Q: I've had my betta now for about 4 days, he swims frequently but also lays at the bottom of the tank a lot, he won't eat, and I've tried everything that there is to offer here.  Could it possibly be something serious or am I just being paranoid?  Thanks

Question submitted by Vanessa, New Brunswick, Canada

A: At the risk of repeating myself (severely) :), I will say it again:

The first few days after a betta's arrival in a hew home are always critical. A fish might arrive in your home looking healthy and promptly nose dive from there. What signs to look for and how to handle this critical period? Here it is:

Signs to look for: If your betta is:

  • not swimming around

  • has clamped fins

  • lying at the bottom or at the top, motionless

  • not eating

  • pale

Then your betta might be either sulking or sick. Since it hard to tell which is which, I recommend that you always:

  • acclimate your new bettas very slowly

  • feed only the best foods (frozen brine shrimp or bloodworms)

  • remove any uneaten foods and keep water very clean

  • always add bettamax to the water as a preventative. Do this every time you change Mr. Betta's water (for about 3 weeks).

  • give Mr. Betta peace and quiet (don't fuss with it too much - avoid tapping the glass or any vibration that will stress it further)

If your betta is just sulking (which is not uncommon), then he will snap out of it eventually. If you have another betta, make sure to put them side by side. In case of sulking, company usually helps immensely. A mirror might do the trick if you do not have another betta.  If your betta is "under the weather", then the bettamax should help. I add bettamax to the water of ALL my new bettas, even if they are acting super healthy. Cause you just never know ;). Sulking may last as long as 10 days. Sickness is another ball game altogether and might get worse if not treated properly. So if after 10 days your betta is still acting sick, then switch from bettamax to Spectrogram or Kanacyn.