I have now lost 3 betta fish to the same symptoms and can't figure out what it is. The symptoms are:
- staying very still at the top of the water, keeping their mouth at the water line
- the tail is very clumped and stiff
- they can't swim properly, like their tail is paralyzed
The latest casualty is in a divided 10 gallon. One side (30%) has one crowntail who is fine. The other 70% has my sick boy betta and 3 female guppies who are fine. There is zero aggression between the guppies and the betta. The tank has been set up for a year and the temperature is maintained at 78 degrees.
I just did a 40% water change yesterday evening and really stirred up the gravel to vacuum it completely. I only have a test kit for ammonia and it is showing up good. In Canada complete test kits are really expensive for some reason, they can cost more than the tank itself!
Please help me figure out what this is so more fish don't come down with this. I have 7 other bettas and about 100 guppy fry in various stages of growth. Thanks!
I do regular weekly water changes of 25% and I add Nutrafin Aquaplus to the new water before adding to the tank. There is a standard HOB filter and I change the cartridge every 6 weeks. My test kit for the ammonia has the color code system and it shows yellow for no ammonia (it would have green for ammonia). There are no live plants, just silk.
I have 7 tanks and I am having this problem in one of my other tanks too. I have also lost 3 guppies to the same symptoms. Last week I treated both 10 gal tanks with Jungle Parasite clear tabs. It seemed to have perked up one of the female guppies. When they get sick they hang out at the water line and shimmy. The bettas get clumped fins and frozen tails like they swim in jerky motions.
I am careful to not cross contaminate and make sure I clean any nets and syphons after use with extremely hot water.
Please let me know if you need more info. I really want to figure this out, I adore my fish hobby and its sad to see them die without knowing why.
Sadly, if you used antibiotics in your fish tanks, you have killed all of the beneficial bacteria that have been keeping your ammonia/nitrites low. I would keep testing the water every day so that you know when the ammonia begins to spike.
I would isolate the sick fish from each other, if you do not have extra tanks, you could get a 5 gallon sterilite/rubbermaid bin from walmart or target to isolate the fish in for treatment. JFC is not a very strong antibiotic, and you do not know whether this disease is bacterial or not.
We should rule out parasites first--try checking the fish for velvet. Velvet can be quite hard to see in normal light conditions and can cause clamping and lethargy--try turning off all the lights in the room and shining a flashlight on the fish. If there are golden-yellow crusties in between the scales of the fish, they have velvet and should be treated with malachite green. If the fish have stopped eating and look bloated, they may have internal parasites--look for their fecal matter and determine whether or not it is abnormal. If it is abnormal, the fish probably have some internal parasite and should be treated with praziquantel.
If your fish has none of these symptoms, and despite pristine water conditions, remain lethargic and clampy, the source is either bacterial or viral--for viral problems there really isn't anything you can do, nor is there any real way to tell the difference between the two if there are no physical traces of infection.
In this case you would basically have two choices, make the fish as comfortable as possible to provide optimal conditions for recovery (raise temp, add aeration, lower water level, leave lights off, more frequent larger water changes)--or to use strong antibiotics (Triple Sulfa or a combination of Maracyn I and Maracyn II at the same time) and hope that what you're facing is bacterial--if it is not bacterial, the treatment will only further weaken your fish.
A good starting point-Start making daily large water changes, however, without knowing the nitrate level in tanks that are mature (1 year old set-up) you can risk nitrate shock with large volume water changes.
Any way you can get nitrate and pH readings?
As Adastra posted, you need to rule out a few things and Velvet is a big one, google that and look at pic and read up a bit on that.
Once you get the nitrate and pH level and the nitrate is 25ppm or less, start making 50% daily water changes, if you can't get a nitrate level or it is greater than 30ppm- you can still make the water changes but make smaller volume.
Day 1-3, make daily 10%
Day 4-6, make daily 20% and vacuum the substrate with day 5 WC in areas that can be reached without moving anything
Day 7-9, make 30% daily
Day 10-12, make 40% daily and vacuum the substrate same as day 5 on day 10
Day-11-14, make 50% daily
Then make 50% with substrate vacuuming weekly thereafter to maintain water quality
On the filter media-give it a good swish/rinse in old tank water with a water change 1-2 times a month and when the water flow slows to get the big pieces of gunk off of it. The filter media should look dirty and this is what you want. When you change the filter media-cut a piece of the old filter media and place with the new filter media for a week or two to help seed the new media.
I change out my filter media 1-2 times a year and only when it is falling apart. (I now make my own filter media)
The activated charcoal or carbon that most of the filter media come with are usually low quality and only active for a month more or less and this is why it is recommended to change it out per the directions on the box label.
IMO/E you don't need carbon except to remove medications and other things like smoke, tannins, heavy metals etc, short term, you can cut a slit in the media and dump it out and save to use later if needed.
On the tanks that are newer that had regular water changes I would start with daily 50-100% water changes for 5 days and then a scheduled weekly to twice weekly 50% water changes/vacuuming depending on the tank size, filtration, age and stocking levels.
Remember to keep the water temps within a couple of degrees from new and old water to prevent temp related shock and to use a good dechlorinator with any new water added to tanks if on city water supply.
IMO-it sounds like a water quality issue from too small of water changes with high stocking, medication and filter media change that caused the tank to crash and that caused stress and low immunity that caused secondary health issues.
Adastra, Oldfishlady - thank you for responding, you are both knowledgeable members of this forum and I value your posts.
I took the now deceased fish in a cup of water in a dark room and shined a flashlight on it and did see the scales outlined in gold powder. I did not notice it while he was in the tank. So I believe he had velvet. I always thought velvet was a more obvious sprinkling of gold over the body.
I think the tank's cycle crashed when I took out the filter medium and treated with Jungle Parasite Clear tabs. Darn! I will be looking for a more complete test kit on line as my local Pet Smart is selling them for $60 and I don't think my DH would be too happy with that purchase. Maybe ebay will be cheaper???
Oldfishlady, I will follow the water change schedule you outlined in both of the tanks that seem affected. The guppies must have had velvet as well even though I didn't see an obvious powder look on them.
I have some Ick Guard by Jungle with Victoria Green and nitromersol in it. Will that work on the velvet in the two tanks? The other betta and guppies seem fine though, but I guess the deceased were weakened and more immune to the velvet parasite.
Good to know that it was velvet instead of something more insidious--velvet you can treat, some other stuff, not so much. If the other fish are not showing any symptoms of velvet, I would not treat them, they should be able to fight it off if their immune systems are healthy, just keep the water very clean and warm.
If they are infested with velvet, malachite/victoria green is my treatment of choice if warm, clean water has no effect.