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Old 07-30-2012, 11:15 AM   #1 
JeannaAnne
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Ulcer on Betta turned white!

Hi everyone,
I have a male crowntail betta, Jim. He was fine and healthy all the the while till I went on holiday and told my brother to take care of him. Unfortunately, he forgot to clean the tank or change the water AT ALL so when I came back, my poor betta's tail was about 1/3 gone, his fins were in shreds, and there was an ulcer on the side of his body near his tail. I was really really upset because I love my fish and I gave proper instructions on how to take care of him.

I took my betta to the vet and he prescribed a week of antibiotics which I gave to my betta, and his tail and fins started growing back a bit, there's about 1-2mm of transparent growth on his tail now and it's starting to fill out. His ulcer also started to shrink and eventually just became a grey-ish lump. Recently it started to flake off and become smoother, and I thought it was getting better, but then it started turning white and lumpier and his anal fin started getting holes near the tips and now I have no idea what to do. Besides that, he was starting to get fat so I fasted him for a day and he went back to normal but nowadays he just lazes around on top of his cave and doesn't swim as much as he used to. He still does his fish dance when he wants food or wants me to put on his favourite piano songs, but he's gotten much tireder recently.

I can't take the betta back to the vet because I haven't any money left, and since I live in a country where there are only 2 vets who treat fish, I have to travel about 3 hours by bus to the nearest vet who charges a lot of money and my poor fish gets horribly stressed out by the bumping. The aquariums here don't sell antibiotics or any proper fish medication besides herbal stuff that doesn't do anything, the filters and test kits cost exorbitant amounts of money, and the worst of all is that I got into a lot of trouble when my dad found out I paid a quarter of my monthly allowance to get the fish treated since he only cost $3 and came from a marketplace and now I'm not allowed to bring him to the vet anymore. I had to smuggle him out the first time, but now my parents pay very close attention to make sure I don't do it again.

Before everyone starts yelling or getting upset at me, I would just like to explain that where I come from, bettas are a native species, and most adults here were brought up catching them and pitting them against each other in fights. So they think that spending any money on a fish that can be caught in a murky pond for free is absolute rubbish, even though crowntails and other ornamental types of bettas are VERY different from the ones we have in the wild here and it's horrible that anyone can make them fight each other.

I can't fill out most of the list everyone does because I don't know much about the water parameters.
I can say that
1. My fish is in a 2 gallon tank,
2. There is no filter.
3. The water is dechlorinated because I have a water filter and purification unit in my home that removes all the chemicals and things from the tap water and oxygenates it.
4. I put in about 3/4 a teaspoon of salt in the water (NO IODINE don't worry).
5. There isn't a need for a heater because as mentioned before, bettas are native here.

I know it's terrible that the tank is so small, and that there isn't a filter or a test kit, but my parents would absolutely skin me alive if I got a filter or a bigger tank. To get my fish in the current 2 gallon, I already had to buy it without telling anyone and pretend the old 1/2 gallon one was spoilt.
I do 50% water changes every other day and syphon the poop and detritus out with a (needleless) syringe. I got the vet to test my water parameters for me and he said they were fine. Since I've been doing the same thing all the while, I hope it still is.

I've also been keeping lots of bettas since I was 7. I've had 15 of them so far and they've usually lived 3-4 years but they were all veiltails, most stayed very healthy, and I've never had a crowntail before. I'm pretty much the only person in my family who cares about animals and I would love to do everything I could for my fish but right now I can't and it just makes me feel terrible.

Please help, I don't want my fishy friend to get sicker or die :(
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Old 07-30-2012, 12:37 PM   #2 
JeannaAnne
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Housing
What size is your tank?
2 gallons
What temperature is your tank?
84 (general temperature right now)
Does your tank have a filter?
no
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration?
no
Is your tank heated?
no
What tank mates does your betta fish live with?
none

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish?
pre soaked freeze dried bloodworms
How often do you feed your betta fish?
2-3 worms/day

Maintenance
How often do you perform a water change?
every other day
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change?
50%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change?
sea salt

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?

Ammonia:
-
Nitrite:
-
Nitrate:
-
pH:
-
Hardness:
-
Alkalinity:
-

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?
Overall colour has gotten darker
How has your betta fish's behavior changed?
More tired, less active
When did you start noticing the symptoms?
The original symptoms started three weeks ago, the newer ones started two days ago.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how?
Initial treatment with antibiotics for fin rot and an ulcer stopped two weeks ago.
Does your fish have any history of being ill?
no
How old is your fish (approximately)?
around 1 3/4 years
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Old 07-30-2012, 01:07 PM   #3 
Aus
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I must say - I am so sorry your fish was neglected like that, and now is sick because of it, and that your family are less than supportive. I wish I could help in some way..

But this said, it sounds like you've taken very care of all your fish, and certainly of this one. Two gallons is not too small, it's big enough for a fish with a good owner to be kept healthy and happy in.

I wish I could be more positive, but ammonia exposure/infection can take quite a toll on a little fish. I think you're doing exactly the right thing with salt - you could take it to 1 teaspoon per gallon, but not for more than 10 to 14 days - any chance of getting hold of some ketapang leaves to darken his water and help him heal?

PS: What was the antibiotic you were using? I -may- be able to help you get some of that..
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Old 07-30-2012, 01:55 PM   #4 
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Hi, I think you're doing fine with your limited resources. Certainly, you are fond of bettas and a good betta keeper/owner. The white color of the ulcer could be a problem. Make sure its not cottony, because this can be a signal of fungus infection. Can't you negotiate a penn plax small world filter with a small motor [less than ten bucks] with your parents? Tell them that it will greatly cut future spending.
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Old 07-31-2012, 06:46 AM   #5 
JeannaAnne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aus View Post
I wish I could be more positive, but ammonia exposure/infection can take quite a toll on a little fish. I think you're doing exactly the right thing with salt - you could take it to 1 teaspoon per gallon, but not for more than 10 to 14 days - any chance of getting hold of some ketapang leaves to darken his water and help him heal?

PS: What was the antibiotic you were using? I -may- be able to help you get some of that..
Hi Aus, I'll try putting more salt in tomorrow when I change his water :) I'm not sure where to look for ketapang leaves.. I'll ask around in shops and try to see if i can get some, but in the meantime, does a small piece of driftwood work as well? I read somewhere that it adds tannins to the water too and it's pretty cheap. The antibiotic prescribed was something called baytril. I also have doxycycline for humans but I don't know if it's a good idea to use it on fish.

Quote:
Originally Posted by reggie oaks View Post
Make sure its not cottony, because this can be a signal of fungus infection. Can't you negotiate a penn plax small world filter with a small motor [less than ten bucks] with your parents? Tell them that it will greatly cut future spending.
Hi :) I don't think it's fungal because it's sort of flat, lumpy bits. It's gotten smaller today, but still as lumpy. I tried looking for that filter in the shop I usually go to but they don't have it so I'm going to look around more. If I can find it and it isn't too expensive here, I might be able to convince my patents to let me get it. If I do get it can I just put it in with the fish straight away or do I have to move him out for a while first?
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Old 07-31-2012, 07:10 AM   #6 
Olympia
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Generally the white means dead cells, if as you say, it's getting smaller, it could naturally be falling off. Does it look like it's falling off in pieces?
No clue what caused the ulcer, but from the sounds of it the medication reduced it as much as possible and now the tissue died, I think it'll fall off and new scales should grow back flat.

Baytril.. I work at a vet's office and we use that, for cats and dogs but I forget what it's for. I'll find out today. (don't worry most fish medicine is used for cats and dogs as well).

I don't know if it's different where you are, but here usually you can call the vet. If you explain that you went there and got Baytril for the fish and this happened, they may have some more advice on if it's fine or not..
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Old 07-31-2012, 07:37 AM   #7 
JeannaAnne
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Hi Olympia :) it was initially flaky before getting smaller so I think it might be falling off. I don't see any of it on the floor of the tank though, so unless he's eating it, I have no idea where it's gone. The vet said the ulcer was caused by an ammonia burn that got infected :/
The vet who treats fish is only in on Monday so I'll have to wait till then to give the clinic a call. Are pharmacists at veterinary clinics able to dispense medicine without a prescription? If they are then I might be able to just buy more antibiotics, but it's the consultation fees that are really expensive.
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:18 AM   #8 
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I've just found out that Ketapang trees grow in the wild here and that there's a stretch of forest near my house that has a few of them! Can't believe I never knew what they were. Are fallen leaves alright to use or should I get fresh ones and dry them myself? Or should I just use driftwood if I'm not sure how clean the leaves are?

(Or in case I accidentally pick the wrong leaves. I wouldn't want to do that especially since they look pretty much like poisonous frangipani.)

Last edited by JeannaAnne; 07-31-2012 at 08:24 AM.
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Old 07-31-2012, 02:16 PM   #9 
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I suspected you'd have the trees there, if there's wild bettas and betta breeders.. Ketapang has antibiotic and antifungal properties that the mopani tannins don't, so see if you can get a positive ID on a tree nearby and use that same tree always to avoid mix-ups. I hear that fallen leaves are best, but if you find out/observe when the leaves are about to fall (maybe they change colour a bit?) and pick a stack of those to dry at home, you'll always have a good supply at hand. One leaf lasts a couple of weeks, and makes the water pretty dark in a small tank.

You could in the meantime use organic rooibos tea to darken the water, but again it doesn't have the ketapang's medicinal properties.

Lucky you, living in Singapore, where it's warm (cold and miserable here in southernmost Australia right now..)and gosh, there's wild bettas roaming free! I would so love to be able to observe any wilds in their natural environment - and better yet keep betta ponds outside, full of wilds! :D

ETA: I used to dry medicinal herbs at home, and found this method pretty good for keeping the precious useful oils from vanishing: hang a few leaves in a thin brown paper bag in a dark, dry place, avoiding humidity and sunlight as best you can. For tree leaves, I'd actually string them on cotton like little flags and hang them in my pantry (or wardrobe, more than once, ha). You don't have to go that far, but do avoid light and keep them as dry as possible. Store them in a clean glass jar once dry, somewhere dark. This will conserve the true medicinal properties.

Last edited by Aus; 07-31-2012 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 07-31-2012, 04:26 PM   #10 
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Something like Baytril would need to be prescribed here, not sure about Singapore.. Hmm it's an anti bacterial so I think my first assumption about it is correct. It's getting smaller, so that's good. Once it falls off completely the scales underneath might look a little funky, like crooked, but I think he'll be fine since you're taking great care of him!
:)
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