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Old 01-11-2014, 04:26 PM   #1 
Galaxy's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2013
Red Gills?! Help please!

What size is your tank? 5.5gallon
What temperature is your tank? 76-80 (usually 78)
Does your tank have a filter? Yes
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? none

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? 3-4 pellet of Aqueon Betta Food a day (Fasting one day a week, and occasional freeze dried blood worm as treat)

How often do you feed your betta fish? Twice a day - 2 pellets in morning, 1-2 pellet in evening

How often do you perform a water change? 1-2 weekly - I got a new tank which I've started to cycle, so I've done lots of water changes in the last week due to ammonia being at .25 ppm. I've had the tank for 3 weeks now. (Bought it at Christmas time)

What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 50% (once a week with gravel vacuum, and once a week w/o)

What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Seachem prime

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

Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 10-20ppm
pH: 7.6
Hardness: -- According to my dad, the water in our area is /extremely/ hard. I don't know how you're supposed to measure this though?
Alkalinity: --

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? Ripped fins, and red gills.

How has your betta fish's behavior changed? Same - always swimming around, but lately has been exploring tank more instead of swimming constantly

When did you start noticing the symptoms? I noticed the rips in her fins earlier this week and put some stress guard in. I was worried when I saw her red gills, thinking she had scraped both sides of her face, so I did a 100% water change with vacuum yesterday. I just realized today that the red marks aren't scrapes, but red gills. So, here I am. :(

Have you started treating your fish? If so, how?
I did a 100% water change with vacuum yesterday, and added Prime, Stress Guard, and Aquarium salt. I added a new castle ornament earlier this week which may have hurt her, which i took out, and I also removed her betta log. I kept all her silk plants in the tank along with her smooth ceramic acorn house.

Does your fish have any history of being ill? No. She's always been very healthy up until now!

How old is your fish (approximately)? I've had her for about 3-4 months (bought at Petco)


I heard that red gills could mean ammonia poisoning? But, I don't see how that could be the case as I've changed her water twice a week ever since I got her, sometimes more! I'm not sure if her gills just recently became red, as to be honest it's rather hard to tell with her coloring. I hadn't noticed it before, so I'm thinking it developed either since I got the new tank or since I came home for winter break (I'm in college).

I thought the water test results I just did (above) were strange since I did the 100% water change yesterday. I was trying to figure it out, and my mom said I should test our tap water (we use well water). It turns out, our well water has 10-20 ppm of nitrate in it! (I tested bottle water afterwards to make sure the kit was working, as my parents couldn't believe it. -A- My parents said there shouldn't be anything in our water since it's well water and they had it tested before we moved in the house. Seems I should've tested our tap water from the start. :()

So, this explains the high amount of nitrate I've had ever since I started testing my water. I always wondered why it was high when it hadn't gone through the cycling stages.

So, the question is, is this nitrate hurting my fish? Could it possibly be nitrate poisoning instead of ammonia poisoning that's turning her gills red? Is that even possible? What should I do to counteract this high amount of nitrate?

Do you think her red gills are caused by something else?

Please help! :(

(Sorry for so much text.)
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:43 PM   #2 
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Location: Rhode Island
I doubt its any sort if ammonia or nitrite poisoning. It actually sounds like you may finally be seeing her true colors. More often than not bettas will have two red stripes on their face. One on their gill plate cover and one where the gill bends when they flare. Most of the time this is red but it does depend on the fishes color as well. My mustard gas boy in my avatar has blue stripes and I have a girl with pearl colors for nhers before. Anyway, it's all normal and it will usually color up when they are angry or showing off, otherwise it may dull and you might not notice it as much.
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:51 PM   #3 
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Hmm, that's interesting. I'll be really happy if that's what it is. Whoo. I was so freaking out. ;A; I thought she had finished color changing, but maybe not then. :) When I first got her she was a tiny black thing. Now she has a black head, metallic silver body, bright red ventral fins, and metallic silver fins with a light purple, gold, red sheen. It'd be neat if she does change colors some more.

She's not very aggressive. I don't think I've seen her flare? She does attack the glass every once in awhile, but it's usually while she's having fun swimming back and forth. :P But, maybe now that she's in this big new tank and gotten comfortable she's letting me know she's happy. I'm super glad if I just freaked out for no reason. xD

So, the nitrate in the water shouldn't harm her any then? :o
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Old 01-11-2014, 09:01 PM   #4 
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Location: Rhode Island
She technically hasn't changed colors since you got her, she's just colored up. Often times in the store they are dull and sometimes will look completely different, but with some warm, clean water they perk up and color up. Color changing is something Marble bettas do like a blue fish turning completely red, that's what's considered color changing anywho, the stripes are just part of coloring up more, so yes now she is content.

As for the nitrate, all tanks have a small level of them, its pretty hard to have no nitrate levels although its happened before. But they aren't as toxic as nitrite and ammonia, normally we just like to keep the readings below 20ppm to be on the safe side. Water changes is the only thing to get rid of nitrates
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Old 01-12-2014, 12:40 PM   #5 
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Location: Buffalo NY
I'm happy to see one of the seniors stepped in and helped you out with your worries :) lilnaugrim always has good advice and has helped me out a lot also :)
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Old 01-12-2014, 03:02 PM   #6 
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Oh, I see! I'm glad she's just "coloring up" some more then. :P I was worried her gills were inflamed or something, and she might have some internal problem and die. (Reading the threads on this board is making me paranoid. D:) I'm glad she's happier now. :) She's always seemed very happy, but I'm glad she now is /very/ happy. xD

Okay! Good to know. I was just worried since my water has so much nitrate in it from the get go. I hope it doesn't affect my cycle to much. :/ Thanks for your help! :)

Yes, I'm glad she/he helped me out as well. ^^ I'm really glad my worries were unfounded. ^^ Now I just hope the tears in her fins heal quickly. :)
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