Originally Posted by CTBettaLover
I would just like to say that you are a great person to take care of Charles. That is so sad that they treated him poorly and then abandoned him when the going got tough. Those people need to never have pets! I am having a similar problem with my betta, Stanley. His belly region is massively bloated although he acts perfectly normal. I am afraid if it gets any worse his organs will begin to fail. That is, if they haven't already. Im trying to stay positive and hopeful but still prepare for the worst. My question is this...
How do I tell the difference between a bacterial infection, constipation, and parasites? He is still hungry and pooping every now and then but Im not sure how often. Today he had a very long(~1 inch) brown poo hanging from him with white on the end and hanging by some sort of stringy type thing that I could not see with a flashlight and my 20/20 vision. The stringiness makes me believe its parasites but Im no expert. It could also just be that his body is having a hard time pushing it out which is making it that thin long shape. Please help if you can!
To be honest, it's difficult to tell. Constipation is like minor bloat where the fish will not poop (and sometimes swim a little sideways because it affects the swim bladder...)
With parasites, there will usually be WHITE stringy fecal matter. So that could very well be parasites. Another thing to look for are "lumps" under his skin (internal parasites), or stringy matter hanging off his body or fins (external parasites). Thats a tell-tale sign of parasites.
Keep in mind that if you feed him food that is white, that could be a part of it. But I doubt that, food isn't usually white... Have you fed him any live foods?
Bacterial infections are just all around difficult to diagnose because they can happen internally or externally with or without symptoms. And when there are symptoms, there can be a wide range.
For your fish, it is possible it could be constipation. Flakes that lack moisture can get packed in the digestive tract. Likewise, some pellet foods will expand after eaten and block the way out. :( Everything in moderation, I guess...
When my fish get constipated, I feed them a steamed broccoli florret or two. It seems to help (apparently the myth about a cooked pea is for goldfish?) although I'm not quite certain if you're supposed to do that, so I can't "recommend" it.
Something that I find helps "bring a fish back to life" is epsom salt. It has beneficial effects on them. If you want, you could try dissolving 1-2tsp in a gallon of water. It never hurts.
For now, I'd keep an eye on him. Check for any odd appearance or funny behavior (swimming around rapidly, scraping himself against objects, acting lethargic, etc).
And it might not hurt to invest in an antibiotic of some sort. It can't hurt to have SOMETHING on hand for emergencies or just in case.
I am also ordering in a stronger medication (kanaplex) for poor charles. BUT this is for BACTERIAL problems. Not so much parasites, if that's even your fish's problem. It's unlikely if you haven't fed him anything live.
I hope that helps a little bit. :)