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Old 02-02-2012, 11:37 AM   #1 
corinna
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betta in need - pls help identify what might be ailing my little buddy

hello everyone!

my betta's story is the following:
i have 5 fluval chi tanks (5 gal) in which i house my bettas.

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these tanks are open and my cats use them as water bowls. in order to protect the bettas (4 boys, 1 girl), i made a grit and placed that on top to cover the open area. my cats can still access the water but not fish for the bettas...

the tanks are planted, and my bettas co-exist with shrimp. here are two sample pictures of the individual tanks. the latter being the female (sorry for the twisted pictures, btw!).

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a few days ago, i decided to introduce the female to my favourite male - a very trusting little guy - and observed them. the female made her usual attempts to 'attack' but never touched the male. eventually, she seemed more amenable but i decided to leave it at a brief introduction.

shortly after this, my favorite little guy who always swims around the front part of the tank, who greets me, nibbles on my fingers, whom i can stroke and who 'plays' with me had disappeared. i searched frantically within the aquarium but was unable to find him. i search the area around the floor… nothing.

eventually i suspected that a cat had gotten a hold of him and was extremely sad over the loss of my favourite fish buddy.

after gazing at the empty tank for 2 days, i decided to venture out and get another betta… in the evening i heard some splashing coming from one of the aquariums, i switched on the lights inside them but everything looked peaceful.

this morning i discovered my fish buddy inside his tank - together with the new betta - but my buddy had 'ripped fins' - more precisely: his tail is chewed off...

i realized that he must have been in hiding all this time and i can only suspect that the 'intrusion' of the female depressed him - or maybe her removal?

in any event, i examined him and not only discovered the obviously missing tail fins -

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- but also "something" i am not sure how to interpret. my knowledge of fish diseases is very limited as i have never really had any problems with my bettas.

so here is where i need your help…

what i have done so far:

i immediately took him out of his tank and into a separate glass bowl which is currently sitting on a heating blanket. i have done some research and have added tea tree oil to the water (following this recipe: http://www.ehow.com/how_5961763_mix-...aquariums.html - which turned out to be 8 drops, btw) to treat his fins, as well as tetracycline as a first aid. i also added "aqua plus" to his water.

however, i also see what looks like some frazzled scales in top view and am wondering if this might be part of the nipping that would have gone on or if this is part of a very different disease - black spots? (not to be confused with his natural colouring, though... ) - velvet? - and in need for separate treatment.

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this is the same picture but darker, showing the sides more:

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is there anything i can do in addition? i have, for instance, sea salt handy but no aquarium salt (which i can, of course, get - together with anything else that is recommended). however, our water stems from a well and i run it through a brita filter but since we live close to the ocean, the water is naturally 'salty'.

as to the questionnaire:
tank size: around 5 gal; temp.: approx. 20 C; filter: yes; aeration: does continuous flow count?; heated: with a terrarium pad underneath; tank mates: shrimp & snails; food: 2 types of 'betta pellets', freeze dried blood worms & grubs, frozen blood worms on occasion.
water changes: no - the tanks are cycled and except for adding water and cleaning the filters etc. i rarely change the water. i have done in the past but found that it upsets the balance. since i have stopped, the water remained clean with no odour and no build up.
water parameters: i can test for ammonia & PH and get a reading of PH being high with 7.6 (the filtered water is already around 7.2) and ammonia appears to be 0 or very low. i find the ammonia test tubs hard to read, however, and took another picture instead:

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his age is probably around 6+ months. i guess the other questions are answered above. as to the fish himself… well… he is listless & depressed, he is not eating and resting on the bottom of the tank.
*sigh*

any suggestions are welcome...
thank you!
corinna

Last edited by corinna; 02-02-2012 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 02-02-2012, 12:45 PM   #2 
Badjer
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Just a note...tree oil is actually harmful to bettas, as it can damage their labyrinth organ. So I'd get him out of that right away. Also, be careful with that heating blanket and monitor the temperature closely. Not sure what's going on on his head, but some AQ salt would help his fins grow back. I'd get some advice from someone else first though, since I don't know a ton about diseases. Sorry this happened to you!
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Old 02-02-2012, 02:13 PM   #3 
corinna
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thank you...
i took him out of the tea tree oil after reading your post and did a 25% water change in his aquarium, added the tetracycline and aqua plus. he is back in his tank sitting on the bottom.

as for the aquarium salt, i understand that i could use my 'organic sea salt'. (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...6064432AAzQJZG)
however, i am reluctant to add either due to the natural salinity of our water.
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Old 02-04-2012, 07:55 AM   #4 
corinna
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update

i got some more kits for nitrate and nitrite. i tested his tank as well as a control tank. both show negligible readings with nitrite being between 0.0 and 0.1 and nitrate being way below 5 mg (probably 1 or 2).

in the meantime i am happy to report that my betta is back to his 'old self' - - he is not hiding anymore, eating and nibbling on my fingers again (in other words: begging for more food *g*).
however, i will continue the treatment with tetracycline for the recommended time.

oh... and i also purchased aquarium salt and might add a sprinkle once the course of antibiotics is completed.

nonetheless, any further suggestions are welcome!
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Old 02-04-2012, 08:51 AM   #5 
Myates
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That's some adventure, nice set up...

There really is nothing you can do for the damages caused by the other male betta, other then just making sure to keep up with your water changes- adding him into medications such as tetracycline can actually cause more harm then good.. since he has no illness in need of medication. He has wounds.. that aren't infected, so honestly putting him in medication isn't needed.

AQ salt, for a short bit may help keep some bacteria at bay, but it can actually hamper the growth of fins... if you decide to use the AQ salt, I wouldn't do it for no more then 3 days, at 1 tsp per gallon with daily 100% water changes.. (make sure to do 100% water change in his QT tank, as since you only did partial with the tree oil, and the medication is in there.. you need to get it all completely out).
The AQ salt will help keep any wounds clean, but no need to put him through a whole 10 days.. 3 days would be plenty to clean out his wounds.

To help his fins grow back, clean water (your once a week water change), variety of high protein diet will help.. some say Stress Coat helps promote fin growth, so you can add in a few drops of that with your regular water conditioner.

Should never introduce a male and female together just to see how they are.. especially placing one in the other's territory. He was hiding due to stress of being "invaded" by her.. have to remember that the females will fight just as the males would and even breeding can be deadly.

Good luck to you and your little one.. glad to hear he is doing a bit better. It will take months for his tail to grow back, keep an eye out for fin rot- and clear to white coloration on the tips indicates fin regrowth and is a good sign.

*Edit- one last thing, sorry! Make sure those wires don't rust any, being near a window and evaporation from the water will stick to them.. if they rust and drip the water back into the tank you could cause them to become very sick, or worse..

Last edited by Myates; 02-04-2012 at 08:54 AM.
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Old 02-04-2012, 09:55 AM   #6 
corinna
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hi myates,

thanks for your input!
let me clarify that i had him in a bowl when i medicated him with the tea tree oil (and the antibiotic). so when i took him out of this bowl to put him back into the tank, all i then added to his tank was the tetracycline to continue the treatment with the antibiotic (but no more tea tree oil).

as to the tetracycline: i am not sure what to make of the 'frazzled' look of his scales around the head (see 6th & 7th picture in my first post). i took another few pictures just now to get a close up and am not seeing the frazzled scales anymore. this might be due to the medication, so i am reluctant to stop in mid course unless you feel that this occurrence is nothing to worry about and does not need treatment. on another note, i was also not sure if the tail was showing signs of a mild infection (reddish), which also prompted me to reach for the antibiotic...

i also bought "bettafix" btw, which, as you certainly know, contains melaleuca which, again, is related to tea tree oil. i thought it might be good to have it 'around'. what are your thoughts on that?

the wires are coated - except for the tiny ends that i cut - they are indeed rusty but are not touching the water. hmm... i can easily coat those with clear nail polish or some other sealer... but would not want any chemicals to leach into the water either... tricky... i also have some nail polish that hardens under a UV lamp and adheres extremely well... i will look into that.

thank you again for your great advice and yes, the tanks, all in a row, look quite lovely. unfortunately i had to close the roll shutters in order to take the picture which made them look rather dull. they are located below a south facing window and the top part gets plenty of sun - not at all detrimental to the plants and the other inhabitants. i am aware of the pros/cons re: natural sunlight but can say from my experience that is works very well in my case.

greetings!
c.

p.s.: nice critters, myates! apart from 10 cats, the bettas, guppies and tetras, we also share our life with 3 dogs and 2 herds of rodents (rats & dwarf hamsters).
p.p.s.: i also meant to ask: are frozen bloodworms considered a high protein diet? i would assume so but thought i should ask...

Last edited by corinna; 02-04-2012 at 10:05 AM.
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Old 02-04-2012, 10:29 AM   #7 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corinna View Post
You're welcome :)

let me clarify that i had him in a bowl when i medicated him with the tea tree oil (and the antibiotic). so when i took him out of this bowl to put him back into the tank, all i then added to his tank was the tetracycline to continue the treatment with the antibiotic (but no more tea tree oil).
Okay, that makes sense :)
Watch for your plants, as some medications can harm them- usually best to keep the betta in a QT tank/container during treatments- makes it easier to do the water changes needed and not upset the cycle and other living creatures/plants in the tank as some medications can be harmful.


as to the tetracycline: i am not sure what to make of the 'frazzled' look of his scales around the head (see 6th & 7th picture in my first post). i took another few pictures just now to get a close up and am not seeing the frazzled scales anymore. this might be due to the medication, so i am reluctant to stop in mid course unless you feel that this occurrence is nothing to worry about and does not need treatment. on another note, i was also not sure if the tail was showing signs of a mild infection (reddish), which also prompted me to reach for the antibiotic...
Go ahead and continue the medication as a precautionary for infections.. since he isn't having a bad reaction to it. I would suggest placing back into the bowl for the remainder of treatment- and while he is in there then start doing water changes on the home tank to clean it out of medication- daily 25% or so over the next few days should be enough to remove it, if not most of it.. your future weekly water changes will remove any traces that is left. Or if you have any charcoal refills from filters you can place that in the tank for a day and that will absorb all the medication in the water.
I just worry about your plants/shrimp, so I am being cautious on my recommendations.

The frazzled look may be bite marks from the other betta.. I wouldn't worry too much, especially if you don't see the raised scales and they don't look red/infected.


i also bought "bettafix" btw, which, as you certainly know, contains melaleuca which, again, is related to tea tree oil. i thought it might be good to have it 'around'. what are your thoughts on that?
I prefer conservative methods- AQ and Epsom Salt, as they both cover so much and using one or the other prior to starting medications goes a long way. Bettafix isn't a for-sure-going-to-harm medication, just has potential and usually when it's used incorrectly.
I prefer General Cure as it does the same thing, and possibly a bit more then Bettafix.


the wires are coated - except for the tiny ends that i cut - they are indeed rusty but are not touching the water. hmm... i can easily coat those with clear nail polish or some other sealer... but would not want any chemicals to leach into the water either... tricky... i also have some nail polish that hardens under a UV lamp and adheres extremely well... i will look into that.
Sounds like you did a great job and are very informed/knowledgeable about their care and safety!

thank you again for your great advice and yes, the tanks, all in a row, look quite lovely. unfortunately i had to close the roll shutters in order to take the picture which made them look rather dull. they are located below a south facing window and the top part gets plenty of sun - not at all detrimental to the plants and the other inhabitants. i am aware of the pros/cons re: natural sunlight but can say from my experience that is works very well in my case.
Sounds and looks lovely, a lot of us would be very envious, I know I am :) I have 6 myself, but not in a set up like that.. would love to do that though if it were possible for me hehe.
I have always loved using natural sunlight, and over the years for my larger tanks I have placed them in areas to get it- the algae is easily controllable with a sponge, shrimps, snails, etc.. as long as the temps don't fluctuate too much, I say go for it.. much prettier with natural light, imo :)


greetings!
c.

p.s.: nice critters, myates! apart from 10 cats, the bettas, guppies and tetras, we also share our life with 3 dogs and 2 herds of rodents (rats & dwarf hamsters).
I have had fish for the last 17+ years, but within the last year had actually fallen in love with bettas (have had them before, but they didn't stand out to me like they do now).. have had rats in the past as well- had a mini rescue going for a while, with 5 foot cages and lots of rats- but after I found the last ones homes I never got back into them. Would love a couple now, but space is limited until we find a house we like.. so for now I make room for my fish, dogs and my 7 year old autistic daughter.. They keep me busy enough though lol

p.p.s.: i also meant to ask: are frozen bloodworms considered a high protein diet? i would assume so but thought i should ask...
Yes, frozen is a good source of protein and a bit healthier then freeze dried.
Live is even better.. put a bucket out in the yard throw in some leaves and see what you catch.. mosquito larvae, daphnia larvae (thanks OFL!) are common- just use a shrimp net or small fish net to scoop them out and rinse them off then feed.. larvae is more idea as they haven't had the chance to go out and catch something from another animal.

I'm glad to help, feel free to ask anything, any time :)

Last edited by Myates; 02-04-2012 at 10:32 AM.
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Old 02-04-2012, 12:20 PM   #8 
corinna
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mosquito larvae?!?!?!? OMG!!! do we ever have those... we live in a swampy area with marsh all around us (well... almost). however, my bettas will need to wait until the frozen landscape has thawed and the mosquitos are breeding again... *g*

re: treating the whole aquarium... i was thinking that in case he has anything contagious (fungus?), it might be a good thing but i see your point. i will take him out mid course when i have completed the second round (which will be monday - resp. tuesday since we will be traveling).

on a different note: i am currently setting up another fluval edge (12 gallons) and am noticing that the wood i put in is leaching out a lot of tannins (= brownish water). i was assuming that the filter would eventually take care of it but no such luck yet. i guess all i can do is to change the water until it stops/lessens, right?

as for bettas in general: they are the reason why i started these tanks last year. i found them to be very personable and was amazed to find that in a fish. eventually, i did a lot of research and was getting slightly overwhelmed. the attempt to create a biotope for my betta appeared like i needed to study chemistry and would be facing huge set ups with a lot of high tech - when all i wanted to do is provide him with a natural environment after first subjecting him, and past bettas i owned, to the plastic stuff they are usually kept in. until then i had never even heard of "cycling" and the whole idea sure felt like a huge endeavour - and certainly more than i had bargained for.
eventually, i came across a site (http://naturalaquariums.com/) that made it sound like a lot less fuss. i decided to just 'go for it' and started my first small, planted tanks. i eventually retired them and got the first fluval chis since i am a sucker for design (the plastic stuff had always felt like an eye sore)... i now see myself as an underwater gardener and the rest is history...

and yes, the temperature does fluctuate slightly - which i know is normal in a natural environment - but the individual heating mats as well as the in-floor heat we have in our house provide a certain stability. i have, however, increased the heat to his tank by a few degrees for the duration of the treatment and might keep it up slightly while he is healing. hope this is a good idea...

also, you are mentioning frequent water changes yet i am rather reluctant to "fix something that is not broken". the readings i got of the nitrate in the other tanks (those that are not treated) suggest to me that the water is not 'contaminated' - so why change it? i am, of course, cleaning the filter and adding water but i am not habitually changing water. hmm...
... or were you just referring to the betta that has the 'missing tail' - let's call him huckleberry - and are suggesting to do that for the next little while due to his current condition?

p.s.: did you take the 4 pictures that make your avatar yourself?

Last edited by corinna; 02-04-2012 at 12:24 PM.
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Old 02-04-2012, 12:55 PM   #9 
Myates
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corinna View Post
mosquito larvae?!?!?!? OMG!!! do we ever have those... we live in a swampy area with marsh all around us (well... almost). however, my bettas will need to wait until the frozen landscape has thawed and the mosquitos are breeding again... *g*
You're babies will love them! You can still get daphnia while it's cold outside- just remove the ice from the surface of the water each day and check.. I'm told they aren't picky.

re: treating the whole aquarium... i was thinking that in case he has anything contagious (fungus?), it might be a good thing but i see your point. i will take him out mid course when i have completed the second round (which will be monday - resp. tuesday since we will be traveling).
I wouldn't think anything would be contagious if he was just in a fight.. if anything he would have an infection similar to what we get when we get cut- but I understand the precautions you took.

on a different note: i am currently setting up another fluval edge (12 gallons) and am noticing that the wood i put in is leaching out a lot of tannins (= brownish water). i was assuming that the filter would eventually take care of it but no such luck yet. i guess all i can do is to change the water until it stops/lessens, right?
If you have a container to soak the wood in, you can for a week or two to remove it. In time it will lessen, and the weekly water changes will remove some coloration as well. You may always have a tint, but that's okay because tannins is very healthy for bettas and most rather enjoy the dark coloration over clear water. (Their wild cousins come from murky/tannin water.)

as for bettas in general: they are the reason why i started these tanks last year. i found them to be very personable and was amazed to find that in a fish. eventually, i did a lot of research and was getting slightly overwhelmed. the attempt to create a biotope for my betta appeared like i needed to study chemistry and would be facing huge set ups with a lot of high tech - when all i wanted to do is provide him with a natural environment after first subjecting him, and past bettas i owned, to the plastic stuff they are usually kept in. until then i had never even heard of "cycling" and the whole idea sure felt like a huge endeavour - and certainly more than i had bargained for.
eventually, i came across a site (http://naturalaquariums.com/) that made it sound like a lot less fuss. i decided to just 'go for it' and started my first small, planted tanks. i eventually retired them and got the first fluval chis since i am a sucker for design (the plastic stuff had always felt like an eye sore)... i now see myself as an underwater gardener and the rest is history...
You've done a great job, if only every owner did all that research then the myths would eventually die down lol.
And I have to agree, aquascape is so very nice over the plastic stuff, I prefer natural over artificial myself.. unfortunately, if I want anything where I'm at I have to order online.


and yes, the temperature does fluctuate slightly - which i know is normal in a natural environment - but the individual heating mats as well as the in-floor heat we have in our house provide a certain stability. i have, however, increased the heat to his tank by a few degrees for the duration of the treatment and might keep it up slightly while he is healing. hope this is a good idea...
It's fine to keep him warm, if he had fungus then I would say not to.. but healing wounds it's fine to be warm. I would say up to 84* is ideal.
As long as the temps don't drop very suddenly- as in a few degrees within 30 minutes- then it's fine for slight, gradual fluctuations.


also, you are mentioning frequent water changes yet i am rather reluctant to "fix something that is not broken". the readings i got of the nitrate in the other tanks (those that are not treated) suggest to me that the water is not 'contaminated' - so why change it? i am, of course, cleaning the filter and adding water but i am not habitually changing water. hmm...
... or were you just referring to the betta that has the 'missing tail' - let's call him huckleberry - and are suggesting to do that for the next little while due to his current condition?

I mentioned the 25% to help remove medication- unless you have charcoal filtration, you will have to remove the medication yourself. Smaller, frequent water changes is a good way to do it without disrupting your system too much. The readings won't show the medication in the tank, just the ammonia/nitrate/ites, etc
For fish that are being treated due to illness or injury, frequent, large water changes are very good for them- especially when wounded to keep the wound clean and bacteria from developing in the wound. Why a QT tank is handy to keep around ;)
For a NPT, like yours.. weekly of 25% is enough, with vacuuming of the substrate once a month is good- the plants use waste as fertilizer, but the plants and filter don't remove all of the waste, so we have to pitch in once in a while.


p.s.: did you take the 4 pictures that make your avatar yourself?
Nope, just thought they were cute and then put them all together lol.. I'm an animal person so my avatar varies from time to time :)
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Old 02-04-2012, 05:28 PM   #10 
corinna
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thank you again for all the information! very, very appreciated!!

i am writing from canada (east coast) and we are currently experiencing a cold spell with temps around -10 - -20 celsius which translates to 14 - -4 fahrenheit. in other words: i would have to take a pickax to remove the layers of ice...
maybe in march...

re: the fungus - my thinking was that his immune system would have dropped due to the stress and a fungus could have easily 'gotten a hold of him'. that and the slightly reddish look of his ripped fins/tail (which does not show on the picture since it was only visible from another angle).

on the other hand, i was thinking that increasing the temperature would also mean fostering the fungus but i was hoping that the antibiotic - even though not a fungus treatment per se (i believe) - should keep it in check. (?)

i understand that none of my tests will show the antibiotics but the nitrate is quite reassuring - at least so i assumed.
ahem... after the first initial months, i stopped changing the recommended 25% once a week and did so less and less. i have to admit that i have not done a water change in the past months... ... and was quite proud that the biotope worked so well. you can see the ammonia test tube above... the nitrate & nitrite came out almost completely clear - only my PH is high. (while the tap water is around 7.2 or so i don't want to add any acidifier and start tempering with it. after all, everyone seems really healthy.)
anyway, keeping the PH around the tap water readings will require the water change and i will go back to doing them.

fyi: i will be traveling the next 2 days with little time to write but value your input and if you have anything else you want to add, please do so - it might just take a few days for me to respond.
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