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I rescued little Merlin from Pet Supplies Plus, where he was languishing with severe swim bladder disease. I’ve had him for almost a week with no improvement. He’s been having daily Epsom salt baths and has been fasting, I tried to feed him frozen daphnia and he ate some but only a little so he’s not really eating. Here is my questionnaire.


Housing:
How many gallons is your tank? 2.5 (hospital tank)
Does it have a filter? No
Does it have a heater? Yes
What temperature is your tank? 76 degrees F
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? New Life Spectrum
Do you feed flakes or pellets? Pellets
Freeze-dried? No
How often do you feed your Betta? How much? Daily but he’s not eating right now

Maintenance:
Before your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change? He was ill when I got him but I change the water in my main tank weekly
What percentage of water did you change? 25%
What is the source of your water? Spring water
Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water? Dip out water
What additives do you use other than conditioner? What brand of conditioner? Stress coat and aquarium salt

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: .25 ppm
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 40
pH: 6.0
Hardness (GH): 30
Alkalinity (KH): 0

I know, time for a water change

Symptoms and Treatment:
When did you first notice the symptoms? A week ago
How has your Betta’s appearance changed? Not sure
How has your Betta’s behavior changed? He swims or lays on his side, or sits straight up vertical with his head up and tail down.
Is your Betta still eating? No
Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how? Epsom salt baths daily, aquarium salt in the tank, Indian almond leaves
Does your Betta have any history of being ill? Not sure
How long have you owned your Betta? A week
Was he or she ill or suffering some sort of damage when purchased? Yes

I’m wondering what else I can do for him. He’s not eating the frozen daphnia. Can I feed him live black worms? That’s what my aquarium store sells. They don’t sell live daphnia. He looks so sad. He’s a fighter but I’m worried he won’t make it. Any advice is appreciated.
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Hi! I can't tell which tank you're referring to regarding the water changes/parameters, but you need to be changing the water frequently enough, with a large enough quantity, that the ammonia is zero, plus your nitrates are too high.

Water changes need to be done on a regular, consistent basis.

Otherwise nothing of what we suggest and advise will be of any value.

Additionally, the temperature would be better around 78-79 degrees F
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Hi! I can't tell which tank you're referring to regarding the water changes/parameters, but you need to be changing the water frequently enough, with a large enough quantity, that the ammonia is zero, plus your nitrates are too high.

Water changes need to be done on a regular, consistent basis.

Otherwise nothing of what we suggest and advise will be of any value.

Additionally, the temperature would be better around 78-79 degrees F
I’m referring to the hospital tank. I’ve been changing the water in his hospital tank every day.
What do you think about live food for him?
 

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Ammonia: .25 ppm
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 40
You have to change the water and clean the bottom more frequently - these parameters need to be zero. He likely won't even be interested in food while the ammonia's up like this.

I know, time for a water change
Everything you're asking about means very little next to the condition and quality of the water he's in, which is the main and absolutely the most important issue. Any other advice or suggestions you receive won't be of much value until you get the water issues taken care of, on a regular consistent basis, and remove the poop and uneaten food that I can see on the bottom, frequently during the day since it's a small container.

I'm saying this out of concern for your fish - you're basically asking the wrong questions.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
You have to change the water and clean the bottom more frequently - these parameters need to be zero. He likely won't even be interested in food while the ammonia's up like this.


Everything you're asking about means very little next to the condition and quality of the water he's in, which is the main and absolutely the most important issue. Any other advice or suggestions you receive won't be of much value until you get the water issues taken care of, on a regular consistent basis, and remove the poop and uneaten food that I can see on the bottom, frequently during the day since it's a small container.

I'm saying this out of concern for your fish - you're basically asking the wrong questions.
I’ve been changing half the water every day. Should I change more? Like 75%? And good catch on the uneaten food, I’d forgotten to remove that. Do you think the water parameters are why he’s not getting better from the swim bladder?
 

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It definitely could be. I would do 2x 25% water changes and use the dechlorinator prime to make the ammonia not toxic. If after his parameters are in check he is still not improving, dose a round of API EM Erythromycin to rule out anything internal.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
It definitely could be. I would do 2x 25% water changes and use the dechlorinator prime to make the ammonia not toxic. If after his parameters are in check he is still not improving, dose a round of API EM Erythromycin to rule out anything internal.
By 2x 25% changes, do you mean a 50% change? Or do you mean 2 separate 25% changes like on 2 separate days? I have prime, so I’ll use that. I’d been using stress coat bc I thought well.. Hes stressed so ill do what I can to reduce that. Can I use general cure, kanaplex, paraguard, or malachite green? I just happen to have those on hand. I can always go get erythromycin tomorrow if necessary. Thanks for your help!
 

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2x 25% as in separate water changed. At this point I would hold off on meds as they will have little to know effect until we find out how to handle the ammonia spikes.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
2x 25% as in separate water changed. At this point I would hold off on meds as they will have little to know effect until we find out how to handle the ammonia spikes.
Okay, great thanks. I'll update tomorrow with my parameters. Today it was:
Ammonia: .25 ppm
Nitrites: .25 ppm
Nitrates: 40 ppm

I'd done a water change yesterday, and today. And I added Prime. I've been doing water changes consistently every day for the past week. I'm not sure why the levels are so high.
 

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You need to do multiple water changes daily, however many as necessary, using Prime every time at 2 drops per gallon. The ammonia and nitrites need to come down to zero and the nitrates down to at least 20 if not lower.
 

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Okay, great thanks. I'll update tomorrow with my parameters. Today it was:
Ammonia: .25 ppm
Nitrites: .25 ppm
Nitrates: 40 ppm

I'd done a water change yesterday, and today. And I added Prime. I've been doing water changes consistently every day for the past week. I'm not sure why the levels are so high.
Have you tested the water source? Sometimes you can get a reading of ammonia straight out of the tap.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Have you tested the water source? Sometimes you can get a reading of ammonia straight out of the tap.
I did yesterday and discovered that the spring water I’ve been using had ammonia in it! I got aquarium water from petco and tested it and it was fine so I’ll be using that.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
You need to do multiple water changes daily, however many as necessary, using Prime every time at 2 drops per gallon. The ammonia and nitrites need to come down to zero and the nitrates down to at least 20 if not lower.
Okay, thank you! I will do that.
 

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Are you not able to use your tap water? If you drink it, then using Prime or Stresscoat to condition/dechlorinate it will make it habitable for your fish.
 

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If your tap is high in nitrites and ammonia, you can keep old jugs from water bought at walmart and treat it to have a store over time. You might just have to let it sit for longer so it can dechlorinate. Otherwise a gallon of spring water at walmart is 84 cents. It's not the most efficient way but 20 gallons for a week is ~$16 if you replace most of the tank daily and you don't have to use conditioner. Otherwise, there should be ways for you to bring that down from your tap using more effective conditioners such as Prime and other additives specially catered towards your issues.

I'm glad though your parameters have gotten to zero!
 

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If your tap is high in nitrites and ammonia, you can keep old jugs from water bought at walmart and treat it to have a store over time. You might just have to let it sit for longer so it can dechlorinate. Otherwise a gallon of spring water at walmart is 84 cents. It's not the most efficient way but 20 gallons for a week is ~$16 if you replace most of the tank daily and you don't have to use conditioner. Otherwise, there should be ways for you to bring that down from your tap using more effective conditioners such as Prime and other additives specially catered towards your issues.

I'm glad though your parameters have gotten to zero!
What other additives can I use to bring down my nitrates from my tap water?
 

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What other additives can I use to bring down my nitrates from my tap water?
There are special chemical filter pads that function to remove nitrates specifically. Otherwise you can start an anaerobic aquatic bacterial culture that "consumes" nitrates to release as a gas. Increasing plant life in the tank, even if they're just moss balls which will absorb nitrates depending on how many you add - just be careful of where you purchase from. Otherwise purchasing an ecostone you could let sit in with the water in the tank or bucket you let sit might be beneficial.

Before you commit to purchasing anything, see what your water conditioner brings it down too. Some conditioners work differently such as StressCoat+ only targets heavy metals and chlorines/chlorimides. It's a great additive but I would recommend against only using that since it doesn't target your nitrates! I would recommend your best bet is to go back to the store and buy a complete conditioner. A complete conditioner will not only remove chlorines/chlorimides but also buffer your pH, bind ammonia already in the water (so if you don't have as much time for a change you can add in a dose if you need an extra day or two to change the water), detox coppers, remove heavy metals, and can even help with stress coat production.

The one that works best on my hometown's tap water is SeachemPrime and it's very cost effective. 2 drops per gallon.
 
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