My male betta, Liam, suddenly started showing strange symptoms this afternoon. His stomach is very, very bloated, and his eyes are bulging. He's swimming in a strange pattern, often upside down or just lying on the bottom of the tank. Sometimes he goes to the top of the tank and seems to gasp at the air. I'm not very experienced in betta illness. I did some research, and this looks like overfeeding. But I'm not sure. Yesterday, I fed him a lot more than usual because I wanted to make up for missing the previous day's feedings. I'm really worried because it looks like he's struggling to get air, and I don't want him to suffer. Any advice or suggestions?
When you overfeed fish, they often get this sort of problem. Overfeeding causes bloating, and bloating can cause trouble with their swim bladder. (They use their swim bladder to control whether they float to the top or sink to the bottom.)
Anywho, if the swim bladder is being squashed because of the bloating, it acts up and affects their ability to swim.
First thing you should do is lower the water level in the tank. That will make it easier for him to get to the surface for air. And then don't feed him for 2-3 days; this will help clear all of the extra food out of his system. Fish don't need to make up for missed meals, they'll be fine even if you forget to feed them for a week.
However... the bulging eyes worries me. Overfeeding wouldn't usually cause that.
The eyes worry me too. I didn't see them on the list of symptoms on multiple websites I looked at. I thought maybe they only look bigger to me because he was so bloated? But that doesn't make much sense. I'm at a loss as to what it could be.
Also, are his scales sticking out like a pinecone?
I find it really strange that overfeeding would cause eye-bulging, however it seems more likely that he has popeye and dropsy, bacterial infections that could have started in one affected area and spread to the other.
Do you have any water stats and can you tell us whether tha tank is heated? How big is the tank, how often do you change the water and how much water do you change?
His eyes are pretty big. I really don't have a big aquarium, I'm not looking for a complicated set up. I got him at a pet store, and they sold me a tank and food they use. He has a pretty small tank, but they told me to get him a smaller tank or he would damage his fins. He's eating hikari betta food. His scales aren't sticking up. I've never taken water readings. His water is about 72 degrees. The tank isn't heated. But I keep him in the warmest room of the house. I do partial changes around once a week. But he hadn't had a water change the past two weeks, because of a family emergency, although I did get someone to come over and feed him.
He's currently lying on the bottom of his tank. I thought he was dead, but I can see he's breathing a little bit.
Leaning more towards a bacterial problem now that you've posted your tank stats.
Never listen to pet store employees. Fact is, betta fish really don't do very well in tanks under 2.5-3 gallons. I prefer using 5 gallons. In a small tank; meaning 1-2 gallons, you should be changing ALL of the water at least 2-3 times per week. Partial changes aren't getting rid of ammonia, and ammonia kills fish. Honestly, a heater is a necessity. Being tropical fish, betta won't do well in cooler temperatures, or temperatures that go up and down constantly.
If you want to attempt saving him.... your best bet is to go out, buy a 2.5 gallon tank, a heater and some Freshwater Aquarium Salt. At the very least, do a through cleaning of his current tank, replace all of the water with new water and slowly re-acclimate him to the new water.
You will learn pretty fast that pet-store employees know little more than you do. A larger tank will not damage his fins unless you are running a real powerhouse of a filter or you have nippy tankmates in with him.
And furthermore, the larger the setup the less complicated it gets. In fact, if you want something really simple I would go with a 10 gallon!
Meds will be ineffective while your betta is in an underheated, cramped tank but if you do get a bigger tank I suggest approaching this with a really broad-spectrum antibiotic like the Maracyn/Maracyn 2 combo.
Yeah, I'm figuring that out about pet store people. I've spent the last 24 hours running around the internet trying to figure out what's wrong with my Betta. I feel really bad, because I do love my Betta, and I want him to have a good life. I've ordered a 2.5 gallon tank, heater, light filter, and pH level testing kit.
I'm still really anxious about the water quality. I always used poland springs bottled water for my fish. I'm still trying to figure out if there's other stuff I need for the water. Some websites talk about adding salt, but I'm still doing the research.