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Old 08-21-2011, 10:07 AM   #1 
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Unhappy New betta is lethargic, help!

Hi - I've kept goldfish for around 10 years, and recently I decided to try my hand at looking after another kind of fish. With some advice online at another fish forum, I decided to get a betta. I bought him around 4 days ago and he's become quite lethargic - I'm wondering if you can help me.

What size is your tank? 25 litres
What temperature is your tank? 27C/80F
Does your tank have a filter? Yes, an Interpet internal mini filter
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Is your tank heated? Yes, to 27C with a Fluval E50
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? None

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Hikari Betta Bio gold, and I tried him with some freeze dried bloodworms today.
How often do you feed your betta fish? Twice a day, 2 pellets at each meal


How often do you perform a water change? It's a newly set up tank (I seeded the filter with media from my healthy goldfish tank) and I've been changing water as often as my test results say - about every other day. I plan to reduce that to once a week once everything's settled.
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? About 40%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Interpet tap safe and I've been using Nutrafin Cycle in an attempt to boost the filter.

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

Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 20 (I changed the water after this test)
pH: 7.0
Hardness: n/a
Alkalinity: n/a

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? No
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? He started off quite active, swimming around the whole tank. Now he's really quiet and lethargic, spending most of his time hiding in a plant, coming up occaisionally for air and food.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? Yesterday
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? No, because I don't know what's wrong.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? No, but I've only had him a few days.
How old is your fish (approximately)? The fish store I got him from said they'd had him for about 4 weeks, I don't know how old he is though. He's about an inch long.

I'm totally new to bettas and I'm still learning what's normal and what's not. The first 2 days I had him he was quite active - swimming backwards and forwards, eating well, and sleeping at night. The past 2 days he's been quite inactive as I described above.

I've been having problems with my tap water - at the moment it reads 0.1 for nitrites and 10 for nitrates. Bit of a pain with a new tank! My goldfish tank has a strong cycle and lots of live plants so can deal with it, but it's a bit trickier in the betta tank. The nitrites got to 0.2 one day, and the nitrates have been at 20. Changing water has obviously been a tricky business what with the tap water's readings. Since friday the nitrites in the tank have been 0. I guess the nitrates built up to 20 so quickly because of the nitrates already in the tap, along with the nitrites which then become nitrates.. I'll keep changing water to lower the nitrates each day, but don't want to overdo it and end up putting too much nitrite in the tank for the new cycle to deal with yet. I've also got 2 live plants (anubias) which should help in time..

Rupert (my betta) looks physically ok - no unusual findings on him, it's just his inactive behaviour that's bothering me. Also - I've noticed his poop (at least I think it's poop - not wishing to be rude but does it come out further forward than you'd find on a goldfish?) looks a little pale and stringy. I don't know if this could be a parasite thing, or a stress thing because of finding himself in a new environment, along with the water issues I've been having.

Here's a picture of his tank?

And one of Rupert taken on thursday:

I don't know if this is normal or if there's anything I can do to help him.. please help! :(
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Old 08-21-2011, 10:28 AM   #2 
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I've also just noticed his gills seem to be moving quite fast.. I've only just seen this, but it doesn't look normal :(
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Old 08-21-2011, 11:14 AM   #3 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Welcome to the forum and sorry you are having problems....

This is a 6.6gal filtered tank at Betta, started to get lethargic, stop eating with rapid gill movement and light colored poop......

Yes, the vent in near the head-right behind the ventral fins....

Since your source water is starting out with nitrite and nitrate.....and this is tested source water without any ammonia in the source water...correct.....

I don't know much about the Interpet..does this cover-chlorine, chloramine, ammonia, heavy metals???? Dose it have any effect on the water like Prime by Seachem....

Good that you have a healthy established tank to help kick start the nitrogen cycle in the Betta tank.....

He may be getting stressed for several reasons-one may be the tank size or volume itself....sometimes it can take them some time to adapt to the space and especially the filter/water movement..did you add lot of live plants to his tank...if not, I would get it planted with some stem and floating plants....

You may want to QT him in a small tank without a filter with lots of stem and floating plants for your source water issues and add aquarium salt 2tsp/gal for the nitrite.....what color are his gills....if they are brown or purple looking it may be nitrite poisoning.....the salt will help this and do a fishless cycle on his tank with the established media from the goldfish tank and once you have 0ppm nitrite and nitrate 20ppm and under....slowly acclimate him to the 6gal filtered tank....

I would try to get the temp in the 76-80F range

How did you first acclimate him to the new source water when you first got him......

What kind of testing products are you using...what are the test results of the source water without adding any additives, the Betta tank and the goldfish tank to compare numbers for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate....
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Old 08-21-2011, 11:40 AM   #4 
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Hi thanks for your post!
Yes there is no ammonia in my tap water. Straight out the tap with nothing added, it reads 0 ammonia, 0.1 nitrite, 10 nitrate and 7.0 ph. I use the Nutrafin mini master drop test kit.

The water conditioner I use covers chlorine, chloramine and heavy metals. It doesn't detoxify anything like ammonia like prime does.

I've got two live plants in there - both anubias which I sterilised and rinsed thoroughly before adding to the tank.

The ammonia and nitrite in the tank have registered 0 for the past 3 days (infact ammonia has always been 0), so I think the filter is starting to do its job. One real concern I would have about putting him in a different, unfiltered tank is that the nitrites in the water would remain at 0.1 as there would be no cycle in there. At least where he is the filter is starting to convert them to nitrates. I don't have a conditioner that can detoxify ammonia or nitrites - I've looked for prime in all my local shops and there's nothing. The selection of products on the UK market seems to be alot worse than in the US..

When I got him, I floated the bag in the tank for 10 mins or so to acclimatise him temperature wise. I then every 5 mins added a bit of water from the tank into his bag. Before I did that I tested ph of the water in the bag, and it matched the tank. I tried to do everything slowly in order not to shock him. He was quite active for the first two days.

As for his gills, I really can't tell right now. He's hidden in a plant, I can just see his face really. I recall on his underside, the lines where the gills are were a dark brown kind of colour, but he looked that way when I got him.

How would the salt help? I've got some salt suitable for aquariums on hand if needed.

Edit - he is still eating, just not too much and he doesn't really seem excited by it..

Last edited by vikingsnail; 08-21-2011 at 11:41 AM. Reason: New information
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Old 08-21-2011, 11:54 AM   #5 
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He just took a little swim and I managed to get a slightly closer look at him. I paid particular attention to the gills - I think that the lines I was talking about are what sticks out when he flares, if that makes sense. I've seen him flare a couple of times, and it looks like he sticks his gill covers out, which are white with red on the edges. It's not a dangerous looking red, just like his natural colouring - his body is white and his fins are red.
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Old 08-21-2011, 11:55 AM   #6 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
If he has brown gills its a sign of nitrite poisoning and aquarium salt can help may be the filter or water movement that is stressing him too.....but you don't want to turn off the filter and risk stalling the nitrogen cycle that you have going on and changing the water is just adding more nitrite...since you don't have ammonia-baffle the filter to limit the water movement, I would stop the cycle product too...just use the dechlorinator and don't make a water change more than weekly unless you have ammonia, nitrite 0.25ppm or greater......I would do a salt could do it in the tank since anubias are salt tolerant, however, It would be better to cup him in the tank water to do a short term salt treatment for 24-48h dosed at 2tsp/gal.....

Good that he is still strong is the water flow....
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Old 08-21-2011, 12:07 PM   #7 
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My filter runs at 200lph, I can't turn it down further. It is cram packed full of media which I can tell reduces the flow rate - before I got Rupert I ran the filter without media and it was definetely stronger than it is now. I've got a flow director on the output to disperse the flow. He seemed to cope well with the current when I first got him, but I can give baffling it a go. What's the best way to do this?

My filter is like this:

Well I'm all out of the cycle stuff now so that's stopped! I'll just use the dechlorinator now.

The dose you gave for salt 2tsp/gal - is that American gallons?
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Old 08-21-2011, 12:26 PM   #8 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Yes, American gallon.....what a neat filter...I like how it is made....any way you can stuff the media area with some polly-fill to help slow it say you already have it stuffed with media...may not have any more room....I don't use a lot of filters on my tanks.....and anything 10gal and smaller...I use sponge filter when I do use a filter......I keep soil based tanks mass the plants function as the filtration system.....he may also just need some more time to adjust.......with the long heavy fins and being kept in the small temporary containers-it can really stress and tire them until they adapt and build muscle mass/strength to more volume and water movement......they will just can take time....sadly-the stress can sometimes compromise the immune response and any little thing can have a negative impact.....
Good luck and keep us posted.....
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Old 08-21-2011, 12:33 PM   #9 
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Thankyou so much for your advice. I haven't had him long but I'm already attached - he's such a lovely little thing, I'll do all that I can for him.

At the moment I'm trying to come up with a way to baffle the output. Tried attaching sponge to the output, but the current just forces it off. Now we're thinking of using a piece of plastic tubing (cut the end off a syphon tube!) wedged onto the output. Put some sponge in the tube, and pierce it a few times to really slow and disperse the flow.
I'll give the salt a go and keep you updated.
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Old 08-22-2011, 05:53 AM   #10 
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I thought things were getting a little better lastnight - he was a bit more active, and the current was reduced so he was able to 'chill out' in different areas of the tank.

But this morning it's worse :( I woke up to find him upside down resting on the filter at the top of the tank. Now he's kinda floating listlessly about the tank, head up, tail down. Sometimes he's at the top of the tank, sometimes he's at the bottom. Sometimes he lays down on the gravel.. I've got a few pics:

I don't know what to do :( I've added salt to 0.1% (1g per litre) as I didn't want to put too much in straight away and shock him. I just wish I knew what was going on and what I could do... please help :(
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