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Old 10-28-2012, 10:06 PM   #1 
MDS91
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Long term Velvet infection + Treatment complications. Any help?

In advance, I both apologize for and warn of the incoming questionably organized wall of text.

Additionally, consider this my disclaimer. I mention a lot of treatments that I've tried, and just have this to say if you're here looking for possible treatments for your fish: I'm not advocating using any of the treatments I've tried as anything except a last resort, and even then, before attempting to treat your fish for anything, make sure you know exactly what it is you're trying to cure, and make sure you've thoroughly researched whatever treatments you have in mind. Many are toxic in themselves, and extreme care has to be taken. Flubendazole, Peroxide, Malachite Green, even simple salt baths can be deadly if you're unsure of safe dosages for your fish, or measure improperly. Also, because a treatment is seemingly safe for one kind of fish, doesn't mean it's always safe to another. Google like mad hell, and figure out as much as you can. Creative googleing is sometimes necessary for less popular treatments, but if you don't have all the information, I don't advise using it. Further disclaimer on Flubendazole? I don't advise using it, due to the sheer complexity of it's use, and it's questionable safety.

Anyways.

Short story: My girlfriend's (extremely tough) betta has had velvet for several months, and we've tried just about everything so far, with no lasting results. That's the first problem. The second problem? Recently, a few days after starting a Malachite Green trial near the end of a few weeks(as in, they were both present together in the water for about a week) of a rather experimental flubendazole treatment, the fish has become more or less unresponsive. He just sits at the bottom of his bowl, going up for air every now and then, immediately going back to the same spot. He's eaten one pellet in the past week and a half. His fins aren't clamped despite being half golden, and his breathing isn't labored, but he just doesn't respond, as if he's in a coma or something. Tapping on the bowl, or shining the flashlight on him gets him to wiggle his pectoral and pelvic fins for a few seconds, but he doesn't move. I've even gently pushed on him with his current aquarium decoration, Captain America, to no response. Between the velvet, and this new symptom, I have no idea what to do. Any suggestions?


I have a slight theory on the nature of his apparent coma, just occurred to me as I was writing this up: Flubendazole is absorbed directly through the skin, and it's imperative to keep the tank extremely clean during it's use because it can allow other things in the water a free pass through the skin with it. The betta, while appearing uncomfortable, was otherwise fine with the flubendazole for a few weeks, and I'm pretty certain he was his normal velvety self until the malachite green was introduced. I didn't find this out until after the unresponsiveness set in and I was taking him back home to try and play fish doctor again that formalin, one of the main active ingredients in our small bottle of malachite green, is actually formaldehyde. I'm wondering if the flubendazole's ability to make the fish's skin permeable resulted in him directly absorbing the formaldehyde through his skin, resulting in formaldehyde poisoning. But how the hell are you supposed to treat that in a fish? And isn't formaldehyde alone able to permeate the skin?

Long Story:
I've been battling a really nasty velvet infection for months in one of my girlfriend's betta's. We first noticed it by chance a day or two after he first started acting ill, we were messing with flashlights and noticed he was covered in this shiny golden stuff. Had no idea what it was at first, but google quickly pointed us towards velvet. Went out that night and got some copper sulphate solutions from petsmart. It worked great for a little while, and was maybe 3/4's of the way to velvet free, only that last bit of velvet simply wouldn't get off him. Since then, I've had to stop using the copper because it was having no effect on the velvet, and was making our betta sick. Copper free water made him a lot happier, but the velvet slowly but surely started spreading, and adding it to the water again has had no noticeable effect on the velvet whatsoever over a week or so, therefore I've just stopped using it altogether as the fish really doesn't like it. I've looked up and down the internet, and I've tried just about everything so far. I gave heavy salt baths a try several times, to no effect. Copper or no copper, Salt or no salt, this velvet doesn't seem to care. I gave (very diluted) peroxide baths a try next, and they seemed to thin out the velvet on him, but by the next day they had filled whatever the peroxide had helped. The last time I tried, the peroxide baths don't seem to do anything anymore, even at a slightly stronger concentration. Meanwhile, the velvet had been getting slowly worse and worse. I took much more drastic and experimental measures next, I gave flubendazole a try. It's a de-worming medication that's used in vets, and occasionally in humans, and has been used in aquariums a handful of incidences with mixed reactions from various fish ranging from seemingly lethal to having no effect at all, but it's supposedly a very potent killer of hydras and some protozoans including velvet. Our betta seemed to have a similar reaction to it as he does towards copper, but it *seemed* like it might be working after a week or so, the velvet on his fins had noticeably thinned a good deal. Around then he went back to school with my girlfriend, so she was in charge of dealing with the flubendazole, and I also gave her a small bottle of malachite green I had found at walmart for possibly trying in the future. Anyways, I don't know if she wasn't shaking the flubendazole solution up enough before adding it or not putting enough in, but the velvet started coming back. At this point, I suggested we stop the flubendazle at the next water change because the betta didn't seem to like it much and it had lost whatever magic it had before with the velvet, and to give the Malachite Green a try. Apparently she didn't stop the flubendazole, but started with the Malachite Green, and pretty soon after that he stopped eating and was pretty much unresponsive. After maybe a week with the malachite green, I picked him back up to see if I could do anything, but I've had no luck so far. He ate one pellet a day or two before I picked him up, but he hadn't eaten for 2 or 3 days before that, and hasn't eaten since I've had him. Have no idea what to do next, for the velvet or for his coma like symptoms. He's been such a trooper to survive so long with something as nasty as velvet, and to put up with all the things we've tried for treating it. I'm not about to give up on him any time soon, but I'm pretty much clueless as to what to do now between the velvet and the "coma" and it just feels like time is running out seeing him like that.

I do have one last ditch treatment in mind for the velvet, essentially a direct peroxide bath. Before I had put him in a small bowl of his water between 100% water changes and used a dropper to add some 3% peroxide, and it seemed to "melt" the velvet right off any part of his fin near where the peroxide would drop. Over time, it seems the velvet's developed some resistance to it, as on my last attempt at this I didn't notice much if any effect on the velvet. So for my final treatment, I figured I would, before putting him back in his bowl after a thorough cleaning and water change, sedate him with a small amount of clove oil, put him on a damp paper towel making sure to cover his head and gills, and use a q-tip soaked in 3% peroxide to apply it directly to the velvet on his fins and let it soak for a few seconds to a minute before using a dry qtip to gently wipe the velvet off of him, and putting him back in his clean velvet free bowl. The problem with this is that it would likely be extremely stressful to him, even with sedation, and I don't think I should be putting that kind of stress on a fish that's already seemingly in a coma or something of the sort, and even then, I have no idea how effective it will be, or how to prevent the surviving velvet from being able to bounce back.

BTW, his name is Devonshire, though as tough as he's been we should have named him Rocky.

Again, I apologize this post is so long and disorganized, but I could really use some help if anyone has any ideas of how to coax him out of his "coma" and get him to eat, or any other possible ways to get an edge on the velvet. Thanks.
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Old 10-28-2012, 10:15 PM   #2 
sainthogan
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Filling this form out, will help organize your thoughts, and give the people here a good place to start helping you.

Housing

What size is your tank?
What temperature is your tank?
Does your tank have a filter?
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration?
Is your tank heated?
What tank mates does your betta fish live with?

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish?
How often do you feed your betta fish?

Maintenance

How often do you perform a water change?
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change?
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change?

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

Ammonia:
Nitrite:
Nitrate:
pH:
Hardness:
Alkalinity:

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?
How has your betta fish's behavior changed?
When did you start noticing the symptoms?
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how?
Does your fish have any history of being ill?
How old is your fish (approximately)?
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Old 10-28-2012, 11:26 PM   #3 
DoctorWhoLuver
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Are you sure it's velvet and not his iridescence? Velvet is usually a very fast killer. He could be in a "coma" like state from the stress from all the treatments.
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Old 10-29-2012, 03:28 AM   #4 
MDS91
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoctorWhoLuver View Post
Are you sure it's velvet and not his iridescence? Velvet is usually a very fast killer. He could be in a "coma" like state from the stress from all the treatments.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoctorWhoLuver View Post
Are you sure it's velvet and not his iridescence? Velvet is usually a very fast killer. He could be in a "coma" like state from the stress from all the treatments.
I'm pretty sure it is velvet, though I can't say I've had any testing done. For the record, is that even a thing? As long as it didn't cost two arms and a leg I'd gladly send a water sample/fin swab somewhere to be looked at and 'diagnosed' legitimetly.

Originally, he was entirely this red orange color, with very little if any natural iridescence. The velvet was a noticeable change. It was very fast acting the first time around, but we caught it before it had gotten near his gills/lungs, and copper treatment was initially pretty successful, but it never managed to fully eradicate it, and after stopping treatment it slowly inched its way back. For the peroxide 'baths' I used a syringe to drop peroxide into a small bowl he was in. I noticed if I aimed for the top fin, a small amount of the velvet on it would disappear near the drop almost instantly, so I'm pretty certain it's not just his skin. Another interesting fact however, the velvet appears to have acquired a blueish tinge recently. Could that be a side effect of the Malachite Green somehow?

And for whatever it matters,
His sick bowl is a small 3 quart bowl.
Weekly 100% water changes,
Temperature maybe 76 or so, and I'm hesitant to go warmer because I'm worried that without any effective treatment, the heat could accelerate the velvet, though I don't know for certain.
Salt level varies, usually salt free for velvet, but I've added a pinch or two of salt recently to make it easier on him in his coma like state.
During a water change, I usually fill a large pitcher with water, add stress coat, and let it sit next to his bowl until it's the same temperature by touch, which is a lot more accurate than any thermometer I have access to.

He gets fed omega one pellets, though I've fed him mosquito larvae in the past when he wouldn't eat. --Trying this again at the moment, but last I checked he hasn't paid them any attention.--

The fish is maybe a year and a half to two years old, and has been fighting velvet since sometime around May, so quite a while. Before that, he was sick once or twice, but was generally a very healthy fish.
Appearance and treatment wise, I've already stated in this post or the first.
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Old 10-29-2012, 03:59 AM   #5 
MDS91
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Edit to Above: Put some 3 cleaned live mosquito larvae in his bowl before I finished the above post, he hadn't noticed them while I was standing there, but after coming back they were gone. I put one more in, and he came alive for a quick second to go grab it! So he's eaten something, finally. One step in the right direction. He went right back to being relatively comatose, but I feel a lot better about his odds now.
Also, been reading about dried oak leaves providing a more natural environment and having some antimicrobial properties, so I think I'm gonna go put a few in after a quick rinse, have several Live Oak trees around the yard, and it's getting to be that time of the year. Maybe that will help further.
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Old 10-29-2012, 09:39 AM   #6 
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Do you have a picture of the fish?
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Old 10-29-2012, 05:38 PM   #7 
MDS91
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No flash
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Flashlight

Not great pictures, but the best I can do with the time I have. Not sure if it's that discernible, but the 'blue velvet' is very metallicy. Again, has only recently turned so blueish, I assume it's due to the malachite green, but I have no idea. He does appear to be doing much better since eating, at least compared to how he has been. I fed him again a few hours ago as well, apparently there's no turning down live food. He's still largely unresponsive save for the food, but he looks happier and more alert than he was, and he's moving around every now and then, which is a definite improvement. Gonna swap out his water tonight, as food means poop which he seems to finally have.
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Old 10-29-2012, 05:53 PM   #8 
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That 'blue velvet' in the picture looks to be his natural iridescence/colouring.

I would personally stop all medications as you are probably harming him more with the amount of treatments you have exposed him to than the actual velvet.

3 quarts is saying around 2.8L. I am assuming that by weekly you mean once a week? If he is sick, you want absolutely pristine water. Do you know your parameters? Velvet is usually found in tanks with poor conditions and a sick fish is not going to get better unless your parameters are spot-on.

Is your current tank heated and at a stable temperature? While a higher temperature speeds up the life cycle of velvet, bettas really require temperatures of at least 75-80 degrees to support a healthy immune system.

I am not sure that is velvet. I have had velvet go through my fish room and my fish were on death's door only one week into it. I am thinking maybe that it isn't velvet and it's your treatments and possibly water quality making your betta look less than healthy.
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Old 10-29-2012, 06:23 PM   #9 
DoctorWhoLuver
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I agree, it doesn't look like velvet to me either. He is probably getting more sick from the stress of treatments you're giving him.
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Old 10-29-2012, 06:54 PM   #10 
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Again, haven't had it actually looked at under a microscope, but I'm pretty sure it is. He is not naturally this color, and the blue is a recent change that wasn't present before the malachite green was introduced. The initial infection was very fast acting and did make him very sick, and definitely was a classic case of velvet. We weren't sure he would make it after we figured out what it was, but as said before, treated with copper, and it was successful except for a small amount that remained. To be clear, he was covered in the usual golden 'dust' clearly visible by flashlight. Following treatment with copper, he was largely back to normal except for a small amount of velvet that remained even through a very extended period of time with the copper. I did stop all treatment after a while. It was fine until I moved the fish to a different location that happened to get some morning sun. The 'golden dust' started spreading, though much slower than before. Fast forward through various treatments I've tried, and we're right here.

Water parameter wise, I'm not any kind of expert, but I make sure his water is clean, pretreated, and relatively temperature stable. We had trouble early on with both her fish that was likely due to water quality, but that was some time ago and we caught on pretty quickly, and haven't had any trouble save for the velvet in some time.
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