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Just how risky is this hobby?


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As a new enthusiast of the fish keeping hobby I have been doing all the research I can to get some foundational knowledge and maybe have a bit of an idea what to do if things go wrong. 

I have a pet betta that I'm very fond of- a replacement after losing my very first betta ever to columnaris.  This is my first tank and I've already lost quite a lot,  which I put down to a mix of having an uncycled tank (one of the things I didn't know about at first) and poor quality fish from my lfs. 

The result of all this is that I'm very nervy that something will go wrong with my betta. I have been researching the different diseases so that I can spot if he isn't healthy but all the research is making me think that disease and fish death is a lot more common then I'd like to think. (It's to the point where I'm obsessively checking my betta out every day to make sure he hasn't picked up some kind of symptom overnight, and wondering whether him lying on the gravel for a minute or two and napping in various hiding places is laziness or a sign he is feeling lethargic/sick)

I'd appreciate some input from some of the more experienced hobbiests on this. What are the odds really like? - especially for those of us with less knowledge/ experience?

I would like to think that I don't need to worry obsessively over my little friend, but obviously, if the hobby is 60% heartbreak it would be best to know this now. This way I can figure out if it's worth the angst personally. 

Basically exactly how much vigilance is necessary to make sure our pets don't die? Are we running tanks or life support systems for critical care patients? (Yeah,  I know it's a bit of both, but you get my meaning, right?)

Edited by HonourWest
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All fish have some bacteria and parasites. All fish stores have the same no matter how well maintained it is inconceivable for any store other than awesome aq coop to do proper quarantine and meds. Health and low stress allow their immune system to combat these easily as nature has provided for so they have no adverse affect on the fish.  Otherwise all wild fish would die. We stress them by relocation parameter change lack of proper nutrition during store keep.  

Quarantine and coop med trio are A GAME CHANGER! 

Utilizing proper quarantine methods and now the trio I have (knock on wood) now not experienced bacterial or parasite issues in my many tanks.  I even do med trio quarantine on my plants now ROFL!  

Proper care and water quality combined with med trio and the risk so to speaks dwindles to the same as a cat or dog illness.

you will experience loses in quarantine it is inevitable....I envy anyone who has never lost a new arrival.

This forum will help with questions 

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There are joys and heartbreaks in fishkeeping, just as with just about everything else we do in life. My oldest cat is in decline now and I dread the day she's gone. But I've treasured the good and bad times with her. Losing any pet should hurt, if not you're not as human as I like to think most of us are. Fish are a little trickier to maintain than some pets and not as difficult as others. If you get joy from keeping fish, then you should keep fish and just accept that death happens. (Deaths in tanks are a fraction of what takes place in the wild though. It's been estimated that fewer than 1% of the fish born in the wild survive to adulthood.) You've given a nice home to a betta who otherwise might have died in a jar at a pet shop form neglect. You're giving him the best life you can. That's all you can do. Enjoy him while you have him and take joy in him.  

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On 7/1/2021 at 7:02 AM, HonourWest said:

As a new enthusiast of the fish keeping hobby I have been doing all the research I can to get some foundational knowledge and maybe have a bit of an idea what to do if things go wrong. 

I have a pet betta that I'm very fond of- a replacement after losing my very first betta ever to columnaris.  This is my first tank and I've already lost quite a lot,  which I put down to a mix of having an uncycled tank (one of the things I didn't know about at first) and poor quality fish from my lfs. 

The result of all this is that I'm very nervy that something will go wrong with my betta. I have been researching the different diseases so that I can spot if he isn't healthy but all the research is making me think that disease and fish death is a lot more common then I'd like to think. (It's to the point where I'm obsessively checking my betta out every day to make sure he hasn't picked up some kind of symptom overnight, and wondering whether him lying on the gravel for a minute or two and napping in various hiding places is laziness or a sign he is feeling lethargic/sick)

I'd appreciate some input from some of the more experienced hobbiests on this. What are the odds really like? - especially for those of us with less knowledge/ experience?

I would like to think that I don't need to worry obsessively over my little friend, but obviously, if the hobby is 60% heartbreak it would be best to know this now. This way I can figure out if it's worth the angst personally. 

Basically exactly how much vigilance is necessary to make sure our pets don't die? Are we running tanks or life support systems for critical care patients? (Yeah,  I know it's a bit of both, but you get my meaning, right?)

There are seasons in the hobby. Getting past the “ER Phase” is part of the journey. I’d warmly encourage you: press on! There is a whole world of joy past this worry.

Fish disease almost always is connected to (1) new fish brought in that bring illness to share, (2) over-feeding and poor water quality, and (3) congenital conditions that manifest over time.

Now Bettas are notoriously inbred. So from a congenital standpoint, bear in mind that they’re sometimes starting the game dealt a bad hand.

In general, the best advice I’ve been given is that more live plants tend towards more healthy fish. Betta may benefit from a portion of Catappa leaf (Indian almond leaf) added to their water.

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On 7/1/2021 at 9:43 PM, Guppysnail said:

Quarantine and coop med trio are A GAME CHANGER! 

 

Yeah, I'd get co-op stuff but I'm in Australia- I'm sure they ship internationally but not sure it's worth the wait period each time. I've been using Seachem Prime and Stability for my tank though, as recommended by someone else.

On 7/1/2021 at 9:47 PM, gardenman said:

There are joys and heartbreaks in fishkeeping, just as with just about everything else we do in life. My oldest cat is in decline now and I dread the day she's gone. But I've treasured the good and bad times with her. Losing any pet should hurt, if not you're not as human as I like to think most of us are. Fish are a little trickier to maintain than some pets and not as difficult as others. If you get joy from keeping fish, then you should keep fish and just accept that death happens. (Deaths in tanks are a fraction of what takes place in the wild though. It's been estimated that fewer than 1% of the fish born in the wild survive to adulthood.) You've given a nice home to a betta who otherwise might have died in a jar at a pet shop form neglect. You're giving him the best life you can. That's all you can do. Enjoy him while you have him and take joy in him.  

I'm so sorry to hear that! I have a feline best buddy as well who is getting on. I love my little betta but my cat is like a child to me. Really feel for you.

On 7/1/2021 at 9:59 PM, Guppysnail said:

Ps...illness and such are not as common as you might think. You here on the internet so much illness but reality is people don’t post hey guy my fish is healthy.....the healthy outweighs the bad easily a million to one if handled correctly 

I was hoping this, but wanted to confirm it from people who have been keeping fish for  a fair while. 

Unlike most people on this forum, I'll never be able to go into fish keeping in a 'big' way, simply because we do not have the living space. I have a 30 litre tank that is going to be my pride and joy, but it's extremely unlikely I'll be getting another one.

On 7/1/2021 at 10:09 PM, Fish Folk said:

There are seasons in the hobby. Getting past the “ER Phase” is part of the journey. I’d warmly encourage you: press on! There is a whole world of joy past this worry.

Fish disease almost always is connected to (1) new fish brought in that bring illness to share, (2) over-feeding and poor water quality, and (3) congenital conditions that manifest over time.

Now Bettas are notoriously inbred. So from a congenital standpoint, bear in mind that they’re sometimes starting the game dealt a bad hand.

In general, the best advice I’ve been given is that more live plants tend towards more healthy fish. Betta may benefit from a portion of Catappa leaf (Indian almond leaf) added to their water.

My tank is planted. Unfortunately I got the plants at the same store, so most of them lost a lot of their leaves to rot. Trimmed them back and I'm hoping they'll reestablish and grow. I'll probably buy more however.

I've also ordered some almond leaves as I want the tank to be as healthy as possible- you said "portion" though- is there such a thing as too much almond leaf? (I was just going to chuck a whole one in to the tank.)

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Posted (edited)
On 7/1/2021 at 8:21 AM, HonourWest said:

Yeah, I'd get co-op stuff but I'm in Australia- I'm sure they ship internationally but not sure it's worth the wait period each time. I've been using Seachem Prime and Stability for my tank though, as recommended by someone else.

I'm so sorry to hear that! I have a feline best buddy as well who is getting on. I love my little betta but my cat is like a child to me. Really feel for you.

I was hoping this, but wanted to confirm it from people who have been keeping fish for  a fair while. 

Unlike most people on this forum, I'll never be able to go into fish keeping in a 'big' way, simply because we do not have the living space. I have a 30 litre tank that is going to be my pride and joy, but it's extremely unlikely I'll be getting another one.

My tank is planted. Unfortunately I got the plants at the same store, so most of them lost a lot of their leaves to rot. Trimmed them back and I'm hoping they'll reestablish and grow. I'll probably buy more however.

I've also ordered some almond leaves as I want the tank to be as healthy as possible- you said "portion" though- is there such a thing as too much almond leaf? (I was just going to chuck a whole one in to the tank.)

You can place a whole leaf floating on the surface. Male bettas often build bubble nests underneath them. Here’s a short video of my little son’s male betta with an almond leaf in...

And here’s a well-planted tank, no almond leaves, my older son put together for his female koi betta...

For plants, we like easy, hardy plants like Wisteria, Java fern, and crypt. Rotala Indica works nicely as a short foreground plant.

I mention “a portion” because almond leaves will release tannins, which turns your water amber. Sometimes you’ll just want a smaller tannin release. So a piece of almond leaf will do in a smaller space.

We have a jug system ready to go  for keeping bettas when breeding / separating. I use Rooibos tea bags - I float 1x bag per 1x gallon for 1x day to release tannins.

BE2065A1-C987-43FD-A7B2-9E413743B2E9.jpeg.df8d7a842d1a9732af6dfcd1abab6697.jpeg

B62D30AD-D832-4436-A850-49D85B2DD490.jpeg.ef0a9f60b474d77d897d5fe3f55540fd.jpeg

6CE60E68-C530-409C-B27C-8559425DB5FE.jpeg.0cafa742ac4e34c267087eb3c3014cb4.jpeg

Edited by Fish Folk
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On 7/1/2021 at 10:34 PM, Fish Folk said:

You can place a whole leaf floating on the surface. Male bettas often build bubble nests underneath them. Here’s a short video of my little son’s male betta with an almond leaf in...

And here’s a well-planted tank, no almond leaves, my older son put together for his female koi betta...

For plants, we like easy, hardy plants like Wisteria, Java fern, and crypt. Rotala Indica works nicely as a short foreground plant.

I mention “a portion” because almond leaves will release tannins, which turns your water amber. Sometimes you’ll just want a smaller tannin release. So a piece of almond leaf will do in a smaller space.

We have a jug system ready to go  for keeping bettas when breeding / separating. I use Rooibos tea bags - I float 1x bag per 1x gallon for 1x day to release tannins.

BE2065A1-C987-43FD-A7B2-9E413743B2E9.jpeg.df8d7a842d1a9732af6dfcd1abab6697.jpeg

B62D30AD-D832-4436-A850-49D85B2DD490.jpeg.ef0a9f60b474d77d897d5fe3f55540fd.jpeg

6CE60E68-C530-409C-B27C-8559425DB5FE.jpeg.0cafa742ac4e34c267087eb3c3014cb4.jpeg

I watched both the videos- loved the one with your little boy. He's a bright kid! :classic_smile:

I don't mind the colour from the tannins. I'd rather the water was brown if that makes my betta healthier and happier.

Your jug system looks kinda complicated, but I'm guessing you're showing for the water colour? So could I use any rooibos tea? (I didn't even know tea was safe for fish!)

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Posted (edited)
On 7/1/2021 at 8:50 AM, HonourWest said:

I watched both the videos- loved the one with your little boy. He's a bright kid! :classic_smile:

I don't mind the colour from the tannins. I'd rather the water was brown if that makes my betta healthier and happier.

Your jug system looks kinda complicated, but I'm guessing you're showing for the water colour? So could I use any rooibos tea? (I didn't even know tea was safe for fish!)

I use Twinings Pure Rooibos Red Tea. Just float 1x bag until you like the color. It’s fine for fish. I don’t recommend other kinds of tea.

9FA04C5F-235C-4B0B-BFD5-FB5340E2849C.jpeg.74426a0fb49c65742ad9b1e3d48e4cac.jpeg

Jug system is very easy. (1) buy a clear jug of sweet tea or lemonade from Chick-fil-a — or anyplace else where you can find one (2) cut off the top leaving the handle (3) insert a primed “bacto-surge” sponge filter, fishing an airline through the handle, and connect to the amazing metal Aquarium Co-Op gang valve.

E337456B-6B66-4CE7-A250-66DB3DC91A02.jpeg.8b13ee33611524d7c6317f7bc3b92fe8.jpeg

After that, add plants to your liking. Float tea bags... whatever.

D1B988C8-ECBF-4664-950C-F51B020B2DBA.jpeg.68af4c6c62abb9fac47c6f86cc57a182.jpeg

Edited by Fish Folk
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Last May we imported a Koi Betta from Thailand. He visited Texas first and then was shipped to us in WA (Washington State, not Western Australia). He arrived heathy and quickly became a family favorite in his planted aquarium. We even bought him a much larger and more expensive tank. We never thought we’d spend $100 on a light for a fish tank! He thrived, but one day in late summer he stopped blowing bubble nests and begging for food. He floated listlessly on the bottom and deteriorated fast. We decided we couldn’t watch him suffer and he went into the clove oil. Afterwards we went to Aquarium Coop and talked to the staff about it. They explained the genetic problems that sometimes affect Bettas, and let us know that it wasn’t our fault and we’d done the best we could. 
 We were heartbroken but still enjoy the hobby. We’ve since bought another Betta, and three more tanks filled with fish and plants! 

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Posted (edited)
On 7/1/2021 at 7:02 AM, HonourWest said:

making me think that disease and fish death is a lot more common then I'd like to think

Yes & no....

I've been keeping fish- off and on, for well over 40 years.  In all of that time, I can count the number of "premature" casualties on 2 hands (this includes literally thousands for fish over the years.

Fish-keeping is a microcosm of the same variables that plague all living organisms, everywhere around us.  Overpopulation causes disease, same with lack of sanitation, pollution, etc.  This is demonstrated every day in this hobby, due to the closed nature of the system we are striving to make successful.

What you reading about, and what you've experienced yourself, is the result of people entering the hobby with little of the required thought, education or planning. 

"Oh, I want one of those beautiful Betta fishes!" or "I'm going to get some big goldfish."  So, off the the LFS they go, not realizing that this required much more than a simple fish bowl and a jar of food.

So yes, a lot of fish die from lack of proper care.  But no, the majority of dedicated hobbyists, who have taken the time and effort to educate themselves, do not frequently contribute to this.

It's not hard, but there are "rules" that need to be followed.

 

Edited by tonyjuliano
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I have found that the hardest part is getting started. I killed plenty getting started. It seemed the more I stressed over the fish to make sure there was no problem, the faster they seemed to die. However, once I finally got settled and worked many of the kinks out (still working on some, haha) it was much easier, less time consuming, and far more enjoyable. For me, it was worth the effort to continue. You must make that decision, but ultimately, it does get easier if you work at I promise. 

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I've always found if fish to get sick, it's generally something off balance with the tanks first. Having a check list isn't being OCD and observing every day can go a long way for preventative issues.  Know your bio system and how it runs.  Meds are generally a last resort for me, when I use them I watch and wait, and watch and wait some more before knee jerking and treating with something else. It's like going to the Dr and  being given a dozen prescriptions.. if that doesn't work try this.  They all have side effects and can be hard on our systems.  If I have a fish that is wasting or pine-coning,  I've found the likely hood of success is slim and stressing on the fish and owner, and I opt to kindly euthanize rather than drag it out for a week.  

Some fish are just bred poorly, I had a run of this with my first imported Bolivian Rams.  I've never had any trouble with my home bred Rams.  Back luck happens too.  An example, my 2 day long enjoyment of a new Arabesque Pleco that broke my wallet, thought I would give her a nicer piece of driftwood for a cave not realizing she was attached to the bottom of the piece I was removing.  Heartbreaking to learn she had dropped off and dehydrated on the floor.   On a whole though, it's such a rewarding  passion once you get it right.  

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I think this is a valuable topic. All of that obsessive watching and stressing you are doing is.....learning. Observation is priceless. You will eventually be able view and better understand what a well-oiled machine looks like.  On the flip side, that will make any small signs of imbalance stand out, and you'll be able to react sooner. (Sometimes the reacting is just observation)

It gets easier as it goes. The more you learn, the less you'll worry, and the more you'll enjoy.

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One of the thing that I always try to keep in mind is that Mother Nature on her own can be ruthless.  Most of us have tanks that are full of creatures that qualify as "low on the food chain".  In the wild,  their lives are likely to be a constant pressure to mature as quickly as possible,  compete for limited food, compete for a mate and have a spawn or two, and then become food for a larger predator (often in a gruesome and painful way).   If we can "tip nature's scales" and create environments that "feel natural",  remove the risks and stressors,  and provide care and treatments when needed...even with the failures,  I'd argue that we're doing something to that provides a decent or even better quality life for creatures.

@HonourWest If losing creatures is something that's emotionally difficult and you want to participate in the hobby,   you may want to consider trying something like a shrimp colony.  Once you get one going,  you should have a constant cycle of new births and maturing juveniles to soften the losses from age or disease.  Food for thought.

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