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Old 01-12-2013, 06:00 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Virginia
At my wit's end! Help!

I've had my male betta, Cliff, for about 7 months now and during all of that time, he's been a very social, seemingly healthy fellow. Normally, Cliff enthusiastically greets anyone who approaches the tank (even the cat) and he ALWAYS has a voracious appetite. Indeed, I suspect he fancies himself a "micro-Great White shark" because he will literally breach the surface to get at a pellet balanced on my finger (or bite any finger offered up as a sacrifice).

Recently he started spitting out his food or refusing it altogether and hiding at the back of the tank amongst the fronds of a fake plant. This has been going on for almost two weeks. He will still come out to eyeball you if you approach the tank, but he loses interest quickly and goes back to hiding behind the plant. Sometimes, if you get close to the tank to get a good look, he will come out and flare at you. He's never been big on flaring, so it's odd.

Anyway, I am very concerned about the change in behavior and the fact that he's eaten almost nothing for nearly two weeks.

Please help me. Cliff is a sweet little dude and I want him to live a long and happy life (a long life in betta terms anyway). Thank you very much!

What size is your tank?
Five gallons.
What temperature is your tank?
80 degrees
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?

What type of food do you feed your betta fish?
TetraBetta Floating Mini Pellets
How often do you feed your betta fish?
Five pellets, twice a day. (sometimes more than 5 pellets when he begs)

How often do you perform a water change?
Every two weeks and sometimes more if there is an issue.
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change?
Anywhere from 20 to 50 percent. Usually 50 percent.
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change?
Stress Coat, Amquel, Proper pH 7.0, sometimes pH Down because it always seems to be a bit high.

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

Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 8.4
Hardness: 25
Alkalinity: 300

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?
He seems a tiny bit pale, but it could be my imagination.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed?
He has stopped eating and is hiding in the back of the tank behind one of his plants.
When did you start noticing the symptoms?
Almost two weeks ago.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how?
We've tried water changes and ph adjusting chemicals like pH Down (today) and Proper pH 7.0 about a week ago.
Does your fish have any history of being ill?
How old is your fish (approximately)?
About 10-12 months I guess. I don't know if there is an average age for the bettas when they are sold at Petsmart, which is where I bought him.
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Old 01-12-2013, 06:08 PM   #2 
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Messing with the ph is a bad idea. Bettas can adjust to a wide variety of phs but all those chems you are adding to change the ph cause constant swings which are really hard and can even be lethal. 8.4 ph is ok. As long as your ph is under 9 I would not mess with it.

You're overfeeding and also that's not a good quality feed. That has lots of wheat and fillers and only fish byproducts (bones and stuff nobody would eat all ground up). I would look for a good quality pellet - one whose first two or three ingredients are whole fish, not fish meal and even worse if wheat. New Life Spectrum Betta (feed 5-8 split up into 2 or 3 smaller meals) or Omega One Betta Buffet (feed 3-4 split up into two smaller meals) are a couple options. No matter what you feed your guy needs one fast day a week.

What color is his poop? Can you share photos?
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:26 PM   #3 
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Virginia
Thank you for your lightning-fast reply! I am glad you said that about pH chemicals because it has been an ongoing debate/argument around my house and I subscribe to your school of thought! You've helped me make my point. As for over-feeding, I kinda suspected that, but wasn't sure (and it's hard to resist when he BEGS so much)!

I have never been able to catch him "doing his business" nor seen anything helpful on the bottom of the tank, so I don't have a clue what color it is. I'll keep an eye out though!

Do you think he could be a bit depressed? Would a couple of ghost shrimp cheer him up or would it just risk bringing diseases and no cheer into the tank?

I've attached some photos (I hope). I don't know if they will help, but at least everyone will get to see what a cutie patootie he is.

Again, many, many thanks. I was starting to get a little panicky and it feels better to know there are other betta lovers out there who are willing to share their knowledge.
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:34 PM   #4 
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Bettas won't refuse to eat because of depression.. they are not physiologically like humans.

I would go ahead and fast him 2-3 days and watch his poop at this time. I'd also try adding some epsom salts - pure 100% magnesium sulfate per ingredients label with no dyes or perfumes. Predissolve at a rate of 1 tsp per gallon and add this very slowly to his tank over the course of an hour or longer. The salts will not evaporate or break down so they will only need to be readded along with a water change. They are also very safe to use long term and once he is well and no longer needing them you can simply stop adding them with your regular water changes. I would leave him in them at least a week and see how that does.

After the few days of fasting and epsoms and he poops a bit you can try feeding again.. this time use a good pellet as outlined above. If his poop isn't brown.. it's clear, white, stringy or segmented let us know..

I also read your original thread wrong somehow.. You need a 50% weekly water change. Every two weeks isn't enough, so I'd go ahead and do an extra water change. There's more the water changes remove that what you can test with your kits.

Last edited by callistra; 01-12-2013 at 07:36 PM.
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Old 01-12-2013, 07:35 PM   #5 
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Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Potato
Bettas don't really get depressed, and unless it's heavily planted your shrimp may be snacked on.
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