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Old 10-21-2012, 09:36 PM   #1 
larisa5656
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Question Bipolar fish?

Hello all,

I'm new to this forum and am hoping to seek some advice on what might be ailing my betta fish, Lindsey Joe. I've had him since January of this year, and he's usually been a friendly fish--I was even able to teach him to follow my finger around the tank at mealtime, eventually leading him to where his food was. About a week ago though, his behavior changed. Now, we alternates between hiding in his little cave decoration (usually where he thinks I can't see him), hiding behind the water filter, or swimming frantically from one end of the tank to the other. He's also much more hypersensitive when I tap on the glass (NOTE: I don't do this very often; I'm not that cruel), which is sometimes what causes the frantic swimming, though other times he just ignores me. I also have reason to believe that he's not eating, though I'm not 100% sure of this.

At first I thought there might be something toxic in the water, so I tried a 25% water change, plus adding a Jungle Lifeguard All-in-one Treatment tablet about 10 days ago. When this failed to alter Lindsey Joe's behavior, I did a full water change two days ago so I could clean all of the decorations and the water filter properly (not good for Lindsey Joe's stress level, I'm sure, but it was the lesser of two evils in my opinion). Still nothing, and now I'm worried that my fish is starting to circle the drain.

Here are the answers to some other questions, which may give better insight into Lindsey Joe's condition:

Housing
What size is your tank? 1.5 gallons
What temperature is your tank? Don't know, but the romm temperature is around 72 F.
Does your tank have a filter? Yes, a water filter.
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? Other than a water filter, no.
Is your tank heated? No.
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? None, though Lindsey Joe has two small stuffed animals that sit on either side of the tank.

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Blood worms. I tried switching between that and flakes awhile back, but my fish wouldn't eat the flakes.
How often do you feed your betta fish? Once a day around 6pm. One of Lindsey Joe's quirks used to be giving me the "cold shoulder" if I forgot and fed him later that night.

Maintenance

How often do you perform a water change? Every two weeks.
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? Usually a full water change. I tried doing just 25% water changes once a week, but this stressed him out.
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? One Jungle Bowl Buddies water conditioner tablet.

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? No.

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? Not that I've noticed. I wanted to post a picture here, but I couldn't get a good shot, what with the hiding and "speed swimming."
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? See above.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? About 1 1/2 weeks ago.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? See above.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? There was one instance over the summer when Lindsey Joe was listless and hovered at the top of the tank. I did a complete water change, and he got better quickly therafter.
How old is your fish (approximately)? 10 months (bought him from Walmart, so who knows how long he was there).
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Old 10-21-2012, 11:05 PM   #2 
sainthogan
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First of all, it's too cold for him, he is a tropical fish and needs at least 76 degrees or warmer. Second of all, you need to do water changes more often for that size of a tank. Here's a helpful thread on this forum about that: http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=115758
Ammonia and Nitrates can build up in the water and can cause serious damage to your fish if the water is not changed often enough.

My guess is that he's getting sick. I'm not familiar with the treatment you are using so I can't help you there, but start with warmer water and keep doing more frequent water changes, and see if his behavior changes any.

Does it seem like he's trying to rub up against things? Sometimes frantic swimming means that something is bothering them physically like ick or velvet or a type of fungus.
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Old 10-21-2012, 11:34 PM   #3 
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You have several care problems here. I'll list them:

1. Betta fish NEED a tropical temperature range because they are a tropical fish species. You should have a thermometer to keep track. Cold water will cause lethargic behavior and lower the immune system, opening the fish to illness and other health problems.

2. Bloodworms are like cake for humans, delicious but containing no nutrition. Your fish is not getting nutrition and chances are that you are using freeze dried bloodworms, which can cause bloating and constipation. Such food should only be fed no more than once one time a week. Pellets are the ideal food and they need at least 38% crude protein. Your betta may refuse to eat at first but when it gets hungry it will eat what is good for it, much like a child.

3. Change a 1.5 gallon every two weeks is not often enough. You should be doing a 50% and a 100% water change during the week. Ammonia is a toxic chemical that naturally enters water through food, excrement and fish exhale. It is poisonous and can cause harm to the fish. You need a water test kit to test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in order to tell if the water is in safe ranges for your betta fish.

As for other things I noted:

A filter in a 1.5 gallon does nothing but waste electricity. A filter does not clean water; rather, it helps establish the nitrogen cycle. A 1.5 gallon is a very difficult volume of water to cycle-- especially for a beginner or novice in cycling! 5 gallons is the general standard for cycling because it is easier for beginners and provides a safer environment with less spikes in ammonia, although they will happen if you cycle the tank with your fish inside and may cause ammonia burns. Changing the water 100% with a filter will ruin your cycle, as will turning it off.

As for your water conditions, what does it treat? Different water conditioners treat different things, some only targeting chlorine. I recommend using the SeaChem Prime brand as it covers mostly everything toxic found in tap water, including metals that other brands do not.

Finally, a tropical temperature range for a betta fish should be 76 degrees to 86 degrees. However, betta fish thrive in temperatures of 78 to 82 degrees and that range is your goal. You need a heater that is adjustable, preferably one with a thermostat so it does not overcook your tank. I recommend an Elite brand heater because it is of high quality, has a lifetime guarantee, moderates the temperature itself according to your setting, and is less than $20 on Amazon. Temperature can drop 10 degrees at night and such a large fluctuation is not good for fish health. It is a needed instrument in betta fish care unless you live in a tropical location all year round.
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Old 10-22-2012, 12:27 PM   #4 
larisa5656
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Thanks for the advice! I hadn't considered a water heater before, but I will definitely look into getting one now (especially with winter coming up). Not to be a cynic, but with all of my care issues, I'm curious as to how Lindsey Joe managed to survive for so long. Are betta fish normally this hardy?
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Old 10-22-2012, 01:02 PM   #5 
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I believe that bettas can be resilient little creatures. I've heard more than one person say to me "oh I keep my betta in a bowl and change the water once a month...blah blah....lived to be so many years old". Whether they are lying or not, I don't know. BUT. Just because they can live in these sub-par conditions doesn't mean they should. A dog/cat/whatever could survive locked in 10X10 cold room with no natural light source etc etc...doesn't mean they should.

Quality of life is enhanced so much when they are kept in the proper conditions. Not saying that you are keeping your fish in completely sub-par conditions like people that throw them in a bowl and ignore them until they die. But I think you will see your fish come to life even more when he gets a warmer tank and a more nutritious food source. It sounds like you really care for your guy and just want the best for him :). Good luck!!!
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Old 10-22-2012, 07:59 PM   #6 
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Betta fish are known for their hardiness but a few months is not a long time for them at all. Depending on genetics and age when purchased, betta fish live for an average of 3-5 years, with many capable of living beyond 5 years under the correct conditions. These fish have essentially evolved to survive in the harshest of conditions, as can be seen by their labyrinth organs and ability to tolerate many changes in water that would otherwise devastate other species much faster.

Just remember, survival does not equal quality of life. Dogs can be kept alive for years never seeing daylight, kept in cages, and in cramped conditions (as evidenced by puppy mills) but that does not mean they have a quality of life. Animals are pretty amazing when it comes to survival and luckily we, as humans, have the ability to appreciate them and provide them with that quality that would otherwise be denied.

For a heater, I recommend buying the Elite brand heaters. They are very durable, have a lifetime warranty, are adjustable, automatically turn on when the water gets too cold and turn off when it is at your desired temperature, and they cost under $20 on Amazon. They can fit in most small-volume aquariums, such as yours, and are a very high quality product.
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Old 10-23-2012, 11:44 AM   #7 
larisa5656
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Update

First of all, thanks everyone for the advice and treatment suggestions. I bought an Elite heater from Amazon yesterday. I also went to Walmart (the only place to get pet supplies in my area) to get some ick treatment, non-blood worms food, and another heater to stand in until my Amazon purchase arrives. I'm also looking into buying a 2.5 or 3 gallon tank, but that might have to wait awhile (Christmas present, maybe?!).

In the meantime, Lindsey Joe is still hiding out in his cave. I know he's still alive because when I tap on the side of the tank, he shifts to another part of the cave where he thinks I can't see him. Hopefully, he gets back to his old self soon!
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Old 10-23-2012, 07:00 PM   #8 
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Glad to hear he is doing well! If you are tight on budget and want to upgrade now, you can order a 2.5 gallon rectangular glass tank from PetSmart for about $15 (a bit less but I round up). Glass tanks are the best because plastic ones can absorb medications and acrylic ones scratch really easy. SOrry to hear that Walmart is the only place in your area for pet supplies, especially since their brand, AquaCulture, creates horrible death traps for betta fish and that the store is known for its horrible treatment of live animals. I boycott mine's pet section for those reasons.

Keep us updated on Lindsey Joe and post some pictures up so we can admire your little buddy! Welcome to the forum; I believe I forgot to greet you earlier.
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Old 10-24-2012, 10:51 AM   #9 
larisa5656
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sivan View Post
Keep us updated on Lindsey Joe and post some pictures up so we can admire your little buddy! Welcome to the forum; I believe I forgot to greet you earlier.
As requested, here is a picture of Lindsey Joe when I first got him this past January.



Another update: The new heater is currently holding at 76-77 F. I also did a 25% water change last night. Nevertheless, I'm still worried about my fish though because he hasn't eaten in about 4 days and constantly remains hidden in the psychadelic cave you see in the picture. He's the sort of fish who doesn't notice food unless (1) it falls on top of him or (2) I lead him to it. So I think I may have to be a mean keeper and take the cave away from him. Is it possible though that removing the cave from the tank will only stress him out more?
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Old 10-24-2012, 11:54 AM   #10 
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Let him acclimate a little more to the warmer temperature. Some bettas won't eat for a while when things are changed. They can go quite a while with out food. Mine when about 10 days when she was sick before she felt up to eating and she was fine.
Also, if you remove the only thing he can hide in, he may get very stressed.
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