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Old 10-04-2010, 08:38 PM   #1 
Craig Echt
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Ocean Springs, MS
Rebel, very bloated, otherwise normal - Help.

Hi,Below is the form, all filled out. Summary: Rebel started to bloat about a month ago (about a month after we got him, as a gift), became alarmingly distended about two weeks ago, we started treatments (below), his belly is now same size or bigger, Rebel is as feisty and voracious as ever - never really got sickly.
So, is there hope? Is it a mycobacteria infection?
Thanks much.

What size is your tank? 1 gal
What temperature is your tank? 72 F currently
Does your tank have a filter? no
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? no
Is your tank heated? not currently
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? none

What type of food do you feed your betta fish?
Aqua Culture Betta Pellets, Top Fin small freeze dried medley, occasional pea. This diet has been only for past 2 wk - previously was just pellets (8/day)

How often do you feed your betta fish?
2/day, 2-3 pellets-pieces/feeding

How often do you perform a water change?
was 1/wk, recently 2/week
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change?
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change?
1.5 tsp aquarium salts/gal

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? no, but is very soft water

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?
very distended abdomen, no pine-coning, no color change, always has good appetite.

How has your betta fish's behavior changed?
stopped making bb nests, otherwise normal friskiness

When did you start noticing the symptoms?
bloating started maybe a month ago, became very bloated about two weeks ago

Have you started treating your fish? If so, how?
Stated treating 10 days ago:
Fasting for 3 days,
followed by bits of cooked pea, then varied diet (above),
followed by adding aquarium salts (1.5 tsp/gal) with 2x water changes per week and raised temperature to 82 F,
followed by:
2 doses of Tetra Parasite Guard overlapping with 5 days of Maracyn Two,
followed by 5 days of Maracyn (to clear up body fungus), last treatment was today
moved off heater (stove top) yesterday, so temp is back down to 72 F.
By the end of these treatments he is perkier, but no change in belly size - larger actually.

Does your fish have any history of being ill? Just got him in July, but no.
How old is your fish (approximately)? Don't know.
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Old 10-04-2010, 11:15 PM   #2 
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: NW Connecticut
Okay, so you really do need to get a heater of some sort.. when bettas get cold their metabolism slows down. 72 is a bit chilly, it should be more near 78-80. An actual aquarium heater is preferred, you really shouldn't keep him near the stove.

I would ditch the freeze dried foods, they're notorious for causing bloat and having little nutritional value.. I really think your best bet it to just fast him, but I haven't seen a bloat like that yet so I'm not entirely sure. They can go for a couple weeks without food, don't be worried that you're starving him.
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Old 10-05-2010, 12:22 AM   #3 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Northern Virginia
Oh, my.. it could be one of two things, one being very severe constipation due to poor diet, lack of adequate heat, and not the best water changing schedule in the world. Work on getting an adjustable 25 watt heater like this one: do not buy a non-adjustable heater pad or pre-set, they will be a waste of money for you and not heat the water enough since the temperature of your house is so cold. Make sure the heater has an adjustable temperature dial. Bettas are cold-blooded animals, after all, so when you keep them in colder temperatures than their species is adapted to survive in, it slows down circulation as well as digestion. Slowly increasing the temperature of the tank by a degree every few hours until around 80 degrees should jump start his system.

Next would be to stop feeding him for awhile--it is possible that the freeze-dried foods are what is clogging him up, and at this point feeding him any more is just going to add to his troubles. Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate, not sodium chloride) acts as a gentle diuretic, so try to get your hands on some--you can find it in a grocery store or pharmacy. Here are some basic epsom salt instructions:

Epsom Salt Leave-in Treatment: Prepare water of the same temperature, and mix in one tablespoon per five gallons of dissolved Epsom salt. I usually use a different container from the actual fish tank, but if the tank is not filtered, it shouldn't make much of a difference anyway. Acclimate the fish to the salted water for at least a half hour. Alternatively, if you used water from the betta’s tank, you can transfer the betta into the water directly and dissolve the salt in another container--slowly adding the dissolved salts to the water over the course of at least a half hour. The duration of this treatment is three to five days--during this time, do water changes as necessary, replacing the dissolved salts as necessary.

The epsom salt will help whether it is constipation related or not. Some of these cases are caused by an unknown factor that triggers some kind of failure in the betta's system, causing bloating without other symptoms. These fish typically don't act sick, so I don't think it's bacterial, since infected fish have very dramatic reactions to bacteria and will show it in other symptoms. I've seen it referred to on other forums as "Mystery Bloat"--and it does live up to its name. It does seem to be similar to Malawi bloat, but I think we would see more symptoms in these cases if it was that disease. Given all of your information, though, there is a strong probability that this is simply constipation which has gotten way out of hand due to the overuse of freeze dried food and inadequate heat.
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Old 10-05-2010, 07:25 PM   #4 
Craig Echt
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Ocean Springs, MS
Thank you Adastra

Thanks ever so much for your advice. I'll do all of those things. Constipation was our first thought, but we just didn't do enough of the right things for treatment. He is still pooping (or whatever the correct term for fish defecation is), so I hope that's a good sign.

What do you recommend for proper food/diet? The stores that I know of around here have pretty limited selection. So, what can I get on-line?

thanks again,
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Old 10-05-2010, 07:30 PM   #5 
Craig Echt
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Ocean Springs, MS
Ah, thanks also Capricorn. I hadn't seen your reply before I posted my response (a forum newbie here.) I'll let you all know how things turn out.
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Old 10-08-2010, 08:25 AM   #6 
Craig Echt
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Ocean Springs, MS
Rebel update: I added epson salts, raised temperature and stopped feeding. The first day he defecated well, but seemed to be cleared out by the second day (that is, the fecal string became clear). He is still as bloated as ever, but still perky. What ever is inside of him is not in his intestines. Will continue his fast.
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Old 10-09-2010, 01:53 PM   #7 
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Location: Southern NH
Get some Hikari Bio Gold pellets as a base diet. Soak for a few minutes in a little tank water to soften them up a bit before feeding. Some bettas are more sensitive to the dry foods and some don't seem to have any issues at all.

I would only feed two in the morning and two in the evening since your boy is on the small side.

Hope your fishy is ok.
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Old 10-11-2010, 06:02 PM   #8 
Craig Echt
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Ocean Springs, MS
Very good. Thank you. I have some Bio Gold pellets on order and will begin feeding him as recommended when it gets here. He's been fasting for 5 days now - still perky, even if a bit bigger in the belly (!). He's made a bubble nest - his first in about 3 weeks, so I take that as a good sign. Have a 2.5 gal tank on order.
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Old 10-25-2010, 11:13 PM   #9 
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So what happened? I posted under "new and worried"as my fish looks exactly the same...actually probably even larger! Ifeel he's going to explode!! I hope it's good news
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Old 10-26-2010, 01:28 AM   #10 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Northern Virginia
It's likely, in my opinion, that this fish has the Mystery Bloat I described in one of my earlier posts.. it is one of the strangest illnesses I have encountered when keeping bettas. The betta's abdomen swells and swells, despite epsom salt and severe cutbacks in diet. The swelling is unrelated to constipation since the fish typically have normal bowel movements and the fish usually do not act sick or seem to be negatively affected by the problem until the point that it becomes so severe that they cannot swim, at which point they usually have to be put down. They do seem to live somewhat normal lives until it starts affecting their ability to swim and move, so until that point there is no need to euthanize.

Here are a few pictures of fish that were diagnosed with "mystery" bloat on other betta forums. Two males in an intermediate stage:

And a female's progression:
Just before euthanasia:
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