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Old 02-17-2013, 10:26 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Do I have velvet? Something else?

Hi all. I am a new betta mom and new to fish keeping in general. I got Cormac McCarthy, betta fish and bestselling author, at a white elephant gift exchange this past Christmas. I've never thought of myself as a hypochondriac but I am just terrified that Cormac has velvet or something else I'm not catching. He has some spots around his face that reflect gold when I shine a light on him. You can kind of see them in this picture, near his gills:

There are more and bigger on his other side, but I couldn't get a clear picture of them. (He was terrified of the camera. Pretty pathetic for a fish who wrote The Road.) He's had these for a couple months now, but I think they may be slowly growing. Does this seem like velvet or just a few shiny scales? Also, I'm concerned that his fins are curling. His pelvic fins were a little curled when I got him, but you can see now that they are practically ringlets. The ends of his other fins are also curling a bit. His tail tore about two weeks ago but after ten days of water changes he seems to be recovering. Could he have fin rot? I'm sure the tear put him more at risk for it.

Also as you can see on my hideous silk plant, I have a bit of algae developing. Will this adversely affect his health?

Thanks for any and all help.


What size is your tank? 2.5 gallons
What temperature is your tank? 80 - 83 degrees F
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, under gravel heater
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? one Zebra Nerite snail

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Top Fin Betta Bits
How often do you feed your betta fish? Two pellets in the morning, fast on Saturdays (he has trouble with constipation).


How often do you perform a water change? About every 5 days.
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 25% - 50%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Aquarium salt, NovAqua Plus water conditioner

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

Ammonia: ???
Nitrite: 0 or close to it
Nitrate: 0 or close to it
pH: ~7.6
Hardness: ~120
Alkalinity: ~ 160

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? He has some spots that reflect gold around his face. His fins are becoming more and more curled.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? He still has a healthy appetite and spends his time building HUGE bubble nests!
When did you start noticing the symptoms? When I first shined a light on him (~ a month and a half ago) I saw the gold spots. I can't tell if they are getting bigger or if I am imagining it. His pelvic fins have been curled since I got him, but lately his anal and caudal fins have started looking curled too.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? I always add aquarium salt during water changes. I've been trying to keep his water on the 83 end of 80 - 83 degrees F.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? He tore his caudal fin on the filter intake about two weeks ago (I've since covered the intake with some filter sponge). I did 50% water changes every day for ten days and his fin seems to be growing back nicely -- he has about .75 centimeters of clear growth.
How old is your fish (approximately)? Good question!

Edit: That picture

Last edited by caramine; 02-17-2013 at 10:33 PM. Reason: That picture was toooooo big!
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Old 02-17-2013, 10:32 PM   #2 
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Are you using a drops kit or strips to test?

In something of this size ammonia is the most important thing to monitor. Cycling takes up to 2 months but even the best of established tanks of this size need twice weekly changes of 50% using a small siphon, turkey baster or stir/dip method to remove debris from teh gravel. Many people will tell you not to even bother and always do twice weekly water changes of 50% and 100%, but you can always try. You will need to monitor carefully, including ammonia.

I personally would not keep a snail in this size, but it just means you will need to do even more water changes.

Aquarium salt cannot be used more than 10 days or it can lead to premature organ failure. It will also kill invertebrates.

The constipation trouble is the low quality pellets. You should look for a pellet whose first two or three ingredients are whole fish, not fish meal or wheat. He should be getting two small meals a day. How many depends on what you get. One fast day is good.

He does have some fin rot. Increasing water changes and adding stress coat at 1 ml per 1 gallon will hopefully reverse it, but if not he may need to be quarantined and treated with an antibiotic - at this point you have overused/abused the aq so it won't be helpful anymore.
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Old 02-17-2013, 10:54 PM   #3 
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I am using strips. They don't have an ammonia test. Are drop tests usually more accurate? I have had my water tested at my local fish shop and they said it was good. That was about when he tore his fin. I test his water every two or three days, and about a month ago there was a big spike in nitrates and nitrites, and it has since leveled off and stayed leveled off. According to my googling, that would imply that I have a cycle going, but like I said, this is my first aquarium so I could easily be wrong about that.

I do use a turkey baster when I do his water changes. I try to do water changes twice a week. I said five days because that is the max I let it go.

I did not know that about aquarium salt! Everything I read online and everyone I talked to seemed to imply that it was good to always add a little. If I do 50% water changes for the next week or so without the salt do you think that will remove enough? I don't like to do 100% water changes because they're so stressful for him. He loses nearly all his color when I scoop up into his little cup. I was using a lower quality water conditioner until recently (another Top Fin product) so I am hoping this new stuff will help his fins. I will definitely be keeping a close eye on them now that I know he has fin rot.

As for the constipation, I have ordered some higher quality food from Amazon and in the meantime have been trying to feed him a bit of a pea, but I can't figure out how to get the darn things to float and he's not brave enough to eat them off a straw/tweezers/my fingers, etc.

What about the shininess? Velvet or just shiny scales?

Last edited by caramine; 02-17-2013 at 10:58 PM.
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Old 02-17-2013, 10:59 PM   #4 
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Strips are really inaccurate. I would look for a drops kit for all three. API makes a good one, but I'm sure there are others.

Yes, your tank is in the process of cycling.

I wouldn't do the pea as a first step. If you want him to poop because he's constipated, fast him at least 3 days, but up to a week is fine if he's still pooping and looks bloated. You can also add epsom salt 100% pure magnesium sulfate with no dyes perfumes or additives. I get mine from CVS Pharmacy. Predissolve it at 1 tsp per gallon and add the mixture slowly over the course of an hour to avoid shock. Leave him in that at least a week, but a couple is fine. You only readd it with a water change like Aquarium salt, but it is safe to leave in weeks on end .
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Old 02-17-2013, 11:03 PM   #5 
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He has produced a couple HUGE poops in the past week and his belly is a good size right now so I am not too worried about the constipation.

Will a week of water changes be enough to flush out the aquarium salt or do I need to do a 100% water change?
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