This is a discussion on Bored betta? Sick betta? within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; -->
I recently got a new 12-gallon aquarium with plenty of plants to hide in and some rocks. My male betta liked to swim everywhere ...
I recently got a new 12-gallon aquarium with plenty of plants to hide in and some rocks. My male betta liked to swim everywhere when he first entered, but a couple days later I put in three panda cories. Now my betta just swims in a circle on the side of the tank. Is he bored or sick or what?
It's ok :) . Tank parameters are your ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH levels. Testing for these will give you a good idea of your water quality and how it is suited to your tank inhabitants. If you don't have a test kit I would recomment the API liquid test kit. They sell them pretty much everywhere, but if you can't find it any liquid kit will do. Just don't get the strips, they are soooooo inacurate.
I have the strips, but I also have permanent ones for pH and ammonia, which say 6.8 and Safe, respectively. All the other things are in the safe area, but I don't know about the hardness, which is at Very Hard.
Could you elaborate on "safe?" I am not familiar with the tests that you have, but anything over 0 for an ammonia reading may be stressing your fish. Assuming that you do not have ammonia in your tap water, I would do a 25% water change and see if that helps. Did you cycle your 12 gallon?
I've read about those "permanent" tester things. Everything I read was pretty negative; they're inaccurate, expensive and worst of all they can start to fall apart and make a mess of your aquarium.
Stay away from the strips as well. I realize that the all-in-one strips seem like an easy and inexpensive alternative to a good liquid test kit, but they're really inaccurate and end up being expensive since you get so few tests out of each box of strips. Liquid kits are pretty expensive in stores (both chain stores and local mom and pop type places) but you can get great deals on them at online aquarium products stores, like aquariumguys.com and drsfosterandsmith.com. The one I use personally and that is most often recommended by other aquarists on this site is the API Freshwater Master Test Kit.
Getting better results for your tank parameters will help identify reasons why your betta might be acting funny. Another parameter that might be a factor is temperature. Are you running a heater in the tank? Tropical fish can get lethargic if the water is too cold. I suggest getting a good thermometer to keep track of the temperature. Either the stick-on liquid crystal or the internal glass thermometers are a good choice. The digital ones are more expensive and I've heard they can be inaccurate.