Critical Basic Goldfish Care info
The Puregold Page will answer many health questions
Advanced care topics and more
Some photos of my goldfish
I have been mightily blessed with healthy bettas. Because of this, I cannot diagnose any problems you are having with your fish. So save your time emailing and go to these links! They will give you more info than I ever could. Do a partial water change, and check these links out.
Common Diseases and treatments
Still more info and links
Betta Garden myths and care
The Betta WebRing is managed by Terri Gianola.
Betta WebRing made possible by the Webring and New Dream Network.
Many common questions and their answers
(lots of info here)
Medications and Manufacturers
(which meds have which chemicals)
Common betta illnesses and treatments
(applies to most fish)
Symptom-based treatment of common discus diseases
(with good diagnosing info)
Diseases and Treatments of Golfish and Koi
(from the puregold page, great stuff)
(mostly diagnostic info, little treatment info)
Dips and Baths
(chemicals and what they treat)
Aquarium Freshwater Fish Diseases
(great info on life cycles and treatments)
Goldfish Health and Treatments
(Also includes links)
(quarantine info and more)
Using Formalin for Treating Fish Parasites
(from the University of Florida)
Diseases, Parasites and other Maladies
(an all-around nice site)
The following links all deal with Fish Tuberculosis, which I am still researching.
Symptoms in fish and humans
How to diagnose TB
"Betta Gardens" -- vases with a fish inside and a plant atop -- seem to be everywhere. Unfortunately, the info provided -- if any is provided -- with the gardens is often horribly incorrect. Many people who have bought them say that they were told that the bettas never had to be fed, and the water never had to be changed.
That is a truckload of dog-doo.
I have owned bettas for years, and have written about them, and been on email lists about them.
The story of all of the incorrect instructions I have heard comes from an aquarium shop owner. The story is that originally, the person that came up with the idea for what is now a 'betta garden' was going to use a single goldfish, because they are so much less expensive than a betta. The goldfish, the person rationalized, could eat the roots -- and should be given no other food. Of course, the goldie toxed out after a short time. So they started using bettas, and didn't change any of the info or literature. They are even selling them in grocery stores.
Bettas will eat vegetation, but they need other foods. I have had bettas live quite happy and healthy for 3-4 years on standard flake foods. Needless to say, roots are not sufficient. A lady at a local fish store is especially enraged about the 'not needing to feed them' part, and told me it takes about 3 months for the poor things to finally starve to death.
Their water *MUST* be changed. Bettas are messy, and when they make their bubblenests, a film will appear on the top of the water. A buildup of ammonia will hurt their fins.
They are very charming fish, and I do so hate to see them done this way. In the wild, the males have very small territories, and will defend it from and kill other males. But that is in a pond or stream. Just because they -can- survive in a small territory does not mean they will thrive. They are treated almost as badly as feeder goldfish because of this. I have seen them in stores where they were kept in a tied-up plastic baggie, no bigger than your fist, for weeks.
If you feed the fish, and do a water change about once a week (depending on the size of the vase or bowl), you will have a very pretty thing. Make sure the betta can get oxygen from the surface. Of course, the bigger the bowl, or vase, the better for the betta. The roots are actually a good thing, because bettas love to be on the 'prowl' and hide, and the roots provide a place for that.
Also, about once a week it is good to let the betta see its reflection, from a small mirror or even a cd. The betta will flare at its reflection, thereby stretching out its fins -- sort of like exercise.
I have never really had a disease problem with bettas, and from others have heard that they can take temperature and pH swings in stride.
Sorry to go on and on about it, but please spread the word... improperly maintained 'betta gardens' are very cruel.
So I have fussed enough, don't you think? Time for some info on doing it right. Or, at least trying to do it right. If you feel you MUST have a betta garden, Check out these guidelines....
Betta Garden Guidelines
What I would do is to either buy a pre-made garden, and care for it correctly, or I suppose you could make your own. Important tips for both look like this.
Before you buy the betta:
Get as large of a vase as you can find/manage, your gems or rocks for the bottom, and some plastic "gems" for the top. Also get water conditioners (Stress Coat or NovAqua) to remove chlorine and other harmful chemicals from your water, betta food -- or just regular tropical fish food, and a bucket for aging your water.
Thoroughly clean the vase with water, but no soap.
Find the plant you will use. Philodendrons (spelling?) or pothos will live with their roots in water. Try to find one that has been grown in water. If you can't, get a potted plant and clean it thoroughly. Thoroughly! You need to make sure any pesticides or fertilizers are completely washed away from the roots and leaves. By the way, many of the plants in betta gardens are toxic to other animals. Check out the plant you want with a florist, garden center specialist, horticulturist or veterinarian to be sure it is safe.
Prepare the water by filling the bucket with lukewarm water, adding the conditioner, and allowing it to sit at least overnight. Wash the rocks or gems with water only.
Practice putting the garden together without a fish. It is best to perfect this before you have a little fish below you wondering what is going on. You will have to figure this out -- I have never put one of them together. My betta resides in a 3-gallon tank with rocks and plants and a little cave. I guess you put gems in the bottom, add water -- leave several inches of space on top for the betta to get fresh air, then arrange the plant in the top and use glass or plastic gems to hold it in place. I guess. Like I said, try it without a fish first.
For the final version, fill the vase with the prepared water, leaving several inches at the top for the betta's breathing room.
Now you can go and select your betta.
Once you have your betta or betta garden:
Feed your fish a small pinch of food every day. Both the betta and the plant will appreciate this.
Change its water at least once a week -- put the betta in another bowl or a clean styrofoam cup with something over it -- they will jump out -- and dump the old water, rinse the bowl with aged, conditioned water, and refill. Then add the fish and reassemble.
Always leave several inches of space above the water line for the betta to get fresh air to breathe. They breathe oxygen from the air, just like we do.
Never add another betta or any other sort of fish into the vase.
A large vase will not only make a more impressive betta garden, but it will also mean a happier, healthier, more active and more beautiful fish. And that's why you wanted this setup in the first place.