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Old 10-18-2010, 12:19 PM   #1 
kaythenewbie's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Utah, USA
Heater issues led to fungus

Please help me figure out what to do. I have a 20 gal community fish tank and a 1.5 gallon tank for my betta, Patriot. Patriot's tank had a Tetra brand heater made for 10 gal tanks or smaller that seemed to fluctuate in temperature from 70-80 degrees F.

There was an outbreak of internal bacteria infection (that led to Swim Bladder Disorder) in my large tank and I had to quarantine my infected fish. My quarantine tank is just a blue plastic bin because I don't have money to maintain another tank. But it doesn't have a heater. Since Patriot's heater wasn't heating his tank steadily and it's made for a 10 gal., I bought Patriot a new heater made for a 3 gal. This one is supposed to maintain the tank at 78 F. It's not adjustable. I moved his old heater to the quarantine tank.

I was doing my best to ensure that I didn't somehow transfer the bacteria to Patriot's tank. But he started acting very lethargic and laid on the bottom of his tank a lot. Then I realized that I forgot to plug in his new heater . I am such a MORON!

That didn't seem to help. Yesterday, I checked the temperature and it's at 85 F. The new heater is cooking him! On top of that, he's developed some sort of fungus on his scales and gill rot. GAA! I feel so awful. This is my fault.

I unplugged his heater so he could cool off and am currently treating him with Lifeguard for the fungus (which seems to be helping).

Now I don't know what to do. I really don't want to buy him a new heater. I've already spent tons and money is tight. His old heater worked, but is now in quarantine and I don't know how to properly disinfect it if I need to put it back in his tank. But his new one can't be adjusted for temperature. But he needs a heater, I live in a basement apartment and it's really cold.

What should I do about the heater? And how can I best treat the fungus and gill rot? I'm rather attached to the little guy. I couldn't bear to lose him.

What size is your tank? 1 1/2 gal
Does your tank have a filter? yes, Whisper 2 gal filter
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? the filter has it built in
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? none

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Wardley's betta pellets (frozen bloodworms once a week)
How often do you feed your betta fish? once a day, 3-4 pellets or worms


How often do you perform a water change? twice a week
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 100%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Bowl Buddies water conditioner

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?

Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: 0 ppm
pH: 8.0
Hardness: moderately hard
Alkalinity: n/a

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? mucus from gills, darkening of gills, pale, dark splotches on fins
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? lethargic, doesn't eat as much
When did you start noticing the symptoms? 3 days ago
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? Lifeguard water tablets
Does your fish have any history of being ill? no
How old is your fish (approximately)? young, (about 1 in long) Maybe 4-5 months old. I've had him for a month and a half.

Wow. Sorry for the super long post. Thanks if you read the whole thing.

Last edited by kaythenewbie; 10-18-2010 at 12:24 PM.
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Old 10-19-2010, 06:12 PM   #2 
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Georgia
I think you should just run it under really hot water, but be careful not to scald yourself. I am not %100 this will work, but that should help some. I'm sure someone else has better info than me.
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Old 10-19-2010, 07:02 PM   #3 
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Middlesex County, NJ
I honestly think it would be easier to get a new heater. There's something adastra uses to disinfect. You could pm her and ask. It starts with a 'p'. I just went through this and I reused equipment and lost a second betta as a result, so it can happen. You're right to be concerned.
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Old 10-19-2010, 07:39 PM   #4 
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Join Date: Oct 2010
What is the heater made out of? We make our own "beverages" and cleanliness is key. When we have to disinfect our equipment for that, we use a very dilute bleach solution. 1/4 cup for five gallons of cold water. We let it soak for five minutes, then rinse it with super hot water. The hot water forces the chlorine back out of solution and it leaves the surface sanitized and chlorine free.

After I did that, I'd probably soak it in a solution of water and dechlorinator for a day just to be safe.

Now this is coming from a beverage maker, so I'm going to have to take a step back to the advice of the fishy experts, but if the surface of the heater is glass or non-porous, I'd feel pretty confident with that process.

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Old 10-19-2010, 07:47 PM   #5 
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: NW Connecticut
I agree with Vay, "preset" heaters are very unreliable and fluctuate a lot.. I realize you said money is tight but your fish are going to be better off if the temperature stays consistent. The heater I got for my 10gal cost me about $25 at petco.

As for your fish, I don't really have any experience with bacterial/fungal infections.. hopefully OFL or Ada will stop by?
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Old 10-21-2010, 03:44 PM   #6 
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Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Utah, USA
I ended up cleaning the old heater with dish soap. Then I rinsed it with hot water for like a good 20 minutes to make sure no soap was left on it.

Next payday, I'll look into getting a new heater that I can set the temperature on.

As for Patriot, the Lifeguard tablets worked wonders. The fungus on his scales cleared up in days. His gills are finally looking normal again too and he's acting like his normal happy self.

Thanks to those of you who replied to this thread or pm'ed me. I appreciate your concern and advice.
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