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Betta; Pablo (Dumbo)
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello! As is always the way, I've not joined a forum until I've got a sick animal..

Our boy Pablo is a Dumbo Betta. We purchased him in November 2021, unsure of his age. He was in a 10L tank (Betta Haven) for all of two weeks before we decided it was too small. He's now in a 25L planted aquarium with a Golden Pleco.

Wednesday last week he seemed a little lethargic, but was still coming to say hi and asking for food. By Friday evening I noticed a few white spots on his head, so, after a google, we added some aquarium salt and have increased the tank temperature (we have medicated for white spot before but lost our pleco and so are not keen to do so again). Sadly, things are not improving. Pabs no longer has the spots, but he is looking very 'solid' and swollen, he's not eating, he's swimming to take a breath from the surface but then just cabbaging in the plants at whatever angle he lands. His fins last night started to look a bit spikey, I thought I was imagining it but my other half has also just commented on it. Photo below but it is hard to get a photo of. His breathing was also incredibly harsh looking, that has calmed a little now but is still very fast.

Any ideas at all? do we just need to wait for the inevitable?

Housing: 25L tank, fully planted
How many gallons is your tank? 6
Does it have a filter? Yes - box filter
Does it have a heater? Yes
What temperature is your tank? Usually 26C, currently 29C
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? Yes
Does your Betta have tank mates? What kind? Yes, one Golden Pleco

Food:
What food brand do you use? Pellets and frozen (daphnia)
Do you feed flakes or pellets? Pellets
Freeze-dried? No
How often do you feed your Betta? How much? once a day, 5 pellets, 6 days a week, daphnia twice a week

Maintenance:
Before your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change? weekly
What percentage of water did you change? 20%
What is the source of your water? RO from local fish shop, our tap water is always around 40ppm nitrate
Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water? vacuum the substrate
What additives do you use other than conditioner? What brand of conditioner? Seachem Prime

Water Parameters:
What are your water parameters?

Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 7
Hardness (GH): 3
Alkalinity (KH): 4

Symptoms and Treatment: Initially white spots, now curled fins, fast breathing, swelling, not swimming, not eating
When did you first notice the symptoms? 5 days ago
How has your Betta’s appearance changed? More rounded, spikey scales
How has your Betta’s behavior changed? Lethargic, unresponsive
Is your Betta still eating? No
Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how? Aquarium salt added 2 days ago, heat increased
Does your Betta have any history of being ill? No
How long have you owned your Betta? 2 months
Was he or she ill or suffering some sort of damage when purchased? No
Plant Bird Beak Organism Terrestrial plant
 

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Betta; Pablo (Dumbo)
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Well, Pabs made it through the night. He is very, very pale today, still breathing fast. He's spending most of his time at the bottom of the tank, apart from popping up occasionally for a breath.

I put some daphnia in front of him this morning and he did nibble at it, but nothing more.
 

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Betta; Pablo (Dumbo)
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
We've moved him out of the main tank and into an empty, smaller tank - a couple of photos attached.. Any help/advice/opinions at all greatly appreciated

Water Bird Organism Fluid Feather
Bird Beak Wing Feather Songbird
 

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1) 25 litres, Espresso the betta,2) 60 litres with 2 blue rams,3) my cat!
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I'm so sorry for your baby! I'm so sorry anyone has been able to give you some advice yet! I really can't think of what you could do, i'm going to research it tho... sending possitive thoughts your way!
 

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Betta; Pablo (Dumbo)
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Aw you don't need to apologise!

His breathing seems to have slowed since being in the empty tank. I'm not keen on doing a 100% water change in the existing tank as he shares that with a pleco, and the parameters are good, but perhaps that's what he needs.. we'll keep an eye on him in his hospital tank
 

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Betta; Pablo (Dumbo)
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So he's just eaten a huge chunk of daphnia, and his colour has darkened again. He has quite straggly fins and there's some kind of fluff trailing off of one, but he seems happier, not much, but it's progress..

We're going to move him permanently to a tank of his own once he's recovered
 

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6 Bettas, Innumerable Snails, 3 Mice, 2 Hissing roaches
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Oh no, Im sorry to hear about Pablo!

Is he still bloated? You can try daily epsom salt baths to see if that'll take it down.

The stuff hanging off of his fins, is it white? Kind of fluffy?
Do you have a picture of it by chance?

Also, I'm glad he ate!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
He does still look very thick, if that makes sense? His scales are a little spikey, still.

The little lump on his tail with the cloudy stuff on has actually come off (in the last 30 mins) - I've attached a photo below, plus a couple of him, showing his scales.Could it have been a poop attached ti his tail? His fins had started curling and going red but that seems to have subsided, I thought that was what this was.. Waiting on any signs of him going to the toilet. No poops for 3 or 4 days as far as we can tell..
Beak Underwater Feather Bird Wing
Beak Bird Underwater Marine biology Terrestrial animal
Liquid Water Fluid Metal Glass
 

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It does!

He's pineconing for sure, and it sounds like he might have fungus and maybe fin rot.

Try fasting for two days then feeding a frozen, unshelled, thawed pea on the third.
If you've got unscented epsom salt I'd recommend daily baths, (epsom can't go in the tank like aquarium salt can), and do you have Kanaplex on hand? You can try a round of that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks. Before today he hadn't eaten (or shown an interest in food) since Thursday. He's only shown an interest (and actually eaten) since we took him out of his main tank today. Should I still fast him? He did have a go at a pea today.

We're kind of wary of anything salt-related, having had issues with using it to treat other fish, so epsom salts would really make us a bit uncomfortable/anxious. I have heard of Kanaplex but again, our history with meds (and being told to double dose during an emergency call to our LFS, which killed our entire stock), and are quite wary. We have melafix, but I have read horro stories about using that with bettas!

Given he seems to be improving slightly, is it unlikely to be dropsy do you think?
 

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I understand your worries.

But salt baths are pretty easy and the worst they can do is knock Pablo out. If that did happen it is very easy to revive him and he'd pop back up like nothing happened.
Most do really well with salt baths. Its not often they'll conk out.

Never double dose. You can mix some medications, but double dosing will do that. When used correctly and according to instructions medications don't pose much harm. Bettas are sensitive and there are cases where we lose them even if we do everything right, but I think it was just due to the double doses there.

You can always try daily water changes and try fasting and a pea again. Sometimes daily water changes can get rid of milder fin rot, but not always.

It does look like dropsy to me. I could be wrong, I'm not always right. But I would recommend medications. If you'd rather try the other way first you can, it's up to you.

About Melafix. Most people advise against using the fixes. Both contain tea tree oil which damages their labrynth organ.

The pea. Did he manage to get any? I'd advise still trying fasting for a few days then the pea again. Sometimes that can help take down the bloat.
 

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Sorry about your boy. Hope with a bit of time he does better for you.

1. What brand of food are you using? It could be the source of your issues. If the first five ingredients contain anything but four fish/seafood and wheat flour (used as a binder). It is not good. The higher the protein the better, too. Good foods are New Life Spectrum, NorthFin Betta Bits, Fluval Bug Bites, Aqueon Betta or Color formulas (not their Betta Pro).

2. Dropsy is not a disease in and of itself but a symptom; often of internal issues. it might even be the Pleco did some damage if he bumped Pablo too hard. Sometimes the swelling will go away and not come back; other times it will.

3. To reduce swelling You can use plain, unscented Epsom Salts for a bath. Mix one tablespoon of ES to one gallon of water. Fill one container half full of the mixture and dilute with half plain, treated water. If he stresses, you will put him in this before returning to tank. Note, though, that in all the years I've been recommending this treatment I know of a very few Betta that were stressed.

Fill another container with the mixture. Lower him into the mixture and leave no more than 15 minutes; watch him constantly. If he shows no distress you can add him straight back into his tank

You can treat once per day but for no more than 7-10 days.

That being said, I'm so sorry to be a contrarian in your thread.

Daphnia and peas serve the same purpose but Daphnia is natural and safe for insectivores. They cannot digest the exoskeleton/carapace chitin which is part of all insectivore diets and, among other things, acts as a natural laxative. Peas/plant matter are also indigestible but not natural and can cause harm; especially if given too much. So stick with the Daphnia.

As he stopped eating for a few days there is no reason to fast him. If all he's willing to eat is the Daphnia you can add another frozen food like Brine Shrimp, Bloodworms, Freshwater Frenzy. Then wean him back onto his pellets.

About the "fix" meds. It is yet another of those Internet myths based on unfathomable logic. It goes something like this: My Betta is sick + I treated with "fix" med = The "fix" med killed my Betta. :rolleyes:

The truth is the oils have been refined to be water soluble; which means they cannot coat the labyrinth organ. Here is an actual study Melafix Dangers; Betta, Labyrinth Fish, Pencil Fish

All of that being said, Pablo doesn't need Melafix. IMO, Indian Almond Leaves and plain Rooibos Tea, with their antibacterial and antifungal properties, are a better, more natural option. I use them 24/7 in all of my tanks.

Hope he does better for you. When he recovers, feed him two or three pellets 5 x per day. You can experiment with how many meals he actually needs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you both for your replies.

Regards the double dosing, it went a little like this; we had white spot on two cory cats, they shared with an oto, bristlenose, and shrimp. We removed the shrimp, and were given some white spot and fungus treatment by our (considered expert) fish store. We did one does, having been assured it was safe for the remaining inhabitants. After this one dose, the pleco started climbing up the rock in the tank to get out of the water. We called the fish store and explained the panic in the tank. They said not to worry, and to add another dose. We went against everything we were thinking and followed the expert advice. All of Plecs fins dissolved in front of our eyes, and the entire tank was gone within minutes. We do use medication for our GSP (he has a recurrent ulcer), but are incredibly wary of using anything unnatural.

Epsom salts we are considering..

The pellet we use is FishScience Betta Granules.

Pabs seems a little more on form this morning. There are several grey-looking fluffy lumps on the bottom of the tank - could they be poops? He is swimming mid-water and at the surface, which is an improvement!

Thank you for the advice re peas - happy to stick with Daphnia and get some blood worm etc. to add in, too. Also, thank you for the info regarding the 'fixes'. I've used melafix in several tanks with no problems, but yes, I agree it's not what Pablo needs!

I have a bag of Indian almond leaves, I'll put some of them in. I'll also get some Rooibos tea - thank you!

Hopeful he is getting better, we'll definitely be keeping him in an individual tank (what a great excuse to go tank shopping!)
 

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Thank you for the update. Hope he continues to improve. Please let us know.

I did forget to add that peas were once the norm for giving to Betta. Many people still recommend and use them but there's a better alternative. Hope I didn't come across as harsh in my previous comments. If I did, I apologize to Eridanus.
 

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@Fishee I'm glad Pablo's doing a bit better!!

@RussellTheShihTzu You weren't! And even if you were, it's no issue. I honestly didn't know that about peas or the fixes :)
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you both for your advice and well wishes.

Despite looking good last night, he is now back to being a very sick-looking fish, currently headfirst in the middle of a bunch of silk leaves, not moving, no interest in anything, and breathing hard and fast again, also quite pale once more.. Even the daphnia won't rouse him at the moment. He seems happier (marginally) when the filter is off, so that's only going on intermittently throughout the day today to see if we can bring him back to the right path.

Keep your fingers crossed for poor little Pabs x
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Sadly Pablo swam over the rainbow bridge sometime in the night. He's now buried under the magnolia tree with our other rainbow pets.

Thank you for your help.

RIP Pabs x
 

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I'm so sorry for your loss!! SIP Pabs, you'll be greatly missed...
 
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Aw no! I'm so sorry about Pablo.

S.I.P Pablo, you'll be missed little one
 
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