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Old 04-04-2013, 07:47 PM   #1 
Blue Fish
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Rescue yesterday...looking for tips on further measures?

Okay...so there was this rescue yesterday...and I was hoping that clean, warm water would get him at least *slightly* better (like well enough to eat)...but no such luck. So, coming here for help with Oscar. I'm afraid he's really too far gone, but he's a fighter and he's still alive 24 hours after coming home. Where there's life, there's hope.

Housing
What size is your tank? He's in a small shoe-box sized plastic container, with about three inches of water in it. Just enough to cover my heater safely. I'd say it's not more than 1/3 to 1/2 of a gallon in there.
What temperature is your tank? 78
Does your tank have a filter? no
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? nothing, QT

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? I'm trying NLS, but he's too weak to eat
How often do you feed your betta fish? attempted twice daily

Maintenance

How often do you perform a water change? daily
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 100% (just too small a container to do anything else but 100% daily)
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? conditioner with aloe for his gills

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

Ammonia:
Nitrite:
Nitrate:
pH:
Hardness:
Alkalinity:
He's changed 100% every day. I have only tested my tap water for ammonia, and it's at 0 prior to coming into contact with fish and other ammonia producers.

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?
How has your betta fish's behavior changed?
When did you start noticing the symptoms?
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how?
Does your fish have any history of being ill?
How old is your fish (approximately)?

Here's all these at once:
He came from a LFS yesterday afternoon. I'd been seeing him there for the last two or three weeks, and he was small, but seemed relatively healthy, I thought someone would come and take him home. Then, yesterday I stopped in to see if they had any girls...and I found him. He was pitiful, lying on his side in the cup, gasping, when he did move he attempted to swim but seemed to fall back and sit on his tail. (no spinal curvature, it's like he's using his tail to hold the rest of him closer to the surface)

His color is a muted green with red on his fins (no stress stripes...which is a shock), and he's a CT, but he looks horribly malnourished, like he's wasting away. He's small, but it's as if he has NO muscles at all. His head and thorax are relatively normal sized, but then he just tapers down to this tiny, tiny little body and tail after that. No bloating, no shedding scales, he's not clamped (actually fans out his fins most of the time), but he's definitely got swelling in his gills from the ammonia. He lies on the bottom of the container on his side, and only moves when he feels threatened, like I'm going to cup him. Complete disinterest in food, doesn't even try to lie near the surface on leaves. I even put two kitchen sponges in the water and weighted them with stones to see if he would want to lie on those and be near the surface, but he shies away from them.

I believe that the majority of his problems are just from being a cup for so long, being unable to move and swim normally, getting crappy food, and being in awful water conditions...but I want to make sure that there's not anything else I can do to help him?

I'm afraid that if he won't eat, then he's not going to get any better because without food, he can't build up his immunity, and he can't build muscle either.

To be honest, I'm surprised he's made it this far...Poor little guy. I just didn't want him to die alone, unloved, and unnamed in a tiny plastic cup. :(
Poor little Oscar.

Any help is greatly appreciated. :(
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Old 04-04-2013, 07:57 PM   #2 
LittleBlueFishlets
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I never tried it, but Callistra has recommended Vitachem. It's a nutritional supplement that gets added to the tank.

It's available at a few places, including Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Boyd-Enterpris.../dp/B00025YRIO and Drs Foster and Smith: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...fm?pcatid=4998

Last edited by LittleBlueFishlets; 04-04-2013 at 08:00 PM.
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Old 04-04-2013, 08:10 PM   #3 
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Thanks for the information!!

And I made the mistake of reading through the posts about myco, and now I'm terrified the poor little guy has THAT... ugh.

Fortunately, he's *completely* separated from everyone else, and I've been obsessive about keeping everything *else* separated from him as well...just in case...But does anyone with real knowledge on his think that could be it? :(
If he doesn't make it, I believe I'm just going to throw everything he's associated with away...Shame to lose the heater, but worth it.
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Old 04-04-2013, 10:09 PM   #4 
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I possibly had a new fish that died of myco. He had the classic symptoms. The only way to have know for sure is via lab analysis, and I did not send the body to a lab. (It's expensive, and like your guy, he was a petstore rescue.)

It's good that you're being obsessive about keeping his stuff separate. DO wear gloves, since Myco species can be transmitted to humans. It does NOT cause tuberculosis, but it can cause issues like skin infections that are difficult to treat.

I hope he survives. If he dies though, you don't necessarily need to throw everything out.
  • Throw out anything that is porous.
  • For anything that is nonporous (tank, heater, etc), scrub off/remove any organic matter or salt deposits. if the object can be immersed in hot water (at least 80C or 176F) for at least 20 minutes, that will kill Mycobacteria.
If you can't heat the nonporous object:
  • scrub off / remove all 'organic' material and salt deposits from the object
  • soak in bleach solution overnight
  • rinse well, then soak in 70% or 90% isopropyl alcohol overnight.
  • rinse well, let air dry outside for several days, with lots of sunlight. Sunlight kills Mycobacteria.
  • store dry for at least two months. If you want to be VERY sure it's dead, store dry for 4 months. (Many strains of Mycobacteria can't survive more than 2 months on hard surfaces, and no strains appear to survive longer than 4 months.)

Sources:
  1. Mycobacterial Infections of Fish
  2. The efficacy of the heat killing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  3. How long do nosocomial pathogens persist on inanimate surfaces? A systematic review

Edited to add: Also, remember that surfaces, including your sink, countertops, faucet and drain, can harbor Myco! That said, it occurs in nature, and can be found in soil, water, etc. Fortunately, it's usually opportunistic, so healthy fish will not become ill. But if you have many fish, or breed your fish, then you'll need to take extra precautions. In my case, I only had two other fish at the time, and I was able to isolate the sick one from the others. Also, as I said, he had the 'classic' signs of Myco, but since his body wasn't sent to a lab, I cannot verify this is what he had....

Last edited by LittleBlueFishlets; 04-04-2013 at 10:15 PM.
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Old 04-04-2013, 10:35 PM   #5 
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Thank you so much for the information. Do you know if it's possible to boil a heater? I learned that you cannot boil thermometers... (You'd think I'd have thought of that *before* attempting... ;) It's just one of those little walmart tetra heaters that heats to just about 75 (his is in such a small amount of water it's up a bit from there), so it's not a huge loss, I just hate to throw things out if I can successfully get them clean. :)

As of right now, he's still fighting. I almost feel bad that's he's still carrying on...He obviously feels awful, but if he's this determined to live, I'm going to keep helping him fight.
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Old 04-04-2013, 11:06 PM   #6 
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I didn't boil my heater. (Or my thermometer! ) I wouldn't feel comfortable boiling the heater. I don't know if it can be done, but I wouldn't want to take the chance.

I soaked my heater, thermometer and tank overnight in bleach, washed with hot top water, then soaked again with 70% isopropyl alcohol, washed again with hot tap water, then let everything air dry outside in the sunlight for a few days.

I thought about storing everything for a few months, but I found another Betta, and got impatient. I took a risk, and reused the heater and thermometer. (The tank was a QT tank, so it went into storage.)

Another option is the use a hospital strength disinfectant that is effective against Mycobacteria. Regular Lysol isn't sufficient, but there is a hospital-strength version kills it.

And someone mentioned that hair product supply stores sell something that is effective at killing Mycobacteria. I don't know the name, but it's used to disinfect hair styling equipment. (I think the store was something like Sally's Hair Supply?)

How is Oscar doing? I wish I could think of something else to help him. But clean, warm water is the big thing. Now, if only he could get some nutrition.....

Last edited by LittleBlueFishlets; 04-04-2013 at 11:09 PM.
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Old 04-04-2013, 11:29 PM   #7 
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He's no longer on the bottom...but he's sitting on his tail with his head as close to the surface as he can get it. :( I think I'm going to lower the water level even further with his water change tonight, and float his smaller container in a larger one so that I can still heat him. Poor little guy.
I'm trying to keep him in enough water that he can go a day between changes without *too* much ammonia building up, otherwise I'd just put him in a cup and float it. :P

But, I know one thing...if he survives, he is a *tough* little dude! :)

Thanks for the information about the heater boiling, I thought the bleach might be a better idea. ;) I'm an xray tech at a large hospital as well, and I'd bet I could find a way to get a few of those super wipes home for personal use. ;) I'd bet if I put five or six of them into a small Rubbermaid I could get them home without having them dry out.

Thanks again for all your help!!
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Old 04-04-2013, 11:41 PM   #8 
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Aw, definitely rooting for your little guy! He seems like a fighter.
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Old 04-05-2013, 07:01 AM   #9 
Taeanna
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I have seen breeders nets that might be of use. That way he would be in a larger body of water and yet still be close to the surface. Much easier way of monitoring his water parameters yes?
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Old 04-05-2013, 11:56 AM   #10 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taeanna View Post
I have seen breeders nets that might be of use. That way he would be in a larger body of water and yet still be close to the surface. Much easier way of monitoring his water parameters yes?
Oh, that's perfect! He can go into a 1 gal and still be up near the surface. I'll get a box this afternoon. :) Thanks for the tip!!

He's still alive, actually seems slightly better today. Dosed him with a microdose of kanaplex just in case there was anything going on bacterial-wise that was only hindering his recovery, and his breathing is definitely better. Just a dose last night, his AM water change was just with clean water. Still not eating, but not as lifeless as he was yesterday.

I can't believe he's still alive. Definitely a fighter!
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