tell her to keep fish cleaner and fish food out of her lil sisters reach. im pretty sure the most common reason for fish deaths is because a small child dumps something like fish food into the tank. ive seen it a million times.
Bettas REALLY need to be kept like other tropical fish in tanks with filters and heaters and all. They live longer and are healthier. Bowls just do not do it for them. Now I know I am going to have many other people posting that they have had bettas who have lived for years in a bowl but that is a real chore and takes very special handling. If you want to keep a tropical fish like a betta then it needs to be in a tank and treated like a tropical fish would be treated. Whether Petco, Petsmart, or any other fish store wants to tell you this Bettas are Tropical fish. They come from the tropical waters of Thailand and not mud puddles either. The waters are warm and not small places that are the size of teacups.
The bettas we see in stores are born and bred in tanks and never treated in rough manners until they reach the fish stores. That is when they are introduced to unheated and dark conditions and start to decline in condition. Most breeders treat them well as they do not ever know when a show quality betta will pop up. When you purchase a betta in the store, take it home and put it in the warm tank and feed it good food in the proper amounts and have the water cycled and filtered properly, the change can be astounding. The costs involved are well worth the change you will see in the fish being healthy and the brightening of the color and the vitality of the fish.
I am sorry that your friends fish died, but it is very important to keep small children away from tanks and bowls where fish are kept. I have heard of more disasters where small children are given access to the fish too soon. They think they are able to play and they are not. It nearly always ends in dead fish.
When and if your friend feels capable of replacing her fish, you can help her to get it set up but it would be my suggestion that you also help her to cycle her tank first so she can have a healthy and happy betta to begin with. If you have a cycled tank you can share some of your filter media with her to help her get one started so it will be an almost instantaneous cycle for her.
I would soak it in a weak solution of bleach water (not the rocks or gravel) and then rinse, rinse, rinse for a few times and let it sit in the sun for a couple of days to sterilize it just in case of infection. Put 1 part bleach and 19 parts water in the tank and wash it down good and it will sterilize it in 30 minutes. So in 5 gallons if you fill to the top in the shower it would take 1 quart of bleach and fill the rest of the tank with water to soak for 30 minutes and then rinse and wipe down good with paper towels (not anything that has been used with detergent or cleaners) and set in the sunshine to disinfect. She can use the things that you can sterilize in the bleach water but not the things made out of rock or gravel as those cannot be sterilized in the bleach as the bleach will not come out of them and they will release chlorine into the tank water. you can soak the heater and the filter if it goes into the water in the tank after they are cleaned except for the cords (wrap the cords securely in a plastic bag and fasten tightly with a rubberband to keep the water out and leave the cords hang outside the tank do not soak them) Only soak the filter if it is a filter type that can be submerged in the water othewise it should be discarded and a new filter purchased (there are small filters that can be purchased that run with an airpump at Walmart or similar stores for little or nothing or a sponge filter can be attached to an airpump)
Decorations made of resin can be bleached and rinsed and reused. Those made of stone or rock cannot.
Usually the tank and all is safe to use when you can no longer smell the bleach in any way and be sure to use a lot of dechlorinating agent in the water when you rinse the tank the last time.
I hope this helps. I hope your friend will be fine and that she will soon have another little friend.
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