Lets talk about fish houses.
Every fish needs a different type of tank, and you can't always trust the pictures on the box. For example, NO FISH can fit in a tank less than a gallon, no matter how tiny, and no matter what the box says. So if you were thinking of buying a mini tank for your betta or goldfish, put it back, get something bigger.
For tank size it really depends on the fish and how many fish you're putting in the tank. Betta's of course should be kept separate, but some fish species like to have multiple fish around. Male and female guppies will breed constantly, so if you're mixing genders be prepared for lots of babies. Some fish need a gallon per inch of the fish, while others need more and others need less. So for tank size, its a good rule of thumb to assume that you'll have to do a bit of research to find what size will work for the type of fish you're getting, and the amount of fish you're getting. Since I am a betta expert a 3 gallon or 2.5 gallon tank is probably the smallest you wanna go.
Tank accessories like heaters, bubblers and filters also depend on the fish species and how many fish will be in the tank. Some fish require a bubbler so they can breathe, some fish are extremely messy (like goldfish) and need a hardworking filter to keep their tank clean, and some fish are used to tropical water temperatures and can only truly flourish with warm water. Again, do a little bit of research to find out what your fish needs, and don't just assume that all fish can live in a bowl. With filters, also be conscious of how large your fish are and if they have long fins. Small fish can get stuck onto filters, which is always bad news, and fish with long fins like fancy goldfish or betta fish can get their fins caught in a filters deadly vortex. A filter is always a good idea, but some fish don't do well in a tank with a strong current. Babies can get pushed around by it, and for some fish species it can make it hard to swim. There are a lot of different types of filters out there, some with a stronger current than others, some that work differently than others, and some that are better for one species over another. Again, do some research before buying. If you decide to opt out of getting a filter acknowledge that you will have to take on the responsibility of changing out the tank water more often. Most fish don't need a heater, but bettas definitely do. Keep a thermometer and keep an eye on the tank, becuase temperatures can fluctuate with the room's temperature and with water levels.
Tank decorations are the fun part, and for most fish, really anything goes. Buy any color rocks and plants and background that you want. If the fish you own like to have spaces to hide (like bettas do) get them lots of plants, or little decorations with a place for them to sit. If your fish has long, delicate fins, make sure there aren't any sharp spots on the decorations that could tear your fish's fins. Also make sure your fish won't get stuck in any hidey holes. For bettas, silk plants are the best to get since they won't rip your fish's fins. Make sure your tank has gravel, without it a tank can't store healthy bacteria. Gravel is super cheap and a really easy way to give your entire tank a new feel. You can base decorations off of your fish's color, or give your tank a cool theme, the possibilities really are endless.
Overall, when choosing a tank for your fish, don't assume anything. Always look at multiple sources to find out the best tank for your fish and exactly what kind of accessories you'll need to make sure your fish can live happy and healthy. And before you buy, make sure you're getting the best deal. Pet stores will sell 2 gallon tanks with a filter for 25$, when you can simply buy a plain tank and stand-alone filter for way cheaper. So 'pre-made' tanks aren't always the best deal out there.
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My entire life I have always wanted a cat, I had a pre-conceived notation that I was more of a cat person than that of a dog. This past week I have had the chance to have my mom's co-worker's cat stay with us while she went on vacation. His name is Crosby, and here's some pictures of him doing things.
Long story short, I don't think I'm a cat person.
Tragedy struck my home about a month ago. My new little fish, officially named Hei Bai after the black and white spirit from Avatar, got velvet. Since she was from Wal-Mart its likely she had velvet all along. I didn't think she had an illness until things got really bad, and I went online to discover that the symptoms lined up pretty well with velvet. I took steps to treat it and it looks like things are clearing up, but I'm not too sure.
Velvet is a super common fish disease for betta's and other tropical fish to contract. While betta's are very hardy fish, they are prone to a lot of different diseases, typically caused by poor water conditions or widely fluctuating temperatures. Today I'm not going to specifically talk about velvet, but about some common signs that your fish might be sick, and share some good resources for diagnosing and treating your fish. I am in no way a fish expert and am not qualified as a vet or anything like that. All the knowledge I've gained about fish illness has come from the sites I'll link below. My reason for writing this is to make people more aware of signs that their betta might be sick so they can treat them before its too late.
A lot of times your betta fish won't have a life threatening illness that requires medicine to treat. A lot of the times your betta fish will exhibit signs of stress, and the fix for that is simple: change the water, put in a heater, and get a bigger tank. When you pick up your fish from the pet store they might be dull in color, lethargic, and have their fins clamped close to their body. These are all common signs that their tank water is unclean, their habitat is too small, and the water is too cold. So if your fish is sitting at the bottom of its tank, loosing its color, or keeping its fins close to its body, a good first step would be to make a water change and upgrade the tank if it's under 3 gallons. Its always suggested to keep your fish in a large tank with a filter, but if you're keeping your betta in a bowl just know that frequent water changes are necessary and the bowl should still be over 3 gallons.
Clamped fins, loss of color, and lethargy can also be signs of something more serious. If your betta doesn't perk back up after a water change, is refusing to eat, or has ragged looking fins with black edges, those are good signs that your betta might have an illness that needs to be treated. Velvet and ich are very common, and have similar symptoms. If your fin is lethargic, consistently has clamped fins, isn't eating, and is scratching itself on aquarium decor, they could have velvet or ich. The best way to tell is by shining a flashlight on your betta in a dark room and looking to see if they are covered in what looks like a fine gold dust, which means velvet, or white spots, which means ich. Medicines are available for both, and different strategies can be taken to cure and prevent the diseases. Water changes are always good.
Fin rot is when a betta's fins turn black and fall off. This is caused by poor water conditions. If you see this in your fish immediately change the water, and make plans to change the tank's water more frequently than you were before. Medicine is also available to help regrow fins and kill fin rot bacteria.
If a fish is having trouble swimming it is most likely suffering from swim bladder disorder. One of my fish struggled with this constantly, there was hardly a time when he wasn't swimming lopsided. I tried all the common treatments for it, feeding the fish less, giving him a small piece of a frozen pea, and hydrating his fish flakes before giving them to him. They would work for a bit and then he'd be back to laying on his side at the top of his tank. One possible culprit was the filter I had in his tank. He was always getting stuck up against it and pushed around by the current, which isn't good for any fish, but especially not bettas, which are used to slow moving water in the wild. So be sure that if your tank has a filter it is very gentle, and there is no way your fish could be getting sucked into or against it.
Its always sad when fish get illnesses, because its far harder to treat and diagnose them, so once we see they're struggling, it might be too late. The best way to prevent all fish illnesses is to make sure your fish's water is clean. Betta's are characterized as easy pets that can be kept in little jars with minimal care, and while they most definitely will survive, they'll likely be sick and unhappy. It'd be the same as keeping a dog in a kennel its whole life. So its important for all betta owners to understand what they're getting into, and that betta's are very much prone to various diseases, and need good care from their owners.
Another helpful tip I'll share is to be sure to not cross contaminate from one tank to the next. The velvet from Hei Bai spread to my other betta through the cup I put them in while I was changing tanks. Thankfully I caught it early enough to treat it in both of them, but many fish diseases are very contagious, so its good to excersize caution when cleaning tanks. Use separate holding cups, disinfect your net or gravel vacuum if you use one, and never move decorations or rocks from one tank to the other, especially while the disease is still active.
I hope this helped, and I hope you all go check your fish to make sure they're as healthy as possible.
Here's an example of a fish with clamped fins
Here's an article all about velvet
Here's a whole website about betta care and illness that is awesome
Here's an article about fin rot
Here's an article about swim bladder disorder
All creatures great and small. Follow for pet tips and pictures, as well as some posts about people.