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Discussion Starter #1
My mother-in-law knows I am experienced with fish and love bettas, so when she saw this little guy (his temp name is Bubble Barnsworth) at Walmart she brought him home to me to nurse back to health. Thankfully she also brought me a 5 gallon tank (since I've drilled it in to her that bettas need this size at least). So I used some filter medium and rocks from an established tank and some of the bacteria seed stuff to force cycle the tank and in he went. Better than his cup of nasty water to be sure.

Well here's the problem. I've never had a betta get really sick before (except once with a swim bladder problem) so I'm not sure what's wrong with this little guy.

In his cup he was just lying on his side on the bottom, barely moving and slightly curved. The water was so dirty it was cloudy and there were floating pieces of debris (I have to assume uneaten food). But if you jostled the cup he'd start moving around. In the tank he mostly just rests on the bottom but when he does decide to move he doesn't appear to have much trouble, though he still generally stays along the bottom. He looks like he's tired though when he swims. He can get to the top for air fine though. He looks like he might be breathing a bit labored, but then again I'm not sure since I don't usually have bettas that just lay there and let me watch them breathe. I've had him for 2 days now. I have yet to see him eat. I've been offering him bloodworms since my mother-in-law didn't bring anything else and that's what my other betta prefers.

I don't see any spots on his anywhere, no weird marks, or anything that indicates a physical injury. Just the fact that his body is curved when he's laying on the bottom. I don't see it once he gets moving.

I do have the water treated to help his slime coat to help him with stress. No sure where else to go with this though.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Sorry for so many pictures, but I'm hoping maybe someone here might see something I've missed.
 

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Looks like I can't edit, so I'll just correct something here.

I was just watching him swim a little and it does look like he's struggling a little, or doesn't know how even. It definitely doesn't look effortless.
 

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Sounds like he has an issue with his swim bladder. I personally would break your rule of 5 gallons and put him in something smaller such as a 2 gallon keeper with a bare bottom so you can monitor waste and the such over the next few days. I would add 1.5 tsp of epsom salt per gallon of water as it can help with internal problems dealing the SBD since he is having trouble swimming. Also the frequent clean water changes that the smaller tanks need will do him some good who knows what the ammonia level was in that cup with food/waste dissolving. He likely has ammonia poisoning from being in the cup.

He's likely not hopeless but he probably needs a few days of immaculate water and some epsom salts. 100% changes and redosed with salt every day until he comes around. Hopefully he doesn't have an internal bacteria/parsite problem. Those are harder to diagnose especially if he hasn't ate and passing droppings.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I've had a betta with swim bladder disease before and it was different than this. The only time this boy is curved is when he's laying down. When he's swimming there are no kinks, he's not S shaped at all. He isn't bloated at all. And although he doesn't do it often he can swim horizontally, not just straight up for air. When he swims he does appear to be putting more effort into it but it's almost like he doesn't know how to use his fins.

I don't have another container, but I will lower the water level in this one and do more water changes. As soon as I can get to the store I'll get epsom salt (sadly my car died so I'm relying on my in-laws to get me places). Thank you. :)
 

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SBD can cause several different swimming patterns. It can cause trouble staying at the bottom or top, upside down swimming, curved spine (as you mentioned), head pointing downward or upward, or just struggling to swim. It really just depends on what is wrong with the swim bladder and these problems can congenital (birth defect).

If he is weak it could be the current of the filter that is causing him problems and making it look like he is struggling to swim. I'd just keep him in the clean water try to monitor waste (to see if something is indicative of what is going on inside the little guy) and offer food. He may not eat for a few days being new and keep his environment quiet, calm, and not brightly lit. If he has a tank light just leave it off. Let him get settled in and comfortable just keep a close eye on him as much as you can. The salt may or may not help but it wouldn't hurt to do a few days to see if there is an improvement.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I used the filter for about 6 hours on the first day to get everything started, and then today only about an hour. I'm trying to keep it off because of his problem swimming.

I'll keep an eye on his waste for a few days and I'll try to get the epsom salts, just in case. :)
 

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Poor little guy he is a cutie... Hopefully the Epsom salt will do him some good.
 

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From what I've read here, it's better to either leave the filter going or turn it off altogether. Maybe you could try baffling the filter to a very low flow?

Poor little tike, I really hope he makes it.

That store needs a phone call to the SPCA. And possibly the public health authorities.
 

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a doubletail? at walmart? wow!

.... it could just be he's kinda weak from being in the cup. i've heard of people who've rescued bettas from places like walmart, where they're weak from not being fed right and not getting exercise...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Well today he seems to be doing a tiny bit better. He still mostly lays around, but I found him laying on the plant leaves instead of the bottom, and he's been swimming a bit more today too. So I'm hopeful. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I am fairly certain that Bubble Barnsworth is making a full recovery. He's up and swimming around a lot more, his poop is normal, he's eating good (loves the bloodworms). He does still seem a little weak, but I think he's doing a lot better. He likes to rest in the leaves of the silk plants closer to the top, but he's even making little bubble nests up there. lol I'm so happy he's doing better. :D
 

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awww Im glad :) keep us updated
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Just wanted to give another update. Bubble Barnsworth is like a brand new fish. I wouldn't even have recognized him if I hadn't seen him getting better day by day. He's feisty and active and shows no signs of swim problems anymore. :)
 

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He looks amazing, congratulations!
 

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Try and help him flare a bit. Its totally up to him whether he'd do it though. it usually perks my fish up and help them pass their droppings. Also bring back color. maybe some small exercise routine day after day will strengthen him a bit. tired fish wouldn't lie down I dont think, their bodies are designed to float up right whether they are moving or not, so i think its definited a swim bladder problem as stated above. and definitely ditto to the good clean water. maybe you can watch his poop for parasites
 

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Thats him?!?! he looks so different
 
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