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Old 01-28-2010, 03:40 AM   #1 
Tinthalas Tigris
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Join Date: Jan 2010
21 betta fish 2 weeks ago, now 11, dwindling fast. What do I do?

I'll need to preface this by giving a bit of background for my own mistakes, and perhaps to aid everyone involved in assisting me. Please, read every detail, as I feel it is a bag of mixed worms.

My wife and I, in planning our wedding, decided on having fish as centerpieces instead of flowers, believing it would make a better decoration for people to take home, more exciting to look at, and less expensive than flowers or something more ornate.

Originally planning these centerpieces as glass vases with mollies in them, we had no idea (never having kept fish before) that we would need aeration for them. The gentleman at our LFS suggested we use bettas, because of their labyrinth organ, and hardiness.

I purchased a 10 gallon aquarium, small brown rock substrate, 17 female bettas and a package of 30 portions of freeze dried blood worms.

Day 1)

All the fish in bag, marinated in about 6 gallons of semi-warm aquarium purified drinking water for half an hour, along with the substrate. Added to aquarium. Seemingly happy fish. Fed one portion of blood worms to the fish and that was that.

Day 2)

All fish doing well, no changes. At this point, I am not monitoring any chemicals, and the next days are all the same. Feed the fish one portion of blood worms in the evening, and make sure they are all alive and swimming.

Day 6)

One is clearly not doing well, and is swimming on its side. Not doing well. Consulted several online websites with very contradictory information. I figure this is the one fish that is the fluke, and after it dies, it is flushed down the toilet.

Day 7)

4 more female bettas purchased. If there will be more deaths, i want to be prepared. Wedding is two days from this point, and there are more than enough bettas to go around each table. Everything seems to be going well. 0 deaths, all fish seem to have made transport from home to wedding site without any damages. (drained aquarium to half, and drove slowly in car)

Day 15 wedding finished, and honeymoon over)
5 or 6 betta fish are taken by guests, 14 bettas remain.
After some reading on the subject of keeping an aquarium, and general Betta care, I decide to invest in a 10 gallon aquarium, a heater, filter combo package. the PetSMART Top Fin 10 package. (I also purchase a basic Betta care book by Animal Planet publishers.)

If there was ever a need for there to be consistancy in a single product's instruction manuals (And in a self-contained & packaged product i thought I would find it) this product clearly is not it. Reading the main "quick start" manual about registering ammonia levels, etc, the individual components' package instructions contradict what is listed on the package. At this point, I am confused, and to make matters worse:
One fish is doing worse than others. It is floating on its side, but still responding. I decide to separate this fish from the rest and only have a small plastic cup ready.

At this point I am very worried that the fish are not going to make it as a whole , because they are not warm enough.

Quickly setting up the new aquarium, ignorant of the nitrogen cycle, and mostly at chaos with myself in needing to take care of the freezing fish, I move the remaining 12 fish into the new warm aquarium, one by one. quickly allowing them to adjust in their water and in small snack bag plastic bags.

The change in temperature is amazing. I am clearly satisfied at this point, and they all come jumping to full vibrancy in color and activity. Swimming back and forth and all over the aquarium like they have been reborn.

My excitement continues, and it seems all is well.

Day 16)

Read much about nitrogen cycles the next day. Panicy. Did not understand what or how a PH/Nitrite/Nitrate/Ammonia kit could have been missed in my starter kit. Realization that it must be purchased seperately. WalMart (only thing open at the hour I realize this) has only PH and Ammonia Kit. Better than nothing. Everything within reasonable levels at this point. I begin to facilitate the process for the fish and handle 10% water changes daily.

Everything seems to go well.

Day 20)

The pattern for impulsively made bad decisions becomes seen more easily at this point; I purchase silk plants, as well as live Mondo Grass, and Anacharis, with hopes they will aid the nitrogen cycle. Per a website I am reading, I also purchase driftwood, with hopes that the bettas whom have mostly shied away in their activities will have a place to hide. I do not sterilize any of these items in anyway before adding them to the tank.

Day 21 Today)

Major problems evident.
White cottony splotches appear on one fish. A red sore on another. Possibly additional cotton splotches on one other fish.

Some research, this might be a fungal infection. Common theme, to purchase Fungal solution as made by Jungle Lab products. LFS does not carry product by exact name that I am looking for, but Fungal Clear by Jungle is carried. A note about known carcinogens found in the pacakge concerns me, but I must also take care of the fish.

Disolved product in seperate container, 1 tablet per 10 gallon solution. Added to aquarium and water turns blue... Looks like public restroom toilet.

Day is somewhat over for me, I turn in for a nap, and come back down stairs 2 hours later:

Everything is worse. All fish are now showing signs of affliction. Cotton patches and strands hanging from every fish. Water horrendous blue color. Prime fishes with hardiness compared to others are now floating on their sides at the top of the aquarium, virtually unresponsive to stimulus, except for minor flapping of fins.

Proceeded with 25% water change. 2 hours later, another 25% water change. Added 2 tablespoons kosher salt and raised temperature of aquarium by two degrees. Aquarium is at 78 degrees Fahr.

1:38 am. Fish are much more active at this point. Cotton splotches still evident. two fish still carrying most of their business at the top of the aquarium.

I do not know what to do. I have no idea where to go from here, nor where to proceed. What do I do next?
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Old 01-28-2010, 11:15 AM   #2 
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I'm not very experienced with sick fish but I do know that higher temps are better for healing. If it's at 78, you could slowly bring it up to 82. It could help. I hope someone else has more suggestions.
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Old 01-28-2010, 12:16 PM   #3 
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Also, do you have photos of the red sores and cottony patches?

Where are most of the patches located??

It may not be actually fungus it could also be columnaris, you need to distinguish from the two before treating the fish. Looking at the location and patterns of the white growths will help you determine this.
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Old 01-28-2010, 01:51 PM   #4 
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Spots, patches, there are a lot of things it could be. Ich is a parasite, it could be that. I would let the tablet run it's course. 2-4 hours does not a treatment make. Ich shouldn't kill your fish in early stages, so let the blue stuff work and see how it goes. Don't put any more medication in the tank til your toilet water is finished. The package should say how long to leave it like that. You don't want to over medicate your fish.

The red sores could be something else, but I really have no idea. Pictures are best in this situation, so grab some if you can. Or go looking at betta fish illnesses on the web and find something that looks like it.

Make sure your water temp is up. 78-82 is normal temp for betta, it should stay around there at all times. I keep mine at 80, Lunch likes it warm. While the fish are sick, raise the temp (SLOWLY) to 85. This will help fight off diseases.

Don't get anymore fish. And from now on, clean any new objects you put in your tank. And when you get new live plants, quarantine them for a week or so in a separate tank.

Just be patient, get pictures and see if the meds you have now do anything before panicking.
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Old 01-28-2010, 04:19 PM   #5 
Tinthalas Tigris
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Here are some pictures. I've never photographed an aquarium before, so it was a bit difficult to get the right shot, and especially the right fish.

I thank you for all your advice. I've slowly, over the course of the last 12 hours moved the heat from 76 to 80, and slowly more.

Most of the fish seem to be acting like their swim bladder isn't working right now. They're all hanging out at the top of the aquarium. One keeps jumping into the fliter media at the very top of the tank and prefers it there.

The one with the white patch in the picture is the one who seems to have it the worst, but it seems to be doing the best, continuing to swim around the tank.
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Old 01-28-2010, 05:08 PM   #6 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Central Texas
It looks like a bacterial infection to me.
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Old 01-29-2010, 06:09 PM   #7 
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I agree with drama, it looks like a bacterial infection. Ouch. You should treat with an antibiotic for bacteria rather than fungus.
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:59 PM   #8 
Tinthalas Tigris
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Thank you everyone for your responses.

After a seemingly long week, I think the bettas have managed to cure themselves of the worst of the ailments.

It seems ammonia spike levels due to all the fish being quickly introduced to that tank cause more damage than anything, and were the strain to cause damage with everything else.

I purchased some small quarantining bowls, and separated each betta from the aquarium. I also purchased "Bettafix," and vacuumed out the rest of that Fungus Clear over the course of about 8 20% water changes, and have been back down to daily 15% water changes, over all.

So far all the bettas are making an amazing recovery. There were 3 very unexpected fatalities that hit 2 of the healthier looking bettas. The Red gills, and firm breathing made it seem quite evident that it was an ammonia poisoning.

I brought some sample water to the LFS, who stated ammonia levels were in the stressful sector, which matched what my test strips stated.

I might lose two more, but the bettafix has really done wonders for those two.

Patience at this point is my best friend, and I'm handing feeding each one to make sure that no extra ammonia afflicts them.
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Old 02-01-2010, 03:11 PM   #9 
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Good luck, it seems like they're on their way to mending. :)
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Old 02-03-2010, 06:08 PM   #10 
Tinthalas Tigris
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I am having a little bit of trouble with the prospect of reintroducing each quarantined individual back into the tank:
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