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Old 02-26-2013, 10:01 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Exclamation Help/Advice please --Betta lost buoyancy for almost 2 months now

I have had my male betta since mid-November. He was doing great, swimming around, eating normally at first. Then around the beginning of January over a period of 4-7 days he lost his buoyancy and laid on the bottom unless it was to come up for food or air. Also, He has lost 85-90% of his color on his body (it used to be a beautiful royal blue). It is almost like you can see through to his insides. His fins are now a very pale orange/brown/clearish color and they used to be bright orange (UTenn orange). *I bought a Red male betta the same time I bought this one and the red betta is doing perfect. They are in their own tanks in separate rooms.

I have tried to attach a photo of him.

Information on my betta
Place Purchased: Rescued from Walmart
Feed: BettaMin Topical Medley Flakes - A pinch once a day to every other day
*I tried feeding him pellets but he would not eat them; will only eat
*As a treat maybe once every 2 weeks I would give him a dried blood
worm. He would sometimes eat it and sometimes not.
Tank: I have a 1.5 gallon "tank" (it stands up instead of being more
horizontal). There is a live floating plant in there as well that he liked
to hide around.
Water: I do a full water change 1x every week and ~25% change mid-week
every week. I leave the new water out for at least a day to adjust the
temperature before adding to the tank. I use BettaSafe water
condition as well.
Heater: I have recently bought a heater that keeps the water ~74 degrees F
This was the second heater I have tried and both keep the water at
the same temperature of 74.
(Until I found this site I was always told they did not need a heater
and room temperature would be fine.)
Location: His tank is on the counter where the sun light can go through a
normal up, over, and down cycle around the tank. It is no direct
sunlight though and doesn't seem to bother the temp.
1)A Petsmart employee (I shop at Petsmart weekly and value their
opinions) suggested I try Lifeguard: All in one treatment. This did
not help at all. Also, Stress Coat - I'm not sure if it helps or not.
2)Next they suggested BettaFix (All Natural Betta Medication with
Melaleuca 0.2%). I tried this for ~5-6 days but didn't see
3)I found this site and read all kinds of information and thought from
the descriptions the best option would be Epsom Salt. [I removed
him from his tank to prevent exhaustion and make access to
food/air easier. He is now in ~2-2.5 cups of water in a clear bowl. I
placed a rock in there with a leaf from his plant and the heater.]

For a week I did 1tsp/gal with no change.
Week 2-3 I did 2tsp/gal with no change.
Mid-week 3-4.5 (which is the present) I have used 3tsp/gal.
--> He has regular droppings in the bottom of the bowel.
***I had started to see a little bit of change where he was
swimming some more, eating a little more, and got a tiny bit of
color back. However, the last 3 days he has stopped swimming as
much. He has not eaten the last 2 days and lays next to the heater
and bottom.

Any help would be wonderful! I do not want the little fellow to die but I do not want him to live in ~2 cups of water forever either. My last betta lived for 7 years (yes, years!!) and I never had any problems with him at all.

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Old 02-26-2013, 10:06 PM   #2 
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He's looking very skinny and seems to have a suspicious grey patch on his head? Is it just the picture or is it actually on his head? Also what color is poo, I ask this because stringy, clear-ish, or yellow-ish poo can indicate parasites. I would feed him a little more than a pinch a day. I would recommend you buy New Life Spectrum pellets, I have yet to see a betta refuse those!
Also, is it possible to increase the temperature to 78-80 degrees? Bettas are tropical fish and the 74 is a little on the low side.
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Old 02-26-2013, 10:15 PM   #3 
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Petsmart is pretty clueless, as is represented by the advice they have given you..

I don't think he's sick I think his care practices need changing. Here is a run through of things all bettas need:

I really would not leave him in this small bowl. Ammonia is building very quickly making it next to impossible for him to recover. In this small container you will need twice daily 100% changes to keep ammonia at a minimum, and even then you will see it

bettas need to be kept in 2 gallons minimum. In these twice weekly water changes of 50% and 100% are needed. Bettas kept in 1 gallon containers live an average of about 2 years compared to double that+ in larger containers. The 1 gallon would need 3 weekly water changes of 50%, 50% and 100%, and even then they will be subjected to ammonia.

The 50% changes the betta can be kept in the bowl and use a turkey baster to remove half the water and as much of the debris as possible. For the 100% you need to remove him - scoop him out with a plastic solo type cup and set aside while you thoroughly rinse the bowl and gravel to remove the debris. Then he should be acclimated to the new water by floating for an hour while you slowly add a couple tablespoons of new water to the cup every 10 minutes. When you release him, try to let as little of the old cup water back into the tank as possible. All water changes should use same temp water, matched to running tap using the in tank thermometer and the water needs to be premixed with conditioner before adding it to the betta tank. If you don't already have anything, you can use gallon water jugs from the grocery store - rinsed thoroughly in hot water but no chems.

Bettas are tropical fish and must be kept at a temp between 76-82, with 78-80 being ideal. The temp must be stable and not be dipping or jumping around. In a 2 gallon you can get an adjustable 25w heater. Any new heater should be tested for 24 hours in similar size container with in tank thermometer to make sure it will hold a constant appropriate temp between 78-80F. Then the betta must be acclimated to higher temp either by floating in a cup inside the main already fully heated tank for an hour, or by adjusting the heater to increase the temperature of the tank no more than a degree per hour and 5 degrees per day.

Flakes aren't good nutritional value, and especially with something this small they muck up the water quickly cuasing excess ammonia. You should look for a good quality pellets whose first two or three ingredients are whole fish, not fish meal or wheat. He should be fed two small meals a day (how many depends on the pellet you pick up) and one fast day a week.
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Old 02-26-2013, 11:07 PM   #4 
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DoctorWhoLuver: Thank you for your reply! I checked to make sure and there is not a gray spot, it must have been from the picture. However around his eyes are a little lighter than normal. His poo is a purple-maroon color, is this good? I have ordered another heater but it has not arrived yet. I will look for those pellets as well.

Callistra: Thanks for your reply as well. Although I value your advice I think he may be sick as my red betta is perfect with the same maintenance. I keep him in a 1.5 gallon tank and could add another water change per week. [My last betta was in a 1 gallon tank with no heater and lived 7 years while I completed my undergrad & doctorate degrees with the same practices I am doing now. Maybe I was just lucky with it though as it was not sick once.] An actual 2 gallon horizontal tank is not an option at the moment with limited space. He has not been in the small bowl often but to allow him to eat as he will not swim to the top anymore I had to put him in there for a while. I used to have a 300gallon saltwater tank and kept all those fish alive. I understand what you are talking about with the water changing techniques of letting him adjust to the new water and I already do that.
Also, I have been checking the ammonia levels daily and they are always normal.
I have ordered another heater and it is on its way to bump the temp up some more.
I am going to try the pellets again in hopes he will eat them this time.
I am trying to learn more about these beautiful fish now that I know there is so much to know about them. I hope to be a better "betta mom" in time. =)
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Old 02-27-2013, 07:31 AM   #5 
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I'm sorry to hear your little guy is ill :(

I've seen this before.. in fact it's happened to me not too long ago. One of my breeding males had started doing this just after I got him.. and I keep my fish in very clean waters, fed really good with live/frozen/homemade food, temps are set no less than 80F, etc. The breeder before me who had him is a very good keeper of fish and I have no doubt he was well taken care of there.

Yes, the temp does need to go up some (as you are aware, as you have mentioned you have tried a couple heaters already and no luck getting it to raise...), I would suggest making sure it's a 25 watt heater - anything smaller tends not to work very well. I never go less than 25 watts for my smaller tanks for this reason. If you want to know a good one to get, I get these "mini" ones (25w for 1-3 gallons).. they are adjustable and I have never had issues with them.

No, I don't think you are to blame most likely for this.. it seems to be something such as a chronic case of SBD. As you have tried the Epsom salt with no good outcome, there really isn't much more you can do that I can think of.. when you did the treatment, did you do the daily 100% water changes (adding in more dissolved Epsom each time) that is commonly recommended for treating SBD? If no, then I would suggest trying that for 8-10 days and see if by some chance it helps.. if not then the only thing I can suggest would be to either lower the water level in his home tank to 3-4 inches (lay heater sideways on the bottom to keep it submerged).. or leave him in that container he is in now, and float it in his tank to keep him warm.

If he isn't doing better after the second round of treatment (or if you rather sooner) then the only person I personally think that could know what is going on and if there is any treatment outside of Epsom would be Oldfishlady. If anyone knows how to help your little one, it would be her.

And my little one never got better, spent a couple months in Epsom Salt treatments, etc with nothing.. ended up living in a .33g keeper with low water level until I euthanized him sadly. But doesn't mean your little guy may not be able to turn it around some..

Good luck :)

Last edited by Myates; 02-27-2013 at 07:34 AM.
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Old 03-01-2013, 09:35 AM   #6 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Sometimes it is nothing we did or didn't do-often these kind of issues are genetic related and/or how reared at the fish farm. Not a lot we can do about those problems other than to make them comfy and do what is right by them if they seem to be suffering.

What I would recommend-Long term Epsom salt 3tsp/gal and tannins-along with good nutrition. Kept in a small bare container covered with plastic veggie wrap to retain heat/humidity for the labyrinth organ. Water temp in the 76-78F range.

If you have either IAL or naturally dried and fallen from the tree Oak leaf to use-this could be helpful-They have antibacterial/fungal properties and can help ease stress-among other things. The darker you can get the water the better. Since this is a natural product you can't overdose using it. The longer the leaves steep-the more tannins released-the darker the water-the better for the Betta.

If you have access to any live mosquito larva-offer these and see if that will stimulate the feeding response.

That is about the only thing I can suggest since I only use natural treatment.

Good luck...
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