My betta Philip has been living with me for about three weeks now. When I first got him at Petsmart, he was a beautiful blue color with almost a silver tint to his fins (not in a scaley way lol). He was very active, he used his hammock leaf frequently, loved his house, etc.
Pretty soon though, I realized he was having eating issues. He would spit his food back out after taking it in. I was feeding him pellets, and occasionally a freeze dried blood worm. THOSE he would gobble up! At first I read that he may just be picky and I need to kind of take a 'you'll eat it if you're hungry' approach. But a week passed, and he still wouldn't eat. I then tried crushing up his pellets and he still would not eat them. I even whipped out my flakes that I've refused to use for a while now, and he still, spat it back out. Now he won't even eat blood worms. Note: every time I feed him, he acts very hungry. He eagerly swims toward the food and will even hunt it through the tank, but when he takes the food in, he can't seem to keep it in his mouth. When he tries the blood worms, he even tries NOT to let it out, but it comes out gradually anyway. Eventually he gets defeated and swims off.
I then noticed two days ago that he seemed extremely pale. He seemed almost a grayish brown color, maybe like a rust color. He also had two stripes down his side (I hadn't heard of stress stripes before, and they look like that to me). I checked his fins for fin rot, my last betta had that, and they don't appear to have any rot on them. I've checked him with a bright light for any fuzzy white spots, pine cone scales, or silver scales or gills. None of the above. He's just extremely pale and rust colored.
He is also having an issue with acting... a little... drugged. He acts extremely hyper and darty for a while, but then he'll rest comfortably at the bottom of his tank. Currently, I've been watching him for 20 minutes now swim in one direction, suddenly stop, and then just fall backward. He hasn't left that one area of his tank at all, acting almost as though he CAN'T go past that point. Which considering I've seen him swimming around the other side of his tank a mere hour or two ago, is a mystery.
The top two images are when he was home the first day (sorry it's so big, just want to be sure you can see everything). Even though the first two have flash I assure you, the color change really is THAT drastic. Without flash he used to appear as a deep blue with lighter blue/silver mixed in. Now... well, you see :(
Third picture: shows more how pale he can appear (it fluctuates) and the second better shows his stress stripes (what appears to be stress stripes anyway). Those stripes as you see in the first two, were not there before. They're very new.
Here's the stats of his tank:
- 3 gallon tank
- Marina i25 filter
- 25 watt heater set to 78-80 (thermometer confirms this)
- soft plastic plants (no harsh edges, I haven't been able to afford the switch to real plants yet and until he's stabilized, not sure if I should stress him out more)
- treated with Aqueon's Betta Bowl Plus and aquarium salt (I had read to use only enough to fill the center of a cupped hand, but recently read to use a tsp./gallon? Maybe this needs to be upped then?)
- feeding him mini pellets, 3 in the morning and 3 at night; every other day I feed him 1-2 bloodworms (sometimes they aren't whole so I give him 2 pieces) and fasting him on Fridays.
- 25% tank change once a week, sometimes every 5 days if I'm home to do it.
What I've tried so far:
- 25% tank changes with treated water once a day (twice now).
- Fasting for 24 hours, tried to give him a few pellets a few hours ago and he hardly even tried to hunt them this time :(
- Considering he may be skittish/afraid of me still, I've tried keeping the lights lower, covering his tank with a light cloth, not approaching him too quickly, as well as sitting on my bed and just talking to him. I figured maybe getting used to my voice and presence might help. Neither really seem to be effecting him one way or the other.
What I'm going to be doing first thing tomorrow:
- Running to the store for a test kit to check his toxin levels. I simply couldn't afford one before, I've had personal emergencies come up that sadly put a test kit on the back burner. He's first on the list for tomorrow's paycheck though!
- Looking around for any medicines or remedies users suggest (a site suggested external parasites as a cause for his behavior, though not for the color change, so I may try to find Betta Revive. I'm worried about adding it if it isn't the problem though, so I'll be checking here first!)
- A bigger tank change, probably 50% initially so as not to stress him out more than he already is.
- Creating a filter buffer (I like the soda bottle technique I've been seeing!). I'm sure that isn't the main cause of the issue but a lighter current can't hurt.
What's wrong with Philip?! I love him so dearly, I feel the same for bettas as I do for any other pet. I'd hate to lose him so soon, he deserves the best. I've searched EXTENSIVELY for this and found NOTHING that matches his problems on the web! Any suggestions or ideas?