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Old 02-01-2015, 07:56 AM   #1 
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Fungus, bacterial infection, old age, combination, something else? Please help!

First, THANKS for this board, everyone! I am still very new at this whole "keeping fish" thing (we've had him just about 15 months) so be patient with me if I don't have the terminology correct or ask a question whose answer would be obvious to a more experienced person. Now.... HELP!

Chris, our blue Betta, has something wrong with him, and I can't figure out just what. I thought it might be a fungus, but now I'm wondering if it's really that OR a bacterial infection OR both OR something else AND maybe old age... but I don't want the little guy to suffer! I hope you can help me figure this out! Below are the answers to the basic questions. This is going to be a long post because I've been dealing with this for close to a month now and don't know if I'm making any progress, so you need all the details to help me hopefully find a solution.

What size is your tank?
2.5 gallons, Aqueon
What temperature is your tank? 74 degrees F
Does your tank have a filter? Yes, and it's working fine
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Is your tank heated? Just by the light bulb
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? None (no "roommates" ever); all decorations are plastic trees and fish toys (no live plants)

What type of food do you feed your betta fish?
Mostly Aqueon Tropical Flakes. We also have TetraMin Tropical Flakes but have yet to try them. He does NOT like the mini pellets, has always refused them. Once in a while (every few months) he'll get a "treat" of live brine shrimp. Recently, for the holidays, he got freeze-dried bloodworms but has only had a few (a couple at a time on a few days).
How often do you feed your betta fish? Usually once a day, a few small flakes

How often do you perform a water change?
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? Usually about 25-30% weekly, with a closer to full (100%) water change monthly
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Aqueon Betta Water Renewal, and yes, I wait at least a day after adding it to the "new" water before putting it into the tank

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

Ammonia: Normal, per Pet Supplies Plus and local aquarium store
Nitrite: Normal, see above
Nitrate: Normal, see above
pH: It registered high, but the pet store employee said that may have been because of the color of the initial medicine (hard to judge a true "reaction" when the water was already tinted blue! In any event, some pH Down was added to the tank)
Hardness: Normal, see above
Alkalinity: Normal, see above

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?
He seemed to get some fin rot some months ago (clamped, kind of "worn"); the folks at the pet store said he was fine and I didn't really do much for this other than add some aquarium salt, as the fish still was spiffy, flapping his little fins at me excitedly at mealtime plus making bubble nests, the whole thing
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? At first he just seemed a lot more mellow and I noticed what seemed to be a whitish spot, for the past week he's barely eaten and hasn't really eaten now in two days. He seems to hide in one of his toys, or lay near the bottom, or in a corner near the filter.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? About three weeks ago; I've been trying different things and am on my third effort.

Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? (1) At first, I changed the water a bit more, added some aquarium salt, and then about a week later (2) some Betta Revive which the local aquarium store recommended. This turned the water blue, which of course makes it hard to see any odd markings/discolorations on a blue fish. He still seemed listless so I went through another tiny bottle of this. During this time, he would come up for a bit and ate a tiny bit. I bought him some live brine shrimp to perk him up, and he definitely seemed interested in that, eating about 4-5 a day despite not really eating the fish flakes. Still, the markings (greyish/taupe in color) has spread to other parts of his body and he lacked energy.

Based on my research here and in talks with the pet store folks, I thought he might have a fungus (even though it doesn't look "cottony"). I stopped using the Betta Revive and did small water changes, added more aquarium salt, and took a picture of him to the pet store, where they advised using API
Fungal Care. I added this to his tank (1/4 of a pouch, per instructions, since it's one pouch per 10 gallons and mine is 2.5), which also changed the water color (I'm trying to figure out how to attach a photo here). I removed the carbon filter per instructions. In a few hours I'm due for the next step ("repeat dose after 48 hours"); the next step after that is to "wait another 48 hours, then change 25% of the water and add the carbon filter cartridge."

Does your fish have any history of being ill? He did get listless some months back and kind of "hibernated." I don't know if he was bored/depressed, taking a break, or what. We changed more of the water, added aquarium salt, put some new toys in his tank, and gave him the live brine shrimp (first time) and he eventually perked up and got back to his old self. He did NOT at the time have the discolorations he now does.
How old is your fish (approximately)? 15 months since we bought him + whatever time they'd typically be in a Pet Supplies Plus

So...... there you have it, the whole long story! Based on your expertise, what I've told you, and the photos:
  1. Do you think this is, in fact, a fungus, or something else?
  2. Will he be okay hardly having eaten in the past 7-10 days?
  3. Should I continue with this Fungus Cure treatment, or try something else (in lieu of or in addition to this)?
  4. Is part of what's going on due to the fact that technically he's an old fish now?
  5. If nothing else, what can I do to make him more comfortable?
I know he's just a little tiny fish but he's part of our family and I'm trying to be a good momma to him! Thanks so much!

PS - He seems to be going into a "deep sleep" (which is why I asked the
"old age" question). He will move to different parts of his tank but sometimes has been so still for so long, no moving when I get something near him, and only reacting (moving quickly away) when I've very gently moved something near him just to see if he's still alive!
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Old 02-01-2015, 02:20 PM   #2 
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I don't know enough about diseases to help him get over whatever he has.

I found that my first fish got rashes (well, gray spots) before I got a heater for his tank. Aquarium salt would clear it up for a while, but it came back until I got a heater. They do best when the water is kept the same temperature all day and night, and a heat lamp would make it warm in the day and cold when you turn it off at night. I would try a heater, maybe a 12 watt adjustable one, and bring the temperature up to 78 and see how much that helps. Having the heater will help him stay healthy after he's better.
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Old 02-02-2015, 05:34 AM   #3 
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Welcome to the forum.

The water is a little cold. 80* is about right. And, as Sadist points out, a varying temperature (like with lights) is not good. I don't know of any adjustable heaters smaller than 25W. An adjustable 25W heater would help a lot.

Pet store people like to sell expensive medications. You might be better off doing without. The carbon cartridge is to remove medication. You can do a large (>75%) water change instead.
How much salt are you using? A tablespoon per 5 gallons is the most you should use routinely. As for the discolorations, describe his symptoms (with pictures, if possible) on the Disease and Emergencies section of this forum. There are people there who really know their stuff.

Aqueon flakes are not the best thing you can feed him. New life Spectrum Betta pellets or Omega One Betta Buffet are much better. NLS has garlic, which they like. O1 are smaller and they float (I like that. You can soak them in garlic.). Offer only pellets, one at a time. Eventually he'll learn to eat them. Like kids and vegetables. Remove uneaten pellets after a few hours.FD bloodworms are not recommended. Frozen BWs are OK as an occasional treat.

A weekly 25% wc is not enough for a 2.5g tank. Try 2x 50% changes weekly using Prime. Switch to Prime water conditioner by Seachem. It detoxifies ammonia -- important in a small tank. Dose 2-drops/gal daily. Discontinue pH down. Any pH is fine as long as it's consistent.

You might seriously consider cycling the tank. That's the easiest way to provide the best water quality.

You'd be better off testing your own water rather than relying on the pet store. So when we ask you about your readings, you'll know what your ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH are. Most of us use this: It's also necessary for cycling.

At 15-months, he's an adult Betta. With care and a little luck he should be around for another year or even two.
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Old 02-02-2015, 12:29 PM   #4 
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Thanks for your replies. I appreciate it! Sadist, I think the spots mine has may be the same as what yours had. Are you saying the heater made them go away for good? Was your fish also lethargic and not eating during this time? I have no problem getting a heater (with a thermostat) but don't want to ignore any other issues. Hallyx, thanks for the tips and link to the other forum. I'll ask over there as well. BTW, below is a link to a photo I took of Chris a couple of days ago. Please note the water is green because of the anti-fungal medication; the white thing behind him is the in-tank thermometer. Thanks again!
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