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Old 03-11-2013, 08:23 PM   #1 
Perlumia
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Location: Cherry Hill, NJ, USA
Could a pH spike have caused my betta's symptoms?

Here are the specs:

Housing
What size is your tank? 10 gallons
What temperature is your tank? 78 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
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? 1 Mystery snail, probably some pond snails, lots of live plants

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Pellets, brine shrimp, blood worms, daphnia
How often do you feed your betta fish? 1-2 times a day (just a few bites)

Maintenance
How often do you perform a water change? Every 1-2 weeks
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 25%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? To remove chlorine & chloramine

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

Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: usually 7.4
Hardness: 4.2-8.4 dGH
Alkalinity:6.7-10 dKH

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?
First his scales appeared paler in a patch on his side. Now the lack of pigmentation has appeared under his chin and chest and there is a little clear something growing on his mouth. Overall he appears dusky colored and there MAY be fine gold flecks scattered on his scales.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed?
He is mostly laying on the bottom of the tank. But he swims up to eat. I have not seen him scrape against anything. He is just lethargic.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? ?
5 days ago perhaps the paler patch appeared; I thought he might have scraped himself. His behavior was normal. Has looked much worse today than yesterday.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how?
I did 25% water changes yesterday and today. I raised the temperature in the tank to 80 degrees F. I tested the water again and realized the pH had risen to ≥ 8.8 (the top of the scale in the API test kit). This prompted the second water change. The pH has returned to 7.6 and has not risen. I believe I have removed what was causing the spike.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? No.
How old is your fish (approximately)? We have had him since Nov. 2012.

My betta has gotten progressively worse in the last three days. Recent changes to the tank include the addition of more live plants and the replacement of the gravel with playground sand (this did not cause the pH spike; my other sand tank has had constant pH). What may have been the cause of the spike was the remnant of the wool stuff that was packed on the roots of the water sprite I put in there. I read somewhere you could leave it on. I have now removed it.

Can anyone tell me what my betta has? Is it velvet? If so, can I remove him to a small hospital tank to treat him with salt and protect the plants? He is the only fish in the tank. How long would I have to keep him out of the tank before whatever caused the illness dies from a lack of host (or is that just ich)? I read through my books last night with no clearer idea of what is actually wrong. I tried to take a picture but he would not "swim" still. Please help!
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Old 03-11-2013, 08:37 PM   #2 
callistra
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You may need to increase your water changes just to keep your tank's ph stable.. I found that out with my tank recently.. especially since you have soft water at 7.4.. my same issue as well. Is there anything in the tank that could have boosted up the ph? Some gravel and rocks do.. shells..

The ph spike could have shot his immune system and stress factor off so that it caused him to get sick. The dusted in gold is Velvet, and it is a stress disease. The other sounds like columnaris, which also is. Columnaris in particular thrives in temps 80F+ so don't turn the tank up..

At this point he needs to be removed to a hospital tank for treatment.. something a minimum of 1 gallon that can be kept heated. For columnaris I like Kanaplex, but if you can't find it Triple Sulfa or marayn and maracyn 2 in combo might work. Treat for 2 weeks


Can you share photos so we can comment on the Velvet? Velvet is usually pretty obvious.. your fish will flash against objects trying to scratch himself for one thing.. doesn't really sound like it.
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Old 03-11-2013, 09:04 PM   #3 
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Thanks for your quick reply, Callistra!
I have attached two pictures of him now, the best I could do. The flash went off on one but it does show up his pale patches. The December picture is of him when he was his fancy self.
The sand could not have caused the spike (I have the same sand in my QT tank with no change in pH); I'm guessing it was the wooly stuff wrapped around the roots of the water sprite I put in there. My best guess anyway. I've never had a pH shift before despite my soft water.
He isn't scratching. I can put him in a 2 gallon tomorrow and run an airstone and a heater in it. Would columnaris remain in my 10 gallon? I know nothing about it, obviously.
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Old 03-11-2013, 09:21 PM   #4 
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Have those red stripes on his gills always been there? that's a sign of ammonia burns.. what testing kit do you use?

I get the idea from the photos.. he does not look good poor guy :(

Well if you do increased changes that may be enough. You might want to do several little ones a week so that your plants don't get shocked or anything. Hopefully that will be enough to keep it stable.

I don't see Velvet.

Generally columnaris is considered to be like the staph of the aquarium world.. it's everywhere but it doesn't really cause a problem unless you have a compromised immune system, like stress from ph spikes. I wouldn't really worry about introducing him back to the tank as long as everything there is stable
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Old 03-12-2013, 08:09 PM   #5 
Perlumia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by callistra View Post
Have those red stripes on his gills always been there? that's a sign of ammonia burns.. what testing kit do you use?
I would say the only color changes I see are the browny-pale-dusky patches. I think today there is more fuzzy looking stuff on his side, but he has been mostly hiding. When he did come up for air, he refused eat.

I use the API Master freshwater kit and I have not had any ammonia spikes; this is a very established tank although I do realize that by removing the gravel I removed some of the biofilter. However, he is the only fish in there and it is quite full of plants...so no ammonia that I've detected.

I will have to research columnaris and find out how to treat it. Do fish recover?
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Old 03-12-2013, 08:11 PM   #6 
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Columnaris is one of the harder diseases to treat, but it can be treated. You need to move quick because columnaris can move very quickly. In post #2 I talked about how to treat it.
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