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Old 02-09-2013, 11:48 AM   #1 
MurrellSM
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Please help our betta! :(

Our betta, Oscar, that we love so much is really struggling. I've tried everything I know and he's not getting better. I am hoping someone here has some knowledge that can help us, we're so worried about him!

Here are some basics...

He is just over two years old. We have him in a 2.5gal tank by himself. He has a filter and a heater (it stays between 79-82 depending on the temperature of the house). I had been using Stress Coat+ as his water conditioner for the past few months (prior to that it was Betta Bowl Plus). We do a partial water change (25-50%) about every week or twos and we do a total water change every month. We feed him primarily fish flakes, in his first year he liked pellets but not anymore, we used to give him frozen bloodworms every now and then but he seemed to lose his taste for those. My wife feeds him flakes, a small pinch or so, every evening (even though I've told her he should take a day off with no food now and then!). He has been a very happy and healthy fish, very spoiled!

Anyhow, this past Tuesday we had a 2yr old nephew visiting and when he saw the fish he reached in and put his hand in the water. I mention this as in racking my brain I'm wondering if his hand was dirty or if he later put something in the tank, etc; as he started not feeling well that same day, last Tuesday.

He has not eaten since Tuesday, by Wednesday we noticed he was being REAL lethargic! Just laying at the bottom, or laying on his leaves above his heater, not moving at all, and he just looked, um, I don't know, sad, slow, hazy eyes; we could tell he was not feeling well. I changed out 50% of his water Thursday. Still nothing, no eating, hardly any moving. Yesterday (Friday) he hadn't improved at all, still hadnt eaten, and was spending a lot of time laying kind of crooked on the bottom or on his leaves, so I went ahead and changed out all of his water in case the newphew had gotten germs in there (not sure if this was wise or needed, but I was feeling desperate for the little guy! ). I went back to Betta Bowl Plus yesterday when i did his change instead of Stress Coat, I also put some aquarium salt in, thinking maybe it would help.

Today we woke up worried he may not be alive, and the poor thing was laying almost sideways about half way down on a leaf. he was alive, but still barely moving. And the difference today is he has ZERO buoyancy; he literally fights with all his might to get to the top to get some air and then sinks back down like a rock. He is struggling so much to get to the top, literally pointed upwards and flailing his tail to get up and barely making it; like a swimmer with 100pds tied to their feet. At one point about an hour ago, he tried to get up and couldnt make it and sunk back down, he was struggling so bad, so I netted him and placed him on some leaves near the top so he could get air easier. He still hasn't eaten, his condition doesn't seem to have gotten better at all.

To me, he's showing a lot of signs of swim bladder disease. And so, I read a lot about SBD and tried the frozen pea. He had fasted for 3 days (today is the 4th), so I tried the pea but he simply wont eat it. I floated some, I sunk some next to him, I even held a piece on a rounded toothpick right in front of his face, but our little buddy doesn't want to eat ANYTHING. *sigh* We are worried he's not going to make it much longer and my 8month pregnant wife is emotionally distraught over it; she loves this fish more than I could put in words.

As one last detail, he hasn't lost his color at all. His color looks great, he's not swollen (we thought his belly looked a touch bloated last wed, but that might just have been our nervousness as his body isn't swollen at all right now). We thought one of his eyes maybe had a bit of white around it; but again, we don't notice that anymore, and the strange kind of 'hazy' look to his eyes from Wed doesnt seem to be there anymore. And his scales are not pineconed at all. Other than the 'sinking like a rock' thing, the struggling while swimming with all might upwards to get air, and being totally lethargic and not eating, he PHYSICALLY looks fine.

I am sorry for the long post, but we are at a loss, we're feeling desperate, we don't want to lose him! is there ANYTHING else we can do?

I have Melafix at the house (used it about a year ago to cure some white fuzz he got on him) but havent used it, as I don't think it matches the symptoms he's showing. Is there some OTHER kind of medicine I should go out and get? ANY AND ALL advice would be most appreciated! Thank you in advance.

Two very sad betta owners right now,
Sean and Nicole Murrell

Last edited by MurrellSM; 02-09-2013 at 11:55 AM.
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Old 02-09-2013, 11:59 AM   #2 
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One other quick thing... I do not have a real water testing kit, I know it's something I should have. I do have ammonia test strips and I did one last Thursday and one today with the new water, and neither showed any signs of ammonia. There are no live plants or other live creatures in the tank (just filter, heater, thermometer, plastic plant, bridge).
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Old 02-09-2013, 12:05 PM   #3 
LittleBlueFishlets
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Epsom salt is used for internal issues (like bloating, constipation and buoyancy control problems).

Aquarium salt is used for external issues (like fin rot, etc).

I would do a water change and remove the Aquarium salt completely. It can cause swelling and bloating, and worsen his buoyancy issues.

I would start with 1 teaspoon Epsom salt per gallon. (Ie: 2.5 teaspoons in your 2.5 gal tank.) Make sure the Epsom salt is 100% pure magnesium sulfate. (No dyes, perfumes or additives.) Dissolve the salt completely in the new water.

Acclimate him very slowly back into the tank. (He's going from Aq salt to Epsom salt, so you don't want to stress his system.)

I would NOT use Melafix, or anything else that ends with '-fix.' It contains oil which can make it difficult for him to breathe.

After you've changed the water and added the Epsom salt, acclimate him slowly:
  1. Note the temperature of the water.
  2. Using a plastic cup, scoop him, along with some of his water, into the cup.
  3. Clean out the tank. Refill with water at the SAME temp.
  4. Float his cup in the tank for about 15 min.
  5. Add a SMALL amount of NEW water to the cup. (Several tablespoons, or about 1.5 ounces.)
  6. Let his cup float for about 10 -15 min, or even longer.
  7. Remove a SMALL amount of water from the cup. Discard it.
  8. Repeat steps 5-7, until at least an hour has passed.
  9. Gently release him into the tank.
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Old 02-09-2013, 12:09 PM   #4 
MurrellSM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleBlueFishlets View Post
Epsom salt is used for internal issues (like bloating, constipation and buoyancy control problems).

Aquarium salt is used for external issues (like fin rot, etc).

I would do a water change and remove the Aquarium salt completely. It can cause swelling and bloating, and worsen his buoyancy issues.

I would start with 1 teaspoon Epsom salt per gallon. (Ie: 2.5 teaspoons in your 2.5 gal tank.) Make sure the Epsom salt is 100% pure magnesium sulfate. (No dyes, perfumes or additives.) Dissolve the salt completely in the new water.

Acclimate him very slowly back into the tank. (He's going from Aq salt to Epsom salt, so you don't want to stress his system.)

I would NOT use Melafix, or anything else that ends with '-fix.' It contains oil which can make it difficult for him to breathe.


After you've changed the water and added the Epsom salt, acclimate him slowly:
  1. Note the temperature of the water.
  2. Using a plastic cup, scoop him, along with some of his water, into the cup.
  3. Clean out the tank. Refill with water at the SAME temp.
  4. Float his cup in the tank for about 15 min.
  5. Add a SMALL amount of NEW water to the cup. (Several tablespoons, or about 1.5 ounces.)
  6. Let his cup float for about 10 -15 min, or even longer.
  7. Remove a SMALL amount of water from the cup. Discard it.
  8. Repeat steps 5-7, until at least an hour has passed.
  9. Gently release him into the tank.
Thank you so much for responding so quickly and for your advice! I wish I had posted here before I put the other salt in yesterday.... I am going to go get epsom salt right now and will begin the procedure you described. Thank you!
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Old 02-09-2013, 12:12 PM   #5 
LittleBlueFishlets
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Epsom salt should be pretty easy to get. It's available at most grocery and drug stores. Just check the ingredients to make sure it's 100% pure magnesium sulfate, with no additives, dyes or perfumes.
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Old 02-09-2013, 12:29 PM   #6 
MurrellSM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleBlueFishlets View Post
Epsom salt should be pretty easy to get. It's available at most grocery and drug stores. Just check the ingredients to make sure it's 100% pure magnesium sulfate, with no additives, dyes or perfumes.
The one I have at home is espom salt "magnesium sulfate U.S.P" from Publix (grocery store brand). The back says "Active ingredient magnesium sulfate USP" and lists no other ingredient. However, on the back it has a section called "Fertilizer uses" and that says "Guaranteed analysis: magmesium 9.87%, sulfur 12.98%, derived from magnesium sulfate"... does that mean it isn't pure???
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Old 02-09-2013, 12:36 PM   #7 
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Your box is just fine! Go ahead and use it.

If you want to know more (ie: 'nonessential' info): The back of the box lists the % composition by element. The chemical formula for magnesium sulfate is MgSO4, so they're just listing the percent magnesium (Mg) and percent sulfur (S) that is contained in the magnesium sulfate.

Try using 1 teaspoon Epsom salt per gallon today. If he still have buoyancy issues tomorrow, you can increase the concentration (slowly, so as not to shock him). I've seen recommendations as high as 3 teaspoons per gallon, but I personally haven't needed to go higher than 1.5 tsp/gal to relieve my guys' issues. Always make sure the salt is completely dissolved.

Last edited by LittleBlueFishlets; 02-09-2013 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 02-09-2013, 12:41 PM   #8 
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Thanks!! I'm going right now to prepare the new water. *crosses fingers*
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Old 02-09-2013, 12:44 PM   #9 
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It should say 100% magnesium sulfate on the ingredients label. Those add up to 22% about.. I would find something different.
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Old 02-09-2013, 01:02 PM   #10 
LittleBlueFishlets
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Callistra - it's pure.....

Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate heptahydrate (MgSO4*7H2O). (We tend to call it just 'magnesium sulfate,' but there are actually 7 water molecules attached.)

MgSO4*7H2O has a molar mass of 246.5 g/mol
% Mg: 24.3/246.5 x 100% = 9.9% Magnesium by mass
% S: 32.1/246.5 x 100% = 13% Sulfur by mass

These values are the same as what's listed on the back of the Publix box. So it's fine to use....

(The fertilizer breakdown on the back is because some people use it for their plants. They'd need to know exactly how much magnesium and sulfur the plants are getting, since these are the actual plant nutrients.)

Last edited by LittleBlueFishlets; 02-09-2013 at 01:10 PM.
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