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Old 01-08-2012, 07:21 PM   #1 
AngesRadieux
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Unhappy Massively Frustrated by Bettas

I'm so frustrated! I just can't seem to keep a healthy betta for more than a few months and it's driving me out of my mind! First, Salazar just upped and died after a water change. I didn't do anything out of the ordinary. Just proceeded like usual. Bam! He had a negative reaction to something in the tank even though nothing I did was different from what I normally do. I got my water tested. Everything tested fine and there didn't seem to be any reason for the death. Then I got Regulus and put him in Salazar's old 2.5 gallon, heated tank. He seemed alright. Shy, but generally okay. Then two weeks later he died, too. It couldn't have possibly been poor water quality. I cleaned his tank every three days, kept it heated, and used conditioner. Now Severus, who I've had for a few months and is in a 5.5 gallon tank that's heated, filtered, and cleaned twice a week, has managed to develop fin rot. It's mild and other than a bit of a fin problem he's fine, but still! I just don't know what I'm doing wrong! I give my bettas plenty of decorations and caves to hide in so they feel secure. They have plenty of swimming room. I keep their tanks heated and filtered if the filter doesn't seem to be stressing them. I feed them a varied diet (pellets, flakes, FD blood worms, FD krill). But they just don't seem to stay healthy. I'm thinking of maybe getting another one to fill Regulus's tank, but I'm not even sure about that. And if this one ends up dead, I think I'll just give up on new bettas and do something else with the tank. I'll still try my best to keep Severus alive and well, but these fish are just frustrating me to no end.

Is anyone else horribly frustrated by trying to keep bettas alive and healthy or am I just a fish serial killer?
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Old 01-08-2012, 07:41 PM   #2 
Luimeril
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i almost gave up a few months back. lost about four or five in a row. a week or two between deaths, with no obvious cause. after losing my Chappy, who i raised from a fry, i was about done. went months without getting a new boy or girl. i felt like a bad betta mommy.

then, one day, i was looking at the six i had. everyone was happy and healthy. my males were doing great, as were my females. Ichi's tail was growing back in nicely, everyone was active and thriving. suddenly, i got that urge.

"Everyone's doing great. one more won't hurt....."

now i'm at 10. >w> i've reached my max. no more for me! i'm out of room, out of good tanks! no more bettas! xD
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Old 01-08-2012, 07:44 PM   #3 
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There is always a reason for a Betta dying. Just it may not be obvious to us. Being the little dudes that they are, it's normally not financially feasible for us to do all the scientific tests to find cause of death post mortem.

But we can deduce the following:
#1: Supply - where are you buying your Bettas from, is it from the same retailer? It's possible the retailer is unwittingly poisoning them or mistreating them. Only to then be bought by you and then have a dead fishy on your hands later on. It's also possible that the wholesaler the retailer is buying from, is of bad genetics.

#2: Water - Have you tested your pH and ammonia level of tap water before it even goes into your tank or has treatment added. If so, what are the results? What water additive do you use?

#3: Decorations – Are they aquarium safe, do they have hidden metal pieces, dyes/paints. Substrate type?

#4: Temperature – Do you have a thermometer to ensure stable temperature with minimal fluctuation. Have you monitored temperature? I seriously sat and watched my dudes tanks for a day each, noting every 5 minutes what the temperature was.

#5: Food – Quality and quantity matter. What are you feeding? How often and how much?

#6: Disease – Any indications of current or previous fish displaying diseases as in the disease stickies? You mentioned finrot – this doesn’t occur unless the water is not clean.

#7: Environment realism – Are they subjected to 24/7 lights or are they able to experience a normal day time/night time cycle?

#8: Cleaning – do you use chemicals, soap, an old sponge to clean the tank/decorations out and so on?
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Old 01-08-2012, 08:10 PM   #4 
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No, they aren't all from the same retailer. I don't remember the exact test results, but they came out fine. I even took a sample to Petco after Salazar died and they said it looked fine. I use the same type of decorations in both my tanks. They're all aquarium safe and Severus has had not had anything remotely like what happened with Salazar and Regulus happen to him even though his decorations and water parameters are the same. I feed Aqueon pellets, nutrafin flakes, and Hikari FD bloodworms and krill. I feed either 2 pellets and a small pinch of crushed flakes twice a day or I replace the pellets/flakes with 2-3 bloodworms or a small pinch of crushed FD krill for a meal. I use Nutrafin+ water conditioner, though I recently switched to API stress coat. Their lights have been turned on when I feed in the morning and turned off when I feed at night. I don't use any chemicals or sponges.

I think Severus has mild fin rot. But he's in a filtered 5.5 gallon tank that I clean two times a week. At least, I think it's fin rot... I'm not 100% sure if it's fin rot, since it's not so much graying around the edges as it is his anal fin has a new gray coloring that's the entire width of the fin and goes about half way to his body. There really isn't deterioration that I can see other than I noticed two little indents in his anal fin, but those are pretty far away from the graying. :/ So it doesn't look exactly like fin rot and I may be just being paranoid in diagnosing him with it... I wish I could post a picture of it, but I just can't get him to hold still long enough to get one and the only camera I have is the one on my phone.

He does have a bit of black on him, so maybe his colors are just starting to show more? I really don't know.
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Old 01-08-2012, 08:42 PM   #5 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luimeril View Post
i almost gave up a few months back. lost about four or five in a row. a week or two between deaths, with no obvious cause. after losing my Chappy, who i raised from a fry, i was about done. went months without getting a new boy or girl. i felt like a bad betta mommy.

then, one day, i was looking at the six i had. everyone was happy and healthy. my males were doing great, as were my females. Ichi's tail was growing back in nicely, everyone was active and thriving. suddenly, i got that urge.

"Everyone's doing great. one more won't hurt....."

now i'm at 10. >w> i've reached my max. no more for me! i'm out of room, out of good tanks! no more bettas! xD
I have 9 bettas. They are split between 2 10g tanks. If I wanted (and my mom would let me) I could get set up a couple more tanks and get 12 more bettas. Petsmart had female bettas on sale for $.99 each earlier in the week.

Not trying to hijack this theread.

To the op, how much water are you changing each time? I would be doing AT LEAST 60% each time. It takes no more time to do bigger WC than smaller ones, especially in such a small tank.
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Old 01-08-2012, 08:47 PM   #6 
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I do 100% water changes twice a week. Could too many water changes possibly be a problem?
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Old 01-08-2012, 09:06 PM   #7 
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100% twice weekly for a 5.5g is overkill IMO. Others will say the cleaner the better, but I’m of the opinion that something kept in a sterile environment for a lifetime, exposed to a mild cold will die. A little bit of dirt does assist an immune system and stamina in the long run, but that said I’m not condoning complete lack of WCs or such. Mine is a 5g and I do once a week 100%, normally Sunday afternoon so the boys know it's time to get ready for the temporary switch.

How do you house them during the WC? It could be stress related. I do cup method, cup pushed under water creates current into empty cup. Both Betta and water are drawn into cup, then I siphon remaining tank water into a bucket, and place cup into bucket for temporary Betta housing. Then I do my clean of main tank and decorations, refill, conditioner, water reaches temperature and re-introduce Betta.

I find this method minimises any contact with Betta and reduces stress quite a bit.

To me that seems like a bit too much food as well. I generally don't go above 3-4 pellets per feed, flakes are to be considered a pellet per flake IMO.
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Old 01-08-2012, 09:46 PM   #8 
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If I can, I catch them using the cup. But, lately I've been using a net because Severus has just become too good at getting away from the cup. With Regulus, I don't think I ever had to use the net. If I couldn't catch him with a cup, he almost always went to go hide in one of the cups I put in as a cave so I'd pick that up with him in it. I generally just kept them in their cups while I cleaned the tank.

With Salazar, it was definitely a reaction to something in the water. I don't know if maybe I touched something that was bad for him without realizing it while cleaning his tank and contaminated the water somehow or if there was an underlying problem that made him more sensitive or what, but it was definitely the water. He started swimming sideways and then died less than a minute after being put back in the tank. But, I didn't do anything that was different from his normal water change routine.

With Regulus, he died the day after a water change. The day of, I noticed he'd become just a little paler than usual and he was a bit lethargic, but nothing seemed terribly wrong. I woke up to a dead fish the next morning. I used a different conditioner that time, but I've never heard of API stress coat making a fish sick so I thought it was safe. :/ Maybe there was something wrong with him from the pet store that I didn't notice? I only had him for about two weeks.

Both of them were in a heated 2.5 gallon tank that got 100% water changes every three days.
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:05 PM   #9 
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When you do your water change, do you rinse the substrate and decorations?

If not, ammonia can spike post water change from substrate and decorations being disturbed. So much that where your ammonia levels might have been 2, a post WC spike can go up to 6.

This is a possibility, or a combination of the previously mentioned. Short of that, a contagious disease lingering in the tank would have the same indications and MO. We can rule out Tuberculosis - I presume your fish didn't have open sores and such before dying? It's rare and also deadly to humans.

For a test you could perhaps purchase new substrate, or even go without any substrate at all. Stress Coat+ I recommend as water conditioner for slime coating and just general awesomeness.

Is it a second hand tank or brand new? If it was second hand it could have been bleached or disinfected without your knowledge tainting anything placed into it.

But the deaths occurring so soon after a WC indicate to me something to do with ammonia or disturbed substrate/decorations.
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:14 PM   #10 
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I always rinse all the decorations before putting them back in and I rinse out the substrate. :/ I bought the tank new and there were no sores before or after death. For Salazar there was no external sign of illness unless tail biting can be a symptom of something. For Regulus, there were no symptoms other than what I mentioned above.

And now Severus is bloated. I did give him frozen brine shrimp as a treat today, though, so I'm thinking I might not have cut a small enough piece off the cube and he might have just eaten too much. He doesn't seem to be having any trouble swimming. Just to be safe, I'm acclimating him to the 2.5 gallon tank with no decorations other than one silk plant so he can't possibly get stuck anywhere but he has a place to rest. I'm going to fast him tomorrow and the water's been dosed with AQ salt to help with his fins. It'll be easier to keep an eye on him in a smaller tank, anyway...

Or do you think I shouldn't move him in case there actually is some problem with that tank? :/
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