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Old 12-06-2013, 01:16 AM   #1 
Kaitlyngrac3
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Betta unable to adapt to water changes, please help!

Hi all! I'm a new member, but I have been using this forum for a while now to help with my betta, Nova.

We've had Nova for about 3 months now. We rescued him when we found him in filthy water at a Dollar Store. He has improved drastically since we brought him home, but lately he hasn't been doing too well.

He had a rough case of SBD about a month back. It lasted about four days and he made a full recovery. Since then we have upgraded his tank with a heater, monitor his temperature to make sure it is steady, and is on a healthy diet. It seems his immune system is really bad, and it is continuing to get worse.

He was fine with a 50% water change weekly and a full change bi-weekly until recently. It seems now every water change is giving him problems, no matter how small. It seems to be a mix of bladder disorder and constipation, though he develops it regardless of if we have fed him that day or not. His bottom swells up and he is unable to swim down except in frantic bursts. He is always on his side on the top of the water when he develops this.

He just recovered a few days ago from another round, so I tried to do a water change today. It was hardly 10%; the water was the exact same temperature and treated with stress coat. I took the water out slowly and added the new in as delicately as I could, but he is still reacting poorly.

I'm very afraid to do a full water change; I think it might kill him. I'm not sure if this is stress or just a rejection of the new water. I am adding in treated tap water during water changes. Nova is solo in his tank and is a very happy and active fish until recently.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I have tried all I know how to do and I just want little Nova to be happy again! Thank you!

Housing
What size is your tank? 2.5 gallons
What temperature is your tank? 76
Does your tank have a filter? No
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Is your tank heated? Yes
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? No extra fish, a few bamboo plants with leaves

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Flakes daily
How often do you feed your betta fish? Once a day, unless he has SBD, where he fasts two days and is fed a pea on the third

Maintenance
How often do you perform a water change? Attempted roughly every other day, no more than 20%
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 20% normally for Nova, 50% once a week if he is healthy
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Aqua Plus dechlorinator, Stress Coat

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters? I have not tested, only treated the water.

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? Still a vibrant blue, has developed slight discolouration on one gill
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? He responds to voice and light, but after water changes, he is up at the top struggling to keep himself upright. He loves to sit on top of the suction cup for the heater cord because it keeps him straight. About two days later, he is back to his normal self.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? Has been critical about a week
Have you started treating your fish? Yes, to the best of my knowledge
Does your fish have any history of being ill? Only recently has he started getting what seems to be SBD after every water change.
How old is your fish (approximately)? Unknown
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Old 12-06-2013, 01:23 AM   #2 
dramaqueen
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I would do 100% changes once a week on a 2.5 tank. Make sure to get the new water th same temp as the old so you don't shock him.
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Old 12-06-2013, 01:26 AM   #3 
Kaitlyngrac3
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Thank you for your quick reply! You don't think that will hurt him more? He's reacting so poorly to just a little bit of water being added already....

I know he needs his water changed, I guess I'm just very afraid to do it! I will probably wait until he makes another full recovery before attempting it.
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Old 12-07-2013, 01:34 AM   #4 
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Maybe you have high levels of ammonia or nitrites in your tap water? I'd suggest getting it tested. Petsmart or Petco will do it for free.
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Old 12-07-2013, 10:40 AM   #5 
LittleBlueFishlets
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Are you using tap water for your water changes?
Does your water come from a municipal/public water source, or is it from a well?

Since this only occurs when you do a water change, you may want to try using a different type of water.

Here's what I would try, if this was my fish:

1) Go to the store and get a 1 gallon jug of DRINKING water. It can be the store brand.

2) Add the correct amount of conditioner to it. Use ONE of the following options to do this:
--- Tetra Aqua Plus dechlorinator alone: Add 0.5 mL (10 drops)
--- API Stress Coat alone: Add 0.5 mL (10 drops)
--- Combination of Tetra Aqua Plus AND Stress Coat: Use 0.25mL (5 drops) of each.

3) Remove about 25% tank water. Slowly add the newly treated drinking water over the course of at least 30 minutes.

If you do this, let us know how he reacts.

Next, let's discuss the food that you're using.... Foods that contain a lot of grains/fillers can cause constipation, bloating, SBD and/or buoyancy issues. Look at the ingredients listed on the label for words like "soybean, wheat, potato, gluten, meal." If you see words like this, consider switching to a high-protein food. On this forum, the two most often recommended foods are New Life Spectrum Betta pellets and Omega One Betta Buffet. These are protein-based foods that bettas digest well.

Last edited by LittleBlueFishlets; 12-07-2013 at 10:45 AM.
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Old 12-07-2013, 01:54 PM   #6 
Kaitlyngrac3
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I have not tested my water at all, perhaps you are right about the high levels!

I am going to give him another day to recover, and then I will try the drinking water and a mix of the tetra and stress coat. I'll pick up some testing strips too and make sure everything is at a proper level.

I will also pick up some of the Omega One! He has been eating BettaMin Tropical Medley (my other betta, who has never had any problems in his own tank, eats this as well.)

I will let you all know how he fares when I change the water. Thank you so much everyone!
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Old 12-07-2013, 11:26 PM   #7 
kittenfish
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Sorry, I'm confused now, did you mean that you were using Tetra Aquasafe Plus or Nutrafin Aqua Plus? If it's Aquasafe, I believe it should already be neutralizing tap water ammonia. If you are not already using an ammonia removing water conditioner, switching to one may solve your problem. I use Prime because it also detoxifies nitrites and nitrates. My tap water is horrible and contains high amounts of all three. Although this may only work with a cycled tank.

Definitely try the drinking water too, in case it's something else.

Last edited by kittenfish; 12-07-2013 at 11:37 PM.
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Old 12-08-2013, 09:17 AM   #8 
LittleBlueFishlets
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If you want to test your water, I recommend the liquid testing kits rather than the strips. I really like the API Freshwater Master Kit. It's about $30 at petstores, but you can usually find it on Amazon for less. (I just checked, and it's selling for $16 today.)
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Old 12-10-2013, 03:35 PM   #9 
Kaitlyngrac3
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Hi everyone! Just thought I would post an update!

I still have not done a full water change, because I wanted to see how Nova adapted to the new water. I have done a 25% water change, and he has perked right back up! I must have been using a bad mixture of dechlorinator. Now I am now using the combination of Tetra Aqua Plus and Stress Coat to treat the water and adding it in very slowly. (Thank you LittleBlueFishlets!) He is adapting very well and hasn't developed SBD since!

I also purchased a small plant with leaves for Nova to rest on, and I will be putting that in when I do a full water change.

He is eating Omega One Betta Buffet, and I hope that is helping. The food bottle says to feed three times daily, but Nova is used to only being fed once per day; is that okay to only feed him once?

Planning on doing a full water change later this week since he is doing so well.

Thank you so so so much everyone! I am so happy Nova is swimming around like his old self again!
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Old 12-10-2013, 05:19 PM   #10 
LittleBlueFishlets
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I'm glad he is doing well!

Yes, it's OK to feed him just once per day. (I feed all of my fish once per day.)

Since your guy has had SBD recently, you may want to start out giving him 2-3 pellets in the morning, then 2-3 pellets in the evening. Then, after a few days, start to switch pellets over to his once-per-day feeding. Something like this:
Days 1-2: 2 pellets in the AM, 2-3 pellets in the PM. (Total of 4-5 pellets per day.)
Days 3-4: 1 pellet in the AM. 3-4 pellets in the PM. (Total of 4-5 pellets per day.)
Day 5 & beyond: 4-5 pellets in the PM.
Etc.....

Once you know he's OK with that feeding schedule, you can decide whether you want to adjust the amount of food. (A betta's stomach is roughly the size of its eyeball. So it doesn't take much to fill them up!)

I had one guy with severe SBD issues. He needed to start out with 2-3 Omega One pellets per day. (More than that, and he bloated again.) Over the course of about 2 weeks, I gradually increased the number of pellets. He's now stable on a once-daily feeding of about 5 pellets. We've been on this routine for over a year, and it seems to be working for him.

Glad to hear Nova is doing well.
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