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Old 07-05-2013, 06:33 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Unhappy Fish floating sideways with swollen abdomen

Hey all,

I am new to this forum, but have been using it for a year unregistered for my betta fish. I've had Sashimi for a year now, and this forum has been great for information!

I was in Ye Pet Store today for fish supplies, and found the saddest betta fish. For better or for worse I decided he was better off at least having his last few days in a tank versus being tossed out or dying in the store, so now I have him set up in what I can best do for a hospital tank. I'm hoping to learn what he may have. The information below is in regards to this little guy.

What size is your tank?
.5 Gal
What temperature is your tank? 76 degrees F
Does your tank have a filter? None
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Is your tank heated? Not yet
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? None

What type of food do you feed your betta fish?
I have Aqueon Betta food
How often do you feed your betta fish? It will be once a day with a weekly fasting day. 3-4 pellets

How often do you perform a water change?
It will be 3-4 times a week.
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? Probably 1/3... I'd like verification that this is an OK amount for a filterless tank
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? I normally add BettaSafe, but for this little guy I will also be adding aquarium salts

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

Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 7.0
Hardness: 30
Alkalinity: errr...

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?
His lower abdomen is swollen. I can't really tell if the scales are "sticking out" or not, which I understand could be a sign of dropsy.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? He's swimming on his side. Not 100%, every once and awhile he seems to get the beans in him and zooms around vertically. His colors improved now that he's been in the tank for two hours.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? n/a
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? He's in clean water with some Epsom Salts and Betta fix.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? Unknown.
How old is your fish (approximately)? Unknown. Probably not young.

Here's a shot to show the lump.

Top/side shot. He's getting a bit more vertical now that he's been in the tank for about two hours.

I'm willing to accept the news that there's not much I can do for him, but would appreciate any advice. I figure best case scenario I've picked up a second fish, worst case scenario I've at least now got the travel case for when I move with Sashimi.
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Old 07-05-2013, 06:41 PM   #2 
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Join Date: May 2013
Location: Massachusetts, U.S.
It looks like he may just be a little bloated/constipated right now. The fact that he's coloring up and actually able to move sometimes tells me he's probably okay otherwise. I just got a new girl recently who was bloated/constipated and acting just like you describe the way this guy is. Funny thing is my girl was still trying to make a bubble nest even when she was starting to float up on her side. I fasted for a day, gave her one pellet the next and made the small tank dark to keep her calm. Just keep the tank bottom bare and look for poop. Keep in mind that fasting is okay, but he can't poop if there is nothing in his belly. The epsom salt should help. Though I didn't even have to use them for my girl.

has he eaten anything since you got him?
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Old 07-05-2013, 07:19 PM   #3 
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He ate one pellet but doesn't seem very keen on food. He's also become less active, except that I learned while feeding him that he can jump out of the tank! GAH. So he might be less active because he just went exploring.

On Poopwatch 2013: there has been no poop. How often do betta fish pass waste?

It also occurs to me that when he swims down to the bottom of the tank, it looks like he's fighting and then he pops right back up to the top on his side again. My research tells me this might be a symptom of sea bladder disease (SBD) and/or constipation, and the lump for that would be between the belly and tail along the spine (which is roughly where his lump is). Would this seem right?

He's got these big old fins and was labelled a "half moon double fin" betta fish, which the interwebs tells me are prone to SBD.

I'm trying to not poke him too much and just let him alone, but it's soo hard to not.
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Old 07-05-2013, 07:27 PM   #4 
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Join Date: May 2013
Location: Massachusetts, U.S.
Its actually referred to as Swim Bladder Disorder, most often. Basically for one reason or another, his organs are pushed together in such a way that its putting pressure on his swim bladder. This can be caused by bloating, constipation, or internal parasites. It can even be caused by stress or changing water conditions. I'd say to just leave him be for now. Don't bother him too much, and I'm sure he'll be fine in a couple days. Its up to your discretion whether to fast him or not, but since you know he has eaten something, I would wait until you see him poop to think about feeding him anything again. The Epsom salt should help. If he's in something small, he may benefit from covering most or even just half of the tank with a small towel or cloth just to give him a dark area to go to to feel safe. I imagine being unable to swim correctly and floating like that may make them feel vulnerable, so giving him a place to feel safe without restricting his movement is probably a good idea. Just make sure you leave some of the top uncovered for air to get in.

To my knowledge, Bettas usually poop at least once or twice a day, or maybe more depending on how often and how much you feed them.
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