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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, nearly a month ago, my little brother begged for a female betta. With permission granted, he was allowed to purchase one and the proper setup with his own money. I helped him through the process. We went to PetSmart as its the nearest pet store since LFS seems to not be a thing in my region. While he was choosing a female betta, I looked at the others there and noticed all were in good condition but one dumbo. I honestly thought he was dead at first since his water was very dirty and he was lying completely on his side at the surface of the cup. Fortunately, he was still alive, but with sbd I couldn't leave the poor thing there knowing he had little chance if proper treatment wasn't given. When home, I placed him in a glass container not quite 1 gallon with the water low so he didn't have to struggle to the surface. He also had a betta leaf hammock, which he always uses to rest on or "hide" under. The makeshift tank had nothing else in it because he could barely swim as it was and he struggled and thrashed about the tank to make it to the surface.

Anyway, he was treated with Epsom salt and fasted for a little over a week. He refused to eat anything and lethargically rested (his water is heated, so its wasn't due to that). Regardless, he finally passes poop regularly as that was a majority of his problem, but I think his swim bladder is permanently damaged. I kept the treatment ongoing a bit longer after he wasn't constipated. It still hasn't quite cleared up. What I mean by this is, he no longer lies on his side like he used to, but occasionally will go on it a bit, especially after trying to eat. And when he swims he's always off balance a bit and never can swim quite like a normal betta would without great effort to. Also, compared to the other dumbo males they had there, his "ears" were huge, honestly larger than most dumbos I've ever seen. I think his pectorals are greatly weighing him down as he seems to seriously struggle to swim, thus the thrashing. But the thrashing was also due to his extreme shyness. I think he was greatly mishandled prior to me purchasing him, because he honestly seemed afraid of me and always tried to swim as far away as possible. He'd thrash about if he saw me look at him and "hide" under his leaf. Additionally, he still wouldn't eat even after he was passing poop regularly and would only eat if I didn't look at him. But now he finally greets me and doesn't hide and swim away nearly as much when I go near. He also does finally eat in front of me, but it takes the poor dear nearly an hour to finish the serving I give him. I know I should follow the 1-3 minute rule, but he'd hardly have two flakes in his mouth if I did that and then he'd never eat anything.

With his struggles to eat, he usually misses the food - what I suspect to be a combination of his large "ears" handicapping him and his swim bladder issues. Its so bad that he prefers to eat the flakes that are falling to the bottom, but especially the ones that have already fallen, rather than from the surface. I know I should give him pellets, but the ones I do have are too big for his mouth (I currently do not have the money to buy him proper, smaller pellets due to college bills, but I will get him proper pellets very soon. I think they would be much better.) Lastly, due to his issues swimming, he doesn't swim nearly as much as he should and instead lies mostly on the bottom or floats vertically if not on his leaf. When he does swim he hugs the wall of the container or swims (looks more like pushes himself) along the bottom.

Again, when I have a bit more money, I will buy him proper pellets and a larger tank. This is where my question lies - What size tank would be proper for him? I must emphasize he cannot have a filter. He can barely swim in completely stagnant, shallow water. Also, are elephant ears prone to either of these issues, if so, which?

I'm very sorry for the short essay, but thank you to anyone that does respond! I attached a picture of Nebula resting on his hammock. I can get more pictures if necessary, but I do not think they will be terribly needed as he seems to be in good condition besides the "ears" and sbd issues.
 

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His pectorals are huge, and rather cute. I can see why you picked up the little guy. If he's having trouble making it to the surface I would suggest a couple of taller silk plants so that he has more options when it comes to resting. And having a little bit more cover in his tank might also help with the shyness. A betta that feels exposed will always be more stressed than one that feels safely hidden away.

As far as tank size goes most people will recommend 2.5 gallons and up just so you have a little wiggle room with water quality. The less water you have the faster ammonia builds up. I'd actually suggest no matter what size tank you end up going with that you look in to a sponge filter. Just keep the bubble rate low and you can cycle a tank without disturbing the water too much.

If you're looking for a smaller tank with no filter Petsmart sells a 2.5 gallon glass tank with a lid for about 12$ if I remember correctly, it's longer than it is tall so not a bad choice for your boy who has a harder time swimming. Petco also sells what's known as a bookshelf tank that if I remember correctly is about 6 gallons, but is also long and shallow.
 

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If you can get it, the bookshelf tank is awesome, I have one and I love it. Filter is crud, but since you wouldn't be using it anyway, that doesn't matter. Here's a picture you can look at of mine (it's currently divided for my two babies, but one is going in a different tank when they're grown).



If that's not an option, Petco is having their $1 per gallon sale, you could pick up a 10 gallon for $10 and only fill it partway. I had a betta with severe SBD I was going to do that with, but he didn't make it. :/

I agree with adding lots of silk plants, that will definitely make it easier on him. Do you have a craft mesh tube for him? That's a cheap and easy thing to make that I'm sure he'd appreciate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you both! I'll make sure to get him lots of plants. I was planning to get him broad leafed ones regardless. I did have some spare money to get him a cute small ornament of The Thinker today. He LOVES it - I mean LOVES it. He rests along it, but I caught him nestled in between the crook of The Thinker's arm. I'll have to get a picture when he does it again. But, yeah, I only purchased him because he had such problems.

Anyway, yeah, a sponge filter, I'll definitely try that. Do you have any recommendations? I've seen them and such, but never quite looked into them much. And yes, I know which 2.5 you are speaking of at Petsmart. My little brother bought that one for his female. She loves it. I'll try to get him one of those as unfortunately the bookshelf tank is well out of my price, but mainly space range. My dad was upset enough that I came home with an extra betta.

Your tank is lovely though, Elleth! :> Also, what is that plastic tube you have on the right side of that tank? It looks cute. And I'll try to make him a mesh tube. I can't find those anywhere at the Michael's and Walmarts in my area unfortunately, though.

Additionally, is it possible he honestly did face trauma as I suspect? If you can see it in that picture where his mouth is, there is a gash on his snout(?). It was healed over when I got him, but I have no idea how it happened. It was rubbed raw and its a large gap with no scales or color. Its fleshy looking, but again healed over. I think that may also relate to his sbd issues. At this point, are they permanent as I suspect?

Thank you both again for the help!
 

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I don't have any sponge filter recommendations, unfortunately. All mine are rated for 10 gallons.

Thank you! :) That tube (and the other one, the yellow on the left by the heater) are both hamster tunnels. I have them in most of my tanks, and most of my bettas love them.

I don't think the trauma on his head and his SBD are related, the only way they might be that I can think of is if they were both caused by really rough handling, like being severely shaken.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks, Elleth. Looks like I need to invest in some of those soon! Regardless, I have ordered some sponge filters and will be moving him to a larger tank soon. He has significantly improved after another episode detailed in another thread about him. He is no longer shy towards me now and begs for food constantly. Also, he is now swimming around very well (NOT pushing himself along the bottom like he used to, actually swims around the top and middle of his tank now) and looks forward to feeding with the new pellets he is on.
 
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