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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all~
I purchased Luc, a white’pearl colored and grey marble halfmoon betta from a reliable and trusted LFS a while back. He lives in a heated, filtered 3.5 gallon tank with sand and a few live plants. He has AQ salt in his tank all the time and I dose with stresscoat. Lately he’s been more and more listless. His fins have been becoming clamped and taking on a pinkish color. My brother and I clean his tank once a week and do a 50% water change. What are we doing wrong? I've been keeping bettas for about two years and have no idea why he’s becoming so lethargic and sad. Luc is normally a feisty, energetic boy, only about 6 months old. Is the salt affecting him? We’ll be getting a new tank for him (5.5 or a 10 gallon) soon. I think the curved front may be stressing him out, but that doesn't explain the fins and behavior. Does any one have any ideas? My brother really loves this fish and I don’t want to lose him early.
Thank you for any help.

Stats:
Tank size: Top fin aquascene-180-3.5-gallon aquarium.
Filter: Tetra whisper 3i (Not loving it, temporary)
Heated: yes, probably around 75.
Sub/Live plants: Duckweed sand sub. He also has a bridge to sleep under and a large floating plant to rest on with a few others plastic ones to hide about.
Tank mates: None.

Symptoms: Slowly becoming more and more listless, clamped fins/reddening.
 

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Can you fill out the sticky: "Please Read Before Posting..."? It's much easier to reference the form that to read a wall of text. If his tank's at 75 that's too cold; Betta should be kept at 78-80 degrees. BTW, love his color!
 

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He looks bloated. Are his scales starting to stick out at all? Also, his gills look a bit red... have you tested the ammonia in the tank?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
@RussellTheShihTzu Certainly! Thank you on his coloring. He’s a beautiful boy. I enclosed a pic of him when he was in perfect condition. It shows the difference between then and now.

Housing:
How many gallons is your tank? 3.5
Does it have a filter? yes, tetra Whisper 3i
Does it have a heater? yes
What temperature is your tank? around 75
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? nope
Does your Betta have tank mates? What kind? None

Food:
What food brand do you use? Topfin betta bits
Do you feed flakes or pellets? pellets, he’s always loved them
Freeze-dried? nope
How often do you feed your Betta? How much? 4 pieces, but some times my little brother gives him way more (Not more than eight, though, he’s pretty careful.)

Maintenance:
Before your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change? Yes. It was a slow decline.
What percentage of water did you change? 50% at a time.
Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water? vacuum
What additives do you use? Water conditioner, AQ salt, now stress coat.

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.

Ammonia: I don’t have the strip for this one.
Nitrite: 10 ppm
Nitrate: 0 ppm
pH: 6.5
Hardness (GH): 20
Alkalinity (KH): 30

Symptoms and Treatment:
When did you first notice the symptoms? This week
How has your Betta’s appearance changed? his fins have gotten much more clamped/red
How has your Betta’s behavior changed? Just slower and lays around a bit more
Is your Betta still eating? yes, but not as veraciously.
Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how? With stress coat/AQ salt
Does your Betta have any history of being ill? Never
How long have you owned your Betta? Was he or she ill or suffering some sort of damage when purchased? No. I got him form a very nice LFS that kept all their male bettas in .5 gallon jars instead of cups and females in community tanks. Nice place. He was a bit of a baby and never ill, very feisty. That’s what caught my eye. :wink3:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
He looks bloated. Are his scales starting to stick out at all? Also, his gills look a bit red... have you tested the ammonia in the tank?
Thank you for your reply! He may need a good fast. I don't have the ammonia test, but the tank is new and good be unstable. Should I try lightening up on salt and changing twice or three times a week until he improves?
 

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Just to confirm, your nitrIte is 10 and your nitrAte is 0? If that's the case there's your problem! You really ought to get a liquid kit for ammonia, and turning up the heater to 78 would help him.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Nitrate at 10 nitrite at 0. Sorry, got them mixed up.
 

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Ok good I nearly had a heart attack! Do check your ammonia as soon as you can though. Regardless of his problem, clean warm water and high protein food will facilitate healing so you could start with that. Turn up the heater and give him some frozen food or Omega One or NLS. Are you dosing the AQ salt correctly?
 

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You need a liquid Ammonia test more than you need to know the parameters measured on the strips. Ammonia is probably the #1 cause of problems.

Do you have the Nitrate and Nitrite numbers swapped? If not then that's what's wrong: Nitrite poisoning. If Nitrite are truly 10ppm then do half gallon water changes every couple of hours until Nitrites are 0ppm. Do not do large water changes or you'll throw him into shock. Also, you don't say how often you do water changes.

How are you treating him with Aquarium Salt? Aquarium Salt is for external problems and will make internal problems worse. If he's bloating you need to use Epsom Salts. Red gills are normal. If you feed a good, nutritious food like NLS or Omega One with whole fish instead of fish meal as the first ingredient there's no need to fast.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
@RussellTheShihTzu yeah, I had the nitrate and nitrite numbers mixed. I about had a panic attack anyway. I do water changes once or twice a week. Oohh, thank for clarification on the AQ salt. I’m going to lay off on it, I think. I was suing it to help heal some tears in his fins and got into the bait of adding it to his water changes.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Ok good I nearly had a heart attack! Do check your ammonia as soon as you can though. Regardless of his problem, clean warm water and high protein food will facilitate healing so you could start with that. Turn up the heater and give him some frozen food or Omega One or NLS. Are you dosing the AQ salt correctly?
I will check it as soon as possible. The test tube things are kind of expensive, that’s why I’v been putting it off. I’ll get it, though. I think I’v been dosing lightly with the AQ salt, but I’m going to lay off it. Started using it a while back for fins issues
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Luc seems a bit better today. A little more energetic and such. I’m still worried about the redness in his fins, though. Going to go do a water change today. I was just at Petco, I wish I would’ve picked up an ammonia test kit. How much are they, generally? $11 bucks or so?
Thank you all, by the way, for your help. I really appreciate it!!
 

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The liquid tests are less expensive than the strips because you get so many more tests. Nothing wrong with strips for the other parameters. But since you should be testing Ammonia daily until a tank cycles and once a week after liquid is more cost efficient.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
okay thanks for the advice. I’ll try to get the test today.

Luc seems a little better, but his fins are in the same condition. He’s my breeder prospect, so I really hope he can recover well.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Alright... I got Luc a new tank and all because I suspected the one he was in was stressing him out. I also got the ammonia tests. I set up the new ten gallon yesterday and about 15% is his old water to kick start the bacteria stuff. I wanted to cycle it for a while but couldn’t. The ammonia in the new tank is low and I’m watching him carefully. He’ll eat and stuff but for the most part just hangs out on the bottom breathing heavily and flaring his gills. He’s been in the new ten for 12 hours or so. SHould I do a water change? I’m worried about him. His gills looked red on the inside but that’s not new. He’s always been like that.

He used to be such a beautiful fish. Now he’s lethargic and unhappy. I don’t know what to do to fix this. I’ve been taking care of fish for nearly two years or so and still haven’t figured out the cycling process. Is that why he’s not well right now? Because the waters doing things? He has stress coat in there and a few live plants+ his hide. He’s not terrible and eating/swimming when he feels like it, but he looks so bad and the breathing heavily thing is worrisome.
He looks a little bloated, but that might be from the brine shrimp he ate.

This is my brothers first fish and he really likes the little guy. I want to do all I can to make sure he’s okay and pulls through.
 

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What exactly is the ammonia level, and what brand of water conditioner are you using?

Also, could we get a picture of the full tank?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
API stress coat for conditioner, but I also have been doising with tetra Easy Balance. between 0 to .25 ammonia. I couldn’t tell which. It looked slightly more inclined to the .25, though.
here’s the picture.
 

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Any amount of ammonia can cause distress in fish. If your tank is not cycled, you need to use an ammonia-locking product.

Most forum members use Seachem Prime for both its water conditioning and ammonia locking abilities.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Ooohhh, good to know about Prime. That’s very handy. For now should i keep up with daily 20% water changes? How long will it take to cycle?
 

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You'll want to do an ammonia test every day, and do a 25-50% water change if the test is positive for any ammonia. Add 2 drops of prime per gallon of water in the tank every day.

Your tank is cycled when the parameters are:
0 ammonia,
0 nitrites,
5-15ish~ nitrates

For at least a week.

Here's a link to a fantastic thread about fish-in cycling.

http://www.bettafish.com/101-betta-fish-bowls-habitats-accessories/555434-cycling-two-sentence-tutorial.html

You should also test your tap water: some cities have trace amounts of ammonia in the water. In my case, it was .25. If you have the same problem, water changes won't dilute it to less than .25, and you simply have to keep it locked with prime every day until it cycles.

How long it takes to stabilize varies from tank to tank. My 10 gallon was stable after about 6 weeks.
 
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