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Sisyphus and Hegel (the hamster) and back home in Canada; a cat Hazel and two chihuahuas
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Discussion Starter #1
I was hesitant to post here; I wanted to save it for if there were ever a "real" emergency, but it has progressed so I'm quite concerned now. Ari was fine the first few weeks I had her, eating well, super super energetic (she is a baby after all)-what I noticed as some SBD and bloating a few days ago, I chalked up to her diet of freeze dried bloodworms (which she loved pigging out on) so no surprise she got a bit bloated. But I tried fasting her for two days, 100% water change, flakes ect. and today I came home to find she has lost all her energy now, refused to come see me, didn't even recognize me, just stayed fins clamped at the bottom of her tank...now I'm worried. Her only visible symptom is her swollen (white) belly. She has lost all her colouring she was beginning to develop, fins are clamped, heavy breathing...I'm very upset. She has receive better care than any of my other bettas, I really was hoping she would be happy + healthy with me.

Housing:
How many gallons is your tank? 1G (I know, she will be in a 10g in September)
Does it have a filter? no
Does it have a heater? yes
What temperature is your tank? 80-85
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? no
Does your Betta have tank mates? What kind? no

Food:
What food brand do you use?
Do you feed flakes or pellets? started with pellets, she was too small to eat them, so switched to bloodworms, now trying to get her on the flakes (she ate one yesterday, at least, she did then spit it out, today wouldn't come up)
Freeze-dried? yes-she loves these, bloodworms
How often do you feed your Betta? How much? once a day, maybe 4-8 little freeze dried worms, or a tiny bunch of flakes

Maintenance:
Before your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change? weekly 100% changes
What percentage of water did you change? 100%
What is the source of your water? bottled (dechlorinated) water
Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water? n/a
What additives do you use? What brand of conditioner? n/a

Water Parameters:
What are your water parameters? Please give exact numbers. If tested by pet store please get exact numbers. "Fine" or "Safe" won't help us help you. Important: Test your water *before* the regular water change; not after one.

Ammonia: good
Nitrite: good
pH: good
Hardness (GH): good
Alkalinity (KH): good

Symptoms and Treatment:
When did you first notice the symptoms? a couple of days ago
How has your Betta’s appearance changed? color has been lost-lightened with stress stripes, seems lifeless
How has your Betta’s behavior changed? lost all energy now, clamped fins, sits at the bottom or propped up on a leaf/under a leaf
Is your Betta still eating? Yesterday ate a few flakes I "think" hard to tell with her spitting them out. Today nothing.
Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how? I changed the water at first sign of issue, cut out the bloodworms-looked a bit better after 2 days of fasting, but was not really about the flakes.
Does your Betta have any history of being ill? No
How long have you owned your Betta? A month and a bit.
Was he or she ill or suffering some sort of damage when purchased? No

I'm not sure if u can see the swollen belly in the picture. I have AQ salt which I read "might" work if it's something more serious, like dropsy, and not freeze-dried bloodworm related. But before I start getting paranoid on the internet is there anything anyone can suggest? I will 100% change the water again tomorrow I think, but I don't know if that's the issue. I've been very careful about water parameters, the temperature has been stable for the last three weeks, plants are flourishing...at first i thought she was eating the hornwort so I did remove that...but she's gotten worse.
 

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Aquarium salt won't help a bloating problem- you'd want to try Epsom salt instead, which will draw fluid out of the fish and help promote bowel movements. She doesn't look very bloated to me, though, so I'm not sure you need it.

Rather, I would suggest that your water changing schedule may be to blame for your girl's distress, unfortunately. In a 1g tank you need to do several water changes every day or every other day. Otherwise you are letting the ammonia build up for a week and then stressing her with a sudden change. Frequent, large water changes are especially important with baby bettas, because they secrete a growth-stunting hormone that needs to be removed from the water or else they will end up being undersized.

To that end I would suggest changing at least 50% of the water daily until you can get her into a larger tank. Because she's a baby and needs to have the growth-stunting hormone removed, cycling the tank won't help cut down on water changes in this case.

The second issue is the freeze-dried bloodworms. I am not a fan of freeze-dried foods, I don't believe they're suitable for a diet staple but rather just as occasional treats, but beyond that they can easily swell up with water and cause digesting issues. Personally I would cut them out and just feed her flakes/pellets until she is feeling better. Even if she's picky at first she won't starve herself when there's food offered, so don't worry if she doesn't seem to eat for a few days.

If you do want to keep feeding her the bloodworms, soak them in tank water for a few minutes before giving them to her to reduce the risk of bloating. You can also try giving her frozen foods, which have lots of protein for a growing baby and none of the danger of constipation & bloating.
 

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Is there a reason you cannot use tap water? Did you use bottled Spring water or distilled or "purified"? Fish need minerals in their water so distilled and purified need to be mineralized. SeaChem makes a product but for the life of me I can't remember the name. But unless there is something drastically wrong so that you can't drink it, it is best to use it and something like SeaChem Prime.

Rana is correct about frequent water changes for baby Betta. They need to have that growth hormone removed or it will stunt their growth.

Epsom Salts can reduce swelling and help fish poop. It is something I normally recommend but as she is a baby I am not so sure. Instead, I would do daily 50% water changes.

Do you have another container where you could put the heater and her? No substrate so you can determine if she is constipated?

Thanks, @Rana, frozen is a great alternative food. If you can find them, "mini bloodworms" are actually mosquito larvae. Otherwise, you'd need to chop up regular bloodworms.

Tagging @rainbow and @indjo.
 

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Sisyphus and Hegel (the hamster) and back home in Canada; a cat Hazel and two chihuahuas
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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you both for your support.

I am changing her gravel-I dont like the black either. I had no idea about the growth hormone, this is my first baby betta and the lady at Petsmart of course, did not say anything.
I did a 50% water change today and will keep up with that. To answer the bottled water question-I do live in a major city where there is fluoride + chlorine in tap water so I usually fill a couple jugs and let them sit for at least a few days for all that stuff to evaporate but with all these recent “emergency” water changes I’ve been resorting to bottled water (distilled). I was wondering if I could add rooibois tea to the water as I heard it was good for them (as bettafix and other remedies like that are not). I also didn’t know AQ was necessarily different than epsom salt. I can try that-but that will kill my plants correct? Would you suggest a 15 minute dip or remove the plants and try it directly in her tank.

Thank you guys again so much for all your help! This community has been supportive when I felt very alone and uncertain when it came to these fish. The good news is Ari was looking a “bit” better (not as bloated, just some SBD and lethargy) and ate quite good today (flakes and 1 cut up bloodworm). I am going to try to get her on the flakes 100% or try frozen food next time I’m at the pet store.


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Sisyphus and Hegel (the hamster) and back home in Canada; a cat Hazel and two chihuahuas
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Discussion Starter #5
Here is a more clear picture I took yesterday. Though she looks less bloated today, just still with clamped fins and SBD (keeps floating to the top, so she desperately keeps swimming to the bottom). IMG_9723.jpg


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Thank you both for your support.

I am changing her gravel-I dont like the black either. I had no idea about the growth hormone, this is my first baby betta and the lady at Petsmart of course, did not say anything.
I did a 50% water change today and will keep up with that. To answer the bottled water question-I do live in a major city where there is fluoride + chlorine in tap water so I usually fill a couple jugs and let them sit for at least a few days for all that stuff to evaporate but with all these recent “emergency” water changes I’ve been resorting to bottled water (distilled). I was wondering if I could add rooibois tea to the water as I heard it was good for them (as bettafix and other remedies like that are not). I also didn’t know AQ was necessarily different than epsom salt. I can try that-but that will kill my plants correct? Would you suggest a 15 minute dip or remove the plants and try it directly in her tank.

Thank you guys again so much for all your help! This community has been supportive when I felt very alone and uncertain when it came to these fish. The good news is Ari was looking a “bit” better (not as bloated, just some SBD and lethargy) and ate quite good today (flakes and 1 cut up bloodworm). I am going to try to get her on the flakes 100% or try frozen food next time I’m at the pet store.


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"

Everyone has given you some great advice, hopefully we can get your girl turned around.

I noticed on your first post that you say her tanks temp is between 80 and 85 degrees. Is it fluctuating that much during the day? If it is how long does it take to do so? 85 is a bit warmer then ideal but not dangerous BUT if it's heating up that much fast it can shock your girl.

What flakes are you feeding her? Not all flakes are created equal and some like Tetra are filled with fillers and aren't good for and insectivor like a betta. Those fillers can contribute to constipation and bloat. I'd look into Fluval Bug Bites for betta or the Tropical Bug Bites for small fish, both of those are very small in size, so small that I switched to the ones for med fish for my boys

When you fed her the freeze dried blood worms, and I agree that they should not be used as a staple diet, did you soak them first? Not soaking them can cause bloat, same with pellets, they should be soaked to help prevent bloat

Yes there's a reason I quoted your second to last post :p I'm just full of questions. I noticed that you said that you let the water sit out for a couple days when you used tap to let the stuff they put in evaporate. Are you 100% absolutely, no doubt about it, certain that it's chlorine and not chloramine that they put in the water? Chlorine evaporates in a few days chloramine does not. Both will sicken a fish. It's safest to just use conditioner drops most will get rid of the chlorine / chloramine within a min, I like Seachem Prime since it not only conditions the water but also binds with ammonia and nitrites making them safe for the fish for up to 48 hours, after that it releases them back into the water so do NOT skimp on water changes.

Epsom Salt will not hurt your plants, it's magnesium sulfate and it can actually be used on plants. Like RusseltheShihTzu, I'm not sure if it would be wise to use it on such a young fish. Personally I'd get some frozen or freeze dried daphnia and feed her that, it will help her go to the bathroom if she's constipated. If you use freeze dried soak it in a bit of tank water before feeding it to her.
 

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Sisyphus and Hegel (the hamster) and back home in Canada; a cat Hazel and two chihuahuas
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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Yes, everyone here has been very helpful and knowledgeable! I am very grateful.

I have never heard of chloramine so that is something I will look into. My mom had been doing the bottled water method/letting tap water sit out for years ever since I was a child and had various fish ect. so I assumed it was safe. When I lived in a smaller Northern community I did learn that the water was contrastingly a lot “purer” so I only had the water sit out for a couple hours. I have a reverse osmosis filter on my tap (the one I use) which until you mentioned the water, I never considered as relevant. Would that be considered beneficial? Regardless, I took your advise and used the bottled water that keeps all the minerals (not purified). I also will be taking my water to my Petsmart as apparently they do complete water testing more thorough than the strips.

But anyways, Completely scrubbed Ari’s tank, stabilized the water temperature is 82/83 (it 80-85 before, not because its fluctuating its been pretty stable for the past month but because my thermometer isnt digital and my eyesight can be bad so it was difficult to guestimate at which “line” it was at is all) and added some new hornwort (the sword is growing nicely). The good news is she is eating the flakes (mixed with an occasional soaked bloodworm), and her BLOAT and for the most part her SBD is gone. Yay! Color is still very grey and tails are clamped, and she has been sitting on the bottom for the last 2 days, usually tucked in a leaf or under a root. Maybe she is recovering? I honestly cannot tell if she has taken a turn for the worse or is finally recovering.

The Petsmart, PetValue and even a fish specialty store near my house all dont have much variety when it comes to food. I have Tetra right now although my mom has a different brand of the pellets so if Ari revives more and grows big enough, I’m hoping to eventually wean her to those. Pellets seem to be the easiest/best option all around. At least she is coming a long with the flakes.


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