While technically a temporary measure (since my parents are gifting me with a 5gallon for him, but not for five weeks), I was dumb and horrible and terrible (and did I mention horrible, dumb, and terrible?) and now I have to do a 100% water change to improve conditions for my betta, Pearlicus.
Some of the problems, I'm sure, included lack of plants, and riccia in (very) poor "health". So I'm taking the chance to overhaul the tank. An hour of work, and he should have fresh everything, and this horrible mess will never happen again.
I have a Bolbitas heteroclita and a pile of anacharis stems I'm going to put in there. The Bolbitas has a plant weight, and so far I've had a lot of luck keeping anacharis by just sticking the bottom of the stem in the gravel and letting it go from there. I've gotten a couple inches in about two weeks, so it's doing well enough that I'm comfortable putting it in with Pearlicus.
I have 4 gallons of mature, treated water that I put together when I initially thought that 50% daily water-changes were going to have to happen. After two days of water changes, conditions haven't improved enough. Therefore, overhaul it is.
Emergency Tank-Recovery Plan of Attack
1) Clear the area. Lay down towels. Collect the last bucket that's not holding treated water, arrange it nearby. Move candle holders, spare keys, and that pile of flashcards.
2) Put on apron. The Apron shows that I mean business. My roommate won't bother me if I'm wearing The Apron.
3) Haul treated water from the bathroom into the work area.
Active Recovery Phase:
1) Remove Pearlicus from tank, into his bringing-home bowl. Put him on a shelf in the bathroom, out of the way and in the quiet.
2) Siphon out enough water to make carrying the tank comfortable. Then, carry tank to bathtub and pour the rest of the water through a fish net to keep gravel out of the drain.
3) Pick out swords from the now decimated tank. Throw them in the snail repository temporarily. (Move to 10G after clean-up)
4) Using bottled gallon of treated water, rinse the gravel. Swish, and dump out the water again. Rinse tub so roommate doesn't find out.
5) Refill halfway with the good-bucket water, then arrange plants, and finish filling.
6) Arrange drip-acclimation setup to help ease the transition for Pearlicus. Watch closely for an hour. Maybe have a snack.
7) Return Pearlicus to now-clean tank and monitor until bedtime.
*Daily testing for all the stuff I have testing kits for.
*Every-other-day water change, 20-50% depending on parameters, until all-clear and steady.
I truly feel so horrible about what wound up happening. I would like to blame school for literally destroying my sense of time-frame, but I know there is no excuse. It won't happen again, though. The shock of learning my lesson this time will make sure of that.
I'm utterly distracted at work, running through the motions in my head, so I can make this as quick and painless of a project as I physically can. I know it might be silly, since he's survived this long in these conditions, but there's a tiny seed of pure terror inside my gut that I'm going to get home and it will be too late. Maybe I'm grossly overreacting. Maybe I really am crazy. But Pearlicus is the first pet I've owned personally, all to myself, since I started college. I will be so relieved when I get everything fixed for him.
I think it went well. Rinsing out the gravel was almost disgusting, I had to swish it around in several gallons of water before I started pouring off clear water. Definitely a learning experience. When I upgrade Pearlicus to a 5-gallon, I'm going to be using a soil/sand cap substrate and get some MTS to help with that mess. The plants I put in aren't as filling as I had hoped. I underestimated the size of the tank, so I'm going to throw some of the better-off swords back in this afternoon. I'm hoping to catch a nice RAOK to fill my 10g back out, otherwise I'll be putting up a WTB in the next few days, at the very least, well before it starts to truly get chilly in my area (Southeast Michigan. Whee.)