After three months of fairly uneventful, happy fishkeeping, the last week was the biggest rollercoaster I have been on in my three years of it. Getting the bad news out of the way first, my attempt at a sorority did not go well at all. The stress of determining the hierarchy was too much, and I had my first awful bout with dropsy. The tank was fully cycled for over a year, and I tested the water myself, and everything came back in normal ranges, as it did at petsmart when I brought a sample with me to double check. Like a lightning bolt, within 48 hours, my growing female "baby betta" KC proved to be the weak link, and was the first to catch it, and succumbed to it quickly :( I had gotten her out before any pine coning had occurred, but it was too late, because despite medicating, the next day the other girl who was getting chased the most had a full bloated belly and was lethargic, and two of the other three had symptoms. The would-be queen, Belinda, is so far doing pretty well in the hospital tank, but the others all went back to petsmart, because as much as I liked the short time I had with them, I was already too sad about the only girl I had for more than two weeks, KC, to watch the rest of them pass away. It was minor consolation to read that it is such a hit or miss proposition to get a sorority tank to work, I will try again someday, especially if Belinda recovers.
The best cure for the bummer that bad news brings is some good news, and my trip to the Walpole MA petsmart (the only one I will mention by name, because I have had the best success there of the three in my region) went spectacularly. I have been looking for a green betta for the three years I have been keeping fish, and after the heartbreak of my worst disease, I have the elation of finding my dream betta, who happened to be a "dragonscale" plakat. He is my new avatar, and the cover of my bettas album. I will be showing him off on an unprecedented level in due time, once I learn how to do the photo links in here. I had always had success taking 24 hours to quarantine, and then begin a slow drip acclimation, but after my recent loss, this will be several meticulous days at the very least, probably two weeks before going into the 10 gallon that the sorority was in to ensure that it was stress, and not a bacterial cause that started the dropsy. My year old albino bristlenose pleco Lucky is fine in that same 10 gallon, which leads me to believe it was the stress, but I used some API general cure in there anyways, because my two hospital tanks are both full, one with the sole female betta, and the other with my fat paradise fish Al, who got caught behind a filter (again, three times in the year and a half I have had him, but luckily always with me around to save him) and has a small cut that is healing up nicely.
The same trip to petsmart yielded a rubber lip pleco, my first of that kind, and it was so healthy, alert and active, I only took about 6 hours to acclimate him and send him into my 55 gal community. It is already more sociable towards me than my 2 year old male bristlenose pleco Dusty, who showed a ton of interest but no hostility to the new roommate, leading me to believe its a female, because he chased my other male BN Lucky to the point where I moved him out. The new rubber lip is a little bigger than Lucky, so I don't anticipate any problems, and I love the friendly demeanor. Speaking of the community, BB fit in well, and wasn't visibly struggling with the current, but showed a little ragged fins, so now he is in a divided tank with a gentler filter, doing just fine. Rocky is also doing well, blowing the biggest bubble nest he has ever done in his comfy 5.5 gallon home to himself. What a crazy week, I hope the next update is just names for my happy new fish and pretty pictures.