My male crowntail betta has had a large belly for quite a while now. It doesn't seem to be affecting him too much, he still swims easily, eats regularly (I'm not overfeeding him either) and his scales aren't raised, so I don't think it's Dropsy, but I just thought I'd share a photo and ask the people here if they think it looks like a normal betta belly. The scales on his tummy look slightly more stretched than his other scales, so it's got me worried. I have another male veil tail betta and he doesn't have a belly bulge at all, and they both get fed the same amount.
For now stop feeding him. Fast him 3 days to a week until the bulge is gone and he produces a lot of poop. I would also add 1 tsp per gallon epsom salt - 100% pure magnesium sulfate with no additives, dyes or perfumes of any kind. I get mine from CVS Pharmacy. You need to predissolve it in separate cup with some bowl water and add slowly over an hour to avoid shock. You only need to replace it with a water change, then only add back as much as water you replace.
What size is your tank? 2 gallons
What temperature is your tank? N/A but the water is cool to the touch
Does your tank have a filter? No
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Is your tank heated? No
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? None
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Top Fin: Color Enhancing Betta Bits
How often do you feed your betta fish? Morning and night (4 pellets each time)
How often do you perform a water change? Every 2 weeks
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 100%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Aquasafe
Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? Very big belly
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? No changes apparent
When did you start noticing the symptoms? A couple months ago, I figured it was normal until I read about Dropsy, then I became worried.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? I'm going to try fasting him for a few days to see if the swelling goes down.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? No
How old is your fish (approximately)? About a year old.
100% water changes can sometimes have this kind of effect on betta fish. Some fish are easily stressed by water changes, even if you control parameters like temperature, heavy metal neutralization, and eradication of harmful elements. If you don't have a heater or thermometer, it may be hard for you to tell whether the water that you took him out of is the same temperature, nutrient level, and softness as the one you are putting him into. Even if it is, he may get stressed anyways. You can tell if your fish are stressed if they have pale faces, skittish behaviour, or 'stress lines' (A colour variation resulting in dark patches on the body that look like horizontal lines).
The reason I'm writing all of this is because I think you may want to invest in a waste remover (Looks like a turkey baster). Waste removers allow you to remove waste and perform water changes without having to remove the fish, and without doing 100% water changes (Although those will probably still be necessary once in a while). Where I live, they are extremely cheap and you can find them in any pet store that sells tropical fish.
My brother's jumbo betta did not show signs of stress because his colouring was very vivid, but 100% water changes caused him to get constipated. It became a permanent problem as well.
The salt is a very good idea. Getting a heater and / or thermometer is also a very good idea. Although it can be said that heaters for smaller tanks like yours are usually unreliable and require a lot of supervision, it is not impossible. But all of this is a big change for you and your fish, and if he has been happy so far, then you are probably okay. Sometimes it is better if they LOOK sick but not ACT like it, rather than when they ACT sick, but they don't LOOK like it. As long as the energy is there, he is probably fighting off his illness.
You know your fish and your environment more than anyone, so your own judgement is best.
Kanra's suggestion to reduce water changes is a bad one. Sorry. Full water changes are not hard on fish if done properly. I've been doing them weekly for years. The problem with these changes is when they are not done right.
Your problem is actually that your betta is freezing cold and needs MORE water changes. Also, you're overfeeding a poor quality pellet, and that combined with the water issues is causing his bloat.
In this size container twice weekly water changes of 50% and 100% are needed.
The 50% changes the betta can be kept in the bowl and use a turkey baster to remove half the water and as much of the debris as possible. For the 100% you need to remove him - scoop him out with a plastic solo type cup and set aside while you thoroughly rinse the bowl and gravel to remove the debris. Then he should be acclimated to the new water by floating for an hour while you slowly add a couple tablespoons of new water to the cup every 10 minutes. When you release him, try to let as little of the old cup water back into the tank as possible. All water changes should use same temp water, matched to running tap using the in tank thermometer and the water needs to be premixed with conditioner before adding it to the betta tank. If you don't already have anything, you can use gallon water jugs from the grocery store - rinsed thoroughly in hot water but no chems.
Bettas are tropical fish and must be kept at a temp between 76-82, with 78-80 being ideal. The temp must be stable and not be dipping or jumping around. In a 2 gallon you can get an adjustable 25w heater. Any new heater should be tested for 24 hours in similar size container with in tank thermometer to make sure it will hold a constant appropriate temp between 78-80F. Then the betta must be acclimated to higher temp either by floating in a cup inside the main already fully heated tank for an hour, or by adjusting the heater to increase the temperature of the tank no more than a degree per hour and 5 degrees per day. Low water temperature causes his immune system to slow down, making him more likely get a disease. It also slows down his digestive tract making constipation issues almost certain.
You should look for a good quality pellets whose first two or three ingredients are whole fish, not fish meal or wheat. He should be fed two small meals a day (how many depends on the pellet you pick up) and one fast day a week. The ones you are feeding now are low quality that tend to cause constipation on their own, and you are also feeding too many
*Increase water changes
*Get him heated up
*Get him better food and change feeding habits
* Right now fast him the next 3 days to a week until he poops a lot and that bloat goes down. Monitor the poop and if it's white, clear or segmented he may need actual meds because that means it has progressed into an infection. To help him poop you can also get Epsom salt - 100% magnesium sulfate with no additives. I get mine from CVS Pharmacy. Predissolve it in separate cup at 1 tsp per gallon and add it slowly over an hour to avoid shock. You only need to add more salt along with a water change,a nd you only need to add back as much as water you replace. Leave him on the salts a minimum of 1 week, up to 2 along with the fasting if he is still bloated.
Sorry if it came across that way, I was suggesting to lessen the impact on the fish by using a waste remover instead and progress from bi-weekly water changes to weekly changes with daily waste removal (To monitor for unhealthy looking poops). The reason I didn't include the rest of this information is because you actually NEED the waste remover for it, so I was going to wait and see if doodlepoot decided to get one. I didn't want to pressure doodlepoot into getting it by giving him a schedule already.
Anyways, water changes are always good and usually and a one-step fix for most betta conditions. However, most, if not ALL betta fish get stressed out by the 100% water change because of the removal process. You can tell how it affects your fish by looking for signs of stress. Jumbo bettas and females are less likely to be stressed by water changes, for instance. This information I got from my vet. If he does get stressed, it does not mean you are doing it wrong, and it does not mean you should stop doing it. The only thing you can do is lessen the impact by adopting a water change process that does not involve fish removal, and that is where a waste remover comes in. Fish are more susceptible to constipation, and pretty much any other illness, from stress rather than cold water. Even though cold water does depress the immune system, it would also have slowed the bloating, whether it's caused by constipation, infection, or parasites. Considering that we don't actually KNOW the temperature of your water and we can only ASSUME that it is too cold, this is why I went with a water change suggestion, although I did suggest a thermometer and heater.
Thanks everyone! The pet store was not very thorough in their betta care, they barely mentioned any of this. I never would have even known that my betta was sick if I hadn't found this forum the other day. I feel horrible that my poor betta has been suffering because I wasn't properly informed. I'm currently fasting him, and plan on picking up some epsom salts today after work, or early tomorrow. Would aquarium salt work as well? As for the heater, waste remover, food, and thermometer, I will most likely be getting that tomorrow as well. Hopefully that will solve his problem!
I don't really know the difference between epsom salts and aquarium salts, I have only ever used aquarium. Callistra will probably be able to help you with that!
If you can, you may want to read / buy a betta pet owner's manual. I have one, and it is great to have in case something like this happens. While forums are also helpful, most books are written by actual doctors and are great resources for overall understanding your betta more. Not only that, they have listings of official websites and further reading that you can add to your list of resources. You can usually pick one up at a pet store, but barring that, you can try a book store or library.
Because of the enormous amount of experience forums have to offer, posting about sudden illnesses like you did will make greater use of what we have to offer you. A pet owner's manual is more preventative, and will help you understand how to increase your fish's quality of living.
Also, you may want to see if your local pet store has a breeder on site. The original pet store that I got my fish from was run by two breeders, but they did not offer much information (Language barrier). I went to another one when my brother's fish had dropsy and asked if they specifically had a breeder on site, which they did. Not only did he give me excellent advice, he sent me home with a bag of specially formulated water to make my brother's fish better (At no extra cost). He did this because he feels for the fish, and myself as an owner.
If your local pet shop also has a breeder on site, you could ask him or her to help you out when purchasing items for your fish from the store, or when you have a problem like not knowing which salt to purchase.