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Old 01-03-2012, 12:37 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Betta-newbie, think my fish is in shock - any help appreciated!

First time poster, would appreciated any advice for my poor fish Gil. I'm a betta-newbie, so I'm still learning the ropes of proper care; unfortunately, my fish has taken the brunt of my learning!

In December, I got my betta fish Gil a 5g tank with a heater and filter, to upgrade him from his 2.5g unheated bowl.

I made sure the tank was cycled and that the temperature of the tank vs. the bowl were similar (I'd been heating the bowl by adjusting the room temperature to keep it between 75-78, so I did the same with the tank), but, betta-newbie that I am, I didn't realize he'd need to be acclimated to the different water quality and placed him right in the new water. His bowl water was frequently changed, but the cycled tank water would have been a big difference! I placed him in the new tank on December 27th; by the end of the day he was floating on his side, occasionally swimming frantically like he was trying to jump out of the water. Sometimes he'll seem to bend his tail downwards, or lift his head up; occasionally he'll flip upside-down, causing him to swim frantically to right himself. He does not seem to favour one side over the other when he's floating, and does not appear to have any swelling/bloat.

I have scoured this message board looking for information -- right now Gil is in a 0.5g hospital tank with the temperature at 78 in a darkened, quiet room. Because of the floating (and his steady diet of bloodworms -- something else I didn't know wasn't a good idea), I've been following Oldfishlady's treatment for swim bladder disorder -- he's on day 4 of an Epsom salt treatment, and has loose plastic wrap over the top of his bowl. I've been changing 50-60% of his water 3 times a day because I haven't wanted to stress him out by removing him from the bowl; I did do a 100% water change yesterday but am back at the partial changes today. I've also been offering him bloodworms and pellets a couple times a day, but he doesn't even seem to realize they're there. He last ate 1/2 a bloodworm on the 29th of December.

So far there has been no improvements. At this point, I am just looking for advice how to keep him comfortable, or if there's anything else I can do for him.

What size is your tank? Originally 2.5g; briefly 5g.
What temperature is your tank? 75-78
Does your tank have a filter? His usual home, the bowl, did not.
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Is your tank heated? No
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? None

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Bloodworms
How often do you feed your betta fish? 1-2 times a day; he used to eat three bloodworms a day total

How often do you perform a water change? Every three to five days for the bowl. Was changing 20-30% of the tank water daily before & after I put him in; thought it was cycled but wanted to be safe.
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 100% of the bowl.
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Nutrafin BettaPlus tap water conditioner, and let the water sit 24 hours before using.

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

I did test the 5g tank for ammonia, but never his bowl; I didn't have a test kit until I got the tank.

Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: NA
Nitrate: NA
pH: NA
Hardness: NA
Alkalinity: NA

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? Surprisingly it hasn't; colour is the same.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? He was a bit more lethargic and eating less as winter rolled in (hence the new tank with the heater). After I put him in the tank, he started floating on his side some of the time and resting a lot on the plants; after 24 hours, it was all the time. In the QT tank, he'll occasionally swim around frantically, bumping into the sides of the bowl, swimming up out of the water. This happens when startled (like when I change some of his water) or when he flips upside down.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? December 27th.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? I have moved him to a QT bowl (.5g) and have started Oldfishlady's recommended 10 day Epsom salt treatment - he is on day four. I have moved him to a warm, darkened room in my apartment, and placed plastic wrap loosely over the top of the bowl.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? No.
How old is your fish (approximately)? I got him in July of this year - so probably 8 months to a year old.

Sorry for the rambling post! If anyone has successfully coaxed a betta back to health when acting like this, I would love to hear your advice! I really hate to see him so ill.
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Old 01-03-2012, 02:31 PM   #2 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Welcome to the forum and sorry your Betta isn't well....

How much of the Epsom salt (Not aquarium salt) are you using and are you using any tannins...

When a fish is placed in new tank/water or after a water change and they start to swim erratic and seem to try and get out of the water/container-this usually means something is really wrong with the water enough dechlorinator or forgotten dechlorinator, high heavy metals or other contamination of some type when its not extreme temp difference-extreme chemistry change when not properly acclimated can cause these signs as well, however, usually the fish will die within 24-72 hours due to osmotic shock...

Since you have been doing water changes and he is still alive going into...what...about 6-7 days...correct..but he is still swimming erratic, not eating...etc....

The source water-what is it-tap, bottled, well water and if tap does it go through a water softening unit or anything-do you let the water run for a few seconds before you use it to clear the pipes.

Are you premixing the treatment water and making sure the temps are pretty close when you make the water changes.

The containers that you are using for water changes or anything that has contact with the water used for the fish-has not been contaminated by anything, nothing on your hands, no new changes in the house that could have contaminated the water in anyway.....

Double check the heater to make sure you don't have any stray volts/currents-with some heaters if they are not cooled off properly when the water level is dropped can cause them to crack...

Double check water temp, check expiration on dechlorinator, shake it really good and use double dose...

If you are on city water supply- sometimes they can flush the lines or add more chemicals for whatever reason and this can cause problems....

Since he has been okay for the 5-6 months you have had him and this was sudden with the new may or may not have something to do with the new tank, heater, city water supply, accident with toxic substance....hard to say......

Keep us posted.....
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Old 01-03-2012, 04:24 PM   #3 
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Thank, Oldfishlady!

I was so sure I was being careful, but didn't even think to check the two 120ml bottles of BettaPlus I bought at the beginning of December to set up Gil's tank. If I understand Nutrafin's cryptic dating system, they expired in September 2011 (the code on the side reads 1109 114). I've already gone through one and a half bottles between the tank, and the frequent QT bowl changes. I didn't really think about the conditioner being expired, but thought since I'd bought it a month ago from my local fish store it would be okay -- not very careful of me.

In November, I was using a different bottle of the same conditioner; it's since been recycled and I don't know what the date on it was. I'm not sure this has been the whole problem, but I'm sure it hasn't helped that I've been carefully changing Gil's QT bowl with potentially half-chlorinated water!

I've just bought some new water conditioner. Both the fish store and Petland had nothing BUT expired BettaPlus stocked, so I picked up some Aqueon Betta Bowl Plus and added a bit to his bowl, then did a partial water change with Epsom salt water treated with both the expired Nutrafin and new Aqueon conditioner.

As for your other questions, I did two days of 1 tsp Epsom salt/gallon, and have used 2 tsp/gallon yesterday and today. I haven't added any tannins to the water yet; would you recommend it at this point? I've read previous posts where you've mentioned them -- the best I could probably do is decaf green tea.

In the tank, I used the same tap water as I've used for his bowl; it was the same temperature and used the same (expired!) conditioner. I can't think of anything else that would have contaminated the water, but there were so many different things in the tank than the bowl: gravel rather than glass beads; two new silk plants and a new little cave. All were rinsed thoroughly before putting in the tank, but I didn't use any kind of cleaner on them, which has since made me paranoid about how clean they actually were.

The heater appears to be in good shape with no cracks in the glass or plastic top. It was my first time working with one, but I made sure it wasn't submerged past the 'Max Water Level' line at any time, and put it in the tank for a few hours before turning it on.

I have been premixing the treatment water; I have Gil's QT bowl in a small spare room (not floating in his tank) so I've been regulating the temperature using room's thermostat (it's like a mini-sauna in there!) and a floating thermometer in the bowl. The jug of treated Epsom salt water is in there with him to keep it the same temperature as his bowl.

I can't think of anything else Gil's water would have had contact with. I'm good about washing and rinsing my hands, and rinsing anything his water comes near; I totally could have done something mindless and silly, though, but not sure what.

The tap water I'm on is city water; I've never thought to run the water before using it, but I've gotten all of Gil's water from the kitchen sink, which is run frequently.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this who thing was just because of the expired water conditioner, and do another 50% water change in a few minutes. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond -- I appreciate it!
inkscribble is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-03-2012, 04:42 PM   #4 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Your welcome.....if you have a tannins any Oak trees near by-leaf naturally dried and fallen from the tree 18-20 crushed/gallon and add to the premixed treatment water to steep that would help-decaf green tea 1bag/gallon is better than nothing if that is all you have...I would also increase the Epsom salt to 3tsp/gal-I wouldn't make anymore than 50% water changes at a time to help limit stress and double dose the dechlorinator...

Good luck and keep us posted....we are pulling for him.....
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:32 PM   #5 
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Thanks again, Oldfishlady!

I just did another 50% water change with 3tsp/g Epsom salt water, and have added a decaf green tea bag to Gil's 1 gallon treatment water, ready for the next change.

I will let you know how he does over the next few days!
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Old 01-05-2012, 04:11 PM   #6 
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Unfortunately, after fighting really well for two more days, Gil died this afternoon.

Thank you again for your help, Oldfishlady -- I feel like I did all that I could to at least make things less stressful for him. He was a really good fish.
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Old 01-06-2012, 08:43 AM   #7 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Sorry for your loss....stuff happens and all we can do is our best and you did don't give up....

Look forward to hearing about your new Betta....
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