When I purchased my male veiltail betta Desmoda I bought with him a 3 gallon Eclipse tank with filter, submersible heater, silk plants/hide, gravel, the typical tank setup. I had him in the tank for about two months before things became odd - ammonia levels spiked and Desmoda's right eye formed a white ring around it, potentially showing signs of popeye. He also darted around the tank and swam quickly most of the time, which seems atypical of normal betta behavior. I took him out of the tank and monitored the original tank's water parameters for a while, and the ammonia levels never dropped below .5 which worried me. I completely botched the cycling process I was hoping to achieve, and with my current status as a college student have been unable to keep up the tank's potential to cycle as I have had to move many times over the past year due to college living.
I am back home now, and I thought that I would try the 3 gallon tank once again. I completely washed it out, using only hot water and my hands to make sure things were literally squeaky clean, washing off everything that had been in contact with the tank as well. This time I had placed aquarium sponges into the inlet and outlets of the filter to slow the water flow down and hopefully keep my betta's stress to a minimum, which were washed thoroughly as well. I treated the water with SeaChem Prime conditioner, added aquarium salt, and set up the tank, placing my fish in it after it acclimated. The temperature has been a consistent 77 degrees. I have been feeding him Hikari Bio-Gold pellets and bloodworms for treats as the flake food made him bloat if he ate too much of it consistently. It seems the bloodworms are the only things that keep him regular. I once had frozen daphnia, but during a college break they accidentally thawed and I had to discard them. Desmoda loves the pellets now that he's actually able to eat them, but now he is bloated again and cannot stay upright and floats helplessly at the surface. Poor guy. I was feeding the pellets to him pretty regularly, so I'll just have to make sure I feed him more bloodworms after he is done fasting.
But, the bloating isn't the true problem here. I am worried that the water has messed up again and ammonia levels have spiked once more. He has shown the ring of white around his right eye once more, only four days after his introduction! While he was outside of his 3 gallon, he was living in a .5 gallon quarantine tank where he lived happy and healthy (one or two fin splits, but those healed up like a dream). At one point I failed to change his water for four days, and even then he did not exhibit signs like he is now. He swam quickly, but not worryingly so - usually it seemed like he was trying to get my attention to possibly give him food by swimming up and down the side of the tank that faced me while I sat at my computer. He would also wiggle at me, which he does now, but it seems a little more frantic or desperate where before it was simply charismatic.
Oh, and about the ammonia levels - I have a test strip kit that measured ammonia, nitrate, pH, and nitrite levels that I had used the first time I tried the 3 gallon, but upon looking closely at the containers inside the box I found that they were two years expired! This makes me furious - there is no indication of expiration date on the external box, only on the individual containers inside. What a gyp! I am very wary of using these test strips now as I can't be sure if they are showing the correct parameters, and I have to wait to get to the local pet store to buy a liquid test kit. I asked one of the clerks if the test kits had expiration dates the time that I was there to buy the Hikari Bio-Gold - he had said that they do, but typically they are good for a year after they are opened no matter what. :\ I don't quite trust it, but it's all I have to work with. I wasn't able to buy the test kit due to forgetting my wallet, but the next time I go into the area I will surely buy it - I desperately need it to test my new water parameters. The extra frustrating thing however is that the liquid test kit tested less params than my test strips, and I need the pH tests.
TL:DR - Desmoda is showing a white eye ring and is in a tank that I had him in a few months ago where he showed the same problem. Could be ammonia spike.
I am worried most about his eye, but what could be happening that could cause this? Could the water flow still be too stressful for the poor guy? I am having a really hard time believing that ammonia levels could spike so soon where he would be showing signs of stress in just four days. I really do not want this fish's eye to go popeye on me as it could cause irreparable damage. Should I just put him back in the quarantine? I was hoping that the tank could be successful, but there may be still some kinks to work out. :(