decided that he likes fish water over the water in his bowl, so he's been drinking out of the betta bowls. *This means that I have to supplement the water that is removed by the cat daily, so I scoop water out of the tank that the betta bowls sit on and add that to their bowls between water changes. *We got the bettas last summer and they are still going strong.

06-09-2008, 09:31 AM
Lucy - How many bettas have you had that died in this manner?

I'm sorry, I hope we can help figure out what the problem is. I really, really, really hate dropsy. *:(

Maybe listing the variables that are different from the other fish you keep could be useful? So far, I see that really the only variables are the bettas don't get "treats," and are alone in their own 5g tank. Is it the same tank every time?

It's very possible that the nutritional factor could be contributing to their demise, like you said. It never hurts to give fish a varied diet. They love live foods. Mine get bloodworms and brineshrimp (frozen), mosquito larva (if I find some in parents' fountain), flakes, HBH pellets, etc. So, I don't know specifically of a food to recommend as superior, I just tend to give them a varied diet to make sure they're getting what they need. *:)