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Old 12-30-2011, 08:42 AM   #1 
Zorra
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Fish is itchy!

It's been about ten years since I owned a fish. I was at walmart and fell in love with two betta's who didn't seem very healthy. I had to buy them and get them out of that environment. So I bought a small tank with a divider, some rocks, and some fake plants. I put them into the tank together. For the first week they seemed fine. The clean water doing wonders. But then one of them fell ill suddenly. I bought Jungle Parasite Clear Fizz tabs after consulting some local pet stores and doing some online research. The fish died, that same day. It was devistating.

I took the remaining fish, Jupitor and placed him into a ten gallen tank which I filled half way with fresh water and placed half a fizz tab in. I washed all the rocks and plants and disinfected the original tank. After a week of treatment, following the dirrections on the box and pet store, I put Jupitor back in his little tank with the rocks and plants. He got sick again, external parasites, and I continued treatment.

I learned more about the parasites after I discovered three clear, worm-like creatures swimming in the tank. I only saw this because I happened to be shinning a flashlight into the tank and one of the worms had filled itself with blood from my fish and I could see the red. I wasn't able to find much online about this worm so took a guess and figured it was the one that drops off from the meds but will reproduce in two days. I realized there might be eggs in the rocks. Panicing, I put him back in the large tank and tossed the rocks and plants.

I've recently placed him back in his tank without anything but a temonitor. I've watched him closely for two weeks and he's been healthy, there are no abnormal behavors. Except that he only seems to use the bathroom once a week and it comes out as a brown mucus ball that seems way to large for a fish. Is this normal? I've only ever seen fish go in long thin strings. I'm extremly careful about how much I feed him, going off what I observe him to eat and past experance, but I have temperarily reduced his food just to be on the safe side. He's eating Betta fish flakes only. I don't have the money (unemployed presently) to get fancy worms or medications.

For Christmas I got Jupitor a new bag of rocks for his tank so he'd not be bord to death. I cleaned them by hand with warm water in a strainer. Then I boiled them for half-an-hour, rinsed and drained, then let them sit for a day in a half before rinsing again and putting in a freshly scrubbed tank. I rinsed a new fake plant and placed that in the tank as well. I'd let tap water sit for 30 hrs and poored it in, then added some fresh tap water to top off the tank, leaving two inches for air circulation. I added my water conditioner, about four drops. I change his water 75-100% every 2-4 days depending on how fast it starts to fog. I try to change it completly whenever possible. Unless medicating, then I follow instructions.

My fish has been in his new environment for two days, he didn't show any odd signs in behavor. Mild stress, but that's normal around this household. There's three cats who enjoy visiting his tank. I do my best to talk to him each day and play games and we've a ruiteen when changing his tank so it's not as upsetting for him. He normally remains calm through it all.

He seemed a bit bord yesterday, just floating in his tank. I went to feed him and he would eat the flakes then spit most of them out. He does that sometimes. About 6am he started rubbing himself against the plant and threamonitor. I thought it was him playing with his reflection at first but then noticed it was actual itching. He's been iching like mad for the last two hours, already started to rub and pull back his scales. I changed 95% of his water, conditioned it, and eventually broke down and treated him for parasites using Jungle again. I gave 1/3 a tablet (he's in a small tank).

I'm told that this should treat for ick as well since ick is a parasite. I have ick meds that I bought but would rather take back to the store. I don't see any white dots. How long do they take to appear?

Jupitor seems to be tiring himself out from the itching, which is what is making him seem mildly lethurgic. The meds seem to be helping to calm the itching (within 40mins of threatment). His fins are not clamped more then usual, and he's not darting about crazily. Just seems very itchy and spits his food out. He's rubbing the body near the head (but doesn't appear to be the gills) and along the base near the fin. With a flashlight I can sort of see specks on him near the back where he's been rubbing. I don't know if this is ick starting to form, or chaffing of the scales from all the rubbing. Or it could be velvet.

My fish is a dark blue-green, almost black near the head. He's got a natural goldish tint to his body and fins, red eyes, and red along the tips of his front fins beneath his face. I'm inexperanced with Ick, it's not something our fish have had very often...if ever. There's a warming on the meds for Ick not to overdose. I don't want to medicate the fish unless I know that's what it is for sure. So I'm just using the parasite clear, I only want to do one treatment and hope that helps.

Could it be that my fish is illurgic to the rocks or something? I can't keep him in an empty tank, he'll go nuts, but this is twice now that I've had this problem, both times when I've put rocks in the tank. While the first time could have been from the original infection, I just don't see how this one can be. My fish has been clean for three weeks nearly. This is a different tank from treatment and all new products. Please help. Is this going to kill him or just take some time to pass?

Thanks-Zorra
PS. sorry this post was so long. Figured you'd better understand what he's been through for a better assessment.

UPDATE: The itching seems to have decreased, figured the meds would help with that and prevent infection if it is his scales he's chaffing away and not spots from parasites. He's mostly just floating in the middle of the tank and his fins are limp, he's not moving more then he needs too. Is that what they call clamping? He swims to the surface for a gulp of air then floats back down. He will swim about calmly if I come up to his tank or shin the flashlight in. I'm just not seeing anything unusual on his skin but he's just so hard to see even with the flashlight cuz he's so dark and multicolored blues.

Last edited by Zorra; 12-30-2011 at 08:53 AM. Reason: UPDATE
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Old 12-30-2011, 11:27 AM   #2 
Zorra
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Update: The itching comes in spurts and is still bad. When he's not scratching, he's resting near the top of the tank, his body pulled downward like he's trying to walk on his tale fins. He did finally take three flakes of food which he swollowed and seems attentive when given attention. The scales on his backside seem to have settled (or paracites fell off) not seeing specks now. Then again, he's not at an angle I can easily check. There are, however, red sores and patches near his head where he's rubbed. How do I treat these so they don't become infected? Do I need to treat them or does the parasite meds do that? I have epsom salt if that can be used? If so, how do I use it, never have before. Is epsom salt really safe for betta's, I've heard otherwise?
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Old 12-31-2011, 02:23 AM   #3 
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First off, don't feed flakes. Highly suggest switching to Omega One Betta Buffet or New Life Spectrum Betta pellets. Also it sounds like based on spitting up food intermittently and the description of poo that the parasites have gone internal. I would suggest picking up some anti parasite fish food or if you can't find any you can make your own with Seachem's Metronidazole and Focus. You can use fish treated water or I like to use garlic guard. Put a little of the liquid in a small dish with one measure each of focus and metro. Soak for 10-15min and feed 2 pellets twice a day for at least a week, but he may need 2 weeks. I like to mix this up fresh every time I feed because Metro has a very short half life but some people will keep it in the fridge a few days.

Is he in a heated tank? You really need to get a heater and maintain it at 80F for the duration of this treatment and after that he'd do well down a degree or two. Anything below 76 and he's going to be prone to getting sick.

What do you mean by one treatment? A lot of those meds say every other day for 2 or 4 days or whatever. Do you mean one complete round according to the box or just one dose? Because one dose is just going to breed a super infection that's resistant. You need to follow through at least one full round.

He doesn't need epsom salt unless he's bloated to dropsy level.

As long as you keep his water very very clean you should not have a problem with the sores becoming infected. What do you have in there that can rub him so raw? I might think about removing some of the more sharp decorations and replacing with smooth ones.

If he keeps getting sick after you put his tank equipment in you may not be cleaning it properly. The tank and rocks and anything non porous needs to be bleached. If it can't be bleached, you can potentially pressure cook it. If you can do neither, toss it. To bleach use a 10% solution soak for 10 minutes, rinse very very well, then soak again with water and declorinator and then out gas 24 hours. Should be safe and sterile. Pressure cooking needs 250 degrees at 15lbs for a minimum of 30minutes. Obviously, not all tank equipment can maintain that heat. Rocks can. Ceramic stuff can. Plants and plastic stuff probably can't.

Last edited by callistra; 12-31-2011 at 02:32 AM.
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Old 12-31-2011, 02:58 AM   #4 
Sakura8
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Hi Zorra. Do you see little white spots on Jupiter? Like he was sprinkled with sea salt? If not, but he is still itching, then he probably has skin and gill flukes and some other possible external parasites. Pretty much all external parasites except ich and velvet are invisible to the naked eye.

You don't need expensive meds to treat Jupiter but you do need aquarium salt (you can get it at Petsmart) and an adjustable heater. Yes, the heater will be expensive ($20-30 for a good one) but it will help him not just now but in the long run as well. Buying a heater would be far better than buying any kind of medications. Bettas are tropical fish and need waters that stay at 78-80 degrees F. Without those warm waters, their immune system becomes compromised and they become sick very easily. To keep Jupiter alive for a long time, he'll need a heater.

Since the wattages for heaters are different, I'm going to actually suggest you leave him in the 10g so you only need to get a 50w heater. It would be easier to move him into his smaller tank, but then you'd need to buy two heaters: a 25w for the small tank and a 50w for the big one.

For Jupiter's treatment, add 3 tsps of the aquarium salt per gallon and let the salt dissolve before adding him back in. Every day, you need to do at least 50% changes because you need to remove any parasites that have fallen off from the treatment before they reproduce or reattach. Change the water, vacuum the bottom of the tank with a gravel vacuum, and redose the salts. It's very important to only replace the same amount of salt that you took out. If you take out half the water, only replace half the salt.

Do this for at least a week. Now, if you can and do get the adjustable heater, slowly crank it up to 86 degrees. The high heat shortens the lifespan of most parasites, making the treatment time a little shorter.

I hope this helps you with your little fella.
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Old 12-31-2011, 03:05 AM   #5 
callistra
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This will not treat the internal parasite. If he's spitting up food, and pooping only once a week a mucus stool it's gone internal and it does need real meds. Sorry.
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Old 12-31-2011, 03:18 AM   #6 
Sakura8
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That is true it could be internal but many bettas don't eat when they don't feel well. His reluctance to eat could be due to many issues, including an abundance of gill flukes. Gill and skin flukes are invisible but on very rare cases or in very large fish, some have been known to grow long enough to be just barely visible. I wonder if perhaps these were the worm-like things seen swimming in the tank.

Not all bettas poop at the same rate. Some bettas really do only poop once a week, particularly depending on the tail type. And a lumpish poo can be normal. What would really indicate an internal parasite would be a stringy whitish poo. And unfortunately, I've found Seachem Focus to be quite hard to find. Which kinda sucks 'cause I needed some a few weeks ago.

I feel that right now, pinpointing the cause of the itching is more urgent as this is what is causing him the most discomfort. If this goes away and he is still refusing food and beginning to show signs of bloating, then the treatment for internal infections that you outlined would be helpful. But again, this is all up to what Zorra wants to do and can afford to do. As before, I would stress that buying a heater is more vital than medications for something that may not be the root problem. If the problem is ich or an external parasite, this can be treated with the minimum of expense outside the cost of a heater, which is necessary anyway.

Also, Zorra, how is he breathing? How is his gill movement and can you possibly describe the color of his gills? And Zorra, please choose whatever you feel is best for you, your budget, and your fish.
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Old 12-31-2011, 03:21 AM   #7 
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Other than the mucous part, this fish seems to be having normal bowel movements. Poop can fall under rocks, unless you have a bare bottom tank you really cannot judge how often they are pooping.

Zorra: Does his poop look like little reddish colored cinnamon buns? Sorry but that's the best way to describe it lol

I'm more apt to say external as well. Spitting up food could be something as simple as having a hard time chewing the food he's given. My boys do this with pellets all the time.
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Old 12-31-2011, 03:27 AM   #8 
Sakura8
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The mucous most likely is extra slime coat the betta has produced in his effort to rid himself of his external parasites. This is their natural defense against such things: produce enough slime that the buggers can't stay attached. That's why AQ salt works well in these instances, because it encourages the production of slime coat without the use of medication.
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Old 12-31-2011, 03:29 AM   #9 
callistra
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He said the poop was mucasy.. that's definitely internal problem and coupled with the spitting up food and lack of pooing makes it that much more likely. Some bettas do poop less often and some do spit up foods but if that wasn't normal for him pre illness that's important to note.

I'm just spoiled because my local fish shop has everything but you can get seachem products off amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Seachem-641-Fo.../dp/B0002A5X8C :)
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Old 12-31-2011, 03:35 AM   #10 
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I'd be interested in a pic of mucousy poo because I've never really seen it. Since it's underwater, poo just sorta naturally looks mucousy all the time to me, haha.

Zorra, can I ask for a clarification on how he's eating? Sick bettas will tend to kind of "lip" their food listlessly but not actually take it in and swallow it. They may mouth it, suck it in and then let it drop when they realize they aren't hungry. Actually spitting up food would entail ingesting the food, then regurgitating it back up. Knowing which one Jupiter is doing would help us all narrow down his symptoms and treatment.

Yeah, lucky you to have such a nice LFS. Alas, not all LFS are created equal. Darn it, 'cause I want your LFS. :)
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