View Full Version : confusing situation

08-17-2009, 10:22 AM
I had an emergency last night. Two days ago, I noticed in my betta tank some white substance floating in the water. I couldn't figure out what it was, so I did an early water change and some pH buffer to decrease alkalinity and watched the betta's behavior. I was still concerned at the remaining substance, but was told it might be hard water deposits, so I just watched Miyamoto (my betta - a male). He's a new addition to my collection and I've never had a betta before. I'm not really familiar with their behavior, but he didn't seem too unhappy. A little lazy, but otherwise okay. Well, last night, I noticed that the substance seemed to have increased its presence again and Miramoto was lazier than usual. This was a fully cycled 2.65 gallon tank that had until recently housed a few small tetras before I made my 10 gallon tropical tank. The water had been changed three days prior to the addition of the betta. I prepared a gallon of tap water with an additive and left it sitting to let its temperature stabilize for another change later.

After the water, I decided to feed the fish. When I opened the tank, the smell that hit me was horrible! Completely stagnant. I realized the white substance was a very bad case of mold (the first case I've had of it) and decided to act quickly. I figured I had to get Miyamoto and his smallish apple snail out of there and the only logical choice was the tropical tank. I couldn't even give him time to acclimate because I sure as heck wasn't going to keep him in that water any longer and anyway, I didn't want to transfer any of the mold to the bigger tank. I have no breeder box or aquarium divider, so I just hurried him over and dropped him into the tank, hoping for the best. I feared for the established community as well as the betta, but what could I do? (That was not a rhetorical question, by the way.) I wiped the snail's shell clean and dropped him in, worrying about him a bit less.

I watched carefully for a while. At first, his behavior was a little erratic, but greatly improved. He began exploring the new tank. The others were extremely curious about him (especially the von rios, which are the smallest, and apparently bravest, if not stupidest). They'd crowd him and he'd snap and chase, but generally did not act as aggressive as I had feared. Then again, I didn't know how he would be once the shock of the change had worn off.

Figuring I could do nothing else for the moment, I began an exhausting emergency attempt at cleaning his original tank. I put in a five gallon filter that I had been using in my goldfish tank in addition to the bigger. I replaced a gallon of water, tried to clean everything in the tank as thoroughly as I could, then replaced another gallon with new water. Worried about my sword plant, I washed it off thoroughly in the sink and planted it in my goldies tank (I know, but it would have crowded the tropical tank). Now, hours later, the water looks clean, but I'm pretty much resigned to emptying the tank, throwing away the substrate and soaking everything left in soapy water and starting all over again. Because I'm sure that stuff is still down in the substrate, waiting for me to remove the filter.

But something I didn't expect happened. Miyamoto seems very happy in his new tank and the smaller fish don't seem stressed at all. I watched them all for all these hours. The tank is at the side of my desk, so I watch them all the time anyway (it's very soothing and they demand less attention than my beloved goldies), but I was more attentive this time. In the beginning, things seemed a little tense and every time I turned away for a while, I'd look back, expecting to see some dead fish, but figured I got lucky. But now? Now, everyone seems to be getting along swimmingly (groan). I didn't think the betta would be happy in a tank with two filters and an air pump, but I appear to have been wrong. The larger platy even seems to enjoy his company and Miyamoto doesn't seem to mind. (I think I just caught him playing in the current from the larger filter.)

So now the difficult question. Should I keep him in the community? I'll have to upgrade to a 20 gallon, but I wouldn't mind. I'd have the 10 gallon left over to play with, anyway. But can I trust Miyamoto? Can I trust his continued safety and well-being? And what about feeding? A friend suggested I drop the betta food first in a different spot than I normally drop the tropical food, then do the tropical food normally. This makes sense, but will that work? I've waited all this time (about seven hours now) on feeding them, but would like to try now that things are calm. If the general consensus from you guys is that I can, I will.

And did I manage the situation well? Should I have done anything differently?

Sorry for the novel length post, by the way.

08-17-2009, 10:59 AM
Miyamoto (cute name) may do just fine where he is. Bettas are known for doing well in community aquariums. What you have to watch for are fish with long, flowing fins that he might mistake for another male Betta. Otherwise, he may not care much about the other fish other than a fun and harmless chase every now and then when they bug him.

Bettas have very distinct personalities, and some are much more aggressive than others. Keep in mind that their fighting instinct is not to kill everything in sight. I've had bettas in 5g tanks with tetras and pygmy cories with no problems. I've even heard of some people housing them with RCS!

As far as your moldy tank, that's really odd. It's unfortunate you didn't get a picture of it. When you clean the tank, do not use soapy water. Use bleach. It will kill the mold (or whatever it was). It will also kill the good bacteria in the tank so you'll need to seed it with good bacteria again. You can add bleach to a concentration of 1:20 (1 part bleach to 20 parts water) and run the filter as normal, allowing the bleach to be processed throughout the tank. If you want, you can stir up the substrate to ensure you got it all. Let that go for a day. Then drain the tank and refill, adding a heavy concentration of dechlorinator. Let that go for a few minutes. Drain. At this point, you can repeat with dechlorinator or pull everything apart to air dry or whatever feels most comfortable to you. Make sure there is absolutely no bleach smell left before adding good bacteria and fish.

08-17-2009, 11:01 AM
I think you responded very well to the situation.

I have a male betta in a 29g community tank with cories, two kinds of barbs, some tiny Rainbows, and an amano shrimp. Oh. And some zebra nerites. He's been in there for probably over six months, and I've never experienced problems with aggression - either from him or towards him. He eats flake food along with the rest of the guys. :)

I think some of it depends on your betta's personality. Sometimes female bettas can be more aggressive to other fish than males, as I've witnessed.

For me, the only problem with putting a betta in with other fish has been the other fish nipping at his irresistably long, flowing fins. I've never put a betta in with small shrimp, though, and I'm sure their population would be decimated. :)

But, like I said, my male betta is doing perfectly fine with the rest of the community. Try feeding just the normal flakes (is that what you meant by tropical food?) to see if he takes to them. If not, you might want to experiment with mixing his food in with the flakes, either before, during, or after. But I'll bet that eventually he'll start eating the flakes like the rest of them.

One question, though - I'm not sure I understand why you said you'd have to move everyone to a 20g?

08-17-2009, 11:02 AM
Well, Vicki beat me to it! :)

08-17-2009, 11:10 AM
Your response was quick and decisive, better than I would have done....that betta might do well in his new environment, I say, keep an eye on him and see how it goes...


08-17-2009, 11:16 AM
Two days ago, I noticed in my betta tank some white substance floating in the water.I realized the white substance was a very bad case of mold (the first case I've had of it) and decided to act quickly.
Mold? Like Vicki said too bad you don't have picture. I don't have a clue what that was.

pH buffer to decrease alkalinity
I wouldn't try to mess with the water parameters unless really needed. Better to just keep it stable.

I didn't think the betta would be happy in a tank with two filters and an air pump, but I appear to have been wrong.
The Bettas that I have kept were housed in 2.5 or 5 gallon tanks each with a small Whisper filter. Sometimes it takes them a while to get used to the current but then they loved it. I liked it because I didn't have to do 100% daily water changes. I could just do 50% water changes once a week.

I agree with Vicki on the no soap. When you use soap and detergents, you can never know if you rinsed it all out. Any residue may kill the fish. Bleach is better because the declorinator will remove it and it can be tested.

I would listen to the others on tankmates. I've always kept my Bettas by themselves.

I think you are doing good. :thumbup: I probably would have also freaked out and removed the betta to the other tank.

08-17-2009, 11:21 AM
Well, Vicki beat me to it! :)

:lol: A little slow on the keyboard this morning? :bigrazz:

I just thought of something regarding the possible mold.

How/what were you feeding your betta? I have seen betta pellets that were left uneaten become moldy. They float at the surface of the tank. Is it possible this is what you saw?

As far as feeding your betta in a community tank, Mzungu beat me to that one. Bettas can eat regular fish food just like all tropical fish. If you want to feed him a betta pellet every now and then, you can train him to eat from your hand or be signaled to come get his pellet. I did this with one of my bettas. I would scrape my finger across the edge of the tank lip to tell "Henry" to come get a pellet. After doing this for awhile, he caught on and would immediately look up for a pellet anytime I did the scraping noise. Once he got 2-3 pellets, I then fed the rest of the fish. He'd eat that food, as well. Just be careful to not overfeed as bettas are known for becoming constipated.

08-17-2009, 04:52 PM
white sounds like a fungus not a mold though...

regardless you handled it fine, you can never be too careful with fish. in addition, i tossed a betta in a tank with neons and a bichir, a gragon fish, and a few angels once in an emergency. he was small, but the most aggressive bettas i've kept were female. and wow...do they get hormonal...for no reason at all!!! regardless, just watch. i dind't keep him in there for too terribly long because i have veil tail angels and just dind't want the inevitable to sink in with fin nipping. but he was completely content and did fine for that week.

08-17-2009, 04:57 PM
These responses are great. I'll try to catch everyone's questions and whatnot.

As far as what I'm calling the mold, have you ever seen what happens to milk when it's poured into wine? It instantly curdles and forms these little "sheets" that float around. It was kind of like that, but more translucent - like little white ghosts or something. Pardon the bad simile. It also gathered at the top by the walls of the tank and was a little frothy up there. One more detail I left out that I noticed just last night as I was rushing to take care of the situation: what mainly made me think it was mold was that when I took a careful look, the substrate, the fake plant that had been in there a while (the sword plant was new) and a little decorative rock with a hole for him to swim through were all covered with the substance in tiny strands like growing mold. True, I don't think I've seen white mold before, but I can't think of what else it might be.

The reason I said I need to upgrade the tank is that I've very carefully filled it to capacity as far as what's comfortable to my fish, and Miyamoto is a giant plopped down among them. Now that I'm home, everything seems okay and all are happy, but it's probably not healthy.

As for the food, the betta food I have is Aqueon betta food, tiny pellets a little smaller than a peppercorn. Instructions on the bottle is to feed small amounts several times a day. I actually fed him less than that, because despite the tiny amount I would put in, he might eat two or three, then ignore it. I rarely saw any in the substrate, though, so I figured he just got to it when he got to it. But it's possible I missed some. And I chose that food because it's what Aquarium World feed their bettas with.

The other food I have is TetraColor Tropical Granules. They look a bit like imitation bacon bits. It's from Tetra, which I understand is a decent company. The betta food would float for a few seconds, then slowly sink. The granules would sink immediately. I've just fed them and everything went well.

Thanks for all the advice. And I'm feeling pretty proud of myself right now, lol.

08-17-2009, 05:02 PM
Thanks, cichlidchic. I hadn't thought of fungus. Where would it have come from?

And the only thing in the tank with a fancy fin other than Miyamoto is Captain America, my male guppy, and they really seem to like each other.

08-17-2009, 05:56 PM
Unless something was introduce into the tank without your knowledge, I would say it was the food. The thing that caught me was when you said the food floats for a little bit and then sinks, and sometimes your betta doesn't eat all of the pellets. These will start to grow fungus very quickly if not eaten.

08-17-2009, 06:08 PM
Mzungu - I just noticed your Foul Ol' Ron quote. That simply rocks. Millennium rat and cheese!

08-18-2009, 07:32 AM
Mzungu - I just noticed your Foul Ol' Ron quote. That simply rocks. Millennium rat and cheese!

:rofl: You're the first to notice!! :) :) Bugrit! :cheeringsmiley: