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Old 01-18-2011, 08:48 PM   #1 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Unhappy What's killing my bettas?

I just set up a new 3G tank for a betta, cycled it and installed a fish. It seemed fine the first day, then very lethargic and died on day 2. I thought there was something wrong with the fish, did a 50% water change and got a new one -- which was dead the next morning ...

It's a brand-new 3G 'Picotope' tank, filled with dechlorinated water and cycled. Small filter (no-name, came with tank), lighting unit (came with tank). I added a heater -- initially a Marineland 10W which didn't keep the water very warm; after my first fish died, I replaced it with a 25W Top Fin adjustable, which holds the temperature at 80F. This didn't help the second fish. Gravel is 'Estes', bought from a reputable aquarium store and lightly rinsed. I have a piece of Mopani wood, soaked for 2 days. Plants are Ambulia and Anubia, replanted from my main tank....also some Christmas Moss, bought online, attached to the Mopani wood.

The only clue I have is that there was some foam on the water at the filter outlet. I attributed this to Seachem (Flourish & Excel) that I added (a few drops only) for the plants. But I'm wondering if there's something that got into the water.....

I've rinsed out the gravel again (it's been soaking overnight, as has the wood and plants). I've rinsed out the tank and filter and am going to start cycling the tank again.

Does anyone have ideas about what happened and how to stop it from happening again?

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Old 01-18-2011, 09:12 PM   #2 
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Well...bettas are labyrinth fish, which, briefly, means that they have a organ that allows them to breath oxygen - air, like we do - directly, instead of using gills like most fish.

Seachem Flourish and Excel, while great for plants, adds CO2 to your water. It's possible your poor bettas found it hard to breath, and thus, suffocated. They say it's safe for fish when used as directed, but I'm not sure if they take consideration for labyrinth fish. They should be, but they may not.

It's a quick answer based purely on first instinct, and there's a good chance it could be something else. I'm going to look around a bit more on Flourish & Excel before I say that's the definite cause.

Last edited by Kethlas; 01-18-2011 at 09:15 PM.
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Old 01-18-2011, 09:48 PM   #3 
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I use flourish and excel in all my planted betta tanks and never caused any problems I feel that the issue may lie with the tank not actually cycling I suggest getting a test kit and doing it again. Monitor your cycles adding fish might have produced more ammonia then the bacteria can convert.
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Old 01-18-2011, 09:58 PM   #4 
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Sounds like a contaminated shouldn't die that fast if they are healthy to start or it could be an acclimation issue and pH and/or nitrate shock..

Brand new tank..correct?
How did you cycle it and what are the water pram numbers-what kind of testing products are you using?

How did you clean everything and did you use anything to clean the tank and/or items in the tank
Check the expiration dates on the dechloranator
How did you acclimate the fish

Test your source water ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH-re-test the pH again in 24h from a fresh glass of water that has sat for 24h to get an accurate pH-it needs 24h to de-gas to get an accurate reading
Add the dechlorinater and test the water again and then test the tank water and compare all of these numbers and post

Before you add the next Betta....test these numbers and you will also want to test the pet shop water number so we can compare them with your source water-so you can acclimate the fish properly
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:10 PM   #5 
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Thanks, all!

Thanks, all! Appreciate your suggestions..

Kethlas -- yes, my number 1 suspect is the Flourish & Excel. I've rinsed out my tank and won't be using those again....

Creat -- yes, I think I had a mini-cycle after adding fish & 2 RCS Shrimp. But the ammonia never even reached 0.25PPM; surely not poisonous so soon...? I added my second Betta after a 50% water change -- surely should have kept it OK for a few days...?

OFL -- yes, brand new tank, rinsed under tap water. Gravel, also under tap water. Cleaned only with water rinse and clean aquarium scrubber -- no soap or other cleansers... Water/cycle tests using liquid test kits from API and Tetra. De-chlorinator is Tetra Aquasafe, exp date 07/13. I tested my tank after water change but before adding second Betta. Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate < 12.5PPM. I understand the numbers could have crept up, but the fish died within hours. I suspect you may be right re: PH, etc. being different from shop source. But I've bought all my fish from the same shop (Fintastic) and had only 2 casualties before -- both bumblebee platies.

I use the same tap water and de-chlorinator for my main tank (neons, platies, 1 guppy, 1 pleco) and my QT (now full of baby guppies, long story) and I haven't seen any problems. I thought Bettas were said to be hardy fish...?

OFL, I'll check my water, as you suggest and post results. BUt I keep suspecting something contaminated my water..... Hoping my most recent rinse-out will solve the problem...

Is there any way the Mopani wood could have caused the issue? I got it from LFS, so believe it should be OK... or the gravel...?

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Old 01-18-2011, 11:21 PM   #6 
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I wouldnt stop using Excel and Flourish its up to you but they are the best plant supplements on the market at least to me and shouldnt do anything to your fish since I used them with tanks that house very delicate fish. And it might have been nitrite that spiked with is more toxic in smaller doses then ammonia. It also might have been the fish :/ but thats unnatural but does happen sometimes.
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Old 01-19-2011, 12:25 AM   #7 
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If your cycling fishless and the ammonia never got above .25, it never cycled.

With the fishless cycle the ammonia will reach 3-5 PPM ideally, than the nitrites will spike and go down, then the nitrates.

Not exactly sure what's wrong with your tank /=
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Old 01-19-2011, 03:23 PM   #8 
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Creat, yes I use Flourish & Excel in my main tank and QT, with no bad effects. But I'm thinking something poisonous got into my tank.... so I plan to limit what I put in. I didn't test for a nitrite spike, but all parameters were OK the day before I put in the fish.....I'll monitor this going forward.

Baylee -- you're right, but I cycled the tank before putting in the fish. Think I got a mini-cycle after I added 1 betta plus 2 RCS shrimp.

Thanks for ideas!

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Old 12-21-2014, 12:34 PM   #9 
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Although this conversation is quite old I found it to help me determine the problems with My Ziggy - our Betta since adding Flourish Excel. Immediately after adding one-half the recommended dosage from the Flourish Excel label, Ziggy became lethorgic and did not eat more than one pellet each day. I noticed he gasped on a few occassions as I monitored his behavior after adding Flourish Excel. 25% - 30% water changes began daily for one week. I added less than 1-mil of Flourish Excel by measured eye-dropper and once again, Ziggy was lethargic and would not eat more than one pellet each day. Repeated those water changes and Ziggy is 100% active and eating like he normally does!!! No more Flourish Excel has been added since these last water changes and Flourish Excel will not be added. I have however, placed a fine-bubble air stone into Ziggy's 5-gallon Crescent acrylic aquarium, and he loves it. The plants are Amazon Swords, Windlove Java Fern, Ludwigia, Anubias, and I believe Wisteria. No huge difference was displayed in growth, BUT!!! Black Beard Algae, Brown Algae were reduced, only after adding Flourish Excel. This solution is not for Algae reduction but I have read other posts elsewhere that people get these same results. My 12-gallon Fluval Edge aquarium for Red Cherry Shrimp continues with doses of Flourish Excel and Jungle Val is really growing and this is a dramatic change as the Jungle Val was showing yellow ugly tears and holes dying for certain before I added Flourish Excel. The RCS seem fine and active but I perform 25% water changes every other day until Nitrates are ZERO!!! This aquarium has been very slow to cycle and yes--- the Red Cherry Shrimp have been in this aquarium through another complete cycle. YIKES!!! Hope this guides other Betta people about using Flourish Excel with Bettas.
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