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Betta Success
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

experienced keeper - Betta changing colours and swollen mouth - no visible illness (RMF???)    6/29/13
Dear WWM crew,
Firstly, love your site and your expertise, thank you on behalf of  aquarists everywhere.
<Thanks for the kind words.>
On to the issue: I've been in the hobby a long time, lived on forums, run a small maintenance business, kept everything for planted, Walstad, brackish, to marine, volunteered at a zoo, am a biology nerd etc etc and am generally able to diagnose most common illnesses, but I've been thrown a curve by my own pet Betta. I've scoured literature/forums and am still scratching my head, so maybe the guru's of wwm can help!
When i bought him for my established, planted 5g, he was a blue Crowntail with a red streak or two one the fins. After colouring up, there was more red, but colouring up with unexpected colours/patterns is not unusual ime. After some time, he split a fin mildly, and though it healed very well, the colour was different - a pale pink to ruddy red similar to that in pale red Bettas. This spread to his whole body in a 'wave', with his usual blue (black on the face) returning after. Now, he keeps changing colour in patches all over, eyes, fins, body, everywhere.  He has no sign off parasites, no slime, no swelling, no fungus, eats very well, and is active as ever, and the colours are actually quite vibrant.  It has been happing for about 8 months now. Once, his left fin went clear with a boarder of blue, like some of the fancier Betta colour patterns I've seen.
<I agree; his colour patterns are very unusual.>

The only other item of interest is his mouth.  He always had a bit of a 'fat-lip', but now the lower lip is protruding out quite far. It is stable (i.e., not getting worse), and he can eat normally. But it looks unusual. please see pic attached.
I've had him about 18months.
Tank parameters:
-5gal/18L
-temp: 25 C / 77F
-ammonia & nitrite: 0ppm
-nitrate: under 5ppm
-pH: 7.4
-GH: 4
- KH: 3 (i buffer it up with potassium bicarb as my normal KH is very low and the tank is heavily planted, and then reduce the pH down a bit with SeaChem Acid Buffer
- i monitor parameters before and after water changes to ensure no fluctuations)
-heavily planted
-water change: 30% weekly with Prime.
-Diet: NLS pellet staple, mix it up every few days with Hikari Bio-Gold, Spirulina flakes, 1/2 a skinned pea weekly, treats of thawed Mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, white worm and a fast day every week or so.
Yes, the tank is filtered and heated. Small internal filter behind the plants and a stick heater set to 25 C/ 77F.
The only idea that has come up is that he may be reverting to the more dominant 'red' base pigmentation in the scales following his injury, with the blue kicking back in later.  Doesn't explain why it keeps happening.  Or, he's been poorly bred and all this is the result of that.  Still, unsure if the mouth issue is a co-morbidity of something related to the skin condition, or a separate matter.
Thank you for your wisdom on this issue.
Kind regards
Lea
<Do think the fins look a bit ragged, more so than usual, so would be looking out for Finrot. Would definitely review filtration… possibly water current too strong; always favour air-powered filters, e.g., sponges, over internal canisters, hang-on-the-backs, etc so far as Bettas are concerned. Colour changing is very odd, not aware of this being "normal" for Bettas but does happen in some fish for a variety of reasons… may be genetic, may be dietary, may be environmental, may be evidence of nerve damage. Can't really say what's going on here. The mouth is, again, odd, but not obviously something like Mouth Fungus (Columnaris) or Lymphocystis. I would tend to not medicate or treat beyond observation and ensuring good diet and water quality. Sorry not to be able to offer any concrete diagnosis. Cheers, Neale.>
<<The darkness, mélange/mix of coloring... something "neural" damage, genetic going on here... But what etiology, root cause/s? The alluded to damage? The "fat lip" is nothing to be concerned re... and nothing to change, treat for here. RMF>>

Re: experienced keeper - Betta changing colours and swollen mouth - no visible illness (RMF???)    6/29/13
<<The darkness, mélange/mix of coloring... something "neural" damage, genetic going on here... But what etiology, root cause/s? The alluded to damage? The "fat lip" is nothing to be concerned re... and nothing to change, treat for here. RMF>>
<<<Thank you Bob for this second opinion. Cheers, Neale.>>>
Re: experienced keeper - Betta changing colours and swollen mouth - no visible illness (RMF???)    6/29/13

Hello WWM crew.
I think i solved the problem with the colour - see this example:
http://bettysplendens.com/articles/page.imp?articleid=1114
It is exactly as described by the effect of 'jumping genes', seen in some marble Bettas, as well shown in the link article (extreme case).  My boy looks like the first few stages.  As my degrees are in genetics and I've worked in this industry, i understand how this would produce this effect well and how it can constantly change.  Certainly odd looking though!
<I'll say!>
Funnily enough, just found this info tonight.  Check the link, great new info.  This is exactly how he looks, though seems mines not finished the colour change, or he keeps reverting back.  Will be chatting to a Betta genetics whizz for more info on how it is practically expressed.
<Definitely an interesting article.>
On the filter - thank you for the idea, but yes i understand flow issues and Bettas, it is on very low setting with the outflow blowing into a wall to lessen it further, and to act like a cheat's 'lily pipe' as it directs water current around the back of tank gently for the plants.  He sits on it often and swims though the flow with ease, so i doubt it's stress.
<Cool.>
His fins have always been ragged looking - never the same length. It looks worse when he's not displaying too.  It's half the reason i chose him.  I wanted a 'flawed' Betta for this wild tank layout and also felt a little sorry for him not being as beautiful as his companions.  No sign of fin-rot though he has had a split a fin once or twice. I just maintain excellent water quality and diet and he's quite robust, heals quickly.  Does make me think he may be poorly bred though that his fins never 'even out'.
<May well be.>
The lip is still a concern, he cant properly close his mouth and it seems as if it's been pushed inside out a little (apologies i cannot seem to get a better pic). There is a lump in the centre that looks even and normal, but should be on the inside. But again, as it's stable and he can eat well, then i suppose no reason to rush out and treat.
<Quite so. Do review Lymphocystis and Columnaris so you have two possible things to look out for, but medication at this point may not be particularly useful. Might be worth writing to/on one of the Betta-specific forums to see if anyone can share similar experiences with you.>
Thank you again all
Lea
<Most welcome, Neale.>

New Print and eBook on Amazon

Betta Success
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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