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Discussion Starter #1
Very concerned about my betta! The past few days he has been very lethargic and uninterested in eating. He appeared to be constipated and last night he finally passed a huge circular feces – I was surprised that something that large could fit out of his tiny body. Since then, he is slightly more active, but still fairly lethargic, and is not very interested in food. Usually he will swim right up to the top but today he had to be coaxed up, was completely uninterested in his NLS pellets, and ate only 1 freeze-dried bloodworm. In addition, his fins, as you can see in the picture, are looking very kinked and some are bent at right angles towards the bottom. Is this fin rot or something else? They also look very ragged overall. I did a 100% water change last night. It is a 4 gallon, heated, uncycled tank with five live plants. Please help me!!


What size is your tank? 4 gallons, 5 live plants, not cycled
What temperature is your tank?
77
Does your tank have a filter?
No
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration?
No
Is your tank heated?
Yes
What tank mates does your betta fish live with?
No tank mates

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish?
New Life Spectrum Betta Formula, Freeze-Dried Bloodworms
How often do you feed your betta fish?
2x day

Maintenance

How often do you perform a water change?
Every 5-6 days full water change, daily I do a removal of uneaten food and waste with a turkey baster
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 100%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change?
API StressCoat

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?
No

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

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?
His fins, especially the anal fins, look frayed, the ends are kinked and bent looking
How has your betta fish's behavior changed?
Lethargic, Loss of Appetite, much less active than usual, spends most of the time at the bottom of the tank, darts up quickly for air and swims back down, tries to hide in the grass
When did you start noticing the symptoms?
3 days ago
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how?
Water change
Does your fish have any history of being ill?
He had a fungus/fin rot that was successfully treated with aquarium salt and API Fungus Cure
How old is your fish (approximately)?
unknown
 

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hi, how long have you had him? could be an ammonia peak, which can affect the way a betta swims, clamped fins and a shimmying/slither type of swimming. I would recommend getting ammonia and nitrate test kits to check your water levels for these toxins. I would suggest investing in a small hang on or internal filter which will help keep a more stable environment. also the freeze dried worms and pellets I assume you pre soak before feeding if not this can cause a number of problems, pellets will swell up inside the fish if not pre soaked taking out the moisture in his gut, and freeze dried foods if not pre soaked will contain air which will be released in his gut, again causing problems. I would suggest buying ammonia, nitrite test kits, filter if you can afford, and a frozen tropical mix, not freeze dried. the frozen food you can take out a frozen square and chop into four smaller squares and save what's not needed in the freezer, I will defrost the frozen food in a small drop of tank water, and feed individual pieces dropped in with a pair of tweezers. it dos sound like your boy is suffering constipation some people will recommend feeding a piece of chopped up pea, but I have read this should also be avoided as a betta would not naturally eat vegetation as they are carnivores, I tend to agree with this and would feed close to a natural diet the closest being live next best thing frozen. I personally will not even feed freeze dried way to many issues with it.

However if you have a ammonia peak what you feed will need to be watched.

the other thing doing a 100% water change in one go could be upsetting him, I would suggest breaking this down and doing 50% water changes twice a week, although if you buy a filter I would then suggest doing 50% once a week.

I hope this helps, maybe some others will have some other idea's but I would strongly recommend the test kits so you know where you are at water quality wise. Until water quality issues are ruled out or confirmed its difficult to know where to start.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you so much for the response! It sounds like a test kit is the way to go, so I will pick one up at the store tomorrow and report back. I thought that as long as I stayed on top of the water changes and it is an uncycled tank, I wouldn't need to have to test the water, but I guess not.

I have avoided frozen foods because I read that sometimes they can pass on diseases to the fish? I do soak the freeze-dried bloodworms but not the NLS pellets - if I do they sink right to the bottom the moment I put them in the tank and he refuses to eat anything that isn't floating right in front of him :) How do you get around that? I chose NLS because every forum I've been to says they are the best...

I've only had him about 2.5 months - my brother brought him home from a children's birthday party.

One other thing I forgot to add - last week I added an India Almond Leaf to the tank. Could this have anything to do with his current state?
 

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ammonia can build up in days, Frozen foods can pass on diseases, but freezing does generally kill off most things. Freeze dried can still contain diseases, but the process does kill more than frozen, but considering freeze dried also creates air in the product which puts air in the gut and causes so many problems in the gut, I don't think the benefits are worth it, a healthy gut will function better and be less prone to infection anyway.

I don't know what frozen foods you can get hold of but the one I have been feeding my guy for the past 9 months with no issues is made by ocean nutrition, tropical quintet. I don't know where you are in the world, but you still might be able to get this make. If not buy a good quality tropical mix, the cheaper ones are more likely to made from cheaper sources and without the care and quality checks the more expensive ones will have. if you get a mix where the individual cubes are a different frozen food, you can chose not to feed certain frozen products. bloodworms are the frozen food that has the most risk, although my guy loves the bloodworms cant get enough, lol.

NLS pellets I assume you refer to natural life spectrum, if so I have the same pellets, my guy gets fed once a day, one day pellets, the next day frozen, no fast days, a fish wouldn't fast himself in the wild once a week lol, although people swear by it, so I guess that is personal preference.

pellets not all fish take to them straight away in fact if they are hard when dropped in the fish will generally just spit them straight out anyway, but you need to soak them for about 3-5 minutes you need to train your guy to knowing the routine. With mine I only have to stick his soaking/defrosting cup in front of the tank and he gets all excited knowing food is coming and waiting at the top. Get a small pair of tweezers you can even tap the top of water where you are going to drop a pellet to get his attention, be careful he don't bite the tweezers, when mine sink my guy grabs the pellet mid drop, I only ever add one at a time and wait for him to eat his current pellet and looking for the next before I drop another, although if he's off his food you will probably have a hard job getting him to take to the pellets, my guy wasn't keen on the pellets at first, but he got used to the routine with frozen food, and sometimes I would sneakily drop a pellet in as well and slowly he got used to the pellets as well, now he eats the pellets just as well as frozen. but do the routine with frozen for a while get his appetite back, and his gut functioning as it should, you will notice with the frozen food he wont look bloated after a few hours, I have found my guy digests the frozen foods really well. if you have ammonia issues you might have to hold of feeding all together.

India Almond Leaf, I have never used, but from what I have read, they contain natural compounds which help with parasites and fungus infections. also they can lower your ph, but again from what I have read that wouldn't be a drastic drop, and it would be over time so I wouldn't think this is the cause, but I cant say for sure having never used the product. although it is a leaf that is breaking down in the water, which could cause a peak in ammonia especially in a unfiltered tank, is it still in the tank? if so I would take it out to be sure.

hope this helps and keep us up dated.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Unfortunately the pet store I went to after work only had ammonia test strips so I will have to wait until tomorrow to go to one a little further away. Today he is still lethargic but did eat two pellets and is hanging out at the top of the tank instead of the bottom. Possibly an improvement? I will update tomorrow once I am able to get a proper test kit.

Thank you for the info on the frozen foods! I will look for those tomorrow as well - it seems like the benefits definitely outweigh the small risks. I am in the US and have seen ocean nutrition pellets so hopefully I will be able to find their frozen food as well.
 

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well that's good he had a couple of pellets I hope they were pre soaked. keep me updated on how you go, fingers crossed for his progress.
 

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Just an update: when I tested the water, the ammonia was at .25 ppm so I did a 50% water change. Hopefully that will help. I also started using Seachem Prime water conditioner instead of API stresscoat since I read that it is more effective in regards to ammonia levels. I am going to test the water parameters everyday until I can get a good grip on how frequently to change the water to keep the parameters in check.

He still appears to be constipated and I have been offering him frozen (thawed) daphnia but I'm not sure that he is actually eating any of it. He is still lethargic but his condition hasn't seemed to worsen, at least!

Would aquarium salt possibly help with his fins? They are still bent/kinked and look stringy.

Also, how many New Life Spectrum pellets should he be getting each day? I was feeding him 5-7 before he got sick (spread out over 2 feedings) but when I went to the pet store they suggested a fish his size should only be getting 1 or 2, max.

Thanks again for all your help! I really appreciate it :)
 

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how big is he? mine is quite a good size he gets around 6 if you could give me a guide of how long his body is not including his fins just body length, nose to where his back tail joins?

I have never actually used salt so don't like to advise, but I expect his fins are like they are due to the ammonia peak, so personally I wouldn't but others might suggest it is ok to do so. plus if your bacteria's in your tank are jest getting started the salt will destroy all that.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
He is just about 1.5 inches long (3.81cm). I will hold off on the salt for now, then. I am concerned it may harm some of the plants in his tank, anyway.
 

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your guy is quite a good size, 3 twice a day will be fine, the other thing you could look into is indian almond leaf, which is kind of a natural remedy for bettas which helps fight parasites and fungus infections, not saying your guy as any of these, just if you were concerned, it wouldn't harm your plant life, again I have never used but reading about it, it sounds good and something I will be looking into using myself when I get a new betta, to help him settle and ward of any infection.
 
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