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Old 01-17-2013, 10:22 AM   #1 
kevinbacon's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: USA
Exclamation Big bubbles = bad bubbles?

Ok, so my new fishie Owen blew a bubble nest the other day, which was really neat. However, he went from being a happy and active fish to an inactive one, lazing at the top of the tank in a plant and gasping for air. Every time he dies take a breath, he releases a huge bubble - not a bubble nest, a single, bug bubble, there are a lot scattered all over the tank. I read online that maybe his gills are damaged because of ammonia poisoning? How can I help him, and has anyone seen this before?

What size is your tank? 5gal
What temperature is your tank? About 78 deg F
Does your tank have a filter? No
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Is your tank heated? Yes
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? None

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Zoo Med micro pellets, freeze dried bloodworms
How often do you feed your betta fish? 3x a day, 2 pellets in morning and at night and 1 or 2 bloodworms in afternoon

How often do you perform a water change? Just got him Sunday, did one 50% change yesterday because of strange behavior
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 50% weekly and 100% monthly planned (what OFL recommends)
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Water conditioner (API for Bettas) and API QuickStart (ammonia and nitrite fixing bacteria additive)

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters? Will be testing soon; will upload when I get the results.


Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? Appearance has not changed noticeably; perhaps inflamed gills but I don't know what that looks like
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? Inactive, surfacing for air often and blowing large bubbles (doesn't seem purposefully) when taking breaths
When did you start noticing the symptoms? Yesterday morning
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? No Meds, 50% water change last night with more quick start added
Does your fish have any history of being ill? Don't know, just got him. Does have very minor case of fin rot that seems to be improving
How old is your fish (approximately)? Unknown. Only had him for 4 days today.

Please, someone help! He looks healthy but is not acting the part. He is not clamped up, and is still very hungry (constantly begs for food). Also, the bubbles seem to come out of his gills if that helps.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:29 PM   #2 
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Hey there,

If ammonia is the culprit then a water change will help, I would do at least a 50% change or bigger. Does he have any other signs of illness, split or damaged fins for example? A picture would be really helpful in diagnosing him.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:38 PM   #3 
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There is a lot going on here, so let's see if we can help him okay?

Did you follow the instructions on the bottle for the treatments you added or over/under treat? And did you add anything to help him recover from the petstore (slimecoat, betta water, and so on)? How exactly does his mouth, gills, fins, and body look? Any odd marks, dark/light areas, discolorations, salty looking stuff, or spots? Did you look him over with a flashlight to be sure?

While we sort this out, do a 30-50% pwc a day. No need to cup him if you pour it in slowly and avoid a current
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Last edited by Bluewind; 01-17-2013 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:58 PM   #4 
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Darn edit limit!

Now I don't want to scare you, but I did some searching using the symptoms you have given me for him. Some said parasites while others said bad gills. Another said a bad lung. None are death sentences if it hasn't progressed too far. Have you lowered the water so he has less of a distance to swim to get air? Added a filter or bubbler to oxygenate the water?
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Old 01-18-2013, 12:05 PM   #5 
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Thank you guys for replying and helping me out. I'll do my best to answer all of your questions (uploading some pics of him at bottom of message; sorry, its kind of picture heavy).

As I was writing my first post, I gave him a 50% water change, since he's looking (but not acing, strangely) a bit worse today, and since I'll be away for the weekend, he gets a 100% water change as I'm writing this one. As for appearance, he had some slight fin rot when I got him, and his gills wouldn't go completely uner their covers (which I didn't really know was a sign of illness until a few days ago) but otherwise looked fine and seemed to be improving in that department until this morning, when his fins looked slightly worse. You can't see it in the pics, but today he is really pale (more orange than his usual fire truck red). His one gill seems really swollen, sticking out noticeably from his body. This one was the one that was letting air bubbles out.

I hadn't treated him until today, except for upping the water changes and decreasing his food intake (I think he's constipated and its affecting his swim bladder; it doesn't affect him at all while he's swimming, but whenever he floats his tail is always lower than his head, like he can't balance). Over the weekend while I'm gone he'll get a two-day fast, so we'll see how he does after that. Today I'm adding a teaspoon full of aquarium salt to his tank (5gal), since I read somewhere online of a similar story with inflamed gills and bubble blowing that this really helped the fish. So I am going to try it and see if that helps.

The water conditioner that I am adding does promote the slime coat, so hopefully that'll help to keep his stress levels down.

I've looked this betta over head to tail since day one, as I've learned to be very vigilant since my previous bettas' illnesses. He has some gold coloration to his tail, but it doesn't quite fit the description of velvet (it just looks like an iridescence to me, and it has not spread or anything). I am watching that very closely just to be on the safe side though. He has some scales that are white in color, but again they are bright and shiny, not fuzzy or anything of the sort, and they appear in identical patterns on both sides of his face and just behind his gills. No sandy specks, no fuzziness, no gold dust. And when I do find poop, its brown and solid, not white or stringy.

The strange thing is, today he hasn't been blowing any more bubbles through his gills. He does take more frequent gulps of air from the surface, but the bubbles have practically been eliminated. His gill is still very swollen, and I'm wondering if he might be a little pale from being cupped (he hates it, freaks him out every time, so I'm going to try to take Bluewind's advice) and didn't seem so pale before the water change. So I will definitely monitor that. But the disappearance of the bubbles really has surprised me. I'll be going to get his water parameters checked either tonight or tomorrow too, so if all goes well I'll have that data for you too.

Have not added a filter or bubbler yet; I'll only do that as a near-last resort, because with how long his fins are he has a hard time swimming in a current. He has lots of plants in his five gal that he uses as perches so he doesn't have to swim far, but I have lowered the level a few inches.

Sorry that was so long. Here's some pictures (I have him in a one gal for the water change and picture taking purposes). The first pic is from yesterday, all the rest are from today. What do you guys think?
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Old 01-18-2013, 12:48 PM   #6 
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That's good! Keep an eye out for any bloating or a sunk in tummy. If you think he may be constipated, feed him part of a cooked pealed pea.

They get pale when stress (just about all fish do), so any time they get pale, it's time to start checking stuff!

Are the patches around his gills like his other scales or do they look rough, raised, or fuzzy looking? It could be his natural coloration or it could be velvet or the like. Watch for spreading, itching, him darting about like a crazy person (like he's trying to "scratch" himself with excessive movement), the bubbling to come back, reduced movement, or worsening of symptoms.

The salt treatment is good, but be careful with the dose and duration of treatment. Most say 10 days is the cut off for treating Bettas with salt because of their labyrinth organ. It's why I usually do a salt dip, but if cupping him stresses him out, add it to the whole tank and keep up on pwc. Remember that he will be okay with high pH and hard water because adding salt is gonna raise both! So don't freak out when your tap is so very different from your tank, but still test both okay? And remember that salt doesn't magically disappear. It's still in the water, on the substrate, in the Marimo Ball, and in the filter. When you take out 50% of the water, 50% of the water remains including 50% (or more if it settled and got in the substrate and plants) of the salt, so if you decide to add more salt, keep this in mind. And because it will raise the pH and hardness, don't do a massive 100% water change and gravel vac after the treatment is over! Do reasonable sized pwc every day or every other day so that he can adjust to his old water's pH and hardness. Eventually, through removing old water and adding new, the treated water will become diluted down and the tank will return to its old levels.

The best thing I can tell you to do right now is to keep him warm and his water clean. I know you want to freak out when your fish gets sick and may get frustrated when you come here and that's all we tell you to do (I do it myself sometimes), but the reason we tell you this is because it works. Kind of like when parents are freaking out over their sick kid and don't know what's wrong and get told the old tried and true advice that everyone has heard before. Just know that whatever happens, you are doing your best okay?
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Old 01-18-2013, 01:01 PM   #7 
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Thank you for the salt instructions, Bluewind. I know that I had read about how to treat before, but had forgotten all the details, so your advice saves me from having to scour the forums for info yet again! lol :) Yup, I just hate feeling so helpless to help him, I'm sure anyone who's had a sick betta before (or heck, any kind of sick animal) can relate. The "patches" look like scales, aren't spotty or fuzzy or anything. They look kind of like the scales on my old dragonscale, only just on his face XD I have been keeping an eye on them, though they appeared soon after being introduced to warm, clean waters when he really colored up Monday morning. He was 100% happy and healthy it seemed then, so I'm not overly concerned about the scales. I just don't want to leave out any important info is all.
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Old 01-18-2013, 01:17 PM   #8 
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Sounds like Bluewind has covered all the bases. Fingers crossed!
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Old 01-18-2013, 01:36 PM   #9 
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Originally Posted by efg321 View Post
Sounds like Bluewind has covered all the bases. Fingers crossed!
When have you ever known me NOT do do that?

*points at siggy below and then giggles to self*
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Old 01-18-2013, 02:21 PM   #10 
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Just to note something I noticed from your questionnaire:

I see that you are using a bacteria supplement/starter (API Quickstart), but that will have no effect in processing ammonia/nitrites without a filter in your tank. The bacteria will live in the sponge of your filter, and without one they will not have a place to live or water flow to sustain their lives. :) I'd suggest a small sponge filter powered by an airlift tube. These filters are great for fish who cannot handle any currents in the water as they are only powered by the small amount of air released by an air stone. If you already have the air supply set up, it's as simple as spending $15 on the filter, dropping the filter in the tank, and putting your air stone down the tube of the filter. Check a local fish store (LFS) for this setup. It looks something like this:

This filter is actually available on eBay for $10 + shipping. Also if you have no air supply, walmart has them for cheap, plus an air tube and air stone for about $15-20 total. this will run the whole system for about $30. This may seem a bit high for you. If so, watch this video on how to make an airlift filter: not the best video, but you'll get the jist. :)

This will help prevent any high ammonia or nitrite conditions, but you will still need to perform water changes when nitrAte rises to 40ppm. Get yourself a master test kit if you are truly interested in keeping the fish healthy. Read up on cycling of fish tanks, and join the crowd! :) I hope you will be able to get your issues fixed and enjoy your betta for a long time!
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