Hi everyone, I'm looking for advice with my new betta. He arrived yesterday and looked fantastic. I put him in his new 30l tank and he started exploring straight away, though moving quite slowly. He was alright up until the evening. I put the tank lights on and he was still swimming around for a bit, but then disappeared inside his coconut shell cave. He came up every now and then for air like other bettas do. I turned the light off when I went to bed, and suddenly he decided to come out of his cave and swim around in the dark. I put it down to maybe he just doesn't like the light on too much and/or he's just hiding while he settles in to his new home. Today I woke to find that he is still sluggishly swimming around his tank, but most of his blue colouration has started fading to white.
This tank has been cycled properly, water parameters are fine, temperature 26C. He nibbled at some freeze-dried bloodworms yesterday so appears to be eating. He has black gravel to hide against, a coconut shell to hide in, a betta hammock if he wants it plus an anubias, some floating plants and some big reed-like plants going to the top of the tank, plus the waterfall effect from filter to play in if he wants.
Is he just settling and I'm worrying over nothing? Other fish have initially been shy and sluggish for a day or two, but the loss of colour is worrying me. He looked fine when he arrived, and that was after spending a day in a bag in a box. If it sounds like something is wrong, what can I do?
Loss of clour is usually a sign of stress. You say there's a waterfall effect from the filter - that may be the cause. Bettas don't like a lot of flow as because of their oversized fins they can struggle swimming. I would reduce the flow from the filter and see if that helps him.
Thanks - I don't think it's the filter, though. It's a very small filter, the flow is so gentle that food and plant matter doesn't even move along the surface of the water. If it wasn't for the fact that water is coming out of the top, I'd question if it was even on. I put the water level as close to the spout as I could, too, just to minimise any unnecessary water agitation. He is swimming around a lot more today, but he still looks faded.
I should mention as well that he's a half moon plakat, so short finned. I know longer finned bettas can move slower due to the weight of their fins tiring them out, but I'm not sure if that's the case for my little guy.
He may just be settling in. The other possibilities are water hardness and temperature. They do best at quite a high temperature; around 28C is commonly quoted as optimum for them. Hardness should be below 14 dGh, and ideally around 8 dGh
You mention he spent a day in a bag in a box; if, by this, you mean he was an online purchase, then the journey and the time since could indeed be stressful for him.
He may just take some time getting used to having the lights on. I had a shoal of tetra fish who absolutely hated having the lights on - in fact, they spent the first year or two without the lights on at all, before I decided to have another go and persevere with trying them out. It's up to you whether you'd prefer to let him settle in without lights, then try again later down the line once he's settled in, or keep persevering now (if indeed the lights are the problem).
I'm not experienced with bettas but some have the marble gene and do change colour, but I'm not sure of timescales for this and it does seem a bit too coincidental for it to be happening now - it does seem more like a settling-in phase.
Hmm, my water hardness is around 14 dGH, I did wonder if that might be having an effect... Though I did read they're happy in harder water than this.
Yes, he was purchased online. I thought he'd be stressed out from the journey, as he spent 24 hours in a bag with probably about 500ml of water in the dark, being moved around, but he looked fine and full of colour. I did decide to put the light on earlier and told myself I'd see how he reacts, and if he hides or looks stressed then I'd turn it off and put a blanket over the tank to stop the living room lights shining in on him too. The light has been on for about two hours now and he looks fine, he's swimming around and haven't seen him in his hide once. Though he still looks a little faded.
Regarding the temperature, I had read that 25C to 27C was best, so I set it to 26. If he doesn't perk up I might try turning it up a degree or two and see if it helps at all.
I'm also naturally a worrier, so I'm now pondering as to whether when he arrived I was so focused on the blue and red colouration and getting him in the tank and settled nicely that I simply didn't notice any whiteness... And now I'm worrying too much about it!
I know that his head and back are naturally white, but it just seems like the lovely deep blue scales along his sides seem to be going pale...