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Old 02-09-2013, 04:28 PM   #1 
Azurelove
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S-shaped spine, need some clarification

I've had my little guy Axel for about a year and a half now. For the most part, he's been happy and healthy. I moved him across town a while ago and he contracted a bit of fin rot, but I took care of it with some aquarium salt, Maracyn and Maracyn Two and his fins have healed.

Now, it's been about 6 months since the move, but I came downstairs to find him lying on the bottom of the tank with his spine contorted into an S shape. He didn't really seem to be able to move much.

I pulled out a small breeder tank that floats in the main tank, removed the plastic insert, and very gently scooped him into that with my hand so he wouldn't have to swim far to reach the surface.

After doing some Internet hunting I found that both Swim Bladder Disease and, oddly, tuberculosis cause a twisted spine. I'm pretty sure it's SBD, but I wanted some help on making sure that's it and what exactly to do with this.

Here's the form:

Housing
What size is your tank? 5 gallons
What temperature is your tank? 78 degrees F
Does your tank have a filter? Yes
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? Yes
Is your tank heated? Yes
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? None

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Hikari Betta Bio-Gold pellets
How often do you feed your betta fish? 2 pellets daily, skipping once per week

Maintenance
How often do you perform a water change? Weekly
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 20-25%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Mostly just the tap water treater. I use the API brand. Very infrequently I'll add a very small amount of KH/GH booster and aquarium salt if I see the pH and hardness beginning to waver.

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

Ammonia: 0ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 10ppm
pH: 7.5
Hardness: 75
Alkalinity: 180

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? S-shaped spine
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? Very lethargic
When did you start noticing the symptoms? Today
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? Moved him into a breeder tank, but no medication used yet.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? Fin rot, but that's it
How old is your fish (approximately)? Approaching 2 years
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Old 02-09-2013, 04:36 PM   #2 
callistra
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I wouldn't use anything that effects gh/kh. The swings can be lethal. Are you saying your regular tap water has an unstable kh or you are trying to treat it to a specific place? Some tap water is unstable and must be aged up to 48-72hours to stabilize.

Can you share photos? What color is his poop? Is he bloated at all?

In something so small I would increase to 50% changes. It needs to include using a siphon and not just taking water off the top.
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:33 PM   #3 
Azurelove
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No, he's not bloated. His poop seems to still be a normal color, light brownish, no blood visible.

I'd include a picture but my phone doesn't have a camera, nor do I have a camera.

As for the water changes, no I didn't mention a siphon, but I do in fact use one. Nitrate isn't going higher than 10ppm every week, then I change it and it goes away. I never have ammonia or nitrite. I'll stick to 25%. If I go any higher it'll disrupt the bacteria.

I'd always thought it was 5g (which, compared to the tiny bowls people stick these fish in, really isn't small and is large enough to sustain betta and bacteria healthily with filtration and heat) but after reading your post I looked at his tank compared to another 5g I have and took the volume measurement; it's actually about 8g and I'll fix that in my first post.

Yes, my tap water is very unstable. If I don't treat it, the pH plummets.
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:38 PM   #4 
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Actually you can do a full water change and not harm the bacteria. The bacteria lives on surfaces and the filter, not in the water, but it sounds like your water changes are ok then.

What is the kh and gh of the untreated tap water? Of the water post treatment? What exactly are you using to treat? How low does it ever dip before you retreat it? I would instead suggest just aging the water instead of artificially treating it to be higher which is going to cause swings which can kill him at worst case scenario. This is what I'm most concerned about.

If he's not bloated and his poop is normal it's not SBD. Causes of spine deformation that have come on later in life are fish TB, internal parasites, malnutrition, or injury. Since his poop is normal it does not appear to be internal parasites. Are you sure he didn't get stuck tot he intake of the filter and then wiggle himself free? Do you have an HOB?
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Old 02-09-2013, 10:25 PM   #5 
Azurelove
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That's interesting to know. I'll keep it in mind for the future and also start aging the water before adding it. You said 3-4 days?

TB doesn't seem likely either since he isn't thin, but I could be wrong, I only read one site describing TB symptoms.

What do you mean by malnutrition? He was fed regularly, never grew thin, was always super energetic before today.

I forgot to include his treats. I feed him a daphnia fly soaked in tank water weekly after his water change. I also have a pack of Aqueon betta food I feed a pellet from every so often to change up the nutrients, but it's regularly the Bio Gold.

Think I need to change up his diet?

EDIT: I meant to ask too, doesn't SBD have the opposite symptoms of not being able to inflate properly? Or is it only that it'll inflate and cause the fish to not be able to sink? I was pretty sure the opposite form existed, too.
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Old 02-09-2013, 10:31 PM   #6 
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It depends on your water. Some are okay 24 hours. Others take up to 3 days. You'll have to test for a while and see where yours stabilizes. Just make sure you heat it back up to tank temp before using it. Personally, I use 5 gallon buckets like those bright orange Home Depot buckets and an extra heater.

I'm just telling you the things that cause the curved spine. His diet isn't the best but it's not bad. There are better quality pellets than Hikari, imho. The best pellets have the first two or three ingredients instead of fish meal or wheat (fish byproducts.. think McDonald's chicken nuggets) so you could try switching up his food but that's up to you. I don't think it's causing his spine curve.

SBD is usually caused by constipation and includes bloat and possibly odd poop. You can have swim bladder injury that would include sunken perhaps.. he doesn't sound like he has SBD to me. The part of SBD that causes curved is the bloat. Internal parasites can also effect the swim bladder and the betta will be skinny with sunken belly, but again that produces odd poop.
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Old 02-10-2013, 01:33 AM   #7 
Azurelove
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What would the poop look like, perchance? I haven't seen a color change but maybe there's something I'm missing because I don't know what I'm looking for.

If it's not SBD, I suppose I could try a parasite medication, though I see no signs of parasites really aside from the spine curve. I don't like medicating with no evidence, but if I have no other option I'll do it.

As far as I know he hasn't had a chance to injure himself. There's a gap behind the filter between it and the glass he likes to go in, but the intake is a tube extending to the tank bottom with a vented cover over it so the fish don't get caught in it (Aqueon QuietFlow, I forget the number, made for 5-10g tanks). Obviously, I've never handled him except to put him in the breeder tank today.

If it isn't SBD, I'm just confused as to what it could be.
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Old 02-10-2013, 02:41 PM   #8 
Azurelove
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Update! After a day, he's still the same as he was yesterday, but now I'm seeing external signs and a change in his poop. His poop looks less curled-up and lighter in color (I'm seeing it clearly since it's falling into the little breeder tank).

His fins have developed some odd, small, flecked white spots. (Not salt-like, but I suppose it's better than just the S-shaped spine. I don't think it's ich, but maybe it's setting in from the current illness.)

Internal parasites? Or something else?
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Old 02-10-2013, 02:48 PM   #9 
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Should look the color of his pellets and be relatively thin and not too long or too round.

It's hard to say anything without a photo but I wouldn't think he'd have a parasite infection because you haven't introduced anything that could have parasites.. like if you were feeding live or even frozen foods I'd be more inclined to say parasites. He lives by himself.. you didn't note introducing anything new recently..

Without seeing photos it's hard to diagnose anything. Are the spots fuzzy? Can you look on google and try to find something that it looks like?

At this point, if I were to add anything more than epsom salts, or immune boosters like vitachem and IAL, I would be aiming for internal bacterial and looking for Kanaplex.
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Old 02-10-2013, 03:06 PM   #10 
Azurelove
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Normally the poop looks like a little ball, but it's unraveled. It's definitely lighter than his pellets today.



The spots on this fish's pectoral fin look like the ones I'm seeing now. They're not fuzzy, just white and shiny. They're only on his tail and anal fin.

I haven't introduced anything and have never fed him live or frozen food.

I'll start aiming towards internal bacterial, the symptoms seem vague and he only really has one of them (lethargy), but I suppose with something like that it could be affecting his organs and causing the S-shaped spine.

I'll see if my store has Kanaplex. Is Maracyn Two a decent option as well? I have some of that on hand.
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