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Old 05-07-2010, 11:17 PM   #1 
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Join Date: May 2010
Location: USA
Unusual disease? Discoloration under jaw and slight bloating behind gill


I'm new to the forum and I'm very impressed with the comprehensive site and active membership.

I own two male bettas, Zippy (5 months) and Victor (1 year) both of whom are experiencing the same disease simultaneously. I first noticed two days ago when Zippy rose towards the top of the tank in an erratic zigzag. They have become discolored underneath their jaws. Victor is becoming pale on his right side, while Zippy appears to have become brighter. Both have become rather sluggish and listless, although Victor is now darting rapidly. They want food, but will not eat either the Tetra Betta Min Tropical Medley flakes or the Aqua Culture pellet food I give them (one tiny pinch twice a day). I have fasted them for the last two days. Their torsos directly behind their gills has become bloated by maybe 1/8" equal on both sides - nothing like either dropsy or swim bladder. I'm not sure if their eyes are popped as I have never seen popeye before to be able to compare.

I have read through the Fish Care sticky and several other websites, but no diseases share similar descriptors. So, I am curious if anyone on this site has some advice or has experienced these conditions before. I have owned two other bettas previously, but never experienced this disease before.

Here are the conditions and other information:

Zippy and Victor live separately in one gallon tanks, unfiltered and unheated (my room is fairly warm year round). Their last full tank change was about three weeks ago, although I did do a complete change today. I have not tested the water because I cannot afford a pH kit yet (college student - no excuse, I know, but homework, food, gas, bills and rent come before fish). I do have filtered well water with no chlorine.

I had been giving them freeze-dried bloodworms until I ran out and cannot find any in a convenient store, so I'm not sure if they are refusing food because of taste or because of illness.

My area of the country also experienced an unusual 70-80 degree heat wave in the last week. I'm wondering if the heat coupled with some uneaten food created incredibly disastrous conditions - mold had developed in Victor's tank rather rapidly.

I would appreciate any thoughts anyone has to offer, because I'd very much like to keep my guys alive.

Thank you.
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Old 05-08-2010, 11:25 PM   #2 
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I'm really really no expert at betta illnesses, but one of betta's came down with dropsy very recently, and at first he showed signs that your betta is showing. he didn't eat at all even after me trying like 5 different betta foods, and he was slightly discolored around his face and gills. About a week after I noticed this, I left my house for a day and when I came back my fish was severely swollen with his scales spiked out. He is pretty lethargic, but he does swim around a bit and stays by his little heater. He also lost most of his brilliant red. I believe this is Petco's fault because I only got him 2 weeks bf he showed signs. I've read that this can develop from lack of clean water... that might have been what brought your's on. My second betta is now showing slight signs of this, which might be because they shared a tank when I first got them and the possible virus was transfered. Unfortunately from what I've read there is no cure for dropsy :(

I really, really hope that this is not what your fish have and maybe someone more qualified than I am can answer this better.
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Old 05-09-2010, 12:22 AM   #3 
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OK...bad water can get you to all sorts of fungal/bacterial infections. I'm going to resist guilting you on that.

It sounds like you might be dealing with inflamed gills, which can result from too many nitrates. Can you manage to change out 1/2 of their water every day? Even if you can't afford the conditioner, you can let the water sit out for 24 hours to get rid of the chlorine. Can you get ahold of some aquarium salt, or even some household NON-IODIZED salt? 1-1/2 teaspoons of that for a week or so might be able to paralyze any bacteria that are taking hold on your boys.

I'm trying to meet you halfway here. I have a track record of getting downright brutal on people...but I want to give you something you can work with. Do you think you can manage this much?
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Old 05-09-2010, 03:06 PM   #4 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Orange County, New York
One gallon tanks need to get full 100% water changes at least twice a week to keep the water quality good. Poor water can lead to many illnesses and issues including bacterial infections, ammonia poisoning, fin rot, and many others.

I would really need to see a picture of the fish to get a better idea of whats going on. But you should start by doing more frequent water changes, adding some aquarium salt at every water change, and dont forget to use water conditioner.

Flakes aren't really that great for bettas, even betta specific ones. You should get a betta pellet like hikari betta bio-gold, and using freeze dried foods as the main diet can lead to sever bloating!

Please try and get some pictures so I can help you better!
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Old 05-09-2010, 08:50 PM   #5 
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Thanks for responding, everyone. My guys are doing somewhat better - more active and less spazzy, but still giving having feeding issues.

Crownie: I'm sorry to hear about your fish with dropsy. :( That's incredibly sad and unfortunate. My guys haven't been showing signs of dropsy- they've become very active.

Mister Sparkles: Thank you for going easy on me! I do feel guilty enough for not giving my guys the proper attention, and I knew something like this was bound to happen. Someone else I spoke to in person also said it sounded like inflamed gills. They have improved since I changed their water out. I do have access to non-iodized salt, so I'll try that and replacing 1/2 the water daily which is certainly manageable. What do you recommend storing the water in to let it settle? I'm hesitant to use milk jugs because of the residue. Is the ratio of salt 1-1.5 teaspoons:gallon of water or is that amount total over time?

Zenandra: I will post pictures within the next few days - I need to get my camera back from someone first. My guys are incredibly fussy and will refuse anything but bloodworms. Have you had success with the bio-gold pellets? I will certainly look into them.

Thanks again, everyone!
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Old 05-09-2010, 11:43 PM   #6 
Mister Sparkle
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The ratio you want to maintain is 1-1.5 tsp for the container. So, each time you change the water, you want to dissolve another half-teaspoon into the new water before adding.

You are wise to be wary of what was in a container before you use it for fish water! It's best to have a dedicated container...a pitcher, a bucket that has never seen soap, something like that. Alternatively, you could buy a gallon of drinking water and use that bottle for your fish water. I would leave it uncapped, but I don't actually know if it would make a difference. Write "for the fish" or something to that effect on it in marker, just in case someone wants to drink it!

When I think of water changes for my nano-aquariums, I imagine what it would be like if I lived in a small studio apartment, with no toilet. Instead, I have to use a bucket in the middle of the room for my "business," which is right next to where I eat and sleep and live. I imagine how long I would like to have to wait to be able to empty out that bucket. This has a lot to do with why I change about 50% of the water in all my nanos pretty much every day!
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