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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So last night I thought my betta was just being a lazy bones and laying around on the bottom of the tank. When he was still doing it this morning I tested the water and found that my ammonia was at .50 ppm... I'm not sure where the spike came from, I just changed his water on Sunday. So I did a 100% water change but there really hasn't been any change. He's just laying on the bottom of his tank in his house. He swims out to get air and then goes right back to laying on the bottom in his house. I'm thinking I didn't catch the ammonia in time, plus he's my first betta so I was a crappy owner in the beginning... Opinions?

Housing
What size is your tank? 2.5
What temperature is your tank? 80 F
Does your tank have a filter? Yes
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? Bubbles from the sponge filter.
Is your tank heated? Yes
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? None.

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Omega One Betta Buffet
How often do you feed your betta fish? morning and night, 5-6 pellets at both times. Although this morning he ate two of them before I did the water change but wouldn't touch anymore.

Maintenance

How often do you perform a water change? twice a week
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 50%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Top Fin water condition - according to the bottle it helps neutralize ammonia as well.

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters? should all be 0, I just changed the water today.

Ammonia:
Nitrite:
Nitrate:
pH:
Hardness:
Alkalinity:

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? He's pale, looks like his top fin might be clamped.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? He's really lethargic, only swims to the top to get air then swims back down to the bottom. Sometimes it looks like he might be breathing hard a bit.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? last night.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? Not really, just did a water change.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? He had a case of swim bladder a few months ago but that's it.
How old is your fish (approximately)? In August it'll be a year since I bought him.
 

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You might want to do a test anyways. It is possible that you've lost the cycle in your filter and the ammonia may have built up again since the water change before this one. So if you did a 50% water change with let's say another .5 ammonia, then your Betta would still be subjected to .25 ammonia in his tank.
 

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What's your pH?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The change I did today was a 100% change, so it's all new water. I did test the water source and it came back 0 ammonia. And I did acclimate him to the new water. And my pH is 7.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Okay, that's kind of what I was looking for, lol. He was just out and swimming around a bit. I tried to see if he would eat a pellet and he went to eat it and then spit it out quick and watched it sink to the bottom, so I suppose that's a no.. haha.
 

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Are you sure your Top Fin water conditioner neutralizes ammonia? Or does it just remove/neutralize chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals?

Since the ammonia concentration spiked unexpectedly, I recommend getting a bottle of conditioner that specifically states it temporarily neutralizes/binds ammonia, such as Seachem Prime. At first glance, it appears more expensive, but you use very little (just 2 drops per gallon), as compared to 20 drops per gallon for the Top Fin.

Until you know the ammonia is back under control, I would add a slight excess of a conditioner like Prime. By adding an extra drop per gallon in between your twice-weekly water changes, it should help neutralize any unexpected spikes. Its effects last for approximately 48 hours. After that, the ammonia begins to build up again.

How high is the humidity level in the tank? If you don't see condensation on the glass, I would lower the water level slightly and cover the top with plastic food wrap (Saran, Glad, etc). This will increase the humidity of the air, and make it easier for him to breathe. It also seems to have a calming effect. Be sure there are several inches of air available for him to breathe from!

It's likely that his gills and mucous membranes are irritated right now. Now that he's back in clean water, just monitor him, and give him a few days to recover.
 

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I believe the companies say it CAN last up to 48 hours, which is like saying how a car CAN get up to 35 MPG. Is that likely to be the case in real world situations? No. I think 24 hours is a more reasonable expectation. If one were to dose 2 days consecutively, just know that you are likely dosing for up to 2 days worth, not just the one, for the second dose.


Yes, seachems tech support says prime lasts 24-48 hours.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The bottle says it helps to neutralize ammonia, whether or not ot actually does is the question I suppose. I'm going to switch to Prime as soon as this bottle is empty. This morning he was still laying on the bottom breathing hard, but he isn't hiding in his house anymore. I did lower the water level to as low as the filter would allow so he didnt have to swim so far to get air and theres a good amount of condensation on the tank. I'm going to test the water after class to see how it is and probably change it to be on the safe side. I have some API Stress Coat on hand, would that help at all?
 

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Some people on this forum love API Stress Coat. Personally, I feel it's just a water conditioner with some aloe added (and it makes my tank get slimy). If you feel that aloe can help, by all means, go ahead and add some. Aloe may possibly have a soothing effect..... But it won't help with ammonia at all.

Until the ammonia spiking ends, I'd personally opt to do a partial water change each day to remove any ammonia that's building up OR (based on what Jaysee described) use 1 drop of Prime per gallon per day when water changes can't be done. (or any other brand that temporarily neutralizes amommia).

Did you test the water again? Has the ammonia level dropped?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I did test the water and there was a slight trace amount in it so I just did another 100% change to be on the safe side. I did find something interesting... the pH of the water in his tank was 6 (another reason why I did a full water change). At least thats what came up as its the lowest possible reading with the test kit. I checked my other betta's tank and his was a little up from 7, about 6.6, 6.6. So I retested my water source, and it came back as 7, like it did yesterday when I did the first water change. I honestly have no idea what could make the pH change so drastically or why my water is being so wonky lately. I'm acclimating him right now to the new water so I guess we'll see what happens.. Again.
 

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Do you know the KH of the tank? (I believe KH is the measure of buffering capacity. I understand from a chemistry perspective what's happening, but the "aquarium terminology" is new to me. If it's not the KH test, someone please correct me.)

The process of nitrification produces organic wastes which are slightly acidic. If your tank is well-buffered (meaning it has a high KH), it can maintain a stable pH (at least for awhile) as these acidic wastes begin to build up. But if there isn't a lot of buffering capacity (low KH), the pH will begin to drop quickly.

Although, it would seem strange that one tank has a higher KH than the other, since the source water for both is the same, but I don't have an in-depth understanding of cycling. Hopefully, someone like Jaysee will weigh in on this.
 

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You could add crushed coral to your filter, it adds calcium (I believe) to the water which helps with the buffering capability of the water, your pH will stay more stable.

The true pH of your source water is the result you get after the water has allowed to rest in a glass for 24 hours.

Is there a different substrate in your other tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
No, I don't know that. But what I'm understand from what you said, and correct me if I'm wrong, but basically it sounds like my cycle was/is kicking in which caused all the bad readings. I should have included that I've been trying to do an in-fish cycle with his tank. I just recently got my other betta and he's just in my one gallon with a heater and a silk plant so there really isn't any way for that to be cycling. I was wondering if that's what caused the spike and then if it also dropped the pH of the water that was just a bad combination for my poor fish, haha.
 
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