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Old 02-08-2012, 09:07 PM   #1 
smurpheygirl
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Exclamation Rookie Betta Friend - Please HELP!!!

Hello - I am a newbie and a beginner -- UGH!

A year ago, my daughter wanted a fish tank for xmas, so we went to Pestmart to pick out the fish. The betta "expert" there told us the best fish for beginners are bettas as they are hardy and low-maintenance. She said we could have 3 female bettas in a 5-gallon tank (filtered, heated by the light in the tank, pellet-fed only). So, that's what we did -- Snowflake, Diva and Lipstick -- and it worked out wonderfully for a year,until we moved, by car, from Texas to Virginia a month ago.

Everyone made the trip just fine, each in her own mason jar with a bamboo, treated water brought from home, water changed at least every couple of days when daily wasn't possible. The girls all stayed in their jars in the new house until the tank was ready, then tragedy struck: Lipstick was lethargic for a couple of days, then we found her dead in her jar (covered in white stuff). That's when I started reading all the online info about bettas to try to find out what might have killed her (still a mystery to me).

After all the reading all the different info, I am just paralyzed with anxiety over the fish.

Diva - blue - looks bloated, her scales might be very slightly raised but I can't really tell. One eye has had a white spot on it for months, but i cant tell if its a popeye. She eats and is active, but because i think she might be sick, I have left her quarantined in her jar.

Snowflake - white w/red fins and tail - is also bloated, but mostly on one side, swims lopsided, lays on her side, and seems to have trouble swimming to the surface for air. She mostly swims around on the bottom. She also eats, but doesn't move around as much as Diva. Also quarantined to her jar.

I have treated them both with aquarium salt, BettaFix, PimaFix, fed them less and fed them a cooked and shelled pea once a week, for the past two weeks. 100% daily water changes. Their conditions have not changed.

When Lipstick died, we had to get a 3rd female for the tank as the previous "expert" said there had to be 3 because 2 would fight. So we adopted SweetPea (green), and now she is all by her lonesome in a pristine filtered 5 gal tank because I am too afraid to put them all together.

MEANWHILE:
While we were at Petsmart adopting SweetPea, I saw a pitiful blue veiltail in a filthy slimy cup full of uneaten food and feces, with the beginnings of fin rot. I immediately adopted him and put him in a pristine 1-gal tank (that's all they had), filtered. For the first few days he was home, Raphaello floated head-down in his plant, or sat in the corner on the bottom, and didnt eat. I have tried treating his water with BettaFix, PimaFix and aq. salt, 50% water change every other day as he seems to get stressed easily. He eventually started to swim around and eat BUT -- his tail has completely disentigrated in the past two days, it is literally just white threads behind him and pieces of his once beautiful tail can be found about his tank.

I love these fish, but what is WRONG????

Everything I read contradicts the last thing I read, and i am just confused. Can anyone PLEASE help me save these fish?????
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Old 02-08-2012, 09:12 PM   #2 
smurpheygirl
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forgot to mention....

...i did take the carbon out of Raphaello's filter so the meds wouldnt be removed by the filter, but then I just decided to leave the filter off because I am not sure if he likes it.
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Old 02-08-2012, 09:21 PM   #3 
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So they've been in that medicated water for 2 weeks?
Someone who knows more than me will hopefully come along and give you some more specific advice but for now I would suggest getting them into clean water with no AQ salt/bettafix/pimafix ect.... I think that could be doing more harm than good, and I maybe mistaken but I think bettafix can take quite a toll on their labyrinth organ..

When you switch them over to the un-medicated water make sure to acclimate them very slowly by floating them in a cup and then slowly adding in some of the new water, a bit at a time, and that it is also the same temperature, so that they do not go into shock. Make sure to use your water conditioner for the new water...

Last edited by peachesxo; 02-08-2012 at 09:23 PM.
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Old 02-09-2012, 12:05 AM   #4 
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I'm so sorry your fish are sick! I'm new to bettas, too, and am learning about them through the "OMGcrashcourse" method (buy pet shop fish, hit google, freak out, find website, read a lot).

So I don't have anything but some sympathy and crossed fingers to offer you. I hope all your fishies pull through! I know how hard it is to have a sick pet with kids around.
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Old 02-09-2012, 07:56 AM   #5 
Gen2387
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For Raphaello I would start by putting him in just clean water. BetaFix, PimaFix (all that stuff) can be harmful to bettas and their labyrinth organ. I know... why do they sell them then? Making money I guess. Put him in clean, warm (about 80 degrees) water and do water changes often.

For the females... I'm not really used to the bloating problems or SBD if that's what it is so i'm not going to be able to help. But clean, fresh water is a start I guess.
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Old 02-09-2012, 09:05 AM   #6 
Myates
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smurpheygirl View Post
Hello - I am a newbie and a beginner
We all were at some point :) Welcome!

The betta "expert" there told us the best fish for beginners are bettas as they are hardy and low-maintenance. Really hate it when they say that sort of thing.. sales are worth more then the life of a living creature to t hem..

She said we could have 3 female bettas in a 5-gallon tank (filtered, heated by the light in the tank, pellet-fed only). Very not a good idea! 10 gallon minimum, 4 girls at the very minimum, 5-6 more ideal. The girls can be just as aggressive as males- the reason for a larger tank and more girls is to spread out the aggression and to give them more space to hide and create territories. I know they lived a year like that for you, but I want to make sure you understand that problems would of happened in that set up. By a miracle, nothing had in that period of time.
Not to mention, multiple fish in a 5 gallon tank is not safe as the tank would not be able to hold the bio-load that multiple fish create. 10 gallons should be the smallest tank for multiple fish.


Everyone made the trip just fine, each in her own mason jar with a bamboo, treated water brought from home, water changed at least every couple of days when daily wasn't possible. The trip in a mason jar could of easily harmed them, or stressed them out greatly, lowering their immunity. Always have the fish travel in their cups at the most, with partial water.
Bamboo is not ideal to have in aquariums- it is sold that way (along with a lot of other "aquatic" plants) that can do more harm then good- any leaf that grows in the tank will die and can release toxins into the water.


The girls all stayed in their jars in the new house until the tank was ready, then tragedy struck: Lipstick was lethargic for a couple of days, then we found her dead in her jar (covered in white stuff). That's when I started reading all the online info about bettas to try to find out what might have killed her (still a mystery to me). Most likely stress, and if the water wasn't changed properly (frequently and she wasn't acclimated to both temp and chemistry) it could of put her into an osmotic shock. As well as unsure how the jars were heated properly, given a stable proper temp with no fluctuations.. as the fluctuations could of caused shock and death as well. The white stuff most likely was her slime coating sloughing off after death, which tends to happen the longer they are dead.

After all the reading all the different info, I am just paralyzed with anxiety over the fish. And "experts" say they are easy to maintain.. they require just the same care as other fish.. the only difference is they don't need a school, do better and prefer not to live with other bettas, and because they prefer to live alone they do well in smaller tanks such as 1-5 gallons.

Diva - blue - looks bloated, her scales might be very slightly raised but I can't really tell. One eye has had a white spot on it for months, but i cant tell if its a popeye. She eats and is active, but because i think she might be sick, I have left her quarantined in her jar. Poor girl. Is there a way to get a picture posted? Bloating would have other symptoms, such as tilting, trouble swimming, constipation, etc.. a female who is eggy would look bloated as well.
The white spot on the eye could be damage she received through fighting with the others, or hitting it on decorations. If the eyes aren't ballooning out, and it isn't spreading or turning red, then I would watch it but not worry too greatly. As for the pine coning, look from the top- if you are able to take a picture of her bloated, take one of her from the top to show as well to make sure.
For now, go ahead and to be on the safe side, in a water gallon jug (emptied and tap water placed in it) fill it to the top and place in the water conditioner and 1 tsp of Epsom Salt (which you can buy at local pharmacies, or stores that have pharmacies in them) per gallon.. shake it up real well to dissolve the salt.. you will want to empty out her jar and use the jar, fill it with the treated water- and repeat daily (so in turn doing a 100% water change daily and filling it back up with treated water). I would only do that for 5-8 days, that should be enough time to help her if she is bloated, or constipated, etc. It's gentle and safe for her so if she is just eggy then she isn't harmed in any way being in the Epsom.


Snowflake - is also bloated, but mostly on one side, swims lopsided, lays on her side, and seems to have trouble swimming to the surface for air. She mostly swims around on the bottom. She also eats, but doesn't move around as much as Diva. Also quarantined to her jar.
Go ahead and give her the same treatment.. it sounds more like either a tumor or internal damage if she is bloated out on one side.. if it is swim bladder related, the Epsom Salt will help right it.

I have treated them both with aquarium salt, BettaFix, PimaFix, fed them less and fed them a cooked and shelled pea once a week, for the past two weeks. 100% daily water changes. Their conditions have not changed. AQ salt can actually make bloating/SBD worse.. the "fixes" are not truly betta safe and have potential to harm their labyrinth organs. The pea is not ideal, and should not be fed regularly due to their short digestive tract.. even once a week is not ideal. Once for a specific treatment is okay, but not on a regular basis (even if it is only weekly).
I would stop all medications and stick with Epsom Salt- as doing all those medications in such a short amount of time can and will lead to more serious health issues as they are pretty harsh on a betta's organs.
AQ salt and Epsom salt tends to be the safest, easiest treatments when used properly and for the right reasons- both can cover such a wide range of ailments. (AQ salt for external problems such as ich, fungus and fin rot etc, Epsom for internal such as bloating, constipation, etc.) I will stand by those two for treatments first over any other medication, as they tend to work safer then anything else on the shelf.


When Lipstick died, we had to get a 3rd female for the tank as the previous "expert" said there had to be 3 because 2 would fight. So we adopted SweetPea (green), and now she is all by her lonesome in a pristine filtered 5 gal tank because I am too afraid to put them all together. I wouldn't put them together until you can get a 10 gallon, heavily planted and add in one or two more girls.. a 5 gallon is not enough room, and the new girl will most likely cause problems- two will gang up on one, then when that one is too weak or dead, the other two will fight it out for the tank.
Highly recommended to get another tank.. then you can use the 5 gallon for the new boy you got ;)


MEANWHILE:
While we were at Petsmart adopting SweetPea, I saw a pitiful blue veiltail in a filthy slimy cup full of uneaten food and feces, with the beginnings of fin rot. I immediately adopted him and put him in a pristine 1-gal tank (that's all they had), filtered. For the first few days he was home, Raphaello floated head-down in his plant, or sat in the corner on the bottom, and didnt eat. I have tried treating his water with BettaFix, PimaFix and aq. salt, 50% water change every other day as he seems to get stressed easily. He eventually started to swim around and eat BUT -- his tail has completely disentigrated in the past two days, it is literally just white threads behind him and pieces of his once beautiful tail can be found about his tank. That mix of those three things together is deadly.. and not nearly enough water changes can make it even more so..
Take him out of there, do a 100% water change, add in only water conditioner.. acclimate him to the new water (remove some water from the cup and add in tank water a few times during a 20 minute period of it floating in the tank to adjust to temp then let him loose in his home).. then after a week or so when his system is cleaned out you can start him on just AQ salt, 2 tsp per gallon, daily 100% water change and for no longer then 10 days (over exposure to AQ salt in one time (14 days being the max) can lead to kidney/liver function problems and failure.. it's great for treatment, better then medications, but has it's limit).


Everything I read contradicts the last thing I read, and i am just confused.
There are a lot of opinions on how to care for these little ones.. a lot of myths and just plain wrong info. Sadly, a lot of employees are very un-informed and give out improper advice to new owners.

Gen2387:
They sell them because other fish can use the medication since only a handful have a labyrinth organ. Bettafix is watered down quite a bit and isn't as powerful as Pimafix (but adding those two together is wowza!). It has potential to harm- just like medications we take ourselves.. there are side effects to all the medication we give our fish, some are just more harsh, some target specific things (such as labyrinths), etc. Bettafix tends not to work all that well, when most cases when a fish gets better while on it, is because of the frequent water changes rather then the medication itself. I have heard of cases where it has harmed the labyrinth organ, but again, it's a risk.. to me one not worth it when there are conservative treatments, and other medications that does the same thing better.
All medications are hard on a fish's system- but we have to decide whether we want to risk it or not when we use medication. Why I stick with conservative first, and if that isn't enough, then the proper medication. Otherwise you end up with fish that are in more dire needs then they were before treatment started :(

Last edited by Myates; 02-09-2012 at 09:11 AM.
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Old 02-09-2012, 09:19 AM   #7 
smurpheygirl
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THANK YOU for all the info!

As for the meds, I used aq. salt & BettafIx for the girls, aq salt and PimaFix for Raphaello...no improvements in any case. :(

I guess I will put my girls in plain conditioned water w/ epsom and see how they do. I will do the same for Raphaello, but if he gets worse by the end of today, I think I should lay him to rest.

:( :( :( I love them so much. :( :( :(
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