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Old 02-28-2013, 07:28 AM   #1 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: New York City
Old Age, Sickness, or Expiring?

Hi All,

First off this site has done wonders for my knowledge base and raising my little guy Buster.. he'd be dead if it wasn't for you guys..

Anyway a little over a month ago he started getting progressively lethargic (to an extreme) and limiting his movements to only when feeding. Really almost no swimming. He resides entirely at the waterline, in a near vertical position resting his face in the corner of the tank.

Considering he's probably about 2.. is this just old age? is he sick (and needs help?) or is he just on his way out? This kind of lethargy just seems strange, but he still eats.. I defer to the betta geniuses on the forum. I was concerned with his pH.. but a constant ph of 6 doesn't seem to be much of an issue as long as it doesn't modulate.

please any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


What size is your tank? - 5 gallon
What temperature is your tank? 80-82 sometimes peaks at 84
Does your tank have a filter? yes
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? yes a small airstone
Is your tank heated? yes adjustable heater as well as an external thermometer and a in-water thermometer inside the tank
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? none

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? I feed him 4 pellets Hikari Betta bio-gold every morning except once a week. I feed him peas when he's having buoyancy issues
How often do you feed your betta fish?

How often do you perform a water change? Approx once a week - 20%
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? approx 1/4 of the water
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? I add stress coat to a gallon jug and let it sit overnight, pour in 24 hours later. Check temp the difference in temp before pouring in is never more that +- 2 degrees.

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

Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 6
Hardness: -
Alkalinity: -

Tank is planted (a couple of nubias and a moss ball) and has had a small piece of driftwood in it since its inception. My water has a ph of 8 out of the tap. I can only guess the driftwood and plants are crashing the pH. I am averse to removing the driftwood/plants as I've heard that Bettas can get used to low PH's and a rapidly changing PH can hurt them. I added a crushed oak almond leaf about 3 weeks ago (about 3 weeks into his descent of lethargy .

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? He has clamped fins. Color is muted. Face is pale.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? Stays in corner of the tank at water surface. Extremely lethargic. Lays face into tank corner and rests almost vertically. Almost no movement unless I take the top of the tank then he starts swimming. He does not go to the bottom almost ever. He doesn't see the food easily.. Would track my finger constantly.. can't do it much anymore. Will always eat. He does not seem stressed or gasping.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? I
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? I have been adding AQ salt with each water change, which I've done more water changes than usual to slowly raise the PH just a bit. It has still not risen above despite a gallon of fresh ph 8 water going in every other day for a week. I have done 5 25% water changes in the past 2 weeks.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? Not in this tank he has.. He's been fine for almost 9 months..
How old is your fish (approximately)? I have had him for a year.. but he's about 2+ years old.
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Old 02-28-2013, 05:21 PM   #2 
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Clamped fins? that sounds like Velvet.
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Old 02-28-2013, 09:54 PM   #3 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: New York City

thanks for replying.. I've never experienced velvet with a fish.. I just read up on it..

lethargic and clamped fins
- 100%
scratching body against objects - don't see, he just plants face in corner of glass and just sits there FOR HOURS without moving.
look test w/ flashlight - maybe, or maybe not.. there are a few gold patches.. but no specific dots like I've seen in some of the example pics.

I've attached an image.. I would appreciate any feedback for a diagnosis.. or if its recommended to treat (with a copper med) without 100% certainty. please let me know..

another symptom.. he has a really hard time turning around seems like he's not balanced..

thanks so much..
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Old 03-01-2013, 01:19 PM   #4 
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Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: maryland
My fish had similar symptoms when a divided tank heater failed but they stayed at the bottom and I didn't realize for a week so one for an infection from the immune system deficiency that came with the cold water. Check your heater. Also my fish expired by just lethargy and being pushed by the filter and eating relatively normally but losing weight and eventually doing and surprisingly it looked like malnutrition :/
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Old 03-01-2013, 02:15 PM   #5 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: New York City
thanks for replying Pog..

I'm 100% sure that his heat does not get below 80 degrees.. it fluctuates from about 81 to 84 during the day based on the ambient temp in my (hot) home. I can verify with a calibrated infrared thermometer.

in regards to the velvet.. its hard to see much from a photo as the sparkles could be his natural iridescence.

I've attached a video of a flashlight moving around Buster while he is still:

does this help anyone with a diagnosis?

all notice the labored tumble he does.. not good.

I will say this.. if I take the top off the tank and get some food in there he swims relatively normally to it and gobbles it up. Then he just returns to this position..

any ideas? is it velvet?

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Old 03-01-2013, 03:43 PM   #6 
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I've read that aquarium salt can damage their liver/kidneys over time and also that their digestive tracts are not able to properly digest vegetable matter which causes the laxative effect but can result in permanent damage of the digestive tract. 84 peak sounds high unless you are trying to treat for disease, I would recommend slowly lowering temp to 78 so peak would be 80 or 82.
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Old 03-01-2013, 04:29 PM   #7 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: New York City
thanks Kyasarin,

I've only used AQ salt in the past 7-8 water changes.. His symptoms were happening long before its usage. I only feed him a pea when he stays on the top and I'm assuming its constipation. Its not a regular diet thing.

I have IAL.. should I be using? I didn't want to crash the PH any further though?

Any experts view the video?

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Old 03-01-2013, 06:07 PM   #8 
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I have seen that most people recommend only using aquarium salt specifically for disease treatment in bettas for no more than 10 days. PM OldFishLady she is the expert on this forum. She often recommends Indian Almond Leaves for treatment.
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Old 03-01-2013, 09:31 PM   #9 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: New York City
thanks Kyasarin,

I took your advice and contacted her.. fingers crossed for some pearls of wisdom.

I'd like to also give a few updates.. I did treat his tank for Velvet just now.. so we'll see how this goes.

Here is video showing how he looks from the top.. the spots showed up in the past few days.

Here is another video showing how labored he is eating. He still has a full appetite but this is the first time I've seen him have trouble when striking for food.

He seems to have some serious buoyancy issues forcing him to the surface in that semi-vertical angle.

How bad is he?
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Old 03-02-2013, 12:49 AM   #10 
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Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Florida
With aquarium salt, 10 days is max. Color loss is normal I think for an old Betta.

However, the buoyancy issues is SBD. This is usually caused by over feeding but I noticed it when my male Betta got internal parasites. What does his poo look like? Internal parasites, like many other illnesses, can cause color loss and lethargy. It's best treated by soaking pellets in metro or general cure. I also don't recommend peas for bloating. Frozen daphnia could help, though, along with just fasting him.

Aquarium salt can cause damage if used for too long, and Epsom salt can help with chronic bloating and can be used indefinitely. If by chance he's beginning to have internal organ damage, Epsom salt will also help.

Edit: he does not have velvet. Clamped fins can result from many things. I'm sure he does not have velvet. And in the videos, my Betta with internal parasites had the same troubles eating and my Betta with chronic SBD/bloat floats like that often.

And also, OldFishLady only uses natural treatments, so if you'd like to go that way, ask her, but if you want to use meds or at least have more info, I would ask Sakura8 or Callistra if you have further questions.

Last edited by AyalaCookiejar; 03-02-2013 at 12:55 AM.
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