Hi All.. Thanks for all the info and tips..
@OFL - The white spots on his head are recent and not raised, their boundaries are defined by his actual scales (no smooth transitions across multiple scales). Unfortunately my LFS did not have kH/Gh kit, so I'll have to order that online. I'll post the results when I get them.
He seems to be improving marginally.. He is still very lethargic, but he is more horizontal as he rests (looks natural). I've also seen him hovering a few inches below. I still have moments where he's just listing, and frozen.. and then I open the top of the tank and he starts moving.
I have also varied up his diet a bit.. I got the best fish food I could find (has fish meal, and fish concentrate are the first and third ingredient), as well as some frozen bloodworms to vary things up. Hopefully the varied nutrient base should stimulate some response. Can not find mosquito larvae unfortunately.
Still darkening up the tank with IAL!
@BettaLover2000 - He loves the frozen bloodworms.. thanks for the tip.. I was always hesitant to get them as I saw warnings about bacterial contamination w/ them.. I'm assuming you rec'd frozen as that destroys the bacteria.
@SilverRealm (from previous misplaced thread). I do not use any pH adjusters in my water. I only add StressCoat and recently 3tsp/gl of epsom salts per OFL's recommendation. To answer your question.. My tank is fully filtered and cycled. I was religious about setting up a fishless cycle before introducing him into it a year or so ago. The large amount of water changes recently was to introduce AQ salt (only during 4 1tsp/gallon 20% changeouts) and more recently Epsom Salts.
A few folks had asked to see the results of my API tests.. ph-6, and all 0 ppm for the big 3.
I haven't fed him peas in over 3 weeks. I've heard people who swear by peas, and people who say no good. about 6 months ago when buster was having buoyancy issues.. I fed him a pea, and he was fine the next day. Maybe it was something else.. I just don't know..
@Callistra - The temp swings are due to the location of my apt. I live right above the boiler room. In peak heating demand, my apt can reach 85 degrees. I don't have control over it.. but if I'm home I simply open up the window a bit and it cools down. I watch the tank thermometer, and it peaks at most around 83-84.. but only for a few hours and then will drop to its minimum of around 79-80. Maybe I'm being foolish, but my assumption is that ambient temps swing much greater (and higher) in the tropics so the occasional bump to an 85 degree air temp with a few degrees climbing in the tank would not be out of the norm to expose the species to. Today since I'm home, I've seen it stay locked to 80 the entire day. Should I set the thermometer lower so my swinging range is between 77-81ish? I think that's doable.. but I always thought 80+ was better for the fish. Please comment on this.
As for the water changes.. I heard its good to let water "breathe" a bit. I was also looking to get the water to naturally drop its ph a bit since its not straight from the tap. The temp is not a problem because my ambient temp is nearly the exact same as the tank temp at any given time within one or 2 degrees. I test this with an infrared thermometer as well.
I do have live plants (2 anubias, a moss ball, and java fern) I also have a small piece of driftwood (sold for AQ usage) that I boiled about 10x before introducing it in the tank. This tank set up is almost a year old and unchanged.
I took your rec and went out and got the best food I could find at my LFS.. but it's still not as "non meal-ly" as I'd like ingredient wise. Is there a brand that you rec? I'm now rotating between Hikari, Nutrafin Max, dried bloodworms, frozen bloodworms. No peas.
I've only added 4tsp of AQ salt with 4 20% water changes over 5 days.
@ I was wondering if I should pull the driftwood too.. but many folks said keep it in there to keep the bacterial colony going strong. I guess since its been in there so long w/o issue.. it shouldn't be a problem.. but if the community thinks strongly about this.. please let me know.
I would really like to thank this community for contributing. Thanks so much for all your responses.