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Old 01-21-2013, 05:07 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Sick Betta - No Improvement - Suspected Swim Bladder Disorder, Popeye & Gill Disease

I have a female betta, Karmady. Last Sunday we noticed she wasn't acting like herself and her appetite had subsided. We immediately did a 100% change of her water. Her tank is 2.5 gallons, Fluval Spec with 3-stage filtration (fiter, active carbon, and biomax).

We normally do a 100% water change every 3-4 weeks because we were having problems with algae. Even with using API Algaefix, we were never able to get it 100% under control. Karmady showed signs of swim bladder disorder - she was swimming towards one side, had trouble swimming straight, and one side of her abdomen appeared to be larger than the other. We started to fast her and quite frankly she had no interest in eating. From there, we noticed her eyes started to cloud and bulge slightly. Here's what we did each subsequent day.

Sun, 1/13:
noticed loss of appetite, monitored her for any other changes

Mon, 1/14:
thoroughly cleaned aquarium, added 1/4 tsp of stress zyme, researched betta diseases; added a heater (weather here was cold, so we wanted to keep her at a consistent 78 - 80)

Tue, 1/15:
suspected pop eye and swim bladder disorder, started 1/4 tsp of API Melafix for suspected bacterial infection; begin 7 day treatment

Wed, 1/16: 1/4 tsp of Melafix

Thu, 1/17: 1/4 tsp of Melafix

Fri, 1/18: 1/4 tsp of Melafix

Sat, 1/19:
1/4 tsp of Melafix; tried a 30 min salt bath using epson salt and placed her in a hospital tank with a small amount of water (1/2 tbsp of epson salt dissolved in 1 gallon of water; hospital tank was ~2.5 cups of water)

Sun, 1/20:
tested old water, no ammonia, nitrates, or nitrites present, slightly elevated pH (between 7-8), we condition the water but have very low chlorine in our tap. did 100% water change, decided her condition wasn't improving and started to notice one gill wasn't closing all the way. Began antibiotic treatment with 1/8 tsp of API T.C. Tetracycline

Mon, 1/21:
1/4 tsp of Melafix + 1/8 tsp of tetracycline

I have a video available of her if helpful. Please message me and I'll email it to you. Please note the gill on her right side is not closing all the way, her mouth is constantly opened with labored breathing, and her left gill will occasionally release an air bubble. I'm not sure if any of this is helpful, but wanted to provide all details possible. We've tried introducing food every day since Wednesday, but she has absolutely no interest in food. She only ever ate flakes, despite our attempts to give her frozen blood worms (thawed out), pellets, freeze dried blood worms.

We don't want to see her suffer and are trying to get her better as fast as possible. I've throughly read through your diseases & illnesses page and with her having so many symptoms, I don't know if I'm missing something. Should we be treating for fungal infection instead? What I original thought was swim bladder disorder or constipation has grown into popeye, and now what I think is gill disease.

Any info you can provide will be most appreciated. Thank you for your time!
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:42 PM   #2 
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Melafix needs to be discontinued. It contains an ingredient that can coat their labyrinth lung and cause them to suffocate. It won't help this anyway.

Tetracycline is also not helping and will cause a lot of stress. I would remove that a well by full water change.

There is absolutely no possible way you have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and 0 nitrates after only changing water once every month, so if this is really what you got your kit is not working or you're not testing properly. What kit are you using? What's the expiration date on it? Most people will tell you can’t cycle anything less than 5g, and it will always require weekly 50% and 100% water change. You can always try but you will always need at least two weekly 50% changes with gravel siphon or stir/dip method gravel cleaning, and before it’s cycled it will require even more than that. If you have a very heavily live planted tank there will be some exceptions to this, but you still need weekly water changes.

Your filter should be maintained by replacing carbon every month and the other two can simply be rinsed in in the old tank water during a water change. They’ll only need to be replaced every 6 months to a year. You should only ever change one filter media per month, so never change them both or all three in the same month.

The initial problem was probably a very high buildup of ammonia, and possibly nitrites as well due to poor water cleaning habits. At this point.. sounds like your fish has multiple disease processes.

Your small 2.5 cup qt is going to be building up ammonia extremely quickly and will be really hard to keep clean. It will need 100% water changes twice daily and even then you’re going to be seeing ammonia, based on my tests. I really suggest not using anything less than 1g for QT for this reason. It also needs to be something you can keep warm either by floating in the other tank or by using a separate heater.

I would do daily 100% water changes in the qt (or twice daily if it’s that 2 cup container) using same temperature water (use tank thermometer to match the running tap to the tank), then refill, dose conditioner and predissolved meds and acclimate by floating in a cup for an hour along with adding a couple tablespoons of new water every 10minutes. Finally release and let as little as the old cup water in as possible.

I would try really hard to find Kanaplex by Seachem. If you can’t find it, Maracyn Plus, or Furan 2 has potential to help You will need to dilute the meds (don’t cut them in dry form) for the size of the QT.

In addition to meds I would look for Epsom salts – pure 100% magnesium sulfate with no other dyes, perfumes or additives per the ingredients label. It need to be predissolved at a rate of 1 tsp per gallon and introduced to the fish slowly to avoid shock.

I would keep doing this 100% water changes along with epsoms and meds for 2 weeks.
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gill disease, melafix, popeye, swim bladder disorder, tetracycline

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