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Old 09-02-2011, 08:54 PM   #1 
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Unhappy Swollen Gills: Ammonia Burn or Ich?

I acquired two bettas (male, crowntail) this afternoon and am already absolutely in love with them

However, I've noticed one of my bettas' gills are always flared out. Being new to bettas, I first thought it was because of low oxygen levels or it was part of his display as he was very fiery and aggressive at the store but now I see it probably indicates a health problem.

-Both gills are flared symmetrically
-No visible fungus, open sores, tumors, ect.
-Gills are always flared out completely (I can see all the way into them from behind)
-It's hard to tell if the gills are red from inflammation since he is a mottled red and peach color
-The "frilly" tissue under the gills is always flared out
-Heavily flaps his gills
-Sudden dashes to the surface to take BIG gulps of air

He's still VERY active and VERY curious. I don't see any fungus or parasite-like things on his body. It's very possible it could be from ammonia burns as he was in a very small amount of water at Wal-Mart but I can't say for sure. I've lowered the water level so he can swim to the surface easier.

Could it be ammonia burns/scarring, or a bacteria/parasite/something contagious?

I'd like to know as my tank is split in two with a divider, so the two fish will be sharing the same body of water and I don't want it to spread from one fish to the other.

I'd really appreciate any input on this. Thanks in advance!
(Sorry I don't have photos! I don't have a camera at the moment...)
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Old 09-02-2011, 10:10 PM   #2 
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Hello, and welcome to the forum!!!! What you're describing does sound like ammonia burns. Keeping his water nice and clean will be the biggest help for him in getting all healed up again. If you're concerned about him passing anything to the other betta, you can always keep him in quarantine for a few weeks just to monitor him, and then add him in if he remains the same. In fact, that's probably a good idea anyway, just to make sure that neither of them have any hidden illnesses going on before you put them together. If you see any changes, post back here and we'll try to help you out =)
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Old 09-03-2011, 09:36 AM   #3 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Elk Grove, California
Peppero, does your betta rub on his decor at all? It could be ammonia burns like Indyfishy says but I am also concerned about gill flukes because of the way he runs to the surface to get air. If, as Indyfishy says, he doesn't show signs of improvement, post back because he might need a dose of AQ salt or meds. Good luck with him!
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Old 09-03-2011, 10:50 AM   #4 
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Sakura8-Come to think of it, he DOES occasionally wiggle against the tank floor and walls like he's trying to reach an itch ):

Thank you both for your input! I will make sure to keep his aquarium extra clean and keep a close eye on him. Would you recommend treating him with aquarium salt as well? When I researched ammonia burn remedies, it popped up quite often. Is it also effective against gill flukes?

I feel like he's showing some improvement already. I have him on my windowsill (but not in direct sunlight) and he gets very excited watching cars go by, and he is having less difficulty surfacing. I've decided to get another tank today because I don't think these two should be sharing water for a while.

I feel more confident in his survival now and I hope to report back soon with news of his recovery c:
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Old 09-03-2011, 11:00 AM   #5 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Elk Grove, California
Yes, I think I would start him on 1 tsp of aquarium salt when you get him his own tank. I'm not sure if AQ salt is super effective against gill flukes but it will definitely help with the ammonia burns and also help prevent secondary infections. If you feel like it might be necessary, you can get API General Cure to treat him for possible gill flukes. I know one person on the forum had a betta who didn't seem to show obvious signs of flukes but he did make mad dashes to breathe. She treated him with General Cure and all these white flukes started falling out of his gills. o.O But if you want to wait and see if the AQ salt works or helps, I don't think it will hurt him. By the way, how does he seem breathing? Do his gills move a lot?
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Old 09-03-2011, 11:08 AM   #6 
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My betta would take big gulps of air too and would yawn alot. A few days of aquarium salt treatment he was all good! :D
I suggest you try aquarium salt

Last edited by LaLaLeyla; 09-03-2011 at 11:09 AM. Reason: And my bettas gills were also inflamed.
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Old 09-05-2011, 11:03 AM   #7 
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Sakura8- The rate of Ferrero's (finally named him! c: ) breathing seems normal, so he isn't panting, but his gills open up ALOT like little airplane wings. I tried the salt bath as instructed on Neenjar's earlier thread.

I only tried it once, so I can't say that it's not good for him, but it took an hour or two until he was back to his peppy self afterwards. He really hates being caught and transferred back and forth between a cup and an aquarium and I feel that the sudden immersion into the salt bath amplifies that stress. (He just floated around near the surface and looked "shell-shocked" after the salt. He usually is always zooming around the tank)

Could I gradually increase the salt concentration in his tank instead, and would that still have the same benefits as the salt baths?
Also, when betta are put into salt baths, is it normal for them to open up their gills REALLY WIDE, almost 180 degrees when you look at them from the top?
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Old 09-05-2011, 04:46 PM   #8 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Elk Grove, California
If he's reacting to the salt, he might open his gills pretty wide. Also, if he has ich or gill flukes inside his gills, that could cause his gills to open funny.

Are you doing a salt bath? Hmm. It's best to keep them in the salt all the time for 10 days. How big is his aquarium and do you live plants or cory cats in there with him? If it's bigger than 2 gallons and/or you have plants or cories, you will want to do the salt treatment in a smaller QT tank. A 1 gallon container is best if you have it. Pre-dissolve 1 tsp of salt into the QT tank. Slowly acclimate your guy to the salt water and then finally transfer him into the QT tank. This will be his home for the next 10 days. Change 100% of the water every day and redo the salt for 10 days. The salt will help him produce slime coat and heal any ammonia burns he might have. If his gills still are funny after 10 days of treatment, then you may want to consider a round of General Cure.

I hope this helps. Keep us posted.
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ammonia burns, ich, swollen gills

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