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Hello, Our fish Quasi, whom we've had since February, has suddenly changed his temperament. Drastically. He has always been in great health, very funny and playful and sociable. He has never been one to hide anywhere, always in your face wanting attention. He recently went about 3 weeks or so without eating. Because there was no poop, I assumed he was constipated and fed him some pea, just waited it out, and he came out of it fine. One day begging for food again and happy and himself. Because the pea made a mess, I did a 3/4 water change. His tank was way overdue for a cleaning/water change because he wasn't himself and I didn't want to stress him with it. (parameters were fine this whole time - just dirty). So I changed it, and I thought he was fine that night. He ate 3 pellets for dinner (wanted more but I'm going gradually because of his constipation), and slept in his normal spot. Soon after, I noticed him hiding all day. He darted away from me (I thought he was dead of course, so put my hand on the tank). He was laying on the bottom, more on his side, tucked into his plant. Like he was trying to get away from everything. Now he's in his cave, which he has NEVER spent time in before. He never goes to the top to breathe unless I startle him, which I don't like to do. When he is at the top, he floats normally, straight up and down, and doesn't seem to have any problem taking a breath. All parameters (except pH - see note below) are exactly as they were before, and have always been. His temp fluctuates 78-80 every 24 hours, and always has. He is used to it. I have double checked with two additional thermometers. The only thing I did differently this time is I didn't add salt to his water. I wanted to go through a couple changes before adding new salt, as I don't know how much has built up over time. He looks beautiful, smooth, no bulges anywhere. I am so worried for him. We love him so much, and I don't know what to do. I've looked up symptoms and he doesn't seem to fit any particular diagnosis. It was so sudden. He has such personality and now he doesn't even come out to see me. I did have to put him in a jar to clean his tank because he's so nosy and gets sucked up in the tube. I did fill the water from another faucet in my house. I let it run a long time first to get the temp just right, and it's used frequently. He seemed fine that night.

The only difference in parameters is that the pH tested the next morning between 7.4-7.6 Since we've had him, his pH has always been about 8. We have hard water and he has never been bothered by it. I don't know why the pH was so low but I supposed it would even out eventually. The pH could have been like that before I changed his water, I don't know. I didn't test beforehand. Other parameters as follows:

temp: 78-80 with heater as needed
Ammonia - 0-0.25, hard to tell
Nitrate - 5ppm
Nitrites always 0 (didn't test this time but I've never had a reading above 0, and tested a week or so before and it was 0)
KH 107.4
GH 125.3-143.2

Please help us! I don't want him to die :(
 

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...Because the pea made a mess, I did a 3/4 water change. His tank was way overdue for a cleaning/water change because he wasn't himself and I didn't want to stress him with it. (parameters were fine this whole time - just dirty)....
Please don't interpret my questions as accusatory....just trying to get some information to explore an idea on what could be the problem.

1. How big is his tank?
2. Prior to him starting to act differently, what was his typical water change schedule? How much? How often?
 

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...His last water change before this was on August 25th, this recent change was 9/17. He goes 6-8 weeks before changes generally...
I'm not 90+% confident my suspicion is correct, but my first suspicion is osmoregulatory shock. This occurs when a fish conditions itself to live in water that has less than optimal chemistry and then, all of a sudden, the water chemistry is significantly changed on them. For example, a fish lives a couple months in water that has slowly deteriorated and has a goodly amount of toxins in it. When the fishkeeper does a big water change (e.g. 75%), it can shock the fish. When a fish has gone extended period of time without having had their water changed, we should gradually reintroduce water changes to the fish....15% on Day 1, 20% on Day 2, 30% on Day 3 etc... We can remove the toxins in the water without shocking the fish. Additionally, it also reconditions them to doing massive water changes all at once.
 

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...Other parameters as follows:

temp: 78-80 with heater as needed
Ammonia - 0-0.25, hard to tell
Nitrate - 5ppm
Nitrites always 0 (didn't test this time but I've never had a reading above 0, and tested a week or so before and it was 0)
KH 107.4
GH 125.3-143.2
What test kit are you using? If it's the API test kit, you want to be sure you shake Bottle #2 EXTREMELY THOROUGHLY!! I know API says to shake for 30 seconds but that's not adequate. I'm aware of people who've experienced falsely low nitrate readings because the Bottle #2 solution wasn't thoroughly mixed before being added to their test aquarium water. 1.5 - 2 minutes of thorough shaking has always given me a good reading.

I'm concerned his aquarium is experiencing "nitrate creep" and he's responding negatively to the nitrates in his water. If you're confident your nitrate reading is reasonably accurate then nitrate exposure wouldn't be a likely cause for his behavior.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Just retested. Same result. I believe it's 5ppm. It's definitely not on the higher end, no red color to it, just very light orange
 

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Thank you for your reply. What can I do to help him?
Aquarium salt/non-iodized salt/rock salt will help regulate him back to normal. With a 5-gallon tank, I'd dissolve 1.5 Tbsp in dechlorinated water and add it to the tank that way.

If it's not osmoregulatory shock that's causing his distress, the salt will be beneficial to him in his stressed state....either way around, I'd add the salt into his tank.
 

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Please fill out this form and provide photos. I realize you may be repeating yourself but this form is quick-reference and provides us with the most relevant information. Without all of it all anyone can do is guess. It helps to have photos showing the difference between when he was healthy and now.

Thank you.

http://www.bettafish.com/99-betta-fish-diseases-emergencies/612810-please-read-before-posting-fill-out-form-so-we-can-best-help-your-betta.html

PS: If he's still constipated do not use Aquarium Salt as it causes fluid retention which is the exact opposite of what you want.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yes I will fill out the form now. I did read the rules and try to do it after my original post, but it said I couldn't edit the post after 20 minutes had passed. I messaged Admin about it. So I did try I assure you! I will answer questions and give update now
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Quasi update with Form filled in

Housing: 5 gallon Fluval with 2 live plants and a cave
How many gallons is your tank? 5
Does it have a filter? yes
Does it have a heater? yes
What temperature is your tank? 78-80, he is used to the fluctuation, has been that way for 7 months.
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? no
Does your Betta have tank mates? What kind? no

Food: eLive pellets
What food brand do you use? eLive
Do you feed flakes or pellets? pellets
Freeze-dried? no
How often do you feed your Betta? How much? used to be 2x a day when he would eat

Maintenance:
Before your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change? 8 weeks
What percentage of water did you change? 1/2
What is the source of your water? our own well (always has been)
Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water? vacuum but only surface stuff
What additives do you use? What brand of conditioner? Seachem Prime, been trying the Paraguard lately but not really helping, 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: 0-0.25
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5ppm
pH: last 7 months: 8 / after last 3/4 water change: 7.4-7.6
Hardness (GH): 125.3-143.2
Alkalinity (KH): 107.4

Symptoms and Treatment:
When did you first notice the symptoms? 8 days ago
How has your Betta’s appearance changed? darker in color
How has your Betta’s behavior changed? yes. lethargic, antisocial, most of the time not moving all day
Is your Betta still eating? no
Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how? gradually raised salt levels to what they used to be. tried paraguard
Does your Betta have any history of being ill? constipation, but it was cleared up
How long have you owned your Betta? 7 months
Was he or she ill or suffering some sort of damage when purchased? no

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Discussion Starter #10
I gradually added the salt back in, as that's the only thing I omitted when I did his last water change. I had always added salt appropriate to the amount of water I was adding back in on all other water changes but I thought it might build up over time with evaporation, etc. so I thought for this change I wouldn't add any.

His color is terrible. He used to have a nice bright white face with beautiful lavender coloring, translucent toward edge of fins with white on the very ends. He does like to rest on his filter intake so his fins look rattier than they normally would anyway. I don't see any fuzz or scales sticking up, or black or spots or anything on him. He's not acting like he did when he was constipated before. He only had a few feedings after I fasted him (except for the pea) for several days until I saw his poop in the bottom again. His tank was filthy from the pea so I wanted to change more water. When he was constipated before, he was still friendly, though laid down a lot more and wouldn't eat. But he never ever hid. He is now resting on his thermometer, which is his normal sleeping spot. Has been there a couple days. He moves his eyes to look at me and sometimes his fins but nothing else. No gill movement that I can see. he's propped himself up so he can breathe the air without swimming up.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I can't get a better picture of him without stressing him. He seems comfortable where he is and I prefer it to his cave so he can breathe easier. I don't want to startle him. His belly doesn't seem bloated too much, but then again it didn't look that bloated when he was constipated before. But his color and personality never changed when he was constipated.
 

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I'm at a loss HuttonFarm. Keep the water as toxin free as possible. Any signs of ammonia or nitrite? Nitrates still ~5ppm?
 

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I'm at a loss HuttonFarm. Keep the water as toxin free as possible. Any signs of ammonia or nitrite? Nitrates still ~5ppm?
I agree: I'm at a loss. The only thing I can recommend is the same as beretta96 which is to do water changes so that Ammonia stay at 0ppm. Something I can't prove but I truly believe helps compromise fish is feeding frozen food; either bloodworms or "mini bloodworms." "Mini-bloodworms" are mosquito larvae.

Oh, and don't worry about missing the form first time around. It's almost rote for me to ask as people are stressed when they post in this section and don't look at the stickies. Perfectly understandable as I did it the first time I posted here. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thank you both so much for your responses. He hung out on the filter intake yesterday, switching sides now and then. His color is much better today, his face is bright like it used to be. He changed position in his tank several times overnight by himself (without being startled by something). Rested upright on the bottom, under his leaf, and up in his normal sleeping spot on his thermometer. His gill movement seems to be calm and back to normal today. He's still definitely not right and I'm trying not to get my hopes up. I will retest water parameters today. If he is still hanging in there by the weekend I will pick up some bloodworms for him.

And thank you for understanding - yes I was in a panic!
 

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New pics - is he bloated?

So I managed to get a good pic of him last night. I thought his coloring was drastically better. That is the brighter picture.

Then just now as he swam over to his filter intake and was looking at me, I was thinking that he looked bloated. (darker picture) what do you think? sorry about the poor quality of the photo, I was zooming through the entire length of the tank with my phone. Nothing has changed from yesterday to today. I have not done anything with the tank or with him.

I know all this seems silly to some, but he's part of our family!

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