I have a five gallon, fully cycled, planted tank with a heater. I have a normally very active betta fish who loves to eat, and I've noticed over the past couple of days that he hangs out by the surface behind a leaf, and rarely moves around. He has been eating, but not with his usual enthusiasm. Tonight it took several minutes for him to find his food and eat it, and I basically had to feet it to him off of my finger. He also has a white patch on his forehead that has just developed. It almost looks like one of his scales peeled off. Does this sound like a bacterial infection? Should I move him to a smaller tank and begin an antibacterial/fungus eliminator treatment? I'm worried about my little guy
What size is your tank?
My tank is 5 gallons.
What temperature is your tank?
It usually hovers around 80 degrees.
Does your tank have a filter?
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration?
Is your tank heated?
What tank mates does your betta fish live with?
What type of food do you feed your betta fish?
2-3 betta pellets twice per day, oncer per week he eats freeze dried bloodworms
How often do you feed your betta fish?
Twice daily, with one day per week as a fasting day
How often do you perform a water change?
I have a fully cycled planted tank, so I do about a 20% water change every other 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?
Just tap water conditioner, and I leave the water out for 24 hours before adding it.
Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?
His skin has become a grayish color, and a couple of white patches have developed on his head. One looks almost like his scale peeled off.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed?
He has become lethargic, his fins are clamped, and he has not been eating with his usual enthusiasm.
When did you start noticing the symptoms?
A couple of days ago, though it is noticeably worse today.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how?
I have not started treating him yet, though I have moved him into a smaller tank (with water from his current tank) in case he needs to be treated.
Does your fish have any history of being ill?
He had some pretty bad fin rot when I first purchased him, but that has been healed for several months now.
How old is your fish (approximately)?
I've had him for about 9 months
I have not tested my water recently. I can get that information later. I hope this helps!!
You are changing less water less often that I would in a tank that size--but if it's stuffed with plants you could potentially get away with it. There is always a chance that something has gone wonky with your cycle and caused unusual spikes, so you should have a sample of your water tested. Remember that the bacteria that keep your tank stable need a food source to stay alive while your fish is in the temporary container, so you should put a bit of fish food in the tank every day even though your fish is not in there since it will decay and provide the bacteria with the ammonia source they need to live.
How large is the hospital tank you're keeping him in? Personally, I would start with a 100% water change in that small tank just in case ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate spiked in the 5G before you transferred him. Unfortunately the symptoms you're giving aren't very specific.. I've seen fish disrupt a scale on their foreheads from jumping and smacking the canopy, so I can't say either way if that is a real symptom or not. We will need more detailed descriptions of the texture and appearance of the area to determine if that's a part of his problem.
Thank you! I will test the water today and do a 100% water change. As for his spots, I have noticed now that there are several of them (it was hard to see before because his is very light in color naturally....sort of a light lavender) around his head and gills. However, they seem a little bigger than just the "table salt" small spots that are usually described with ich. Are there any other illnesses that produce white spots? His color all over his body has also seemed to turn a bit gray. I will try to post a picture today, but it's been hard to capture it on my camera. I will try again!
Hm, the spots could be part of his general paleness--do the spots have any real texture to them or do they seem the same as the rest of his scales? If you don't have a heater in the smaller tank, the paleness could be a reaction to the temperature change, or it's possible he's getting a bit sicker. For now make sure his water quality is pristine and try to keep the temp stable.
There are some conditions that can cause patches of gray or white fuzz--one of the most common being columnaris, which is a gram negative bacterial infection. You should look up some pictures of columnaris and saprolegnia to see if either are consistent with what you're seeing.
It looks exactly like columnaris. I am treating him in a hospital tank with a heater, salt bath, and some Jungle fungus eliminator, which were the most recommended treatments that I found online. However, he has become even more lethargic today, and has basically sunk to the bottom of his tank and will not move. He has not eaten, which is VERY unlike him. I will continue the water changes and treatments, but things are not looking good for my friend! I had gotten very attached to him, so this makes me sad .
Any other advice or suggestions would be appreciated....thank you for your help!!
It definitely isn't a good sign that he isn't eating, but sometimes they do turn around. Since you've already begun treating with JFE you will have to finish with the course of treatment, but if he is still around and still sick once this course is done, you might want to up the ante with a stronger treatment such as API's Triple Sulfa or Kanamycin.
It may also be helpful to lower the temperature to around 76 degrees since bacteria reproduce faster in warmer temps. If you can't get him to eat, it may be helpful to see if any of your local fish stores carry live blackworms. Something about the wiggly motion they make has an uncanny ability to stimulate fish to eat, even very sick ones.