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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
Hi, I am wondering how Curly is doing?
Thanks for your note. Things aren't getting better, though they don't seem worse either - however, the fish is spending most of its time at the top of the tank still.

We have been changing 25% of the water every other day and appear to see some minor growth of the fins, however his behavior isn't better. He is still eating but the breathing is still labored and we think he's having trouble swimming down - he tried doing that yesterday and he kind of flipped over.

When he eats, he has now occasionally spit 1 of the 2-3 pellets out - it almost looks like he is taking big gasps of air.

I may start a new thread to see if anyone else can spot something that we are missing. But take a look at these pictures: Curly - August 11th (first photo) and the rest are October 1

The first one is from August 11th! All of this bad stuff started about two weeks ago, so in less than a month Curly went from the August 11th photo - full fins, bright colors - to what we see now. What happened so fast - and is it reversible - is the key question here.

Thank you for all of your help - I hope we can solve this.

-Rob
 

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I don't have a lot of time, but I wanted to say a couple things real quick. So I'll just breeze through...

1. About the Prime, if I advised against it, I take it back. I was probably getting confused about something. Prime is not medicine. It's something that's fairly necessary, especially for newer tanks. Fully cycled tanks can go without it and just use conditioner, but if yours isn't fully cycled it can benefit from Prime.

2. How exactly is he gasping for breath? With his mouth, or with his gills? My betta pops his mouth open all the time when I'm around. In his case I think he's just expressing excitement. If your betta is just popping his mouth open under water here and there, I would assume it's nothing. I've even seen mine "yawn" where he'll open his mouth REAL wide and push his gills open for a quick second, but not in the same way as flaring. However, if he's gasping often with his gills then that's a legitimate problem.

3. At this point since he's spitting out his food, I am going to very highly recommend frozen foods now. It's very possible that he's just picky and doesn't want the pellets anymore. Given his state, he can't afford to be picky. I'm tellin' ya, order some frozen brine shrimp or something. If he eats it up, you'll know it's not another serious symptom and he can get a ton of nutrients from the shrimp (or whatever it ends up being). But if he refuses the shrimp, then we have a bigger problem. The reason why I'm thinking it has to do with the food is because he's not outright refusing the pellets. He's just spitting it out. If you want, you can try soaking the pellets in a bowl with some tank water in it, then give it to him. The solid roughness of the pellets can often be unappetizing for some bettas. Soaking can help. Although in my case, my betta wanted nothing to do with pellets, no matter how well I soaked them. I had a betta a few years ago as well. He ate pellets just fine for the first few months, then changed his mind about them out of the blue. In my opinion, if his ailments are not causing a problem with his appetite, then he shouldn't be able to resist frozen foods.

4. Have you taken some tank water to your local pet store to see if they can test it for anything that you might not be able to test for? I'm not sure what they could test for, but it's something worth looking into.

I think that's all I have at the moment. If I think of something else, I'll write some more. Fingers crossed for him!
 
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The Prime is a must and it also is a water conditioner so you will stop the stress coat. It will absolutely detoxify any ammonia or nitrites that may be present in your tank water. I use prime every water change on all of my tanks. I also would recommend adding a dose every 48 hours while cycling a tank if yours is not cycled.

Do you use tap water? Whatever your water source is, I’d do a full test on the parameters on a cup of untreated tap water/source water to see if there is something going on with your tap/source.

Did you receive the Kordons yet? Also, did I send you the name of some vitamins I’d recommend now. It’s called Boyd’s Vitachem. It is a liquid packed with vitamins. You can let his pellets soak in it for a few mins, add it directly his water, and to his frozen food.

I agree that his breathing is labored still. Also, the fact that he’s flipping over could indicate swim bladder disorder. I do not see a bulge in his swim bladder but nevertheless, it may be why. Is he going poop?

I recommend boiling up a batch of Indian almond leaf tea if you have them. You’d just put 5 or 6 large Indian almond leaves in a large pot. Any pot will do, but I’d try for a big batch so you have a supply for future water changes. Just fill it up with water allowing room for it to boil. Make sure to add conditioner . Boil the leaves and check the color in a clear glass throughout and let it get to a deep burgundy color like bourbon. Sometimes it takes me hours. Allow it to cool to your tanks temp or about that temp and add it to his tank until his tank water is brown. I keep the extras in Mason Jars or any clean glass jar and refrigerate. This will absolutely help and at this point is way more effective than a leaf. Before adding, take any carbon from your filter but leave the rest of your biomedia in.

I feel your stress. I’m so sorry and wish there was more I can do. I don’t have enough experience with medications for what is going on, but if I go to my lfs this weekend, I will show them the video.

Are you adding aquarium salt (not epsom salt) to his tank water. I can’t say whether you should or shouldn’t, but you could research online or on the forum to see if it applies to Curly’s situation.

Also, there is another forum that Aquarium Co-op has that I’ve gotten really good help from and quickly. It’s called the C.A.R.E forum. You will probably get more help plus it’s always good to get a few opinions.

What I’m 100% comfortable with recommending are again the following,

PrIme is a must
Test your tap/source water
Absolutely definitely aIAL strong tea
Kordons Fish Protector
Boyd’s VitaChem
And another opinion and possibly more help on another forum - I like AC C.A.R.E
Lights off in his tank with a quiet environment around him - I even put soft meditation music on

if I think of more I will let you know.
 

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Oh one more thing, make sure that you don’t see a film or rainbow color at the waters surface in your tank. If you do, turn up your bubbler or filter. Really let the top of the water agitate, if you’re worried about Curly, give him a nice spot where he can hide or retreat too. You don’t have to have it on high for too long if he’s really getting whipped around.

Otherwise, use that paper towel method every time you see the rainbow color - I use a flashlight to see if it’s there. The last thing you want to do is cut off any oxygen supply. Although bettas have the labyrinth organ, it’s important he can get good O2 under and over the waters surface. You don’t want him gulping in too much air at the top of the water. Plus, removing that film will allow for proper gas exchange in your tank.
 

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Oh shoot, also make sure the pot you boil in doesn’t have any risidual dish detergent or soap in it. I’d rinse it several times and wipe down with a paper towel.

I actually bought a pot strictly for “fish stuff”. I made so much tea last year when one of my bettas was very ill for months. Also, good for boiling rocks and wood if you add them to your tanks.

With the large water changes, make sure you are replenishing your tank with essential bacteria. It’s totally safe to use bottled bacteria like Stability and Safe Start. I personally use Prime and Stability as my products of choice. They have a good reputation and always get the job done.

Also, sorry to be so specific if this is all common sense. I just know one little mistake with soap - even a drop - can cause a whole host of issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #48 ·
I don't have a lot of time, but I wanted to say a couple things real quick. So I'll just breeze through...

1. About the Prime, if I advised against it, I take it back. I was probably getting confused about something. Prime is not medicine. It's something that's fairly necessary, especially for newer tanks. Fully cycled tanks can go without it and just use conditioner, but if yours isn't fully cycled it can benefit from Prime.

2. How exactly is he gasping for breath? With his mouth, or with his gills? My betta pops his mouth open all the time when I'm around. In his case I think he's just expressing excitement. If your betta is just popping his mouth open under water here and there, I would assume it's nothing. I've even seen mine "yawn" where he'll open his mouth REAL wide and push his gills open for a quick second, but not in the same way as flaring. However, if he's gasping often with his gills then that's a legitimate problem.

3. At this point since he's spitting out his food, I am going to very highly recommend frozen foods now. It's very possible that he's just picky and doesn't want the pellets anymore. Given his state, he can't afford to be picky. I'm tellin' ya, order some frozen brine shrimp or something. If he eats it up, you'll know it's not another serious symptom and he can get a ton of nutrients from the shrimp (or whatever it ends up being). But if he refuses the shrimp, then we have a bigger problem. The reason why I'm thinking it has to do with the food is because he's not outright refusing the pellets. He's just spitting it out. If you want, you can try soaking the pellets in a bowl with some tank water in it, then give it to him. The solid roughness of the pellets can often be unappetizing for some bettas. Soaking can help. Although in my case, my betta wanted nothing to do with pellets, no matter how well I soaked them. I had a betta a few years ago as well. He ate pellets just fine for the first few months, then changed his mind a out them out of the blue. In my opinion, if his ailments are not causing a problem with his appetite, then he shouldn't be able to resist frozen foods.

4. Have you taken some tank water to your local pet store to see if they can test it for anything that you might not be able to test for? I'm not sure what they could test for, but it's something worth looking into.

I think that's all I have at the moment. If I think of something else, I'll write some more. Fingers crossed for him!
Thanks for your note again, Sammi!

Unfortunately, things aren't getting any better. With the exception of Curly still wanting to eat, he is spending most of the time at the top of the tank and isn't very active. He looks to be having trouble swimming and when he does, it's kind of sideways.

Here is a video we just took:
New video by Robert Melstein

We have been changing 25% or so of the water every other day.

I purchased some frozen shrimp which we will break up and try to give him some. Petco tested the water confirmed everything looked fine. They used test strips which test for things similar to the API Freshwater Kit.

At this point, do you think we should try some sort of medication as a last resort? We do have Bettafix (though we know that's controversial), as well as some Furan and even an ich treatment - though there doesn't seem to be any sign of that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #49 ·
The Prime is a must and it also is a water conditioner so you will stop the stress coat. It will absolutely detoxify any ammonia or nitrites that may be present in your tank water. I use prime every water change on all of my tanks. I also would recommend adding a dose every 48 hours while cycling a tank if yours is not cycled.

Do you use tap water? Whatever your water source is, I’d do a full test on the parameters on a cup of untreated tap water/source water to see if there is something going on with your tap/source.

Did you receive the Kordons yet? Also, did I send you the name of some vitamins I’d recommend now. It’s called Boyd’s Vitachem. It is a liquid packed with vitamins. You can let his pellets soak in it for a few mins, add it directly his water, and to his frozen food.

I agree that his breathing is labored still. Also, the fact that he’s flipping over could indicate swim bladder disorder. I do not see a bulge in his swim bladder but nevertheless, it may be why. Is he going poop?

I recommend boiling up a batch of Indian almond leaf tea if you have them. You’d just put 5 or 6 large Indian almond leaves in a large pot. Any pot will do, but I’d try for a big batch so you have a supply for future water changes. Just fill it up with water allowing room for it to boil. Make sure to add conditioner . Boil the leaves and check the color in a clear glass throughout and let it get to a deep burgundy color like bourbon. Sometimes it takes me hours. Allow it to cool to your tanks temp or about that temp and add it to his tank until his tank water is brown. I keep the extras in Mason Jars or any clean glass jar and refrigerate. This will absolutely help and at this point is way more effective than a leaf. Before adding, take any carbon from your filter but leave the rest of your biomedia in.

I feel your stress. I’m so sorry and wish there was more I can do. I don’t have enough experience with medications for what is going on, but if I go to my lfs this weekend, I will show them the video.

Are you adding aquarium salt (not epsom salt) to his tank water. I can’t say whether you should or shouldn’t, but you could research online or on the forum to see if it applies to Curly’s situation.

Also, there is another forum that Aquarium Co-op has that I’ve gotten really good help from and quickly. It’s called the C.A.R.E forum. You will probably get more help plus it’s always good to get a few opinions.

What I’m 100% comfortable with recommending are again the following,

PrIme is a must
Test your tap/source water
Absolutely definitely aIAL strong tea
Kordons Fish Protector
Boyd’s VitaChem
And another opinion and possibly more help on another forum - I like AC C.A.R.E
Lights off in his tank with a quiet environment around him - I even put soft meditation music on

if I think of more I will let you know.
Thanks for all of your notes. I just posted a response below. I may try the Aquarium Co-op. Not sure what else to do at this point.

Rob
 

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Thanks for all of your notes. I just posted a response below. I may try the Aquarium Co-op. Not sure what else to do at this point.

Rob
Hi Rob,

That’s what I would do. I wish I knew someone on here that could help with meds.

Did you get your IAL’s? They will help and will keep him comfortable because they relieve fish stress as well as all of the other good qualities I mentioned earlier. The Kordons Fish Protector too. I would try to get your tank water at least the color of tea. I’d go darker but that’s up to you. Trust me, it will really really help.

I’d make your first priority right now be the tea. If you still don’t have the leaves, there are already made products out there. I have a product I actually just put in a betta with fin tears/bites tank. It’s called Carib Sea Amazonia Black Water. I think there’s a betta tea at the chain stores too. You could ask the clerk or look up to see if it’s at your lfs.

this is the product:



You could always try General Cure by API. I’ve also heard people rave about Bettafix but I do know it’s controversial like you said.

See what you get for replies on AC CARE. I’ve been on their with questions several times and have gotten very quick help. I feel like their site/forum is more active than this one is right now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
Hi Rob,

That’s what I would do. I wish I knew someone on here that could help with meds. I know @Veloran helped me when I was medicating my betta who was very ill last year. Maybe he can look your case over if he is still on the forum.

Did you get your IAL’s? They will help and will keep him comfortable because they relieve fish stress as well as all of the other good qualities I mentioned earlier. The Kordons Fish Protector too. I would try to get your tank water at least the color of tea. I’d go darker but that’s up to you. Trust me, it will really really help.

I’d make your first priority right now be the tea. If you still don’t have the leaves, there are already made products out there. I have a product I actually just put in a betta with fin tears/bites tank. It’s called Carib Sea Amazonia Black Water. I think there’s a betta tea at the chain stores too. You could ask the clerk or look up to see if it’s at your lfs.

this is the product:



You could always try General Cure by API. I’ve also heard people rave about Bettafix but I do know it’s controversial like you said.

See what you get for replies on AC CARE. I’ve been on their with questions several times and have gotten very quick help. I feel like their site/forum is more active than this one is right now.
Thanks! The IAL seems to be delayed in shipping, so I hope it gets here soon.

I posted something on the other forum - we'll see if we get any answers.
 

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Thanks! The IAL seems to be delayed in shipping, so I hope it gets here soon.

I posted something on the other forum - we'll see if we get any answers.
Shipping has been so tough lately. And supplies. So frustrating.

Keep me posted. I will say a little prayer for Curly. I’m sending him good healthy energy tonight. Take care.
 

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Discussion Starter · #53 ·
Shipping has been so tough lately. And supplies. So frustrating.

Keep me posted. I will say a little prayer for Curly. I’m sending him good healthy energy tonight. Take care.
Thank you, that's very kind of you.
 

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Hi Rob,

That’s what I would do. I wish I knew someone on here that could help with meds. I know @Veloran helped me when I was medicating my betta who was very ill last year. Maybe he can look your case over if he is still on the forum.

Did you get your IAL’s? They will help and will keep him comfortable because they relieve fish stress as well as all of the other good qualities I mentioned earlier. The Kordons Fish Protector too. I would try to get your tank water at least the color of tea. I’d go darker but that’s up to you. Trust me, it will really really help.

I’d make your first priority right now be the tea. If you still don’t have the leaves, there are already made products out there. I have a product I actually just put in a betta with fin tears/bites tank. It’s called Carib Sea Amazonia Black Water. I think there’s a betta tea at the chain stores too. You could ask the clerk or look up to see if it’s at your lfs.

this is the product:



You could always try General Cure by API. I’ve also heard people rave about Bettafix but I do know it’s controversial like you said.

See what you get for replies on AC CARE. I’ve been on their with questions several times and have gotten very quick help. I feel like their site/forum is more active than this one is right now.
I agree with all of this. The tea and IAL is what I'd make as a priority as well. But if there is a delay and time is running out, medication might be necessary. I don't personally trust most medications being that they're sometimes hard on the betta and sometimes they're just not strong enough to handle it, not to mention the controversies surrounding many of them. Whereas the tea and IAL is subtle and isn't stressful to the betta. Instead it has more of a calming effect. I always have some on hand just in case. Go for the already made products if you have to, like YogisMom blackwater example. I never heard of it but it looks like a great product and hopefully they'll have it in stores. Either way you gotta get something in there now. Also if you check someplace for already made betta tea products like that blackwater, show those video clips to the people there if you haven't already and see what they have to say. Hopefully you'll be able to pick something like that up in a store near you instead of waiting forever for your IAL package to come.

If you can't get anything like that at any local pet store and if nothing is coming in the mail, you might have to go the medical route. Concerning this, I'd ask elsewhere for more info on what medication to use while you're waiting for your IAL. There are a lot of disagreements here on what medications to use and when to use them, and most people here that I've noticed primarily advocate IAL and the rooibos tea. Checking other forums for more information on medications might be something to consider, like AC CARE that YogisMom suggested. Hopefully they can give more insight to the medical route if it comes to that. For now try your best to find some in-store betta tea products or something along those lines. I honestly didn't know that was even a thing in stores. We don't have anything like that where I live, but I really hope otherwise for you and Curly! If not, the next option would probably be looking for info on medications. I think meds should be a last resort, but it seems like it's coming to that. Fingers crossed for you guys!
 

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Oh, one last thing. I think I brushed over something you said the other day about Curly flipping over? I was in a hurry and forgot to address it. Generally the first thought would be Swim Bladder Disease, but I'm not sure if that's the case or not. At the very least I don't see the distended belly that - as far as I know - is always present in these cases. But for all I know, the belly could be a symptom that shows up later. I'm not sure. Plus "flipping over" to one person might look like something else to another. For example, if he was swimming erratically and happened to flip real fast before righting himself, that could just be a symptom of stress. It all really depends. If he's still doing it, especially if he's appearing buoyant and floating on his side often, that's a big sign. The biggest problem is it seems like there's a piece of this puzzle that's missing, because as it is, it doesn't make sense. So aside from the IAL and rooibos tea etc. we're at a standstill for coming up with a concrete plan. The devil is always in the details.
 
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To add to what @SammiDraco said, sometimes fin damage alone can make swimming tougher and definitely require more energy and stressful. This is why having a place to rest is really recommended. If you can buy some hornwort or Anacharis to float or float some Anubias or Java fern, it would help him rest at the top of the water without so much effort. I do agree that with the absence of bloat, it doesn’t appear in the videos like it’s SBD. Especially if he’s still pooping. He’d be constantly having to upright himself and sinking to the bottom or floating up, that’s a sure sign. But, it’s so hard to say. I hope you’re getting the help you need on CARE.
 

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Discussion Starter · #57 ·
Oh, one last thing. I think I brushed over something you said the other day about Curly flipping over? I was in a hurry and forgot to address it. Generally the first thought would be Swim Bladder Disease, but I'm not sure if that's the case or not. At the very least I don't see the distended belly that - as far as I know - is always present in these cases. But for all I know, the belly could be a symptom that shows up later. I'm not sure. Plus "flipping over" to one person might look like something else to another. For example, if he was swimming erratically and happened to flip real fast before righting himself, that could just be a symptom of stress. It all really depends. If he's still doing it, especially if he's appearing buoyant and floating on his side often, that's a big sign. The biggest problem is it seems like there's a piece of this puzzle that's missing, because as it is, it doesn't make sense. So aside from the IAL and rooibos tea etc. we're at a standstill for coming up with a concrete plan. The devil is always in the details.
Got it, thank you. I do have some Kanaplex that I am debating giving him (was advised on that from CARE). Still waiting on the IAL.
We did buy frozen brine shrimp but it's "Spirulina Brine Shrimp." Is that ok?
 

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Got it, thank you. I do have some Kanaplex that I am debating giving him (was advised on that from CARE). Still waiting on the IAL.
We did buy frozen brine shrimp but it's "Spirulina Brine Shrimp." Is that ok?
I’m not sure so I would check the other forum. I only feed my bettas frozen daphnia and bloodworms as a snack. I’m not against the regular frozen brine shrimp at all but I don’t know with the spirulina. It is a type of algae/Cyanobacteria and it’s nutritious for some fish and snails, but not sure with bettas. I don’t want him to get constipated and make things worse. I’m really sorry I can’t help more.
 

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Got it, thank you. I do have some Kanaplex that I am debating giving him (was advised on that from CARE). Still waiting on the IAL.
We did buy frozen brine shrimp but it's "Spirulina Brine Shrimp." Is that ok?
I can't really give any advice on the kanaplex, especially since we just don't know for sure what's going on with Curly. I will leave that to others to elaborate more on.

As for the spirulina brine shrimp, yes that's perfect. Just cut off a piece and let it thaw, and go ahead and feed it to him. It's a little hard to specify how much to feed him, since it doesn't come in single chunks like pellets are, but more like tiny granulated pieces. (At least that's how my frozen shrimp are. If yours aren't all granulated then nevermind what I said. 😋 ) So I would just say to feed him until he gets a little mild bulge in his belly. That'll show that he's had a good meal. Whatever has been thawed that he doesn't eat, you can wrap it up and put that in the fridge. I probably wouldn't keep it any longer than three days.

Also, I hope your IAL gets there soon! Geez it's taking a long time. :(
 
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I can't really give any advice on the kanaplex, especially since we just don't know for sure what's going on with Curly. I will leave that to others to elaborate more on.

As for the spirulina brine shrimp, yes that's perfect. Just cut off a piece and let it thaw, and go ahead and feed it to him. It's a little hard to specify how much to feed him, since it doesn't come in single chunks like pellets are, but more like tiny granulated pieces. (At least that's how my frozen shrimp are. If yours aren't all granulated then nevermind what I said. 😋 ) So I would just say to feed him until he gets a little mild bulge in his belly. That'll show that he's had a good meal. Whatever has been thawed that he doesn't eat, you can wrap it up and put that in the fridge. I probably wouldn't keep it any longer than three days.

Also, I hope your IAL gets there soon! Geez it's taking a long time. :(
Got it, thank you. I do have some Kanaplex that I am debating giving him (was advised on that from CARE). Still waiting on the IAL.
We did buy frozen brine shrimp but it's "Spirulina Brine Shrimp." Is that ok?
I’m not sure if it’s the same for frozen brine shrimp but I know with the frozen daphnia and bloodworms, I usually soak the cube or part of one in a little tank water in a cup and feed a small amount when it melts. I don’t know if that helps with portioning. I’m horrible at eye-balling how much.
 
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