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69 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently I had been away from my house for work. I returned home last night to find my male plakat, Brita, lying on the bottom of his tank, pale as a ghost and not breathing. I assumed he was dead and proceeded to unplug the filter and heater. I set the tank aside, deciding that I would deal with the dead body and the tank after I had looked after my other fish.

A couple hours later I walked by the tank only to notice that Brita's body had moved to a peculiar place among the hornwort - not anywhere that a dead fish would be able to get to. Shocked, I grabbed a flashlight and noticed that his gills were moving but only barely. He was immediately removed to a jar of clean water.

Somehow he managed to survive the night and had actually improved by morning. He was able to swim and float properly on his own, so I let him out of the net I had been supporting him in. His colour had improved greatly but I noticed that one of his eyes was clouded over and that he seemed to have reduced vision on that side of his head. Fed him some NLS (roughly 4 pellets).

Then he took a turn for the worse. He had a massive freakout of some sort, zipping around the jar madly. Then his body went stiff, with fins and gills flared and his mouth wide open. This time I really thought he was dead/dying. I quickly scooped him back into the net and kept him just under the water at the surface, intermittently bringing his mouth the the surface for air. I think this might have saved his life, since he has regained some movement of his body and is breathing on his own again (albeit very shallowly). He's back in the net in his small jar of clean water.

I'm not really sure what's wrong that would cause this, or if he'll be able to recover. Water params are consistent with what they had always been but I did miss a water change and had been feeding a little less since I was out of town most of both weeks. The cloudy eye concerns me but I feel like there is more going on here that is worsening his condition.

What size is your tank? 4g Fluval View
What temperature is your tank? ~77f
Does your tank have a filter? Yes
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? Nothing, save for a couple of large ramshorn snails that are too big for him to eat

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? NLS grow formula (mostly), supplemented with frozen bloodworms, frozen brine shrimp, or live black worms. Also eats baby ramshorns found throughout his tank at random
How often do you feed your betta fish? 1x day, 5 days a week (fasting days are usually non-consecutive)

How often do you perform a water change? Typically once a week, but in this case I was away and water was not changed for ~ 2.5 weeks
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? ~30-40%
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?

Ammonia: 0ppm? (Shows up as yellow on the test, but not super golden yellow like on the comparison chart)
Nitrite: 0ppm
Nitrate: 0ppm
pH: between 8.0 - 8.2
Hardness: n/a
Alkalinity: n/a

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? Very pale in the face and belly, stress stripes visible. One eye is clouded over but not swollen. Body is contorted in a 'u' shape.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? Very lethargic, hardly any gill movement to indicate breathing but is still able to gulp air from the surface. His ability to swim is now limited and he needs to be supported. If left to swim on his own he rolls sideways or upside down.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? Last night when I got home from work.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? Immediately removed him to a jar of clean water with a double dose of Stresscoat. No medications used yet.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? No
How old is your fish (approximately)? ~10 months

901 Posts
Hi Dusky, how is Brita doing? I fear that your post may have been overlooked, so many people have posted betta problems in the past day... :-(

6,727 Posts
Hmmmm. The only thing I can think of is that the lack of water changes had some effect on him. Was the test results you got before or after a water change?

also with a 4 gallon tank you need to be doing two 50% water changes every week (even with a filter)

69 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for checking in Beau.

He looks horrible, but Brita is still alive. I moved him to my 5g quarantine tank (heated, with an air stone for oxygen) and started treatment with some gram-positive antibiotics. He can't swim, so I draped the net he's in across the top of the tank to support him. When he does reposition himself he can only move in tight vertical circles, so something is definitely affecting his swim bladder. The left eye is still cloudy but isn't swollen. So far his right eye still appears to be fine.

69 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Hmmmm. The only thing I can think of is that the lack of water changes had some effect on him. Was the test results you got before or after a water change?

also with a 4 gallon tank you need to be doing two 50% water changes every week (even with a filter)
I tested the water when I first thought he was dead. So the results are for tank water that hadn't been changed in a little over 2 weeks. I never mentioned this in my first post but his tank is planted with a Marimo, Java fern, and a fair bit of limnophila sessiflora (Asian ambulia). I also added a log of cholla not too long ago that is still leaching some tannins.

The lack of water changes has definitely crossed my mind as being a major contributing factor. I was taking a gamble by leaving for work but unfortunately I didn't have anyone that I trusted enough to look after my fish, except for feeding. Now I'm just trying to figure out where the problem lies and trying to fix it, if possible.

69 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Still alive...

Thought I'd post an update.

Brita's still alive. He finished his course of antibiotics and I added a little Epsom salt to his water to see if it would help with his swim bladder. Poor guy seems to still be going downhill though. Now he floats head-down and only moves if he has to. It looks like the lens in his left eye is gone.

I don't want to give up on him (little guy has almost made it through 2 weeks since I came home) but I'm not sure of what else to try. Given his state, should I consider just euthanizing him?
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