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Old 03-14-2013, 08:35 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Feb 2012

My mother decided to surprise me with a betta. Unlike my last one, all his behaviors were normal throughout the week until this afternoon when I noticed he was staying at the top of his tank.

I cleaned his tank last night because I noticed there was two rather large poops at the bottom and it'd been around 3 days since he was moved in. It seemed like a good time to clean. I did the same method I'd used for another betta I'd owned a number of years. After he settled I noticed he was purposely making bubbles, but instead of nest building he was jumping at them and biting them (or watching them pop). He was still getting air normally, so I assumed he was just entertaining himself.

Skip to this afternoon, I noticed he was still playing with bubbles but I also noticed he wasn't swimming down much. He'd also occasionally 'slip' into laying sideways.

He still attempts to swim down, but just floats back up. He's also flared at his reflection, attempted to follow my pencil outside his tank, jumped at things he found interesting etc. His energy is very much there. He's just not swimming to the bottom.

He is a rather tiny betta compared to my older one, so I can believe I accidentally overfed him with 4 pellets (he hasn't pooped since the tank cleaning, and might have gone without pooping the day previous). My roommate's boyfriend was also rather rude, as he turned the temperature in the house last night to low 70s without consulting people. Normally it's high 70s low 80s. It's Florida, so usually it is rather tropical here and temperature isn't a problem. I'm not sure why he did this, but if it affected the fish I'd like to know. (certainly affected me. I woke up cold )

Right now my plan of action is simply to fast him a bit and possibly find frozen peas, assuming I gave the little guy too much and that's what's affecting his swim bladder. But if the 'bubble eating' is also a problem I'd like to know that too. I can't say I've ever had a betta purposely make bubbles then dart at them.

I assume a plant could entertain him if that's the case?

What size is your tank? 1 gallon
What temperature is your tank? usually 76
Does your tank have a filter? No
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Is your tank heated? I haven't been able to find a safe heater that can keep the tank warm without overheating in Florida.
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? None

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? betta bites
How often do you feed your betta fish? 4 pieces a day

How often do you perform a water change? So far only once
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? Prime

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


Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? No
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? I notice he's not swimming to the bottom, or that when he does it gives him difficulty.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? This afternoon (thursday)
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? I'm initiating a fast
Does your fish have any history of being ill? I'm not sure
How old is your fish (approximately)? I've had him since Sunday

Is the fast and pea treatment seriously enough? I really don't want to lose this fish. Having a companion in the apartment (that isn't my over controlling roommate or her boyfriend) helps me out tremendously and keeps my depression from creeping in. Plus I want the fish to be comfortable and happy. I know his current conditions are far from it, but I intend on saving a little here and there to 'build up' a nicer tank home once a friend can give me a drive off campus to a pet store. Ideally I'd like him to still be around for that.
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Old 03-14-2013, 09:04 PM   #2 
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Location: Alabama, USA
One of my boys has recently been sick, so I know exactly how you feel. I don't know how people deal with their sick children if it's half as stressful!

You mentioned saving for a larger tank, which is good. Most people on here recommend at least 2.5 gallons because with the 1 gallon tank, you have to make frequent water changes to keep the ammonia levels down. According to Oldfishlady's thread, your changes should be:

1-4gal without a filter or live plants
Twice weekly-1-50% water only and 1-100%

Regarding the possible constipation - is he bloated at all? Could you possibly post a pic? Mine got really bloated, so that's what I thought he had. Fasting for a few days is the first step. If that doesn't help, a lot of people recommended frozen daphnia (you can get it at Petsmart) and plain epsom salt in the tank. I started with 1tsp per gallon predissolved, but then increased it to 3tsp. My boy ran away from the pea when I tried to feed it to him, but I'd say it's worth a shot if he is constipated.

The daphnia, pea and epsom salt seem to be the basics for constipation. You might also try a high quality food, like New Life Spectrum or Omega One. They're fairly cheap and available at Petco and/or Petsmart.

I really hope he's okay!

Last edited by Melodica; 03-14-2013 at 09:11 PM.
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Old 03-14-2013, 09:32 PM   #3 
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I hope he's okay too. Certainly a feisty thing even with being confined to the tank top.

I attempted to get pictures, but it was a little difficult. I had to do it one handed and he kept darting around!

From what I can see when he's not being a little wiggle worm, there's a very slight bulge where his tummy is. So if he is constipated, I don't think he's that least yet.

...yeah these pictures might be too dark with a simple camera phone...
He's a crown tail if it wasn't obvious.
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Old 03-14-2013, 10:09 PM   #4 
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There does appear to be a slight bulge. At this point, until someone with more knowledge responds with their thoughts, I would just continue fasting him and keep him in warm, clean water.
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Old 03-14-2013, 10:30 PM   #5 
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I think your keeping habits just need changing. Here's some general info. If you follow everything he will be fine.. it's cold in Florida right now.. his tank temp will be several degrees below room temp

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.

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.

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 03-15-2013, 12:26 PM   #6 
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Well last night he managed a rather large poop which is good. He was having an easier time swimming to the bottom and seemed to be on a good track.

Then I woke up and he kept ending up on his side at the top of the tank, even worse than yesterday. I haven't fed him anything, but I notice he's still eating bubbles in addition to normal air getting.

Would that affect him at all? I really can't figure out why he's doing it as it comes across more out of boredom than anything. But I've given him a mirror, placed things around that he can jump or look at. I even plan on getting him a plant.
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Old 03-15-2013, 01:01 PM   #7 
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The mirror is a bad idea. Those that do it only do it maybe 5-10 minutes a day at most. You have to understand this basically triggers a panic attack type response in fish, flooding their adrenals. It will help them move their bowls yes, but it's also very hard on their system.

My fish eats bubbles. That wouldn't cause this.

Read above about changing water and temps..
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Old 03-15-2013, 02:10 PM   #8 
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The only problem I'm having is that it seems the only way to keep that stable temperature (other than waiting for Florida to hit it's usual 80 degree weather) is getting the bigger tank. But the bigger tank plus a heater is well over $50. I can talk a roommate into driving me out for new food and I can walk to a store for peas to help clear his system, but I just spent that $50 in college supplies last week. I'll need some time to save up so my parents don't yell at me. Or skip a week of food but that seems like an awful idea.

If I keep up the regular cleanings, limit his food to a smaller amount, change the food brand to something better, and fast him a day a week will this at least keep him from getting any worse with sbd?

Also I've been using grocery store bottled 'spring' water. You said no chemicals. Does that mean no Prime treatment? I don't trust tap after a story my mom told about it killing her goldfish. Plus I know Florida tends to stick a lot in their water you wouldn't find in other states.
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Old 03-15-2013, 02:24 PM   #9 
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The problem with the temperature swings is that you are causing him stress, and weakening his immune system.. This makes him more likely to get a disease. This is the same as when he is just too cold, even if the temp is stable. Since his tank will be several degrees below room temp, and will change along with the room temp (like if it peaks in the day or drops at night) unless you keep your house a stable and unchanging temp of 80F+ he's too cold. Also these cold temps slow down his digestion and also lead to constipation. When keeping tropical fish, stable warm temps aren't optional.. not sure what else to say. You may try looking online to see if you can find deals. I like Marineland and Jager 25w heaters myself. I know they can be had for under $20 in the US, and the tanks around $10-$15

You always need conditioner.. Prime is fine..

Bottled spring water from the grocery store is actually RO water which you cannot use for fish because it lacks the necessary electrolytes and trace minerals their system needs to function properly. Making this water ok for your fish is a big expensive and time consuming process that is going to cost a lot more than the tank and heater you don't think you can afford... multiple test kits, multiple chemicals, an extra container and heater.. I suggest switching to tap water, and if you are unsure about it ask your LFS if they know of any reason why the tap water doesn't work for fish. When you acclimate him over, you should do so slowly.. like do MAX of 25% changes, and wait a couple hours in between the changes. I would probably only do a couple a day, then do another couple tomorrow, and finally move over the third day. This will avoid shock since we can't know without testing just how different the waters are.

Last edited by callistra; 03-15-2013 at 02:31 PM.
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Old 03-15-2013, 09:44 PM   #10 
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Since he's still having trouble swimming, you could try using Epsom salt, and fasting for a day or two. The Epsom salt should be 100% pure magnesium sulfate. (No dyes, perfumes or additives.) It's available at most groceries and drug stores. (Walmart sells it for about $1.)

There are many ways to do a water change and acclimate (reintroduce) your fish back into the tank. Here is one variation:
  1. Note the temperature of the water.
  2. Using a plastic cup, scoop him, along with some of his water, into the cup.
  3. Clean out the tank. Refill with water at the SAME temp. Be sure to add the correct amount of water conditioner. Add 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt per gallon. Stir until the salt is COMPLETELY dissolved. (You don't want any crystals remaining!)
  4. Float his cup in the tank for about 15 min. The cup should be filled about halfway.
  5. Add a SMALL amount of NEW water to the cup. (Several tablespoons, or about 1.5 ounces.)
  6. Let his cup float for about 10-15 min.
  7. If the cup starts to fill too much, remove a SMALL amount of water from the cup. (Several tablespoons, or about 1.5 ounces.) Discard it.
  8. Repeat steps 5-7, until an hour has passed. (More time is always fine!)
  9. Gently release him into the tank.

(When you have some money, if you decide to upgrade his tank: Walmart and Petsmart both have a 10 gal basic tank for about $14. You can pick up some plastic craft mesh, and make a DIY lid out of it. Or, you could pick up a 3 gallon acrylic critter keeper (with lid) for about $15.)

Last edited by LittleBlueFishlets; 03-15-2013 at 09:49 PM.
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