Darling’s bubbles (by Mynt)
When I first got Narcissus and started this blog, information for feeding and taking care of bloating and constipation was rather vague other than being told that a betta’s stomach is only as big as its eye.
It pretty much still is rather vague and I’ve only managed to get where I am by picking up small tips seasoned hobbyists and breeders had suggested to newbies on bettafish.com after stalking their posts, along with learning some things on my own.
Some things I’ve learned about feeding and combating constipation/bloating:
Quality food is key.
You want a betta-specific food source that is either live food, frozen live food you have to thaw out before feeding, or dry food in which there are actual protein sources in the top 5 ingredients (the first few ingredients listed are what the product is mostly made of).
I spent 30 minutes reading ingredients on the back of betta pellet.
From what was in stock in the store at the time (which was like 5-6 different brands/types), the only suitable food there was Omega One Betta Buffet pellets in which the first 2 ingredients are whole salmon and halibut.
Wheat and gluton products will always exist in dry fish food as cheap fillers so the companies can save on money (they do this with dog food and cat food too), so always check labels to ensure a few actual protein sources are listed in the first 5.
Avoid foods in which stuff like fish meal is listed in the top 5.
Fish meal/chicken meal/whatever is usually nothing but all the junk parts of an animal like bones and organs all ground up together into a paste that in turn gets mixed in when making the food.
There can be pieces of bone that didn’t grind into a powder and can cause injury to your pet when ingested.
Presoak your pellets using your betta’s tank water before feeding them.
This makes it easier for them to digest and expel from their bowels before their next feeding.
Not only that, but once the food has expanded from absorbing water, you can better gauge how much you are really feeding your betta.
Do not confuse freeze dried food for frozen live food to use as a legit food source.
The process in making freeze dried bloodworms actually decreases the amount of protein supplied as opposed to cultivating live bloodworms or buying bloodworms frozen in water, so its insufficient for feeding as a core meal.
Its ok as a treat every now and then IF you pre-soak it.
If you are feeding live or frozen bloodworms, definitely fast your betta one day each week as bloodworms have an indigestible shell that unless fasted and aided in pooping, can cause a blockage and create bloat and constipation.
It takes around 8 hours for a betta fish to digest properly prepared food, maybe even sooner.
Spacing your betta’s morning and evening meals at least 8 hours apart and encouraging flaring for a few minutes before feeding until they poop definitely helps in preventing constipation and bloating.
My rule of thumb for how long to make them flare is until they poop or 3 minutes have passed.
If you’ve spaced their meals out far enough, they should near instantly poop once they start flaring.
If your betta cannot poop using this method, the next step is treating with unscented pure magnesium sulfate epsom salt at a ratio of 1 teaspoon per gallon of water in the tank you’ll be treating your betta in.
Epsom salt acts as a muscle relaxant and a laxative.
ALWAYS check the labels, and NEVER use scented epsom salt as the perfumes in it can poison your betta.
Predissolve the appropriate amount of epsom salt in the water before acclimating your betta into it.
DO NOT pour undissolved salt into the tank if your betta is in it as it it can burn your betta, and DO NOT just dump your fish into the treated water as the sudden change in water chemistry can shock and kill your betta.
You can do a daily 1hour epsom salt bath until it poops, or leave it in the treated water for a few days (provided it has somewhere to hide and a sufficient heater)
I’ve personally treated Narcissus’ actual tank (a 10g), simply because the last time he got quarantined to the 1gallon hospital tank, he got bored and started biting his tail.
I’m not sure if there’s a time limit for how long a betta can stay in epsom salt before it starts harming them like how aquarium salt has a 10day max limit before it starts harming, so I treated the epsom salt just like I would aquarium salt.
I let Narcissus swim in epsom salt for 5 days, once we hit 5 days, I started doing 25% to 50%(the amount depends on if he’s finally pooped or not) daily water changes for another 5 days.
On the 10th day, I did a 100% water change and rinse off all his decorations and gravel in warm water.
During these water changes, don’t put salt back in the water, as you’re trying to remove it in the first place.
I don’t touch the filter except to dump out the epsom salt treated water from it so as to not kill the beneficial bacteria that has made a home of the filter media.
Another method for curing constipation is feeding bits of a skinned pea to your betta.
I personally would never suggest this simply because I’m not sure how exactly a pea will help with constipation in a fish whose diet is supposed to compose of just proteins, so if you’re interested in this method, your best bet is to visit bettafish.com and ask someone experienced in using this method.
All in all, I usually go for fasting and flaring to combat betta constipation as it doesn’t require dumping chemicals into your betta’s water, or feeding it something that’s not part of its natural diet.
And if anyone’s curious, I feed Narcissus 3 presoaked Omega One Betta Buffet pellets in the morning or around noon (depends on when I wake up), and about 8 or 9 hours, I feed him 2 more after making him flare before each meal.
Current Date: Friday Feb 22, 2013
Its been a little over a month since my last post.
My betta baby, Darling (seen above), has been with me for over a month now and to celebrate, I officially upgraded it to a 5gallon and just recently added a tube line with the end capped and a small hole poked near the end for bubbles.
It really likes the bubbles, chasing them and swimming through the stream after watching Narcissus do it for the past month.
I bought a T valve so I need just one pump for both Darling and Narcissus’s tanks.
Now that Darling is in a larger tank with a glass top, more light gets in its tank and it seems more lively now.
Also, since you can see into its tank better than the temp 1g it was originally in, Narcissus is now aware that there is another betta next to his tank.
For now, a kitchen cloth is kept draped over the side of his tank that Darling’s tank is on until I can go to a craft store to buy supplies to make a corkboard divider to block their view of each other.
I’m choosing corkboard specifically so I can pin pictures and charms and stuff on both sides to give them something to look at.
I’m thinking of changing the images and stuff every 4 weeks and flipping the board over at 2 weeks so they can see what the other was looking at previously.
At the moment, since I don’t want to rearrange their tank decor, I have little toys around their tanks that I occasionally switch around, but it just looks and feels too cluttered for me so I’m hoping pinning random stuff to a corkboard will still stimulate them while not being too cluttered.
In other news, Narcissus and I had a little accident yesterday.
I had him in his cup so I could thoroughly vacuum his gravel because he’s a poop machine and once I finished I reacclimated him.
Well, while I was doing that, there was a cat hair in his cup water while floating in his tank so I went to grab it so he won’t eat it and he was so determined to get out of the cup that he thrashed a bit trying to jump and he bumped against my fingernail and a few scales came off his head.
Needless to say I flipped out and added a little more stress coat to the tank for healing and turned the heater temp up a little more and continued acclimating him.
I also added a little aquarium salt to keep the area from getting infected.
He didn’t get cut, but he’s missing like 3 scales on his head right above where his gill covers bend when he flares.
He’s still an active flare monster and a hungry hippo.
I’m watching him like a hawk and I think he likes it since he’s an attention-whore.
I just feel so bad and now I’m rethinking on growing my nails a little long since I normally keep them fairly short ;o;
Current Date: Wednesday Jan. 16, 2013
Its been awhile since I’ve last posted, but things are going great in my little betta world~
It seems I’ve taught Narcissus a helpful trick for the both of us.
I recently switched him to New Life Spectrum pellets since they seem to have better ingredients than other pellets but they tend to instantly sink rather than float for a bit like his old pellets.
He’s knocked some off my finger in the beginning and would get mad that I didn’t give him his 2 pellets (because one fell) only to find it 30 minutes later on the tank floor and he’d then spend the next hour scavenging for more at the bottom.
Of course there won’t be more unless he dropped both pellets
Removing fallen pellets is a bit of a hassle given he’s in a 10g tank so I constantly tried to get his attention by tapping on the glass while food is falling and after the food had fallen until he put 2 and 2 together that tapping = falling food.
So now, when he knocks food off my finger and it begins to sink, when I tap on the glass he starts looking around below him for falling food to chase after rather than staring above him at my hand as the pellet sinks between the gravel nearly out of his sight.
It didn’t take longer than a week to two weeks to teach him this and to be honest, I wasn’t trying to.
I just wanted him to look down and grab the falling food, or actually look at where it had fallen (usually right where I’m tapping)
In other news, still debating the gender of my betta baby, Darling.
Some traits make me think boy, but other traits make me think girl.
It recently started attacking its reflection in the mirror as opposed to just floating, flaring, and staring like it originally did.
I do see a bit of beard going on whether its flaring or not (though when not flaring its just in the V part of the gills underneath)
Its still small so its still in the temp 1g tank with water changes every other day.
For entertainment I drag the tip of my finger in the water and let Darling chase and nip at it, and put a mirror against the side for a few minutes of flaring.
And of course there’s the frequent waving at both fish from my living room couch since they’re not far from it.
They both do that happy jiggle when I wave.
I have a 5 gallon waiting for it to grow bigger, but I still lack a heater for that along with gravel and decorations.
I’m hoping in another week or two I’ll be able to determine its gender better so I can buy the decor for its tank accordingly.
I got ahead of myself and had bought a cute little japanese teacup with pink roses on it from a thrift store that I cleaned to all hell.
So I’m half hoping its a girl so the teacup and name won’t be absolutely awkward, but at the same time I do love fancy fins and the strutting.
I’m thinking of ditching Narcissus’ tank light and getting a clip-on desk lamp to clip to the edge of the counter between the two tanks for light.
Maybe muffle the harshness with a piece of milk jug plastic.
And I’ll eventually get something to block their view of each other when Darling moves into the 5g since they’ll be side by side.
They’re next to each other now with Darling in the 1g but I don’t think Narcissus is aware there’s something in the 1g and Darling occasionally watches Narcissus be a derp flaring at his own reflection but mainly keeps focus on my whereabouts.
Current Date: Saturday Dec. 29, 2012
Narcissus is probably the happiest betta in the world.
Spoiled rotten with plenty of toys and plants to swim through in a roomy 10g.
I was checking out petco’s $1-per-gallon sale on tanks and somehow left with a baby betta instead.
An itty bitty cutie booty teeny weeny baby betta.
Not sure if its a boy or a girl, but Darling will fit just perfect either way.
S/he’s currently still in the cup, which is in the emergency 1g tank while its still heating up.
Darling is currently set up in the kitchen for the extra warmth while the tank is still heating.
Wish me luck with this cutie, s/he was too active to pass up.
Current date: Friday, Dec. 7 2012
Narcissus is happy to be back in his 10g.
The Aqueon heater I bought is working great!
I had to place it horizontally fully submerged in the center of the back wall of the tank to get it to disperse heat evenly, though.
It actually keeps the temperature steady instead of bouncing back and forth by a degree or two in order to turn on like the Fluval heater I had.
His fins are still tattered from being bored in a 1g tank for a few days until I got the new heater, but are slowly healing back.
I plan to put him on a little aquarium salt treatment next week to clear up the last of his finrot.
To celebrate an otherwise happy fish, I’ll just leave this here…
Current date: Monday Dec. 3, 2012
I bought an Aqueon 50watt heater for Narcissus’s 10g tank Saturday night.
I’ve fully submerged it, slanting it in the center of the back wall of the tank.
This was the only way I could get it to disperse heat evenly.
After letting it sit overnight, Narcissus was finally home Sunday morning and he could not be happier.
The moment he was in, he instantly swam every inch like he was stretching out his fins.
Unfortunately, I think a few days in his emergency tank had bored him enough to chomp at his tail, so all the fin-healing in the past month has been undone.
I’m sure he bit his tail because the rest of his fins, that he can’t reach, are perfectly fine.
Also, during the temporary rehoming he became a bit bloated simply because he couldn’t see his reflection in the plastic walls of the emergency tank like he can in the glass walls of his 10g tank.
Simply put, no reflection = no flaring = no pooping
But go figure, he’s back in his nice clean, warm home and there, dead center of the gravel floor, is a huge ball of poop for all who look in to see.
I’ll be scooping that eyesore out tomorrow with a fishnet….
It doesn’t even look like a coil, it looks like one giant solid mass….
I don’t even want to know how he got it out…