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Old 03-25-2012, 04:39 AM   #1 
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Unhappy Betta getting sicker and sicker -- need help ASAP!

Hello everyone,

I am saddened that my first post here is an unhappy distressed one. I know this post is sort of long, so I apologize in advance.

About 3 weeks ago my husband brought home a blue male betta, who was promptly named Triangle by my kid (it is 2-year-old speak meaning everything good and/or pretty). Although the fish was a present for my child, I really fell in love with him and thus have been declared "the fish person" of the household.

The first week or so Triangle was very happy and active, swimming about in his new tank, actively exploring, swimming up to the front "say hi" whenever I'd look in. He even started blowing bubbles into one portion of the top of the tank, which I guess is related to building a bubble nest?

About 10 days in (a few days after doing the first 50% water change) I came home to notice my fish stuck to the intake of the water filter! I do have fishkeeping experience, but I have never had a betta before, so I didn't realize that such a thing could even happen. i turned the filter down to the lowest flow setting, did a 25% water change, after which he seemed to regain some vigor.

I also started reading up on betta diseases and found this site, because about 2 weeks into living with Triangle, he got stuck to the filter again. At this point I began to suspect illness. yet it didn't look like he was sick with anything perceptible. I shone a flashlight on him and saw that he appeared to have a slight golden hue, which I then thought was part of his normal coloration, but now suspect is velvet.

Over the next few days I started seeing undeniable signs of disease. Triangle began to sit on the bottom and hiding behind the (fake) plants and inside the ornament in his tank. He began clamping his beautiful fins and tail close to his body, and I haven't really seen them unclamped since. It still didn't look like anything obviously visible was going on, yet the golden color started to become more apparent. I was now sure it was velvet.

Last Sunday I began adding aquarium salt to his tank, gradually increasing it to 3 tsp/gal. As he was acting sicker and sicker each day, I decided medication would also be necessary. I was told to use Maracide (active ingredient Malachite Green) on days 1,3, and 5 (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) by the people at the LPS. I don't think it made a difference. However, I started seeing more and more of a behavior where the fish was scratching himself against the decorations and gravel in the tank.

I visited the pet store my husband bought Triangle from, only to have the guy there apologize profusely and tell me that all the bettas the store sold around that time suddenly got sick in their small tanks and died. The pet store guy said he couldn't figure out what it was from, just a bunch of unhappy, clamped-fin fishies that soon died. This prompted the store to immediately switch betta suppliers. The good news in all this is that Triangle is still alive.

About 3 days ago I finally started seeing little whitish spots all over Triangle. it looks like ich, although I thought that velvet also results in tiny white spots when it gets really bad. Perhaps I am wrong? I was hoping a more experienced member here could tell me.

ANYWAY, any and all help would be greatly appreciated. It now looks like his tail is getting shorter and he might have fin rot. At first I thought I was just seeing things, but then my husband asked me if I thought Triangle's tail was smaller than before. My husband is convinced that Triangle is suffering, and that I am somehow torturing the fish by keeping it alive. He has threatened to "euthanize" him, which has turned the mood in our household quite bitter.

I think Triangle is a strong, healthy fish, and I think he will make it if I get a bit of help from all of you. He is somehow looking worse yet acting like he's feeling better over the last 48 hours.

What size is your tank?
5 gallons
What temperature is your tank? 78 to 80 degrees F
Does your tank have a filter? yes, but the carbon has been removed the last week or so due to meds in the water
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? no
Is your tank heated? yes, but it wasn't up until 4 or 5 days ago, as the people at the LPS tried to convince me bettas didn't really need heaters!
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? no other tank mates

What type of food do you feed your betta fish?
Hikari Betta Bio-Gold pellets
How often do you feed your betta fish? 2 pellets once per day


How often do you perform a water change?
once weekly
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? half to 2/3 of the water
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Aqueon Water Conditioner

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?

7.8 from the tap, about 6.8 filtered through a Brita -- I try to use mostly the Brita filtered water which I boil and then let cool

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?
golden coloration around head and gills, very tiny white spots have appeared all over the body within the last few days, tail and fins seem to be getting shorter
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? clamped fins at all times, alternates between periods of extreme lethargy, hiding, and spending long periods of time resting on his betta leaf (a fake leaf with suction cup a few inches below water surface) to periods of extreme agitation, rubbing against everything in the tank, and swimming so fast he almost jumps out of the water!
When did you start noticing the symptoms? about 2 and a half weeks ago saw him stuck to filter and acting sluggish, although condition improved a little after a partial water change
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? about a week ago began adding salt, gradually increasing to 3 tsp/gal; and 6 days ago added Maracide (1 capful, days 1, 3, and 5); for the last 3 days have also been adding in Melafix, 1/2tsp per 5 gals. Since none of these things seem to be working, I have put his activated carbon bag back into his filter about 24 hours ago.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? Not sure, but he was probably ill from the store as store employee reports all other bettas from this batch dying of an unidentified illness.
How old is your fish (approximately)? I have owned him for about 3 weeks, I'm pretty sure he's an adult fish.

Thank you all so much for you help and support. I have quICK cure, which has formalin and malachite green in it, as well as general cure capsules which have a scary poison warning on the back. Any recommendations on what to do? I'd hate to lose this fishie friend.

Also what's the best way to do a 100% water change? How do I get it all out of the gravel and such? All these things don't seem possible to truly clean -- or am I missing something?
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Old 03-25-2012, 07:38 AM   #2 
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Hi MyBettaHalf (love your moniker by the way!),

Welcome to the forum. I am not an expert in filter set up and hope someone will come along to give you more thorough advice on this.

although I thought that velvet also results in tiny white spots when it gets really bad
From what I know, Velvet is not white spots, but golden. The fish would look like it is covered with fine gold or rust, which is easier to detect with a flash light. However, keep in mind that some blue bettas can also have a golden coloration around the belly or pectoral fins and is normal.

From what you have described, I suspect your 5 gal tank is not cycled. This means the proper water change schedule should be at least a 100% water change weekly. Depending on if you have live plants or the size of the betta and type/amount of feed, some would recommend 50% wc midweek and a 100% end of week.

Also, I don't think it is a good idea to mix medications together, of course some do work well in conjunction with others, but generally we have to be careful of such. As of right now, I agree with you that with the proper care and treatment, I think he will have a chance, so I hope your husband will calm down and let you have a chance at rescue Triangle.

As for the pH, bettas can survive in pH 7.8. It is not ideal, but they will adapt. Filtered water may lack the minerals that the fish need, and after all the boiling and such, may be the water may become too "sterile" in my opinion. I would suggest just to use your tap water straight away, be sure to check for the water parameters making sure that none of them (ANN) are abnormally high to begin with. Ideally, just leave some tap water out to "age" for a couple days prior to water change and I think that would make your life easier too.

The tiny white spots that you had described, do they look like fine salt being sprinkled on his body? If it is, then it's definitely Ich. I would suggest posting some photos for confirmation as sometimes we may have different ways to explain something and photos are worth a thousand words. I would probably put him in a small hospital tank or container to float in the big tank and raise the temperature to 85F (slowly) as Ich is temp sensitive.

•Treatment: You can treat Ich either conservatively or with medication. Ick is a parasite. Because Ich is contagious, it is preferable to treat the whole tank when one fish is found to have it. Ich is temperature sensitive: Leave your betta in the community tank and raise temperature to 85 F. Then you can choose to treat with salt or medication. Conservative: Add 1 tsp/gal Aquarium Salt 3 times, 12 hours apart so that you end up with 3 times the normal concentration. Perform daily 100% water changes to remove fallen parasites before they can reproduce. Replace the water with the right amount of salt. Do not continue this treatment for more than 14 days. If it fails or you do not want to use salt, treat with Jungle’s Parasite Clear, API Super Ick Cure, or Kordon Rid Ich Plus. If your betta lives in a jar/bowl, then it can be difficult to heat the water. There are heaters for smaller containers, but you can also float the quarantine container in a larger heated tank during treatment. Do a full water change every day and add an appropriate amount of medication to the water.

Good luck!
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Old 03-25-2012, 04:36 PM   #3 
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Thank you for the help earthworm88, I really appreciate it!

Today I did a 50% water change with warmed, Brita filtered water. The water from the tap read a pH of 8.1, but a perfect 7.0 once filtered. One of the other main reasons I don't use straight tap water is because the lake that supplies my city's water has parasites. I just don't feel right using it without filtering it first. I do add aquarium salt back in, which I think should help.

I have moved Triangle out of his tank and into a quart-sized container (couldn't find anything else appropriate), which I treated with the appropriate amount of QuIck Cure (active ingredients: formalin and malachite green). I am almost certain now that he has ich, as he seems covered with a sprinkling of white dots.

I also added Melafix into the water as his fins and tail are definitely getting shorter. Poor fish!

I had no idea that ich would take such a long time to make itself visible; maybe this fish has a pretty healthy immune system? On the bright side, he is still swimming around a bit, and also eating. I fed him one pellet today so far, as I don't want to accidentally overfeed him to add to the problems.

As far as I understand, a good plan is to move him into a different hospital tank after 12 hours so the parasites that fall off don't reinfest...does that sound right?

Also does anyone know how long ich can survive in a 5 gallon tank without the fish in there? I'd like to know how soon I can put my betta back into his tank, assuming treatment is successful?

Lastly, I am concerned about the level of stress the fish has to endure when being transfered from tank to tank every 12 hours. What's the best way to move him without reintroducing the ich parasites?

Thank you all so much, I'll try to find the camera for a photo of him.
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Old 03-25-2012, 04:51 PM   #4 
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Earthworm has you covered greatly, and would follow those directions as it will help with either velvet or ich. White spots are a sign of ich though, as velvet tends to look as if he was sprinkled with golden dust.

The tail becoming shorter is most likely him biting off his own fins- which is common and happens quite often to stressed out fish. With rot you are looking at black crusty edges that are flaking off- if they are just getting shorter but the edges are pretty clean then most likely it's him doing it to himself.

Remove him from Melafix immediately as that is actually pretty deadly/harsh to a betta fish- it's good for other species of fish, but nothing with a labyrinth organ like bettas, gouramis, etc. A lot of people experience death or more damage when using Melafix with bettas. As well as Melafix doesn't treat the same gam bacteria that is fin rot- it's just not ideal overall, nor safe.

As mentioned before- raise the temp in the home tank to 85*- that will help kill off eggs/free swimmers. You have to treat the tank, not just remove the fish to get rid of them.

Don't need to keep changing him around, all that will do is stress him out even moreso- you need to treat him in the home tank properly, as ich can be fatal if left too long on them.. Make sure not to use the salt for more then 10 days, and if you need to use medication, use what is listed above- the information they have in the stickies was posted by a veterinarian, so you are given the correct treatment for ich/velvet.

So continuously moving him is not getting rid of the ich, but just stressing him out.. daily 100% water changes with the medication or salt is all that should be done- in the home tank.
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Old 03-25-2012, 05:25 PM   #5 
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Wow thank you for posting the info on the Melafix, I'll change out his water and stop using it immediately.

A question on the 100% water changes, doesn't he have to be moved for that? And how do I really change out 100% of the water considering the parasites will fall down and into the gravel? Or is the idea to get rid of the majority of free floaters?

Also the reason I started using the QuIck Cure is because none of the LPS near me carry ANY of the products mentioned in the sticky.
However the Merck manual of pet care I took out from the library suggests formalin works very well as a treatment for many fish maladies. I figured it was better than not doing anything, considering I've already done salts for 10 days and that didn't get rid of it.
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:39 PM   #6 
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If you have gravel, you can always move the poor fish to a smaller (maybe 1 gallon) bare bottom quarantine tank. this will make water changes easier. if you have two 1 gallons then you can perform water changes by gently pouring as much of the old water out as you can and then pouring him gently into qt tank no.2. Ive found this less stressful to the fish if done gently. just make sure the water parameters are the same.

Im sure your local water supplier made sure to kill off any parasites before the water gets to your house.... i think Ive read somewhere here that filtered water is bad for the fish as it is too clean and lacks trace elements which are essential to good fish health, water straight from the tap, despite being an8.0 might still be better. you can slowly acclime him to the changing ph by an increasing mixture of tap water to filtered water ratio. ie 90% filtered and 10% tap on day 1, 80% filtered 20 % tap on day two and so on until you are using all tap water. Also using a good conditioner that gets rid of heavy metals chlorine chloramine and ammonia is a good idea.

Ive heard that formalin is fairly toxic and that you should be very careful using it. Im guessing maracide didnt work for you? you can try copper safe, which i think is still better than formalin.

Dont mix medications, stick with one medication for the full prescribed period, some tannins will also help his fin rot.
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fin rot, ick, maracide, quick cure, velvet

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