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Old 09-14-2013, 11:33 PM   #1 
snowsnail
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Very sick betta, swims crooked.

Hey there.

I just took home a new Betta fish three days ago. I hadn't planned on getting any more Bettas because I've already got a few tanks set up, but he was very clearly on the verge of death and I couldn't just leave him at the store.

The fish was so sick that the pet store clerk let me have him for free. He was floating upside down on the bottom of his cup (which had a date on it that suggested he had been in there for a little over 3 months) and hardly moved. The only way I could tell he wasn't dead was every once in a while his gills would move.

Once I got him home I tested the ammonia levels in the water he was kept in and watched the water turn from yellow, to dark green, to blue, to black. My ammonia test kit didn't even have a reference for such toxic water.

As far as I can tell he has severe ammonia burns on his eyes and gills, which have turned black and the way he moves and tries to find food makes me think he might be blind. He sat in the bottom for almost the entire night, swimming in awkward circles up to the top to breathe. (I left the water quite shallow because he seems to be having a very hard time getting the the surface.) I pretty much expected to wake up the next morning to find him dead.

But he was still alive the next morning, and he was alive this morning as well. He didn't eat the first night I had him, but he's been eating these past two days. He eats slowly and awkwardly and misses pellet food (which I feed my other two bettas) and blood worms. The only food he will eat are tropical fish flakes which I use for my community tank.

His color looks a lot brighter since I got him and he is much more active. He swims around a little bit on the surface but most kind of floats there. His gills also look less black. (He's red so it's easy to see) but he still swims really crooked.

It looks like his own spine is bent into a 'c' shape. He's always bent sideways. I'm not sure why that is. It makes him swim in loopy circles and zig zags. What's wrong with him and is there anything I can do to fix it?

Also what else can I do to help him? I've got him in a 3 gallon heated tank with two silk plants and a cover. I have not been using a filter because I'm worried he won't be able to swim against the currant but I have been testing his water every day and been doing about a gallon to a gallon and a half water changes to make sure there is no ammonia preset.

Is there anything I can do for his ammonia burns besides just keeping his water as clean as possible?

Thanks!
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Old 09-14-2013, 11:39 PM   #2 
Weaver
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Good for you to provide a home for a special-needs fish. Poor little guy, I hope he makes it with the care you're providing for him.
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Old 09-15-2013, 12:00 AM   #3 
snowsnail
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Also, here are some pictures that might be helpful.


That is him on the first day I got him, about an hour or so after I put him in clean water.

And this is him this morning, which is the best picture I could get of that weird bend in his spine.

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Old 09-15-2013, 12:12 AM   #4 
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Also, as you can see from the first picture he was in a one gallon bowl but he has been moved to a three gallon tank since then. The bowl was just the only thing I had lying around because I hadn't planned on getting a fish.
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Old 09-15-2013, 12:44 AM   #5 
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Good for you to provide a home for a special-needs fish. Poor little guy, I hope he makes it with the care you're providing for him.
Thank you. :) I really hope he gets better.
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Old 09-15-2013, 02:10 AM   #6 
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I'm still learning a lot about treating fish for various things, but if it were me I would treat his fins sort of like I would treat fin tears--as an 'open wound.' You might try some stress coat or aquarium salt. I would wait for a second forum-person opinion on the salt, but this website recommends it for ammonia burns. You might want to research it a little for that specific application.

I've also heard Indian Almond Leaves can help calm bettas--I don't know a lot about them, but maybe they might help your boy while he's healing? I'd wait for an opinion on that one too, it may be unnecessary.

Poor baby... It is good of you to take in that poor thing. I really hope he gets better, too! Even if he never becomes totally normal, I'm sure you'll still have made a very, very happy fish. <3
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Old 09-15-2013, 12:20 PM   #7 
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Thank you for trying to save him! How is he doing today?

It looks like his major issues are due to high levels of ammonia (and other toxins), poor food, and a tiny cup.

At this point, I would not add medications or salts to the tank. These are harsh on the body, and he's already been through a lot.

Clean, warm water and good nutrition are what he needs most of all right now.

The 3 gallon tank probably seems like an entire ocean to him right now. Don't worry about the filter - the water quality you're providing is WAY better than what was in his store cup.

The curved shape could be due to constipation from low-quality store food, being in a tiny cup for most of his life, or a birth defect. (It could also indicate a disease, but I'm inclined to believe it's one of the other three things.)

If he has trouble reaching the surface, you can lower the water level so he doesn't have to swim as far. Hopefully, a few days of good care will restore his buoyancy, too.

If you can find mosquito larvae, this would be an ideal food for him. It's their natural diet, so it provides good nutrition and is easily digestible. I usually use a turkey baster to suck some up, then rinse with a little tank water, and use the turkey baster to squirt one or two into the tank.

I would give him a few days of just basic good care. (Clean, warm water and good nutrition.) Those few things go a long way towards allowing them to heal.
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Old 09-15-2013, 04:23 PM   #8 
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Thank you for trying to save him! How is he doing today?

It looks like his major issues are due to high levels of ammonia (and other toxins), poor food, and a tiny cup.

At this point, I would not add medications or salts to the tank. These are harsh on the body, and he's already been through a lot.

Clean, warm water and good nutrition are what he needs most of all right now.

The 3 gallon tank probably seems like an entire ocean to him right now. Don't worry about the filter - the water quality you're providing is WAY better than what was in his store cup.

The curved shape could be due to constipation from low-quality store food, being in a tiny cup for most of his life, or a birth defect. (It could also indicate a disease, but I'm inclined to believe it's one of the other three things.)

If he has trouble reaching the surface, you can lower the water level so he doesn't have to swim as far. Hopefully, a few days of good care will restore his buoyancy, too.

If you can find mosquito larvae, this would be an ideal food for him. It's their natural diet, so it provides good nutrition and is easily digestible. I usually use a turkey baster to suck some up, then rinse with a little tank water, and use the turkey baster to squirt one or two into the tank.

I would give him a few days of just basic good care. (Clean, warm water and good nutrition.) Those few things go a long way towards allowing them to heal.
Thank you.

He seems to look better every day. At night he gets lethargic and sits on the bottom but this morning he was swimming at the top. When I came home from work this afternoon he was swimming as well. He still stays close to the surface and just kind of wiggles but he doesn't seem to be having as much trouble. He still only eats flakes. He ignored blood worms and he spits pellets. (Where do you find mosquito larvae? Ill ask my local pet store but I'm not sure if they carry them, haha. Perhaps I could find them online?)


I'm not sure if he's constipated or not but ill try to feed him a pea and see what happens. I was worried maybe there was something wrong with his swim bladder that was keeping him turned sideways most of the time.

His fins are also really curled at the edges, which I hear is also from bad water quality. Is there anything I can do about that? Some things I've been reading says they won't uncurl. He doesn't seem to have any signs of fin rot or tail biting or anything, just curly shrively fins.

I have seen a drastic improvement in his appearance and behavior. I was worried he would die but now I'm starting to think he will survive, even if he's a little bit wonky.
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Old 09-15-2013, 05:15 PM   #9 
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1) No peas!

Just feed him quality food. The constipation will take care of itself. Peas are high in fiber but do not contain the nutrients that he needs.

2) Mosquito larvae

I don't think petstores will have this. Look outside for a something that contains water. For example, if you have an outdoor plant in a pot, look at the saucer underneath. Mosquito larvae will be small 'wiggly' things. Take what you want. Dump the rest of the water so you don't end up with mosquitoes.

3) Make the pellets smaller.

Use a fingernail to cut a pellet in half. Feed him the smaller pieces. It's likely that he's never had pellets before. It may take him time to get used to them.

4) Curved shape

Swimming around his small cup for months is probably what led to his curved shape. I suspect he'll start to straighten out now that he doesn't need to go in endless tiny circles.

5) Swimming in general.

I also suspect that his swimming will get stronger during the next few days. If someone is confined to a tiny room, they can't exercise their muscles much. He was in a tiny cup, so he's not used to swimming far. As he explores his new tank, his swimming should get better.

6) Curled fin edges.

Water that is "hard" (ie: contains a lot of dissolved salts/minerals) can cause the fin tips to curl. This is just cosmetic. It's not a health issue.

Are the edges dark or "smudged" looking? This is different than just having curled fin tips.

7) Wonkiness.

I have a feeling that a few weeks from now, he'll have worked out his wonkiness.l
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Old 09-16-2013, 02:10 AM   #10 
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I'm glad to hear he's doing better every day! Please keep us updated as he progresses!
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