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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,
I rescued a betta in 2019 - I found him in a cup on the window sill in my apartment hallway. He came with a note asking for someone to take him. He’s very dear to me so I’m understandably freaked right now. His name is Timmy.

Ive never seen him sick at all, he always eats well and displays normal behavior. However, this morning I went to feed him his favorite bloodworms, and found him on the floor of the aquarium gasping. He wouldn’t even acknowledge bloodworms put right in front of him. Straight away I took him out and put him in fresh water in a separate container. I tested the water and found no issues. I let him chill in the container for several hours and he was back to his normal self. I did do a huge water change in case something was up there, but as soon as I netted him back into the tank he basically had a seizure. His face turned white and he was twitching a bit, and I thought he died. It was awful. After a few minutes, he came to and went right back to gasping at the bottom of the tank. I took him out again and put him back in the container.

i noticed my finger was getting lightly shocked when I touched the surface of the water. I turned everything off and it went away. Can a busted heater do this to a betta? I’ve googled a bit and seen different answers. I took the heater out but I’m scared to put him back in!

the tank is a spec 3. (I’m really sick of this tank, frankly, maybe this is a sign to upgrade.)

thanks!!
 

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I would upgrade. If you are handy you can pin down the defective equipment, but I would just get a new setup. Get a small all in one for just a single beta. 5 gals should be plenty. Add some snails and a plant or 2. Oh, yes the heater can cause electric shock, but is dangerous to try and find the defective equipment by using your finger. A voltmeter will safely work. If you can afford it get a new setup. Good luck.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, I’m definitely looking into it. I’ve got plants, but growing them in the spec is a pain. Ordered a new heater, so should hold him over until I can upgrade
 

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Just make sure it is the heater before returning fish. Don't make him go through that again. ;)
 

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I tested the water and found no issues.
Just to be on the safe side, what does "found no issues" mean? What were your specific water parameters?

While it could be the heater because you felt shocked, it could also be other issues with your setup. Without more specific detail, it's tough to say.

One thing to keep in mind when a heater or other equipment in contact with water fails: possible release of some kind of chemical or heavy metal into your water column. Which is why I asked for specific parameters.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
0 ammonia and nitrites. Minimal nitrates. I don’t have the ability to test for whatever chemicals would be released should the heater have done so. Nor do I think the reaction would have been as instantaneous and violent as it was when I put him back in the tank. It really looked like he was getting electrocuted, and I’m wondering if that small instant where I had contact with the tank through the net grounded whatever electric potential had built. I’m not an electrically-minded person so I don’t know.

I guess a better question might be - does anyone actually have good experience with nano tank heaters? I’ve looked at multiple options over the last day and every single one has huge hit or miss reviews. The last one I had died quickly, and now this one may have electrocuted my pet. And I’ve been overly careful to make sure they don’t get emersed and are shut off during water changes.

I guess it’s kind of surprising to me - we’ve now got off the shelf co2 systems for planted tanks, which didn’t exist when I first got interested. We have all these high end/designer tanks, filters, lily pipes, lights, and we can’t get a heater that works reliably. You’d think someone would have capitalized off of that by now.
 

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I use Eheim and have for years, but I also use heater controllers and suggest you do too. Inkbird has a nice one for a good price.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Do you mean in addition to the built in controller on the standard submersibles you find for nano tanks? The ones I’ve used have always kept temperature stable. I always keep a thermometer in the tank and check it at least twice a week. Never had anything overheat on me…they just die.

Buceplant and Glassaqua have both recommended to me the Aquatop nano heater, and yet the reviews online say they can basically blow up and release whatever heat transfer media into the aquarium. And others say it’s the best thing they’ve ever used.

i will look into eheim. I’ve liked everything else I’ve got from them. Thanks for the rec!
 

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Yes a controller is a separate piece of equipment that controls the heater. You may not need it with a nano heater.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Sure. All of mine have their own control system, which haven’t failed me yet. Though I’m sure the external controller is far more reliable.
 

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An external temperature controller is even more important with a heater (even nano ones) in a small tank. Water temps rise crazy fast when something goes wrong. I've cooked a tank or two in my day and will never set anything up without a controller.

Hard pass on the Aquatop heater, @Snozberrywaffle. I went through 3, all just stopped working after a few weeks. I've had a lot of good luck with the Archea Mini 25w Ultra Slim heater, though. Aqua Forest Aquarium is out of stock but you may be able to find it elsewhere. Cobalt Mini-Therm 10w (I think there are a few different sizes) has also been reliable for me through the years but it's not adjustable like the Archea.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Was also looking at the archaea, so I’m glad to have some positive feedback around it. I’ll ignore the aquatop.

Sounds like the external controller would basically be a fail safe. Makes perfect sense. I will get one.

Timmy has a bit of fishy PTSD, but is still here. He looks insanely stressed and isn’t eating so I’m leaving him alone in the gallon container. Meanwhile doing major water changes to clear out any wonky chemicals. Also put in a bag of matrix carbon to pull out whatever I can. Thanks for the input!
 

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There is one bbig item that I do not see mentioned and it may be quite simple if you don't have a really tight cover on the tank. Almsot all fish will jump at times, so finding afish on the floor may be the first clue. A betta landing on the floor and laying there for a bit until discovered is often going to act weird when put back in the water! It has had a near death expericence and that often leaded to all kind of things that shorten the life. Smacking the floor and being a bit dry is not good for them---if they manage to live!

But if you are feeling a shock when touching the water, that is not good as you are not likely to be well grounded and only getting a portion of the voltage going through you which you might get if you were well grounded like if you touched a faucet? So not something to put up with as it may be you and the fish next time around??

Yes, I fully recommend a temperature controller and never operate a tank without one. When one has not had a heater stick and kill the fish, it is almost required to add "YET" to the statement!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yep, I definitely ordered the controller. I’ve apparently just been very lucky in the past.

the tank always has a lid on it. I’ve only ever seen this fish legitimately freaked out or sick once, and it’s been the last 24 hours. And he’s driven from Houston to Oregon with me in the little one gallon container he’s in right now. (And stayed on the Vegas strip with me for two nights lol). Even after a whole day of driving he’d be his usually dorky, gluttonous self. I really hope he gets better.

Also, to be clear, I dumped that heater as soon as I got the initial shock. It was more like a little static electric charge. I’m not getting shocked anymore.
 

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Was also looking at the archaea, so I’m glad to have some positive feedback around it.
I've been using the 25w (and the larger version) in both fresh and salt water for about 2-2.5 years. If you can find it, it's definitely worth consideration. With the temperature controller you've ordered, of course, to be on the safe side.

Took me months to worth through all of the small heaters available on the market when I wanted to find something that didn't involve risky guessing games. It's wild how few tiny heaters have an adjustable temperature. I understand that cost is a factor but it's supremely frustrating.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
@somewhatshocked thank you for mentioning the chemicals that can be released when a heater fails. I think I have narrowed the issue down to that, or some other contaminant in his usual tank. Though I’m not sure what would have been released. I was using this one: Amazon.com

Timmy finally ate some bloodworms and perked up a lot. He is still in his temporary 1 gallon container. Over the last day I’ve done three 90%+ water changes on the initial spec3, as well as putting a big bag of matrix carbon in the tank. I wanted to see how he’d respond to the tank water, so I replaced maybe 20% of the container water with tank water (within 1 degree F). Lo and behold he very quickly went back to labored breathing at the bottom of the container. Major water change on the container and he’s now ok. A little pale in the face.

Next idea is to completely empty the spec, including filter media. Ill replace soil with sand and easy plants from LFS and retry what I just did. I really just want to get him back in this tank and get him on the mend. I’m not in a spot to completely get a new one quite yet.

Any comments or suggestions are very welcome. I’m at my wits end here. I have no idea what the heck got in this tank, but it’s clearly not great.
 
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