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Old 01-10-2013, 07:31 PM   #1 
Nicci Lu
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Epsom Salt and Water Changes

When using an epsom salt treatment for SBD and constipation, I have seen instructions posted that state that one should change water 100% daily, or at the least 50% daily if in a larger tank. Can anyone explain exactly why water changes are necessary if water parameters are okay? This is why I ask: I've been doing an epsom salt treatment for four days for my betta's SBD- as of yesterday I've worked up to using 3 tsp/gal. He's in a 10 gallon tank, so I've only been doing 50% daily water changes. The changes are really starting to stress him out, and I'm wondering if I can get away with just changing the water every other day.

When I change AF's water, I leave him in the tank. I make sure that temperature is the same as I add in the water gradually. The water comes from the same source, conditioned and epsom salted the same as the existing tank water. Yesterday, after I changed AF's water, he totally freaked out and his SBD, which had gradually been getting better, got worse again. Now he's back to floating on his side when at rest. Since the water change last night, he has gotten marginally better- at least now he doesn't swim on his side as well.

I even checked ammonia, nitrates and nitrites after he freaked out and they were exactly the same as they had been before (I check these once at morning and once at night). I can't fathom what might have been different about the new water. The only thing I can think of is that AF's been through so much lately (he's recently recovered from popeye and recovering from fin rot) that he just can't handle the stress. Now I'm terrified to do another water change. So, what will happen if I lessen the frequency of water changes during AF's ES treatment?
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:35 PM   #2 
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When adding the Epsom salt you are only dosing for the amount of water you're changing correct, not the whole tank volume? IMO there's no need to do daily water changes, at least I didn't. I don't know why daily would be required for SBD but there's a lo t I don't know.
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Old 01-10-2013, 10:54 PM   #3 
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Yes, definitely make sure you're only redosing for the amount of water you're changing, and not for the full 10g. What amount of epsoms are you using? If he's in a 10 gallon fully cycled tank a single 50% weekly (including using a siphon/gravel vac) should be all that's needed. How long has your tank been set up? What filter are you using? what heater/temp? What are the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels?

Also if you're acclimating properly during changes there should be no stress

Quote:
To do a water change, use a little cup like a plastic solo cup - this cup must be only for him and have never been used with soap or other chems. Scoop him up in this cup (keep him in the cup about 1/4 full of water - it doesn't need to be much because he won't be in it for long) and leave him in the cup while you change his water. To do the 50% use a turkey baster - dedicated only to him that has never seen soap or chems - and drag it through the gravel and try to suck as much of the poop out as possible, in addition to 50% of the water. Use a thermometer under the running tap to get it to be the same temp as the water that is normally in his tank. When the thermometer says the flowing tap is the right temp, fill back up his tank. At this point, add the conditioner (dose for how much water you change - if you change half the water you add half gallon worth of conditioner, If you do a 100% water change dose for the full gallon change). Float his plastic cup with him in it in the new water. Slowly add a couple tablespoons of the new water into his cup every 10 minutes for at least an hour. Finally, dump him in gently but try to get as little of the old cup water back into the tank as possible. When you do the weekly 100% you will do mostly the same thing except empty his tank fully and rinse everything in it very well under warm water but never use soaps or chemicals. Once it's fully cleaned/rinsed you can refill it and repeat the cup/acclimate phase.
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Old 01-11-2013, 02:14 AM   #4 
Nicci Lu
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At the time of his water change yesterday, I was dosing 2 tsp/gal. I only redosed for the amount of water I changed. The tank is not cycled yet, which is why I'm watching the water parameters so closely. Before the epsom treatment, I was doing daily 25% water changes.

To make a long story short, we got AF (Adorable Fish) for my son for Christmas. I knew nothing about fish, and we got him one of those .5 gallon torture chambers. Followed the instructions, which said change water weekly. Needless to say, he got sick from the dirty water- I didn't even know to clean the uneaten food from the bottom. Stupid! Poor AF got popeye, fin rot and SBD. I started reading this forum, discovered what I did wrong and did 100% changes for 2 days. No improvement. My husband wanted to take AF back to the store and return him for a new one. But I said, oh no, he's part of our family now. I am not giving up on that fish. I went out and got him some Maracyn I and II. I figured with everything wrong with him and his dirty water, he had a bacterial infection. By day 4, he was doing better. No popeye, fin rot at least not spreading, and although he still had SBD he was no longer floating up on his side.

Then payday came, and I went out and got a 10 gal tank, heater, master test kit, thermometer and Prime. So, no cycled tank because I was not about to keep him in his torture chamber anymore. At the end of his Maracyn treatment, I put some AQ salt in the tank to see if his fin rot would get better without having to do another round of Maracyn. Well, there are still some black spots, though not as dark as before, and he's also got some white regrowth.

But still he had SBD. He was pretty active, happy to be in his new heated home, and swimming down to the bottom although he floated right back up again. I had previously assumed that the SBD was bacterial since his ailments occurred at the same time, the Maracyn had brought improvement and he hadn't eaten for about 4-5 days. (By the time of the AQ salt treatment, he was eating about 3 1/2 pellets per day.)

It bothered me, however, that I didn't recall seeing any poop. Possibly just my inexperience, that I didn't recognize it, but it made me consider constipation as being a cause for his SBD. So, since his fin rot was getting better I decided to discontinue the AQ salts after 2 days, and switched to epsoms after the water change, starting out at 1 tsp/gal. For 2 and a half days, he was doing great. He still had buoyancy issues, but he was clearly getting better. BTW, once I began his ES treatment, I also began fasting him. Then the Water Change. He started frantically swimming in circles and floating up on his side again. So I put him back in his .5 gal with new conditioned water, using the thermometer to keep the same temp. I emptied out his 10 gal, refilled it (still dosing with ES at 2 tsp/gal), floated him in the 10 gal and then put him back in. Last night he was even swimming on his side. He is a bit better, but still listless and when at rest he floats on his side. And his popeye is back on his right eye! I am now dosing ES at 3 tsp/gal- any increase in ES that I've made, I gradually add dissolved in tank water over a period of a couple hours. I gave a small amount of frozen daphnia today, and he gobbled it up like a madman- for this he showed some energy!

I believe it was in OldFishLady's instructions for ES treatment that states 100% or at least 50% daily changes in larger tanks.

The technicalities:
Housing
What size is your tank? 10 gallons
What temperature is your tank? 80-81
Does your tank have a filter? Yes, Whisper 10i with a water bottle baffler
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Is your tank heated? Yes
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? None

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Was feeding Aqueon betta pellets cut in half; now just frozen daphnia
How often do you feed your betta fish? Twice a day

Maintenance

How often do you perform a water change? Was daily before, but have have not done so today
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 25% before ES treatment, 50% during
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Prime, every other day I give 2x normal dose for detox

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

Ammonia: This morning: .25/ Tonight: btn .25-.50
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: This morning: 10/ Tonight: about 30
pH: 8.2
Alkalinity: I don't know, but our water is pretty hard

So, this is how I do changes. I leave AF in the tank and use a gravel vacuum. I mix the water, Prime and ES a half gallon at a time and slowly pour it in the tank. This particular time, I used a drop of Prime and 1 tsp ES for each half gallon. As I make each batch, I use my hand to determine temp, but as I pour the water in, I use the thermometer in the tank to keep an eye out for temp change (It stayed the same).

The water changes never bothered him before as I've done them. I had thought that most left their fish in the tank while doing water changes. Is moving them out of the tank during changes considered less stressful? At this point I feel like anything new I do to AF is going to be the last straw for him. Of course, I will have to do at least 20% tomorrow, because, as you can see, his ammonia level is rising.

Could this be a possible explanation?: With the Prime, I started out with 2x the normal dose to detox ammonia. Seachem says it lasts for 24-48 hours; I was afraid of building up too much Prime in the tank, so I thought I would only do the 2x dose every other day. So, when I did this particular water change, I only did the normal dose. Is it possible that by only using the normal dose in the new water, I suddenly hit AF with non-detoxified ammonia? There is already .25 ammonia in my tap water.

Should I simply continue with the ES treatment? I don't know if it's shock, stress or a return of his infection. I'd really hate to go for meds again, I know they're harsh, but neither do I want him to die.

Sorry for the long post.
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Old 01-11-2013, 08:26 AM   #5 
shellieca
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OK, I understand your worry. 1st you're doing much better than most people so take a breath & relax a little. Since you are doing a fish IN cycle, which I have done multiple times & on a 10g with a male Betta. I tested my water daily & did a 50% water change if my ammonia was .25 or higher which averaged about about every 2-3 days so that's all you need to do in my opinion. Leave him in the tank, you don't need to vacuum every water change, just once a week, so maybe if you just syphon out the water without moving all around the tank he wont freak out so much. Oldfishlady has lots of experience & she gives good guide lines to follow. I didn't read all of her water change suggestions so I'm going with what worked for me. As for SBD, you should see improvement if not recovery within a few days. I've fasted for a couple days without Epsom salts & I've used Epsom salts for a few days both with fairly fast results. Since he has other things going on it may take him a little longer. Oh, as for Prime it won't build up & hurt him but with .5 or less ammonia you don't need to double dose, doing a 50% water change with a .25 ammonia should bring it down to 0, you only need to test every 24 hrs unless you have extremely high ammonia which you would then need to multiple water changes in the same day. Hope this helps & keep asking questions if you need to.

Last edited by shellieca; 01-11-2013 at 08:29 AM.
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Old 01-11-2013, 10:02 AM   #6 
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I thought if there are any signs of nitrates that the tank is cycled? I am in the middle of cycling mine too, so I am curious.
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Old 01-11-2013, 10:08 AM   #7 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stellar981 View Post
I thought if there are any signs of nitrates that the tank is cycled? I am in the middle of cycling mine too, so I am curious.
Not necessarily. Are the ammonia/nitrites 0? When I cycled my tanks I had nitrates early on but still had ammonia, nitrites didn't show up until week 6, then my nitrates spiked up to 40. After nitrites disappeared & I did water changes my nitrates have been a steady less than 5.
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Old 01-11-2013, 12:18 PM   #8 
Nicci Lu
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<taking deep breath> Thanks.

Well, AF's doing much better this morning. He's active, curious and checking out the bottom of his tank. Still floats to the top, though, but he's not floating on his side. It sounds like I can relax with the water changes, then, except that my tap water has .25 ammonia already. I'll never get it down to 0 until my tank cycles. In this case, do you think I could get away with 50% every other day, or perhaps every 2-3 days (maybe even split the 50% into two 25% changes, morning and night) and rely on Prime to detox what ammonia I have until the tank cycles?

With Prime, I have read everywhere about its use. Even Seachem's instructions are vague about using it to detox ammonia and nitrates. (But then, no one else has a problem, so it must just be me.) So, one dose detoxes ammonia, and I see now on the bottle that one dose detoxes 1 mg/L. But its effects only last 24-48 hours. So, should I be using one full dose for the entire tank each day, or simply the normal dose for the added water only when doing water changes? I suppose I don't have to worry about nitrates yet, as they've never gone above 40 ppm so far. I'm just ultra-paranoid about the water parameters since I'm not cycling with a healthy fish.

Here's a picture of AF. You can see his Fin Rot and his swim bladder.


And another picture to show his eyes. Some angles, they look fine, like in this picture:


But other angles, it looks popeyed:


Does he look popeyed to you?
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Old 01-11-2013, 05:31 PM   #9 
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He actually looks pretty darn good, his fin rot isn't bad compared to others we've seen. I went against myself today & bought a new male who looks pretty bad so we'll see. Anyways, as for Prime the rule when changing water is . . . if using buckets dose the amount of replacement water in the bucket. I on the other hand use the cap from the Prime bottle, fill it to the 1st (lowest) thread or slightly more which would be the dosage for the entire tank, so far I've never had a problem. I personally don't fret about being exact. If you're dosing without doing a water change I would dose for the total tank volume. When I do water changes I always do 50% because it lowers/removes any toxins in the tank & is not any more difficult than a lesser amount, IMO. As for his eye, I don't think he has popeye, but I've never had a fish that's had it.
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Old 01-13-2013, 11:52 AM   #10 
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Thanks for your advice. He really is doing much better. I suppose I'll just have to give him some time. He's able to swim much more to the bottom now, and his fin rot is much diminished. There are some some stubborn spots that won't go away, a couple that are kind of close to his body- I'm keeping an eye in those and have ordered some Kanaplex to have on standby if absolutely necessary. I went out and got him some Omega One pellets so he could have quality food.

Good luck with with your new guy! I was at Petco to get AF's food, and the state of the bettas there just broke my heart. I wanted to take them all home!
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