Betta Fish Forum banner

1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
38 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello folks!

I've had my DT betta, Finn, for about a year and a half and he's been a great little guy (despite his fin-chewing habit). I have experience keeping several bettas a long time ago, but I've forgotten a lot about it since then!

I had surgery on my ankle about 12 days ago and stayed at my parent's house for a week since I couldn't walk around at first. 1 day earlier I did a 50% water change, filtered the gravel, and changed the carbon filter on Finn's tank (admittedly it had been several months since I did this). Finn didn't show any signs of problems before I left. While I was gone a friend was taking care of my animals and Finn.

When I returned this past Monday night, I noticed that Finn had a large, distended abdomen and was pine coned out. He was at the bottom of the tank, but he was able to swim to the surface for a breath every once in a while. I immediately lowered the water level in the tank, upped the temp to 82F, added aquarium salt, and started Kanaplex (kanamycin) for dropsy. I accidentally doubled the dose, but Finn didn't seem distressed, so I waited to see what happened. In 24 hours he was able to remain perched at the top of the water level, balancing in his fake plants and he was able to swim and eat with gusto!

Since then I've been waiting, watching, and adding the correct amount of kanamycin every other day. The final dose is due tomorrow. I have not done any more water changes. He continues to be energetic and swim (rather pathetically) out of his favorite spot to eat twice daily. He really loves to eat! Today I received a new 3gal tank in the mail and I used that to give him a 15min epsom salt soak (1TBSP per gal). During this soak I noticed that Finn is no longer fully pine coned out, but his abdomen remains extremely distended and he still struggles to swim.

Finn has had an episode of slight difficulty swimming once before. I fasted him for several days and he recovered splendidly, so I assumed it was due to constipation at that time.

Here's some of my questions:

Would there be a problem fasting him now or should I keep feeding him during his dropsy treatment?
Is there another good treatment for constipation I should try (I've heard the pea thing is BS, but not sure).
Should I transfer him to the new 3gal tank and completely clean out his old tank after finishing the Kanaplex?
Is the 1TBSP epsom salt per gallon a good dose for a soak?
How often should I soak him in epsom salts?
I got some Maracyn-2 (minocycline) in the mail. If he isn't cured after the Kanaplex, should I try a course of this?

Thanks everybody!!!! :) Here's some other stats you might need and images:



Housing:
How many gallons is your tank? - 5gal
Does it have a filter? - yes
Does it have a heater? - yes
What temperature is your tank? 78-80 degrees
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? - no
Does your Betta have tank mates? - no

Food:
How often do you feed your Betta? How much? - 5-7 Aqueon pellets followed by a tiny pinch of freeze-dried bloodworms twice daily (he always struggles to eat all the pellets before they sink). I usually fast him 1 day per week.

Maintenance:
Before
your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change? - 1-3 months
What percentage of water did you change? - 25%-50%
What is the source of your water? - recently changed to bottled water (I had to move him from where I work to my home due to Coronavirus and my home water is terrible)
Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water? - vacuum, but there still seems to be a lot of debris even afterward
What additives do you use? What brand of conditioner? - Prime
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,003 Posts
It's a bit hard to tell, but I'm not sure I'm seeing pineconing in your pictures. Because his scales have a dark "edge" on them it's difficult to be sure of whether they are sticking out in the first picture. And in the second pic, what I see is the scales directly over the bulge in his side sticking up, but not the scales elsewhere. That suggests local swelling, not the whole body as in dropsy.

Does that match up with what you see, or do/did you also see the scales sticking out down the entire length of his body?


Dropsy is actually a symptom of kidney failure, not a disease itself. If this failure was caused by a bacterial infection then the Kanamycin you used is one of the most recommended meds to try treating internal infections with, so that was a good choice. You can also try a second round, combining the Kanaplex with Nitrofurazone (API Furan 2) for what is basically the strongest medicine most aquarists have to help fight internal infections. Maracyn 2 is also a good choice, and can also be used in combination with the Kanaplex for a stronger treatment than if used by itself.

If the dropsy isn't caused by a bacterial infection, it's much less likely to be curable.

However, I'm not convinced this is dropsy or caused by an internal infection. Because there is a distinct and asymmetrical bulge (it seems asymmetrical in your photos, but a pic from perfectly over his top would help make sure) in his side rather than an all-over swelling, in my opinion it points instead to a potential internal tumor. I say tumor and not constipation because a betta's "guts" are pretty compact and right behind the head, while this bulge is further down his body and less symmetrical than I'd expect to see if it was constipation. Usually constipation swells downwards before it really goes out to the side... But it's not impossible, and constipation treatments are mild enough to try just in case.

If it's a tumor, there's no treatment that will help, just keeping him comfortable. It might be an internal abscess (different from a generalized infection because it is self-contained instead of systemic) in which case, the antibiotics may help shrink it enough to stop it from bursting. But internal abscesses aren't very common in bettas so I'm only really mentioning it for the sake of being thorough.


That all said, there's no harm in giving your betta a treatment for constipation just to see. Especially since he was taken care of by someone else, and non-fishkeepers tend to massively overfeed fish, and DbT's are notorious for having digestive problems.

First, take the AQ salt out of his water or at least stop re-dosing it after a water change. Aquarium salt is good for external problems, like torn fins, but will actually make internal problems like bloating worse. Then fast him for a couple of days. A healthy betta can go for a week without food no problem, so two or three days should be fine for your boy even if he's a bit under the weather.

I would go ahead and just use the Epsom in his main tank instead of doing a separate "dip". For that, you'd want to use 1 teaspoon per gallon. If you notice him starting to pinecone again, you can increase it to 2 tsp (Higher than normally recommended, but dropsy should be treated aggressively). In general, ten days is the longest you should leave him in the Epsom and then give him a few day's break before trying another round if needed.

The Epsom will act as a laxative for constipation, as well as reduce fluid in his body, bringing down the swelling that creates pineconing. I feel it's more effective in general, but especially for swelling in particular, if the betta is constantly exposed to a low level of it which is why I prefer "baths" directly in the main tank.

Epsom may help shrink the bulge directly as well, and if so that is an indication that the cause of the swelling is bacterial- or rather, is caused by the pus and fluid released by a bacterial infection. So if you see the swelling in his side start to go down after using Epsom, and it hasn't been a side effect of him pooping, I'd start him on an aggressive course of antibiotics.


Peas for constipation will work, but they can be hard on a betta's digestive system because they are after all a plant and bettas are carnivores. Feeding a bit of pea now and again is fine, IMO it's when someone feeds peas every week that problems start to crop up.

However, Daphnia is better for constipation if you can get some (frozen preferably, or soak freeze-dried first). They are meaty so the bettas like eating them and can digest them easily, and the exoskeletons will act as "fiber" the same way the pea would to get things moving.



Also, your water change schedule is not adequate in general I am sorry to say. In a tank your size you should be changing 25-50% of the water once a week, not every few months. Clean water is the best preventative for diseases and is vital for a betta's health and longevity.

You also don't need to replace the filter cartridge until it is literally falling apart. This is because the Beneficial Bacteria which cycle your tank live primarily inside the filter media, so throwing it away throws away all those BB. Carbon is really only necessary when you need to take out a medicine from the water, otherwise it's not important to have in your tank. (But that admittedly is a personal preference, since carbon doesn't hurt anything) If your filter has a "bio media" sponge or plastic rack which stays in the filter, then changing the cartridge doesn't matter as much since the sponge will keep enough BB to save your cycle. I always forget many newer filters have those nowadays.

(Speaking of which, did you leave the carbon in your tank while using the Kanaplex? If so, unfortunately it would have removed most of the medicine...)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
38 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
It's a bit hard to tell, but I'm not sure I'm seeing pineconing in your pictures.
Right, like I mentioned I saw the pine coning Monday when I got home until yesterday (Thursday) evening. Today when I soaked him in the early afternoon I noticed that the swelling was still present, but the pine coning appeared to be gone. I was pretty encouraged by that because a couple of the bettas I had in the past that developed dropsy always died! I never tried the kanamycin before, but it's the only thing I can think of that would have contributed to this improvement unless it was the aquarium salt. (I did turned off the filter before adding the meds, btw :) I figured that would help him keep his balance a bit better too)

Also, your water change schedule is not adequate in general I am sorry to say.
You're right. I have not been good about his water changes since probably January. It's been especially hard now that he's at home with me because the well water where I rent is atrocious for a fish tank even after I filter and condition it. I have to use bottled water for the tank anyway because the well runs dry quickly too. I'm often afraid that I'm using the wrong type of water. I used spring water for a while, but the only thing I could get recently is distilled water. While my ankle heals I'm not able to go out and get anything easily, so I hope distilled is OK for now. :(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,003 Posts
I wasn't sure when the pictures were taken, or if they were from the same time, so I just described what I was seeing. A lot of people mistake regular bloating for dropsy, so I feel it's always a good idea to clarify what it is and how it looks, especially when there's any uncertainty.

By the time dropsy shows up, it usually means the internal damage and/or infection is too severe to be cured- that's most likely why your other bettas unfortunately didn't make it. But sometimes, it is a temporary condition and can be fought off. In my experience, once a betta shows signs of dropsy, even if they recover they are going to be weaker the rest of their life because it takes such a toll on their bodies.


It's definitely a good sign that he responded to the Kanaplex. Other than the pineconing, have his other symptoms improved? And do you have any pictures of him from before or right as you started treating, to compare to?

Personally, given that he did respond positively to antibiotics, with that swelling still on his side I would probably do a second round of antibiotics if he seems strong enough. If it is the result of a bacterial infection then it needs to be fought off as much as it can be.

And if the swelling is just constipation or something incurable like a tumor, then the fact that he was showing signs of dropsy would still persuade me to give antibiotics another shot in case there's a secondary condition going on with him. Antibiotics can be stressful on fish so if you think he may not be strong enough to handle it, giving him a week of clean water and Epsom (in case of constipation and to ease the strain on his kidneys removing fluid) will hopefully be enough time for him to get stronger.

I'm not entirely sure what the recommended procedure is for dosing Kanaplex and Maracyn II together, if you wanted to try that. If you would rather stick to just one I'd go with the Maracyn this time, since it may kill off bacteria left weakened by the first medicine.



For the water, what about it makes you say it's unsuitable? Generally if it's safe for people to drink (even if it tastes bad) it's safe for fish, but I do understand that well water is basically unregulated so it may indeed be not usable. And of course, it running dry helps no one!

Distilled water isn't ideal because it contains no minerals, which bettas (and all fish) require to be healthy. A short time in distilled if that's all you can get would be alright, but if it's going to be longer than a month or two, I would encourage you to try switching back to spring or tap water if you can, even mixing them half-and-half to stretch your supplies or dilute the well water. Otherwise you should add in a re-mineralization product; I'm not very familiar with them but I believe Seachem makes one called Replenish or Equilibrium.

I definitely understand that health problems and other circumstances may make it difficult or even impossible right now. The current state of the world doesn't help either. Distilled water in his tank will be better than no water changes at all, it's just important to get back in the habit of changing his water as your health (and supplies) allows.

You are trying your best to do what is right for your betta and that is what really matters!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
38 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I don't have pictures from when I started his meds, but I did notice that he's slightly more swollen on his left side than on his right. I'm not sure what that could mean . . . do tumors in fish pop up this quickly?

His behavior is actually pretty good so far. He acts like he's starving and he will still usually swim to the front of his tank when he sees me peeking in. Although he does seem to be struggling a bit more this evening than he has in the past few days. Could that be because of the epsom soak?

As for the water, I can't remember the exact parameters, but I know the nitrates were off the charts as well as the pH and hardness. The chart on my test strip bottle got wet and tore so I can't see a lot of it anymore. The nitrates and pH did not change after I filtered the water either. I know Prime says it detoxifies nitrates, but that super-pink color still scares me.

Should I transfer him to the hospital tank and continue treating him in there? I could do a complete water change in his regular tank and really clean out the gravel too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,003 Posts
Tumors can pop up overnight or grow or slowly, but so too can other problems. The fact that it's asymmetrical does make me lean towards it being a tumor, but the fact that he seemed to respond well to the medicine means it could just be swelling from an infection which just happened to show up more on one side than the other, or it could be an abscess despite the rarity.

Unfortunately since we don't have any way to test fish it's mostly a waiting game to see what he responds to in cases like this, since swelling under the surface can have a lot of different causes.


If he was bothered by the Epsom soak in terms of the salt itself being a problem, he'd react to it pretty quickly so you'd probably have seen it the first time you did one. However a change in activity level can mean he's getting weaker in general, which might be partly because of the stress of being put into a separate container for the dip.

But it could also have nothing to do with the soaks and just be a coincidence.

In general, if your betta seems to be stressed or is struggling, a good way to keep them calm and encourage rest is to turn off any lights over their tank and cover it with a towel. It can be hard not being able to check on them often, but giving him a dark space will help keep him calmer and hopefully regain some strength.


Leave him in his regular tank while you do any treatments. You can do a deep cleaning on the gravel and decorations if you want, but most pathogens that infect bettas are always present in the tank anyway so you won't be able to completely eradicate them. It's usually only when they grow to large numbers and a betta's immune system is weakened that they become problems- both of which are less likely to happen with frequent water changes. (That's certainly not the only cause, just the most frequent in terms of environmental factors)

You only really need a hospital tank if you have other fish or live plants in the same tank, or if it's easier for you to dose and clean a smaller container. Otherwise just treating him in the main tank is fine.


For the water, pH actually doesn't matter as much with bettas as some more delicate fish. It's true they like water that is soft & acidic, but they're hardy and can adapt to just about any pH/hardness as long as it's stable. Peat, Driftwood, Alder Cones, or lots of IAL added to your tank can also lower the pH naturally, though they'll release tannins which stain the water a sort of tea color in exchange.

But the Nitrates are a bigger problem, for sure. Prime will detoxify them but only for 24hrs and then you need to dose it again, and I'm not sure if there's any sort of "chemical media" out there that will absorb Nitrates.

If you had live plants they could help "soak up" the excess, but live plants are an entirely different commitment than a regular tank. Something to consider for the future is sticking the roots of a plant like a Pothos, Spider Plant, or Lucky Bamboo into the back compartment of your tank's filter. They're hardy enough not to need any special lighting and they'd just love the chance to eat up those Nitrates.

So I'd say mix half (or even just a quarter) the tap water with distilled, and test it. If the Nitrates are in a reasonable range (20ppm or less), you can use the mixture in your tank to get your betta some of the minerals he's been missing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
38 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all the help, Rana!

Today I added the last dose of the kanamycin to his water. The directions say to add a specific amount every other day for a maximum of 3 doses. There's no directions after that. Do you think I should give him 24 hours or more in this final mix before changing the water? I would really like to deep-clean his gravel and get some spring or tap water in there . . . maybe even start the Maracyn 2, but I'm not sure how long to leave him in the kanamycin since his improvement seems to have stalled.

Unfortunately, his breathing appears more labored today and the bulge in his abdomen looks a little larger and more focused on the left side . . . if that makes any sense. I tried to soak him again and take some pictures, but I couldn't catch him without chasing him all around the tank, which I guess is a good sign??

This is probably a stupid idea, but when a dog or cat develops a skin abscess it tends to become largest and softest in a single area, similar to what it looks like today with Finn. In mammals, we often lance this area and allow the abscess to drain and then put the animal on systemic antibiotics. This is not the case with reptiles, but can it be done for fish? I can do some anatomical research so to avoid vessels, organs, etc. I have some clove oil for sedation/analgesia and I have access to sterile tools . . . .
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,003 Posts
Leave him in the Kanaplex for 24hrs after the dose, then do a partial water change (25-50% if you can manage) and run the carbon filter for a day. That should take out the vast majority of the remaining medicine, and you can start a new treatment after that.


Can you post a picture of the swelling as it is now? Ideally taken from directly over him, if you can get a clear shot.


Him avoiding a net is unfortunately not necessarily a good sign, I've had fish on death's door try to flee a net- even when they were so ill I was netting them for euthanasia. It's mostly just a panic response. I like to lure my bettas to the top with food (or just the promise of it) and scoop them up directly into a cup, I find it's less stressful on them- and less a danger of snagging fins in a rough net.

I think you said you turned the filter off. Have you been adding Prime to the water daily? If not, I'd suggest adding some. His heavy breathing may be a response to rising Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate levels. Two drops per gallon is all you need to neutralize them for 24hrs at which point you'll be doing a water change anyway to remove the medicine.


Your theory of draining an abscess is sound- it's the same thing in fish AFAIK, a "pocket" of infection encapsulated in tissue that will hopefully "come to a head". But unfortunately we don't know that this is definitely an abscess. If it's a tumor then poking it open won't do anything but make him bleed, and if it's fluid from a systemic infection or inflamed organs it could do serious damage.

If this had started externally I'd be more comfortable saying to give it a shot, but where the swelling started inside his body... I personally would not risk it. He's your betta so the choice will ultimately be yours, however. I know there's at least one or two cases on the internet where someone lanced their betta (even when it wasn't certain to be an abscess) and it led to their recovery, so there is a precedent.

One thing that may help determine if it's a tumor or fluid swelling is to shine a flashlight from behind him. If the swollen area is solid and dark, it's more likely a tumor, and if it's "hollow" like a balloon, it's more likely full of fluid. I'll attach a photo of one of my bettas lit this way as an example of how the shadows in a healthy body should look.


Have you noticed him pooping at all since this started, by the way, and if so what color & consistency was it?
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
38 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Rana, he came up for some food and I caught him up in the cup, just like you said. It worked like a charm (and he's still eating!)! :) Thanks for the image too!

I tried to take some relatively decent images. I hope these are OK. He keeps listing to the left or right, so it was difficult to get a true 90-degree shot. The left side is clearly larger than yesterday, but in getting a closer look I don't see a clear pus pocket. Also, you can't see it clearly, but I put a dime under the cup (not in the water) for scale. It's partially covered by his ventral(anal?) fin.

I added Prime this morning . . . I didn't realize it only worked for 24 hours so today was the first time since Tuesday. I use it once at water changes as a water conditioner . . . should I be adding it daily in general? I also read the directions on the Maracyn 2 bottle . . . am I supposed to do water changes in between the doses? It seems like a ton of medicine, but the directions don't mention water changes.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
38 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Here are a few more pictures. The swelling is quite a bit worse and it no longer appears to be abdominal, but more on his side. I looked up betta internal anatomy and my guess is that the swelling is closer to his liver or kidneys on the left side.

Yesterday I did a 50% water change with spring water and added 1tsp epsom salt per gallon. I started the Maracyn 2 today.

I don't see any evidence of pus under his scales indicating an abscess. He appears more uncomfortable and has begun breathing heavily again. I would probably euthanize him if he wasn't still excited to eat his pellets every day. No matter how hard it is for him to balance and swim, he can still chow down! I'm avoiding the freeze dried bloodworms in case it could still possibly be constipation.

He's only a 1.5-2 years old, so it breaks my heart that he may be at the end of his life. :cry:
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,003 Posts
Oh poor boy, and poor you. That does look pretty bad and the fact that it's only gotten worse with medicine does indeed suggest a tumor rather than swelling from infection.

At this point, you can keep going with the medicine if you want to finish the course, or switch him off if you think it's stressing him out more than it's helping. I'd keep giving him Epsom since it's mild, and can help bettas stay upright when their swim bladders stop working well.


Euthanasia is a personal decision, it's never easy and there's also nothing wrong with letting him go naturally if you prefer that option. Personally, when I know a condition is terminal I prefer to euthanize when my bettas stop swimming, stop eating, or stop having that "light" in their eyes. Since your boy is still eating and trying to swim, it may not be his time yet- or you may decide to put him down earlier, before he can suffer. It's really up to you, and there isn't a wrong decision since you have his best interest at heart.


One option you may want to try, as a last ditch attempt, is to do what you mentioned earlier and anesthetize him with clove oil, and try to lance the swelling. If fluid comes out when you poke then he might be able recover with aggressive antibiotic treatment, and if it does indeed turn out to be a solid mass you can instead add more clove oil to put him down before he wakes up.

Normally I'd hesitate to suggest this because it's hard on both betta and owner, but judging by your username and comment about having access to sterile equipment, I'm guessing you are in the veterinary field so it may be something you are willing to attempt. If nothing else, it may put you at ease to know for sure there wasn't anything else you could do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
38 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Sad news. I put Finn to sleep this morning after I found him laying on his right side breathing with difficulty such that he was surrounded with massive air bubbles. As a last resort I anesthetized him and lanced the swelling on his left side and, as suspected, no fluid drained from it. I added more clove oil and let him pass in his sleep.

Once I was sure he was gone I performed a quick necropsy on him (that was way harder than I expected 😢 but I needed to know what happened!) and discovered a large homogeneous mass. I'm fairly confident in concluding that it was a tumor which is a bit of a relief because I was worried that I caused his demise.

I took a picture after the necropsy and sent it to one of the vets I work with to get her opinion as well. If anyone is interested in taking a look I can PM you the image. I don't think I should post it publicly though.

It's funny . . . I know people who get disgruntled if a co-worker takes a personal day because a pet died. They say "it's just a dog!" I wonder what they would say if they saw me balling my eyes out over a tiny little fish. I guess I don't really give a crap.

Rest in peace, Finnegan. You are missed!💔

Edit: Here's some baby pictures of Finn when I first got him. His tail is still growing ❤
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,003 Posts
I'm so sorry! It's always hard to do everything you can, and still have it not be enough. But you did your best to take care of Finn and I am sure he appreciated your care and the time you had together.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top