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Old 12-18-2011, 06:40 PM   #1 
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Unhappy Please Help! Detailed History!

I'm desperate, I've lost a fish recently (from a different tank) and now my other betta is acting up. Please help me save MARTY! When I first got him he was in a 1 gallon jar with no filter, heater, etc! NOTHING, and he loved it! I decided to go big time and get him a palace (10 gal.) with a heater, filter, fake plants, cave and rocks, and he hasn't quite been the same. Its been 3 months since I switched him and his personality has changed. He doesn't eat regularly (only 1 bite every other day) and he used to be a little pig. He also used to swim a lot, now not so much. However THIS IS NOT THE PROBLEM! I've gotten used to his new behavior over the last few months, figuring that he was healthy since he's showed no other symptoms and besides personality he's been fine, but NOW he his breathing heavily (gills and lips rapidly moving) and at times laying slightly sideways on the bottom. Other times, he's completely vertical, sometimes head in the air, sometimes head on the bottom. He's also gone completely vertical at the top of the tank with his lips touching the very top of the water. He will move when provoked, but that's it. OTHER NOTES: Leading up to his his strange behavior has included him getting excited when I put food in the aquarium, but NOT EATING IT! He feels the vibration and starts flying around the tank but never eats. If he does get near the food, he takes a stab at it and totally misses, almost on purpose. He also seems to look at the reflection of the food a lot and attack the sides of the tank sometimes. Don't know if any of this will help, just trying to be detailed. To summarize, these strange new symptoms just started hours ago, so I hope I get feedback in time to save him. If I would've done that when my last fish started acting up, I might've been able to save him.


What size is your tank? 10
What temperature is your tank? 79
Does your tank have a filter? yes
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? no
Is your tank heated? yes
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? none

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Freeze dried bloodworms (he used to love them so much, maybe he wants different food?)
How often do you feed your betta fish? once a day (if he even eats it) I normally scoop it right out.


How often do you perform a water change? The water seems to evaporate quickly, so I've been adding about 1 liter a day to try and keep the tank full. I use tap water that has been sitting out for at least 24 hrs, and I also put "Ammonia Clear" fizz tabs in the water as well as "Start Zyme" from jungle. But neither of those addresses Nitrate, so maybe I need to look at that?
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change?
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Jungle Start Zyme, Jungle Ammonia Clear

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?
No, and I know I should. I'm going to get them now. I just hadn't before because everything was fine and they only have the large expensive box at my store.


Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? Possibly getting darker around the gills (black & blue). I can't remember if it's always been there or if slowly crept up on us, but we both kind of thought it looked darker recently.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? Lethargic. Sometimes seems as if he's "out of it" and then suddenly snaps back into reality!
When did you start noticing the symptoms? 5:30 p.m. EST 12/18
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? Nothing so far
Does your fish have any history of being ill? Only that when I switched tanks he lost some appetite and spunk
How old is your fish (approximately)? 1 yr? (bought him 6 months ago)
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Old 12-18-2011, 07:02 PM   #2 
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I also wanted to add that i have never used any water conditioner. I am a novice, and was trying to use as little chemicals as possible in order to not kill him. Especially since he used to live in a small bowl with tap water and was excellent.
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Old 12-18-2011, 07:46 PM   #3 
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Location: Moncton, NB, Canada
as long as you let the water dechorinate it should be fine. I only use dechlor when I have no time to let water sit.

NOW, food wise...theres a problem. Blood worms are a treat, not a staple diet. I find it also constipates my bettas if fed too often.

I always do blanched pea feedings (consider this a kind of laxative) every 2 weeks or so. pellet based diet with a treat of blood worms every so often. MAJOR difference.

I dont know if anyone else does this but I put a lucky bamboo in most of my tanks. Just sucks up some of the nitrates for food.

Seeing he is hungry try the blanched pea. Dont feed him anything for a bit, fast him, and try the pea. you'll need to crush it into a paste though after the peel is removed).

Once he has eaten the pea, for his next meal give him pellets.

I have had several bettas with these symptoms and once these things were changed they fared much better.

If he is still acting strangely, maybe a 5 gallon would be more appropriate? I know it sounds silly but some of my past bettas ( before re homing them) would dislike the 10s and enjoy 5s.

good luck and please update often!

PS: He is gorgeous, I love pastels.

Last edited by PixelatedPaint; 12-18-2011 at 07:49 PM.
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:13 PM   #4 
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Thanks for the pellet and blanched pea ideas. I've never heard of the peas though. I assume I can find them at the store? The only problem then is getting him to even react to the food. He used to respond to me EVERYTIME I walked by the tank. He would go to the top, all excited hoping for food. Now, he just does his own thing, and the only hope of getting him to attempt to eat is if he happens to be at the top and I drop it RIGHT in front of him. Also, just to confirm, if I leave tap water sit with no chemicals for a day, that will not need any treatment? Because I've never added water that hadn't sat for awhile. Plus all the water is treated for ammonia, so I wonder if Nitrate could be an issue. ALSO, I'm confident that he is losing color, or becoming "pale". I think its slowly happened and that's why it didn't stand out to me until I REALLY looked at him, but he used to be so much more colorful.

Last edited by mattyp12; 12-18-2011 at 08:16 PM.
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:29 PM   #5 
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Location: Moncton, NB, Canada
a betta losing his color could be from stress

He may not be eating because he is constipated. Fast him and feed him the blanched pea. He will eventually be hungry enough to eat it.The pea needs to be frozen...the ones from the grocery store. nothing canned and so on for fear of chemicals and preservatives.

chlorine takes about 24 hours to evaporate so it should be fine. HOWEVER, be sure to contact your city's water treatment facility or someone who would know what they use in your area. Some places use chlorine and chloramine, the latter being harder to evaporate and therefore needing a chemical dechlorinator.

I use the bamboo to avoid nitrate issues in smaller non planted tanks. My larger tanks are usually heavily planted. lucky bamboo is like a dollar or so for a small plant. As long as the leaves are above water itll do fine.

the blood worms are fatty and hard to digest so i never give them daily, even with the peas.
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:38 PM   #6 
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Water conditioners are a MUST, they actually take OUT the chemicals in the water.. when you can, you may want to get some and start using them ASAP, chemical burns from the chlorine could be causing problems
leaving tap water to sit for one day will have NO affect.... water has to sit in the sun for at least ten days... and even then there are still chemicals, water conditioner is pretty cheap, a small bottle is less than $5 at Walmart and last FOREVER if you have one betta
for now, it would be best to put him in a small QT tank, I use 1 gallons or 2 gallons and do 100% water changes of CONDITIONED water... do not use ammonia fizz or any other kind of additive other than the water conditioner



Bettas are carnivores, they can not process peas and that will just make it worse or at the best, have no effects

If you think he might be bloated or constipated, skip feeding him for 1 day
mix 1 tsp of epsom salt per gallon of CONDITIONED water
do 100% daily water changes (1 or 2 gallon QT tanks are best)

For feeding
Freeze dried food of ANY kind is a TREAT ONLY
I give a freeze dried treat once a week... soaked in tank water before feeding
Otherwise, my bettas get 3-4 frozen bloodworms (bought from petsmart... they are fresh) in the morning and 2-3 pellets in the evening (depends on the betta)
Once a week I do not fast... I use Sundays as a fasting day (I get to sleep in! lol)

10 gallon tanks are GREAT to have bettas in.. especially if they are solo!
BUT you still have to do water changes.... I honeslty do not trust ammonia fizzes or any other sort of chemicals to "clean" the water... and since water has been evaporating, the levels in the tank are probably HIGH (nitrate and ammonia)
Im guessing your tank is not cycled, and Im guessing you have no love plants (live plants such as Anubis or Anacharis) you can read more about live plants here:

Heres how to cycle a tank:

with a 10 gallon tank...

You need to do at least 50% changes once week and make sure you get the POOP and old food off of the bottom of the tank!
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:45 PM   #7 
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Location: Moncton, NB, Canada
peas are fine in extreme cases. I feed constipation prone bettas peas to no ill effect. I know of many other carnivorous fish that will eat them to aid passing some hard to get rid of constipation. Of course this isnt something they would naturally come across but some of these situations arent something they would either.

As for needing to use chemicals, that is false for some locations. My water only contains the chlorine, no chloramine therefore letting it sit for several days will allow the chlorine to evaporate. I have had my tested before and after.

Also if salt is used you cannot allow the betta to be exposed more than 10 days for fear of subsequent kidney issues.

tank size it purely subjective.

Last edited by PixelatedPaint; 12-18-2011 at 09:05 PM.
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Old 12-18-2011, 10:23 PM   #8 
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Wow, I've heard of cycling but never knew what it was or anything about it. It goes WAY over my head. I'm just wondering why i can't just add water treatment to the tank. He's survived all this time in the tank, and its filtered, so if I just start adding treated water during water changes, would that be sufficient? Also, I could look into adding live plants. Its just that if i have to cycle a tank for a month, how can I keep him alive elsewhere. I don't want him to die if I have to move him into a smaller tank, plus he's loves his heater. Basically I just want to know if it is absolutely necessary, because if it is, I will do it. if not, I'd just like to treat the water he is in if possible.
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Old 12-19-2011, 12:20 AM   #9 
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He now has gone into a position in the corner of the tank where his lips are at the very top of the water, and he is continually puckering his lips. As if he is struggling to breathe? His mouth just keeps opening and closing. I still haven't treated him, and i am waiting until tomorrow. I want as much knowledge as possible so that i don't do further damage. So far, I've learned that i need to get a different diet, but my main concern is getting him healthy and interested in food in the first place. He almost reminds me of a fish OUT of water, struggling for air. ALSO: Would salt help? I've heard of this, and is regular table salt appropriate? Also, when it comes to the peas, should I just get regular frozen peas at the grocery store and cut a chunk off when I try to feed him? I think my main strategy is to just do a full water change with the new water treated for chlorine, etc.

Last edited by mattyp12; 12-19-2011 at 12:35 AM.
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Old 12-19-2011, 02:48 AM   #10 
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Marty passed away at 2:30 a.m. I watched hopelessly as he would go limp but then burst back to life as the filter's waves would push & pull him. I felt so bad and didn't know if I should end it myself. I had thought about it earlier in the day but he came back to life then, so I had faith he would bounce back again. But, he finally took his last breath as I watched. Not fun.
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discoloration, floating but not dead, not eating, sick, sideways

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