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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Photos

Click on the photos if you want to see them full size, they are very big!





Housing

What size is your tank? 2 Gal hospital - 4.5 Gal home tank (tons of live plants)
What temperature is your tank? 26C / 79F
Does your tank have a filter? No
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? Pond Snails

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Hikari Betta Bio-Gold Pellets - Some live mosquito larva in the summers
How often do you feed your betta fish? Twice daily, aprox. 8 pellets each feeding, they are small pellets.

Maintenance

How often do you perform a water change? Weekly
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? Home tank: 30%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Prime Water Conditioner and Flourish Excel

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?

Ammonia: 0 ppm on every test I've ever done
Nitrite: 0 ppm on every test I've ever done
Nitrate: 0 ppm almost always 0, once was ~5ppm
pH: not tested recently but never been an issue
Hardness: unknown
Alkalinity: unknown

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? Yes - Open wound on head. Often white/pink in appearance, when it was healing the white went away and it looked like a bit of a dark colored hole.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? Not noticeably, still quite active, curious, and great apatite
When did you start noticing the symptoms? About a month ago
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? Yes, with Aquarium salt, please see Details section below.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? Right after being treated with the aquarium salt he developed a swim bladder issue and couldn't float. Treated that with epsom salt for a week and it went away. As soon as the swim bladder issue was gone the wound reappeared.
How old is your fish (approximately)? At least 2 years.

Details
When we first noticed it a 1-1.5 months ago the wound was smaller and we waited about 2 weeks to see if it would just go away, then it got noticeably larger so we treated with 10 days of 1tsp/gal aquarium salt. At the end of 10 days the wound was just about entirely gone, just looked like a small hole, not white at all. A week later it's back and as large as it ever was.

Since the aquarium salt treatment began he has been in a hospital tank with absolutely nothing sharp that he could be scraping his face on.

Please also take into consideration that I have no idea if this is a wound or something else, I am just calling it a wound because that's what it looks the most like to me. It could totally be some kind of disease or parasite. Please take a look at the photos at the top if this post!

We're really disappointed because we thought we had cured this thing and now it's back. If you have any idea what it is and how to cure it we'd love to hear it.

This community is so great and I can't possibly say how grateful we are to the people that answer all the questions posted here. Thank you!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I would also like to mention that the wound doesn't really look cotton like or fuzzy. It's more like little translucent bits of skin or flesh. It does not look like what I see when I Google "Columnaris Betta".

Any help you can give with a diagnosis would be incredibly helpful! At this point I am really having a hard time finding anything online that looks like what Raffi has. I really don't just want to throw medications at it without identifying it, especially antibiotics.

Again, thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I appreciate the bump.

It's looks to be pretty rare that a thread here goes unanswered so it seems like no one knows that this could be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Sorry to double post but this thing is really getting worse (larger) and I really have no idea what to do. It is a very pronounced hole now. The good news is that he's just as active (and hungry) as ever.

If anyone can even help eliminate options that would be a great start. If you can say this is not a parasite or a fungus or whatever so I've at least got something to go from that would be very helpful.

I'm going to start treatment with aquarium salt again today if I don't get any responses I'll probably just continue that till this thing goes away or...

Thanks for any advice you can offer.
 

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Sorry, I have no idea. I'm hoping someone else who does will see this before it gets lost in a sea of fin-rot threads.

Are bettas susceptible to hole in the head disease?

anyone? anyone?[/qu

Bettas do not get HITH. It's a large fish affliction.

I am not sure what this is myself. Was there orginally a raised bump? If so it could have been a cyst that fell off at some point.

It's not a fungus. It could also be some sort of bacteria similar to flesh-eating bacteria.

Is there anything in his tank he could have hurt himself on initally?

Hopefully one of the Reference Team will give their opinion. Or anyone else who has experienced this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Thanks Terri. I can't say we ever noticed a raised bump, though it is possible. He does have some rocks in his tank but none seem very sharp. He was also in a hospital tank for over two weeks with absolutely nothing sharp in it.

The more I read the more I think this is likely a bacterial infection. We have had him for at least 2 years and we have not introduced anything new into his tank recently so I'm thinking probably not a parasite (though it is possible).

The next step I suppose would be to try an antibiotic. Not really knowing what this thing is I'd have to go for a broad spectrum one to cover gram negative and positive. KanaPlex sounds really promising though it may take a little looking to find locally. If I can't find KanaPlex would Triple Sulfa be a good alternative, or maybe even a better first choice? I realize they are both mostly for treating gram-negative bacteria. Other than a lab test is there a way to determine which gram you should be treating for? Are wound/skin bacteria typically positive, negative, or really could be either? Now I wish I was paying attention in biology!

Thanks!!
 

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You gotta roll the dice and start some kind of treatment. If you can't find Kanaplex, you might want to try Erythromycin. It looks like it could be an external bacterial infection. Erythromycin is good for that.

Terri says bettas don't get hole in the head disease, I can't find any evidence that they do. So I agree with her. But just in case this is a 1 in a million freak thing, API recommends General Cure for HITH if you want to take a shot.

I don't mind being wrong, hopefully somebody with more experience will come along and set us straight.

You might want to PM somebody on the reference team and bring them in on this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks Mike. I just got back from the pet store with some Kanaplex so I guess I'll start with that.

I see people asking for help from the 'reference team' here and there but I've never found a list or anything saying who is on the team. Do you know where I can find that? Thanks!
 

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I see people asking for help from the 'reference team' here and there but I've never found a list or anything saying who is on the team. Do you know where I can find that? Thanks!
lilnaugrim, MattsBettas, Hallyx, RussellTheShihTzu are a few of them. Just scroll down on the main index page and look for ''What betta fish lovers are up to". The names highlighted in green are the reference team members who are currently online.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
UPDATE - Still not solved :-(

So we tried the Kanaplex right after my last post here (Oct. 31), did the recommended dosage (I believe it was 3 treatments 2 days apart each) and he seemed to be doing better. The growth of the wound stopped and for a week or two it looked like it was actually getting a bit better/smaller. Raffi seemed more energetic too.

However in the last few days it seems to have switched and is now getting worse again. Raffi seems to be hiding a lot more than normal too. At this point the wound is really pretty big and I'm worried there isn't a whole lot of time left unless we can treat this thing.

I feel like since the Kanaplex did seem to help it likely is a bacterial infection as suspected but maybe we need a different antibiotic, a gram positive one? Maybe the Kanaplex wasn't strong enough to kill it all? Is my understanding correct that after you try one type of antibiotic using it again is likely useless if it did not solve the problem the first time?

I have not messaged any of the reference team yet but if I don't get much in the way of replys by tomorrow I might do that.

Again, thank you all for your tips, information, and support. It is really appreciated!
 

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hurm...I'm going back to my first instinct, Hole in the head disease. I believe sometimes it can be caused by a parasite, so your best approach would be to treat him with either Seachem Metronidazole or API General Cure. Keep the temperature at 80-82° and do a 100% water change each day. Be sure to acclimate him before putting him back in. You will also need to re-dose after each WC.
 

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I feel like I saw someone else here with this recently and it was a tumor of some sort, or maybe a cyst? I feel like it resolved itself, but let me look for the actual thread.
 

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Hey guys. First off, just want to say that no, Betta's are not susceptible to HITH disease because the parasite that causes it is much too large for our fish. Oscars and those larger fish are the ones who can get it.

I'm going to go ahead and pin this on Lymphocystis, it's not the normal appearance of the virus but the fact that it went away and came back again leads me to believe this along with some additional research that I just did. Lympho is a viral infection that infects the entire body and will generally manifest as some whiteish-pinkish spots along the body, usually in a lateral form and will appear sort of like ich but usually a bit bigger. If the immune system can't handle the virus well then the cysts can start to build up forming a cauliflower type cyst on the outside of the fish. Occasionally you see buildups under the skin where they are still pinkish white and they can push up out of holes on the skin like from the gills or orifices on the face like it's done to your boy here.

There is no cure for a virus much the same as it is in humans; we can get vaccines instead like for the Flu as it's a virus not a bacterial infection. However there are still things we can do for him like keeping him on a high protein diet to keep his strength up and keep his immune system strong. I highly suggest you get off Hikari and go with New Life Spectrum, Hikari used to be good in their pellets but a few years ago they started to use more fillers in them which make them not as good. NLS also has garlic in it which can be very important for fish with Lympho, garlic helps to keep nasty little internal parasites away and it's also very tasty for our fish!

The next step is to bump up his heat if you can to around 82, it will keep his metabolism running faster and boost his immune system as well. So your twice daily feedings will be still good for that (usually higher heat and faster metabolism means more food but twice daily feedings is already sufficient for him!).

And lastly just keep his water clean with regular weekly changes or bi-weekly if it's needed but if you have your tank planted and everything is growing well then only weekly or every other week is just fine to keep it nice nice.

The virus takes usually around 3-4 months to finally go away, his immune system will fight it off. Generally fish survive this but occasionally it does cause death so just be warned for that, it won't be anything you do or don't do, it just depends on where the cysts grow and if it inhibits anything important like eating or if it grows in his gills it can impair his breathing. The virus is highly contagious so if you have other fish make sure you keep your equipment separate from other tanks or disinfect them between tanks so as not to spread it around. If he's your only guy then you're lucky, no need to disinfect between uses on him as the virus is on him, not exactly in the water so he won't get "re-infected" like that.
 

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It's okay, I was too for a while. Admittedly I did look at this thread when it was first made but I honestly had no idea, when I'm not "in the mood" to really post detailed threads I tend to pass by the "hard" threads >.< not good I know but hey, even helpful people need a day off every once in a while haha. But I'm glad I did a little extra bit of research though to find that :) Hopefully the fish will be alright, there's always that chance the infection is just too much for the immune system of the fish though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
lilnaugrim, thanks for the long and thoughtful reply.

I agree with you that it is not HITH disease. If it is Lymphocystis I think it has likely run it's course and we are now looking at a secondary infection. I'm going to reply to a few of your points with my reasoning.

lilnaugrim said:
I'm going to go ahead and pin this on Lymphocystis, it's not the normal appearance of the virus but the fact that it went away and came back again leads me to believe this along with some additional research that I just did.
It never really went away, I'm sorry if I wasn't clear about that. In post #11 I said:
me said:
The growth of the wound stopped and for a week or two it looked like it was actually getting a bit better/smaller.
I would like to be clear here that it was still always very much there, it was never gone, it just seemed to have slowed or even stopped in getting larger after the Kanaplex treatment. I should also note that the wound is now a lot larger than when I took the original photos for post #1. I will try and get some more photos soon but you know how uncooperative bettas can be!

So was this Lymphocystis? It certainly could have been. I can't say we noticed a lump before we noticed the hole but from the sounds of it Lymphocystis isn't always all that large. With it being on the end of his nose I can also see it bothering him and he went and scraped it off on something. I'll also note that I don't see any other lumps or bumps anywhere on his body. The only thing that makes me think it might not be Lymphocystis is that we have had this fish (and he is our only fish) for probably close to 3 years now. I can't find any exact details on how long Lymphocystis can lay dormant but that seems like a long time.

Vetbook.org has the following to say about lymphocystis:
Vetbook said:
Mortality is associated with secondary bacterial or fungal infections. After lymphocystis lesions are lost, the host tissue heals up. Adhesions and scarring can occur during healing.
This makes me think that if it was Lymphocystis it has probably run it's course and we are now looking at a secondary infection of some kind which could be in serious need of treatment. As vetbook states it could be bacterial or fungal, I guess without running lab tests there is no real way to know?

Please let me know what you think of my reasoning here and what you think I should try treat for next if anything.

Other notes:

  • I have been keeping up on extra large water changes every week.
  • The aquarium is heavily planted and the plants are doing well.
  • We will try to get better food soon. If anyone knows a Canadian pet store that carries New Life Spectrum please let me know.
Thank you all so much for the help. It's really appreciated.
 

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Oh, I'm sorry I misunderstood that. I skimmed through the thread but missed that one for sure.

I think your reasoning is quite sound! It makes sense. I would then go ahead with the KanaPlex treatment, if he's still eating then get him to try to eat the kanaplex soaked food (soak for just a few minutes) and dose the water with it. This, to me, looks like a bacterial infection, fungal would usually be a growth on the skin either slimey looking, fluffy looking, or thick cottony looking, not a hole. Bacteria would be the one to eat away at something. Granted, there is still always a chance without having a swab done that it is fungal but since fungus isn't technically treatable, go with the antibiotics for now and just pray.

Is he back in the normal tank or still in hospital tank? I might have missed that post too, sorry!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
It is defiantly a hole but it does also look slimy a fair bit of the time. Not fluffy/cotton at all though. Something is definitely eating away around the edges making the hole wider.

To be clear; we have already done one Kanaplex treatment (dissolved in water, not in food) about a month ago and that is what seemed to make the hole stop going in size at least for a while but like I said it seems to be getting larger again. My understanding is that once you try an antibiotic if it does not kill the bacteria the remaining ones will be immune to it so using the same antibiotic twice is useless. Since Kanaplex is mainly for treating gram negative bacteria (though it will work on some gram positive strains) should I try an antibiotic for gram positive or try find a stronger gram negative one as it did seem to have some effect? Can you recommend a medication?

Do you have any idea how much it would cost to have a sample analyzed by a vet/lab?

He is back in his normal tank right now and was in there for the previous Kanaplex treatment too.

Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Sorry for the double post. I managed to get a new photo. It's not a great photo but it should give an idea of how much worse this thing has gotten. The picture is just of the very front of his face sticking out of a cup that he likes to rest in.

Click the image to view full size!

 
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