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Old 06-02-2011, 07:49 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Exclamation Betta very sick - constipation? Swim bladder?

My betta has been sick for nearly one month. The problem started during a cross-country road-trip because we were moving to a new state. We kept him as safe and comfortable as we could during the car ride, but I am afraid that either stress, not enough water changes, or a physical bump in the car has caused him to have a serious problem.

I have researched to the ends of the internet to learn about dropsy and swim bladder issues. I do not think this is dropsy - yet.

THE PROBLEM: We kept the fish in a small plastic container with ventilation during the 6-day car trip. Upon reaching our destination, we transfered him to a plain bowl. This is when we noticed that he was "listing" to the side and spending more time at the top than normal (basically floating). He also had a "kink" in his back. I immediately did researched, determined the problem was constipation, and stopped feeding him. He passed a HUGE bowel movement and all was well for a day or two.

I resumed feeding him, and then it started all over again a day or two later..

I fasted him, he pooped, all was well again for a day or two. I resumed feeding him and it happened again, this time he was basically on his side like a dead fish. I panicked and since his tank had not arrived with the movers yet, I bought a one-gallon tank like the one he is normally in and transfered him to it, hoping it would help him get back to normal (silly, but I didn't know what else do do). He actually DID get back to normal for 4 or 5 days, but then started floating again.

We fasted him and fed him a small amount of pea... it took about 2 days, but he got back to normal again.

This cycle of fasting, getting better, resuming feeding, and then getting worse continued until a few days ago when he was EXTREMELY bloated. The bloating is on his underside and slightly to one side. It is NOT all over. It clearly appears to be some organ that is full and almost protruding. I expected him to die during the night, be we woke up in the morning to find him completely normal again! We went to a specialty store (not a pet mart) and the guy there told us to get Maracyn-2, which we have been using for 3 days. I'm also using Betta Revive at the same time.

I waited a full day, then I fed him ONE PELLET. He almost immediately started to float and has not recovered since - it's been about 3 or 4 days that he mostly just lies on his side at the top of the tank. I fed him some pea and this just made him worse. This is the first time he has been lethargic through the ordeal.

Obviously there is something wrong with his digestive system and/or swim bladder.

I do not know what to do! The ONLY thing I have read about that I have not tried is aspirating him, but I don't think I can do that.

I am really new to keeping bettas and I have done so much research and talked to people at three stores. I love my fish a lot, and I'm sure I've made a few mistakes in trying to heal him, so please be kind and do not rub it in if I have... If you have any suggestions, I am open to them. I am desperate to save him!

(His name is Fook, he is red with blue trim, and he's amazingly feisty and beautiful when he is feeling well.)

Please help!
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Old 06-02-2011, 08:21 PM   #2 
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Join Date: Jun 2011

What size is your tank? one gallon
What temperature is your tank? room temp (73F)
Does your tank have a filter? no
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? yes
Is your tank heated? no
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? none

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? pellets (3-4 per day with occasional fd bloodworm treat)
How often do you feed your betta fish? 6 days/week

How often do you perform a water change? every 1-2 weeks
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 50-100%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? dechlorinator

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters? no


Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? he has a bulge under his "chin" and a kink in his back
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? he floats at the top and has been lethargic for 48 hrs but was not lethargic for first few weeks of problem
When did you start noticing the symptoms? 4 weeks ago
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? maracyn-2, betta revive, epsom salts, blanched pea, fasting
Does your fish have any history of being ill? no
How old is your fish (approximately)? 8 mos
Yaujagwai is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2011, 09:00 PM   #3 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Elk Grove, California
It's possible that, despite all your best efforts, Fook sustained an internal injury during the move, possibly to his bowels (hence the strange constipation symptoms). It would probably really help if you could get him a heater and get his water up to about 78-80 degrees farenheit.

Secondly, and this is very important, when a betta is in a 1 gallon tank, you need to change 50% of his water at least once a week, preferably more. In a small tank, the toxic ammonia will build up very fast and make him sick.

So, for starters, do a 100% change of his water and get the temperature up to 78-80 degrees. A good heater to purchase for a small tank is the Tetra submersible heater that is set to automatically keep the water at 78 degrees.

From now on, definitely change at least 50% of his water once a week, more if you can. Also, what kind of dechlorinator are you using?
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