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?