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Old 12-21-2011, 05:17 PM   #1 
spidey1978
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On the way to depression or illness ??

Hi,

New to keeping bettas, but do have some fish keeping experience. I have read through the threads looking to identify a similar or same problem and not sure I have found it yet so here goes:

Got our new boy a couple of weeks ago. Had put him in a much larger tank with some other tropicals (neons, rasboras, corys and a featherfin). He turned out to be rather agressive and picked on everything he could find in the tank, even the smaller plants !

So to solve this problem, we got a smaller, dedicated tank setup for him (19L) and migrated him across to his new home where he was fine for the first day. The tank was setup for about a week prior to putting him in there and I made sure to use water conditioner (as always) and filter boost (active carbon filter). We thought this new tank may be better as there was far less current from the filter and less bubbles from aeration to worry him.

Then the day before yesterday he spent most of the day at the top of the tank - not so worried as he needs normal air. He was still feeding on his favourite - bloodworms.

Yesterday and today however he has spent nearly all his time at the bottom of the tank. He isn't on his side and will swim when disturbed, but isn't letting his fins show their true glory. Also he refused to eat these last 2 days.

I've tested the water - no ammonia, no nitrite, no nitrate, no chlorine and acceptable hardness and pH.

Water temp was a little low (23 degrees) and have risen it gently to 27. Still no change !

He's been in this tank now for 4 days and have completed a 50% water change today. Tank is filtered and heated with live plants and some dark corners for him to hide.

He's not actually sitting on the bottom of the tank in the gravel, he's hovering about 1cm above it and is the right way up (i.e. not on his side and level).

Looking for some help here please as the first betta we had was actually sick from the pet store (although he didn't look it) and died within 2 days of being home from a major infection (causing havoc on a well established tank - now fixed) and my son absolutely adores 'his little red fishy friend'

Could this be he is adjusting or something more sinister ?
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Old 12-22-2011, 12:32 AM   #2 
Sakura8
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Hi Spidey and welcome to the forum.

When you transitioned your boy over to his new tank, were the temps about equal? In other words, he didn't go from warm water to colder water? Sometimes temperature shock can cause lethargy.

How is his breathing? Does it seem heavy? Does he look bloated at all and have you noticed if he's been passing any waste? :/ Usually transferring to a new tank shouldn't have such a drastic effect on him so I'm a little puzzled by his behavior.

There's always a possibility he's harboring an internal problem. If that's the case, treatment may be in order.
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Old 12-22-2011, 01:13 AM   #3 
spidey1978
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Unhappy

the temps were close enough (within 1 degree C). When I cleaned the tank and changed the water the usual left over bits of food from the gravel and some normal looking poop was in there.

He's not bloated and I can't see and abnormal shapes, spots, colours on him. Eyes look ok (clear and not pop-eyed). His breathing is a little laboured this morning.

With some persuasion he swam to the surface and now he is actually resting on the bottom of the tank (still right way up fortunately, not lying on his side).

Bit worried about him
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Old 12-22-2011, 01:14 AM   #4 
spidey1978
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BTW, thanks for the welcome
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Old 12-22-2011, 01:36 AM   #5 
Sakura8
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So except for the lethargy, he sounds perfectly healthy. Hmm. Can he swim up if he wants to? It's not a swimbladder problem?

My only suggestion at this point is to try some tannins. If you can get a hold of Indian Almond Leaf, you can put one in his tank and let it stain the water a tea color. If you can't find IAL (and most of us outside Thailand can't), you can use dried, clean oak leaves or a bag of decaffeinated green tea (no additives, just pure decaf green tea). The tannins will make the water closer to a betta's native water and may help to relax him.

I hesitate to suggest any medication because I can't tell if it's a bacterial issue or even just an adjustment issue.

If he starts to struggle to reach the surface, you can lower the water level a few inches.

It really sucks but with bettas, it's hard to know how to treat them until they start showing more drastic symptoms and unfortunately, drastic symptoms usually means very very sick. :/
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Old 12-22-2011, 03:19 AM   #6 
spidey1978
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He is now just sitting there. I got him to the top of the tank with some gentle persuasion and he hovered there for a while. Whilst my back was turned (about 15 minutes to sort out kids) he was back at the bottom in his new 'favourite' corner.

As I mentioned his breathing is a little laboured but he doesn't seem to be choking / drowning. When you get him to the surface he takes a gulp of air but that's it.

Some have suggested Epsom salts incase it is a digestive issue, but not eating and not appearing bloated I'm not sure.

I tried enticing him to his favourite food but nothing, not even the slightest interest. You can even touch his tail fin and he will slowly swim away. If I put the net near the tank he swims a lot faster !

I've tested the water again and have done a 25% change (mainly trying to syphon the uneaten food out) and tested again, still not a water quality issue in my opinion.

Should I leave the light off for the day and just let him have the ambient light from the room ?

You are right - difficult little critters to work out what is going on, never seen this behaviour before in any of my fish keeping and I don't like to see him like this, nor do I want him suffering !

Thanks for your help
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Old 12-22-2011, 03:57 AM   #7 
Sakura8
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You can certainly try epsom salts. I agree that it doesn't seem to be a digestive problem but epsom salts are pretty mild and a few days sitting in 1 tsp per gallon won't hurt him.

Will he flare at all?

One trick to try and get him to eat is to soak his favorite food in garlic juice. You can either use the juice from a jar of preminced garlic or you can crush up your own. If you use fresh garlic, soak the pieces in a bit of tank water until it gets good and garlicky, then remove the pieces and soak some of his food. Garlic is an appetite booster and has lots of antioxidants so it's good for him.

I understand that it's very frustrating and worrisome when a betta is like this; I've had a few of my own who act "off" but not ill. Sometimes it develops into an illness, sometimes it goes away and you never know what caused it.

How long was he in the community tank and how long have you had the fish that are in the tank?

You're welcome. I'm happy to do what I can. :) I hope we can find a reason why he's acting so funny.
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Old 12-22-2011, 03:39 PM   #8 
spidey1978
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At the moment he isn't flaring, however looks like somehow the mix of water change and just ambient light has helped a lot. He is still not showing off his fins when he swims, but he isn't residing on the bottom of the tank at least !

We've been out all day and when we came home he was blowing bubbles (i.e. swimming at the surface and breathing air) and at least swimming around a little.

I'll try the garlic trick you mentioned tomorrow and see if this entices him to eat some bloodworm.

In terms of the community tank he was in there for about a week - this was enough for him to terrorise everyone else in there except for the featherfin who was about his size and would chase him away. The tetras and rasboras would hide all the time and the corys would just swim away really fast when he approached.

I wonder if he is actually just 'playful' in his mind, but actually overly aggressive to other fish and needs a mirror or something else to play with ?
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Old 12-22-2011, 08:24 PM   #9 
Sakura8
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You could try to flare him on a regular basis, like twice a week. It's really hard to know how a betta thinks. Their little minds can work in mysterious ways and about the only thing I know for sure about their thinking is that 90% of it is about FOOOD!

Okay, I was just wondering if he perhaps had caught something from a fish in the community tank but it really sounds like maybe he almost missed the tankmates and had to adjust to bachelor life again. For him, I guess it was like going from king of the tank to being exiled to a desert island. Maybe?

Either way, I'm glad he's starting to perk up. :D
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