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Old 09-04-2013, 11:33 AM   #1 
Avalonian
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Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Suddenly Lethargic Fish! ARG!!

Hello fellow Beta Fish Lovers

I have a lethargic fish!

Here's what happened: Let me preface this by saying I am not a fish expert (although after a lot of googling I know a lot more than I initially did).

I bought an aquafarm (http://store.backtotheroots.com/Aqua...aquaponics.htm) and set it up on Saturday, after buying a small beta fish, named Bacala. The man at the pet store said it was a baby, which I believe because it is small but who knows if he knew what he was talking about!

I deeply regret not letting the tank cycle for 2 or 4 weeks or however long one is supposed to do that for.

That said we set up the tank, planted the seeds on the top, and did an elaborate series of steps to prepare the water and fish including de-chlorinators, a "fish bath," a dash of "new tank" stuff, etc etc.

Everything seemed great and the fish happily swam around and all was well. The water was too cloudy, I think because the plant pots in the "farm" part of the Aquafarm use shale rocks which can make the water cloudy when not rinsed thoroughly. Wheatgrass started growing pretty quickly out of the aquafarm, which meant the roots started sucking up all the gunk from the tank including the residue from the shale rocks that made the water cloudy.

I was relieved since I thought I'd have to replace the water gradually over a few weeks but then I noticed my fish had a fluffy white thing hanging off of his face, on the side. After some internet research it looked like Bacala had some kind of fungus. It was only the one fluffy white thing so I made sure to go out the next day and get an anti fungus and finrot medicine from the pet store before it got worse. That same day the white thing fell off, but I read that this can happen however the fungus hasn't gone away. A few websites said if there is a fungus you have to do a complete 100% change over of the water, despite the fact that any water change is best to be done in stages (so I've read).

Yesterday I spent a long time preparing new water, making sure it was the same temperature as the old water, putting in the appropriate amount of anti fungus medicine, checking the Ph, de-chlorinating the water, adding that new tank thing...

While doing all of this I had Bacala in a small bowl with some of his old tank water and towards the end of getting his tank ready I noticed he was looking a little funny (not moving much). I'm noting this because I'm wondering if there's nothing wrong with the new water in the tank but he was just really stressed from being in the bowl.

Once we put Bacala back in his new water he barely moved. That was yesterday and he's pretty much the same. He hangs around the floor of the tank, not moving, or hangs around the surface of the tank, not moving. He didn't eat anything last night and barely ate anything today. When he swims it is slow and un-energetic.

I don't know what to do, I don't know what else I could have done to that water to make sure he didn't get stressed or go into fishy shock or whatever is happening to him now the poor guy! I'm going out to get aquarium salt and possibly an ammonia testing kit since it looks like aquarium salt is a cure all for various ailments.

I feel terrible and I don't want him to die! We've barely had him and I would feel like such an idiot for killing a fish. Also he is the cutest and it's killing me to see him so listless.

Here are answers to the usual questions:

Housing
What size is your tank? 3 gallons
What temperature is your tank? 68 Celsius
Does your tank have a filter? ...no but the plants are the filter. The tank water is sucked up to the tray with the plants and the roots eat up the junk and fresh water is pumped back down into the tank.
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? Air pump
Is your tank heated? Yes
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? 3 snails

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Pets at Home (I live in Scotland) Tropical flakes. It's what they were already feeding Bacala when I bought him so I thought it would be fine since he's used to eating it. I also break up the flakes so they aren't so big.
How often do you feed your betta fish? Small amounts twice a day

Maintenance
How often do you perform a water change? I just did one yesterday, but have only set up the tank on Saturday
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? Yesterday I changed 100% but I was told to usually change out 50% (is that true?)
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? de-chlorinator

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?

Ammonia: don't have this kit
Nitrite: don't have this kit
Nitrate: don't have this kit
pH: 6.8/7 (it was a very close call)
Hardness: don't have this kit
Alkalinity: don't have this kit

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? fins closed/not expanded
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? No more happy swimming, just listlessly floating at the top of the tank or sitting at the bottom of the tank
When did you start noticing the symptoms? yesterday, within 20 minutes of putting Bacala in the new water
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? No.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? Dunno! He's new.
How old is your fish (approximately)? Baby probably?
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:35 PM   #2 
TiffanyP
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I'm having an issue with your temp... 68 Celcius? Probably just a typo as your fish would be fried if it were indeed 68C lol it should be between 25 and 28C.

If he's a baby make sure he has lots of places to hide, he may be stressed if there isn't anywhere for him to retreat to. Also, with a tank that small the snails probably aren't a good idea. From what I understand they have quite large bioloads and may be more harm than good in a tank of that size.

As for water changes, if the link is correct, for a 3 gallon tank do a 50% change twice a week (one of water only, and the other make sure you get all of the poo and other junk off of the bottom/out of the substrate), and probably a 100% change once or twice a month as I'm not sure how effective the 'filtration' of plants above the water will be. Maybe someone else can chime in on that particular topic.

Don't do any medications unless you are absolutely certain that he has some kind of disease. Not even AQ salt. Can you post a picture of the little guy?
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Old 09-04-2013, 03:00 PM   #3 
Avalonian
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Whoops I meant 68 F.

He has a rock structure with a hole in the middle with silk flowers on both sides so he likes to hide in the flowers, in the hole of the cave, and behind the structure.

As for the snails do you think I should take all three out or maybe leave one in?

I'm happy to take the snails out but I would be surprised if that was the problem.

As for the water changing sounds fine but I can't help but wondering if I changed the water this one time and this is how the beta is acting, what will happen the next time I do a 100% water change?!

I'll try attaching a picture tomorrow, it's night time over here and my tank doesn't have a light. Hopefully Bacala won't be hiding behind a rock where I can't photograph him!
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Old 09-04-2013, 03:12 PM   #4 
TiffanyP
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Oh goodness, for a baby fish he definitely needs much warmer water. Get a heater in there asap!! Try to keep it around 82 degrees Fahrenheit. And since he is a baby (didn't even think of this in my first post) definitely do a 50% change every couple of days - babies release a growth stunting hormone, which is a defense mechanism in the wild but kind of backfires when they're on their own in a tank. Frequent water changes will get that out of the water and keep him growing at a good rate :)

I'm 99% certain that he's so lethargic because of the temperature. Get a heater in there and I bet he'll perk up in no time.
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Old 09-04-2013, 03:22 PM   #5 
Avalonian
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Is it really the temperature if the fish was swimming happily in the tank for the first two days? I have a heater in the tank which keeps the water at an average temperature of 78 F. Sorry my boyfriend told me 68 which is a lie. Is that still too cold? The heater is made for that specific size of tank (the package says). I should get a thermometer to know the actual temperature of the water; I don't have one yet.

I'll do a 50% change tomorrow if it is a hormone thing. To be honest I have no idea how old the beta is. He is small so I assume pretty young. But not sure if it's actually a baby.
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Old 09-04-2013, 03:27 PM   #6 
TiffanyP
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If the temp was 68 then that would more than likely be the problem... 78 should be okay though. I strongly suggest getting a thermometer to put in the tank so you know for certain. The pre-set heaters almost never sit at the temp they are supposed to.

If the water temperature is cooler than probably 74F, yes it could still be the issue - they can tolerate colder or warmer temps for short periods of time before it starts to wear on them. The hormones shouldn't make him lethargic, it just stunts his growth which is why water changes should be frequent.
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Old 09-04-2013, 04:54 PM   #7 
Avalonian
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Thanks TiffanyP for your help. I'll get a thermometer and get on changing the water...hopefully poor Bacala will cheer up.
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