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Old 01-04-2013, 02:33 AM   #1 
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Clamped fins and odd behavior?

Good morning guys, time for an early post. This is my first time on the forum, so please let me know if I miss something important.

This past November, I fell in love with a baby betta from Petco. She's(Captain) still growing, but is turning into a very pretty purple female. Not long later, I found a while/red baby(Artemis) that I also liked, and started planning on making a sorority. At the time, they were in a 5gal hex aquarium. Captain did NOT like sharing her space with Artemis, so I originally got a glowlight tetra for her to bully instead... Who she absolutely does not care about. So they moved to a 20gal high, got along great. Surprisingly, yes, just the 2 bettas, the tetra, and a shrimp(my cousin insisted, and I'd heard they had little to no interaction with bettas, so agreed). Niels, the tetra, looked like a spaz, so I got Duncan for him(~1 week after introducing Artemis, Niels, shrimp[Mr. Frenchie]). Everyone got along fairly well, though I'd noticed Captain and Artemis hiding more after Duncan was introduced. It's been maybe a week since I got Duncan, and I found 2 more 'baby' bettas that seemed lively and healthy(while I was buying a fluorescent hood, they have been without light except for my bedroom light until now). One is roughly Captain's size, one is roughly Artemis' size. Not a huge size difference by any means, they still look juvenile.

I'd noticed it before I added the two new ones(who I haven't named yet, suggestions welcome), but both Artemis and Captain seem to be clamping their fins nonstop. Even when I added the new fish, there was zero flashing. There was also zero agression from either Captain or Artemis, however. The two new ones did some flashing and nipping, and now seem to be hiding, but they didn't give any trouble to Artemis and Captain.

So here's my problem. They're both still clamping. Captain seems to alternate between lively, lethargic, and spastic. Artemis seems somewhat lethargic, but she'll also be very active. I haven't seen any spastic actions from her. She'll kind of hide in a corner, but she doesn't just float necessarily, and she will have moments of normal activity. I haven't noticed any change in diet: they both seem to be eating happily. I haven't seen any spots(Ick) or dusting(Velvet) on Captain at all, and Artemis has an opalescence that makes it hard to tell, but I don't *THINK* so. Captain does seem to be swimming close to tank walls, and likes hiding under rocks, but I haven't seen her *rubbing* on anything, so to speak. Captain now seems to love the little cave where she used to ignore it, and also loves wiggling under some riverstones I have piled in the aquarium. These are large, and have been used for previous aquariums. It's unlikely any infections came from them. There are two squares of betta grass, 3 medium sized(~5-6in) plants, a 9in, and a 16in plant. I plan on getting them more places to hide and 'claim'. They now have a light that I plan on leaving on for at least 9hrs a day, and shutting off at night.

I did a ~30% water change earlier tonight, and everyone seems a little more lively for it, but Artemis and Captain are still clamping.

So: Do I need to worry about infections of some kind, or is it more likely simply a matter of too much, too fast, and not enough hidey holes? I'm really stressed about this, and I'm afraid of not taking good care of them. If it is simply a matter of stress, will they go back to normal once everyone figures out the pecking order?

I apologize for how long this post is, and thank everyone in advance for any help.

What size is your tank? 20G High
What temperature is your tank? 78F
Does your tank have a filter? Yes
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? Yes(2)
Is your tank heated? Yes
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? 2 Glowlight tetras, ghost shrimp, 4 bettas

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Previously Omega One Betta Pellets, petstore employee recommended TetraMin Tropical Flakes(to include Tetras)
How often do you feed your betta fish? Usually 2x daily, morning and night

How often do you perform a water change? Bowl to 5G hex to 20G High in span of 2 months... But changed the water in the hex once and 20G once thus far. So maybe ~2 weeks?
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? At least 30%, try for close to 50%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Jungle Start Right conditioner, Top Fin Conditioning Salt

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters? Have not, plan on getting the kit tomorrow


Symptoms and Treatment *See above*
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?
How has your betta fish's behavior changed?
When did you start noticing the symptoms?
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how?
Does your fish have any history of being ill?
How old is your fish (approximately)?
Kaidacat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-04-2013, 09:43 AM   #2 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Welcome to the forum....

Several things come to mind-One being water quality due to the tank not being cycled, infrequent water changes and stress related that has compromised the immune response.

What I would start with-is daily water changes 50% water only for 3 days-Then on day 4 make 50% with vacuum in all areas you can reach without moving anything. Then twice weekly-1-50% water only and 1-50% with substrate vacuum-until your tank has cycled.
Take your water to the pet shop weekly and once you have nitrate 10ppm and ammonia, nitrite 0ppm for 2 weeks-you can go to 50% weekly with vacuum to maintain water quality.
Once the nitrogen cycle is established-give your filter media a swish/rinse in the bucket of old tank water-this needs to be done a couple of times a month with a water change and/or if the water flow slows too much.

Then I would add 3-4 more glolight tetra to increase their school-I would go ahead and get more now and QT them in the 5gal to get them ready to add to your tank once it is cycled. Or re-home the 2 you have if you didn't plan on a school.

The only chemical additive you need is a good quality dechlorinator that covers-chlorine and chloramines. Be sure and let your water run at the tap for a second or two to clear the lines and try to keep the replacement water within a few degrees of the tank water.
Oldfishlady is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-04-2013, 11:20 AM   #3 
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Thank you so much for the response, and I apologize again for such a massive posting.

I don't currently have a gravel vacuum, I was using unused airline to siphon off water. Not quick, no, but it didn't cause much stress for the fish. Do I need to go ahead and get an actual vacuum for this size tank? If I do, would I want to stir up the gravel when I do water changes?(during the cycling period)

Also, I was planning on getting a 'master' test kit with the strips that cover nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, pH, and I guess alkalinity. Either an all in one kit, or enough to cover the bases. Would that be sufficient, or do I need to bring it to the store anyway?

As for the glolights, sadly, I really wasn't planning on making a school of them. I kind of regretted buying Niels, but once they have a name...
I don't have another heater for the 5g. If I DID buy more, would they be okay without? The house has been somewhat cold lately, and it's possible the water would drop as low as 69F. I know that isn't by any means ideal, but for a temporary quarantine situation?

On that same note, 4 Bettas, 5 tetras, and a shrimp. How close to overstocking am I getting? I try to go by the 1gal/inch rule, but I know bettas aren't very messy.
Kaidacat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-05-2013, 09:52 AM   #4 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
A gravel vacuum will make cleaning a 10gal much easier, however, you could still use the stir and dip method.

Personally, I don't like or agree with the 1in/gal rule since it can be misleading-especially when stocking fish that are over 1inch in size as adults. With that said, that stocking would be borderline IMO/E.

Since you are dealing with tropical fish-a heater will be needed to maintain temp of at least 76F.

The best water test kit IMO- is one you will use and can understand, many hobbyist feel the test strips are not accurate, however, I have not had that experience, IMO/E both the strips and liquid reagent test products provide accurate results. With that said, in the long run-the liquid reagent will last longer and end up being cheaper to use.
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:19 AM   #5 
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Thank you so much for all your help! I went ahead and bought a vacuum, and I did get the water tested last night. I wasn't positive on some of the numbers, but the ammonia was the lowest color reading available, which is good, and he said the others looked good as well.

Most of my fish seem okay, though Captain is still hiding and seems nervous. I'm hoping she just needs time to settle in with all the new fish. She's completely claimed the cave as her own, and is quite willing to run even the larger new betta off even if she isn't willing to flare up at him.

I've noticed Artemis does seem to have an unnerving tendency to allow herself to get sucked to the side of the filter, which freaked me out a few times. But she CAN swim off, she just doesn't seem to want to. Even when I nudged her off, she'll swim around to the back, instead. So I put a pantyhose foot over the intake, so at least nothing will get sucked in if she does like the feeling. Captain used to get bored and hide INSIDE the filter, so I guess they just like the feel of the water flow?

But, thanks again for your help. Everyone seems to be settling in, and there doesn't seem to be any hostility worth mentioning. Hopefully Captain will go back to her old, happy self soon. Otherwise, I'll set her up her own tank.
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Old 01-05-2013, 03:56 PM   #6 
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: NY
Just be careful with the baby betas from pectoral. They are not all females. I had a baby that I thought was female for a full three months before his tail started growing. You can end up with a real problem if your babies end up males.
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:49 PM   #7 
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Thanks, I'll make sure and keep that in mind and be prepared to separate them if necessary. I have two that have visible ovipositors, so though I'm fairly certain with them, they are still young. The other two are still in the air, but I am excited to watch them grow. Hopefully, everyone will continue to get along well.
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clamped fins, hiding, lethargic, stress

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