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Old 03-13-2013, 04:47 PM   #1 
occipital
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Exclamation Occipital is really sick!! I don't know what he has. Please help!!

Hi everyone, my betta (Occipital) is really sick ! He's getting on in age, so when I noticed his lethargy a week ago, I thought it was just because he was getting old. Since then, his bottom fin has started to decay and his condition is worsening.



I don't know what's wrong with him, and I'm worried I'm not treating him properly. Please help!! I've included some information here:

Housing
What size is your tank? Currently 1 gallon, moved from a 1.8 gallon tank.
What temperature is your tank? 78 - 80
Does your tank have a filter? Yes, and it's cycled.
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

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Aqueon Betta food pellets
How often do you feed your betta fish? Twice a day (8 pellets total)

Maintenance
How often do you perform a water change? Every other day while sick; usually, every 2 weeks.
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 50-100%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Tetra Aqua Conditioner Plus, Tetra SafeStart if it's a 100% change

Water Parameters:

Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 7.4
Hardness: 150ppm
Alkalinity:

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? Photo attached; holes appearing at the base of the fins, lightened color. He usually has the dark spots on his fins, so those aren't new. I noticed some slight white cottony strings floating around the aquarium today as well.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? At first, he either was darting around spastically or was lethargic. Now, he's just lethargic, either sitting on the bottom of the tank, floating at the top of the tank, or inside his Betta Log. When he floats, he seems to list off to one side. His appetite has not changed.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? His behavior changed a week ago, but the holes only appeared three nights ago. The holes were very small at first, but the next morning when I looked at him, they had progressed dramatically. Since then, they have not gotten better or worse.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? Aquarium salt (3 days), Triple sulfa (2 days so far)
Does your fish have any history of being ill? No
How old is your fish (approximately)? I've had him for 3 years, and he was fairly large when he came from the pet store - so maybe 3.5 to 4 years old?

Please, any help would be greatly appreciated!!
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Old 03-13-2013, 10:05 PM   #2 
callistra
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I don't know what you're using to test your water parameters but you can't cycle a 1 gallon bowl. There's just no way there is enough surface area to breed a proper biofilter, and any filter you try to place in it will only stress him because there's not enough space to get out of the current.

He is suffering ammonia poisoning. The best thing you can do for him is clean warm water.

Also I don't understand how your water temp is this warm with no heater.. how are you heating it? what are you using to monitor the temperature? The bowl will be several degrees cooler than room temp..

You're also way over feeding. I'd cut down to at least half that and also add a fast day a week.

He's really very old, especially when you take into consideration the size of container and water change schedule he's been in..

Here's some general info on keeping betta's healthy long term..

Bettas need to be kept in 2 gallons minimum. In these twice weekly water changes of 50% and 100% are needed. Bettas kept in 1 gallon containers live an average of about 2 years compared to double that+ in larger containers. The 1 gallon would need 3 weekly water changes of 50%, 50% and 100%, and even then they will be subjected to ammonia.

Most people will tell you that you can't ever fully cycle a tank under 5g, despite your filter, and you will always need these changes.. you can try, but careful daily monitoring and reliable test kits should be used. This is for tanks 2.5G+. Anything less and there’s no point in even trying. You need to be testing daily with a reliable drops kit for ammonia and nitrite and doing an extra 50% change any time you see either. In addition to this a weekly 50% with siphon or new fresh turkey baster that has never seen chems is needed to remove poop and other debris from the gravel. It is not enough to just scoop water off the top ever. I actually suggest a turkey baster or very small siphon because your tank is so small an average siphon will remove water too quickly.

First you will see ammonia, then nitrite. Eventually, hopefully, you will see ammonia fall and stay at 0 even after a week of no water changes, and finally nitrite. At this point you will be left with only nitrates after a full week of no changes and these can be kept <20ppm by twice weekly 50% change with baster/siphon. However, cycling will take up to two months to complete and many if not most people will tell you that you can't cycle a tank of this size and you will always need twice weekly 50% and 100% water changes or you will always see ammonia continuing to build and the cycle will never finish..

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.

Flakes aren't good nutritional value, and especially with something this small they muck up the water quickly causing excess ammonia. 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.
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Old 03-13-2013, 10:13 PM   #3 
aemaki09
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I dont really know how to help, other than callistra is like a fish treatment specialist!!

But I did want to ask, how did you come up with that name??
it was the most used referance point for me, as a hairdresser, in school, I dont hear of people other than cosmetologists using that often!
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Old 03-13-2013, 10:35 PM   #4 
occipital
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Quote:
Originally Posted by callistra View Post
I don't know what you're using to test your water parameters but you can't cycle a 1 gallon bowl. There's just no way there is enough surface area to breed a proper biofilter, and any filter you try to place in it will only stress him because there's not enough space to get out of the current.

He is suffering ammonia poisoning. The best thing you can do for him is clean warm water.

Also I don't understand how your water temp is this warm with no heater.. how are you heating it? what are you using to monitor the temperature? The bowl will be several degrees cooler than room temp..

You're also way over feeding. I'd cut down to at least half that and also add a fast day a week.

He's really very old, especially when you take into consideration the size of container and water change schedule he's been in..

Here's some general info on keeping betta's healthy long term..

Bettas need to be kept in 2 gallons minimum. In these twice weekly water changes of 50% and 100% are needed. Bettas kept in 1 gallon containers live an average of about 2 years compared to double that+ in larger containers. The 1 gallon would need 3 weekly water changes of 50%, 50% and 100%, and even then they will be subjected to ammonia.

Most people will tell you that you can't ever fully cycle a tank under 5g, despite your filter, and you will always need these changes.. you can try, but careful daily monitoring and reliable test kits should be used. This is for tanks 2.5G+. Anything less and there’s no point in even trying. You need to be testing daily with a reliable drops kit for ammonia and nitrite and doing an extra 50% change any time you see either. In addition to this a weekly 50% with siphon or new fresh turkey baster that has never seen chems is needed to remove poop and other debris from the gravel. It is not enough to just scoop water off the top ever. I actually suggest a turkey baster or very small siphon because your tank is so small an average siphon will remove water too quickly.

First you will see ammonia, then nitrite. Eventually, hopefully, you will see ammonia fall and stay at 0 even after a week of no water changes, and finally nitrite. At this point you will be left with only nitrates after a full week of no changes and these can be kept <20ppm by twice weekly 50% change with baster/siphon. However, cycling will take up to two months to complete and many if not most people will tell you that you can't cycle a tank of this size and you will always need twice weekly 50% and 100% water changes or you will always see ammonia continuing to build and the cycle will never finish..

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.

Flakes aren't good nutritional value, and especially with something this small they muck up the water quickly causing excess ammonia. 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.
Hi Callistra,

Thanks so much for your response. I appreciate your help and expertise when it comes to bettas. To answer your points:

1) I've been using API test strips a few times a week. Everything (including ammonia levels) has been fine except for carbonate water hardness, which has been a bit on the high side (~160 ppm), and general water hardness (~120 ppm).

2) I live in a dorm where the central heating is consistently set at 80-85. Occipital's tank cover also has an incandescent light that gets pretty warm. I look at the tank thermometer a few times a day to gauge the temperature.

3) The 5 gallon tank I ordered just came in today. When would you suggest moving Occipital over? I was thinking of waiting until after the triple sulfa course is done, but if you suggest I do it sooner, I'll probably do that.

Anyway, I completely trust your assessment of the ammonia burn, but it's just difficult to reconcile that with all the normal ammonia tests! What do you think?
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Old 03-13-2013, 11:08 PM   #5 
valen1014
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Check the expiration date of the strips. Mine expired just this January and already doesnt match the results from the test kit at my local pet store =\ also test strips aren't as accurate as the liquid tests so that might be another reason or if you take the measurements right after the water change and not before. I really think, if I understand correctly, that feeding 8 pellets daily and only doing water changes every two weeks in 1.8 gallon, your ammonia has got to be really high =[

As a pre-med student, I am also curious about the name!
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Old 03-14-2013, 04:25 PM   #6 
Blue Fish
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Okay, I'm with everyone else, and I'm in hospital radiology so I do bones all day, every day...how did you name your fish? :)

Now, back to the important stuff, I think Callistra pretty much has you covered on advice, but I'll definitely put my hopes in that he'll be feeling better ASAP!! :)
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Old 03-14-2013, 04:37 PM   #7 
MattsBettas
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You are changing the water WAY less then you should. It is impossible to cycle a one gallon bowl. Take the filter out and do two 50% changes and one 100% change a week. Testing strips are unreliable. There is no way that you could have perfect parameters in a one gallon without a water change for two weeks. Aqueon betta pellets are not good food. Switch to NLS or omega one. Your biggest issue here is water quality, change that and you will see improvement.
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Old 03-14-2013, 10:10 PM   #8 
occipital
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Hey everyone,

Thanks for all your replies! The 5 gallon take has now arrived, and I'll be changing him in a couple days after I finish this triple sulfa regimen. Just changed his water today.

Sadly, his fins haven't healed. :(
I'm beginning to think there must have been some trauma for the separations to have developed in the first place. Any thoughts?

About the testing strips, what would you recommend instead?

His name comes from my boyfriend's fraternity, known as Skulls at our campus, which gave him Occipital to take care of for the semester he was pledging. We've kept him for the 3 years since! =)

Funny that there are so many other medical people into betta care. My boyfriend and I are hoping to go into medicine too.
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Old 03-14-2013, 10:15 PM   #9 
MattsBettas
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Drop tests. Really, just start changing his water. He won't heal I'd dirty water.
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Old 03-14-2013, 10:23 PM   #10 
aemaki09
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Give his fins some time, they'll heal :)
I've had one boy for 2 months, kept him in pristine conditions, but this tear in his fins took till a couple weeks ago to heal.

What an interesting story!
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