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Old 04-22-2013, 01:29 AM   #1 
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Bloated belly betta in 1.5 gal bowl

Hello! I am a relatively new betta owner, and super excited to be one! But my poor Frank is not doing so well.

I received a very pretty 2 gallon bowl for Christmas that was supposed to be a terrarium for plants (apparently that's all the rage right now) but one day I thought - hey! I'll put a betta in there! I love bettas!

So I went out and bought gravel, a plant, a rock, a tiny snail, betta food, and a beautiful red/purple crowntail betta. I set everything up, and floated the bag the betta was in in the bowl for a couple hours to let the temp adjust before putting him in. Then I fed him.

He was such a happy little guy for about a week. He would greet me every time I walked past the bowl, and at feeding time (twice a day) he would do a little dance. He was VERY active. After about a week I noticed his belly was getting a little bloated.... so I started searching the web to see what was wrong... and I found this website... and I discovered I was doing EVERYTHING WRONG!!!

So the first thing I did was go out and buy a heater, a thermometer, a couple more plants, a siphon, an ammonia tester, bacteria starter and water conditioner. I had been using Reverse Osmosis water for his bowl and doing about 30% daily water changes since I got him, but then I read that he might not be getting enough minerals from RO water, so I switched to half RO and half tap water with water conditioner, and I started putting in the Stress Zyme drops (bacteria starter). I did one 100% water change, and then a 50% change a couple days later. Now I'm not sure how much to do... I keep reading different things on here. I know he should have a bigger tank, but I just can't spend the money right now. I've already spent $150 on him in 2 weeks! I was not planning that!

So the problem is that his bloated belly just kept getting bigger, and now he has turned pale and gotten so lethargic. He won't eat and he only swims to the top for air once in a while, then sinks back down. At first I thought he was constipated, so I fasted him for 3 days (his tummy just kept getting bigger!) and he wasn't interested in pea OR daphnia, so I put some epsom salt in his bowl. Started out w/ 1/2 tsp per gal, nothing happened for 2 days, so I changed 50% of the water and put 1 tsp per gal. He still keeps looking worse and worse. Now I'm thinking it's dropsy, and it breaks my heart.

I'll try to post some before and after pics.

I just want some clarification because sometimes its hard to find answers by searching this site... Is it POSSIBLE to keep a healthy betta in a bowl with no filter? I realize frequent water changes may be necessary, I just want to know if it's possible. If it's not possible, what is the best way to set up a 5.5 gal tank with a carbon filter and a couple live plants for a betta? THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP!!! I know my post is long...

Here is the info from the sticky:

What size is your tank? 1.5 gal bowl
What temperature is your tank? 76-78 degrees
Does your tank have a filter? no
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? no - but RO water is very oxygenated
Is your tank heated? yes
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? tiny snail

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? He was eating Hikari Betta Bio-Gold, but I want to switch him to Omega One Betta Buffet if he ever starts eating again
How often do you feed your betta fish? I was feeding him too much! 5 pellets twice a day.... Then he got really bloated! But he hasn't eaten for almost 5 days. (Still super bloated) If he recovers I will only feed him once a day, 2-3 pellets

How often do you perform a water change? 100% weekly, 50% twice a week
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? see above
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? API Stress Zyme, API Tap Water Conditioner

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters? Had it tested at Petsmart. She said everything was fine, but the ammonia was a bit high. I did a 100% water change and installed an ammonia tester. It reads in the "safe" range at <0.02ppm

Ammonia: <0.02ppm

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? VERY bloated belly, pale color
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? lethargic, lays on bottom except to come up for air, doesn't react to me, or food, or anything. Constantly flares fins.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? 4 days ago
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? fasting, water changes, daphnia, epsom salt in bowl
Does your fish have any history of being ill? Just got him 2 weeks ago. He seemed healthy when I got him.
How old is your fish (approximately)? not sure

The first 2 pics are of healthy Frank when I first got him, the third pic is of his bowl once it had the heater and stuff, and the 4th pic is from yesterday, and the 5th is from just now My poor poor guy...
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tisliz16 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-22-2013, 03:11 AM   #2 
bniebetta's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2013
I have no experience with dropsy but that really does look like textbook dropsy to me.... :/ But know that even if you lose him. You gave him the best life he could have. Sometimes it just happens that way. But there is every possibility that you may be able to treat he and get him better, so try to keep your chin up :)
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Old 04-22-2013, 02:44 PM   #3 
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Thank you for your response and encouragement bniebetta.... Frank passed away today. I'm very heartbroken, but glad he's not suffering anymore.

I will definitely be studying this site and make sure I have the very best home for my next betta when I'm ready! Thank you everyone for providing so much info.
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Old 04-22-2013, 02:57 PM   #4 
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Rhode Island
I'm sorry he passed :( SIP Frank!

I'm glad you joined the forum though! I hope you'll find it very helpful and useful! And as always, never be afraid to ask us anything! Even if you think it's silly :)
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1.5 gallon, bloated belly, bowl, dropsy, fishbowl

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