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Old 06-09-2012, 05:15 PM   #1 
pamilov
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Question possible ammonia poisoning

This forum has helped me many times in the past with my ('new') betta (I've actually had him almost 2 years at this point, but he's my 1st betta & I still feel new at this). For the past 18 months *peaches* has been happy, healthy, & comfortable in a 2.5 gallon tank (with heater & filter, & plenty of real plants).

I have done various amounts of water changes (& gravel/tank cleaning, depending on the amount of 'dirt' in the aquarium) over the course of the time I've had him - always testing the water. He has never seemed to be too stressed with this......until about 2 weeks ago.

At that time I did a thorough cleaning, making sure I added in about 1/2 gallon of *old/cycled* water. Since then, he has been listless, lethargic, & has had no appetite; he lays on the bottom of the tank (occasionally he'll swim to the top of the heater or a plant leaf & lay there), only coming up for air once in a while. He seems to *gasp* a little, but there are no streaks & no other signs of ammonia poisoning (no streaking, no discolouration outside of being just a *little bit* paler than usual).

At any rate....I've tested the water over & over, & all have seemed to be normal. However, I did not know until today that the testing kit does NOT test for ammonia (only nitrate & nitrite derivatives). I immediately went to the pet store & got an ammonia test kit, as well as Prime & a pH reducer (on the advise of the 'fish expert' -- just in case).

According to the test strip, there is 1.0 mg/L of ammonia, (so now I'm going on the assumption that it is, indeed, ammonia poisoning), & I carefully measured out an appropriate amount of Prime & pH reducer about 4 hours ago, in the hopes that it wasn't too late.

My question: if this is indeed an ammonia poisoning, any idea as to about how long b/f I notice if peaches will recover? (I don't know if he WILL recover; it may be too late, but how long does the treatment need to start working & take effect?) I know 4 hours is probably not enough time, & I'm trying not to worry too much, but it's a bit difficult.

Don't know if any of this is important, but....

* when I first noticed his lethargy, I gave a couple days thinking he might have been stressed from the cleaning this time, so I continued with regular feedings for a few days (small amount each morning - he did not eat)

* after a few days I stopped feeding, thinking he may be constipated. No change.

* after about 2 days of not feeding, I tried a small, peeled pea. He was not interested.

* thinking I may be dealing with a bacterial infection I added a full-spectrum antibiotic to the water for 3 days (with filter off). Again, no change.

* I continued with 1/4 - 1/2 water changes every other day or so, plus, added a little salt every now & then.

* I did try feeding once the other morning, but again he wasn't interested (I removed the food after about 10 minutes). Yesterday, however, I discovered that my well-meaning visiting nephew fed him (I don't know how much) while I was away at work; there was food floating at the top & I don't know how long it was there, but I removed it immediately.

I'm not sure what additional information I can give you, but as I said, I did not know that testing for ammonia came separate from the usual testing kit & a good deal of the last 2 weeks has been 'guess' work.

I know he's a hearty little fellow, as he has survived a few bouts of fin rot, single cell algae, as well as once jumping from his bowl when I cleaned the tank (I found him on the floor while I was waiting for the water to heat up; he might've been on the floor for 5 or 10 minutes b/f being 'rescued'). I'm just hoping I'm not too late this time.

Is there anything else I should be doing????

The advice I've gotten on this forum in the past has been a blessing, so any advice given will surely be heeded.

Thanks to all!

~p
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Old 06-09-2012, 07:37 PM   #2 
FishyFishy89
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I'm not sure why you are adding "old/cycled" water to do a water change.
Maybe I misread? Could you confirm that I read correctly?
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Old 06-09-2012, 08:39 PM   #3 
pamilov
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When I first got peaches I was told to make sure that I returned some of the water back into the tank. Maybe I'm not using the correct term, but when I clean the entire tank, I put peaches in a small bowl with water from the aquarium (b/f the water change). Then after cleaning, I fill the tank with new water (dechlorinated), except for the amount that's in the bowl. I was told this is healthy for the fish as it returns a good bit of good bacteria back into the tank.

Is this wrong to do? I've been doing it since I got him with no ill effects (until maybe now).
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Old 06-09-2012, 09:09 PM   #4 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pamilov View Post
When I first got peaches I was told to make sure that I returned some of the water back into the tank. Maybe I'm not using the correct term, but when I clean the entire tank, I put peaches in a small bowl with water from the aquarium (b/f the water change). Then after cleaning, I fill the tank with new water (dechlorinated), except for the amount that's in the bowl. I was told this is healthy for the fish as it returns a good bit of good bacteria back into the tank.

Is this wrong to do? I've been doing it since I got him with no ill effects (until maybe now).
bowl?
I was told that anything smaller than 5 gallons cannot cycle.
I think it is possible your betta has ammonia poisoning. He seems to be pretty far into it. My course of action would be to cup the betta. Do 100% change/slowly acclimate him like you just got him home.
For betta acclimation I have the cup 1/4 full of their original water/add 1 teaspoon every 15-20 mins. Once the cup is nearly full I release the betta.
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Old 06-09-2012, 11:35 PM   #5 
dramaqueen
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The water doesn't have beneficial bacteria in it. The beneficial bacteria from a cycled tank has bacteria growing on the surfaces of the tank and in the filter.
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Old 06-10-2012, 12:00 AM   #6 
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Some people say tanks under 5 gallons can cycle but you would need a filter for that. I don't bother with filters under 10 gallons - not enough plugs in here for it. For cycled tanks, you should only be doing at most a 50% water change a week - I'm guessing that's why you were keeping some of the old tank water?


Ammonia levels should be 0 but I have gotten bettas with water in their cups with readings of 8.0 or higher. The last guy's water turned BLUE and that isn't even ON their API ammonia chart. If you are using prime, it will eliminate the ammonia in the water but it will still show up on most ammonia tests as still being in the water.
Quote:
Symptoms:

  • Fish gasp for breath at the water surface
  • Purple or red gills
  • Fish is lethargic
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fish lays at the bottom of the tank
  • Red streaking on the fins or body
Ammonia poisoning can happen suddenly, or over a period of days. Initially the fish may be seen gasping at the surface for air. The gills will begin to turn red or lilac in color, and may appear to be bleeding. The fish will being to lose its appetite and become increasingly lethargic. In some cases fish may be observed laying at the bottom of the tank with clamped fins.If the ammonia level rises above 1 ppm as measured by a standard test kit, begin treatment immediately. Lowering the pH of the water will provide immediate relief, as will a 50% water change (be sure to use water that is the same temperature as the aquarium). Several water changes within a short period of time may be required to drop the ammonia to below 1 ppm.


Have you been cleaning out the poop/debris in the gravel? For smaller tanks, I swish around a little bit of water and then dump it. Then I add in a little more, swish around the gravel and dump it again. That should get most of the poop and other stuff out of the gravel.

2 is a pretty good age for a store bought betta. Maybe he is just showing his age?
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Old 06-10-2012, 09:51 AM   #7 
pamilov
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@dramaqueen: i actually considered that (loss of beneficial bacteria), but i am not sure how to get it back. any suggestions?

@ tikibirds: i have cleaned the gravel of poop. in fact, that's what i was doing when this all started. every so often i remove all aquarium items, including the gravel, & rinse them of debris. peaches doesn't really like it, but afterwards he's never reacted like he did this time. (usually, after i do this, he sulks for a few hours & then returns to his normal self. this past time - 2 weeks ago - after i did a thorough cleaning, he sulked, as usual, but he continued to stay this way. that's maybe why i think i didn't catch the high ammonia level this time).

also, i considered his age. is it normal for an aging fish to react like this for such a long period of time?

UPDATE: although he was still in the exact same spot this morning as he was last night, i did notice that he had made his way near the top (to rest on a leaf) after about 30 minutes of my 1st morning check. he seems a lot paler in colour, & there seems to be an accumulation of red on the end of his caudal, anal, & dorsal fins (the deeper colouring in those areas is normal for him, but they are much more noticeable today, perhaps b/c the rest of him is so pale.....maybe....) or perhaps it is due to high ammonia levels.

i (stupidly) changed 1 gallon of water (his tank is 2.5) b/f taking the ammonia reading, but i did take it afterwards & it was .5 mg/L. all other readings continue to be in the ideal range, with pH being around 6.8.

he DID show a little more interest in food (*smile*), but he seemed to struggle a bit to catch anything (& i'm not sure that he did). [he swims a bit erratic - & i'm sure the flow from the filter didn't help - so i intend to turn that off for, what i hope to be, future feedings].

after floating/swimming to the bottom for a few minutes, he's back up at the top, resting on a leaf.

(sorry for such a lengthy reply. i'm just really worried & i don't want to leave out any info that might be critical).
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Old 06-10-2012, 10:03 AM   #8 
Olympia
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Alright, I am not going to read everyone's comments so sorry if this is repeating.
1mg/L is equal to 1ppm if we haven't established that. Any amount of ammonia results in permanent damage, though fish can usually recover -slightly- and live out their life.

I would just do a 100% change right now.. At .5mg/L you are still at .5ppm, too much.
Some time in clean water should let him recover a bit.
Don't worry about feeding, he's stressed and doesn't need food at the moment. Give him a 1-2 day fast.
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Old 06-10-2012, 10:11 AM   #9 
pamilov
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thanks, olympia! as it is, he has been fasting, but i will do 100% water change (should i also clean out the gravel & other aquarium items, too, while i'm at it?)

then i will let him fast some more for the next couple of days.

will all this cleaning & moving disturb him more? since he's so sluggish, i don't want to reduce whatever resistance he still has any more than i have to......but i think you are right; it needs to be done if there is any decent chance of survival.
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Old 06-10-2012, 10:13 AM   #10 
pamilov
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also, how can i increase the beneficial bacteria? that may be another problem. (should i just add new gravel - rinsed, of course)?
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