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Old 02-10-2010, 05:47 PM   #1 
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diagnose why betta died after new tankmate

please help me understand what happened to my betta. i had him for a couple of weeks. in the beginning he was quite mopy and non-interactive, wouldn't flare. as i learned how to regulate his water temperature and feeding he became very strong, colors brightened, showed fishy intelligence, followed me around the room with his eyes, and even blew a bubble nest. i decided to add a tankmate: an african dwarf frog and apple snail from petsmart. the frog we chose seemed healthy when we got it. i didn't notice anything wrong but i don't think i looked close enough. i sat the bags of the two new animals in the betta's bowl with him for about two hours. betta seemed curious and swam all around the bags. i emptied the new animal's bags water and all into the betta's bowl. then i noticed one of the frog's feet was white and the toes were curled up as if the foot was dead. he could still get around fine and i had heard of frogs regenerating limbs so i thought i'd just keep an eye on him. the betta nipped at him a couple times but not very aggressively, just like, what's that? the betta acted normal for a while but gradually started to avoid the frog rather than follow it.

over the next few hours the frog's behaviour degenerated until he was staying near the top taking frequent breaths, and getting himself turned on his back somehow. eventually i saw him dead at the bottom. this was all in just a few hours. another hour or so later i noticed the betta not looking so good. i took the water temperature and realized, oh shoot, it is 69 degrees and he hadn't been that cold before-he had been at 71 degrees for a long time though and then he just stood still at the bottom. instead he started hanging around near the top like the frog did taking frequent breaths. his mouth/eyes area became very pale and almost puffy looking. to me it seemed like the color going out of his flesh, as it followed the pattern of his scale if you know what i mean-not something on the surface though i think he was producing mucus or something. he kept sticking his nose out of the water and looking up at the light i have above his tank, like he was trying towards the light x.x poor thing. i added a tsp of non-iodized salt to the 5 gallon tank and went to sleep for the night. the salt seemed to perk him up as far as i could tell at the time, i hoped it would solve the problem if it was fungal/bacterial. in the morning he was dead.

i want to know what happened so maybe i can prevent it in the future. shock from the new water? disease from the frog? too low temperature? it seems too weird how the frog went the same way the betta did, and the foot thing.. maybe it was just shock from the mixing environments idk. the snail is just fine.

Last edited by dramaqueen; 02-10-2010 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 02-10-2010, 06:14 PM   #2 
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1) You mention a bowl, and then later a 5g tank. How big exactly is the enclosure you put all 3 animals into?
2) How often do you clean the tank and how much water do you change? Is it cycled or uncycled?

African dwarf frogs are extremely sensitive to water quality. Their porous skin soaks up toxins really fast so if you have been falling behind on tank maintenance it's possible that he was poisoned by ammonia, nitrite and/or nitrate. Furthermore apple snails are extremely heavy waste producers and pollute the tank fast with said toxins. They don't even need to poop to do so... all aquarium creatures also excrete ammonia through their gills. An apple snail alone would require about 3-5g.

So far I am suspecting that the sudden introduction of two new creatures to the tank either overwhelmed the bacteria (if your tank is cycled) or polluted the tank with ammonia (if your tank isn't cycled) causing the two more delicate creatures (the fish and the frog) to die.

Your temperature is also rather low... you want to keep it at roughly 78-82 degrees.
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Old 02-10-2010, 06:18 PM   #3 
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The frog probably had some sort of disease, but I don't see how the betta would of caught it so quickly.

Your water temperature is too low for a betta. It needs to be 76-80 (around there) degrees F.

You did the same thing I did. We didn't quarantine the new animals. I lost two bettas this way. If you quarantine fish or frogs for around 2 weeks, it should be safer to say the new animal has no disease. That way you might only lose one animal if it's sick.
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Old 02-10-2010, 11:22 PM   #4 
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Also, never ever put water from the bags with the new animals in your fishes bowl. You don't know what kind of water quality they had at the store and you never want to introduce that to your tank.
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Old 02-11-2010, 03:23 PM   #5 
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thank you all for your replies.

the bowl is 5 gallons. i researched the matter of putting the animals together before i bought them and determined that it would be fine as long as i changed the water frequently and it would be helped by the plants that are in the bowl as well.

i change about a third of the water every other day to once every three days. i age the water for 24 hours but i don't use conditioner as the beta seemed very strong and healthy with simply aging the water. the animals were in together unbagged less than four hours before the frog died.

i keep the temperature of that bowl at 74-76 degrees F normally. when i had it at 78 degrees the beta freaked out and flared at everything, basically what i have read they do when they're too hot. the pet store i think was on the cool side so i guess he was adapted to the cool side of the range- at 74-76 degrees he behaved very well, not sluggish and not agitated. when i added the water from the foreign bags (which i thought would help the frog and snail adapt) it brought the temperature down much further than i expected it to, and the frog in particular was probably much too cold from the ride home.

i recognize that i should not have added all the water from the new animal's bags to the bowl. i recognize that i should have quarantined them. i should have followed my gut with that. my boyfriend thought those things weren't necessary. he had the same combination of animals before and used the same method. he was lucky i guess.

how do you suggest i add the frog if i get another one-should i quarantine him for a few days, adding a little of the main tank's water and some fresh water to his bowl gradually when i do his water changes? so as to make him accustomed to my particular water, the biological activity of my other pets, etc? should i do water changes every day when i have a frog with a betta and snail? i will be buying a water conditioner for when i have betas and frogs in the future- i have read more about city water and how the chemicals fluctuate and about chloramine. even though it generally seemed to work for my betta, the water will not always be the same so i cannot depend on its safety unless i condition it.

any information on how to properly transition an african dwarf frog to a new, already inhabited tank would be great. if anyone knows a disease that is like what i described please inform me. it was probably my own folly anyway. what exactly do bettas do when they are really shocked from cold- is it like what i described? before when he was cold he just sat still on the bottom, not near the top breathing quick. how often is "too often" for water changes with properly conditioned water?
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Old 02-11-2010, 04:06 PM   #6 
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You should float the bag with the new animal in your tank. Remove some water from the bag (into a container), pour some water from the tank into the bag. Maybe every 15 minutes or so. Keep doing this until you think you've replaced most of it with tank water. Like if you were switching out an eighth of the water at a time, do it 8 times. Net the animal and add it to the tank. Don't add the water into the tank.

There's also something called the drip method (which I prefer) where you run an airline tube from the established tank into a bucket or container with the new animal in his water he came in. You tie a knot or two in the tubing and start a siphon, then you tighten the knots so that the water is dripping into the container at a 4 or 5 drips a second. When the water volume is about double what it was, you remove half the water and start again. Once it's doubled a second time, you can safely add the new animal to the tank you have set up. Don't add the water. Just net the animal and add it in.

The gasping at the top sounds very much like a toxin of some kind vs. an illness but I'm not terribly familiar with all the fishy sicknesses.
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Old 02-12-2010, 12:51 PM   #7 
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thank you, vaygirl. and that is kind of what i was thinking, about it being a toxin..i wonder if maybe the snail's water had a toxin in it that got the other two animals. the tank the snail came from at the pet store had A LOT of snails in it plus a few good-sized fire bellied toads....

oh god. i just googled fire-bellied toads. they're toxic as well as being carriers of Chytrid Fungus. ahh i can't believe that didn't occur to me before, they're bright coloured like a big sign saying HEY I'M TOXIC!! and they're sometimes imported from china. red flag. there wasn't much water in the snail/toad tank at the shop either so it was probably pretty potent. aggghh. i have to call petsmart. do you think that's what it could have been?

Last edited by microcosm; 02-12-2010 at 01:06 PM.
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Old 02-12-2010, 08:14 PM   #8 
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I'd say the toads could be a very likely cause. I don't know much about their toxin but I've heard of people who lost fish due to having firebelly toads.

We all make mistakes, at least you're taking the time to learn what you did wrong so you won't make them again. I'm sure you'll have much better luck in the future.
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Old 02-12-2010, 08:40 PM   #9 
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That is probably what killed them. Please make sure you research acceptable tank mates for bettas. With 5 gallon bowl that is unfiltered, uncycled, and not properly heated you really shouldn't add any tank mates.
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