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Old 08-12-2011, 10:53 PM   #1 
Mi44
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Exclamation sudden lethargy - please help diagnosing

Hi everyone,

I'm new to the forum, but really need some help understanding a betta problem. I've bred bettas before, so I'm familiar with their general health requirements and symptoms; but my current fish is presenting a sad puzzle.

I bought him 3 weeks ago, and he has been the picture of betta health. Then this Wednesday, he became lethargic, started swimming jerkily/spastically, and refused food - see detailed symptoms below. There were 3 things that occurred that could have triggered the problem, and I would appreciate any help identifying the real culprit: 1) he's accompanying me on an extended car trip; 2) my hotel room has been too cold for him; 3) he's always been kept in Poland Spring water; but the last gallon I bought for him had a nasty plasticky taste, which I wasn't aware of until I sampled the leftover water after noticing the change in his behavior.

Today, I changed his water for fresh, uncontaminated Poland Spring; moved him to a warmer location; and added Betta Revive. I also took him to a local aquarium store, who checked him for parasites and thought he looked "clean" and that he was probably lethargic due to the low temperature exposure. But as of tonight his symptoms are unchanged.

My question is: if his lethargy was caused by contaminated water or cold exposure, should I start to see improvement soon? Or is it more likely that the stress of travelling left him vulnerable to an infection or parasite? His darting/rubbing behavior makes me think it may be a case of Velvet that is not bad enough to be visible yet (he's a dragon betta, so detecting velvet on his white scales would be difficult)...

Any insight into his symptoms, or suggestions that I can feasibly implement while travelling, would be much appreciated! Thank you for your help!

Housing
What size is your tank? 0.5 gallon bowl - I realize not ideal, but the best I can give him while travelling; poop/food is vaccumed out immediately (2-3x per day)
What temperature is your tank? Room temperature - recently low 70s, now mid 80s
Does your tank have a filter? No
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Is your tank heated? No
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? None

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? HBH Betta Bites
How often do you feed your betta fish? Several times a day, for a total of about 6-7 granules per day

Maintenance
How often do you perform a water change? Vacuum debris 2-3x per day, partial water change every 3-4 days, complete water change weekly
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? None - pure Poland Spring water

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

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? Not at all, oddly enough - took him to aquarium store, they inspected with flashlight and confirmed he looked "clean"
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? Drastically - went from enthusiastically eating, regularly pooping, and being very interactive (following fingers, etc.) to clamping fins, laying at the bottom of the bowl, moving jerkily and sometimes darting frantically or rubbing along the bottom, shying away from objects outside his bowl, and refusing food - looking at it without biting, or biting and spitting out.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? Wednesday 8/10
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? Added Betta Revive and Betta Ultimate - but since the aquarium store thought nothing was wrong with him, I was hesitant about adding anything stronger.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? Only had him 3 weeks, but he has been extremely healthy and vigorous
How old is your fish (approximately)? Young - maybe 6 months? Still too small to eat a Betta Bite before it's soaked and softened in the water.

Last edited by Mi44; 08-12-2011 at 10:57 PM.
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Old 08-12-2011, 11:14 PM   #2 
Arashi Takamine
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It sounds more like he's lethargic from the cold and Spring Water can lack nutrience or it's PH is waaay too high also could be ammonia. I'd suggest moving him to at least a full gallon (clear cookie jars work breat) and buying him at least a 10 watt Marineland makes great ones and see how it goes from there.
Too small to eat a betta bite sounds more like he's three months just out of Fryhood.
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Old 08-12-2011, 11:21 PM   #3 
Loralyn94
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Like the first post said, lethargy can come from low water temperatures, but ammonia build up can also cause adverse reactions.

Since he is currently in a 1/2 gallon bowel, you should be doing daily 100% water changes even with just taking the uneaten food out. You may take out the food, but that doesnt eliminate the ammonia levels that are present. 100% water changes is the only way, and in a .5 gallon they are a must.
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Old 08-12-2011, 11:37 PM   #4 
Mi44
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Thanks for the replies! Sorry if it was not clear - I am doing 100% changes. Also, the fact that the lethargy came on suddenly makes me think it's unlikely to be related to the spring water's chemisty or ammonia build-up - since my maintenance has been the same since I've had him, if these were going to cause an issue I would have expected to see it sooner - rather than coming on suddenly at the same time as my trip?

Arashi, if his lethargy was caused by cold, do you have any idea how long it will take before I see him begin to recover now that he's in warmer conditions?

I'm also still puzzled by the jerky/darty swimming - would temperature or water conditions cause that?
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Old 08-13-2011, 12:30 AM   #5 
Loralyn94
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You say that your on a trip, when your home is he in a different tank? one thats bigger?
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Old 08-13-2011, 05:44 AM   #6 
Mi44
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Hi Loralyn,

No - my last planned stop is to pick up a 10 gallon and heater I 've used in the past, but since I've had this little guy, he's been the the same conditions (0.5 gallon bowl, poland spring, water change schedule) and was thriving before the cold-contamination-stress combination... I guess my most important question is, does velvet sseem likely - ie, should I be using strong meds - or is this likely to clear upunder better temp/stress conditions? Thank you again!
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Old 08-13-2011, 07:34 AM   #7 
Tikibirds
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I have seen the temp in one of my tanks drop to 67. He was a bit on the lazy side but did not dart around or rub on things.
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Old 08-13-2011, 08:34 AM   #8 
dragonflie
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I'm sorry your little guy isn't doing well! While I cannot offer any new suggestions, I did want to take the opportunity to post some information concerning bottled water.

It is not nearly as regulated by agencies as tap water is; and there is a misconception that it always has to be "cleaner." This is not the case.

For further information (and an interesting read) check here: http://www.ehso.com/ehshome/DrWater/...r.php#Overview
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Old 08-13-2011, 10:37 AM   #9 
Mi44
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Tikibirds, thanks for sharing your experience with cold temps - that makes me think velvet is a more likely cause, and I'm going to start him on Quick cure tonight. Dragonflie, thanks for the bottled water references as well - helpful information!
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Old 08-13-2011, 11:53 AM   #10 
Loralyn94
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I've never had any experience with velvet, some I'm not completely certain what it requires to deal with it. If you do have questions on it though, I'd recommend finding Darkmoon or OFL and asking them what theyd suggest.
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