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Old 08-18-2011, 10:03 AM   #1 
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Unhappy Please help! Tumor? Parasites? We might be losing him... :((

Please help! We have been struggling with our little guy, Jr, for a month or two now. We have posted several times about various things. Today he is really bad. We don't know what to do. :((

We have decided it probably isn't TB since he no longer looks like he has a curved spine. Could it be some kind of abdominal tumor? Do they get those? How about parasites? Could he have gotten them from his frozen food? Might that be why his belly is so big and his eye is so bad? If so, what can we do to treat him? It's time for the big guns. We think he's critical. :((

I'm sorry we can't post pictures. My little camera won't focus on something so close up. I have tried over and over again. Please help. Any ideas would be appreciated. I will go back to the pet store today to ask, but I don't always trust what they tell me. We're out of ideas and he's in trouble. See sticky below.

What size is your tank?
5 gallon live planted mini-bow
What temperature is your tank? 78-80 F
Does your tank have a filter? Yes but just charcoal filter set up that came with the tank
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? Just the waterfall flow from filter
Is your tank heated? Yes
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? Small olive nerite snails only

What type of food do you feed your betta fish?
Hikari frozen blood worms, Hikari frozen brine shrimp, Hikari frozen tubifex worms, Aqueon betta pellets, Atison's betta pellets, Omega One betta pellets, Hikari Bio-Gold betta pellets (We fed other brands of frozen prior to this.)
How often do you feed your betta fish? 3 times a day (We feed a wide variety of high protein, small, frequent meals to help with the tail biting)


How often do you perform a water change?
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 50%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Aqueon water conditioner (+ age water 2 days)

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

Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 7
Hardness: High

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?
Started tail biting again, developed bad popeye on one side, developed a bump on both sides of his body. At first we thought it almost looked like scoliosis or curved spine. You guys suggested TB in that case. But the bump is now clearly in his belly, not a curved spine, and it just keeps growing slowly with time. We no longer think TB. The bump is about even on both sides. It looks like it's his stomach. The rest of his abdomen looks fine. It's not swollen or bloated overall. But his stomach now protrudes sharply on both sides of his body. Like the body of a snake who swallowed a bowling ball. It just keeps getting worse (bigger) over last 1-2 months. His popeye is much worse today. It looks like it is literally about to explode. :(( We feel SO bad for him and don't know what to do.

How has your betta fish's behavior changed? Lethargic and interacts with us less; has been less active, but was still eating well until today. He was okay until I got up this a.m. For the first time, he wouldn't eat this morning. He wouldn't even come up for air. Even trying to stimulate him to come up did nothing. I could see his gills moving but that's it. I have never seen him like this and we are really worried. :((

When did you start noticing the symptoms? A month or two ago.

Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? Per recommendations from the group, we floated him in his tank in a small Gladware quarantine container for the last 10 days, being treated with Maracyn II and epsom salts, with 100% daily water changes of the QT container. That did nothing. We went another 10 days of treatment in QT, also adding green tea. Still no change. Released him back into his tank for lack of other ideas. He had been much happier in his tank, but the eye and the stomach bump just kept getting worse.

Does your fish have any history of being ill? Yes we have been fighting the tail biting for almost as long as we have had him. Very frustrating. Other than his ongoing neurosis he had been healthy until this illness started a month or two ago.

How old is your fish (approximately)? We got him from PetCo a year and 3 months ago.
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Old 08-18-2011, 10:24 AM   #2 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Sadly, if it is a tumor-short of taking him to a vet...not a lot we can do as a hobbyist-except to make them comfy and do what is right by the Betta when we have tried everything and end their suffering......

It sounds like you have tried everything and he continues to decline......I would at least place him in a shallow container so he doesn't have to struggle to get to air, dim lit quiet location-add Epsom salt 3tsp/gal and may be time to do what is right by him....and humanely euthanize....... only you can make that call.....but it is cruel to allow any creature to suffer needlessly.......sorry I couldn't be a more help........
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Old 08-18-2011, 11:25 AM   #3 
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Pics are attached. Sorry they are so dark and blurry. It is the best we can do. They don't show the problems very well, but look for the large left popeye and the belly bulge.
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Old 08-18-2011, 12:21 PM   #4 
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Its looks pretty bad :(
I agree with Oldfishlady.
At this point it might be better to euthanize him.
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Old 08-18-2011, 02:46 PM   #5 
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Okay, whoa...

First of all, we don't want to give up on him. We want to help him. I go to all lengths for my animals. If we could take him to a vet, we would. Surely there is something we can do... How can we give up when we don't even know what is wrong? Is there any way it is parasites causing the belly bulge and the popeye? I went to a good local pet store today and asked their fish guy. He said it could be parasites and gave me some meds. Thoughts?

Secondly, when you say humanely euthanize, what do you mean? Given that we can't take him to a vet, I have no idea how to accomplish this. If you mean do it myself somehow, there is no way. Steve would have to do it. I can't. Having had three cats with lymphoma, I understand getting to a point where you can't allow your animals to suffer. But I also understand that sometimes we underestimate our animals, and sometimes people give up when it gets too hard for the people. I'm not that type of pet parent. I just really don't know what to do here.
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Old 08-18-2011, 03:42 PM   #6 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
To understand-you have had the Betta 1yr 3mo and he was most likely 6-8mo when you got him making him roughly 2 years of age....he has been in this condition for 1-2 months and a chronic tail bitter....he has had a round of antibiotics and Epsom salt 3tsp/gal 10-14 days treatment...he can't swim to get to air, lethargic, no longer interacts and has stopped eating, can no longer support his own body, curved/bent spine...he has an enlarged belly with a bulge and swollen eyes....correct......

Have you tried the worm medication that you received at the pet it oral or something you add to the water....

the second photo shows a bulge outside the gut area-which is often an indication of a tumor....

I understand that you want to do everything you can and don't want to give up on him.......and we are not asking you to, however, look as his quality of life and ask yourself who you are saving him for.......are you doing this for him or yourself......I don't want to sound insensitive.......but.....its cruel to allow a creature to suffer needlessly-he has been like this for 2 months and not responding to treatments/medication......When we are responsible for animals and responsible pet owners..... as sad as it may seem.....sometimes we have to make selfless choices in the best interest of the animal...its never easy........euthanasia is not giving up....its a selfless act by a responsible pet owner......
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Old 08-18-2011, 04:38 PM   #7 
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I completely understand what you are saying... However, he has not been in this condition for 1-2 months. He has been like *this* since this morning. I've been through end-of-life issues with enough pets (and counselled enough other parents of cancer pets through an outreach program) to recognize the change in his quality of life as of today and how important it is to resolve it for him one way or another as soon as possible. Thus the urgency. While it is true he wasn't feeling like a rock star before today (last 1-2 mos), he *definitely* still had quality of life. He still was active, though it was reduced by comparison to prior activity levels. He would still interact with us, always ate well, etc, regardless of the developing eye and the belly issues. Today it's different. Today he turned a corner in the wrong direction, and we recognize that. The second photo to which you are referring does show the belly bulge the best. I'm not familiar enough with fish anatomy to know to which organ(s) the bulge corresponds. It has definitely been getting slowly bigger over the referenced time period. It is interesting to know that you feel the location of the bulge may be an indication of tumor. (After having a history of adopting pets whom I knew would develop cancer, and going through that with all of them over several years, I was physically, financially and emotionally exhausted and needed a break. My solution was to have a simple fish as an animal companion for a while instead. He is currently our "only child". I cannot believe I may have ended up with a fish who also developed cancer. I didn't even know fish got cancer. Though not much in the animal kingdom can escape it, so I suppose I shouldn't be so surprised.)

I would like to try the parasite medication and see what happens, if Jr is up to it. (Although I have to say I am afraid to go home tonight after work and check on him... :( The pet store guy gave me two parasite meds. One of them is oral and the other is a water additive. (This came up when I expressed concern over getting food into him, and thus meds that were dependent upon his willingness to eat.)

I assume there are no cancer treatment options for fish, correct?

If there are any other possibilities for a different diagnosis or other ideas for treatment I would love to hear them.

In the event none of the above works, what do we do? This seems a revolting question to ask, but given that we can't take him to a vet to put him down, if that's what needs to be done, what is the solution? (Again, this would have to fall to Steve. There is no way I could do whatever is required.)

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Old 08-18-2011, 04:48 PM   #8 
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Is he still swimming fairly well? Does he have trouble getting to the surface for air? If he is having difficulties you can lower the water level for him. You can also add lots of high resting places that are close to the surface. What ever his ailment if it has been developing for several months it is advanced and may not be curable at this point. Popeye is often a sign of a bacterial infection as can be a swollen belly. If you have been treating your betta for bacterial disease and it is not helping then it may not be bacterial. I have to say after reading the information that you gave it sure sounds to me like your betta may be suffering from fatty liver disease. You listed a lot of very high quality, rich foods that you feed him which is not a bad thing. However, if you are feeding frozen foods once or more a day it is, as frozen foods are meant to be used supplementary to a healthy diet. Once or twice a week unless you are conditioning your fish for breeding. Personally, I think you are over feeding. Do you give your betta a fasting day once a week to help keep his digestive system healthy? If he were mine I would and I'd also change his feeding schedule to once a day or Very small amounts twice a day. I would feed him pellet every feeding for all but two feedings per week and other foods no more than two feedings per week. That is, frozen/freeze-dried foods one feeding, two separate days per week if you feed more than once per day. It wont hurt him and it very well could help him get better.

If he is a tail biter you might try adding distractions to his home. Place a mirror next to his tank for short periods of time a couple times a day. Show him images or video of female betta and add a small piece of bubble wrap to the surface to see if you can encourage bubble nesting. change up his decor once a week and give him lots of caves and such to explore. There are lots of things you can do to try and keep him entertained. I think increasing his feeding schedule is the worst. Good luck!
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Old 08-18-2011, 05:21 PM   #9 
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Maybe he was meant to be with you because of your experience......I know thats not much comfort for you.....

There are treatments, however, that would require a vet and surgery and sadly we are dealing with a fish that has a life span of 2-3 years- rarely 4-5 years.......

All the important organs are housed in one area in fish-that is right under the head in the stomach area excluding the swim bladder that extend slightly above/beyond that follows the lateral looking at that #2 pic.....the bulge extend beyond the gut or internal organs-and this could either be- a lone tumor or the gut being displaced by a tumor...would be my best guess- common tumors are gonad, kidney and fatty liver disease that can cause the symptom you are have to understand that we are limited on the internet to a "best guess" for diagnosis and totally rely on information given to us and what little pic that can often be misleading for many reasons...without having the fish in hand it is impossible to give a firm diagnosis and even with animal in hand we are limited with some cases......I have been in the medical field (human) for well over 35 years and I do understand the difficulties when dealing with death and dying in my own practice(retired)...its never easy....

The best method to euthanize is often the hardest for some hobbyist.... that being decapitation-its fast and due to the limited perception a fish would be overdose of clove oil and then freezing...many disagree with the freezing method-but to understand how a fish is wired can give some comfort to know that its not painful or cruel....the fish goes to sleep and their system shuts down, heart stops beating and they die.......
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Old 08-18-2011, 05:30 PM   #10 
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Fatty liver disease? Really? I am familiar with this in cats, but not in fish. Interesting... We were told on here last year that we were not feeding him high enough quality protein and not feeding him often enough, which was causing his tail biting. So, (amongst other modifications) we switched his feeding schedule to two pellets at breakfast, two frozen worms/shrimp/etc at dinner and two pellets as late as possible before we went to bed. (It was overnight that he usually went at his tail with the most regularily.) It did help his tail biting. Yes, we do fast him one day of every week and soak his food before feeding.

It's so difficult when everyone gives you conflicting information. Everyone seems to have a different opinion as to how much of what to feed when. How can someone sort it out and do what's right for their fish?

If this illness is something we actually caused rather than something organic, we will be very upset. :(
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