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FAQs on Betta Diseases/Health 22

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New Print and eBook on Amazon

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Betta has a Crooked Spine 12/9/08 Dear WWM Crew, <Hi!> Please help; I have a Betta who is approximately six months old. <In other words, about one year old, decidedly middle-aged for Betta splendens.> I just noticed that Opey has been having difficulty swimming and he has not been acting himself; he seems to be hiding a lot and staying at the top of the tank. He is eating well. I do feed him a proper diet; by alternating soaked Pellets, Frozen Brine Shrimp, Frozen Red and White Mosquito Larvae, Frozen Daphnia, Frozen Mysis Shrimp, Frozen Beef Heart, Frozen Blood Worms and Cooked Peas. All foods are cut up to prevent constipation. <All sounds great.> To be on the safe side; last night I tested my aquarium water to make sure all the readings were good. The water read as follows: Ph - 7.0, Ammonia - 0, Nitrite - 0 and Nitrate - 5.0. The water temperature is holding at 80. <Perfect.> At one time I did noticed that he had white spots on him so I added aquarium salt and raised the temperature of the tank. The white spots disappeared. This morning, I took him out of the tank to do a regular maintenance of his tank and I noticed that he has a crooked spine. <Hmm... if this has suddenly come out of nowhere, may be a reaction (spasm) to changes in environmental conditions. If so, *may* recover if things return to normal.> Could this be still a birth defect? <Genetic problems tend to be apparent from day one, rather than something that happens all of a sudden.> Or could it be a bacterial or parasite infection? <Unlikely.> Am I doing anything wrong? <Doesn't sound like it; standard retail Betta splendens are short-lived, inbred animals, and it's uncommon for them to stay in perfect health much beyond a year or so in age, though the odd specimen may live 2-3 years under good conditions. Many odd things that happen with older specimens may simply be the outward manifestations of senescence, and as such, there's not much you can do.> Thanks for your help ahead of time - Jean <For now, I'd observe and just enjoy your pet. I suspect you're taking good care of him anyway. Cheers, Neale.>
Betta has a Crooked Spine -12/11/08 My handsome Betta, Opey has developed further; a severe crooked spine shaped liked an �S�. <Yikes... as Neale stated to you earlier, most are inbred, poorly cared for. I recall, when I worked for a LFS, they didn't even come in proper bags, but in shrink wrapped little "poaches" of water.> His tail is now facing downward. Opey is still eating, still hiding, but now running away a lot and now is staying at the bottom of the tank at all times; except when it is time for his feeding, which he goes after with a struggle. <Good that he is still interested in food...> His colors are still vibrant and tail is wide opened. He does not seem to be as alert. He is having a real tough time swimming. My questions are: Is this Tuberculosis or just a genetic problem that he later developed? When I got him he was small. If a genetic problem or spasm will he be able to later develop the ability to get around his tank? How can I accommodate him better? <Ah, no... you are caring for him the best you can.> I currently have him in a hospital tank for observation with all water readings normal. Opey's real home is in a 6.6 gallon bookshelf tank. The filter is always at a low filtration. The heater is set at a constant 79 degrees. The water level is approximately an inch from the top. His tank has air pumping in at a low level too. Please give further advise as to how can I take care of him. <If only all pet fish keepers cared for their fish as much as you seem to. Unfortunately, your tender love and care may be the best of life this poor creature ever knows. I'm so sorry our industry has let you down... has brought this sorry animal into your care. But you have, if it means anything to you, you have my heart, for carrying for him as best you can...> Thanks ahead of time - Jean <All my sympathy, Sara M.>
Re: Betta has a Crooked Spine 12/12/08
Hi, WWM Crew, Based on your previous email; how can I give the best care for Opey? Again, Opey's real home is in a 6.6 gallon bookshelf tank. The filter is always at a low filtration. The heater is set at a constant 79 degrees. The water level is approximately an inch from the top. His tank has air pumping in at a low level too. Should I lower the water even more, enough so it can be still filtered? <I would leave all as is. An inch of water is really shallow, I wouldn't make it any shallower.> Should I remove some gravel, since Opey spends most of his time on the bottom of the tank? <No need> As for feeding time; I was thinking of putting in a big glass dish so he had no problem getting his food. <Is he having a lot of trouble now? If not, then I would just leave things as is... change might just cause unnecessary stress.> Your input would be very much appreciated, if you have any further ideas please help. My husband and I still love this little guy very much. We both would like to give him a fighting chance. We would like to give him a good life still even though he is handicapped. <You are very kind souls. I do think you are doing all you can for him.> Thanks ahead of time - Jean <Best, Sara M.>
Re: Betta has a Crooked Spine 12/14/08
Dear WWM Crew, <Jean> Re: Betta with scoliosis We have not seen Opey come up for air since the onset of scoliosis. <Unusual... Bettas are aerial respirators... have to come to the surface...> We have had him in a hospital tank the past few days with only a couple inches of water and the hospital tank does not have an air pump. <Mmm, not necessary... for air, dissolved oxygen. As long as the water is not too polluted, cold...> He doesn't move around much and when he does he's usually moving backwards at the bottom of the tank. Occasionally he will have jerking/darting movement forward but it's very awkward and appears to be difficult for him. His breathing appears to be heavy at times, particularly after moving around. We thought returning him to his regular tank might help; this tank has about 5-6 inches of water. However, we are concerned about his ability to move up and down and receive proper air. <A valid concern> We do have an air pump in his regular tank. Should we add a second air pump since he seems to not come up for air? <Mmm, no. I would not> Feeding him is also a concern. We are putting a granite food dish at the bottom of the tank so that he might be able to get his food easier when it falls to the bottom. Please give us your best advice to take good care of our little precious guy. Also, what is the life expectancy of a Betta in this condition? <The prognosis is poor... perhaps days to weeks> Sincerely, Opey's Mom & Dad <I have read through the previous correspondence... I do hope to not come off as being cruel, but considering the circumstances, I encourage you to consider euthanasia here. Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm and the linked FAQs file above. Bob Fenner>
Re: Betta has a Crooked Spine 12/14/08
Thanks Bob, <Welcome Jean> Is it possible we are dealing with something other than scoliosis (maybe a spasm)? <Mmm, the appearance could be due to a few categories of root "causes"/etiologies... Maybe instead of the TV title "House", I can be "Tank?"... genetic, nutritional, various environmental influences, pathogenic disease, trauma... but likely this is mostly the first... and time going by... senescence... "old age"> We noticed pictures of scoliosis always show an "S" shaped spine. Opey is bent like a "sideways U" yet his tail is wide open. At one point yesterday he was laying on his side at the bottom of the tank and his body was relatively straight. When he got up he was a "sideways U" again. This seems to contradict what we have seen and read about crooked spines remaining permanently crooked. Opey's Mom & Dad <How to state this? My experience with Betta splendens has been that once this sort of condition evidences itself, there is almost never a recovery. Again, I am not insensitive to aquatic life, losses... and generally champion holding on/out to the last... Bob Fenner>
Re: Betta has a Crooked Spine 12/17/08
Dear WWM Crew, Based on previous discussions with WWM crew, it has been diagnosed that our Betta, Opey has scoliosis. <Diagnosed by whom? Scoliosis is a descriptor (like "Dropsy") not a disease. It can be caused by any number of things. For example, amongst fish, it's commonly either congenital (which is the case here, I know) or caused by malnutrition, specifically Vitamin-C deficiency if fish farms are anything to go by.> Also as discussed in previous emails, Opey can not get to the top of the tank in high water levels. Therefore we put him in a 3 gallon tank with a water level of one inch high with a heater, some rocks and a little plastic plant. He is now blowing bubbles and eating very well. <Cool.> There is one concern we have and that is: currently we are not filtering his tank, therefore we have been changing the water everyday. Is there any type of filter such as a sponge filter that you can recommend so we can filter his tank? <Sponge filters are ideal for Bettas, regardless of the situation. Would slowly raise the water level as/when he improves.> Or is there another set up that we can use to accommodate Opey; such as a turtle setup? Thanks for all your help - Jean <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Betta Help 12/5/08 Ok, call me an idiot. My Betta is sick again. <What sort of environment are you keeping him in? Sick Bettas are almost always Bettas in poor environmental conditions.> His tail is slowing disappearing and along the frayed edge is a fine dark grey or brown fuzz, which is also on one side of his body. I recently did a 25% water change but forgot to check the water temp, so I ended up adding 3 gallons of 72 deg water to his 80 deg tank. <Far too cold, far too small. Look, the price difference between a 5 gallon tank and a 3 gallon tank is trivial. Just swallow it. Go buy a 5 gallon, or better yet 10 gallon tank, and start again. I wonder if you've noticed that almost all the "sick Betta" queries we get are from people keeping them in bowls or crazy-small aquaria, often without filters and without heaters. There's a pattern!> The water parameters seem ok after the change, except the ammonia level was high, which has been normal due to my tap water. I use an API Tap Water DI Filter and treat the water with their Electro-Right and PH Adjuster per the recommendations. The water tests are: Ph 6.85 Ammonia .5 ppm (Tap water is 1.5 ppm) Nitrite .2 ppm Nitrate 0 ppm GH 5 deg KH 1.5 deg CO2 9 ppm <Too much ammonia, nitrite. Likely you're dealing with Finrot. I don't really care how you fix water quality, but you will have to, or this fish will eventually die. A big tank (5 gallons+) with a decent air-powered sponge or better yet box filter stuffed with biological media will quickly fix ammonia produced by the fish. Ammonia-removing dechlorinator will remove ammonia from the new water, but if it doesn't, then treat the water by adding a filter stuffed with Zeolite to the water for a day or two before use. Alternatively, if your aquarium has a decent filter, then doing small (say, 10-20%) water changes every 4-5 days would be acceptable, on the basis that the filter would remove any small amounts of ammonia.> His diet has been a variety of San Francisco Bay Brand Bloodworms, Brine Shrimp, and Glassworms. He is fed until his stomach just starts to show. The aquarium also has 4 live plants, a sterilized clam shell, and artificial rock cave. I am adding Nutrafin Cycle to the water and PlantGro for the plants. I also placed a few plant food tabs under the gravel. I am setting up a Hospital tank with no substrate and a heater set to 78.5 deg. I am going to treat the fin rot with Macaryn-2. Any ideas what else it may be or what is causing it? Am I trying to do too much too fast with the aquarium? Please help, I hate that my fish isn't healthy. The good news I guess is he still is eating and swimming normally. Thanks again, Frank <Don't feed the fish until you've fixed the ammonia/nitrite problems. Once you've done that, remember to feed sparingly. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Betta Help 12/5/08
Neale, <Frank.> He is being kept in a 12 gallon eclipse tank, and I do 25% water changes weekly. <Hmm, that should be fine. Better than fine, even.> I know that 72 is too cold, normally I check the water temp before adding any, I was just in a hurry and forgot. <These things happen... in itself a few days too cold shouldn't kill many tropicals, but it may make them more sensitive to opportunistic infections.> The ammonia & nitrite levels are zero out of the DI unit. I figured the increase was in part due to the tank still being in the cycling process. I am glad to know it is fin rot and not something I haven't treated before. <Makes sense. Would expect a full and speedy recovery.> What should the ammonia & nitrite levels spike to during the cycling process? <Depends on the frequency/size of the water changes. But if like me you'd be doing 25-50% water changes every 2-3 days through the first four weeks, you shouldn't really see ammonia above 0.5 mg/l or nitrite above 1.0 mg/l. While far from "safe", hardy fish should come through occasional peaks at those levels without too much trouble. Bettas aren't a great choice for this though; wild Bettas are very tough, but the fancy varieties are inbred and weak, albeit prettier (to some people, anyway). It's a bit like comparing a Pekingese dog with a wolf: same species, but which one would you expect to do best in times of trouble?> Thanks, Frank <Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Betta 12/3/08 My Crowntail Betta has white gooey stuff at the end of his tail fins and grayish-white discoloration on his chin. <Finrot and/or Fungus; requires prompt treatment, e.g., with Maracyn or eSHa 2000. Don't bother with salt, Melafix, etc... they won't work!> How often do I do water changes, <Assuming the tank is 5+ gallons in size and equipped with a filter, a 25-50% water change once per week is adequate. If you're keeping the fish in one of those dismal Betta Bowls without a filter, then daily 50-75% water changes are required.> How often do I add aquarium salt and how often/when during this cycle do I add Bettafix? <Don't use Bettafix. It's rubbish. No need to add salt to a properly maintained and filtered aquarium. Salt will not cure Fungus or Finrot either.> Is this even the right approach to take? Also, is 72 degrees too cold? Now that it is winter the heater doesn't keep him at 80 like during the summer. <Far too cold. Bettas need, at minimum, 25 degrees C (77 degrees F). When they get cold, they get sick. QED.> Thank you so much for all of this great information, I am so grateful to have the ability to give my fish, Melvyn Velvet, the best possible care I can.. <Do read about the requirements of your Betta; cute names are all very well, but what animals need is precise and correct care. A filtered aquarium 5+ gallons in size equipped with an air-powered filter and a heater of some sort is all Bettas need. Not much, and yet you'd be surprised how many people don't bother, and then wonder why their pets get sick. It'd be as if someone bought a dog, and the dog got sick, and when they went to the vet they expressed to surprise that dogs need to be fed dog food and taken for walks! Sounds silly when you say it like that, but you'd be staggered how many people make similar, basic errors with Bettas. Don't be one of those people! Cheers, Neale.>

Very sick Betta 12/02/08 Hello, WWM crew? I stumbled across your website, and I like your advice. I am desperately trying to find a way to help my crown tail Betta, Indy. He's lying on the bottom of the tank and has been acting weird for a month. He still eats every day, but sometimes I have to pick up his castle that he's constantly hiding in (lately) to get him out to eat. The water quality all tests good, he has a filter, heated to 80 degrees and only sharing the 10 gallon tank with 2 tiny cherry shrimp. I've only had him since May. Is there anything I can do to help him? Will aquarium salt kill the shrimp? How long can he stay under water without surfacing for air? I've been watching and he hasn't surfaced now for about 2 hours. Only his little eyeballs are moving around, watching me, so I know he's alive. He has always been a very small Betta, so I thought he was young when I bought him. In the last few months, he began losing his beautiful blue color, having white stripes, but otherwise healthy, but recently he's pulling his fins in to the side and will not flare. I'm so worried. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you for any advice, Skymouse <Greetings. Your tank sounds perfect. You haven't told me anything specific about water quality or water chemistry though. While I appreciate things might seem "good" to you, there are shades of grey that some aquarists don't always catch. For example, water from domestic water softeners shouldn't be used in fish tanks. And low levels of nitrite and ammonia aren't "acceptable", whatever the test kit packaging might suggest, the values of both have to be zero. One thing not always considered is that Betta splendens is not a long-lived animal. Male fancy Bettas are about 6 months old when you buy them (since people want full-grown males with the long fins). Wild Bettas live for about 12 months, so as you can imagine in captivity if you keep a pet fancy Betta for a year, your Betta will be about 18 months of age, well over what it would get to in the wild. As Bettas age they typically become less active and their colours fade; in short, they become old-looking. Now, answer your specific questions: No, small amounts of salt will not harm shrimps. How long Bettas stay underwater between breaths depends on various factors such as temperature and activity level; unless the tank is unusually deep, this isn't an issue I'd worry about. To summarise, review water chemistry/quality, and cut back on food for the time being, so that he builds up an appetite. After, say, 3 days offer something tasty, such as wet frozen or live bloodworms. Do remember fish get bored of the same dried foods, just as you'd get bored if you ate nothing but breakfast cereal. Dried foods are also notoriously likely to cause constipation, and this can lead to major problems. I'd recommend using pellets or flakes for only half the meals any fish gets, and the other half should be live or wet frozen (not freeze dried!). Try offering wet frozen bloodworms by hand, using long forceps. Fish readily accept food this way, and by wiggling the prey, you can make it more fun for the fish, as well as for you. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: very sick Betta 12/3/08
Dear Neale, Thank you so much for taking the time to answer. <I'm happy to help.> This tank has been set up since January 2007, and the Betta fish with the cherry shrimp have been in there since May 2008. The PH is at 8, ammonia & nitrite 0, and am doing 30-40% water changes every 2-3 weeks. I use half distilled and half tap (well water). I have a top fin power filter. Do you recommend anything different? <I'd perhaps do the water changes a bit more often, but really it shouldn't make much difference given the size of this fish and assuming you are careful not to overfeed him. More than likely the conditions in the tank are more than acceptable.> Do you think 2 tblsp of aquarium salt could make him any more comfortable? The water is about 8" deep. <The addition of small amounts of salt is sometimes recommended with Bettas, but in a properly maintained aquarium isn't necessary. Salt detoxifies nitrite and nitrate, but since you have zero nitrite anyway, it isn't going to make any difference.> I do try to give him a variety of different flakes, pellets, he loves freeze dried blood worms - (are they bad?) and he really gets excited about peas. <All sounds fine.> He eats everything. - - you said "live" stuff? really? I have done the frozen mysis shrimp, but the live things, - - yuck. <You don't have to do live foods if you don't want. Some people (including myself) enjoy scooting about the garden pond for daphnia, bloodworms or whatever, and then letting their fish enjoy them. But there is no practical advantage to using live foods, so if you don't want to use them, then don't. Wet frozen foods are a perfect replacement, and arguably cleaner and safer.> I'll do it if it would help. He's really just looking pathetic, either hanging motionless on top or lying down on the gravel (but mostly stays inside the castle). He used to be so lively. If he is dying of old age, I'd accept that, but would like to do what I can to make it easier on him. <I suspect he's just getting old. Unless he's actually suffering, I wouldn't alter things. As with any older animal, you can reduce the amount of food offered, but keep up the variety.> I hear about people having Bettas in cold little bowls and their Bettas going for 3-5 years. I don't get it. <Trust me, it's one in a million Bettas that gets to 5 years of age in a cold bowl! In fact, I've never heard of a Betta that old. Most live around a year after purchase, making them about 18 months old when they die. While it is true that the warmer the tank, the shorter the fish will live for, if the water is too cold, the fish gets sick and dies anyway. For Bettas, the minimum temperature is about 25 C / 77 F. Most Bettas kept at room temperature actually have short, grim lives. They're treated as disposable pets in effect, replaced every few weeks with another one.> Thank you again, skymouser <Cheers, Neale.>

Betta fish lethargic/floating 11/30/08 Dear Wet Web Media crew, I have a Betta fish that I have had for about three weeks. When I got him, he was very energetic, swimming around his tank and hardly stopping to rest, but for the last week or so, he has been primarily sitting on the bottom and only occasionally coming up to swim around. His fins have been very clamped and most of the color on his head has disappeared. Other than this, I have not been able to see any external symptoms of disease. (However, I also had noticed him "breathing" heavily, as his gills protrude out past his gill coverings most of the time as he breathes; they are a dark red, almost black). After searching on the Internet I decided that the most likely problem was constipation/swim bladder problems, and have been feeding him small amounts of pea and softened Betta pellet pieces twice daily. (He is only about an inch and a half and I was concerned I may have been overfeeding him initially). This has been going on for a week with almost no change. However, this morning he was floating at the top of the tank, with his nose on the surface and his body almost vertical. He will respond slightly to stimulus but basically just hangs there. Up until last night, he would come up and eat when I opened the tank lid, but this morning he won't even respond to food right in front of him. He is in a fully cycled 2.5 gallon aquarium set at 79 degrees, with ammonia and nitrites at 0 ppm and nitrates at ~5 ppm, and pH at ~7.8-7.9. I had also added some aquarium salt because he had some mild fin rot about a week after I got him. Is there anything I can do for him? At this point, I have no idea what might be wrong with him, and appreciate any help you can offer. Thank you for your time, -C <Hello Christie. Your Betta is still quite young, so I doubt old age is a factor here. Therefore I'd be looking at the environment. In theory at least everything sounds fine -- you have the tank nice and warm, and water quality is fine. Water chemistry isn't normally an issue with Bettas, provided you avoid keeping them in water from domestic water softeners. Hard water (such as well water) is just fine. But here's the thing: Finrot is almost always triggered by environmental or physical damage issues. If the fish is by itself, you can cross off fin nipping, so we're down to environmental issues. How stable is water chemistry? How stable is water quality? These are things to check. Soft water is notoriously prone to pH drops, and that stresses fish. In general, you want moderately hard water when keeping tropical fish because by default that gives you the best balance between hardness and pH stability. A lot of aquarists misunderstand pH, and assume fish care about it; they don't! What matters is the pH is stable. Next up, water quality may be good now, but is it always good, e.g., shortly after feeding? Check the nitrite level three or four times across a normal day, and see if it's consistently low. Aquarium salt doesn't treat Finrot and I have no idea why someone recommended that to you. You need to use a reliable medication, such as Maracyn (in the US) or eSHa 2000 (in Europe) to name some examples. Avoid being tricked into buying Melafix or Pimafix; these don't work reliably, despite being "new age" and cheap. Do understand that if Finrot isn't treated promptly the bacteria spread into the body of the fish, inevitably leading to a painful and miserable death. So long as he's still moving about and eating, you have a chance to fix him. I'd also make the point 2.5 gallons isn't really adequate, no matter what people sometimes suggest. That's hardly any water, and unless you're an expert fishkeeper who fully understands water chemistry and quality issues, all you're doing is making life difficult for yourself. A tank twice this size would be infinitely better. Do look over this month's Conscientious Fishkeeper Magazine; we have a couple of articles right up your street. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/betta.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/stocking.htm Cheers, Neale.>

Betta fish question, tumour 11/24/08
I believe that my beta fish has a tumor. There is a pea sized black cauliflower looking growth on the bottom of his fin. He is still eating
normally and acting himself. I found little on the internet about this and I was wondering if there is anything I can do to help him. Is there a cure?
Is this some sort of fungus? I did move his tank to a table next to a window. Could this be the reason for this growth?
<Hello. Tumours are not uncommon on Bettas, perhaps because they are so inbred. Environmental conditions may be a factor too: a lot of Bettas are kept in marginal quality habitats, such as very small bowls. So in terms of prevention, getting good quality stock and keeping him in a heated, filtered tank around 5 or more gallons in size is the way to go. Cure is more difficult; just as in humans, benign tumours come and go at their own rate, and short of surgery there's not much you can do to speed things up. Distinguishing tumours from Lymphocystis is difficult; Lymphocystis is common among certain groups of fish. Lymphocystis is a viral disease that causes (usually) off-white to coffee coloured nodules or tumours with a distinctive cauliflower-like texture. Again, there's no cure, and Lymphocystis tends to go away by itself, albeit over a period of many months, even years. Lymphocystis is likely caused by similar things to tumours, i.e., environmental conditions. Fungus is usually very obviously different: it is fluffy, with white cotton-like threads and is usually associated with obviously decaying skin or fin tissue. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Betta 11/23/08 Hi - I haven't been on the site for almost a year since all has been well with my beautiful Betta, Rocky. Now, after doing my reading etc. I think he has PopEye, body bloat. I just want some feed back as to whether I am on the right track. System info: 5 gallon heated tank (80 degrees) with Aqua Cleat 20 filter. The three filter components (charcoal, ceramic and sponge) are changed on a rotating schedule per the manufacturer's recommendations. Silk plants for cover and esthetics. Water parameters: Ammonia 0: Nitrate 0: Nitrite 0. The only thing that has been a challenge is the pH of my water. The water comes out of the tap at 6.7 and after a couple days spikes to 8.4-8.6. I have dealt with this by frequent (2X per week), 30% water changes with 1/2 tap water and 1/2 RO filtered water. For the past year the pH has remained at 8.0 with no evident effects on my fish. Two weeks age it spiked to 8.6 and it took me five days to get it slowly stabilized at 8.0. Symptoms: About a week ago his left eye bulged out somewhat and that resolved on its own before I could read enough to decide what to do. The following day he developed a bump on his side toward his belly about the level that the dorsal fin starts. Then the following day he went to the bottom of the tank and has stayed there, or in the plants looking like he is resting since then. He comes with great vigor to the top of the tank for feeding and seems to have a very good appetite. Small pellet food is replaced by frozen blood worms or frozen mosquito larva about once or twice a week. While he is on the bottom he looks like he is breathing hard - kind or out of breath. The bump has not gotten bigger or smaller. No white stringy stool. Other: I have increased the temperature in the tank to 82 degrees and added 1 teaspoon of non-iodized salt. Last summer I fed him some live mosquito larva which hatched outside my house. He loved this so much I continued throughout the summer. I hope I didn't poison him somehow! I guess my questions are: 1. Do you think I am on the right track? 2. After I put in the salt I read about adding Epsom salt to the tank. Is this a good idea and how soon after the salt can I add it? 3. Are there other things I can/should do to help him? Thank you for your answers......................... Linda Kirkland <Hello Linda. Tank sounds fine on paper. Your pH rise does sound odd though: one thing you might consider is an ammonia spike; ammonia obviously raises pH, and ammonia can come from two places. Livestock is one source, but given you've only got one fish, that's perhaps doubtful. Still, check for dead snails (apple snails are notorious for this) and uneaten food. The other source is your tap water. On the one hand there's Chloramine. Use the wrong dechlorinator, and all you get is chlorine (neutralised by the dechlorinator) and ammonia (floating about in the water!). So do check you have a dechlorinator that removes Chloramine, if you live in area you know/suspect has water treated with Chloramine. The other option is ammonia from, for example, agricultural run-off. This is mostly an issue with well water and the like. Now, having put these ideas out there: a few extra comments. No, the mosquito larvae are unlikely to be a cause of disease. Parasites can be introduced from the wild, but usually through animals taken from waters inhabited by fish. Midge and mosquito larvae picked up from buckets and water butts that don't have fish are not normally a problem. Next up, Bettas don't live for ever. Wild fish are essentially annuals, and in captivity you buy male Bettas when they're already full grown, something like 6 months of age. So if you still have a Betta 12 months after purchase, you're doing well. Cheers, Neale.>

Unusual Betta problem 11/16/08 Hello. I'm having a problem with my Betta that I've never encountered in my 4 years in the hobby (I know it doesn't sound like much, but I've seen a lot working in the pet industry). I've tried all sorts of searches online but I can't seem to find anything like it. First, I'll give you some background info. <Please> I have a 10 gallon tank that has been set up for about 3 months. Up until recently, it housed only two male Bettas (with a divider, don't worry!) and whatever Malaysian trumpet snails managed to find their way in there. It has live plants (mainly java fern, water sprite, and a couple species of Anubias) and a small filter. The nitrates have never been above 20, the ammonia and nitrite have steadily been zero for two months, pH is 7.4-7.6, KH is 3 degrees, and GH is 4 degrees. The Bettas were quite content until I pulled some stupid moves. First, I came into possession of a couple baby platies, and was keeping them temporarily in a 2.5 gallon tank. I needed a heater, and the only one I had was in the Betta tank, so I pulled it out thinking the temperature wouldn't drop below 72. I was wrong... it went from 76 to about 68 over a couple days. I was concerned at first, but the Bettas seemed fine, no change in behavior, so I didn't really worry about it at the time. <Mmm, such a stress can/does show up later...> About a week after that, I decided to move my 6 Danios from my 20 gallon tank to the 10 gallon tank, 3 on each side of the divider. I kept an eye on the water chemistry, and other than a 5 ppm raise in nitrates everything stayed the same. I replaced the heater in the tank as well, and the temperature went back up to 76. I knew my Danios were rather boisterous, and I tried to put the most boisterous ones with the Betta that I thought was the tougher of the two. Considering all the stressors I introduced, I'm not surprised that one of my Bettas got sick. However, it's the illness itself, not the cause, that has me befuddled. I first noticed that his gills were hanging slightly open and he was breathing heavily. He would come to the top to eat, but the rest of the time just lay on the bottom. I assumed it was probably a bacterial infection of sorts brought on by stress, and I set up my 2.5 gallon tank as a hospital tank. I put a heater in it, got the temperature to 76, put 1/2 tablespoon of aquarium salt in it, and let it run overnight with an air stone. I transferred him this morning. Tonight, I came home, added .5 ml of Melafix, <Mmm, not a fan> and attempted to feed him. He was VERY interested in food, and practically attacked it... however, he couldn't seem to even get it in his mouth, and that's the bit that has me stumped. It's not like he takes it and spits it back out, it's like he can't even open his mouth enough to get it in. I tried a variety of foods, including flakes and daphnia, and he barely got anything in his mouth. He would lunge after it and end up just pushing it around. It's like Betta lockjaw! I've never seen anything like it, and it's frustrating me. He seems like he would have a great prognosis for recovery if it weren't for the fact that he can't eat -- he's active and interested in food. I'm just wondering what could be causing this? <Could be pathogenic> My best guess is a bacterial infection, but nothing looks red or swollen, he's just skinny, his gills don't close completely, and he can't open his mouth. I even managed to peek into his gills with a flashlight when he had them flared, and they didn't appear swollen at all. In fact, they looked like all the pictures of fish gills I've seen in the text books, healthy pink but not inflamed red or anything. Any thoughts would be appreciated. I don't want to have to euthanize him, but if the treatments don't work I'm worried he faces slow starvation. Thanks, Tamla <Given the symptoms you describe, the course of exposure to other life, am guessing that this may be an instance of Flukes... Please read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/flukesfwf.htm and further on the Net re monogenetic Trematodes. Bob Fenner>

Sick Betta? 11/15/08 We rescued Fix in May 2008 after a bunch of boys put him in a tank with another Betta. He's become the family's favorite pet. He initially did not have any fins (at all) and just stayed at the very top of the water. We put him in a one gallon unfiltered, unheated, bowl and he has done really well. I recently put him in a 10 gallon tank with some Neons and he seemed to adjust fine. He's been in the community tank for about 5 weeks. Just recently, I noticed he had an enlarged area right where his ventral fins are, right behind his gills. I attached some pictures (very poor quality) here. <Hmm... yeah, next time, you might try taking the pics without the flash. I can't really make out much, but do see what appears to be a growth.> We also noticed that he had a small discoloration or scratch on his side. But that seemed to heal and go away. The swollen body part still remains. Can you help me in identifying what this may be and if there's anything I can do? He seems to be very active as always, swimming through his tunnel and eats a lot. <It appears to be a tumor or maybe constipation... a condition similar to a Betta pictured on this page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/betdisfaqs.htm As Cheryl suggests, you might "Mix up 1 gallon of water with your dechlorinator and 1/2teaspoon of Epsom salt. Do partial water changes every couple days with this water. Feed sparingly for a few days, maybe an adult brine shrimp or so a day. Feed some brine shrimp for a few days, they are not very nutritious, but good for cleaning out the pipes. You can offer some bits of thawed peas if he will take them. Some frozen bloodworms will be good when you are done with the brine, the other Bettas will appreciate them too, basically you want to avoid dry food for a while." > The Henry Family
Sara M.>

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