... when you bring them home to way better conditions than they were in the store.
What I'm really looking for is some discussion on these points, because it's stuff I've observed/learned and hey - I'm not always right.
And maybe I've missed something.
I see a lot of threads where people have brought a healthy-seeming fish home to a nice, heated tank full of perfect water, or rescued one from horrible conditions, and then the fish gets sick/sicker with one thing or another and sometimes stay sick
. I've had this happen myself and it's hard to understand, and hard to deal with - because hey, we all love our fishies, and do the best we can..
The first thing I do when a new fish is sick is check water. Water's fine. Check it again. Still fine. Check I'm not stressing the fish out. Check for toxins. Check for.. well, everything I could be doing wrong. Because the sick fish has to be MY fault, right? He looked fine in the store, despite the tiny cupful of dirty water..
Okay, here's the observation part, please feel free to add to/debunk any of this, as I said it's just my observations:
1. Bettas don't like change.
They're really hardy, when given a chance to get used to conditions, good ones as well as stuff like super high ph, constant presence of ammonia, grungy pet store cups, etc. But they don't cope with sudden change very well. And that's maybe why a fish which has survived for ages in poor to appalling conditions, or even decent conditions, can get sick when placed in better surroundings.
The physical stress of adjusting to suddenly different conditions with maybe a whole new food source and so on, plus the mental stress of a new and strange environment can weaken its resistance to diseases that occur naturally in any water.. ich, columnaris, various bacteria. And this is worse, when added to the fact that:
2. Bad conditions make fish weak.
In this excellent article
on tank cycling by Carl Strohmeyer
, he says:
Please also note ... that if your fish are exposed to high ammonia and nitrites for any prolonged period (over 24 hours in my opinion), these fish can and will suffer permanent gill damage that will cause future problems with disease resistance and even overall aquarium health as these fish may become a starting point for opportunistic infections
And maybe that's why the fish who looks fine in the store suffers chronic (long term) fin rot, or suddenly can't breathe, or gets disease after disease, despite clean water and a heater and lots of good food.
Mr. Strohmeyer says 'over 24 hours
' of exposure to those nasties can permanently damage a fish.. so what's a coupe of weeks of floating in its own pee in a Walmart cup going to do to it?
Elsewhere in the article, he offers emergency solutions to high levels of ammonia experienced just in shipping from overseas. So if a fish comes from a mass breeder in Thailand in a TINY bag with a few spoons of water in (as many do..) and sits in that for days.. gets jostled around a lot.. and then gets put in a TINY cup of COLD water that might not be changed daily.. it might still be looking healthy enough after only being in the store a few days, but it has already suffered some pretty traumatic ammonia exposure, not to mention lots and lots of stress. It could already have permanent gill damage, plus who-know-what parasites and bugs picked up in the store (many aren't real fussy about tank-cleaning equipment either, so that stuff gets around).
And then we, the buyers, fall for a happy little fish who's settled into his nasty cup as well as he can and seems
healthy enough, and bring him home to a bigger, cleaner tank. And because he's already been exposed to however many problems, these kind of explode all at once, or just creep up and don't respond to medication, so become chronic. And it's probably nothing to do with how well we keep our fish, seeing as we're doing everything as right as we can..
I may be really wrong here, but I also have a feeling that some diseases really LIKE clean, filtered, oxygenated water. So if the fish has those in the store, maybe the problems were actually being held at bay by all the ammonia and crud, and less oxygen, etc?
So what can we do, aside from NOT buying fish from pet outlets? And am I wrong? Have I forgotten anything? Please say so!
One thing I've started doing for new fish, aside from slow acclimation to the new water and adding Stress Coat (which is wonderful) is to do a few days of AQ salt treatment to help the fish fend off any immediate bacterial issues. This has helped my last two new fish, who settled in a lot quicker than the previous ones did, and didn't explode with ich or fin rot.
Here's what Strohmeyer suggests for nitrite/ammonia poisoning:
*Add salt (NaCl); this is a popular method for "nitrite poisoning" and should be added at 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons to 1 teaspoon per gallon depending upon fish sensitivities. The addition of salt will prevent methemoglobin that forms in the blood due to nitrite exposure from building up.
Salt can be combined with Prime or Amquel Plus, however from my experience the salt method is not nearly as effective as Prime when used by itself and can cause stress to certain fish such as Clown Loaches.
*For high ammonia or nitrite exposure (common in fish shipped from long distances), the use of Methylene Blue in 30 minute baths is very effective and also counters the effects of methemoglobin in the blood by increasing the hemoglobin oxygen carrying abilities.
And that's all I have. Please do comment, as I'm still learning and am going primarily on what I'm observing in my tanks. The article above just confirmed a few things, but again I might be wrong on other things..