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Old 11-26-2012, 12:04 PM   #1 
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anyone here have/had a betta do this ....

I'll start with the basics asked by the administrator:

What size is your tank? 2gal hex
What temperature is your tank? 78/79F (I won't be able to adjust the thermostat to effect a 1/2deg change, so I leave it at that)
Does your tank have a filter? yes
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? no
Is your tank heated? yes
What tank mates does y our betta fish live with? n/a

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? betta flakes/blood worms, some live insects (tiny knats/flies) that he devours quickly (now that cold weather is here, those no longer available)
How often do you feed your betta fish? up till week ago, every six hours (he ate it up quick). Last couple days, once a day (he won't eat any more than that)

How often do you perform a water change? Now that the water is cycled, twice a week
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? API's pH down, Tetra's aquasafe plus

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

Ammonia: close to 0ppm (light yellow on color scale)
Nitrite: close to 0ppm (light blue on color scale)
Nitrate: very low (light orange on color scale)
pH: little above neutral, slightly alkaline, been this way for several months
Hardness: n/a
Alkalinity: n/a

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? no, colors are still as vibrant as before

How has your betta fish's behavior changed? seems more lethargic, rests constantly on bottom of tank on the sand, occasionally goes to surface for air, used to go for air leisurely, now goes quickly to surface and "snatches" a gulp of breath and then immediately makes a beeline to the bottom for more sedentary rest on bottom, previously energetic and active swimming all over the tank like he was patroling his territory, now spasmotic with quick jerking movements. seems now to be nervous and acting spooked, does not come to surface for food as he did before whenever I was at the tank, used to go up to food (on surface) and immediately bite quickly at it, now comes up to food and stares at it for several long periods and then launches his whole body at a piece of food, sometimes just looks at the food and never eats it. Previously, he was an eating machine, even ate some of the ghost shrimp I had in the tank a while back. His appetite is definitely diminished, he seems to not like the upper level of the tank anymore (goes straight to the top for air and quickly darts to the bottom for more motionless sitting on sand) Before he never sat on bottom of tank, just went to bottom to eat up a few of the betta flakes that landed there. He also used to rest in the mid and upper levels of the water on the leaf of the plastic plant. He no longer does that.

That's about the whole of it. Something definitely different, if not wrong. I am beginning to worry. Nothing in the tank changed in the last several weeks. I am almost certain I haven't done something different, but you know how that goes (maybe I did). I am mystified.

When did you start noticing the symptoms? almost a week ago

Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? no

Does your fish have any history of being ill? no
How old is your fish (approximately)? probably six/seven months, he looked half grown when I got him, looks full grown now.
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Old 11-26-2012, 12:36 PM   #2 
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Your method of completing the info sheet was great.....It really helped this old lady read it and along with the detailed info-really, really helps to give a good picture of what is going on....Anyway.....

Any live plants in the tank

As a male Betta matures-it is not uncommon for them to become less active, however, usually they will stay at the top of the tank not the bottom. Its hard to say what is wrong-but what I would recommend-turn off the filter and/or remove it all together and start a fresh/dechlorinated water treatment and see if this will perk him up.

Sometimes-not always, the water movement in smaller tanks can be stressful and you need to rule this out first. You also might be having some pH swings too since you are using a pH altering product.
What is your source water, what is the pH, KH/GH of the source water without any additives and the type of testing products used.

Freshwater treatment-turn off the filter and make 50% water only changes daily for 2 days-Then 50% every other day for 4 days-Then re-eval...If at any point he has any behavior or change in symptoms-he may need a full treatment.

Nutrition-if you have access to live mosquito larva-offer several rinsed once a day to boost protein intake to support the immune response. Otherwise, good quality varied diet fed in small frequent meals.

Can you post a pic...
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Old 11-26-2012, 02:16 PM   #3 
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Thanks for the reply. I thought the different colors would speed the reading of the post.

Let me work on that photo. Haven't done that in a while on a computer. I'll get back on that.

I should have mentioned previous post that the betta does not move his mouth that much, making that gasping motion. I have always read that is a bad sign for a fish, so, not doing it must be alright. I know that Bettas get their air from the surface, but no gasping must be good.

When resting still on the bottom, sometimes the fins are laid down flat and the betta is a little on his side. Other times, the fins are opened up and the betta is sitting upright. I have been "holding my breath" expecting one morning to find him floating on surface or upside down. But, fortunately, not yet.

No live plants, only one large and two small plastic plants plus some red lava rock. Betta never seemed to bothered by those for the last several months.

The water has always moved on the surface, outward from the filter and then off to both sides and downward along the front face, then making its way to the rear of the tank. The betta never had much of a problem with that for several months, either.

My water is from the kitchen sink, county water supply. It must have lotsa hardness because it's very alkaline; dark blue on the pH color scale. So, I do have to use a pH lowering agent. I did once over use the ph down and it made the betta swim erratically and on it's side. Completely stressed him out. I immediately changed the water again, with proper treatment amounts, and all was well. So .... I know what that mistake, changing the pH radically, looks like.

Yesterday, I took some test measurements of the water and all three (pH, ammonia, nitrite) were A-OK. I use those API kits where you put the drops into 5ml of the test water, shake it up, and then wait a few minutes for the results to develop.

However, I did an @90% water change anyway, and it seemed some life came back into the betta. He came up to surface when I came to the tank, like he was expecting food. He ate a little but not much. I think I will start doing those water changes you recommended, with the filter off.

His lack of appetite is now what is starting to concern me most. My understanding is that fish have to eat constantly because they digest their food rather quickly. Is that correct? If he doesn't start eating regularly, and soon, his immune system must suffer, I figure. That would make him a prime candidate for disease.

Thanks, Thom
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Old 11-27-2012, 03:53 PM   #4 
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Here is a photo of my betta. hope it helps.

Here is another:

I have left the filter off for the last 24 hrs and the betta does seem to be less jerking/darting in his movements, such as when he goes to the surface for air. And, he no longer launches himself at the surface when taking some air, like he did the last several days.

His belly is not swollen, that I can detect. His gills don't look anymore different than what I remember. His eyes don't seem abnormal. I have used a magnifying glass for these inspections. I'm keeping a close watch on him for now.

I will continue the filter-off and water changes for the next week to see what happens.

But as I said before, he just sits there on the bottom doing nothing, really.


Last edited by sterplaz; 11-27-2012 at 04:04 PM. Reason: picture not right
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Old 12-27-2012, 09:43 PM   #5 
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Well, it's been a month since this problem began. First, my betta seemed to start recovering. He even began to start coming to top of the tank when I come close with food. His appetite was better.

However, he now seems to have gotten worse. He lays on the substrate, almost completely on his side and he curves his body, it seems.

He also has trouble getting himself moving forward from this sedentary postion on the tank bottom. Another time I witnessed him swimming on his side, trying to right himself.

His swimming up to the top to get air, he darts with the utmost speed and runs into the side of the tank and even into the sand substrate (when he returns to hsi sedentary position). Something is making him go crazy???

The water parameters are all perfect, or nearly so. Ph is a little alkaline, as it always has been. Ammonia is yellow on the chart (lowest ppm). Nitrite is light blue (lowest) Temperture is 78-80deg.

It is not the water quality. I watch it religiously.

His mouth is now moving open/closed/open/closed etc. He also has not eaten anything in five days.

Man oh man, I am worried he might be on his last legs/fins.

I gave the tank a good cleaning today; new filter media, new sand, new plant with broad leaves to hide under.

One thing I noticed the last month was this brownish film starting to accumulate on the sides of the tank, plastic plants, heater, filter etc. I scrubbed the tank with my algae scrapper. Was this brownish film a form of algae?

Anyone have any experience with these symptoms? Dang! I'm at wits end.
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Old 12-27-2012, 09:56 PM   #6 
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Are you still trying to artificially change the ph? The thing with that product is that it will lower it temporarily but it will just climb back up over time. You can't stabilize it with that product. Your fish will keep seeing swings over and over again.. This could be causing your problems if your'e still trying to treat with that. What is the water source you are using? Plain tap water? As long as it's under 9 from the tap and you treat it with water conditioner that's all you need. The more you mess with it the more likely you are to develop problems.

what is the pH, KH/GH of the source water without any additives and the type of testing products used.
Sounds like brown algae. It's harmless, but ugly. Usually caused by too much light.. how often do you leave light on to your tank?

Feeding live insects that you randomly find outside is really bad idea.. really good way to give your guy an internal infection and also you don't know where they're been.. they could have picked up any number of pesticides and crap.. Blood worms should be fed only as treats and one or two once a week. One fast day a week is necessary no matter what you feed. Flakes should always be avoided. Look for a good quality pellet for your staple - like Omega One Betta Buffet (feed 3-4 split up into two feedings a day) or New Life Spectrum Betta (feed 5-8 split up into 2 or even 3 feedings a day). You can supplement one feeding a week with a blood worm or two if you wish.

Right now it looks like.. it's hard to see but is he bloated around the middle.. stomach sticking out in a round ball? What does his poop look like? I would remove the sand so you can monitor the poop and get him in pure epsom salts - 1 tsp per gallon (so looks like 2 tsp for your 2 gallon), predissolved. They must be added slowly over an hour or more and not just dumped at one time. Please check the ingredients to make sure they are pure magnesium sulfate with no additives. In the meantime look for Kanaplex or Maracyn Plus (not to be confused with Maracyn or Maracyn II) antibiotics.

Last edited by callistra; 12-27-2012 at 10:00 PM.
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Old 12-27-2012, 10:37 PM   #7 
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Hello, thanks for the reply

You know? I have noticed that the pH does climb back up into alkalinity over the course of a day or two. So, you're right, that pH down is only temporary.

I use the county tap water (with AquaSafe) and it's pH is very dark blue (meaning high alkalinity). I thought that was not good for any fish, so I decided to use the pH down. I will now suspend the use of it to see what happens.

I thought the live insects from outside would be healthy, but now that you mention it, those bugs could be eating who-knows-what. He sure did like eating them. He went "great white shark" on those bugs. I named him Sharkey. BTW, he is brutal on tank mates; ghost shrimp, fiddler crab, very aggresive.

He did eat the betta flakes when I first got him but once he ate the blood worms, that's all he wants. If I slack off on the bloodworms, he will eat any betta flakes on the substrate.

His belly is not swollen, that I can see. Nor is his eys popeyed, as they say. Don't really see any different colors to his body than what I saw before.

I just ordered some Epsom salts and will administer on arrival. I'll see what affect that has.

Man, I am depressed to see my betta this way.
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:06 PM   #8 
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Some places do have PH too high for fish. I know the API standard PH test kit only goes to 7.6 and most places have ph higher than that. You can invest in the high ph test kit by API which goes much higher and you can figure out exactly what it is. If it's under 8 I'd for sure leave it alone. If it's over 8 but under 9 you have a choice of cutting it 50/50 with some RO water - this mixture must be VERY carefully measured and done exactly the same every time to avoid fish stress. If it's over 9 you need to cut it.

At this point I will see exactly what the tap ph is and decide what to do accordingly. Whatever you do you need to acclimate your boy very slowly to this new water.. as in cup him and add a tablespoon every 10 minutes for 2 hours and every time I would test the water to see the change in ph until you finally see it slowly hit the target.

Have you tried NLS Betta or Omega One pellets? If he'll eat the flakes on the floor he'll eat a good pellet. They do love the blood worms.. they're like crack to some bettas.. but they're not healthy and you have to be really careful not to overfeed.

Hopefully stabilizing his water and getting good quality meals replaced you'll have a turn around. I'd be hesitant to add an antibiotic to his system at this point just because it seems so delicate.. but it's kind of one of those choices that there is no clear answer. That's why I'd start with stable water and epsoms.
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:40 PM   #9 
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I'll monitor the pH very carefully and use the betta pellets.

I have a one gal. distiller. Would that water be better for the betta? (If it comes down to that)

So, you don't think flake food is any good? What did you find wrong with it, if you don't mind me asking.

thanks, thomas
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:03 PM   #10 
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One other thing I have noticed in the last two/three days is my betta fish doesn't seem to have anymore "balance" when he rests on the substrate or when he floats in the water. He either "crash lands" on the sand of the substrate or he floats, sinks actually, in a vertical position to the bottom of the tank. It's like he has no way to keep himself upright. That's the best way I can describe his behavior.

I'm not a fish anatomy expert, but isn't there an organ or gland or something that the fish uses to keep themselves right side up?

My betta is also doing that curved spine posture when resting on the bottom of the tank.

Nowadays when he goes to surface for air, he darts extremely fast back and forth, under the surface. He looks as if he is going crazy, or something. Almost as if his brain has gone haywire.

As I said before, I have kept the tank water pristine (in my opinion) since I started this tank. When cycling a new filter media I would do water changes all day as needed and then just before bed and again when waking in the morning. Whenever the ammonia test went from yellow to the slightest green I would do a 50% water change. I changed 50% water just before bed and again when first waking in morning.

I did the same thing for the nitrite cycling; when the light blue changed to the slightest sign of purple, I did a 50% water change.

So .... there wasn't any time, that I can determine, when the ammonia/nitrite were at a "really" dangerous level. I thought I was certain that his brain had not been cooked with dangerous levels of ammonia and/or nitrite.

When I was feeding him lots of bloodworms, before this problem started, he would defecate out much material. So, I did not think he was becoming constipated.

I'll start those epsom salts as soon as they arrive.
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