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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

I'm pretty sure my male veiltail betta has swim bladder. I've seen him just sitting at the bottom of his tank laying on his side. I'm going to treat with some epsom salt but I've got some java moss and a few moss balls in there with him right now. Will the epsom salt harm the plants? Should I move them to one of my other tanks before adding the salt or will they be okay?

Thanks!


-Kelsey
 

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Nope! Epsom Salt is actually a natural fertilizer so you're all good!

Have you tried fasting him a couple days? What food do you feed him? Often some swim bladder issues come from food that they've been in the past and not good water parameters.
 

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I would not add epsom salt's to the tank he will be in full time. A lot of people suggest it, but it is incorrect advice. Epsom salt's should be used for baths only, so I wouldn't worry about moving your plants around.

Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. It's a mild muscle relaxer which is, in part, why it aids in the relief of constipation, and it acts as a laxative. It also helps draw fluid out that has built up, which is why it is used to aid in the treatment of popeye and dropsy. People use it for similar purposes. It's not something I would keep in a tank full time. I wouldn't want to be swimming around in that all day.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'll try fasting him first. I feel so sad not to feed him, but I do think he feels crummy. If that doesn't work I'll try the salts. I'll have to do some research on baths. I've never had to do it before so I'm not sure what exactly to do. Doesn't it require taking the fish out of the tank? Doesn't that cause stress to them?

Oh, I just feed Betta Flakes from the store. Nothing fancy. I've tried bloodworms every once in awhile and he's like, "What the heck is this?"
 

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If it's a low dose such as .25-.50 per gallon then it can be used in the tank long term with no adverse side effects.

For adding salt, you just measure out what you need for the tank and dissolve it up in a separate cup with some of his tank water in it. Stir it up and it will dissolve eventually for you. Then you can add it directly to his tank without taking your fish out. I would add it over a couple minutes so as not to totally shock him. And no, it doesn't cause stress.

Ah, flakes can often lead to constipation/bloating which can be a common cause in swim bladder troubles. They're hard to control well so we usually recommend using Pellets here on the forum. I personally love New Life Spectrum (NLS), others prefer Omega One. Those are both high quality foods and he shouldn't have any issues with constipation afterwards since they're easily digestible. Freeze-dried items should be rehydrated if you feed them but ideally, you'd want to use frozen foods if you can for treats ^_^
 

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I'll try fasting him first. I feel so sad not to feed him, but I do think he feels crummy. If that doesn't work I'll try the salts. I'll have to do some research on baths. I've never had to do it before so I'm not sure what exactly to do. Doesn't it require taking the fish out of the tank? Doesn't that cause stress to them?

Oh, I just feed Betta Flakes from the store. Nothing fancy. I've tried bloodworms every once in awhile and he's like, "What the heck is this?"
Don't feel sad about not feeding him for a few days, fish can actually go a long time without eating anything at all.

I still have to respectfully disagree with adding epsom salts directly to a tank they are living in though. To each their own on the "great salt debate". There have been cases I have dealt with at the clinic where fish rapidly deteriorate after having been left in it for a few days, the only change to the tank being the epsom salts.

If you DID do a bath, its 1/2 TSP salt per US gallon (dissolved) of warm, clean, conditioned water. By warm I mean tank temp water. You only leave the fish in it for approximately 20 minutes.

They will/can get stressed if you remove them from the tank yes, but you remove them from the tank to clean it and let the new water reach temp so it's not that different.

There are many different opinions on many different treatments, so you pick the one you agree with or want to pursue. If you notice a difference in behavior after adding epsom salt to his tank, remove it by doing a water change.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I've had many bettas over the years but I've never done the Epsom salt thing so I thought I might give it a go. But hopefully the fasting will get him going again. If not I'll try the baths first, just to be on the safe side. I don't have any experience with adding it to the tank or doing a bath, so I'll have to try each one out and see how things go.

I wasn't aware that flakes could cause that. That's what I've always fed. To both him and my sorority girls. I tried pellets when I first got him and he would not have it. I rescued him from WalMart so who knows what they were feeding him. I immediately got him in a heated 5 gallon tank and he was a totally different fish. He just wouldn't eat the pellets or blood worms so I just assumed give him the flakes since I had them on hand already. I'll have to give the pellets a go again after the fast and see if his taste buds have changed. =P

Thanks for all the help!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Okay, I've fasted him for 3 days and he's still laying at the bottom all fat and unhappy. Would now be the time to start trying the epsom salt baths?

I'm confident I can do them, I'm just wondering how often I need to. Once a day for _____ amount of days? Or what? Thanks!!
 

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Usually once a day, I prefer to do mine at night so they have the whole night to rest in darkness after (my lights on are timers) with a towel or blanket over the tank to keep him calm, it helps the healing process. But it doesn't really matter when you get to them, just once a day usually (in some harder cases, twice a day). And for as many days as he needs, if you see him starting to improve in about 3-4 days then keep going until he's no longer bloated. If he's not better by 3-4 days or getting worse then you might want to look into something else.

Have you see his poo at all? Does it look normal, orange-ish/brown and curled or like a ball? Or is it white? Is it stringy or like little sausage links? No poo at all?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Alright, I've got him in a bath right now. I put in a little under 1/2 tsp for about 0.75 gallons of warm, conditioned water. I covered it with a towel so he can just chill out and hopefully relax. Maybe this will be the trick to helping him feel better.

As for the poo, I'm actually not sure. I work long days, so I turn on all the tank lights, throw the food in and leave. Then right when I get home I do a quick check to make sure we're all still alive and all the lights get cut off. On my next day off I'll try and watch him and see if I can spot any poo.

It's night time here so he'll be in complete darkness until about 6:20ish in the morning. Should I start feeding pellets in the morning or continue to fast?
 

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Continue to fast for now for another 3 days--it won't hurt him :)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well, I don't think my little guy is going to make it. He's got dropsy. =/ I noticed this evening while I was moving him over to the epsom salt bath that he's got raised scales and his belly just doesn't seem to be getting smaller even with the fasting and baths. I'm not sure what could have caused this though. I don't feed live food. I only ever fed the flakes. I keep the tank in good condition. I've never had a betta with dropsy. So sad. I just noticed the raised scales today, so I guess he could go over the rainbow bridge any day now. =( I'm glad I could rescue him from WalMart and give him a good life while it lasted.
 

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Oh no :( I am sorry to hear that. I don't like feeding flakes, although I understand bettas are picky eaters and some won't eat pellets.

Epsoms will help the fluid retention but once they hit the pine cone stage there is almost nothing you can do to reverse it, as it usually means they are entering organ failure. Keep trying the baths to keep him comfortable and aid in the swelling of his belly. If you feel it's the right decision to make, euthanasia is an option. However do what you are comfortable with <3
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I just looked up how to euthanize a betta fish and I don't think I can do it. I want to cry. I will continue the baths at night until he passes. =(

When that time comes, if I do decide to keep that tank up and running is it safe to put another fish in? Or should I do a deep clean of it and completely start it over? And what about the Java moss and moss balls? Will they be safe to move to another aquarium or should they be disposed of? =/ I was doing a little reading on dropsy and it sounds like it can spread. What I read was several different things. One said it was caused by kidney failure, the other said it was a bacteria that can spread in a community tank.
 

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Dropsy is organ failure.

It should be safe to put a fish in again, i'd rinse everything under really hot water first, just in case.
 
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