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Thread: I got a Sick Betta...now what?

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    Cavy Slave YourSoJelly's Avatar
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    I got a Sick Betta...now what?

    So before I start- I DO NOT approve of the terrible conditions pet store animals are kept in. However, I bought a male crown tailed betta fish because he was basically dead anyways. I have named him Alpha.

    He has a tank that has 2 gallons, with rocks in the bottom and fake plants. I have attached some pictures of him, and I'll try to put the better pictures up in a second post. I just couldn't leave him there. He has these little food kernels from TetraFish, along with water purification tablets.

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  2. #2
    Cavy Slave YourSoJelly's Avatar
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    Re: I got a Sick Betta...now what?

    1) Sorry for such large photos in these two posts…i had to upload via URL Photobucket. Anyways, he seems to be making a lot of improvements-diving down a couple inches; eating a bit; swimming for about 6 inches then stopping for break, then swimming again…

    2)I just watched him try to dive down and it's like he couldn't. It looked like someone trying to swim to the bottom of the pool with a float vest on- they bob right back to the top. I'm not sure what would cause that...

    3) His top fin is like bent around his body and makes him tilt from side to side, not sure what could cause this either.

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    Last edited by YourSoJelly; 01-15-15 at 11:28 pm.

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    Cavy Slave YourSoJelly's Avatar
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    Re: I got a Sick Betta...now what?

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    Cavy Slave aqh88's Avatar
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    Re: I got a Sick Betta...now what?

    If he can't go down and especially if he tips to the side it could be a swim bladder or intestinal issue. It happens frequently in goldfish. The usual suggestion is to feed them something like peas as a mild food and laxative instead of the high fat fish foods for awhile. It at least won't do any harm as long as you keep any missed food cleaned up out of the tank.

    Water quality is a HUGE part of keeping fish healthy and tiny betta tanks are actually the most difficult. I would at least buy an ammonia test. The liquid test not the strips. You want 0 ammonia unless you want to attempt to cycle the tank and keep good bacteria alive to eat the ammonia. This is a complicated process and somewhat difficult in a small tank. The best is to water change, water change, water change... But you don't want to use fresh tap water. All sorts of problems can be had. Store some water in a nonreactive container like a pitcher or various things food liquids can come in so it can degas and reach room temp. You can also just use the buffered drinking water bought by the gallon in grocery stores. Usually it has a blue lid. You don't want spring water, distilled water, or floridated water. Just filtered and re buffered (it should have things like calcium carbonate) drinking water. If using tapwater a heavy metal treatment is good. Prime is a favorite product. It can also help keep the water quality up even when using the purer drinking water instead of tap. Some other ammonia treatments can give a false reading on tests.

    If the fins or scales have a lot of damage a melafix treatment can help. Use sparingly and again change the water frequently. You don't want to build up old dosages of it as you treat.

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    Cavy Slave Soecara's Avatar
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    Re: I got a Sick Betta...now what?

    The second biggest mistake people make with fighter fish is overfeeding. Their stomachs are only the size of their eyeball so they only need a really small amount of food, and most pellet food will expand in water.

    However by far the biggest mistake people make is keeping them in small jars with no heating or filtration. While they are capable of living with no heater they tend to be much healthier when kept at a stable warm temperature, when I kept fighters I aimed for about 25-26 Celsius. As smaller containers have a smaller water volume the waste from the fish builds up much faster, but doing 100% water changes just gets rid of all of the bacteria in the nitrogen cycle making the issue worse. Also smaller containers limit the swimming room of the fish meaning they are not as active as they should be. It is also impossible to get a filter for a small jar, let alone it being ill advised as the current would be quite strong.

    As people tend to overfeed and house them in environments with poor water quality they are prone to bloat and swim bladder issues. Overall your fish doesn't physically look ill (just a bit depressed), however swimming issues is a sign of internal issues. If you can in the near future consider upgrading him to something like a 5 gallon tank with a smaller heater and a hang on filter.

    Also if you were not aware any chlorinated water should be treated with dechlorinates before being added to the tank.

  6. "Thank you, Soecara, for this useful post," says:


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    Cavy Slave YourSoJelly's Avatar
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    Re: I got a Sick Betta...now what?

    @aqh88 okay. We have peas down stairs, I can warm him up one. Should I take off the skin? Okay can I get those tests at the pet store? And is that water called "buffered drinking water"?
    @Soecara He had 3 pellets when we were in the store, but only ate one then I put a few more in his take when we got home and he ate 1 of those. The ones he didn't eat sank to the bottom.

    Oh I know about the small jars! When I first bought him I made them change his water and he was like a new fish, actually SWIMMING! His tank has 2 gallons in it- it's the biggest I can get hime or the time being. I know I have a 5-7 gallon tank but my parents said no (for now- persuasion will eventually happen in a few weeks) because they didn't want me to get him in the first place. He just looked so pitiful I couldn't bear to go home without him. Right now he's in my bathroom, under the heating vent (it's on the ceiling 5 feet above him) as an attempted heater. We bought him a filter, but the stupid thing said "Small Tank filter" but the directions said "Pump and tubing sold separately" so it was useless.

    Were going today to get him a heater, a real filter, some MelaFix(incase it becomes necessary), Prime, and ammonia & nitrate tests, and probably bloodworms too. We weren't really able to buy him much yesterday because it was 8:45 at night and we were in Meijer, which already has a sparse animal section.

    Thank you both so much for the help! I typed this while I was in bed this morning, so I hope he's still alive...

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: I got a Sick Betta...now what?

    keep us updated please im interested to know how everything turns out!

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    Cavy Slave YourSoJelly's Avatar
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    I got a Sick Betta...now what?

    @piggielover200 -will do! I'm happy to say he is still alive.


    We will also have to purchase him peas (my mom hates them to we have none in the house), a tank thermometer, and I decided on BettaFix instead of MetaFix because according to a fish forum, sometimes MF is too strong for an overly sick fish.

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    Cavy Star, Photo Contest Winner Gforcepiggies's Avatar
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    Re: I got a Sick Betta...now what?

    Also, his fins look pretty ripped up, so maybe get some non-iodized salt and add one teaspoon per gallon. Make sure to dissolve the salt first before putting in with him or it could hurt him. I tried Males for a few years, but i found females are just easier to care for, as they can live together if they are not the same color. Right now I have three in the same 20 gallon tank and they are all fine!I hope Alpha gets better soon. I would most certainly get him a filter and a heater.

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    Cavy Slave YourSoJelly's Avatar
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    Re: I got a Sick Betta...now what?

    @Gforcepiggies thats how his fins are supposed to look, for the most part. CrownTailed Bettas have that shredded fin look. Thank you though.

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    Cavy Slave Guardian Starka's Avatar
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    Re: I got a Sick Betta...now what?

    I usually have a small bag of frozen peas always in my freezer. I have a pearl danio who is prone to bladder problems. I warm it up, take the outside shell off and mush the inside so he can eat it rather easily.
    I would suggest getting some Aquarium Salt this will help him heal. It only takes a little, for such a small tank.
    Prime is the most wonderful water conditioner ever and the only one I suggest. It only takes a little, like a couple drops for your tank.
    If the tank doesn't have any beneficial bacteria I would be changing 1/4 of the water daily(adding the salt and prime with the new water) I would also suggest getting a liquid test kit, paper test kits aren't very reliable.
    Betta's like slow moving water so beware of high powered filters.
    Most of the time I just change the water and add the salt to the tank and they usually heal, the only time I have used medication is when they have a fungus or growth.
    He is a beautiful betta and I hope he makes it. I had one like him that his name was Bacon.
    Good Luck! and remember a bigger tank is always better!

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    Cavy Slave CavieGuy's Avatar
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    Re: I got a Sick Betta...now what?

    First of all...you do not want to add non iodize salt or aquarium salt. That is an old method and no longer used by many hobbyist. How the Aquarium salt works, it irritates the fish which makes them produce a slime coat. Not the best method, just do daily partial water changes with dechlorinated water. Providing pristine water will help.

    You also want to provide the Betta a heater, they are tropical fish and should be kept in tropical temperature. Also purchase a filter, bigger tank and cycle Those water purification tablets can be thrown away...they are useless IMO.

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    Cavy Slave Guardian Starka's Avatar
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    Re: I got a Sick Betta...now what?

    Quote Originally Posted by CavieGuy View Post
    First of all...you do not want to add non iodize salt or aquarium salt. That is an old method and no longer used by many hobbyist. How the Aquarium salt works, it irritates the fish which makes them produce a slime coat. Not the best method, just do daily partial water changes with dechlorinated water. Providing pristine water will help.

    You also want to provide the Betta a heater, they are tropical fish and should be kept in tropical temperature. Also purchase a filter, bigger tank and cycle Those water purification tablets can be thrown away...they are useless IMO.
    I changed my mind and agree CavieGuy, leave out the salt. I find it funny that every mom and pop shop around here always suggested to always have salt in the tank. I never really agreed with that but only used salt when the fish had a fungus or was wounded, because I thought it would prevent get diseases not making them feel worse. But that is good information. Thank You! Looks like I need to get back on the fish forum and find out what else has changed.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: I got a Sick Betta...now what?

    DON'T FEED THE PEA!!! Betta fish are insectivores and peas are NOT recommended for them. It can cause digestive problems and make matters worse. If you need something to get their system moving you feed frozen daphnia. To keep fiber in their diet, frozen brine shrimp are okay.

    1) You should switch to a higher quality food like New Life Spectrum or Omega One.

    2) If you're not heating the tank between 76-82 degrees his digestive system can slow down increasing the chance of SBD. He needs a heater.

    3) NEVER use AQ salt for SBD. AQ (aquarium salt) increases fluid retention which will make it worse. Epsom salt is okay, 1tsp per g, up to 3 tsp per g if necessary.

    I would guess getting him a heater and improving his diet will take care of your problems. He looks stressed too, which a good log or something to hide in will help.

    I've had betta fish for going on 25 years now, and when I worked at the pet store brought home the sick fish. I've dealt with probably around 100 sick fish at this point.

    ETA: He doesn't need Bettafix. Bettafix isn't going to do anything, and I know some fish who have had reactions to it that killed them. I would never use a "fix" product. Yes, I know the myths surrounding "fix" products. But, in my experience I think there are fish that are sensitive to something in it and I've seen fish with minor cases of fin rot die after using it.

    ETAA: I would recommend going to a species specific forum like bettafish .com. Many of the people on there have decades of experience with Betta Fish, and can offer you species specific advice. What works for one species can kill another.
    Last edited by ClemmyOddieIndy; 01-16-15 at 01:19 pm.

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    Cavy Slave dani_starr's Avatar
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    Re: I got a Sick Betta...now what?

    In the first picture, despite being a crown tail, it does look like he has fin rot. Here's a healthy red, crown tail betta for comparison http://www.aquariumdomain.com/images...tail_male4.jpg

    However, in the last couple of pictures, his fins are looking better. I'm guessing having clean water has really helped.

    Like others members have touched on, it is probably swim bladder. Just feed him a thawed, de shelled frozen pea chopped up into bite sized pieces.

    I second getting rid of the water tablets, and getting a bottle of Prime instead. Prime is amazing. "It removes chlorine, chloramine and ammonia from tap water, and detoxifies nitrite and nitrate. It also promotes the production and regeneration of the natural slime coat of fish. Use Prime when setting up your aquarium, and whenever adding or changing water." Until then, at least get some AquaSafe, Tetra BettaSafe, or Stress Coat. You want an actual liquid conditioner, not just dissolvable tablets.

    While I agree that bettas need heated, filtered tanks, filtering a tank as small as 2 gallons is unfortunately a bad idea. The filter will take up a good deal of swimming space, and unless you get an adjustable flow filter, the flow will be too high and push your betta around. Heat is essential though, as bettas need it to be around 80F or so. A cold betta, is sick and lethargic.

    Since filters are out of the question, that pretty much means you have to do 100% water changes daily. This can also be stressful for fish.

    Also, I would highly recommend switching out those plastic plants for some silk ones. Plastic plants are notorious for bettas tearing their fins on the sharp edges. Silk plants don't carry that risk. You can get a pack of 3 for really cheap at Walmart or any local pet/fish store.

    You mention your parents are not wanting you to switch to a bigger tank. Have you tried explaining to them how essential it is? A 5 gallon won't take up much more room than a 2 gallon (although, with all that gravel in there, it's more like a 1.5 gallon).

    Here's a 5 gallon that is only $30 http://www.walmart.com/ip/Hawkeye-5-...-Pets/17480272 You would just need a heater. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Tetra-Heat...-Pets/10291808 This one works well for smaller tanks, and is pretty small in size.

    You could probably find a cheap 5 gallon set up for only a few dollars on craigslist as well.

    I second getting a liquid ammonia kit. Read up on fish cycling if you haven't already.

    Another thing, I know how hard it is to see bettas suffering and want to "rescue" them and bring them home. However, for this betta that you saved, another betta will be replacing him, kept in the same, awful conditions. It's an endless cruel cycle. The only way to break it is by refusing to purchase bettas from stores. Next time, if you really want a betta, look on craigslist and similar sites.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: I got a Sick Betta...now what?

    Where are all you guys hearing about the peas!? It's advice that came out of the Goldfish community, and it's not recommended for Betta fish. It's like people in the guinea pig community encouraging balls because hamster people said it's okay. What is it that people think the pea is doing? 1) Betta fish do not naturally eat plant material 2) There is nothing the pea "supposedly" can do that can't be achieved through frozen daphnia or frozen brine shrimp. Sorry, if I come off harsh, but it's advice that just drive me crazy. In all my years, it's advice I never heard until reading it on the internet and I was like "seriously!". Then I asked a marine biologist I know, and he was just as put off by the advice.

    Most of my fish are in 2.5g. These are fine for Betta fish, as they do not have the bioload other species have. I change my 2.5g twice a week, two 50% changes. I test my water regularly with liquid test kits and the water is fine. No, you can't cycle a 2.5g tank, but with proper water changes you don't need to.

    I did miss the water tabs, you do need a liquid. API StressCoat is preferred by most. Also, you might consider getting some Indian Almond Leaf. It's not a conditioner, but it add tannins to the water.

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    Cavy Star, Photo Contest Winner Gforcepiggies's Avatar
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    Re: I got a Sick Betta...now what?

    Oops, I thought I read he was a half moon. My bad.

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    Cavy Slave YourSoJelly's Avatar
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    I got a Sick Betta...now what?

    Okay, sorry for such a late reply. I never have him a pea, but these were bought today at the store-

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    Here is his cage now with the filter running,
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    It's got a touch of water movement with bubbles and a thermometer along with the heating slab thing. The tank is now 74*, so much warmer then it's previous 65*.

    He doesn't show much interest in eating, will that pass with time? I took out about the rocks but he still stays at the surface. Here is a picture of him seemingly a little more happy with a heater and filter:

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    EDIT: I lied. I just rolled a blood worm between my fingers to grind it up a bit and he took a nibble then took a second nibble and spit about half of it back out. At least I know he is kind of eating.

    Also forgot to post that these are his pellets and his water conditioner:
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    Last edited by YourSoJelly; 01-16-15 at 08:17 pm.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: I got a Sick Betta...now what?

    I would return the pellets and get Omega One pellets. Think of Tetra as KayTee in the guinea pigs world, and Omega One or New Life Spectrum (which is my favorite) as Oxbow or KMS. The problem with feeding a low quality pellet in Betta fish is it can contribute to digestive problems and SBD. Crowntails are, for reasons unknown to me, more prone to SB problems. You really should avoid freeze dried bloodworms in any fish you suspect has SBD (and I usually say in CT's in general). Frozen bloodworms are fine, but freeze dried can contribute to digestive problems and SBD.

    Just in my opinion, I would return the filter too. 1) The purpose of the filter is to cycle the tank and your tank is too small to maintain a stable cycle, 2) in a tank that small the flow of the water can cause stress. Since he's already stressed, I wouldn't do anything that could contribute to the stress. The only time I've used a filter in a small tank was when I was medicating for a severe bacterial infection.

    Prime is a great water conditioner, IF your water is already testing high for ammonia. If your water doesn't already have ammonia in it I've heard people say that Prime can stress the fish. I have some, just in case my water tests high for ammonia, but StressCoat is what most people prefer if their water is already ok.

    I've used that heater before. It's not the best. In my experience it either gets the tank too hot or too cold.

    You can try soaking a pellet in garlic juice to stimulate his appetite. I use Seachem Garlic Guard, but you can also just juice a fresh clove yourself.

    What's your ammonia testing at?

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    Cavy Slave YourSoJelly's Avatar
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    Re: I got a Sick Betta...now what?

    @ClemmyOddieIndy The pellets cannot be exchanged since they've been opened. For now they will just have to do. I owe my mom $70 for all this stuff, and I have no money for the next week or so, so I can't be sending things back and forth to the store- especially already used. Not to even mention that my mom did NOT want a fish in the house- for reasons unbeknownst to me. I'm going to try and get him in that 5 gallon I have, but my mom says its a hassle to clean -_- and it takes up too much space. Until I can find a space clear enough for it, thats out of the way and inconspicuous, he's going to have to stay in the 2 gallon for the time being. I turn the filter off throughout the day and I always have a constant eye on the temperature. He really seems to be perking up since I have gotten the filter and heater- so it will just have to do for now.

    The ammonia was at a .50 when I first tested, the I added 1/5 a rim (they said that 1 of the rim edges inside the cap was like 1 mL or something like that) of Prime and it was pretty close to, if not exactly at the 0 mark. Tomorrow morning I will try the garlic thing, thank you.

  22. "Thank you, YourSoJelly, for this useful post," says:


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