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Old 04-15-2013, 09:40 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Question My Betta Is Acting Sickly...Please Help Me

Something has been wrong with my Betta fish for few weeks now. Up until last week I hadn't noticed anything physically wrong with him. Below is his set up and how I care for him...

-1 Gallon Tank with a Mini Bow Filter
-Nearly a 100% water change once a week
-Water used is tap water run through a Britta and then treated with your usual buffering solution and allowed to sit overnight.
-3 Betta Food pellets daily
-I keep his tank light on all the time (4 watt bulb). The H20 temperature is usually around 85 degrees but the last two days I've kept it around 83 as the staff at PETCO said it was too high so I've been turning the light off at night. He's always done well at that temperature so I'm not sure that's what the root problem is. I don't have a heater in the tank but I'm always cold and keep my apartment at 80 degrees no matter the season which reflects the tank temperature when coupled with his tank light.
-Water tests are normal levels

He's at least a year old. He was a center piece at a wedding I attended last May but I don't know how old they are when the stores acquire them.

He used to make bubbles at the surface of the water but doesn't anymore. He's been listless for awhile but I couldn't see anything physically wrong with him except maybe his fins weren't as lustrous as they were when I first brought him home but that wasn't an overnight deal.

Last week he was looking worse and then one night I saw a "white string" attached between his lower fins with what looked to be a brown dot at the end. This white string wasn't a living thing. Once I had something concrete I could actually search I started looking online. But the deeper I got the more confused I became. There don't seem to be any two websites that agree with each other on courses of action. At first I thought Ich but he doesn't have white dots on him anywhere. I took him into PETCO to the fish section and they said he doesn't appear to have any visible signs of disease other then some slight fin rot.

Online I read about the salt treatment and trying that first as it will usually fix the problem. PETCO said that's what they do first with their fish. So I got the aquarium salt and put the correct amount into new treated water with a temperature of 83 degrees for 48 hours. However, I don't notice a difference in him and he appears to be half reclining on his side at times.

I've attached pictures of him so maybe someone out there that has experience can look at him and suggest what may be wrong. It's making me sick to my stomach knowing he's hurting but not knowing how to help him.

My local PETCO sells all types of medicines but I don't even know what he has and am afraid of doping him up with something he doesn't need thus making his condition worse.

Thank you for your time in reading this. I greatly appreciate any help.

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Old 04-15-2013, 10:46 PM   #2 
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Alberta, Canada
Oh that poor little guy doesnt look right at all...
First off his tank temp should be 78-80F also with a 1g tank you should be doing water changes more often. He appears to be having some buoyancy issues, what is he being fed and how often? Is he eating?
For right now id give him clean warm water and something to rest on near the surface of the water....
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Old 04-15-2013, 11:30 PM   #3 
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Hi HeroicPoison,

He looks very bad, I know. I'm working on getting the temperature lower but I don't want to shock his system going from his previous 86 to 80 so I had it at 83 Saturday when I did the salt water thing and then today when I changed him again I took it to 82. I have the light off now as well.

In the past I've tested his water at the end of a week and all the levels were normal so I thought once a week was okay. Should I get a bigger tank for him perhaps? Maybe he'd be more happy in a bigger tank and changing his water once a week would be sufficient. If I just had him as a pet it wouldn't be difficult to change him daily or every other day even but I have a nearly 18 year old dog in renal failure that requires so much care and consumes chunks of the day with medicines and sub-q fluids and general care associated with the illness. Not an excuse I know. But if I could get him a bigger tank where he would be happier and need one change a week...

I feed him Aqueon Betta Food. That's all it says on the label. It's the little brown bits. I give him three "bits" a day in the evening. He is eating when he can manage to get up to the top for it. The filter for the tank isn't strong at all but he seems to be struggling against it nowadays. I don't want his tank to get dirty though and make him worse. Tonight after I changed him I didn't put the filter in since I wanted to give him a rest and will be changing the water again tomorrow so I figured it wouldn't hurt him to go without it for the night.

As far as something to rest on near the top of the water, I used to have one of the fake leaves that suction to the inside of the tank. I would sometimes see him on it but for the most part he didn't go to it much and then the plastic from the suction cup wasn't wanting to stick anymore to the tank and it always was falling off. I'll put that in tonight in a different location as I won't have a filter to get in the way now and he won't get "blown" off the leaf from it like he sometimes would when I used to have it in there. Other than that he has a spongebob square pants pineapple house that he goes in. That and up behind the filter is where he spends most of his time now. PETCO suggested he could be hiding behind his filter to get away from the tank light which is another reason I'm turning it off at night now in addition to it keeping down the tank temperature.

What disease or illness do you think it could be? There's that white-ish gray under his "chin" that he started developing gradually maybe two months ago but it's not fuzzy or anything like I read on the websites. It just looks like his skin "aging." I thought that's what it was at first, him getting older.

Thank you so much for your help with this. :) By the way, his name is Gobo. After Gobo Fraggle from Fraggle Rock. A Jim Henson tv show from my youth that I still love to watch on DVD to this day.
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Old 04-15-2013, 11:46 PM   #4 
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Alberta, Canada
I've never quite seen anything like little Gobo... He seems to be almost wasting... Like wasting away. I'd PM someone like Olympia or Sakura ASAP. Wish I could be more help, but that's all I can really suggest. I would guess some sort of really nasty internal parasite that's consuming all his food, but again, just a guess. Should consult the resident experts soon.
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Old 04-16-2013, 12:26 AM   #5 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Elk Grove, California
Hi Gobo and welcome to the forum. I'm so sorry to hear about your little guy.

From the descriptions, it sounds like he may have internal parasites. That long white string was poo. o.O Whiteish poo is indicative of either internal parasites or an internal bacterial infection, often a combination of both.

He is also looking thin, which can be common with parasites. To help with this, I recommend adding 1 tsp of epsom salts (unscented, no dye magnesium sulfates) per gallon to his tank, so 1 tsp straight into his tank. You can get epsom salts at any drug store. This will help stimulate his system. The med you want to treat the parasites is API General Cure. I don't believe Petco carries this but Petsmart does. You can use Jungle Labs Parasite Guard but it's a lot harder to dose in a small tank because it's a fizzy tablet.

I also recommend switching his food. Aqueon has a lot of wheat germ or filler in it, which a betta cannot digest and this can sometimes lead to digestive problems like constipation or bloat. Omega One Betta Buffet pellets or New Life Spectrum pellets are both excellent and Petco should have one or the other. Increase the food to 4 pellets a day if you use the Omega One or 5 pellets a day if you use New Life Spectrum.

A betta can easily tolerate 86 F but optimal temperatures would be between 78-80. Also, did you know that even fish have a day/night schedule? Yup. :) So you may want to start turning off that tank light at night so he can sleep. :)
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Old 04-16-2013, 09:38 PM   #6 
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Hi Sakura,
Thank you for the warm welcome to the forum and for all of your invaluable advice on caring for Gobo. You are truly a lifesaver. I was ringing my hands yesterday evening, sick and upset that I didn't know what to do for him and couldn't weed out accurate advice through all the muddied waters on the internet.
I thought the white string was fecal matter since the next day it was gone but all the searching I was doing on it were only showing it as a worm/parasite and I knew it wasn't a worm hanging off him. So thank you for clarifying that's what it was.
He was always a slender/smaller sized fish from the day I 'adopted' him but he definitely looks bloated and bent and sickly now. It's more exacerbated in the last two weeks for sure.
Today, with the wonderful help of my husband who ran out and picked up the supplies, we implemented all of your suggestions. We buffered his water (I use Splendid Betta Complete Water Conditioner) then added the Epsom salts and the API General Cure (Petsmart didn’t have the Jungle Parasite Guard). The dosing of the General Cure had us scratching our heads at first (10 Gallons per package). Luckily I found an older message of yours to another member that was having trouble with figuring out the conversion on how much to add and we used that as our guide. Or I should say my husband did as math isn’t my strong suit. Though it was pretty amusing watching my husband initially trying to “cut” the powder into ten equal lines. J
We’ve also switched his food as of today. To the Omega One Better Buffet pellets (Petsmart didn’t have the Life Spectrum). He loves and darted right for them so that was encouraging.
We have his water temperature at 78 degrees currently and continue to turn his light off at night (PETCO had previously said as well that it would help him get into a night and day rhythm).
So right now I’m just watching him for any improvement. We’ll do a water change again on Thursday in accordance with the directions on the back of the API box.
Is a 1 gallon tank too small for him? Would he be happier in a larger tank? I read somewhere that if the tank is too big they can ‘drown’. I had also previously been informed that changing the water once a week in a one gallon tank, as long as it was filtered, was fine. I even tested his water in the past after a week of him being in it and all the levels were normal. But If he’d be happier in a bigger tank and I can feel secure in changing him once a week (because the tank is bigger) as I had been, it would be best all around.
Thank you for taking the time in guiding me through the cloudy waters. J
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Old 04-16-2013, 10:46 PM   #7 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Elk Grove, California
Hi Gobo. :) Yes, I should have warned you; the vast majority of medications are written for 10gals so trying to dose a smaller tank can be a headache. When I first had to dose a small tank, I did the exact same thing your husband did: I poured a packet out on a piece of paper and divided it up with a razor blade. Boy, I felt awkward. o.O

The only way a betta can drown is if he for some reason cannot reach the top and breathe in air from the surface. Bettas have something called a labyrinth organ which allows them to breathe in surface air and thus survive in low oxygen waters like those of their native Thailand. Without this supplemental oxygen, they literally can drown. It can happen in a big tank or a tiny cup.

The only reason I'd suggest a larger tank is because maintenance is easier. With a 1 gal tank, even though it's filtered, I would still recommend at least twice weekly water changes of close to 100%. But in a larger tank, it takes longer for the nitrogenous wastes (ammonia which is very toxic, nitrite which is also toxic, and finally nitrate which is least toxic) to build up. The only way to get rid of these toxic wastes is water changes.

Also, bear in mind that the gravel and the decorations actually displace some water so in a fully decorated 1gal tank, it actually has probably half a gall of water in it. The nitrogenous wastes will build up pretty fast in that small amount of water. If you get a 2 to 5 gal tank, you will only need to do one water change a week of about 50-75%; you can also break that up into two water changes a week of 25%.

It's up to you, though, and don't let anyone pressure you into buying something you feel you don't need.
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Old 04-17-2013, 09:00 AM   #8 
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What kind of kit are you using to test the water? Does it use paper strips or liquids?

The paper strip tests are not very accurate.

Oh, and the best place I have seen for Jungle brand products is Wal-Mart. I've even seen API StressCoat there in a different, much plainer bottle.
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Old 04-17-2013, 09:40 PM   #9 
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Hi NorthernLights,

I test his water with API Freshwater Master Test Kit. It's liquid, no strips.
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Old 04-17-2013, 10:02 PM   #10 
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Hi Sakura,

If he pulls through this I'm pretty sure I'm going to upgrade to a bigger tank. Anywhere from 2 gallons to 2 and a half. Fluval Edge has really sharp looking glass tanks which I would prefer over the acrylic as I like to decorate the outside of his tank at halloween and christmas with the tank decal stickers the pet stores sell but acrylic doesn't react well to the decals. Unfortunately Fluval doesn't seem to sell their glass tanks in anything smaller than 6 gallons.

Right now it's a watch and wait deal. He's not showing any improvement. He stayed at the bottom of his tank all day, only coming up quickly for air then going back down. We have the light off now since it's night time and he did go up and lay on his hammock so he must have been waiting for lights out. We got him to eat two pellets but he wouldn't come up for them from the bottom so I had to push the one down to him. I don't want to disturb him on his hammock though to try and give him more right now. I'll try again in the morning.

Tomorrow we change his tank again with another round of medicine and salts. I'm praying he's going to show signs of improvement but fear it may be too late. Just trying to make him as comfortable as I can right now.
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