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Old 01-01-2011, 11:25 PM   #1 
Stardancer
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Very sick rescued bettas

My boyfriendís roommate had three female bettas at their house. They were fine for a while, but then he stopped taking care of them. He kept saying he would take care of them, but after one of them died, I just took the tank (he did say I could at one point). Problem is, they are now really, really badly off. Iíve been reading the forums and doing what I can, but Iím lost.


Housing
What size is your tank? Ė I think itís 2 gal.
What temperature is your tank? Ė About 76 F
Does your tank have a filter? - Yes
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? - No
Is your tank heated? - Yes
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? ĖI have 2 females

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Ė Betta flakes
How often do you feed your betta fish? Ė Once a day

Maintenance
How often do you perform a water change? Ė For now, once a day
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? Ė 50ish?
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Ė Top Fin water conditioner

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters? - No

Ammonia:
Nitrite:
Nitrate:
pH:
Hardness:
Alkalinity:

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? How has your betta fish's behavior changed?
When did you start noticing the symptoms?
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how?
Does your fish have any history of being ill?
How old is your fish (approximately)?

Okay, this part is complicated. Mitsu (my red) is much worse off. My blue (still unnamed) probably isnít great but sheís alive and swimming, so Iím focusing on Mitsu right now.

Things that went wrong: the guy who used to have them let the tank get absolutely disgusting. Also, it was getting colder and he didnít replace the broken heater. Then when he cleaned it, I think he used tap water (the water purifier was used up) and he just threw away the gravel. Oh, and he went on vacation without buying them food.

I brought them to my house, added gravel, a heater, a plastic water bottle baffle around the filter, and a temperature strip. Iím trying to cycle the tank but I donít know much about it. I also added an oak leaf from my front yard, which hasnít had any pesticides or anything. I changed about 50% of the water every day, and before I left on vacation, they looked better. Mitsu had spent all her time lying in the corner gasping for air and making periodic lunges for the surface. When I left, she had taken to lying on top of the filter instead, her nose perched right at the water, and she would take breaks to swim around like normal. This was big because I think she was swimming a bit sideways. And my blue (I think sheís royal, or was, but itís hard to tell) had lost nearly all of her color, but she started gaining it back.

I left instructions about their feeding and water with my mom. I set up two gallon water jugs (that had had only water before) and I added the water conditioner so she wouldnít have to. I asked her to just scoop out at least half of their water and add the preconditioned stuff to the same level. She did this two days after I left, and she said that right away, my blue started looking really, really sick. Mitsu just fell back to the bottom of the tank. Iím home now and Mitsu looks even worse than when I brought her here. I donít know what else to do. My mom thinks I should put the poor thing out of her misery. Iím hoping she can get better because she did before, butÖ

There is one thing I noticedóthere seems to be some squishy pink poop on the bottom. I donít know which of them itís from. It's so hard to say even what's been going on because I've only been able to observe them for about two days, what with me being on vacation.

Help, please?
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Old 01-01-2011, 11:45 PM   #2 
Creat
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Personally it sounds like you are doing everything you can for them. I would raise the heat to about 80* F Also I would start to use pellet food only because its better for them or you can also use frozen food if they act like they dont want to eat. Tank cycling in a nut shell involves a build up of beneficial bacteria to help keep ammonia, nitirite and nitrate levels down. With the amount of water changes you are doing I doubt it will cycle the tank and you might recycle it everytime you clean it. Keeping a cycle in that small of a tank is hard. I would skip trying to cycle it and move them to a 1 gallon or so and just do 100% everyday without a filter. Cycling is also very stressful on a fish because the tank goes through so many spikes of toxicity. Also are they showing any other signs of sickness or are they just lethargic. Pictures would also help. But great job on trying to give these girls a better home :) and welcome to the forum !
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Old 01-02-2011, 01:00 PM   #3 
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I'm glad you're trying to give this little girls a better home and a new way of life. I'm sad though that both are not doing well. First of all, you have to know that 2 gallon for 2 female bettas is way to small. Each of them needs at least that amount for being happy and healthy. Female bettas can coexist in harmony, but, they need to be more than 4 for that to happen. So, if they get better, you should consider getting a bigger tank and other 2 girls. Second, it would be better to treat each other in separate bowls. We don't know what each fish has (as you said, you don't know who's pooping) and it's really important for the treatment to see how each of them is doing. So, a 1gal bowl with warm water would be great. I don't think that pellets are a good idea for now, they would not be interested in eating if they're feeling bad. Maybe you should try giving them some live brine shrimp or mosquito larva.
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Old 01-02-2011, 03:59 PM   #4 
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Ew, you don't have the poor things together in one 2G tank, do you? In order to keep the water clean, you would need to do 100% water changes every other day. If the tank is not divided, the girls could begin to fight--although they're probably too sick to do that now.

In this situation, I would remove the divider (if there is one), and get a separate container for the other female. This doesn't have to be anything fancy--you can use a 2g-4g rubbermaid/sterilite plastic storage bin/container. These are only about $3 at walmart or target and you might have one laying around your house already. This are safe to use with heaters and are safe for fish--just give it a good rinse with hot water. After that, do 100% water changes every 3 days and you should see some improvement. Try keeping the bettas in the most stable and warm area of your house--away from vents, electronics, direct sunlight, doors, and windows. I usually end up keeping my sick fish on the floor in one of my bathrooms, for instance.

Higher quality food may also be helpful. You should consider purchasing a package of frozen food like blood worms and brine shrimp. These are very high in protein and other nutrients and can help give your fish a boost.
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Old 01-02-2011, 04:15 PM   #5 
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Yeah, they are in the one little tank right now. Oddly (though happily) enough, they don't seem to fight much. I'll have to leave them there until I can get supplies for a second setup or a single bigger tank. (I'd love to have a full sorority, but I'm not doing anything until the ones I have get better.)

I will definitely consider moving them, at the very least, and getting them better food. When it comes to food like bloodworms and brine shrimp, are frozen or freeze-dried better?

Also, water changes: Adastra, you recommended 100% changes every other day. What about 50% every day? Is there a difference?

Thank you for answering this newbie's questions!
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Old 01-02-2011, 04:49 PM   #6 
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Unfortunately, it is a bad sign that you aren't seeing any aggression--healthy females in this situation would be (if not outright fighting) attempting to establish dominance between them. You could always get a small tupperware container to float in the tank, so that they both can share the same heater safely--if you can fasten the tupperware in a way that it won't sink, you can put small holes in the bottom of the container so that both fish also share the same water. This way you wouldn't have to do double the work to keep the water clean. Keeping them together in the same tank is flirting with disaster, unfortunately. I'd hate to see them get better only to tear the snot out of each other as soon as they do.

50% twice as often as 100% is not the same as frequent 100% changes. If you do a 50% change one say and a 50% change the next day, sure, it adds up to 100, but the fish does not end up with 100% clean water this way. Inevitably, there is still some of the old water left every time, plus whatever the fish has contributed to it in the meantime--so inevitably, partial changes lose their effectiveness with time. Only filtered, cycled aquariums can thrive on partial changes alone. Live plants can help give you some wiggle room between 100% changes, but unless the aquarium is filtered and cycled, you will still have to do them often.
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Old 01-02-2011, 06:50 PM   #7 
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Hm. Very good to know. Thanks
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Old 01-03-2011, 05:42 PM   #8 
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They're getting better!

Mitsu's improving! I changed the water to add Epsom salt, and I put her in a little quarantine cup so she wouldn't have to struggle so far to the surface. She actually ate today :) I was going to be so sad if she died right after I rescued them.
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Old 01-03-2011, 10:16 PM   #9 
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ARGH. She's worse again. I don't know what to do. Just a couple of hours after I last posted, I looked over and she was all listless again.

I flipped a little when I saw her looking sick again and did a 50% water change with Epsom salt and an oak leaf. Mitsu's in her cup (clipped to the aquarium wall so her water's the same temperature), her water's got Epsom salt in it and the cleanest-looking oak leaf I could find.

I can't figure out why she's going up and down like this. As far as I can tell, absolutely nothing happened in those couple of hours. Does anyone have advice?
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Old 01-03-2011, 11:31 PM   #10 
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what's the Epsom salt for? i've only heard of using that if they're super bloated, to help seep out any extra liquid in them. and an oak leaf?

try Aquarium Salt and, if you can get any, Indian Almond Leaves. what's the temp in the tanks?
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