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Adopted betta female has swollen abdomen, no other sx

4688 Views 13 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Blues Human
** I answered the basic questions and included them at the bottom**

I adopted a small female betta from a local betta fish rescue a couple of days ago. She is gorgeous and active and eats voraciously like a healthy fish and has been pooping fairly often, but her abdomen is quite swollen. It was like this when I got her, so I fed her only a tiny bit. Then I tried giving her frozen pea pieces (that I had of course warmed and cooled and cut into teeny tiny bite sized pieces first). Then I tried fasting her for over a day. No significant improvement.
Her left side seems to be protruding more than her right (patient left and patient right, meaning HER left and HER right, not left and right as the observer sees it). I have also noticed a small white bump on her ventral area immediately behind her anus. From observing her pooping I can tell that it's not a protrusion from her anus, but a small white bump located immediately posterior to the anus.
The abdominal swelling and small bump appear to be her only symptoms. I will fill out the answers to the questions below and would appreciate any input on this I can get.
Thank you for reading and I want you to know I will do whatever it takes for her. Money is no object and the only reason I haven't just brought her to the vet is because there is nobody in my area that specializes in fish, let alone betta fish, or appears to take my concern seriously. I lost my first betta fish after 2 years to what appeared to be a fungal or possibly bacterial infection, and I worry that I didn't do enough right away to stop it. He was my best friend and watching him suffer in his last days ripped my heart out. I do not want to let another fish suffer on my watch. I truly appreciate any help I can get and will take your advice seriously, no matter how much effort or money is involved. Thank you and I will answer the questions below:

What size is your tank? 5 gallons (holds approx 4 with decorations and equipment in it)
What temperature is your tank? Heater keeps the temperature between 76 and 82 automatically, and I check a thermometer in the tank periodically to ensure this constant temperature.
Does your tank have a filter? yes, an undergravel filter and I vacuum the gravel during water changes
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? yes, air stone
Is your tank heated? yes, constantly between 76 and 82
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? she is alone

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? BettaMin tropical crisps flakes as main food and freeze-dried brine shrimp and sun dried baby gammarus shrimp as a treat.
How often do you feed your betta fish? except for when I fasted her, I feed her very tiny amounts (only what she can eat in about a minute, maybe two) twice daily, as close to 12 hours apart as possible

How often do you perform a water change? I have only had her a couple of days and have not completed a water change yet
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? i have not performed a water change yet
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? I added API Stress Coat and a large Indian Almond (catappa) leaf.

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?
I have not yet tested the water, I ordered the Freshwater Master Kit online and am awaiting its delivery

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? her abdomen has been swollen since I got her a couple of days ago **FROM TAKING PICTURES JUST NOW I SEE SHE HAS SORES BY HER FACE AND GILLS- SEE PICTURES**
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? she is active and responsive to my presence and attentions
When did you start noticing the symptoms? as soon as I got her
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? I attempted a short fast (just over 24 hours) and gave her peas
Does your fish have any history of being ill? none reported to me
How old is your fish (approximately)? cannot tell, but she has the large black baby fish eyes, though I was told she was "waiting forever for a new home" by the rescue

I'll include pictures

Note after viewing pictures on my computer:
SHE HAS SORES. I didn't notice them until I saw the pictures blown up on my computer. My poor fish. Somebody please help me, just tell me what to do.
Also, I included one picture where you can kind of see the little white bump under her belly. (DSC00666 - 3rd picture from the top) And one from the side where you can see the little white bump (DSC00662 - bottom picture) But I'm so disturbed by the sores and so mad that I couldn't see them until I looked at the pictures. She's so pale and see-through, but I still should have noticed.


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Couldn't wait, started treatment

I re-read the diseases sticky with the sores now in mind and since several of the diseases that her symptoms fit listed erythromycin or tetracycline as a treatment and I had them on hand, I started erythromycin. She had been swimming back and forth purposefully at the front of the tank, so I had to do something. She's still swimming back and forth and now she's rubbing against the plants as she goes. I hope I made the right choice. I just couldn't stand by and let her suffer without trying something. If anyone reading this has any experience with this, please let me know. Also, I looked at pictures of her from yesterday and the first day I had her and the sores weren't nearly as red and raw looking. You could still see them but they weren't as bad as they looked in the pictures from today. I didn't do anything differently.
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AQ salt is supposed to make the medicine more effective. However, if she seems swollen I'd start with epsom salt for a couple of days. Then go to AQ salt.
Thank You!!

Thank you so much for the advice. Unfortunately I won't make it to the pet store before they close (I don't drive and the bus won't get me there by 8pm) but I will get the salt first thing tomorrow morning. I really appreciate your help.
The small white bump is her ovipositor. That what the girls have.
She looks bloated. I'd go with epsom salt for a few days. That will help if she has an internal parasite or just bloated. You have already started the antibiotic so you might as well complete the course. Seems with the rubbing it would be some sort of parasite. Epsom salt and API General Cure(metronidazole/praziquantel) are a good combination.
To be honest I think she looks fine. BUT . . . .

Before you panic and treat with meds right away, please keep in mind that females sometimes get eggbound, meaning that they have eggs inside of their bellies and they will either expel and eat them or reabsorb them back into their systems. Having eggs is a sign of health. The redness on her gills looks like normal colouring and is a sign of good healthy gills.

Please don't jump to meds right away, since it could hurt her in the long run and could very well be unnecessary. If she becomes lethargic, isn't eating, pooping, or looking dull coloured, she may be sick. I would still watch her for a few days and as a precaution you could try a little bit of epsom salt to lower the swelling.

I hope you don't take this wrong, I just want to help you understand. She is a gorgeous fishy and I hope you have many years with her. :)
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I really appreciate your help

Thank you so much for replying to my thread. I'm just so worried for her after losing my last betta. I've had a few bettas before when I was young, but Blue was my first pet as an adult and I felt like I failed him and didn't do enough to help. I guess I panicked when I saw those red marks in the pictures that used the flash on my camera. I learned a bit about my male betta fish, but I must admit I apparently knew next to nothing about females. She has been pooping just fine and I hadn't even noticed the red marks until I saw the pictures blown up on my computer. She's very active and eats like a little piggy, so I'll take those as good signs for now.
Thank you again for your replies, I really needed some advice and I feel a lot better now. Thank you.

Edit: I also wanted to add that I moved the plant she was rubbing against out of her way so she can "pace" back and forth across the front of the tank where she sees me without having to pass the plant so closely, and she has stopped rubbing against it. I guess it was just in the way of where she wanted to swim and she got tired of swimming around it. So now she has the entire front half of the tank clear for swimming and I haven't seen her rub against the plants since I moved them. Thank you so much for calming me down enough to think of that.
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She is beautiful! Wishing you and her all the best!
Hi, and welcome to the forum! I don't think there is anything seriously wrong with her.....

The small white bump is her "egg spot" (ovipositor). All females have them. It's more visible on some females than others. Here is a photo showing this:

I wouldn't worry about the sores at this point. It's possible she was injured slightly. Good nutrition, and clean, warm water will allow these to heal. Bettas are tough little fish, and can recover well from minor injuries.

Since she's active and eating, it doesn't sound like she has a significant illness. Also, you're giving her good care. If you want to try a vitamin/mineral supplement, look into something like VitaChem. (Here's an info link.)

I would definitely NOT add aquarium salt right now. She may be "eggy" (which is something all females have from time to time), or she may be slightly bloated. Aquarium salt contains a lot of sodium, which can contribute to bloating and constipation.

I also would not add antibiotics yet. As long as she's eating and active, I would simply monitor her abdomen and the sores. If they get worse, then I would consider using medications, but I wouldn't do that yet.

If you are concerned about the bloating, I would use a low dosage of Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate). Epsom salt has a fluid reducing and laxative effect (in people as well as fish). So if she's constipated or bloated, this should help. If you don't have any, it's available at supermarkets and pharmacies (Walmart, CVS, etc). Petstores don't have it. Look for 100% magnesium sulfate. (No dyes, perfumes or additives.)

Put a small amount of her tank water in a cup. Stir in Epsom salt at a dosage of 0.50 teaspoons Epsom salt per gallon. (Ie: If she's in a 1 gal tank, use 0.5 teaspoons of Epsom salt.) Stir until the salt is completely dissolved. Slowly pour the solution back into the tank over the course of about 30 minutes.

Epsom salt doesn't evaporate so you don't need to add more. It will stay in the tank until you remove it via water changes. It can take a few days for it to work. If you decide she no longer needs it, do a water change (using untreated water). If you decide she needs a few more days of it, simply premix the Epsom salt into the new water that you'll use for her water change.

Epsom salt also has minor antibacterial properties, which can help the sores on her face.
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Much calmer, really happy to have advice

Thank you so much to everyone who replied to me with advice. I really really really appreciate it and I'm glad everyone had pretty much the same advice. I had already put one small dose of erythromycin in her tank, so I'll discontinue that for now so I don't do an unnecessary damage. I did add the epsom salt as I had some already. I hadn't seen the post from LittleBlueFishlets yet, but I had looked up the dosage and settled on 2 tsp for my 4 gallon tank (5 gallons without the decorations and equipment), so I'm very relieved to see I added the right amount. Some resources recommended up to 2 tsp per gallon, so I'm glad I went light on it.
I will continue to monitor her condition very carefully. I'm grateful for all the information. I had no knowledge of female fish anatomy, so this has been very good for me to learn. Fortunately I was familiar with ovipositors due to my study of insect anatomy (obviously not exactly the same, especially since some insects' ovipositors have developed into stings to deposit eggs into unwilling hosts... just SLIGHTLY different haha) and egg-binding from my mother's many many birds. I was a bit worried when I first read that it could be the issue, as when birds suffer from egg binding it can be lethal, but it is usually the breaking of the shells of the eggs inside the bird that proves lethal for them, and as far as I know fish eggs do not have fragile, breakable hardshells.
Is there anything I can do for her if she does have egg binding to ease any pain or discomfort she may be feeling?
Thank you all so much. This is a wonderful resource and I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge with me. Please let me know if there's ever anything I can do for you. I am woefully unhelpful on the topic of fish, but if you have birds, mammals, or any human ailments I can help with, please let me know!!!
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If she becomes too eggy, as some females can get (Like, pea sized belly, lol) you can fast her for a few days and she'll reabsorb them or drop and eat them.
Thank you!! I'm learning so much from this community. I really appreciate all your help, and I know Betta Davis does, too! I named her Betta Davis because when I met the lady who rescued her to pick her up, I remarked on how adorable her big black baby fish eyes were and the lady said "Yes, she has Bette Davis eyes". So naturally Betta Davis it was. I usually call her Fishy Girl though as her petname. :)
:) Thank you and I hope you and all your fishes have a wonderful Fourth of July!!
They certainly will, though we celebrated Canada Day instead. :)

She's got an awesome name, lol!
Happy Canada Day!!

Ohhh I didn't realize you were in Canada! :doh!: Although you've got to admit it's like I'm already getting into the spirit by blindly assuming everyone will be celebrating it and is American. :lol: hahaha. Well I hope you have a wonderful Canada day and you enjoy our mutual geese pals while they're up there with you for the summer!!
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