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Old 11-22-2013, 11:20 AM   #1 
roughly
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Question “Help everyone, we need advice about our finicky Finnygan . . .”

Hello, all. This is my first time posting here, but I’ve been lurking for a few months. I’ve gotten a lot of great advice from simply searching through past posts, but as I’ve found that my latest problems require a bit more specificity. So here’s the rundown:
Our betta is a 3-year-old-plus by the name of Professor Finnygan. For his first 3 years living with us, we’ve had him in a large (about 1.7 gallon) fishbowl which is essentially shaped like an enormous brandysniffer. While we didn’t have a heater in his bowl, we’ve always positioned him on our kitchen table in front of two full-sized glass sliding doors, so he gets a great deal of sunlight. (We also have a small decorative “Surf Shop” house that he can retreat to on days when the sun is streaming in a bit too much for his liking.) We change his water every week like clockwork, & we eat every meal with him. He is a prolific bubblenest-maker & is the pride of our household; we chat with him daily & generally dote on this handsome fella! (It might be my imagination, but I think he enjoys it when we sing to him. I’m a songwriter, & when I’m writing at the kitchen table, I will sometimes take a break & try to compose a little impromptu song about our Finnygan. But I digress . . .)

About 10 weeks ago, we accidentally bought a different kind of water conditioner for our betta’s tank than we usually use. After about 3 weeks of using this new conditioner, we noticed that our betta was becoming much more lethargic, his color was becoming duller, & his appetite had diminished dramatically, & so we decided to change his water back to the old trusty conditioner we’d been using for the last 3 years. We did this slowly, changing only about a third or a quarter of the water at a time a day, so as not to shock Finnygan’s system. (We learned that this was the best approach by visiting a few trustworthy-looking sites such as this one.) After about 2 weeks, it seemed that the old conditioner was out of the water completely. We noticed his interest in swimming began to improve (in a limited way), & his colors became very rich & beautiful again. Still his appetite seemed too small compared to his eating habits of the past. To give you an example: for 3 years, he would eat somewhere between 2 to 3 flakes & 2 to 3 bloodworms every day.

Over the last 3 weeks or so (this is about 7 weeks after we first gave him the wrong conditioner, for those of you at home keeping score), we’ve noticed that Finnygan has had some trouble with his buoyancy. He no longer ventured to the bottom of the bowl to nose around the way he used to, & he seemed to have trouble keeping himself situated properly on his leaf hammocks. He would set himself down on a leaf, & the bottom part of his body would begin to float to the surface as if against his will. More disturbingly for us, we noticed last Sunday (a week or so ago) that he’d begun listing to the side when he swam, as if he couldn’t swim straight because something was pulling him to one side. I did some emergency research online again & discovered that these symptoms were probably caused by Swim Bladder Infection. We immediately went out & bought him a newer, more spacious tank (2.5 gallons from TopFin), as well as a little Zoo Med heater. Finnygan seemed extremely happy with his new house & was soon swimming around happily (not frantically, just happily) & was swimming around the bottom & middle of the tank instead of just hanging out near the top (as he’d been doing since the beginning of the wrong water conditioner debacle). His lethargy seemed to have gone away completely & he was back to his old self again.

Despite the fact that he was no longer listing to one side anymore & his color & general happiness had returned, we still decided to give him a 3-day fast. (We also found in our research that it was probably unwise to feed him so many worms, & that we should probably switch from flakes to pellets, & maybe just let him have a bloodworm once or twice a week. Any thoughts from you guys on that would be greatly appreciated!)

So here’s where we get to our problem that we’re hoping you all will have some advice for: On the 4th day of the fast (yesterday), we fed him bits of an unfrozen pea to hopefully help him pass whatever blockage he might have. We microwaved an unfrozen pea sitting in a small dish of conditioned water from our tank for 10 seconds, then we removed the pea’s skin & cut it into quarters. Unfortunately, as per usual, our Finnygan is being a very finicky betta, & did not eat any of them. The same problem happened to us today when we tried feeding him 1 or 2 pellets. He grabbed it in his mouth, chewed it a few times, & then after about 5 seconds, he spat them out. We’ve tried 2 different brands of pellets (TopFin Color Enhancing Betta Bits & Aqueon Betta Food), but to no avail. He either spits them out after a couple of seconds or they simply fall to the bottom after floating for awhile. We even tried soaking the pellets in a small dish of water from his tank for about 10 minutes before feeding them to him, but we get the same result.

We just don’t know what to do, & we’re worried because our betta hasn’t gotten any food in his belly for 5 days now. Help everyone! Is there a brand out there that’s more apt to like? Or perhaps a different food? What options do we have?
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:34 AM   #2 
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you could try soaking the pellets in garlic juice for a little bit. he is not used to the new food,sometimes it takes them awhile to adjust.sometimes i think that they do not like the texture of new foods offered.the garlic may help as it is an appetite stimulant.
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:38 AM   #3 
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Well if he has been eating flakes for 3 years and has liked them it will be hard to get him to change, maybe try a higher quality flake like omega one, most things including us humans hate change lol. You can always give him frozen brine shrimp and blood worms as threat or as a meal. The frozen pea some suggest it some are down right opposed to it, I would only use it as a last resort, if he is floating right I would not give him a pea at all, I would try anti-biotics and epsons salt, but your boy doesn't seem to need either.
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Old 11-22-2013, 02:03 PM   #4 
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Thanks so much, guys, for the speedy & helpful responses. Very true about how difficult for any thing to change, heh. I will definitely try the garlic juice on these pellets. I have a couple of follow-up questions:

1) How long should I soak the pellets in garlic juice for?

2) We've actually been feeding him Omega One flakes for the last 3 years, but for some reason, in the last 3 months or so, he's just chewed on them a little & then spit them out. Do you think we should try another brand, or should we keep trying the pellets for awhile longer?

3) If our betta continues to turn his nose up at pellets & flakes, are there other foods we could try, preferably something with good nourishing value? You'd mentioned that we can use bloodworms & frozen brine shrimp for treats or for a main meal. Do you think it's healthy for our betta if we mainly end up feeding him bloodworms? What are your thoughts there?

4) Am I just being crazy for getting this concerned at this point? This is the first betta we've had, but he's been such a hearty & happy fish that I'm really concerned with this whole recent not-eating thing. Is this not really as alarming a problem as I think it is? Is this typical behavior in a 3-year-old betta, or am I right to be worried?

Thanks again to both of you for all your help. I greatly appreciate it, & would welcome any additional comments from anybody else on this forum who wants to throw in their 2 cents.
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Old 11-22-2013, 07:48 PM   #5 
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[bump bump]
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Old 11-23-2013, 07:57 AM   #6 
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Well just soak the pellets in the juice till they get wet and soaked then let them dry back out, only takes a few seconds to soak them, and yes the frozed brine shrimp and blood worms can be used as food if need be, it's the freeze dried stuff you really don't want to give them often, and 3 years old is up there for a bette most only live 3 years, some to 5, I have heard up to 9 but that is very very rare, I would pretty much feed him whatever he wants to eat keep his water temp as stable as I could and keep up with water changes, that is all any of us can really do. well besides having kanaplex and other fish meds on hand
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Old 11-23-2013, 08:51 AM   #7 
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Stone has the right idea. Don't change anything, except maybe double up on the water changes.

New Life Spectrum pellets have garlic. But, while most like it, garlic is not surefire thing for Bettas.

What water conditioner were you using? What did you change to? And what are you using now?
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Old 11-24-2013, 02:14 PM   #8 
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Thanks once again everybody for their very helpful advice here. Knowing all this stuff is definitely helping us breathe a sigh of relief over here.

Stone: We will definitely be trying that soaking-pellets-in-garlic-juice trick you mentioned. I will also be looking into some kanaplex to keep on hand, so thanks for mentioning that. We'll also try to track down some better bloodworms. The ones we're feeding him now are unfortunately of the dried variety. Is there a certain kind/brand of frozen bloodworm you might recommend?

Hallyx: We will look for those New Life Spectrum pellets today at our pet store, but if they don't have them, I'll order them online. To answer your question about the kinds of water conditioner we used, unfortunately I don't remember which brand it was we accidentally switched to 10 weeks ago, & we threw it out some weeks back when we realized it wasn't working so as to not accidentally use it again in the future. As for the brand we were using before (& that we switched back to now), it's a conditioner from SeaChem Laboratories called Prime. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this brand?

I just want to say thanks in advance again to everyone who has been giving their patient opinions to us. I can't tell you what a relief it is for us to be getting some good, practical advice from experts!
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Old 11-24-2013, 02:23 PM   #9 
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prime is the favorite around here and many other forums.
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Old 11-28-2013, 07:11 PM   #10 
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Thanks, Sandybottom, we've noticed that several people we trust, including several employees at our local pet store, all like Prime the best as well.

Good news: our betta's appetite has returned in full force! I seems that it makes a huge difference to him to soak the pellets & then LET THEM DRY FIRST before feeding them to him. This allows him to have enough time to get to them before they sink. The other major change we've instituted is we replaced a heater that we'd had for a couple of weeks but we'd been very unsatisfied with; it didn't raise the temperature as far as we wanted. This Sunday, we replaced it with a higher-quality one with a built-n thermometer & that we have more control over, & which allows us to get the temperature up to where we've been wanting to get it all along (78 degrees). Our betta's appetite & general mood has gotten tons better since we installed this new thermometer. We are so happy & relieved!

Thanks everyone for all the great advice you've been sending our way. I'd love to get your opinions on which frozen shrimp & bloodworms are the best for your bettas? Also, are they things that we should only give him once or twice a week, or ever day? Any thoughts you guys have would be enormously appreciated!
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