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Old 05-13-2012, 12:05 AM   #1 
Foolsgrin
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Chronic Constipation?

Hi everybody,

I don't usually do forums, but I've got a little betta fish that I really like and I want him to live so I figured I'd give it a try. I just can't understand what I am doing wrong and after surfing the net looking for answers I am still stumped. I thought I'd gotten my little guy the perfect set up, but he seems to get sick so easily. People at the pet store seem to be completely clueless and even told me I must have gotten a bad fish! Ha! I doubt it. I think there is just something I'm missing about his care, so I figured I'd ask some betta enthusiasts.

The problem/symptoms: From googling around and trying some things I think I've discovered that my fish is chronically constipated. For a while he seems perfectly fine- active and happy even. However, sometimes I notice that when I feed him, not long after I find him hanging sideways at the top of the tank looking really pathetic and sick and when I tap the tank he freaks out and starts swimming like he has no balance and flops about crazily. This can last for days at a time and he will usually gravitate to hang in a spot behind the filter and just hide there looking pathetic and sick. I looked up "Swim Bladder Disease" and there was a note on one page that said to check to make sure it isn't constipation by fasting him a few days and then giving him a defrosted frozen pea. Well, that did the trick... only, this has happened several times now. He'll be find for a while- maybe a few days, then he starts behaving like he's got swim bladder issues. I fast him again, give him the pea, I see him poop (it happens fairly quickly- within an hour or two after the pea) and the cycle continues. Okay... so I'm fairly certain his troubles are caused by constipation. But what is causing the constipation?

Background and details on the fish:My betta is a male double tail and is pretty dark in color, almost black (some reds and blues when the lights are on). Because he is so dark I named him "The Master", after the Doctor Who villain. I got The Master from a Petsmart about 3 months ago. He currently lives in a 5 gallon tank I call his "tardis" and I have become rather attached to him. His water temperature is about 80 degrees, which I am told is a good temp for a betta. I give him a heater when it is cold and I turn it off when it is warm outside. He has a whisper filter that is set on a low setting, gravel at the bottom of the tank, a soft flat leafed plant to rest on and a little cave to hide in and a few Dice at the bottom for decoration. He is fed TopFin brand Color Enhancing Betta Bits and he does seem to like them. I used to feed him a couple of pellets twice a day like the jar says and occasionally some freeze dried bloodworms, but that has dropped down to only one pellet given twice daily and no bloodworms since I've been noticing the problem and trying to correct it. The problem hasn't stopped though. Today I decided to try frozen bloodworms, but when I got home he was having another swim bladder fit so I gave him only one tiny worm and more bits of peas to try to get him to poop. He dropped one within 40 min. this time (a record!). Now he is swimming around happily. But I know it is only a matter of time before it happens again. So... any ideas where this problem is coming from? Am I not feeding him right or something?
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Old 05-13-2012, 04:09 AM   #2 
bettamommy42
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hey there! I'm not really an expert in these things but my experience with my fish is that betta min tropical fish flakes work best for digestion issues. Also bloggers can give your fish ich so be careful with that! Good luck to you!
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Old 05-13-2012, 04:10 AM   #3 
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Wow don't know how my phone got bloggers... Haha I meant mealworms!
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Old 05-13-2012, 04:39 AM   #4 
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flakes? really?

Thanks, I haven't given him mealworms, just bloodworms and not very often. It's only as a treat once or twice a week. He gets pellets for his normal food. I read someplace that constipation can be caused by overfeeding. I don't think he has been overfed, but I think I'm going to try this as a weekly diet and see how he does: fasting him one day a week, followed by crushed pea instead of a regular food the next day and then the rest of the week just give him one pellet in the morning and one pellet in the evening. That can't be overfeeding- although I am a little concerned about underfeeding. I do have some tropical flakes that came with my aquarium kit, but I haven't used them because I didn't think it was for bettas... do you give the fish the flakes just as a snack or a remedy? Or do you feed your fish only flakes?
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Old 05-13-2012, 05:08 AM   #5 
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I've heard Double Tail Bettas can have problems like this, because they are short and 'stubby' it's easy for them to get bloated very quickly and become constipated. You can try buying him some frozen Daphnia, that is supposed to flush his system much better then a pea does. Just thaw it out and feed him some. You can also try switching to New Life Spectrum for small fish, those pellets are super tiny! You can also try to soak up the pellets in water before feeding them to your boy so they don't expand in his stomach and cause him to get bloated like that.
I had a Veiltail boy named Quem who always always got bloated if I gave him more then 3 regular Betta pellets (Aqueon brand). Unfortunately he passed away (unrelated issues) before I found out about the other brand of food.


EDIT:// Betta's can eat flakes, some are picky eaters and only want flakes and vise versa. Be careful when feeding flakes however, it's much easier to over feed on them versus pellets. They do sell Betta Flakes in the stores, I believe there are a few different brands.

You can also try, if you dont want to buy the New Life Spectrum, feeding him one pellet in the morning and one in the evening, just try and soak them in a cup of water first for a few minutes. :)

Last edited by TheCheese909; 05-13-2012 at 05:12 AM.
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Old 05-13-2012, 06:48 AM   #6 
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Ah Thanks,
I'll try soaking his pellets first and see if that helps before changing his pellets to the new brand. I have already switched the pellets once- I first had him on Omega One Betta Buffet Pellets when I first got him, but in spite of it claiming to be "floating" it really doesn't stay afloat that long and the betta snubbed them. I thought maybe he was just stressed out and not used to his new home yet, but when I switched to the TopFin brand he ate them right away, so I think he's a bit particular about his food.

His pellets are fairly large, so maybe I could break them down a bit too. One pellet in the morning and one in the evening. Should I still be giving him bloodworms, do you think? I just got some frozen stuff at the store to try on him because I read that the freeze dried stuff isn't as good. I gave him one piece of worm to see if he liked it and he seemed very pleased. I know they are only supposed to be a treat. I was thinking of giving him a few little pieces of bloodworm twice a week and using it in place of his regular pellet on those days.
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Old 05-13-2012, 07:07 AM   #7 
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I've always considered Bloodworms as "Betta Candy", I don't believe they have any real nutritional value and should only be fed acouple times a week, they have been compared to chocolate for people. Be careful with frozen food as well as freeze dried because they can also cause your fish to become fat/bloated quickly, and frozen food does have more nutrients then freeze dried. And I think it's perfectly fine to give just Bloodworms on those days instead of both the Bloodworms and pellets.

What kind of frozen food did you buy for your boy? Frozen Glassworms/Mosquito Larva, Brine Shrimp (can cause bloat quickly, but they love it), Bloodworms and Daphnia seem to be the favorites and I only ever use them as a treat.


So long as you soak the pellets for a few minutes before feeding he should be fine. Next time you go out you can look for the NLS Small Fish Formula if you don't like the way things are working out or if you want to see if he likes them as well. It doesn't hurt to try and change up the pellets he eats, I personally have 6 different types of pellet food and one type of flakes as well as freeze dries Bloodworms and Spirulina Brine Shrimp. I have frozen Bloodworms, Glassworms, Daphnia and Brine Shrimp as well, though I don't use them quite as often, maybe once every other week i'll choose something special for them.
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Old 05-13-2012, 08:59 AM   #8 
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A lot of stuff has been covered pretty well but as a fellow "bloaty betta" owner I want to add something in.... I'd switch out bloodworms and peas for brine shrimp as an experiment... Bloodworms always make my boy worse, and it's debatable whether or not peas should be used as these can clog a betta even more (however you do seem to be doing something right). Brine shrimp is a natural laxative for fish, so it may help you out a little with him.
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Old 05-13-2012, 07:36 PM   #9 
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I didn't know that about Brine Shrimp, I knew the Daphnia was a laxative but not the shrimp. That's good to know.
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Old 05-15-2012, 03:11 PM   #10 
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Brine Shrimp or Daphnia?

Thanks Guys,

You've all been very helpful.

I had bought frozen bloodworms last time (sorry, I just realized TheCheese asked me about what kind of frozen food and I neglected to answer) but I have been afraid to give him any until I figure out what his needs are. I would like to try the "natural laxative" thing. Well, I am not sure which is better- brine shrimp or daphnia? I'll go to my pet store and see what they have available and in what form. Obviously frozen is better, but can freeze dried brine shrimp/daphnia be used as a laxative too?

I tried the soaked pellet trick- it worked great the night of Sun. and the morning of Mon. and my hopes were high, but when I gave him the evening pellet on Mon. he had some swim bladder trouble and was hanging sideways again. Drat! I checked on him this morning and he seems fine now so he must have taken a dump during the night. Maybe the soaked TopFin brand pellet is just too big and takes a lot of time to pass? That's progress certainly, but not perfection yet. I'll try the tiny New Life Spectrum pellets if I can find them when I go to get the brine shrimp/daphnia. Does smaller pellets mean I feed him more? Or is one tiny pellet given twice daily going to be enough for him?

I'm getting anxious because I really need to figure this out soon- I'll be going on a trip this summer (starting June 10) for a couple of months and I can't take The Master with me so a friend will have to fish-sit for me. Luckily I have a friend that is totally down with taking care of a special needs fish, but I need to make sure I know exactly what he needs before then so that I can give proper instructions to her.
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