Your initial group of girls should be released more or less together. I believe the rule on this is when you start letting them loose, free the *least* aggressive seeming one first, wait a few minutes, release the next least aggressive, and so on, working your way up to releasing the one that seems the *most* aggressive last. No less than 4 initially. And be prepared to watch and intervene if things seem to be too wild at first. I had a breeder cage that was my Time Out box. I had to use it a few times on one particular girl at first, but she got the idea after a few rounds.
I'll be honest, after 6 months, I have no idea who my alpha is. I know a few that it is *not* but there are about 8 of them that typically hang out together. Of the rest, my orange is a loner, my two smallest ones like to chill in the plants, and one thinks she is a tetra.
I wake up and check on the girls this morning and I almost had a heart attack. Looks like little Sonata is having swim bladder issues. I have their cups floating in the tank and its 80 degrees, and their water is clean, I did 100% changes in their cups yesterday. She's floating up on her side, though not too dramatically. Just enough to look a bit distressed, and she has very bold stripes right now. I don't know if it has anything to do with my food. I only gave them each one pellet and a small piece of a bloodworm yesterday (at completely different times of day). I don't know if its the bloodworm or the pellets, but I'm gonna be changing the pellets for both the girls and Ben to Hikari, because I looked at the ingredients of my current pellets and the third ingredient is Soybean Meal, and there are a few other fillers in there too. I do have a sample packet of Hikari in my drawer, so I can use that until I get paid and can buy an actual packet of it. But the sample comes with enough for at least a month, with the feeding schedule I use, and the number of Bettas I have. So I think I'll be okay for a little bit. I'm probably gonna fast Sonata until she looks a bit better. And then try the frozen pea thing I read.
Don't use pea's, Betta's are insectivores and cannot digest vegetables so it would really hurt to use pea's. You can if you really want to though, but I just don't suggest it.
What you should do is get some Epsom Salt from walmart/pharmacy or somewhere like that. Usually in the first aid section, need to get 100% Magnesium Sulfate no additives or scent. But Epsom is a laxative in both humans and fish so you can mix up a gallon of water and use that for her water changes. Use your conditioner and then mix in 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt and dissolve it. Then you can take out 50% of her water from the cup, add in some from the new salt water and then do another 50% 15-20 minutes later and add in more new salty water to make 100% water change.
So anyway, keep that up until you no longer see her floating like that. It could be the stress of it all and in which case she'll get over it in time. Don't use the salt for more than 14 days though, well at that dose it won't hurt her but you really shouldnt need to for very long. And in fact you can just fast her for a day or so and she should be fine. So don't use the salt unless this persists for 3 days or more. Also, what kind of Bloodworms were they; frozen or freeze-dried?
Also I suggest you look into Omega One and/or New Life Spectrum. NLS has one filler but over all the ingredients are better and they actually just improved the formula. And Omega has no fillers in the first three so therefore best But Hikari will work for now too ^_^
I actually ended up moving her to my small critter keeper for now just to make sure she's okay. She looked really stressed out and one of the other girls just kept trying to get at her and she was already stressed out from the swim bladder problem as well as everything that's gone on for her in he past few days. I don't want to lose her, so trying to keep her comfortable. I have her on a shelf in the half gallon critter keeper with a bare bottom and I'm keeping her tank covered enough to keep it dark to calm her down and help her feel safer. Though I made sure to keep the cover vents uncovered on the side facing the shelf so she has air. She's been like that all day, and I was out of the house all day, but I just checked on her and I think she had been sleeping when I checked, because it took her a second to respond, but she darted toward the bottom and actually was able to swim the length of the critter keeper twice staying at the bottom before floating up much more slowly than this morning. This morning she wasn't able to do that. She seems to be able to stay a bit more upright now too, though she still is floating slightly. I have my fingers crossed for her. She seems like such a sweet girl and is very cute, I really hope she ends up alright and it's just from the stress of everything. I'm just worried about it possibly happening again.
Okay, I was looking up foods today and I think I may get Omega One instead of Hikari. Though I can't right now, so all four of my Bettas will be eating the Hikari from the sample packet I have until I am able to get new food.
The Bloodworms are freeze dried, which may be part of the problem. I'm not sure, as Ben has never had an issue with them. The girls only got pieces about the same size as a single pellet.
I'll keep a close eye on her, and hopefully she improves and heals up on her own. I didn't feed her at all today, and if she is still floating tomorrow, I'll continue to fast her and probably see if my CVS has Epsom salt for a price I can afford right now. I think they have small cartons of it for around $2 but I don't remember. I have a feeling she may do okay on her own though. It seems like she's a lot more comfortable now, anyway.
Good news, she looks about 80% better this morning. She's actually able to swim almost normally now. It looks as if her back end is pulling her up slightly, so when she swims downward she stays at an angle, but it doesn't seem to be too much of a pull for her to fight anymore. If she stops moving, she slowly floats upwards, but as long as she keeps moving, she can swim almost normally. When she floats, she seems to be able to keep herself from going sideways too, now. Her stress stripes are gone, too, right now. I'm so relieved. I think I'm gonna fast her today again, just to be safe. But I think she'll be completely fine by tomorrow, or maybe even later on today.
I'll probably get some Epsom salt ASAP anyway, just in case, so I have it handy. I've never had to deal with any kind of medical problems with Bettas before, so I don't really have anything to help them medically. But since I have four now and will probably have more, I should have some rings for medical care and such. I'd like to keep everyone happy and healthy as possible.
Alright, I'll stop feeding the freeze dried bloodworms. I had a feeling they may have been part of the problem. I imagine they haven't done anything to Ben since he's so much bigger than the girls and he only eats one. How exctly do the frozen ones work, though? Or is there anything else I can give them as treats that is safer for them. I'd still like to keep them on a slightly varied diet, at least. Ben even eats some of the Cories' food, so I know he gets good variety.
She didn't look bloated to me, either. I didn't see any bumps on her belly, though its been hard to tell with the way she's been holding her body to keep herself steady. But unless its very subtle, I don't think she was bloated.
I don't know if this is normal for a Betta with a swim bladder problem, but she seems to be gulping air at the surface and leaving bubbles all around the edge of the tank. She doesn't take one quick breath like the others do, but she takes like five rapid ones at a time. And there's bubbles all around the tank. I'm not sure what to make of it.
Its not very good quality, but this is her in the critter keeper. There's bubbles all along the edges and some of them come out her gills as well as her mouth when she tries to get air. You can also see her "s"ing her body. No bumps to speak of that I can see that would be bloating.
She looks fine to me as far as bloating goes, organs can still be pressed against each other though.
And actually those little bubbles make me believe she wants to make a bubble nest! Is she in sight of Ben at all or has been? Females can also make bubble nests although usually not as elaborate as males's nests but they can when they want to. The taking multiple breathes allows her to breathe and then make bubbles which seems to be exactly what she's doing!
As I said, keep feeding her pellets, she needs the strength and it won't help if you skip meals all the time. Same as if you went a whole day without eating, you probably wouldn't feel very good either :/
And yes ES is great to have on hand, that's all I use at home is ES and AQ salt's to my remedies. I've got Furan-2 floating around somewhere but I've never actually used it, both salts have always covered it for me but using the ES will help her go poo and relieve other fluids she's holding in which can release the organs and put everything back in their own place.
But as I said, if you don't eat, you don't poop and you want her to poop so give her some food ^_^
And for frozen things, you can just cut up a small sliver, use tweezers after it thaws a bit and then you can feed, it might make a bit of a mess of the tank but you can feed that 3-4 times a week no problems. BW's tend to cause a little more constipation than if you got Brine Shrimp but it's worlds better than freeze-dried stuff!
The bubbles are normal, I see all mine do it from time to time. And unless her spine seems permanently bent I would also not worry about that - Bettas are just very flexible
Hope your SB girl makes a full recovery - I had one who kept getting SBD when I would introduce her to the big tank. After having to pull her out and med tank her two times, the third time was the charm.
Several of mine seem to have triggers. I have one that develops stress stripes when she sees a person watching her, but my cats can be trying to dig into the side of the tank and that's fine with her. I have another who gets clamped up for 1-2 days every time I do a water change or decor re-arranging. You just get to know them and what's normal for them after a while!