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Discussion Starter #1
A few months ago, I bought a baby Betta fish from a large chain-type pet store. Though originally I kept Mr. Teddy Salad in a vase, with less than 1 gallon of water, I quickly became unhappy with that set up because I felt that I couldn't keep the water clean. So I started doing some research around the web, and decided to buy Teddy a 2 gallon aquarium, complete with filter, heater, gravel to add to decorative rocks, Betta bulb plants, and a decoration.
I've had nothing but trouble with my poor fishy since then! I really do my best to care for Mr. Salad. I change the water 100% weekly, and when I do I clean everything in the tank, and the tank itself, thoroughly (with water only).
First I noticed that Teddy had some fungus. Bad advice from a pet store employee led me to using PimaFix, but within a day I learned better. In that day, Teddy developed pop eye too. So I completely changed all the water, and changed to BettaFix. This worked well; the fungus and pop eye both cleared up within a few days. I even bought some filter fiber to use in place of the regular carbon filter. I didn't want the filter to be completely off when Teddy was ill.
Meanwhile, I bought another plant, Anubias, to add to the tank, and removed what was quickly becoming a deteriorating decoration. Teddy loves his jungle, but has had a hard time with his "furniture". I've switched it out and can't find anything he likes, hopefully the sinking log that's coming will work.
During this time I've noticed that Teddy is either a runt or a female. Because I wasn't told what the sex was when I bought him, I can only guess by the size and that he has small, not so colorful fins. Teddy is maybe an inch long.
Recently I noticed that he seemed to have developed fin rot. I immediately removed him from the tank, and started an aquarium salt treatment in a quarantine tank--his old vase. Aside from when I broke the vase one night when cleaning, the daily water changes and salt were working well. There seems to be some fin re-growth.
But yesterday I noticed that Teddy has been swimming on his side, and doing these odd twirls. From what I understand it could be gas or constipation. I rushed out to buy peas, managed to get him to eat some, but I see no changes today.
I suppose my main concern is what I must be doing so wrong that my fish is always sick!!! I really do change the water 100% weekly, and make sure the temperature is right before re-introducing Teddy. I trim the plants of dead leaves, I switch out the filters as recommended, I clean every part thoroughly when changing the water--seriously everything is rinsed in at least warm and cool water and the rocks and equipment I boil from time to time--I monitor water temperature, I feed him Betta flakes twice daily and a blood worm treat at night. The tank isn't in direct sunlight, I don't leave the lights on 24 hours a day, and I work 10 hours of the day so I can't disturb him too much either.

I'm so worried about my fish! Teddy is a cool fish, who likes to hunt his food (feeding time is fun), explore the tiny jungle, and be curious about his surroundings. I'll be heartbroken if Teddy dies and it's my fault.
 

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Do you use a conditioner for your tap water, like Prime? This takes out all the bad stuff in city water.

From folks here, I learned that the flakes aren't the best for them. The recommendations are usually New Life Spectrum (NLS - there are various kinds - be sure to get the smallest size pellet for your little guy). You could try some of the frozen treats since he is so small. He doesn't sound like he (or she) is growing very fast if in a couple months, he is still under an inch. I also have some baby bettas from Petco. Eight of them. I have found that of these, the two males seem to grow much slower than the girls have. I'm not sure why. Folks here don't recommend the peas but rather Epsom salt bath for bloating type things. I was told don't mix the salts.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I always let my water sit out for at least a few hours to help evaporate chlorine, but I use water conditioner every time. I had been using API's Betta water conditioner, but when Teddy got fin rot I changed to Tetra's water conditioner for Bettas.
I often test the water before I put Teddy in it. The test strips always show that the water is fine, except that for some reason the nitrate and nitrite things tend to not turn into pink shades but instead gray?
The flakes I give him have little frozen shrimp bits in it, and he LOVES them. I originally bought a couple different types of food, to find out which ones he liked best. Teddy sort of grabbed the pellets and spit them out (repeatedly) but never ate any.
Are Epsom salts extremely different from aquarium salt? Also, Teddy doesn't look bloated, he's just swimming sideways, and doing the odd twirls. He didn't like the pea very much and just ate a tiny bit.
OMG! Teddy isn't an inch long, he's slightly bigger than that, I don't know why I typed that. But honestly I haven't taken a ruler to the fish either, so I can't be certain about his size.
 

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The test strips are rumored to be unreliable but with so many water changes you shouldn't have any water quality issues. I haven't used either of those conditioners. The most recommended here is Seachem Prime.

The other thing that comes to mind is that somewhere in the forum here is the thread about too much cleaning. I'm trying to find it but can't at the moment. There are good bacteria on the surfaces of everything in the tank that you might want to leave in there.

I'm new at this too so I hope others will chime in who have more and better ideas!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Teddy looks far worse. I think he is suffocating in his water. He is stuck on his side, and his gills are working hard. He's swimming in circles at the top of the water, and gulping constantly. From what I can tell, he can't get his mouth to the surface to breathe. I moved one of his plants (anubias) to the quarantine tank so maybe he can use it to reach the surface.
Is there anything I can to help my fishy?? He looks like he's suffering, it's awful.
 

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The test strips are rumored to be unreliable but with so many water changes you shouldn't have any water quality issues. I haven't used either of those conditioners. The most recommended here is Seachem Prime.

The other thing that comes to mind is that somewhere in the forum here is the thread about too much cleaning. I'm trying to find it but can't at the moment. There are good bacteria on the surfaces of everything in the tank that you might want to leave in there.

I'm new at this too so I hope others will chime in who have more and better ideas!
I also thought about lack of beneficial bacteria due to cleaning all the surfaces (plants, gravel, tank walls, etc.) at once, but I can't remember where I read it. You might want to try staggering the cleaning of the surfaces when you do water changes. I also am not very experienced, so I won't even try to diagnose your fish, but I just wanted to suggest something that might help your little guy. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I decided to take that advice when I was changing out the water earlier, and just rinsed. I didn't scrub at anything, or use overly hot water.
Thanks for the advice so far!
 

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To answer a question from an earlier post, Aquarium salt and Epsom salt are very different. Aquarium salt adds to fluid retention while Epsom salt has a laxative effect instead.

You said he spit the pellets out when you tried giving them to him? Did you try crushing them up? Bettas spit food out sometimes because it's too big and since he's so small it will be a lot bigger to him than older bettas.

You said he's swimming in circles and doing odd twirls? Buoyancy issues indicate something is going on with his swim bladder.

Also, I'm definitely no expert on cycling, but I do remember that beneficial bacteria lives on surfaces in the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I bought some Epsom salts tonight, and I have some water set out to acclimate to the same temperature as Teddy's current tank. What would the correct dosage be?
If anyone can help me, I'd appreciate it. Mr. Salad looks uncomfortable, and he's a cool fish. I want to help him get better.
In the future I don't think I will overwash or clean the tank, but before Teddy can move back home I'd like to see him healthy!
 

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Make sure it's pure and unscented Epsom salt. :)

What I do is take some water out of the tank and pre dissolve 1-3 teaspoons of salt per gallon of tank water (in the tank, not the cup) in that. Then when that's fully dissolved I start pouring a bit in every 10 minutes or so until it's all gone. I'd start at 1tsp per gallon.

Also, you may want to take a look at the label for the food you feed. Brands with more fillers can cause issues like bloating, constipation and swim bladder in some bettas.

You mentioned yesterday that he was having trouble reaching the surface for air? If he's still having trouble you can lower the water level.
 

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One 100% water change a week is not enough for a 2g tank. At least two 50% changes with Prime is better. Three per week is not too many, especially if he has issues. Two drops of Prime per gallon of tank size every other day will keep ammonia down. Same dose with every water change.

Betta will spit out unfamiliar food. Like kids, they must be taught to eat their nutritious foods. Keep feeding him NLS Betta or Omega One Betta Buffet pellets until he learns to eat them. He'll be better off in the long run. High-quality food also helps with swim bladder/constipation issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I was starting to worry about changing it too often, and I really didn't think that once a week was too often! Teddy's tank always looks pretty clean and clear even when I do change out the water. And the swim bladder or constipation issues started after I was treating him with aquarium salts in the small quarantine tank for fin rot, with daily 100% changes.
Teddy has now been in an Epsom salt bath for about 36 hours, and doesn't look much, if any, improved. How often should I be changing that water? Should it also be daily, like when I was working on the fin rot (which, by the way, looks so much better. I can already see some fin re-growth.).

How long should I fast Teddy? I also read that's something I can try... Or is it too much in conjunction with the Epsom salts? Teddy hasn't eaten in days, and I know that can't be fun at all. I was worried so I gave him one flake and a freeze dried shrimp bit today, but I can take it out if he hasn't already devoured them. Poor fishy, he loves to eat. This must really suck. At the very least I can say that the Anubis plant is a comfort, because I find him resting on the leaves near the surface often. I think he can breathe easier there.

Sorry about all of my long replies, but I'm super fond of the tiny fish, and I hate that he seems runty and sickly. Or, if just a small female, still sickly. I try to do everything right. My apartment has been unbearably warm lately because there isn't a heater in the quarantine tank, and I don't want the water to be too cold. Houston doesn't get that cold, and it's been warmer in my apartment than outside on recent warm days when it's nearly 80...
Ok, I will stop giving out random information, and try to switch Teddy to pellets. Are Hikari brand ok, or should I invest in another? If there is a smaller option that might be good, too.

Thanks so much everyone!!!
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Even if it looks clean, a lot of ammonia could still be present in the water. The Aquarium salt may have contributed to the swim bladder because it increases fluid retention.

You said he hasn't eaten in days, but will he eat if you give him something? If just Epsom salt and fasting isn't working, you can also try feeding him some daphnia, which also has a laxative effect. However, Epsom salt and daphnia shouldn't be used at the same time since they both have laxative effects and together they could cause dehydration.

Hikari is better than some other foods, I believe, but it does have more fillers than New Life Spectrum or Omega One. I actually feed Hikari and have had no problems with it, but for a betta that has had issues with swim bladder, constipation and bloat in the past, I would get New Life Spectrum or Omega One.
 

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I agree with Aquatail, especially regarding a food upgrade.

You can give him ES treatment in his heated display tank. ES doesn't harm plants.

Don't worry about his not eating. When he feels better, he'll eat. Worry after two weeks or so.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Teddy hasn't been eating/won't eat, and he isn't responding to the Epsom salt treatment. I noticed today that the box for the Jungle Fungus Clear says it helps treat swim bladder issues (I bought it in case the fin rot got really out of control). If Teddy continues to not respond to the salt bath treatment, should I step things up to that medicine? I am so worried about him! He just floats on his side at the top, or on top of a leaf at the top, partially out of the water.
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How much Epsom salt are you using? If he isn't responding to the current dosage and he won't eat maybe you should try a little more. I'm not sure how the medication would help Swim Bladder. Also, you said bath, are you only giving him a short bath or is it in his tank?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Sorry about the misleading bath comment. Teddy's tank is currently filled with Epsom salt water. He has been in it for a while, completely non-responsive. I have prepared some new water, and plan on upping the dosage to two teaspoons per gallon. But I was thinking that if an increase doesn't trigger a change at some point, a different approach might be helpful. I hate watching my once curious and active fish lethargically float on his side at the top of the water, refusing to eat. Mr. Salad can't be comfortable, if not in outright mental panic and pain.
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If you can coax him to eat, you can try frozen daphnia or brine shrimp as roughage/laxative.

At this point I think you should post on the "Diseases..." section. There are members there who are very knowledgeable about this stuff.
 
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