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Old 06-25-2012, 10:11 PM   #1 
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emilyjessica's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Montreal
Question How to tell if a fish is healthy before buying

I'm thinking of buying a betta (first one) and I don't want it to die right away because of something that might already be wrong with it. I'm pretty sure that all the pet stores near me keep them in the little jars, so it's a) impossible to see if they're active and b) kind of hard to see what they really look like through the distortion of the curved glass.

Are there any tricks to make sure the fish is relatively healthy before I bring it home? Or anything to look out for NOT to get?
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Old 06-25-2012, 10:17 PM   #2 
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: MD
Healthy Fishy: Bright Colors, Breathing Normally, No Visible External Parasites, Flared Full Fins, Alert to Sounds, Active, Bright Eyes, that's pretty much it.
Sick Fishy: Dull Colors, Inflamed Gills, Cottony Growths, Lethargic, Cloudy or Popped Up Eyes, White Poop, <--- Most Common.
Hope you Find the Right One!!! :)
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Old 06-26-2012, 08:40 AM   #3 
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Basically if anything looks off about the fish: any kind of growth on the fins or body; any cloudiness of the eyes or body. Don't get that fish. You want to look for one with good color (colors are washed out when they are sick) and a lot of activity (but not jerky movements). It helps to bring a tiny mirror and see which ones flare at their reflection.
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Old 06-26-2012, 11:50 AM   #4 
Blue Fish
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Also make sure that they don't look "bloated", that could be that they're being overfed, which is easy to fix, or it could mean that they have dropsy, which is going to be bad. :( When I got Somerset there were *several* there who were very bloated, and I was quite worried that he'd have it too. So far he's been fine (going on two weeks now :), so I'm hoping it was over-feeding or that he just managed to not be exposed.

Some will even have bubble nests going. I know that's not a true indicator of health or happiness (it's an instinctual breeding response) but I've found that it seems to help. The most active and alert ones will sometimes have a large bubble nest going. Also, larger is better, if they're older then they're better able to handle stress and a new environment. Now, that's not saying get one that's larger even thought he looks "sicker" than a healthy smaller one, get the small one at that point, definitely. :)

Oh, and try to find out when the store gets a new shipment of bettas and get one that day. It's not a guarantee, but at least that way they've come from whatever breeder (which could be bad as well, but it's a start), been shipped, but haven't spent days and days sitting in an ill-heated dixie cup with people who don't know how to take care of them languishing away.

One more, check out the other fish who've come in that shipment. If there are several who are obviously sick or don't look well, you might wait for another shipment. Likelihood is that they came from the same place, and likely have all been exposed to the same thing, so if some are already looking sickly, then they all have a good chance of being sickly.

Good luck to you, and please post up pictures and tell us about what you come home with! :) They are such fabulous little fish. :)
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:02 PM   #5 
Sena Hansler
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1. The tank itself. Some fish, even bettas, are kept in tanks. Perhaps by themselves or with others. If the tank is filthy, the other fish are sick, dying, or dead, or the fish you want is sick or dying, the fish obviously won't be healthy.

2. Signs of sickness or stress: Ich, velvet, columnaris, discoloration, burns, cuts, missing scales, clamped fins, dropsy, pale coloration, popeye, etc. You'll know! :)

3. Behavior. Those who do not react to movement, color, or even tapping or touching the glass/cup, are stressed and/or sick.

4. Flaring: Sometimes this is good! It shows the betta's reaction is very good. However flaring can be from stress as well.

5. Fins: rot, bite marks, and tears. Over flaring, sickness, bad water, other fish and stress!

I try getting fish the day of shipment I know it's every other Thursday the fish come in. This way you can also see if the other new fish are ill, and if they are like baby bettas who were probably together, one who has columnaris gives the others a chance of having it too. Choose wisely! Adult VS baby? Adult. Babies are cute, but lots of work!
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