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Discussion Starter #1
Hello! I rescued a betta today, who seems to have swim bladder. I'm not positive though, as I've never had a problem with swim bladder before and so have no experience with it. So I need help with treating him. He did make a valiant effort to check out his new tank, only to float back up to the top after struggling to get even halfway down in a tank with zero current. He's been able to stay upright for the most part but occasionally floats on his side.
I attempted to add a really good video but the website doesn't really support formatting videos unfortunately so my pictures aren't the best.
Housing:
How many gallons is your tank?
-He's in an emergency 1 gallon. Later I'll make it a ten.
Does it have a filter?
-No, even make minimal surface agitation was pushing him around.
Does it have a heater?
-yes
What temperature is your tank?
-78
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration?
-no
Does your Betta have tank mates? What kind?
-no
Food:
-He hasn't been fed yet, got him today
What food brand do you use?
-Aqueon
Do you feed flakes or pellets?
-pellets
Freeze-dried?
How often do you feed your Betta? How much?
-this one hasn't been fed yet but my other betta gets a tiny pinch x2 a day

Maintenance:
Before
your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change?
-n/a
What percentage of water did you change?
-I changed all of it when I brought him home
What is the source of your water?
My tap, conditioned)treated
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IMG_20200518_140253~2.jpg

Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water?
-Everything in the tank is new even the gravel.
What additives do you use? What brand of conditioner?
-tetra water conditioner

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:
Nitrite:
Nitrate:
pH:
Hardness (GH):
Alkalinity (KH):

Symptoms and Treatment:
When did you first notice the symptoms?
-Before rescue
How has your Betta’s appearance changed?
How has your Betta’s behavior changed?
Is your Betta still eating?
- Haven't fed him yet, but I can if that'll help
Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how?
-All new water, bigger tank than what he had before.
Does your Betta have any history of being ill?
- Don't know
How long have you owned your Betta?
-4pm today (5/19)
Was he or she ill or suffering some sort of damage when purchased?
-yes, possible swim bladder

PLEASE PROVIDE CLEAR PHOTOS

NOTE: EMBED YOUR PHOTOS. PLEASE DO NOT LINK. Click on the paper clip in the toolbar.
 

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Hi there,

To me that does seem like swim bladder disorder. Unfortunately, it is difficult to cure, but it is definitely worth a shot.

This disease is usually caused by constipation when the swim bladder gets crushed from the constipation. Another cause could be an infection that took place. The only way I know how to treat it would be to fast the betta for 3 whole days, then feed him a laxative food like daphnia or brine shrimp. Make sure you are keeping up on water changes, and try to do them carefully.

I noticed you didn't fill in the water parameters. Can you get them please?

Sorry, I will not be able to respond for the rest of the night.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks! I will get the water parameters on here tommorow! I appreciate the help. I don't think fasting him for three days will be too hard, he's not interested in food anyway. Can I get brine at a pet store/ aquarium shop? Is it hard to find?
Thanks!
 

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Yes, you can get either at a pet store. Frozen is better than freeze-dried.

We have a Moderator who worked a rescue Double Tail through the same thing. Here are two links as it started in one sub-forum and finished in another. Hope they help you.

Ugh, I posted them in the wrong order. Read second on first.



 

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I agree with the above advice re: fasting, and ways to entice him to eat when the fast is over.


One thing I would suggest adding to his tank as a more direct treatment is Epsom salt (pure, no scents or dyes). It acts as mild laxative for constipation, as well as helping to regulate swim bladder function in general. Some bettas with chronic swim bladder disorder end up needing to have a little Epsom in their tanks all the time, but others just need a bit of help at first and then can be weaned off.

I'd start with 1/2 teaspoon per gallon, and you can increase it daily by 1/2 tsp all the way to 2 teaspoons/gal if need be. As soon as you find a dose that works to help him stay upright, don't go higher. If you went up to 2 tsp and it didn't help his floating after a few days, then it's probably not going to and you might as well take it all out.

After a week at whatever dose helps, start testing to see if lowering the amount will still work. Your aim is to wean him off it entirely if you can and if not, to find the lowest dose that is still effective. This can take several weeks to months, so keep testing every now and again.


I've only had one betta with chronic SBD, and she needed about 1/4 tsp/gal Epsom in her tank at all times or she'd shoot up to the top like a cork. She was otherwise perfectly healthy so I didn't feel like I needed to try antibiotics, since I didn't think her floating was likely to be caused by a bacterial infection.

Keeping Epsom in the tank all the time is not generally recommended, and I would give my SBD girl periodic "breaks" of a few days in fresh water, but in her case I judged that the stress of floating was worse than whatever long-term Epsom use was doing to her, and kept her in it most of the time.


Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks all for the help! I did go out and purchase frozen brine(felt a little bad for the brine shrimp since I used to keep them as pets, but hey 🤷‍♀️ Food chain I guess). He's already starting to look better than yesterday, I'm guessing the better water is helping out. I'll grab some Epson salt too.
 

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Hey, I'm the owner of Cork, the halfmoon double tail that I bought because he had pretty severe swim bladder. I got him over it and so far it has not recurred, BUT he does still have some trouble swimming probably due to his short body shape paired with his full fins. He does great in his 2.5 gal tank.

If you have any questions for me please ask, I'll be glad to answer as best I can.

From what I saw you do not have anything providing oxygen to the water. If you don't want to filter it I recommend getting him an airstone and either using an air flow valve, or air bleed valve to control the bubbles. Put it on gentle so that it doesn't blow him over the tank. Corky did a lot better after I did that for him, before that he'd gasp for air even though I was doing water changes ever other day.

Don't worry if your boy doesn't do better for a couple weeks, to a month. Corky took a good month before he was over the SBD, a couple times I nearly gave up.

One last thing, Corky wanted to eat, BUT was extremely skittish. He did best if I gently dropped the food right in front of him. If I wasn't careful enough he'd dart away without eating. Make sure to soak his food if you are feeding freeze dried or pellets so they do not aggrevate the SBD and do NOT overfeed him. It's better to feed 2 or 3 small meals then 1 or 2 large ones when they have SBD since over eating will just cause the stomach to press on the swim bladder.

Good luck with your new boy!
 

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Be very careful before adding Epsom Salts the main tank until you know the GH (General Hardness). Epsom Salts raises GH and if yours is already high you could do more harm than good. So double check. There are kits/strips you can get at the pet store or online.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks all! After a few days he's pretty much recovered. I moved him into that ten gallon but blocked off half with a divider since he was still having trouble with control. I did set up an aerator, and the sponge filter in the opposite side of the tank where he couldn't reach so as to not get blown around. I actually do have a testing kit, so I was able to get his water levels right. I fasted him for 3 days before feeding him again, and now he only gets either pre-soaked pellets or brine shrimp. I think that did the trick. He's almost entirely better now, so I'm guessing it was a combination of stress from his previous environment and constipation.
 

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So glad he is doing better!

If you are going to soak pellets, know that this can cause the pellets to leach nutrients. Temporarily that may be okay but long term it is better to feed two whole pellets 3-4 times or soak in something like Vita-Chem.
 
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