I recently adopted a betta from a friend who didn't want him anymore. She was keeping him in a very small bowl with murky water and a plastic plant that was tearing his fins. A friend of mine who's very good with aquariums offered to lend me a 5-gallon tank and some betta-safe decorations. We moved the betta (Saruman) Friday night and he seemed to like the new tank, but after a few hours he became very stressed - he was extremely pale and lethargic. As of yesterday he appeared to have recovered completely, but his gills were still white. They're not "cottony" and he appears otherwise healthy (very active, eating well, and this morning I noticed what I think is a bubble nest). However, today his behavior seemed very odd. He flared his gills at me twice after I fed him this morning, and again when I got home from work. His swimming seems more sporadic and he might be rubbing himself on the side of the tank - it's hard to tell, since the wall is curved. There may also be some kind of stringy substance on his right side, but he spooks whenever I turn on my desk lamp for a better look, so I can't say for sure. All of these things are very subtle and I haven't really had him long enough to know what's "normal" for him, but I don't want to let a potential issue go untreated as I'm going out of town next week. I've been googling, but I can't figure out what, if anything, is wrong. Any help would be appreciated.
-No light, filter, or heater in the tank (yet). I plan on getting him a full set-up in a 10 gallon tank once I have some money.
-Water was treated with Seachem Prime. He's only been in it a few days, so I haven't done a water change yet.
-I fed him Saturday and again this morning with BettaMin Tropical Crisps (flakes). I also gave him a few freeze dried bloodworms (Topfin brand) yesterday, as a treat.
If you can, shine a light on him and see if you can see any gold or rust colored "dust" anywhere on his body, especially around his gills. It could look like a coating too depending on how bad it is. If he does, he has Velvet, which is a parasite that he would have gotten from the bad water conditions he was in previously.
Hey there newfishmommy, welcome to the forum and congrats on the new addition! Good for you for taking the little guy in and providing him with a good, proper home! :)
Good to hear he seems to have recovered some! He may have just been a little stressed from all the space and the suddenly clean water since it sounds like he was so used to poor maintenance. Poor little guy...
His behavior, as I'm picturing it in my head from the description, sounds like it could very well be normal to me. Bettas are actually quite active fish, and especially when introduced to a new environment they can get VERY excitable. Some also just seem to want to flare at anything that moves, thats a bit more of a personality thing.
As far as his movements go, there is a very distinct sort of flicking movement a betta will do against objects(usually decor in the tank, though sometimes the walls)if it feels like it has something on it. They'll come up to an object, pause and wiggle for a moment, then do a very quick flick motion with their body against the object. I find that bettas may do this every once in a while randomly, I figure they get little itches and irritations now and again, but if your fish IS doing that near constantly, then there is a reason to worry.
However, if he appears to be quite puffed up with his entire body, flaring and wiggling at the glass then he just sees his reflection....or if he is doing a very enthusiastic little wiggle with his nose against the glass then that is very normal behavior. ;)
I wonder if the white on his gills is just his coloration, if its not fuzzy or cottony or anything. I don't suppose there is much chance of a picture of his gills? Or the possible stringy thing on his side? Or perhaps a video?
Also, as kind of a side note....I would suggest picking up some pellets for him on your next trip to the pet store. A high quality pellet like Omega One Betta Buffet or New Life Spectrum, with the first couple ingredients being some kind of meat as bettas are a carniverious species who have difficulty digesting plant matter, is what you are going to want to feed him as a staple to provide him with proper nutrition. I suggest pellets specifically as opposed to the flakes as well because its a little easier to control the amount you're feeding, and flakes tend to be a little more messy and start to take on water and loose their nutritional value pretty quick.
Bettas can be prone to constipation and bloating, which is why being able to more carefully control their food intake is a good idea....smaller, more frequent meals are the way you want to go. Generally, the amount specifically depending on the size of the brand you pick up, about 3-4 Omega One or 3-5 NLS pellets fed twice per day is a good amount for most normal adult bettas. For now with what you have, just feed a few decently sized flakes one or two at a time so he snaps them up quickly twice a day until you can grab some pellets.
Be careful with the freeze-dried. Freeze-dried foods are known to cause constipation and, by extension, swim bladder problems. They're fine as an occasional treat, maybe once a week or so, but feed very carefully and very sparingly. I would suggest perhaps picking up frozen foods like Bloodworms, Brine Shrimp, Daphnia, and Mysis shrimps for a little added treat variety with a little more nutritional value and not as much risk for constipation provided they're not over-fed. You can thaw a little in a small dish and feed any of these 1-4 times a week in place of a meal if you like.
Yeah, I know how that is...phones can be a little tricky. Any chance on turning on as many lights as you can and trying for a somewhat clear video?
Hmm....are the specks raised? Does it look like your fish has been sprinkled with salt grains? Is he doing that flicking motion I described?
To effectively treat ich, if he does have ich, you're going to need to pick up the heater a bit early...and especially in this case, you REALLY want something fully submersible and adjustable. A present/pad heater won't cut is as you're going to need to be in control of the temperature and bump it up pretty high in order to speed up the life cycle of the parasite...it can only be killed in a certain part of its life cycle.
As opposed to harsh commercial medications, most tend to have quite a bit of success treating Ich with a high does of Aquarium Salt and a high temperature....I'll have to re-look up the exact dosage, temp, and length of time...its been a little while, thankfully, since I've had to deal with ich. xD
But, theres no need to treat needlessly and put the poor guy through any unnecessary stress. Best make absolutely sure hes got ich(it should look as if your fish has been sprinkled with salt, like I mentioned before...if you're still unsure, you can look up some pictures to compare of course)before you start treating.
He still won't turn his right side to me for any length of time, which is where it's the most visible. He's not doing the flicking motion, he's actually settled down quite a bit. I guess he's eager for bedtime. I'll look again in the morning and if he's still bad, I'll see about picking something up for him after work.
Based on my own experience with Ich, its generally a little more pronounced then that...it will literally look like someone took table salt grains and sprinkled them all over your fish. That, to me, looks like a close-up if some iridescence catching the light almost....its even a little too small and localized to be Velvet I think.
I'm afraid I can't tell tell much from the picture other then hes a nice, big, lovely boy....but I would say if hes not and has never been Flashing(the flicking movement I described), you can't seem to catch any sort of gold dusty looking stuff(this will also appear as if its not quite part of the fish if you look close enough....like he was rolled in fine goldish powder) when you shine a light directly on him, he doesn't look like hes been sprinkled with salt, and he appears to be otherwise healthy, active, and eating....I think hes probably OK. Not a horrible idea to maybe get some AQ salt and possibly that heater if you can next time you pop into the pet store, just to have those things on hand(and if you pick up a 50 watt heater, thats something that can fit in the 5 gallon and be transferred into the 10 you plan on setting up)but I don't think theres any need to rush into getting something to start treatment for anything.
Last edited by DragonFish; 08-05-2013 at 09:01 PM.
Thank you so much for the help! I kept reading about getting a heater, but since I can't afford one at the moment, I turned the temperature up in my apartment. (I was chilly this morning anyways!) All the spots have vanished and the whiteness on his gills is even reduced. I guess he was just reacting badly to the temperature. He's still flaring at me, but I'm not too concerned about that. I'll definitely get him a heater as soon as possible! Thanks again!
Yeah, Bettas are a tropical species so you'll need a heater eventually as soon as you can get one, but for now definitely keeping him as warm as you can is a good plan. Maybe snag an old towel and wrap it around the sides of his tank(you can leave the front open if you like)to help keep the heat in a tad better. You can also stretch saran wrap over the top of his tank if he doesn't have a fully covered hood and poke a few holes in it to help keep the heat in a little better as well(this is also a good idea if he doesn't have a full hood because bettas are jumpers...speaking from experience, it is NOT a fun idea to find your finned companion on the ground unexpectedly!).
Good luck! Oh, and be sure to check around your local thrift stores, Creigslist, and garadge sales for possible great deals on a used tank! Walmart also I think has a full 10 gallon kit(missing the decor and heater, however)for pretty cheap if you've got one near by!