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Old 03-12-2012, 02:30 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Mar 2012
Unhappy Trouble Swimming!

First the questions Answered:


What size is your tank? 1.5 gallon
What temperature is your tank? Room Temperature (70 or so)
Does your tank have a filter? Yes
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No though the filter is "oxygenating"
Is your tank heated? No
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? Only himself

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? TetraBetta mini pellets
How often do you feed your betta fish? 2-3 pellets twice a day


How often do you perform a water change? twice a month
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 100%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Tetra AquaSafe

Water Parameters:
I have not tested the water.

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? He seems to be having trouble swimming and has become melancholy, hiding in his little skull-hiding place and staying there, or hiding behind the filter.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? Yesterday night around 12 midnight
How old is your fish (approximately)? I bought him around 2 months ago.

Now, what seems to be wrong: Cornelius (the betta) is having a lot of trouble swimming. His frontal fins will move rapidly, and he'll slowly near the top of the tank, but he seems to be very bottom-heavy, and sometimes tips backwards and falls to the bottom of the tank. If his frontal fins aren't moving rapidly, he seems to not even be able to keep afloat. Right now he's resting at the bottom of the tank and swimming a little bit, but it really looks as if he is struggling. Recently, I went back to my house during spring break and had him in a large glass vase (for easy transport and for keeping him while home, without having to move the whole tank. He was fine at my house, during transport and seemed to be fine yesterday. I'm fairly sure he was not injured when I returned him to his tank, as the transfer process was very easy. He seems more melancholy then normal, and spends a lot of time in his hiding-skull, laying at the bottom of it, than he normally does.

His struggle to swim upwards and how he keeps falling is really worrying me. I'm at college in a small town and have no place to take him for care if there is a problem. He never seemed to have any trouble before today! Any tips or suggestions? :(

Also, he tends to "sit" ... His body is vertical, and his tail is curled to the side and against the ground... Is this uh, normal?
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Old 03-12-2012, 02:39 PM   #2 
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Location: PNW
I just went through similar with my newest betta. Your fish is cold and his water quality is probably poor.

Bettas are tropical fish. They need to be in water at least 76 degrees F, preferably 78-82. In an unfiltered tank that size, unless it has live plants in it, you need to be doing pretty much DAILY water changes. Without very frequent water changes, the ammonia and nitrite levels will rise to a point where they are toxic to your fish.

The first thing you need to do is get him into clean, WARM water. He needs a thermometer and a heater asap. Treat his fresh water with 1 tsp dissolved aquarium salt and some stress coat. Change his water DAILY, using warm water treated with water conditioner. He needs to be kept at at least 78 degrees.

Good luck and keep us posted!
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Old 03-12-2012, 02:46 PM   #3 
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Thanks for the help! I'll be getting him a thermometer and heater ASAP for sure, as well as the salts. I have a water dechlorinater that has a slime-coat replenisher/protector.

The other thing is the water does in fact have a filter, its fairly small but made for tanks up to 3 gallons, I believe. It says oxygenates and filters the water through a typical carbon filter that I change fairly often (usually every 1.5 weeks or so). Do I need a stronger or different filter for him?
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Old 03-12-2012, 02:59 PM   #4 
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My fault, I thought I read no filter. Sorry about that! Not enough sleep last night!

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you shouldn't be changing the filter media so often. Doing so decimates the helpful bacteria colony that lives in the filter and substrate.

I'm sure someone else here knows way more than I do about that. Even so, you probably should be doing a 100% water change every week. My work fish is in a 3-gallon, heated, filtered tank and he gets a 25% water change and 50% water change every week, as well as at least one good substrate vacuum. My new betta, my home fish, is in a one-gallon heated, unfiltered tank and I change his water daily.

Anyway, hopefully someone else can chime in with more helpful advice! :)
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Old 03-12-2012, 03:00 PM   #5 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Sorry you are having problems...a few things stand out....too low water temp, water quality and possible acclimation issues......

You need to get a thermometer to check the water temp and you may need to get a heater to maintain a somewhat stable water temp in the 76-80F range-this is a tropical fish and they need a bit warmer water and if your room temp is 70F the water temp is most likely cooler than that....long term cool temps can really stress them and compromise immune response that can end in death.....

Then you have water quality issue.....twice a month water changes on a 1.5gal filter tank is not enough to maintain water quality-unless you have lots of active growing aquatic plants

Water changes on 1.5gal filtered tank/without live plants-twice weekly 50% is recommended to maintain water quality

Possible Acclimation issues that resulted in osmotic shock-how did you acclimate to the chemistry/temp between the two different containers.

Right now-if he came in one of the small temporary cups with a lid most Bettas are sold in-use this to QT, get the water temp up slowly to 76F and float him in this cup in the heated tank-then start making small water changes 10% on both the tank and the QT with fresh dechlorinated like temp water every hour for 4 hours today

Tomorrow increase the water changes to 20% every hour for 4 hours on both the tank and QT cup

If you have any tannins-either IAL or dried Oak leaf-add one crushed to the QT and using a 1gal jug of dechlorinated water add about 20 crushed naturally dried Oak leaves or 1 large IAL and use this water for the water changes on him in the QT cup

On day 3 make a 50% water change with substrate vacuum on the tank-give the filter media a good rinse/swish in the bucket of old tank water
Make 50% water changes using the premixed tannin water on him in the QT

Hopefully this isn't osmotic shock and too much damage done so he can recover.....

The improved water quality and increased water temp should perk him up-if not he may need Epsom salt treatment....

Nutrition-good quality varied diet fed in small frequent meals-remove any uneaten food and if you have any mosquito larva-offer a few rinsed for one meal a day.....

Good luck and keep us posted....
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Old 03-13-2012, 02:50 PM   #6 
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Thanks both of you for all the information <3
Yesterday I went out and bought a larger tank, a better filter and a heater. As soon as Cornelius got into the warmer water, he immediately got better. He started swimming around enthusiastically, his color got brighter (i didn't notice he was a little less bright red then normal...)

I bought him a second real plant and he loves it, he likes to hide in the leaves. I'll keep to a better water-change schedule like you recommended.

Thank you SO very much <3 It cost a bit but Cornelius is a lot happier and healthier and ... well not dead, so I'm very happy!
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