Update: Gibbs refused to eat today after the second water change, which is really worrying because he's normally a huge pig (he ate fine yesterday). I'll be adding a 50% third water change daily just in case.
I believe the lump is interfering with his breathing. He takes surface gulps more often then usual, and every time he does, multiple bubbles gather from his mouth. Perhaps there's internal swelling as well that's inhibiting his labyrinth? AQ Salt makes swelling issues worse, right? I'm thinking of downing the concentration until 0 and using epsom if I don't see signs of improvement by then.
If he acts stressed enough to not eat after a water change, I would worry about shock.. this is how I do water changes to avoid shock and minimize stress:
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.
You might switch to epsom salt... predissolve it just like the AQ. add 1 tsp per gallon slowly over an hour. Double that (repeat) after 12 for a total of 2 tsp per gallon. Once he's acclimated to it you can keep him on it safely for weeks or months on end.. I suggest two weeks as that should be sufficient to help if it's going to.
Well I floated the new water in the same tank for a couple hours, took him out, refilled the container to 50%, put him back in, and used a turkey baster to drip new water drop by drop until the container was full. He hasn't reacted badly except striping every time I handle him. He wasn't very responsive this morning either.
No I haven't. I know that dosing instructions is similar to AQ salt but what is the max concentration I can go?
2 tsp per gallon, imho, but start with 1 tsp. That much should be safe as long as you do it slow enough.
I have instructions above, but let me know if you have any questions about it.. it does need to be 100% pure magnesium sulfate. It's important to check the ingredients to make sure there are no other additives, dyes or perfumes. It should not smell and it should be white. I get mine at CVS Pharmacy.
Yep, the package says all natural 100% Magnesium sulfate, ingredients say 100% too.
Bad news, upon closer inspection, Gibbs's mandible/chin area has a hole.... where the initial lump used to be. Well, it looks to me more like a slit that goes all the way through and the skin between his gill flaps is folding outward instead of inward. My battery camera died conveniently and I won't be able to get a charged one until my yearbook advisor returns to school on tuesday.
I don't know how or why this happened... He seems in pretty bad shape, but he still displays a will to live. Still, he looks miserable and sometimes he'll just lay on his side. I'll give him time and if no treatment works, I'm afraid I'll have to do the deed, but I really don't want to.
I don't even know if the salt will help me now since the lump is gone, only a gaping slit and outwardly folded skin is there. Is there anything I can do besides provide him with warm, clean water?