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Old 02-16-2012, 05:00 PM   #1 
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Help with my new betta--red streaks on gills?

Hi, I got my first betta just a few days ago and am concerned about some red and brown marks that have appeared and his erratic behavior. Would someone be able to explain more about what's happening to him?

I read that with a smaller tank, I'm supposed to do water changes every day. So yesterday I did a water change--by dumping 50% of the water out and pouring new water in--and some time afterwards, I noticed that my betta had these red streaks near his gills, with dark brown spots around his head. Since the red streaks looked raw, I thought he might have hurt himself on something, but then that didn't explain those darker "dirty" patches around his face.

Day 1, when I first got him:

Day 3, his face is so much darker and raw-looking! Almost dirty:

Doesn't he look different?? It really concerns me to look at his before/after pics.

Behavior-wise, he darts around a lot...he often shimmies in front of the tank wall and then makes quick turns and twists. Sometimes he suddenly darts up and down. I haven't had him for that long so I don't know if that's normal. I tried googling all his symptoms and thought it might be something like ammonia poisoning or a problem with the water quality. I added a few drops of water conditioner to his tank in hopes it would help.

A pet store associate also recommended I use Betta Fix for those red streaks so I added that too. I'm not sure if that was the right course of action, but it's been 24 hours and he's still alive--thank goodness!

I would really appreciate it if anyone could shed light on what was wrong with my fish, if what I did was appropriate, and what I could do better in the future. As I'm learning more about betta, I realize how CLUELESS I was. I wish I did more research before buying my fish, but I'm trying my best now to be a more responsible owner. I just placed an order for a 2 gallon tank, heater, thermometer, and ammonia test. I can't wait for it to arrive so my fish can start living better!

What size is your tank? Currently maybe 1/2 gallon at of those "beginner betta keepers"...upgrading soon!
What temperature is your tank? Unsure
Does your tank have a filter? No
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? Aqueon Betta Pellets
How often do you feed your betta fish? Twice a day, about 1-2 pellets each time

How often do you perform a water change? I've had him for only 4 days, and changed his water twice so far
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? About 50%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? In the most recent water change, I started adding Splendid Betta Water Conditioner

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters? No, I haven't tested it yet...I use filtered drinking water, if that helps


Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? The area around his face has become darker, with red streaks along his gills and brown markings around his head
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? He seems to be really antsy and hyper. Sometimes he'll make really jerky and quick movements, but then he'll be really still for awhile. Not sure if that's normal.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? A day ago shortly after a water change
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? By adding water conditioner and Betta Fix drops to his bowl
Does your fish have any history of being ill? Don't think so
How old is your fish (approximately)? I just bought him so he's probably young

Please let me know if I can provide more info. Thanks for reading my super-long post :)
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Old 02-16-2012, 05:13 PM   #2 
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Good for you buying the new equipment! He'll like it so much! Since I'm not an expert I can't help much, but I'll tell you what I do know. Bettafix can harm a bettas labyrinth, and if that happens he'll suffocate. You should stop it immediately. I'm so sorry I can't help more, someone who can should be along soon. Hope he gets better.
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Old 02-16-2012, 05:29 PM   #3 
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Cute guy..

Those are ammonia burns- they may diminish in time with proper care, but most likely won't.

Until you can upgrade, for a half gallon 2 50% and 1 100% water change per week is recommended, with only water conditioner.

Go ahead and do a 100% now to remove the Bettafix, as it's just watered down Melafix, which is not ideal to use with bettas.. unfortunately it can help in some areas, but the risk is too great, and it's healthier to just use a salt...

For the burns there is nothing you can do other then keep up on the water change- it happened because of being in a cup/small space and not enough water changes before you got him. Why it's important to do the recommended water change for that size to avoid more burns and ammonia poisoning.

I would also remove that spiky plant, as it can puncture their fins and cause damage.. spiky plastic plants don't fare well with bettas..

He may be uncomfortable being in the new tank, with no where to hide or to actually rest at- bettas (especially boys for some reason) love caves, and they love plants to sleep on/in..

He looks really healthy otherwise- just be careful and use an aquarium thermometer to make sure his water is in his recommended temp range (76*-82*), as they are tropical fish.. and make sure to acclimate him properly when doing water changes (he should be removed for each one) to avoid shock and death.

They sell those kits, but unfortunately, those kits cause more illnesses and deaths then anything else. Great for QT when a fish is sick- but as a home, if not kept up very carefully, can be dangerous. Yes, an upgrade is recommended, at least to a gallon so you could safely heat it.

Good luck to you!
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Old 02-16-2012, 07:01 PM   #4 
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Thanks for the advice! I didn't know that about Bettafix. I just changed his water so hopefully nothing bad will happen. I also removed the spiky plant so now he'll have more room to swim without the risk of tearing his fins!

He's been doing a lot of thrashing and dives--is that normal? He'll suddenly jerk his body side to side and nose dive down to the gravel then back up towards the surface, where he then appears to "bounce" off the surface back down again. This happens out of the blue!
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Old 02-16-2012, 08:12 PM   #5 
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Sounds like he is just going up for air at a quick speed.. if he isn't "darting" off the side of the tank, or gravel, then it just may be him being goofy..
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Old 02-16-2012, 08:14 PM   #6 
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What a relief to hear that I might just be overreacting to his goofiness :) Thank you so much for your help! I hope he gets better once the new tank set-up arrives.
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Old 02-16-2012, 08:23 PM   #7 
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I'm sure he will be better :) And we all have our freak out moments when we don't know if something is wrong with our little ones.
Can't wait to see him in his new home :)
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Old 02-16-2012, 08:57 PM   #8 
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this kinda might help me cause when i got my HM, Amira after a day or two he got the dark spots on his small face as well but nothing else.. he also likes to move around like your betta, but only when im near and he sees my phone or camera..
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Old 02-16-2012, 09:24 PM   #9 
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Sadly, a lot of bettas (if not most) will have the ammonia burns on their gills and gill covers when you get them from stores that don't do regular water changes in their cups.. I think all of mine have come with it, and most still have them despite proper care and water changes. But it tends not to affect them once they are in clean water- so he may have the scars, but he's in a good home now :)
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