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My boy Bubbles has been ill on and off for the past five months. It all started because of my lack of keeping up with water changes. He got sick with ammonia poisoning. He used to be kept in a 3 gallon tank but I ended up moving him to a 10 gallon tank and he bounced back almost immediately. Then shortly after he had issues with his swim bladder, but that eventually resolved on its own. I’ve been keeping up with checking water parameters and they have stayed normal. Since everything seemed to be fine and it’s a planted tank, I started slacking with the water changes again and was doing them sometimes every two weeks or up to once a month. I know, I’m the worst... And here we are again with my poor Bubbles not looking great and acting very ill. I’m doing weekly changes now. His fins or color never really came back since the amonia poisoning case, but at least he was active and swimming as normal. About four weeks ago I started noticing that he was staying at the bottom all the time occasionally coming up for air or to eat. At least he hasn’t lost his appetite, he still eats twice a day every day. He swims up to the surface when he sees me, I scoop him up in a small container so he can be fed because he gets too tired and sometimes isn’t able to eat all of his food before going back down. I’m not sure if he’s just weak, having trouble swimming because of his shorter tail or both.

Since his tail is significantly shorter I though it could be fin/tail rot so I gave him a methylene blue dip on 3/10, but nothing changed. Then I tried a round of Kanapkex on 3/10, but again no improvement. Finally tried API General Cure on 3/15 thinking that it could be an internal parasite since he’s been eating well but still very weak and skinny. I haven’t tried aquarium salt because I’ve read mixed reviews on the actual benefits, but I do have some and could use it if that would help in any way.

I’m at my wits end. I don’t know what else to do. Nothing I’ve done has helped or shown any signs of improvement. I’m probably making things worse by trying to treat him with all these different medications without knowing exactly what’s going on. I’ve been reading up on different forums and boards for far too long. I’ve tried everything I though could help but nothing has changed, so now I finally decided to ask for help. I want to give this little guy the best chance possible as I’m feeling very guilty for his current state. We got him on 5/1/21 and just a couple of months later he was thriving. Then I fell behind on maintenance and it has been downhill since. This started as my daughter’s fish and now he’s pretty much my baby as I spend every free moment I have (which isn’t much) taking care of him or researching for conditions and treatment. Any help or guidance is appreciated. I’m an animal lover and I’m suffering seeing him like this and it pains me knowing that it’s mostly because of my own doing. Thank you in advance.


Housing:
How many gallons is your tank? 10
Does it have a filter? Yes
Does it have a heater? Yes
What temperature is your tank? 76-77
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? Hikari Bio Gold
Do you feed flakes or pellets? Pellets
Freeze-dried? No
How often do you feed your Betta? How much? Three to four pellets twice a day — with the ocasional frozen brine shrimp treat

Maintenance:
Before your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change? Twice a month or monthly
What percentage of water did you change? 20%
What is the source of your water? Tap/City
Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water? Vacuum
What additives do you use other than conditioner? What brand of conditioner? Seachem Prime, Dark Water (almond leaf extract) and Seachem StressGuard. Recently added an Indian almond leaf and the water is a little more brownish.

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: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 7.3- 7.6
Hardness (GH): Unknown
Alkalinity (KH): Unknown

Symptoms and Treatment:
When did you first notice the symptoms? 4 weeks ago
How has your Betta’s appearance changed? Sitting at the bottom lacking energy. Tail getting shorter. Fins looking frail.
How has your Betta’s behavior changed? Not active, barely swimming but still alert.
Is your Betta still eating? Yes
Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how? Kanaplex, Methylene blue dip and API General Cure.
Does your Betta have any history of being ill? Ammonia poisoning (10/20), Swim bladder (11/20)
How long have you owned your Betta? Since 5/1/20 (Petco)
Was he or she ill or suffering some sort of damage when purchased? Wasn’t in the best shape when purchased, but two months later he was thriving.



5C666BC4-7110-4AF6-9756-964C430B4EA9.jpeg
August 2020 (at his very best)

CD7837E8-265F-4944-955D-B91AA265D815.jpeg

December 2020 — after bouncing back from ammonia poisoning and swim bladder

1276AE06-6A10-4ED0-8C1C-5A0EFE5788E1.jpeg

2/19/21 —when I noticed changes in his behavior

C6004CB4-756D-497B-849A-39758E6B1866.jpeg

Today 3/24/21 — he’s in the little container where I feed him looking straight at me :(
 

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I can't help you much but I really hope he gets better. :giggle: Something is definitely up with his fins but I couldn't tell you exactly what it is. I'm sure someone more experienced will come along
 

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Sorry your boy is not doing well.

You say he's skinny. Can you post a photo from above? I would immediately ditch the Bio-Gold for something more nutritious: NorthFin Betta Bits, Fluval Bug Bites, New Life Spectrum, Omega One or Aqueon Color or regular (not the Betta Pro). My preferred food is only available online by the manufacturers: It's Devour Grain-Free Bug Formula.

Did you stop the Kanaplex before the recommended three doses 48 hours apart? Did you use two scoops? There was no rest between the MB dip and the Kanaplex and the Kanaplex and the General Cure, correct? If there was no rest it is possible too many meds in a row with no break is the heart of his current issues.

You are using IAL, correct? Constantly? It has antifungal and antibacterial properties and needs to be in the tank of sick Betta 24/7. Water should be at least this color:
TankWithIAL.jpg
In the first photo it is apparent he'd been fin biting. Do you have photos of him indicating the Ammonia poisoning? What were the readings that you think caused the poisoning?

The last photos indicate he has or has had fin rot and is still biting. If you neglected the other tank (something most of us have done at one point or another so thanks for being honest) that could have been the start of the fin rot. Fins, like fingernails, bleed. The red is not an indication of fin rot. The bleeding is just easier to see in light-colored fins.

For now, no more meds. I'd move him back to the three gallon and start doing 3-4 x weekly one-gallon water changes. Get him a better food and feed 3 x per day with the Brine Shrimp as at least one of his meals. Keep the water at least the color of the tank above. You can brew a strong tea out of the IAL, add conditioner and store in the refrigerator. Still keep a leaf floating, though.

Do not cup him to feed as this just adds to any stress.

Gills are the main breathing organ; not the labyrinth. Leave the three bare of substrate and drop his food in. If you don't have a filter use an air stone or bubble wand to oxygenate.

It will help you to keep track of any progress if you take photos every three or four days. Try to get him as possible to the same pose each time so you can compare better.

StressGuard dissipates so dose every day.
 

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Forgot: You can weight down plant to give him things to rest on; just keep the bottom bare so he can forage for his food. You can remove anything he doesn't eat by using a turkey baster or pipette. You can also target feed him using a pipette.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Sorry your boy is not doing well.

You say he's skinny. Can you post a photo from above? I would immediately ditch the Bio-Gold for something more nutritious: NorthFin Betta Bits, Fluval Bug Bites, New Life Spectrum, Omega One or Aqueon Color or regular (not the Betta Pro). My preferred food is only available online by the manufacturers: It's Devour Grain-Free Bug Formula.

Did you stop the Kanaplex before the recommended three doses 48 hours apart? Did you use two scoops? There was no rest between the MB dip and the Kanaplex and the Kanaplex and the General Cure, correct? If there was no rest it is possible too many meds in a row with no break is the heart of his current issues.

You are using IAL, correct? Constantly? It has antifungal and antibacterial properties and needs to be in the tank of sick Betta 24/7. Water should be at least this color:
View attachment 1028372
In the first photo it is apparent he'd been fin biting. Do you have photos of him indicating the Ammonia poisoning? What were the readings that you think caused the poisoning?

The last photos indicate he has or has had fin rot and is still biting. If you neglected the other tank (something most of us have done at one point or another so thanks for being honest) that could have been the start of the fin rot. Fins, like fingernails, bleed. The red is not an indication of fin rot. The bleeding is just easier to see in light-colored fins.

For now, no more meds. I'd move him back to the three gallon and start doing 3-4 x weekly one-gallon water changes. Get him a better food and feed 3 x per day with the Brine Shrimp as at least one of his meals. Keep the water at least the color of the tank above. You can brew a strong tea out of the IAL, add conditioner and store in the refrigerator. Still keep a leaf floating, though.

Do not cup him to feed as this just adds to any stress.

Gills are the main breathing organ; not the labyrinth. Leave the three bare of substrate and drop his food in. If you don't have a filter use an air stone or bubble wand to oxygenate.

It will help you to keep track of any progress if you take photos every three or four days. Try to get him as possible to the same pose each time so you can compare better.

StressGuard dissipates so dose every day.
Thank you so much for your detailed response. You have no idea how much I appreciate you taking the time to respond and help. Virtual hugs to you! (if that's appropriate ;))

Here is a picture I just took this morning, hopefully it shows enough top view. I was not able to take one right from above because he does not really stay on the surface long enough. And as you had mentioned, I really want to stop scooping him up in the little container because that must be very stressful for him. I just wanted to make sure he was eating and that was the best way I could think of. I still have the 3gal tank, so I will set it up today and move him there. It has a filter and heater. Don't know why it did not occur to me to move him sooner.

IMG_6373.jpg


I used Kanaplex in his food for three consecutive days then medicated the whole tank with the full dose on the third day (3/13) – since he had been taking it internally I did not want to overmedicate by dosing the tank again. The blue dip actually took place on 3/3 (previous typo), so those two treatments were a week apart. Not much rest between Kanaplex and General Cure as that last one took place on 3/15. Deep inside I knew it probably wasn’t a good idea to medicate so much without knowing exactly what was going on, but I was desperate and became even more desperate when I did not see any improvement or response from the treatments. I was hoping to at least see him become a little more active or his fins/tail improve some. The fact that he has not lost his appetite keeps me hopeful. I will change his food, I want to order the Devour Grain-Free Bug Formula since it's your preferred one. Let me ask you this -- what is the best way to feed frozen brine shrimp? I have the Omega One that comes in individual mini pods. How many shrimps should I give him in one feeding? I was keeping it frozen and just cutting off small chunks at a time, but then started thawing the whole thing and leaving it in the fridge. Should I keep frozen or leave in the fridge, if so for how long can it stay in the refrigerator..? There are so many little shrimps in there that it takes a while to go through the whole thing. Sometimes I ended up throwing away the rest because I'm scared of them going bad in the fridge after a few days.

Yes, I’m using IAL, started with Dark Water (extract) that I replace with every water change, but recently added an actual leaf and finally noticed a difference in the color of the water. The extract alone never made it this dark. For some reason it does not show well in the pictures, but it is a brownish color. It was a huge leaf (palm of my hand big as you can see from pic below), so I cut it and only put ¼ back because I thought it may be too much -- should I put the whole thing back in there? I'm dosing with StressGuard daily, usually 1/2 cap and I try to do it while he's near the surface so that it makes direct contact -- hope that's a good thing as I have not been able to find anything on whether or not it is safe to pour directly on the fish.

IMG_6329.jpg


Below pic was back when he had ammonia poisoning. I was not checking parameters then, only had some Seachem Ammonia Alert and pH Alert cards stuck to the glass -- which in all honesty don't do much if nothing at all. The colors always appeared as normal (lesson learned!). I was taking the water to Petco to get tested and was only told that ammonia was high, not sure by how much – but that’s when I decided to move him to a bigger tank, buy a kit and test myself. The thought of him fin biting never crossed my mind, but I guess that's a possibility. It is highly likely that my neglecting the tank which caused the ammonia poisoning also started some fin rot. I dosed him with some Kanaplex back then and though it would take a while for his fins to get better but I really did not know if they looked that way because of the ammonia poisoning or fin rot, or maybe even both. If that's the case, then it went untreated for a long time and that may explain his current issues.

IMG_2978.jpg


One more thing I wanted to add... When I started monitoring water parameters I was always focused on ammonia, nitrites and nitrates, rarely I would test pH. It wasn't until recently that I learned how important it is to maintain steady pH levels. Another thing I had been neglecting that could be the root cause of everything that has happened to him, specially recent issues. That's why I decided to up my IAL game and also purchased and actual pH meter which I still need to set up and calibrate, but hope will help in keeping a closer eye on those levels.

Hope I did not miss any of your follow up questions. Thanks again for your time :)
 

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I hope your boy gets better soon!
 

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There are others, I'm sure, who can weigh in with their opinions. We all have differing experiences so it's always helpful when they do. I'm not great with antibiotics but we have several members who can advise you on those. I'd need to ask for advice if IAL or Rooibos and frequent water changes don't work. Or, in the case of Ich, if raising the temperature to 86 for three weeks doesn't work. :)

You can put decor in his three gallon; just leave yourself room to clean the bottom with the turkey baster. As he improves he will appreciate the plants, etc.

If you are using the API test, it measures Total Ammonia (TA) which is NH3 ("Free" or toxic) and NH4 (Ammonium or non-toxic) combined. Prime converts NH3 to Ammonium. So, even if you don't have NH3 API will read positive if you have Ammonium. On the other hand, the Ammonia Alert only measures NH4. So if the AA doesn't register then API is reading NH4 as NH3. Hope that makes sense; it's a really simple explanation. Is there also a difference in the SeaChem pH Alert and API test?

If you decide on the Devour, I have a 10% off first purchase code. Send a PM.

Edit: Yes, he is a little thin. He should look like the photo below: Gradual transition from head to tail.
FishFromAbove.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
There are others, I'm sure, who can weigh in with their opinions. We all have differing experiences so it's always helpful when they do. I'm not great with antibiotics but we have several members who can advise you on those. I'd need to ask for advice if IAL or Rooibos and frequent water changes don't work. Or, in the case of Ich, if raising the temperature to 86 for three weeks doesn't work. :)

You can put decor in his three gallon; just leave yourself room to clean the bottom with the turkey baster. As he improves he will appreciate the plants, etc.

If you are using the API test, it measures Total Ammonia (TA) which is NH3 ("Free" or toxic) and NH4 (Ammonium or non-toxic) combined. Prime converts NH3 to Ammonium. So, even if you don't have NH3 API will read positive if you have Ammonium. On the other hand, the Ammonia Alert only measures NH4. So if the AA doesn't register then API is reading NH4 as NH3. Hope that makes sense; it's a really simple explanation. Is there also a difference in the SeaChem pH Alert and API test?

If you decide on the Devour, I have a 10% off first purchase code. Send a PM.

Edit: Yes, he is a little thin. He should look like the photo below: Gradual transition from head to tail.
View attachment 1028393
Thank you. It would be great if someone else could chime in with their opinions on medications and thoughts about what could be going on with Bubbles...

He is now in the 3gal tank with his little tower and some live plants (see pic below), there's another one in the back. I also added a big IAL and the water is already a nice light brown color. My concern at this moment is that he has not been able to eat since yesterday afternoon when I moved him. Because I had to scoop him up anyway, I fed him in the container before putting him in the smaller tank. He has been struggling to stay up long enough to eat his pellets. He goes for them but keeps missing them and eventually starts going down slowly, almost like falling :( .. He's really having a hard time swimming. Not sure if it's his fins/tail, lack of energy, or both -- it's just really sad.

The 3gal tank is round and has one of those under gravel filters that makes the bare bottom set up a little challenging. Makes me wonder if that suction could be pulling him down (does that make sense?). Last night and again this morning I turned off the filter after dropping the food in just to avoid any type of current or movement, but that hasn't really helped, he still has not been able to eat. I'm waiting on the pellets to sink to see if maybe that helps, but if they fall through the cracks at the bottom he wont be able to reach them. I will start back on frozen brine shrimp today, so that may be a little easier. Any thoughts on how many to give him? How to store the leftovers and for how long?

I want to order Devour, but since it will take some time to get it I would like to get today from Petco one of the other ones you suggested -- which one would be best..? Fluval Bug Bites Betta Formula or New Life Spectrum Betta be better. My local store has both in stock.

IMG_6386.jpg
 

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Hi , I may be wrong, but this does look like a case of some kind of parasite maybe even ich but I cant be 100% sure on that. The bettas I have had that have had ich always become ragged on their tails. They look as if they have been torn apart.

If you could get him something like garlic guard to soak his food in that would be great. There have been instances where people actually treat the whole tank with it for ich, but I have never done it.
If he is still able to eat the garlic in the food will be helpful parasites hate garlic and it will help his immune system.

Many reviewers have said just them eating it in their food improves them so It is worth a try! It is 13.88 US dollars for 500 ML on amazon.

I warn you it will be powerful smelling!


Do you have a heater? I would also recommend getting a glass aquarium thermometer.

In normal circumstances I would not recommend increasing from 76-77 to 83 in one day even , in this case you must act quickly.

I think if possible gradually increasing the tank temperature would be helpful. If the tank temp is 76-77 you would probably want to increase it to 83 over the course of hours ( 1-2 degree per hour and the next day increase it to 86 over hours). You will need to add aquarium salt at around 1 tsp per gallon to start with the day you start raising the temperature.
Mix it with tank water and let it dissolve ( In a cup or something never washed in soap!) If you add it right to the tank it will burn him, so it must be full dissolved before adding.
If it is ich, the increase of temperature of 83 will speed the lifecycle so you need something like aquarium salt that it will not like. By the time you are at 86 it may be enough to kill the ich but the salt will help anyway.

Everyday use a syphon on the tank bottom. Ich eggs likes to hide on the bottom of the tank so you want to get as many out as possible.

I hope he can get better soon! Please try and start the garlic guard immediately.

Both New life spectrum and Fluval are good quality pellets. Just be sure to soak whatever you get in garlic guard! Maybe get both if possible..
 

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If you are worried that he can not get the food because it falls through the cracks, you could get a small breeder box to put him in. He would be close to the top for air and as long as you do not put the grate in, he would be able to get food.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hi , I may be wrong, but this does look like a case of some kind of parasite maybe even ich but I cant be 100% sure on that. The bettas I have had that have had ich always become ragged on their tails. They look as if they have been torn apart.

If you could get him something like garlic guard to soak his food in that would be great. There have been instances where people actually treat the whole tank with it for ich, but I have never done it.
If he is still able to eat the garlic in the food will be helpful parasites hate garlic and it will help his immune system.

Many reviewers have said just them eating it in their food improves them so It is worth a try! It is 13.88 US dollars for 500 ML on amazon.

I warn you it will be powerful smelling!


Do you have a heater? I would also recommend getting a glass aquarium thermometer.

In normal circumstances I would not recommend increasing from 76-77 to 83 in one day even , in this case you must act quickly.

I think if possible gradually increasing the tank temperature would be helpful. If the tank temp is 76-77 you would probably want to increase it to 83 over the course of hours ( 1-2 degree per hour and the next day increase it to 86 over hours). You will need to add aquarium salt at around 1 tsp per gallon to start with the day you start raising the temperature.
Mix it with tank water and let it dissolve ( In a cup or something never washed in soap!) If you add it right to the tank it will burn him, so it must be full dissolved before adding.
If it is ich, the increase of temperature of 83 will speed the lifecycle so you need something like aquarium salt that it will not like. By the time you are at 86 it may be enough to kill the ich but the salt will help anyway.

Everyday use a syphon on the tank bottom. Ich eggs likes to hide on the bottom of the tank so you want to get as many out as possible.

I hope he can get better soon! Please try and start the garlic guard immediately.

Both New life spectrum and Fluval are good quality pellets. Just be sure to soak whatever you get in garlic guard! Maybe get both if possible..
Thank you so much for your response. I thought maybe it could be internal parasites because of his weakness and lack of weight gain, but never occurred to me it could be ich. I haven’t noticed any white spots — is it possible to have it without that particular symptom?

I have heard great things about GarlicGuard. He’s never been picky so that’s why I never gave it a try, but I guess it’d be worth it just for the health benefits. I’m definitely going to order it.

The heater in the 10gal tank would only go to 77, but the one in the 3gal is now 79 — so he gradually went up a couple of degrees at least. They’re both automatic so I don’t have any way of making them go higher. If he was still in the 10gal I could technically use both, but in this smaller one both heaters would probably cook him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
If you are worried that he can not get the food because it falls through the cracks, you could get a small breeder box to put him in. He would be close to the top for air and as long as you do not put the grate in, he would be able to get food.
Yes! I thought about getting an isolation box to avoid having to scoop him up for feedings since it would make it a shorter distance for him to get to the top, but now that he’s in the smaller tank I don’t think I could fit one in there. Now I’m second guessing the change.
 

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Like @RussellTheShihTzu I am not great with meds because they are not legal here in Canada. If he is having a hard time with his food you could use a small pipette to suck up the food and drop it down right in front of him. If the filter is too strong you could turn it off and use an air stone if you have one. Otherwise I think a breeder box might be a good idea. I don't feel like he has ICH but it is hard to tell from the photos. ICH looks like sugar sprinkled all over the fish, you cannot see it in the water or on décor, so you would not be able to suck it up.
I have heard good things about API fin and body cure, but have never used it myself. I am unsure about an internal parasite but I will say that severe rot can bring on these symptoms, so he may just be suffering from that infection. North fin betta bits or new life spectrum might be a bit easier for you because they sink pretty quickly. I find fluval bug bites float for the most part.
 

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Yes! I thought about getting an isolation box to avoid having to scoop him up for feedings since it would make it a shorter distance for him to get to the top, but now that he’s in the smaller tank I don’t think I could fit one in there. Now I’m second guessing the change.
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I know this can be difficult having fish that are ill. Stressful for sure especially when the exact cause in unknown. You feel like the time is just going by and feel as if you must help him quickly, but are not sure how. I know exactly how you are feeling right now. All you can do is your best and make the best decisions you can at the time.

What are the dimensions of the top of the tank? I have seen some very small breeder boxes before so maybe I can look around for you!
It is possible you could even make one somehow . Maybe a shallow plastic container that has never been washed in anything and is bpa free and everything? You could put holes in the sides for water circulation but not the bottom so no food would fall out?

I think even if it is severe rot in his fins. The garlic guard certainly will not hurt and may help stimulate his hunger, and neither will the aquarium salt which would help his fins.
You could even start at just 83 degree temp and 1 tsp of aquarium salt per gallon and just see how he is doing with that.

Leave the Indian almond in his tank for sure as this will help lower the ph naturally if it is too high and has antibacterial properties.
 

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Like @RussellTheShihTzu I am not great with meds because they are not legal here in Canada. If he is having a hard time with his food you could use a small pipette to suck up the food and drop it down right in front of him. If the filter is too strong you could turn it off and use an air stone if you have one. Otherwise I think a breeder box might be a good idea. I don't feel like he has ICH but it is hard to tell from the photos. ICH looks like sugar sprinkled all over the fish, you cannot see it in the water or on décor, so you would not be able to suck it up.
I have heard good things about API fin and body cure, but have never used it myself. I am unsure about an internal parasite but I will say that severe rot can bring on these symptoms, so he may just be suffering from that infection. North fin betta bits or new life spectrum might be a bit easier for you because they sink pretty quickly. I find fluval bug bites float for the most part.
Danigirl is worried about the food falling in the cracks at the bottom of the 3 gallon he is in right now, so floating him in something seems like the best option.

I am not 100% sure he has ich either, it is hard to tell for sure! I think the treatments for ich wouldn't be a bad idea, but maybe not such high of a temperature. Maybe just doing 83 degrees and 1 tsp per gallon of the salt instead of 86 degrees. The aquarium salt may help his fins. Do you think this is a good idea?

Ich can hide in their gills and is not always seen on their body, It can sometimes just be a few spots on their fins also, which may explain his ragged fins, but like you said it is possible it is just the rot.

Hopefully we can figure out what is wrong with him!
 

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Just saw that the aquarium heater will not go past 79, sorry I missed that! In this case you could just add the aquarium salt and skip the higher temp.
 

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Did he display any behavior such as rubbing against things at any point? If a fish has ich they will often swim crazily and appear to rub against items almost like itching themselves. This is not always the case but it is common symptoms!
 
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