I got an elephant ear male from my local petco and originally put him in a 1g filtered tank. He seemed to be reasonably healthy although a little spastic and would flare semi frequently without using his gills at his reflection but did not show any other signs of aggression. Then I moved him to a 1.5g tank, and shortly after that he began to lose scales around his gills. After doing some online research, I bought him a 5g heated and filtered tank. He seemed to recover for a while, but suddenly got drastically worse. He lost a lot more scales, he started turning pale starting with his face and progressing along his entire body. He also became much more violent, he attacked his reflection much more vigorously and was ripping his fins on things. I moved him to the small bowl he came in for a little while and he seemed to at least calm down if not regain his color. I bought some medicine after consulting my Petco fish expert and that nearly killed him using the recommended dose, he clamped his fins and stopped moving. I later tried again with a much much smaller dose, putting him into the 1.5g tank after letting it sit for a while. He seemed to do a lot better, he calmed down and regained nearly all of his color. I tried adding another smaller dose in the hopes that the medicine could help him repair his torn fins and lost scales, but he reacted poorly again. I moved him again to the small bowl and he calmed down a bit and lost more of his color. After letting the medicine sit again he regained his color again more but became more violent than he had ever been. At this point I have tried everything I can think of and have no idea what could be stressing him out to this point. Please help?
it's hard to guess just from what you've described. what kind of medicine is it? there are many brands of medicine, and they all do completely different things. some can actually be bad for bettas. what exactly was the recommended dose? have you been acclimating him to the water when you change it, or just dumping him in? how often are you changing the water? can you post a picture of your fish? look up at the threads the top of this section, the one that says "Please answer as many of these questions as you can when seeking help", and try to answer as many of the stickied questions as possible. i can tell you that having a filter in a 1g tank is not necessary and will probably just make him unhappy. bettas, especially with big fins, do not usually like a lot of current.
The medicine I used was Bettafix, and the recommended dose was 9 drops per pint. I instead used about 20 drops for the gallon and that worked much better. When I moved him between the unheated tanks, I left the new tank sitting out for awhile and made sure that the temperature was the same between them. When I moved him to the heated tank I put him in a baggie filled with water from his current tank, and held it in the heated water until they were the same temperature, then let him out and put the water from the bag into the heated tank. In the smaller tanks I changed it about biweekly and he was only in the large tank for a few days so I hadn't changed the water yet.
Maybe this is kind of like tail biting, only he pulls off scales because he's stressed. Here's what i'd do, if he is, indeed, stressed;
Like mushu said, try taking the filter out. If you don't already have them, put in soft, non-snagging plants like silk plants to hide in, and maybe a little cave of some sort. Then, cover the outside of the side and back walls of the tank in something non-reflective, like solid light blue construction paper. Nothing too dark or colorful, but neutral and solid. Take it away from a light source so he can't see his reflection so easy. Try putting him against a wall. Keep the medicine in, too.
Last edited by WaffleSire; 04-13-2013 at 10:01 PM.
I currently have him in a nonfiltered 1.5g tank and I medicated him earlier today. I plan on moving him back to the 1g tank since that's the only tank he seemed healthy in. I have a bunch of silk plants and a small cave-like decoration that he can swim through and hide in and I checked to make sure it isn't rough or have sharp edges. I currently have every side but the front of his tank covered with plain printer paper but I might put on construction paper that's thicker. He's in a mostly dark area right now. He seems to be doing a lot better and has regained much of his color and is still flaring, but is more like his usual self and isn't being too violent. Should I put more of the medicine in since that seemed to be what put him back in a downward spiral again or should I just leave him be unless he gets worse on his own again?
ok... if you could fill out those questions, it would still be helpful and probably give you some idea of things to keep an eye on. i am not an expert but in lieu of someone more knowledgable coming along to help these are some basic things i know:
-unless there is a specific problem you're trying to treat, like fin rot, fungus or parasites, you should probably not be using medicine right now. if he's just stressed it will make him more stressed. bettafix in particular has a very bad name on this forum.
-if his fins are shredded and he's having trouble swimming, either turn off or baffle his filters (look in the section about habitats & accessories for instructions on how to do that). the filter is not going to really help clean the water until it has been "cycled"- basically, until it is colonized by the bacteria that lives in filter media that will "eat" the ammonia in your tank (what all fish excrete while swimming, which builds up in the tank & causes sickness & even burns at high levels) and turn it into something less harmful. this is a very simplified explanation, but the process takes about a month and requires careful monitoring. it's not doing him any good right now unless you've had the tank running for longer than it seems you have.
-every time you change your fish's water, you NEED to add some kind of water conditioner to it in order to remove chloramines & heavy metals & all kinds of things that are NOT actually removed from water by letting it sit. you didn't mention this, but i hope you are doing it! it's a really common myth that letting water sit out makes it fine for fish. tetra and seachem both make good water conditioners.
Last edited by mushumouse; 04-13-2013 at 10:13 PM.
Be careful with Bettafix. The main ingredient - tea tree oil - has been reported to kill bettas by destorying their labyrenth organ (which they use to breathe air from the surface with). Also be wary of ANY advice from petco/petsmart. Most of it will be inaccurate.
If you want to repair fins, the best medicine is clean, warm water and stress coat. You can add in 1 teaspoon per gallon of AQUARIUM salt if you wish, to help the sore areas from getting a bacterial infection but it isn't necessiary.
I have several tail bitters but never hard of them bitting their scales off.
Do you have a clear picture?
Here are the answers to these questions:
I already talked about the tank, so here is the rest.
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Switched to Omega One Buffet Pellets a couple days ago
How often do you feed your betta fish? Once daily
How often do you perform a water change? About biweekly
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? all of it
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Bettasafe
Had it tested at Petco, they said it was perfectly fine
Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? Became very pale, his face was mottled and had orange spots where scales were missing (color has come back and scales seem to be getting better), small fin tears
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? Became very aggressive and violent (has calmed down)
When did you start noticing the symptoms?1-2 weeks ago
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? A much smaller than recommended dose of Bettafix
Does your fish have any history of being ill? Not that I know of
How old is your fish (approximately)? Bought him about 2 months ago
In addition to this, based on what I've been reading in this forum and ones similar, I have a couple theories about why he's so stressed. I was wondering if it was valid at all:
First of all, the two tanks he had problems in both had bright LED lights attached and he's been better since I've kept them off of him. Could that have contributed?
Also, from what I've read elephant ears need to use more energy to swim due to their fin size. In addition to that, they like to follow a certain route to "patrol". Could having a larger tank and thus a larger route to patrol have tired him out, then stressed him because he didn't have the energy to patrol as frequently?
Also I haven't seen the scales come off, I just see him missing them. I don't know that he's biting them off, it could be that with how violent and aggressive he's been he's been running into things and tearing them off.