Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs on Betta Diseases/Health 25

Related Articles: Anabantoids/Gouramis & Relatives, Betta splendens/Siamese Fighting FishBetta Systems, Betta Diseases, Improved (Better?) Products for Bettas!,

Related FAQs: Betta Disease 1, Betta Disease 2, Betta Disease 3, Betta Disease 4, Betta Disease 5, Betta Disease 6, Betta Disease 7, Betta Disease 8, Betta Disease 9 , Betta Disease 10 , Betta Disease 11 , Betta Disease 12 , Betta Disease 13 , Betta Disease 14 , Betta Disease 15 , Betta Disease 16 , Betta Disease 17 , Betta Disease 18, Betta Disease 19, Betta Disease 20, Betta Disease 21, Betta Health 22, Betta Health 23, Betta Health 24, Betta Health 26, Betta Health 27, Betta Health 28, Betta Health 29, Betta Health 30, Betta Health 31,
Betta Disease Causes/Etiologies: Determining/Diagnosing, Environmental (By far the largest cat.), Nutritional, Viral/Cancer, Infectious (Bacterial, Fungal) , Parasitic: Ich/White Spot, Velvet; Senescence/Old Age, Cures/Curatives/Treatments,
FAQs on Betta Medicines: Betta Medicines period, Antibiotics/AntibacterialsAnti-Protozoals (Metronidazole, eSHa...), Copper, Formalin, Malachite Green, Anthelminthics, Organophosphates, All Other Betta Med.s (Mela-non-fix, Quinines...) 

New Print and eBook on Amazon

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

ICK, Betta, Bowl  -- 09/03/09
I have a Betta named Buddy sitting on my desk for my students to enjoy. I noticed he has some white spots on the ends of his fins and tail this morning and I suspect it is ICK. Can I use Ick treatment in his bowl like I would in a regular fish aquarium with other fish?
<Hello Lysa. First things first. You can't keep Bettas in bowls. I know you don't want to hear this, but all you're doing is showing kids the wrong thing. As a biology teacher in the past, I know how anxious good teachers are to instill love for animals in their students. But this isn't the way to do it. A Betta needs, at minimum, a 5-gallon tank with a heater and a filter. Bowls simply aren't big enough, and all that happens is the poor animals either gets chilled or poisoned with its own waste. Some of the less reputable pet stores will suggest otherwise -- even going so far as to say that Bettas live in puddles! Think about that for a moment: why and how would such a fish evolve? It's very likely your Betta actually has Finrot, as this often begins as specks of dead white tissue at the ends of the fins. It's caused by two things, a weak immune system (e.g., because the fish it too cold) and chronically poor water conditions (which overwhelm the immune system and allow ambient bacteria to turn from being harmless to becoming pathogenic. It's essentially gangrene, and left untreated, kills. So what to do? First, set up a tank with a heater and a filter. The heater should keep the water around 28 C/82 F. A degree or two above or below won't matter, but unless you live in Thailand, your room temperature just won't be warm enough, hence the heater. Cold air especially harms Bettas (and indeed all air-breathing fish) very quickly, leading to the fishy equivalent of pneumonia. Next up, install a filter. Nothing too fancy here: a simple air-powered box or sponge filter is ideal. Undergravel filters are good, too. Filters with electric pumps tend to be a little on the strong
side, causing these fish real problems. They're essentially crippled by the crazy long fins we've bred into them, and can't swim properly. Wild Bettas have much shorter fins. Now, using the test kits you have -- you do have test kits, right? -- check the nitrite and ammonia levels. Both should be at zero, all the time, no exceptions. If they're not, then you're under-filtering or over feeding your Betta. Do 25% water changes daily or at least every other day until the filter is matured (this takes 4-6 weeks from new, but you should be okay to do weekly water changes from about the end of the third week) Once your fish has the right environment, you can treat for Finrot using, for example, Maracyn. If you don't fix the environment, using medications is like sticking your finger in a leaky dyke: pull your finger out (stop medicating) and the leak will spring right back (the fish will get sick again). I do wish pet stores would stop selling bowls, but so long as there are people out there who buy them, I guess that's too much to hope for. Set your students a real example: show them that animals comes with responsibilities. But even better, use the *aquarium* to demonstrate environmental science. For example, how bacteria convert ammonia (which is toxic) into nitrate (which is safe, and indeed used by plants as fertiliser). Fish tanks are a great way to demonstrate
the inter-relatedness of microbes with the organisms we can see, and in a miniature way, a reflection of how our own species depends so often on microbes most of us ignore. Some even use aquaria to show how closed systems work, including Planet Earth, with everything linked to everything else, and problems for one leading to problems for others. Cheers, Neale.>

Betta with Velvet - almost out of ideas, very worried   9/2/09
Hi guys,
I have been treating a Betta for Velvet for several months. I started with CopperSafe, carefully measured in a medical syringe. That seemed to be working at first, but after weeks of gradual improvement he would suddenly have a relapse, and it would start over again -- improvement followed by relapse. Eventually, by reading your site and a few others, I got wise to raising the temperature, treating him in a hospital tank, and turning off/blocking out any lights. But the pattern continued.
<Do you use carbon in the filter? Remember to remove this when treating fish.>
In desperation, I switched to Rid-Ich. This seemed to be working -- steady, slow improvement with no major relapses. But it's been over a month now, and the improvement is very, very slow. So slow that I'm no longer sure if he's getting better or staying the same. He's been almost recovered for a over week now, but it's still on his head and faintly visible on his body.
<I see.>
He's in a five-gallon tank, kept at 84-85 degrees. The carbon filter has been removed, along with everything else. I'm feeding him daily, pre-soaking his food and giving him a variety. The towel is only off his tank for about 15 minutes per day, and the rest of the time he just has a small opening in the front to see if it's day or night (thought that might be important). If there's anything else relevant about his environment I forgot to mention please let me know.
<Velvet (Piscinoodinium pillulare) is a disease that usually gets into aquaria. It doesn't, so far as is known, lurk in tanks for years at a time, waiting to jump onto unsuspecting fish. In fact the free-living stage must
find a host within ~48 hours or it dies. So, the first thing to figure out is [a] if this really is Velvet, and [b] how it got into your aquarium.>
In addition to the medication and darkness, I've also been adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt per gallon.
<Do need rather more salt than this... at least 10 grammes per 45 litres (about one teaspoon per 5 US gallons). Possibly more, up to 2-3 teaspoons per US gallon may be necessary.>
I cannot find an answer as to how much is best, that seemed like a good guess, can't seem to find a saline test in any LFS. As I understood the Rid-Ich instructions, the idea is to keep the concentration the same (.5mL per gallon) while changing 1/4 of the water daily. I have been doing this, but when his improvement slowed to a near-stop I went to 1/2 daily water changes, again maintaining the concentrations of salt and Rid-Ich. I even suction the water from the bottom of the tank, imagining that I am vacuuming reproductive cysts in the process. I don't know if this is helping.
<Marginally, to be honest.>
I don't know if anything is helping. I don't know why he wasn't better a long, long time ago.
<Are you sure this is Velvet?>
<<It is not or this animal would be dead. RMF>>
He's still active, eating and trying to get attention, but I'm starting to wonder if the poor guy is going to have to live what's left of his life in the dark, in poisonous blue water. His fins have started getting a little
ragged, too. I don't know what to make of this, but from what I've read it doesn't seem like any fungal or bacterial fin rot could survive in there, so I'm wondering if the Rid-Ich is causing it somehow. I'm very concerned in any case, I know this stuff is poisonous and I want out of his tank ASAP, but I'm afraid without it the bugs would overrun him in a few days. I'm afraid to experiment, terrified of another relapse. Please help, what else can I do? And why is this taking so long?
<I'm concerned that you're actually looking at something else, e.g., a "slime disease" type thing, where there's a bacterial infection of the skin, resulting in excess production of off-white slime on the body. This
can (usually) be fixed with antibiotics or suitable anti-bacterials.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Betta with Velvet - almost out of ideas, very worried   9/2/09

Thanks for the quick response, Neale.
<You're welcome.>
I have wondered too how Velvet got introduced. Some time ago I gave away the fish that lived in another aquarium, and the folks who took them used their own net. Even though it was a different tank, there may have been some accidental contamination. That was shortly before my Betta got sick.
<Sounds possible.>
As to whether or not it is really Velvet, I've never been 100% sure. It doesn't look like "dust," as it is so often described. I don't see individual particles, but it's a coating that is thicker when viewed at an angle and thinner viewed in profile. It is a brown, rusty color, not "off-white."
<Velvet is usually a distinctive metallic sheen, hence the name, and tends to attack the gills first, so you usually see heavy (or rapid) breathing alongside the other symptoms. It's actually pretty rare, in the UK at
least, when compared to Whitespot/Ick -- in 25 years of keeping fish, I've never seen it!>
To keep things short, I didn't mention that at first I only noticed swollen gills and eyes and treated him with a course of Maracyn, followed by Maracyn II. Neither had any effect. I began treating with CopperSafe when I noticed the rust coloring, and he improved immediately although, as I explained, he has never made a full recovery. Also, if it was a bacterial infection, wouldn't the Rid-Ich kill it regardless?
<No, anti-Ick medications treat against specific Protozoans, not bacteria.>
How do I determine if this is or is not Velvet? I need to be sure before I change course.
<I agree, diagnosis is important. Any chance of a photo? A reasonably sharp one, please! In the meantime, both Ick and Velvet should be cured by appropriate use of heat and salt, so increase the salinity as mentioned earlier, and see what happens. At the least, this won't harm your fish. If that doesn't work, and the fish continues to develop ragged fins, then treat for Finrot. I'd try something a little more general purpose than Maracyn, perhaps Something like Seachem ParaGuard for example.>
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Fixing an error... Env. dis.... cycling with fishes, FW. Betta  9/1/2009
My dilemma is as follows-
It started when I made a bad error of judgment- cycling with fish. I assumed that I could do semi-frequent water changes to get the cycle going.
Unfortunately, Nixon (my veiltail Betta), developed fin rot.
<Cycling with fish is risky, and does rather assume the tank is [a] large proportional to the fish being kept; [b] receiving 20-25% water changes every day or two; and [c] stocked with hardy fish known to tolerate short-term exposure to ammonia. In very small tanks, the problem is that there's insufficient water to keep the ammonia diluted enough to avoid acute poisoning of your fish. I don't recommend people keep Bettas in tanks less than 5 gallons in size precisely because of this, and putting a heater and a filter in a tank smaller than this doesn't work well at the best of time.>
I had built a baffle on the power filter, keeping the water very still.
However, I suspected the intake might have hurt him.
<Does happen; the best filters for Bettas are either air-powered sponge filters or undergravel filters. Electric filters are best avoided.>
I decided to start fresh - I got a box filter (couldn't find a sponge filter) with a gang valve to minimize air flow.
<Should work fine. Even with medium levels of air flow, the "suck" on these box filters isn't great, and they work nicely even in tanks with fish fry, let alone Bettas.>
It is held down by a slab of slate (again, not ideal, but it was all I could get at this point)
<You do what you have to do. I find a handful of gravel at the bottom of a buoyant box filter works well at weighting it down. Fill the rest of the filter with floss. The gravel supports some biological filtration, so it isn't a waste of space.>
and got some Maracyn 2. I have a second heater for temping his new water in a separate container, complete with second thermometer.
<Not strictly necessary; adding luke warm water from the tap, provided it is dechlorinated, should be fine for any fish tank. Just remember, don't use water from a domestic water softener or untreated water from an RO unit; plain vanilla tap water, even if hard, is fine for Bettas. Leaving water to stand overnight is often a good idea; some water supplies exhibit weird chemistry changes immediately after being drawn. Find out for yourself: do a pH and hardness test on some freshly drawn tap water, and then leave the water sitting for 24 hours and then test it again. If the pH and hardness are the same, you're fine. If not, then leave all your water for 24 hours before use. This isn't an alternative to removing chlorine or copper using water conditioners, by the way.>
Water is from same source always, PH always identical via Wardley 3-in1 7.0.
<The pH is largely irrelevant, and unless you have a specific reason to "fix" the pH at 7, I wouldn't bother. Hardness is much more important when keeping fish generally, but Bettas will adapt just fine to anything in the range 5-20 degrees dH, pH 6-8. In general, water with a pH around 7.5 is the best because this is where biological filtration operates most efficiently. Moderately hard water also tends to regulate its own pH fairly well, and there's really no need to soften water unless you're keeping (or breeding) finicky fish.>
I began Maracyn treatments. He was healing okay until his latest ammonia spike (I was foolish not to expect it so soon). To be safe, I put tetra ammonia detoxifier in his tank, then prepped up a fresh batch of water.
<Ammonia removers remove ammonia from tap water, and have little/no impact on ammonia constantly produced by the fish and organic decay in the filter.
Ammonia is best dealt with via water changes and filtration.>
I also found some tetra Safe Start that wasn't online, it was in a pet shop so I could obtain it.
<Couple tablespoons of gravel from a mature aquarium would work a million times better anyway... even a clump of floating Indian Fern added to the tank would have a dramatically positive impact.>
Today I did one last full 100% water change, thoroughly cleaned everything with leftover changing water (the new stuff), added the SafeStart, and put Nixon back into his new home.
<Why all the cleaning? Look, cycling requires the presence of bacteria.
Limit water changes to 50% at most in emergencies -- where ammonia goes above 0.5 mg/l for example. Otherwise, restrict water changes to 25% every two days for the first 3-4 weeks after setting up a tank. After that point, 20-25% water changes weekly should be ample. Assuming you have at least a 5 gallon tank, a single Betta shouldn't be producing too much mess, and through the cycling process, you'd not be feeding more than one small meal daily, perhaps every other day if you find ammonia keeps creeping above 0.5 mg/l. As for rocks, gravel, etc., leave this as they are. If you must clean the gravel, simply stir and siphon out any detritus. Do nothing more to filter media than rinsing it in buckets of aquarium water or, if necessary, in some freshly drawn, dechlorinated water that's been left to reach water temperature. That's it!>
Through all this time, he has continued swimming normally and eating well (although today is his fasting day). So should I begin a new medication regimen?
<Unless there is actual Finrot, I wouldn't add anything. Fish will regenerate their fins very quickly under good conditions, just as we grow back skin without the need for medications if we cut or graze ourselves.>
Will it affect my seed bacteria?
<Used as described, medications shouldn't harm the filter bacteria.>
Should I do a 50% water change every 2-3 days?
Any tips?
<See above.>
Thanks, Steve
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: fixing an error 9/1/2009

Dude, thank you so much for the quick reply!
<Happy to help>
I'll try tracking down some Indian fern ASAP!
<It's good stuff. Do read what Bob has to say:
I have it in all my tanks.>
I've been reading all sorts of information recently, much of it conflicting advice. Some people advice full weekly water changes, others say never more than 20%.
<Not all tanks work the same way, so there aren't any hard and fast rules.
Moreover, in the past people did very small water changes (typically 25% a month) whereas today aquarists do water changes at least weekly, and in many cases more than 25%, perhaps because their fish are particularly messy. But a 25% water change every week works well, and keeps conditions good enough that if you skip a week because you're on vacation or otherwise busy, it's not big deal.>
I wholly intend to go to the store tomorrow and get a liquid ammonia test kit (after adding the ammonia Detox, the strips said the ammonia went from stress to danger).
<Test strips are fine for this sort of thing, so I wouldn't worry about buying a liquid test unless you really want one. If you can detect ammonia, that's bad, and a water change is probably in order. A trace of ammonia is normal through the cycling process, but after that, it's should be 0 pretty much all the time (and so will nitrite be 0 too).>
I'll follow through with the water changes, try to find someone that will spot me a little gravel from a cycled tank.
I've read elsewhere that on a box filter you should change out half the floss.
<You can do this. Indeed, you can change 50% of the media in any mature filter without harm. Some manufacturers will in fact recommend you do this every few months since media that is too clogged isn't especially useful. With sponges, you can rinse them out, but floss can only be cleaned so many times before it all falls apart.>
But you seem to be thorough and knowledgeable, so I'm going to treat it like a sponge.
<Quite so; I find rinsing floss every couple weeks keeps it sufficiently clean I don't need to replace it as often as you might think. A clump of floss in a Betta tank should last a good 6 months if you keep cleaning it
gently. Just remember, it's "alive" with bacteria, so don't expose it to anything you wouldn't expose your fish.>
I guess I only have 2 more questions- A) What are signs to look for if I need to redo the Maracyn 2 regimen
<Finrot on Bettas usually looks like patches of white (dead) skin, typically on the fins. On most fish, Finrot often reveals itself by erosion of the fins, as the membrane dies back leaving the filament-like bones, so
there's a ragged or cobweb appearance. But on Bettas this can be tricky to see because they have long and often naturally ragged fins anyway, so you need to be open minded. What you're looking for is signs that the fins are falling apart, dying, hence the name, Finrot. Patches of red or white around the face and mouth sometimes appear, too. Fungus is distinctive: cottony threads, usually on the face or body, sometimes the fins. Both diseases are quite easy to treat if caught early on, and some medications, such as Seachem Paraguard and API Triple Sulfa work well on both. Bettafix (or Melafix) sort of, kinda, helps and can be used to prevent both of them if you think your Betta might develop these problems for some reason, but it
isn't a reliable cure once symptoms set in.>
and B) Does Wet Web Media take donations? Once I get a debit card and/or PayPal account, I'd be happy to toss you folks some loot!
<If you'd like to buy us a beer or two, then by all means do so. I believe there's a Donate button on the front page, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/
Many thanks on behalf of both of us-
Steve and Nixon
<You're most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: fixing an error... Betta hlth.? 09/15/09

Hey Neale, I just wanted to give you an update on Nixon's well-being.
I've been following through with the water changes. I just got a Visa check card a couple days ago- I was wondering where I could get some Indian Fern online since I haven't been able to find any locally.
<Hmm... well, I'm in England, so no idea if my advice will help. In fact, if you were anywhere near Berkhamsted, I'd say stop by and pick some up! I threw at least two big bucketfuls onto the compost heap over the weekend.
Otherwise, find an online aquarium plant retailer. Some tropical fish forums have buy/sell/swap sub-forums, and these are also good places to get plants. Since Indian Fern is easy to propagate, you don't need much.>
After we last spoke, I carefully compared photos of both fin rot and fin loss from a website I saved to my computer. I did follow with a Maracyn 2 treatment, and no it was not a decision I made lightly. I added a little carbon to the filter after treatment was done to remove the leftover medicine. However, the carbon said it removed ammonia- will this deprive the bacteria of food and hinder cycling?
<Carbon has minimal impact on ammonia levels, and no, it won't affect cycling at all.>
Also, at a recent pet store visit, another customer strongly recommended I switch from Wardley 3-in-1 to Prime.
<Both are good products.>
The water's ph is naturally stable, so at least my mild case of OCD is less severe in this department. The shop also ordered a liquid ph test kit since any conditioner I've used from time to time gave false "danger" levels. (I actually tried this in a separate container, testing the water both unconditioned, then after adding conditioner).
<pH isn't too much of an issue with Bettas, since they tolerate anything from pH 6 to 8 without complaint. So provided your test kit revealed a steady pH from week to week, I'd not be too fixated on the precise numbers.>
As for the Prime, I have read it is best to get a kit that uses the Siliacayte (spelling?)
<<Salicylate. RMF>>
method. Can you enlighten me a little on this topic?
<I don't actually know anything about this at all. I'd suggest contacting the manufacturer really: much speculation in the hobby tends to have little basis in actual fact, hence the persistent use of things like tonic salt and tea-tree oil cures.>
I am happy though to report Nixon shows all the signs of a happy fish. He swims actively exploring his tank, eats well, and every time I even walk by the tank, he immediately swims to the front and kinda nods his head. He will literally be exploring the back area, and when I stand in the front, he'll swim towards me and look at me head on. It is so cool!
<Ah, that's the idea! Bettas, like Goldfish and Oscars, are among the few fish that genuinely seem to enjoy human company. Presumably because they've been domesticated for so long. But as you can see, keeping Bettas *properly* might be a bit more expensive that sticking them in a jar with some glass marbles at the bottom, but kept properly, they're infinitely more rewarding (not to mention healthier) pets.>
And finally, since I have my new card, I'll be donating some cash to the website. You can get those beers you wanted.
<Most kind.>
(The background of Nixon's tank is actually a cutout from a 12-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon. I everyone in my house is a redneck, even my fish!).
<Sounds pretty funny! I've seen some great novelty tanks with things like LEGOs for decoration, and this one tank was done like a flooded junkyard, with scrappy looking model cars and junk all over the place. Sounds crazy, but actually worked rather well, and with fish don't mind, provided whatever you use is non-toxic.>
Thanks again for your emails, and thanks to everyone at WWM for the awesomest fish site on all the net!
<I will be sure to pass on your kind words to Bob Fenner and the crew.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: fixing an error 9/16/09
I appreciate your offer for the Indian fern, but I live in New Hampshire, USA. Guess I'm gonna be looking online.
<I guess.>
I made a typo in my last message- it is not a ph test kit I ordered, it is for ammonia. It is the ammonia strips that don't give accurate readings.
<There are really only two readings that count, zero and not zero. So provided the ammonia strip is good enough to detect the presence of ammonia at all, that's fine! There's no "safe" level of ammonia, and whether the level is 0.1 mg/l or 1.0 mg/l, you have a serious problem.>
One last little message- I have no intention of ever fighting 2 male Bettas, but someday I'd like to own a true fighting plakat just to say I have one. By the time I can afford one, I'll be able to afford a digital camera, and be sure to send you a pic. These little critters are some addictive!
<A lot of people are into Plakats now, for all kinds of reasons. They do seem "tougher" generally than Fancy Bettas, perhaps because they have more wild-type genes in them. Many people find their shorter, more practical fins to be preferable, because it allows their Plakats to swim about more naturally. So Plakats certainly are out there, and they're not necessarily expensive, and I'd heartily recommend you track them down. But at the same time, do look at other Betta species, such as Betta pugnax and Betta
imbellis. Often overlooked, some of these other species are great. In some cases you *can* keep multiple males together, because their fights are all show. Others are giants, while others are mouthbrooders from fast-flowing streams. There's even a brackish water Betta species. So an interesting genus to explore.>
From one side of the Atlantic to the other- hoping all is well!
<Thanks! Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Betta. Happened all of a sudden :-( 8/31/09
Hello Crew,
My name is Maria. I have had a male Betta, Ray, for two weeks only and he has been a happy chap until today. He used to be most active and blow bubble nests so I thought he was happy. He also ate regularly and well, small amounts of Betta pellets and every now and then a couple of blood worms (freeze dried).
I changed his water yesterday (about 40% ) and both yesterday and today the water parameters seemed to be OK.
Ammonia = 0.00
Nitrite = 0.00
Nitrates = 40.00 ( a bit high,
<Actually too high by at least twice>
but my tap water is high in nitrates and the
ph is high too, about 8.00)
<Way too high... this is a base ten value... the difference between whole points is an order of magnitude; ten times...>
I know that the ph is not ideal but still I don't suppose that would cause disease or weakness?
In any case he ate well this morning and he was happy as usual, adding a few bubbles to his nest but when I went to fee him this evening he was lethargic, he did not eat his pellets and he hangs out quite still at the surface or hides behind the filter.
The tank is heated to 26C and it has a live java fern in bogwood and a silk plant. Volume is 20 litres
I have already lost another Betta two weeks ago in a similar manner. Fine today, colourless and dead the next day, so I am panicking, big, big time
I don't seem any big changes in colour, maybe slightly lighter but it my be product of my own paranoia. Do you know any disease that manifests itself in such a way?
<This is environmental... too much water quality change in the wrong directions too soon>
Could it be constipation? I thought I saw him gasp a bit a bit earlier, which is strange. I don't see him breathing air either, that is strange too, he normally does.
I have got some Melafix by API, not sure whether this acts a tonic or helps in any way.
<Is worthless; see WWM re>
Unfortunately I don't have any aquarium salt.
<Not efficacious here either>
Your advice is most welcome. Thanks so much for your help in advance Kindest regards
Maria (and Ray)
<Need to fix the environment, very likely make/store new water ahead of use. Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bettasysart.htm
Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Betta. Happened all of a sudden :-( -- 08/31/09
Thank you Bob,
I did not think it was environmental because the water was very clean.
<Mmm, the apparent "cleanliness" of water (or white vinegar et al. for that matter) is not really much indication of its bio-suitability... And mains/tap waters are wont to be very changeable in these times... treated in a "pulsed" fashion at times to precipitate phosphate et al., raise the titer of sanitizer...>
Every time I do water changes, I make sure that the water is properly dechlorinated and that is the same temperature as the tank.
The pH and nitrates, there is nothing I can do about. My area is hard water area and the nitrates in dechlorinated tap water are 40.00
<... this is way beyond the EPA limit of use as potable... degrees toxic to humans>
and the pH is 8.00.
I have measured this to understand where the high Nitrate and pH was coming from, and very unfortunately I am stuck with this.
RO water is not an option. I already have a water softener installed in the house.
<If a salt recharge type, better to get water from outside, use some hot of the softened to raise temp.; but best overall to pre-prepare the water a week in advance of use...>
Only the water is not suitable for human consumption (salt ion exchange type of process).
<I see>
Your article states that Bettas tolerate pH ranges between 6 and 8.
Bearing in mind that the pH in the tank has always been 8.00 how come was he happy for a couple of weeks and sick all of a sudden?
<Some other factor... perhaps nitrogenous... MUCH more toxic in the presence of water of high/er pH>
Would he not show signs of illness from the very beginning?
<Mmm, no, not necessarily... but your pix show definite reddening and expansion in the chest area... what is this from?>
Or would it be rather than he got gradually sick and in the end it caught up with him? This morning I was in utter panic as he had even changed colour, went pale and at the same time reddish, when he normally was a deep shimmery blue. By having a look in the Internet I kind of associated the colour changes and the rusty colour to velvet (although he did not seem to scratch himself, maybe he was too week for that)
and I rushed to the shops to buy some medication. There was an event in town and I had to sit for one hour solid in traffic and by the time I managed to make it back home he had died. How is that possible? In less than 24 hrs from perfectly happy and blowing nests to rock dead?
<I've got another hypothesis; having seen your excellent images. Perhaps this Betta swallowed an insect that poisoned it somehow>
There is something deadly in this tank, environmental or of another kind. If with this new info, you can think of any disease that might have affected him, velvet or other, please let me know.
<No pathogenic disease would be this fast-acting>
If you still think this is environmental and associated to the nitrates and the pH, and therefore my water is not suitable for this species, then I will move on to keep another species of fish better suited to the water chemistry in the area.
In any case, you advice is very appreciated and will be most thoroughly followed. picture attached, one early this morning, still alive, and one of the body, should it shed any light on the case. Apologies, they are not very good, must be the camera settings.
Kindest regards
<If you're not too squeamish, might I ask that you open the gut cavity of this fish (as with a single edged razor or X-acto knife or such)... and take a gross/cursory look-see? Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Betta. Happened all of a sudden :-(, NO3 input f'  9/2/2009
Oh, no! I had already disposed of the body before reading the email :-(
Not squeamish, but I must admit I would have not been that keen on performing a post mortem on my poor pet after (potentially) killing him with less than adequate water conditions. I had become attached to him :-(
<I understand>
My sister in law, who is an haematologist would have jumped with delight at the prospect of an autopsy but she is away now, where is family when you need them?
<About somewheres>
Anyway, body is gone, so unfortunately no luck here. Sorry, I agree it would have been an interesting thing to do to rule out the poisoning.
I was not sure about what you mentioned about EPA standard so I researched and I have found out that this is a US government guideline.
<It is... at the Fed. level a limit of 10 ppm...>
I live in the UK and here these things are, to an extent, up to the local councils. Looks like the government regulations state the following with regard to nitrates "that the water satisfies the formula [nitrate]/50 + [nitrite]/3 1, where the square brackets signify the concentrations in mg/1 for nitrate (NO3) and nitrite (NO2)."
<Too much... I really do strongly suggest you employ an RO device for your potable (drinking, cooking) and pet-fish needs>
Thames Water, the water company states 50 mg/l as standard. See link, if at all interested.
For my area in particular, the 2008 water quality results state
Nitrate as NO3 mg/l Standards =50
Minimum =33
Max = 35.7
My results came up as 40 but it might be an inaccuracy in the testing.
Ph standards from 6.5 to 9.5
<Wow! This is some range... 1,000 times>
Ph for the area in average is 7.5. In my tests it comes up as 8.00. Again, the differences might be coming from the testing process. I use API master kit.
<Are reasonable quality... accurate, and precise "enough" for home hobbyist use>
Maybe you have got better drinking water in the US.
<In NO3 respect, yes in about 9 out of 10 places... but is highly variable in quality, getting worse and more scarce most everywhere. Let me be blunt: there are too many humans on this planet>
Funnily enough the report concludes that the quality of the drinking water is very good although there is one infringement as Coliform bacteria was found.
do you realise I am giving this to my family to drink? From tomorrow onwards, bottled water for everyone.
<Mmmm, okay; but RO is cheaper by far and more convenient. Please peruse WWM, the broader Net re.>
Anyway, I am keeping the tank cycled but empty for a couple of weeks to kill any potential nastiness and then I am not sure what to do. This tank is only 20 l (about 5 gallons) so, really only suitable for Bettas, too small for other species, but if the water hardness is going to kill them little beauties I would have to reconsider... Any ideas of what to keep in 20 l of hard water :-?
<There are some "quite small" invertebrates, plants... not many fishes really...>
What would you use to disinfect the siphon and the nets?
<Chlorine bleach, air exposure, time going by>
The shop told me to wash them with hot water but that does not sound radical enough, somehow.
Maybe I should just dismantle the whole thing, disinfect the whole tank and
cycle again?
<I would not... but I would do what you choose to get, keep Nitrate concentration below 20 ppm maximum. Please read here re:
and the linked FAQs file above>
Thanks so much again for your attention to this case.
Kindest regards
<Maria, there are MANY folks who have similar circumstances (small volumes, issues consequent...) to yours here... Let's keep discussing your experience, thoughts, and progress... for the edification of all. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Betta. Happened all of a sudden :-( 9/11/09
Hi Bob,
Hope you are alright. Been a long time since my last email but my tank has been empty for the last two weeks approx in order to get rid of potential parasites. (If any) and to give me some time to research into a way of making my water conditions proper for a Betta.
Someone in another forum suggested to filter water with the Brita filter jug and see if the nitrates came up lower but my experience is that the Brita filters don't filter the nitrate.
<Mmm, don't know... depending on type/s of carbon utilized... might>
They filter chlorine, heavy metals and other impurities but not nitrate. I called the company to ask just to make sure and they confirmed to me what I already suspected.
<Thank you for this>
So, if anyone asks you about this, the answer is NO. No luck in filtering with Brita.
RO not an option because of the cost and the way my plumbing is done to fit the other water softener
<Mmm... do look a bit more... If you have a pressurized (or not, some units come with a "booster" pump) freshwater source, it can be "cut in" to the service side, the "waste" water cut in to the P trap/drain line, or vented elsewhere (e.g. for irrigation). IF you have a use for "enough" RO water...
IF only a few gallons, buying and lugging it about is likely your best alternative>
The only thing I see could work is the addition of EasyBalance by Tetra.
This actually lowered the nitrate. If you add enough it actually makes it zero so I am thinking of adding it to the tank now that is empty and again every weekly water change to keep the NO3=0.00
<Mmm, below 20 ppm is fine as a high limit with Bettas>
The pH is another thing. I have looked into the possibility of adding API pH 7.00 but it contains phosphates so it can't be used with live plants.
<You raise excellent, but wide-subject points... the pH need not be absolutely 7.00, and your plants do need "some" phosphate... I'd just keep the conc. below 0.2 ppm>
Do you have any experience in the use of pH buffers?
<Considerable. In addition to decades in the industry and as an earnest hobbyist, I taught H.S. physics and chemistry>
Would you advise to use them or recommend them?
<By and large, I wouldn't... Unless your water is very soft, and you need it to be otherwise... are keeping wild stocks (as opposed to generations-tank bred)... are breeding, propagating... most source water/s,
blended with "softer" (RO, DI...) are fine>
Everybody says not to but if I make the tank pH=7.00 and then at every water change I make sure that the water is pH=7.00 again that might work?
<Please read Neale's excellent work, starting here:
and the linked files above. You'll find his handy dandy formula in the FAQs for making home-made Rift Lake Salt...>
Any side effects you might know of the use of pH buffers?.
<Please read...>
I won't consider to use the PH Down product as the API estates that it does not keep the pH stable and pH raises if KH and GH are high, so what I would not want is to send the fish into a pH roller coaster.
Any advice, or comments are most appreciated
Kindest regards
<And you, BobF>

Re: Sick Betta. Happened all of a sudden :-( 9/11/09
I am going to get rid of this tank any moment because I am becoming paranoid.
<Marisa, why?>
Today I saw the attached in the tank. Dismissed it as fish poo despite the fact that the tank has been empty for abut two weeks and if this is poo, then it is a mighty long and resilient bit of crap. Planned to do a vacuum and water change this afternoon to get rid of it and others that might have missed the first clean.
And when I go to do it, the thing has moved to another location in the tank and it is straightened rather than curled up.
took a pic and here it is. it really looks like a worm and it is quite long but it does not have legs, anchors, claws, "legs" in general. I had cleaned the substrate after my fish died and although I could have missed some faeces, this one is long and it appeared out of the blue. Also, the colour is quite red-brown.
It did not "move" when I brought it out of the tank.
Any ideas? Does it look like any parasite or worm you might know? If you could confirm to me that it is nothing but fish faeces, that would make me happy.
<Does appear to be an Oligochaete ("earthworm" group), perhaps a Tubificid... Not likely harmful>
If this is nothing but shit, then, my apologies for wasting your time and energy.
Kindest regards
<Dear; if you'd prefer, there are compounds that can/will just kill "worms" (see WWM re: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwwormdistrtf.htm), but please don't give up the hobby on the basis of discovering this worm. BobF>

Re: Sick Betta. Happened all of a sudden :-( 9/11/09
As always, Bob, thanks for those clues. This is helping me to learn a bit more about water chemistry and it is helping me to avoid some decisions that might be, let's put it like this, less than optimal.
Great article about water hardness. I understand the issue a bit better now.
I also researched about the worm and I actually read that they are common in the Thames river. That makes sense, my water comes from this very river.
Could it have been introduced in the tank via tap water as eggs, or larvae and developed in the tank?
<Strongly doubted... Objects this size, this amount of life should NOT pass through potable water processing>
I also fed the fish freeze dried bloodworm, could it have been in the freeze dried food as a parasite?
<Mmm, no. The FD process kills all>
Those are the only ways I can think of the worm getting into the tank.
<Can "come in" with livestock water, plants, live foods...>
If you say that they are not harmful, then, I believe you but, do you remember how we observed that my fish who died had some reddening to the chest and you suggested he might have swallowed an insect or similar?
Would a fish attempt to eat a worm?
<Of a certainty, yes>
and if he did, he might very well experience some problems as a result. This one was mighty... Even a half sized one would make a pretty heavy digestion...
Now, let's look at the future rather than the past. if I manage to get lower nitrate water by the regular addition of EasyBalance (and I pray we don't discover a side effect later), I would still like to try to keep a Betta in the tank despite the high pH. Guess that the fish could guess used to one of the parametres being less than ideal. Several of them not being good would be overwhelming to anyone....
A question arose today, I have read in the internet and lots of sites advise to add aquarium salt to the Betta tanks. This I have read in some many articles that I cannot ignore.
<Mmm, salts (combinations of metals, non-metals) are oft mis-used...>
My experience with salt is that it makes softer water. Or at least that is the way my water softener works, by adding salt ions to the water, or rather exchanging them.
<In your type of "softener" sodium chloride salt regenerates/renews the ion-exchange media... but there results in a good deal, often too much sodium as a consequence in the softened water. By and large I would avoid using this water in your fish tanks... collect water from an outside tap, and use just enough such softened water to warm it sufficiently. This is all covered on WWM... Please do not be gulled by other information sources... unless you understand the underlying science, alternatives.>
Everybody talks about how it is a tonic, and coats fish and adds electrolytes and fish love it but, I guess you guessed my question :-) how does it affect pH, if at all?
<Most "salts" that are labeled as "Aquarium" are principally "table", NaCl... don't affect pH... there are others that do... E.g. Neale's "Rift Valley Lake Mix"...>
And the other parametres?
<Good question... there are salts of nitrates, phosphates, metals... some affect water chemistry deleteriously... Again... Read on WWM re... Use the search tool, indices.>
Given my situation, Hard water, High pH, High Nitrates, is the salt going to be a bomb or a blessing?
getting there.... I am sure we are getting there....
Thanks again
<Might I suggest a general freshwater aquarium book, and perhaps a small one on Betta keeping? Such tools, references are cheap, readily available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble et al. dot com... Getting, understanding what you need/want to "all in completion" would give you tremendous solace. B>

Re: Sick Betta. Happened all of a sudden :-(   9/13/09
Again, Bob, thanks for your time and guidance.
I have got the Tropical Fishlopaedia by Peter Burgess, which helped me a great deal in setting up and cycling the tank but I will look into buying a Betta specific book.
<Ah good>
for the Salt, the best thing will be to experiment with a sample of water from the tank and then take it from there.
Thanks again !! :-)
<Welcome! BobF> 

Betta bulge?? 8/26/2009
My Betta has a very thin body, with a bulge on each side, like he ate two peas. Each bulge is at the end of his body just before his tail. He eats well, and is spunky, but looks awful.
<Most likely an environmental issue, perhaps a systemic bacterial infection. Review conditions in the tank and act accordingly. Bettas need heated, filtered tanks around 5 gallons upwards. Disregard anyone who tells you they live in bowls! They don't! The Bettas you hear about in glass jars are living in heated fish rooms, and the water in those jars is changed daily. While that's a viable approach if you're a fish farmer in Thailand, it makes no sense at all for hobbyists. Again, contrary to what some people will tell you, these fish don't live in puddles. (Heck, how could a fish even get into a puddle?) Wild Bettas live in canals, rice paddies, ponds, even streams and rivers, though admittedly never very far from the surface and usually among the plants. Anyway, you need a filter that gently cleans the water (an air-powered sponge is ideal) and a heater that maintains a steady 26-28 degrees C.>
His head looks normal, but, his body looks like it doesn't belong to his head!! He's a great little Betta, can you offer any explanation, will he get to looking normal again???
<Depends on whether you can be bothered to give him the conditions he needs. A lot of people think these fish can be kept in bowls without heat or filtration, as if they aren't actually fish but some sort of robot manufactured in Japan. Well, they're fish, and they need all the same things as any other tropical fish. Yes, they can get by in a smaller tank than, say, Guppies, but let's not be stupid about this and assume that means they only need enough water to wet their fins! Five gallons is a sensible starting point, being small enough to work as a tabletop tank, while big enough installing a heater and filter won't be difficult. As with any other tropical fish, you're aiming for 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite, and the water chemistry should be around pH 7, 5-20 degrees dH. Bettas aren't difficult to maintain, but you'd be shocked by how many die because people don't do their research prior to purchase. Kept properly, Bettas can live quite some time, 2-3 years after purchase not being uncommon.>
I have him in a 1/2 gal. bowl
<Dismal. Will soon die without some attempt to provide what this living, feeling animal needs.>
and use Stress Coat.
<No substitute for actual, genuine, care.>
Thanks. Linda
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

yet another sick Betta; sincere apologies-- 08/14/09
Dear WWM Crew,
Hi, I hope you're all doing well! Um, I'm extremely sorry to still be pestering you guys, I myself am a combination of furious, sad and humiliated at what's been happening to my Betta and I would have asked for help at Allexperts, except that no one is available at the moment and I really trust the information you give me. His health has taken a nosedive in less than three days with what looks like dropsy, a fungal infection and parasites.
<I see. Now, when folks mention these sorts of diseases all in one breath, I'm usually skeptical. Why? Because it's very unlikely any fish would get all three at once! On the other hand, symptoms similar to these can materialise under poor environmental conditions. Dropsy for example is merely a symptom of abdominal swelling, and that can be (and usually is) caused by opportunistic bacterial infections. Fungal infections are distinctive, but can be associated with opportunistic bacterial infections because, just like bacteria, they can overwhelm the immune system of a stressed or damaged fish. As for parasites, relatively few can complete their life cycle in an aquarium, so apart from the obvious ones like Whitespot and Camallanus worms, they're actually pretty uncommon.>
I'm not writing to ask for treatment advice, just whether you can say how it's possible that my Betta has gotten this sick in spite of proper, to-the-letter husbandry practices.
<Fair enough.>
I keep a log of each day, which is why the dates are so
On July 31st, I came home to see that he had a circular patch of fungus on his dorsal fin which went from white to brown over the course of the day. I gave him daily Paraguard baths for three days which were coupled with water changes on the 31st of July and the 3rd of august. The fungus fell off and on August 4th I started seeing regrowth. I tested the water quality on all three days during treatment and ammonia was 0pmm, nitrites were 0ppm and nitrates were 5-10ppm. As a precaution, I did 25% water changes every three days to avoid a relapse while his fins regrew.
<Sounds fine.>
Then on August 10th things started going downhill very quickly: the fish's gills have started pumping much more visibly than usual and his mouth is opening and closing as if he's gasping. I tested the water again and everything was normal (ammonia: 0 ppm, nitrites: 0 ppm, nitrates: 5 ppm). I did another 25% water change and lowered the water level to make it easier for him to reach the surface. By the next day his activity level was reduced and he was resting a lot more, his belly became much more swollen and his breathing hadn't changed (As an aside, the swollen belly was being treated for several days as constipation with two days of fasting, peas, mysis shrimp and daphnia without any effect). After searching and reading up, I feared either velvet or gill parasites, but I haven't seen any scratching, flashing or twitching which is one of the reasons I've been so slow to start medicating. The other reason is that medication options are very limited up here, and I'm scared to do more harm if I give him the wrong medication.
<I would agree that parasites seem unlikely. Abdominal swelling typically follows on from chronic exposure to poor environmental conditions. But it can also be triggered by a variety of other things. Careless use of salt in freshwater tanks is one suspected triggering factor. Since there's a connection between swelling and what is called osmoregulation, the balance of salt and water in a fish's body, anything that throws that out of kilter might be suspected as well. Maintenance of Bettas in "odd" water might be suspected, such as that from a domestic water softener, or maintenance in pure RO or rainwater. On the other hand, constipation can certainly cause similar symptoms. All this said, of course, sometimes, fish *do* come with genuine parasitic or bacterial infections against which we can do little.
These are rare, but they do happen. Mycobacteria for example:
Viral infections of fish are not well studied, but there are a few of them, and they may also cause abdominal swelling. Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus is one such.>
Right now, he's doing very badly, the fungus is back with a vengeance on his dorsal and pectoral fins, his belly is still swollen with what I'm devastated to announce as possible pineconing and he's gasping at the bottom of his tank. I've been dosing Paraguard for two days and I spent today hunting down Methylene blue, which was given as a bath for half an hour to help his breathing. I'm not even going to try and feed him because I'm quite positive he wouldn't touch any of it. Right now, I'm mostly concentrating on trying to keep him comfortable since I don't have much hope; I turned off the lights and put a towel over the tank. (probably useless, but it kept him calm on the bus ride home when I got him! :)
euthanasia is a very viable option at the moment as well, I do have clove oil if I don't see any improvement.
<I see. Do read, here:
Overdosing with clove oil does work well; I find some 20-30 drops/litre does the trick.>
What's bothering me is that these are environment-related illnesses that can all be avoided with clean water and feeding the fish properly.
<Yes, for the most part. But Mycobacteria and viral infections can happen even in the best aquaria, and may be completely untreatable.>
Considering the absence of any nitrite, ammonia or high nitrate readings, I don't understand how my Betta can be experiencing all these (if you'll excuse the term) bowl-related illnesses. If it weren't for the information listed below, you'd think I was keeping him in the bag I got him in. I'm at a complete loss as to what I did wrong. Can these illnesses still be contracted this easily in pollutant-free (nitrates notwithstanding) tanks?
Or are Veiltails just so poorly bred that they get sicker more easily than other breeds of fish?
<This is certainly true as well. Breeders select for colour and fin-length, rather than hardiness or longevity. Inbreeding is essential to "fix" new traits, so ultimately, yes, Fancy varieties of any fish are going to be flimsier than the wild fish or "mongrel" strains.>
Tank specifics:
System: 5 gallons, planted (Anubias barteri, Anubias nana, Cladophora, water wisterias, java ferns and Christmas moss), driftwood pieces for cover, filtered, cycled and heated (82F). There's also a LifeGlo lamp kept on a timer for 11 hours per day
<Sounds fine.>
water additives: Nutrafin water conditioner, Seachem flourish, Nutrafin plant Gro and Tetra pride which are for the plants
water parameters:
ph: 8 (I said it was 7.6 in my last message but since then I've bought a high range kit after reading an article on skeptical aquarist and my reading's now 8; I'm positive it's always been this high I've just been using too low a kit for my water)
KH: 70ppm
GH: 120ppm
ammonia: 0
nitrite: 0
nitrate: 5
<All good.>
I've been testing the last three parameters everyday and they've all stayed within this range; I also bought second sets in case there was something wrong with them, and they didn't detect anything out of normal range either.
<Fair enough.>
feeding: Hikari micro-wafers, micro-pellets and bio-gold pellets, Nutrafin max tropical pellets, frozen brine shrimp, bloodworms, mysis shrimp and daphnia, interchangeably fed in small amounts twice daily, usually a processed food in the morning and a frozen food in the evening
maintenance: 25% water changes every four days, with partial gravel vacuuming and monthly filter cleaning which consists of rinsing the media and biological media in used tank water. Although since his illness I've been changing 25% every three days.
After all that, I'm quite convinced of my inability to properly care for a Betta and I'm probably going to switch to shrimp or snails, considering how much more successful I was with them. I love Bettas way too much to keep on screwing up so royally in their care. But I was wondering whether newer tail types, such as Plakats or maybe females are maybe more resilient, since they probably aren't so widely bred as males.
<There's some anecdotal evidence that Plakats tend to be somewhat hardier.
As for the females, I can't see it makes much difference, since genetically, they're similar to whatever male variety they belong too. They will be just as inbred.>
Do local breeders have stronger fish?
<I'm sure some do. If you're that interested, a local or national fish club may be able to identify a good breeder in your area. Certainly, buying fish directly from another hobbyist avoids the inevitable exposure the poor conditions and transportation stress involved by the retail segment of the supply chain.>
Because I always think that imported fish, especially Bettas which are so poorly cared for right at the get-go, must be permanently weakened by being shipped over such long distances.
<Some truth to this. They're also fairly old fish by the time they're on sale, around 6 months. Wild fish likely live a year or so, so by the standards of the species, the males with full finnage that you see on sale will be middle aged by the time they're delivered to the shop. If they've been on sale for a while, they're even older. To be sure, some Bettas live for 3 years or more, but that does seem exceptional.>
In short, is there any hope for someone like me to keep Bettas in the future?
<I'm sure there is.>
I really do love them and I always have to stop and look at their displays at the fish store!
<As do many, many others. They are lovely fish.>
Thanks so much for your patience and advice,
(shamefully,) Emilie
<Would suggest, at minimum, you skip buying from whatever store you did before. Hunt down a dedicated fish store, or perhaps a breeder via a club or online forum. Consider even a wild-type species, such as the wonderful Betta imbellis, a species very similar in looks, but far less inbred, and really a lovely, lovely fish. To be sure, these aren't often on sale in pet shops, but you should be able to order them in via good aquarium shops, or else online. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: yet another sick Betta; sincere apologies   8/14/09

Dear Neale,
Thanks very much for the response, predictably, he died last night so I'm going to let the tank sit as is for a few weeks on the odd chance that it could have been some sort of parasite. Will that be sufficient or does the tank need to be restarted?
<Be careful. Once a fish tank is left empty, the filter bacteria start dying. So you have to keep adding a pinch of flake every day or two, just to give the bacteria something to work on. To be honest, there's little/no benefit to what you propose, but if you want to do this, then by all means, try it.>
I hope you won't think any worse of me by my admitting this, but I did an autopsy of sorts on him to try and figure out what he may have had; First I checked the gills and they were completely white, which I read is a symptom
of anemia, kidney or organ failure. At first it almost looked like he didn't have any gills at all, because he's a pretty small fish and the gills themselves were quite sunken in. The lamellae were almost impossible to see.
<Could be anything, really. Without a healthy Betta for comparison, who knows what you've seen here.>
I then (very unwillingly) checked the abdominal cavity where the bloating was. I first prodded the swelling which was quite hard to the touch, like gelatin, followed by a milky liquid that leaked out of the vent.
<Quite normal with a dead fish.>
Inside there were these fatty custard-coloured deposits that were covered by a sort of membrane. When I cut into the mass, besides being quite hard to cut, there was a tiny amount of this black/brown liquid. There wasn't any blood or noticeable amount of liquid throughout the ordeal. I don't have any knowledge of internal fish anatomy so the mass might have been an enlarged organ or some sort of congealed liquid.
<I see.>
Thanks for the euthanasia link, I do have experience with using clove oil, but thanks for sending it!
What you said about finding another fish store; the store I go to really is a good store, all of its other fish are healthy, well-fed and quarantined before being sold.
<Perhaps you were unlucky this time?>
The staff are also very knowledgeable, the only issue are the Bettas which are kept in jars; but then again, I can't find a single store that sells them any other way.
<Far from standard in the UK. Here, Bettas are normally placed in small (few inches cubed) compartments within tanks connected to the main store circulatory system.>
The guy who sold me my Betta even asked me what kind of set-up I had for him. Also, I've noticed that their fancier types seem much healthier than the veil tails; they're a lot more active and I think they're younger too
because they're quite small (about an inch long). I think it's because they're a lot more expensive than the veil tails (20-30$ compared to 5$) while I adore the ever-maligned Veiltail, I might consider switching just for the sake of having a healthy fish.
<Well, when fish are bred to a price, a certain degree of compromise is made in terms of care. So it may well be that the pricier fish have enjoyed a somewhat better existence.>
I hate to be defending them, but please believe me when I say it's probably the best store in the city, the other two store choices I have really don't stand up to this store; one store keeps their Bettas in martini glasses.
<I see.>
But I will be looking for local breeders, I have heard of the Betta imbellis, and yes, I've never seen it on sale anywhere,
<Actually did seem some today in London, along with Betta smaragdina.>
but my fish store does advertise the Betta brunei (although I've heard they're quite sensitive fish).
<Betta macrostoma is a typical blackwater fish. It's fairly easy to keep in extremely acid water (~pH 5). At such a low pH there are hardly any bacteria in the water. So their immune system is relatively weak. Put them in water above pH 6 and there are many times more bacteria, and their immune systems get overwhelmed. Hence their perceived delicacy.>
At any rate, I do have some thinking to do and the first link you sent me was very informative, thanks!
<Glad to have helped.>
thanks so much, Emilie
<Cheers, Neale.>

Very ill Betta 8/9/09
I have had Louie for one year. He has been sick for about 2 weeks now. He stopped eating 3 days ago. He was red, now he is a grayish color all over.
<Very sick...>
He is completely horizontal and stays in one corner of his tank without moving. He just looks horrible!
<Need information on the aquarium.>
His gills look silver, he can barely swim, can't dive down at all, and it looks like the back portion of him is bent. I have tried Furan and Maracyn and now he is on Cephlaxen and that isn't helping him either.
<Hmm... difficult to say. Bettas can live up to 3 years or so in captivity, though they are pretty close to annual fish in the wild. Given your fish was likely 6 months old when purchased, it may well simply be old. They are, to a degree, subject to bacterial infections that aren't easy to treat, a lot like Dwarf Gouramis and some of the other labyrinth fish.>
His water temp is 78 and I have a little heater in his tank to maintain that temp.
<Good; the No. 1 cause of death is surely lack of temperature, and all that entails in terms of reduced immune response.>
No raised nitrate or nitrite levels.
<Does the tank have a filter? Tanks without filters will not produce any (or at least not much) nitrite or nitrate, since those two are produced by the filter bacteria, not the fish. So, if you have no filter, you MUST
check for ammonia. I mention this because some misguided Betta keepers don't use filters, and the results are accumulating ammonia levels, and this in turn leads to poisoning, sickness, and death.>
Water changed weekly. Using salt and dechlorinator.
<No need for salt. Bettas do not come brackish water, at least, not this species. Salt moderates the toxicity of nitrite and nitrate, yes, but with a decent filter and regular water changes, you shouldn't have any nitrite
and only low levels of nitrate.>
He got sick once before and Furan took care of it but nothing is working now. He will wiggle his front little fins at me when I walk up to his tank but will not move! Help please! 2 1/2 gallon tank.
<A bit small; would recommend 5 gallons upwards. Apart from lack of heat, the widespread use of "jam jar" aquaria for Bettas is another major cause of death. Yes, Bettas come from rice paddies, but rice paddies are bigger than most garden ponds, so they aren't adapted to jam jars any more than Koi carp. Quite why hobbyists think otherwise eludes me. Your problems are -- simply on the basis of probabilities -- likely environmental, somehow related to inadequate filtration, aquarium space. Do read here:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: very ill Betta 8/9/09
Thanks Neale!
I have been using the Cephalexan because it seemed to cover most of the symptoms he has. I have Maracyn and Furan 2 as well. I did use both of these first and he just got worse so now I am confused. You rock by the way and the website is amazing!
<Hello again. Thanks for the kind words. It sounds like you're doing everything you can do. I'd review environmental conditions, and in particular things like temperature and filtration. Do a pH test to see if the water chemistry is stable. Think about possible toxins, e.g., paint fumes, insect sprays. But otherwise, I fear this fish is either old or else suffering from some type of viral/bacterial infection that isn't possible to treat. Optimal conditions, a healthy diet may help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: very ill Betta 8/11/2009

I lost Louie this afternoon.
<Sorry to hear that.>
Just wanted you to know.
<Thank you.>
He was such a fighter! I really learned a lot from you Neale and thanks again for your help.
<I'm always happy to help. Good luck with whatever fish, if any, you decide to keep next! Cheers, Neale.>

Help! I have a sick Betta!  8/8/09
<Hello Archer>
I just purchased a gorgeous Crowntail from the local pet store to put in a cycled 6 gallon Eclipse tank. But as soon as I put him in the water, I knew I had a problem that I hadn't taken notice of while he was in his
temporary cup.
His back is arched and curved, and he sank like a stone to the bottom, looking pathetic. I stepped closer to the tank to see what was wrong, and he tried to swim... but could only flounder around a bit.
<Mmm, perhaps a genetic issue... or developmental; this fish could have been damaged by handling, living in poor circumstances>
I suspect a swim bladder issue, which worries me. Some say that it can be treated if it's constipation (which I think it might be - his tummy is a bit round, despite him being rather small) or a bacterial issue... but I'm terrified it might be something I can't treat. It's a big tank for a lil guy who can't swim well!
I've put him back in his lil cup so I can get a better look at him (emptied of that disgusting water from the shop and filled with fresh, clean tank water) and to see if he poops overnight - but is there anything else I can do?
I've dealt with constipation in a Betta before (my Betta at work, Kano, had constipation a few months back, and eventually ended up dealing with it with an Epsom bath, poor guy. but he's happy and feisty again! I missed his wriggling and happy self!),
but never swim bladder problems.
Any advice or direction would be appreciated - I just want to make sure that this new lil guy has a fighting chance!
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bettadiseases.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Siamese Fighting Fish - Fin Problem 08/02/09
Hi Guys
Can you please help me with this - I'm not sure if it's a problem or not??
<Well, let's see...>
Our Fighting Fish, 'Tosh' appears fine and happy, he's eating and swimming around ok, but has developed a small patch on the top edge of his tail fin, that appears cloudy/not quite furry but like sheeny and almost like its sticking his fin together.?
<Could be Finrot, could be Fungus, though I'd veer towards the first.
Typically occurs when Bettas are kept in inadequate conditions: small, unheated tanks for example. Do review aquarium size, filtration, heating.>
I don't know if that makes any sense but the only other way I can describe it is like when you get glue on your finger??!?
<When fish are irritated by something in the water -- such as ammonia or opportunistic bacteria -- they increase mucous production. This can appear like off-white patches on the skin though it's less commonly the case on fins since they don't produce much mucous. On infected fins, the trailing edges often become white because the membrane is dying, and eventually you get the classic "frayed" appearance of Finrot, with the membrane dying back but leaving the bones (the fin rays) for a while.>
It appears to be spreading but not affecting him in any other way.
<This is often the case with early stage Finrot; but once the blood stream becomes infected, you're dealing with septicaemia, and that kills fish very quickly. So, you do need to treat, e.g., with Maracyn, Paraguard, eSHa 2000, etc. But at the same time you need to figure out what caused the problem. With Bettas, a small tank -- something under 5 gallons -- is probably the commonest reason for bad water quality, and of course the filter needs to be adequate to the task and properly maintained. Bettas don't like strong water currents, but the filter should still have a decent flow and a goodly quantity of biological media. Carbon, Zeolite, etc., are largely irrelevant. Media should be cleaned in buckets of aquarium water around once a month.>
The reason I'm worried is that we had another Fighting Fish before, who we noticed got the same thing, but he was hiding behind the heater at the back of the tank, not eating and was generally poorly. Sadly he died.
<I see.>
Our tank is a community tank, with live and plastic plants, undergravel filtration, plenty of hiding places, with Tetra, Guppy's, some Panda Cory's, George our Plec and Tosh, it's clean, at 75 degrees F and I've
checked all the ammonia, pH, nitrite and nitrate levels - all are ok!!
<Curious, but what are the tetras? Bettas mix badly with tetras, and the other common reason for Finrot is physical damage. The obviously nippy tetras are Black Widows (also called Black Skirt and Petticoat Tetras, Gymnocorymbus ternetzi) and the various tetras sold as Serpae Tetras. But other tetras that have been reported as nipping Bettas include Neons, Colombian Tetras, Red-eye Tetras, and Bleeding Heart Tetras.>
Do you have any suggestions or are we doing anything wrong?? We are still fairly new to the fish keeping thing!
Looking forward to hearing from you
Caz & Chris x
<Cheers, Neale.>

Betta fins... hlth.    7/29/09
Hi my Betta that had the tumor like growth got rid of the growth so I got him a 2 gallon tank with a filter, a plant and a female Betta to keep him company.
<Two gallons is really too small... and you don't mention a heater, which is mandatory when keeping tropical fish. Do see here:
Most problems with Bettas come down to keeping them in tanks that are too small, too cold, and too poorly filtered. Contrary to what the guy at the pet store might suggest, Bettas are actually living, breathing tropical fish, and need exactly the same things as other living, breathing tropical fish.>
But after 2 days his bottom fin started to look a little like he had fin and tail rot but after watching him for a couple minutes I found out that the female Betta was picking on his fins and he won't protect himself so I
was wondering if it could be from the female or if it is fin and tail rot and what I could do about it.
<Male and female Bettas don't mix safely in tanks under 10 gallons, so that's one problem. In tanks that are too small and/or not heated, Bettas will also suffer from a reduced immune system and poor digestion, and
without fail this leads to health problems, including Finrot. If you want a coldwater tank without a heater, then buy coldwater fish. A thirty gallon tank for example is a good home for 2-3 Goldfish. But if you're keeping a tropical fish, heating is essential, and unless your house has air temperature between 25 and 30 degrees C (77 - 86 F) you will need a heater.
Any pet store that sold you a Betta, a bowl, but no heater, was taking advantage of your ignorance.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

re: Betta fins 7/31/09
ya hi again my house most of the time is 75-80 degrees F.
<"Most of the time" isn't "always". If your house gets cooler than 77 F, ever, it's too cold for Bettas without a heater. End of discussion. By all means ignore that rule, but you're putting your Betta at risk, and certainly harming it. Buy an adequately sized tank with a heater and a filter. Folks who think otherwise are deluding themselves, and mostly, their Bettas die (very) prematurely.>
I separated them and put some fin rot med but he got even sicker so maybe his 7 years of age got to him
<Are you pulling my leg? Seriously, a Betta that was 7 years old? That's a world record!>
well thanks for the help with him. The female is doing great though.
<Doing great for now, at least. Do please read about the need these fish have for heat, space, and filtration. I don't have shares in aquarium manufacturing companies! I'm saying this because it's important. Cheers, Neale.>

weird Betta disease 7/25/09
Hello I have a blue Betta that is about 4-5 years old
<Dang! This is a very old individual>
one he was swimming around and everything but over night he got this weird bump like growth on his face. I didn't take a picture though. It was either see through or was part of him and it had 3 white dots on top of it. So I brought him to my favorite pet store v.i. pets and the lady there said that one of her Bettas had the same thing and hers had it for 2 years but she said that at the end of the 2 years the growth split open and out came a white fungus like thing and her Betta died instantly. So I started putting a all natural medicine made from a plant and it just kept the growth from getting bigger. But when I went camping for a week when I got back the growth was gone. So if you know what it might be please let me know.
<Perhaps some sort of tumorous growth... Not much one can do to actually treat for... Supplying good water quality and nutrition will do all you can do to sustain the vitality of your Betta. Bob Fenner>

I Really Hope That You Can Help Me: Betta Health\Disease 7/22/2009
<Hi Brea>
I have recently purchased a Male Chinese Fighting Fish,
all was well until a few months ago I realized that he may have a disease.
I had a look through your website but none of the diseases you describe seem to match the symptoms that my fish is producing.
Its hard to describe but when I look close at my fish his top and bottom fins are stuck together and they almost seem as if they should be longer than what they are.
<So his fins are clamped down.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/bettadiseases.htm >
It almost looks like something has hacked at his fins, or torn at them; but he is in a tank on his own. his colour is not as bright either.
<Hmm.... sounds like Finrot. Here is where details are helpful. How large of a tank is this fish in, is it heated or unheated, have you tested the water?>
<Bettas do best in an aquarium of at least 18 - 20 litres with a temperature between 24 - 27 degrees centigrade.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/bettasysart.htm >
I told a friend of mine, who also has Chinese Fighters and he gave me some medicine called "Wardley Promethyasul" which he said would eliminate all bacteria, fungal and parasitic diseases but my fish's fins are getting worse.
<It isn't working. Much like applying topical disinfectant to your skin does nothing for a sinus infection.>
I change my water regularly and am using this medicine every time I change his water but he is still not getting any better...
<You need to treat the fish with antibiotics. I quick browse on the internet shows that this is available in Australia: "Aquarium Science Aqua-Cure Tablets" from here:
please email me back
from Brea

Betta (sick, no real data) 7/15/2009
Hey there,
I got Flippie around February or March of this year.
<What's a Flippie? A Betta?>
He was really super active, had a beautiful blue coloring, made bubble nests, ate well and had a well taken care of tank.
<The "well taken care of" part is really for me to judge! Let's recap. A Betta needs a tank upwards of 5 gallons (19 litres); anything smaller just isn't worthwhile. The tank needs a heater, and should be maintained at around 28 C. The tank also needs a filter. If the retailer told you your Betta would be fine in a smaller, unheated, or unfiltered tank -- he was taking advantage of your ignorance. Bettas are tropical fish, and need all the same things as tropical fish. Water chemistry isn't critical, pH 6-8, 5-20 degrees dH will do fine; but water quality does matter, and you should have 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite. I mention all these things because most of our billion Sick Betta messages involved people keeping Bettas in unheated and unfiltered tanks, or worse, bowls.>
He just looked really good and seemed to be very happy. Then I started to slowly notice something was up with him. He was starting to just hang at the bottom of the take and seemed like he was burrowing his face down in his gravel. He didn't and still does not have any weird looking finds or cloudy discolorations. He looks sad though. Then I started to notice that he was beginning to develop a bulge on just one side.....from what I could see. So, I did the pea treatment, fasted him for a week. Still the same.
<All sounds pretty generic "Betta in an unhealthy aquarium" stuff. I need details! How big is this aquarium? What are the nitrite or ammonia levels?
How warm is the water? What do you feed the fish? And how often?>
So then, I threw out all his old stuff that was inside the tank and got marbles for him instead of gravel, and got him a new lil treasure chest and a new plant.
<All stuff he largely couldn't care less about. The thing is that people often think Bettas aren't fish -- but they are! They want clean, warm water above all else.>
I got some of that antibiotic that as the eucalyptus in it. I think its called MELAFIX.
<Melafix isn't an antibiotic and is actually pretty useless; it's cheap, which is why people buy it, but it's actually expensive given it doesn't do anything.>
He seemed to really rally after that. This was on Father's Day by the way...just so you can get an idea of how long this has been going on.....He didn't rally for very long. Now, he's miserable. Totally different fish. He can barely swim, and if he does, its like he can't even swim! He'll swim all over the place kinda of crashing into things, and his top fin is flipped over to one side because his body is in an EXTREME curvature. I mean it looks like the letter "S." When he's just hanging out, he just sits down at the bottom, practically resting on his mouth. It almost looks like his head is weighing him down or something. I did some research about it....(tried) and I also came across the whole TB thing. Ruled that one out I think. So I took him to the fish expert and she told me that she thought he had broken his spine and there's not really anything you can do to treat that
<Broken his spine? How? This really isn't very likely for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that a Betta could hardly generate the force required to break its backbone. Weighed down with those ridiculous fins, Bettas can barely move, let alone throw themselves sufficient distance to break their backbones. No, what you're seeing a muscle spasms or nerve damage causing the muscle blocks along the spine to contract. This is very common when fish are severely ill.>
Just euthanasia. The weird thing though is he still wants to eat. I would think that if a fish had broken its spine, it wouldn't want to move around at all no matter what, and would definitely not have any desire to eat. He still eats.. She told me there was nothing I could do. So I asked her what the most humane euthanasia was, and she told me to either poison him with vinegar in his water or, put him in a small non-see-through container, and put him in the freezer.
<Gak! Some Fish Expert! No, no, no. Neither of these methods is considered by vets to be humane or painless. Please, do read a fish health book, or, if you prefer, read the summary we've got posted here at WWM listing specifically those methods deemed by vets to be humane:
The overdose with Clove Oil is, for most people, the easiest.>
So, I decided I would try one more thing and then maybe I'll have to go that route because I've tried. I've put so much time, effort, and money into trying to diagnose and treat this fish!! I don't know what else to do. I figured he would've just passed on by now. But NO, he's hanging on being miserable.
<He's probably basically healthy, just stressed; put in the right aquarium with adequate heat, space, and water quality, he'd likely get better on his own accord. What you're describing -- lethargy without signs of physical damage or infection -- is a classic response of Bettas kept in bad conditions. Sure, he may well get a serious infection before too long, but right now, there's hope.>
So, I bought just a little hospital tank and didn't put anything in it but the 2 little plastic leave bushes. It's one of those Betta Keepers.
<No idea what these are, but I assume some garbage piece of plastic holding a pint or two of water. Here's my advice: get a sledgehammer, place anything plastic or glass less than 5 gallons in size under that sledgehammer, and then allow gravity to pull the weighted end of the sledgehammer towards said plastic or glass object, forcefully. Once fully pulverised, offer the fragments to the Fish Gods, promising never to listen to Sales Drones without verifying any advice given against what you read *in a book* (or from me!) and before parting with any cash.>
So, I don't know. Help me. Tell me what I should do. I mean I feel bad for the guy because he's trying so hard to hang on, but at the same time, I don't want him to be suffering.
If you could help me out and tell me what to do with him to save him (straiten him out), or whether I need to somehow help him along with his death?? You tell me. Please help!! I hate seeing ANY living creature suffering or die. But, I'm just stumped. Your advice and help would be greatly appreciated!! If you have any questions about Flippie just send me back and email. I get notified right away when I receive one.
Thanks so much!!!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Help with Betta tail, red markings (wounds), tail getting shorter, no biting  7/6/09
First, thank you for all the time and dedication you give to all of us who love our fish but are confused!
<I see...>
I have a lovely male Betta I have had for about 6 months. He was in my community tank which is a cycled 10 gal with a bunch of other friends.
<Hmm.... do understand 10-gallon tanks are virtually useless, and can't be used for community tanks except where very small species are being kept.
There are numerous issues, and most hobbyists would get better value using a "long" 20-gallon tank instead; costs about the same, uses up marginally more floor-space, but provides dramatically better conditions.>
The water parameters have been great (no ammonia, etc) kept at 80 deg and once a week 30 % or so H2O changes. The whole time we have had Bert he has been very active and eats well. He started really harassing our Mystery snails and the Otos and so I decided to move him into his own 3 gal tank.
<Oh dear; the minimum tank for a Betta is about 5 gallons; anything smaller is usually a bad move. Breeders keeping them in jam jars aren't the model you want to emulate here.>
So far we haven't had a filter, the one it came with is too strong for him and makes a whirlpool, but I'm going to get him a smaller one today. I checked his ammonia today and it was at 1mm (! Egads!) so I promptly changed out half his H2O. He has some nice real plants in with him, and smooth rocks on the bottom. I think his tank is kinda cold also, so I'm going to get him a little heater as well.
<All common mistakes. Don't fritter money away on stuff for a 3 gallon tank; get a 5-8 gallon tank, equipped with an air-powered sponge filter and a suitably small heater. Do understand that Bettas are fish, and just because people sell them in jam jars it doesn't mean they do best in jam jars. They quite obviously don't, and the bigger the tank, the healthier the Betta. Almost all sick Bettas get sick because people insist on keeping them in poor conditions.>
My real question pertains to his tail. Since we first got him he looks like someone has been chewing on his tail. Maybe himself, as the day I got rid of my tetras I came home and he had split his back fin all the way to his back! He also has split his dorsal fin similarly. He might be self biting, because since he is alone now it has not gotten any better, in fact, maybe worse again. The whole end of almost all of his fins is a bloody red.
<Sounds like standard issue Finrot; recommend Maracyn, Paraguard, Sulfathiazole, eSHa 2000, or similar.>
I thought maybe it was the filter (when he was in the bigger tank) so I covered it for a while with a stocking, but he still had the spots, so I took it back off (the filter worked better w/o), and now there is no filter (in the smaller tank), so I don't think that's the problem. The edges of his fins are also starting to look curled a little, especially his dorsal fin.
I wanted to go today and maybe buy some BioSpira stuff (or something similar to help his tank along), a smaller filter or airstone, and some salt, but I'm not sure what type. I am also going to get the heater. But since he is not being bit by someone, and he had very good water conditions steadily for months, I am really stumped as to what is happening to him and how to treat it. I tried some Melafix (I know, more placebo than anything)
and that understandably had no effect.
I have searched the site and the only thing remotely similar is Finrot, but no one has mentioned red bite looking type marks, just white marks or thinning of the color, and he is in very healthy condition (active, eating well, flaring for his reflection, chasing others around, etc), so I don't think it's his overall health either.
<The "bites" are quite common with Finrot. When Finrot develops, it kills the skin tissue first, which in the case of fins would be the membranes.
This leaves the bony fin rays behind, so you often get a ragged edge to the fin as it decays. Finrot also follows on from physical damage if water quality is poor; in the case, bites and tears will become infected.>
Please help me before he loses any more of his beautiful tail!
<Given correct conditions, will heal in time.>
Thanks again for all the info and help you have compiled for us a wonderful resource! :)
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Help with Betta tail, red markings (wounds), tail getting shorter, no biting
Thanks you so much for the prompt reply!
<Most welcome.>
The 10 gal only has snails (5 mystery, countless Ramshorns... Do you know a good use for them?
I don't want to kill them. I have a neighbor who has a wonderful Koi pond, will they be eaten if we put them in?
<Yes; the Mystery snails (Pomacea spp.) are tropical animals and will only survive outdoors if you happen to live in the tropics; otherwise, they'll simply die once the temperature drops below around 18 C. As for the smaller snails, Koi happily eat them, though in a big pond, some will doubtless survive and breed, so a certain population may well persist.>
She has an algae problem I think they could fix...) and shrimp (3 glass), 2 frogs, and an Otto, plus the Betta (although no more), very low stocking in there with about 20 live plants. I have never had a water quality issue there as I am very diligent with changing the water and testing it regularly.
<Fine; all I'm saying is that 10-gallon tanks are simply too small for tropical fish to be happy unless species are chosen with the utmost care.>
When we finally get our house I was planning on a 20 long tank as well.
I have to use the 3 gal for Bert as I have very limited space (the 10 gal already takes up most of my kitchen counter...) I understand that keeping them in small quarters is mean, but the 3 gal seems to have as much swim space almost as he had before, it is kind of narrow and tall.
<Narrow and tall isn't good...>
He seems quite happy in there, although he clearly misses harassing the other animals. I would never keep him in something smaller, I have seen how happy he is to have plenty of swimming room. I'm very sorry I cannot afford bigger for him. I did get him a little heater (Hydor) that brought the temp up to 82 (it sits naturally between 75 and 78) and a small tetra filter. I am a bit confused about where/how the sponge filter works.
<Usually, the sponge has a plastic tube running through it, and that plastic tube has a U-shape, with one side with the sponge, and the other with suckers that stick on the glass. You connect the air pipe to your air pump, and off you go. The advantage is that sponges provide excellent mechanical and biological filtration, but without the strong water currents that cause problems for long-finned Bettas.>
I also couldn't find them at the store.
<Look for brands such as Hagen Biofoam Sponge Filter.>
Is it just sponge media inserted into where the carbon filter goes?
<Don't need carbon.>
Can I use the filter system but put in the different media?
<No; it's a sponge.>
And should I get some bio-Spira?
<If the filter has been going for more than a week, you're past the point where Bio-Spira would make any difference. Do 25% water changes every day for the first week, and then the same every 2-3 days for the next 2-3 weeks, and you should be fine.>
And if so how much should I use to help his tank speed a little? I put some of the plants from the other tank in and some Ramshorns (read somewhere they have beneficial bacteria in their poop,
and we have an endless supply of them! :) ), and intend to do another water change today to finish getting the ammonia under control.
Part of my concern is that despite the smallness of the 10 gal, the water quality was always good. Is Finrot something that can be associated with something other than bad water conditions?
<Almost never; Finrot occurs because the fish's immune system is compromised. This allows opportunistic bacteria that normally do useful work to infect the fish. Whereas normally the white blood cells would kick them out, without a healthy immune system, the bacteria thrive and spread through the tissue. Physical damage can cause Finrot too, but again, in clean water, fish generally heal themselves very quickly without infections (much as we do) unless the damage is serious. So broadly speaking, no, Finrot never comes "out of the blue", there's always a reason.>
And the other concern is that his spines are deteriorating just as fast, sometimes faster.
<The ragged edge is typical of Finrot; treat with a good Finrot medication, quickly.>
On his dorsal fin you could see where they are longer than the damaged webbing between, but on his tail the red markings are at the ends of the ribs of the spine, not actually the webbing. Will salt and heat help him?
<No; but bacteria breed faster when it's warm, so they'll be happy with some more heat. And since these bacteria are as happy in seawater as freshwater, then again, if you want them to add salt, they certainly won't object. My point here (made sarcastically perhaps) is that the old standbys of salt and heat have zero impact on bacterial infections.>
Or do I need to do the antibiotics?
Will they (antibiotics) hurt the cycling and the Ramshorns who are keeping him company? Or the plants?
<Not if used as instructed on the packaging.>
Thanks again for all of your wonderful advice! And know that when I get my house (in the next few months) that I will have way more space to dedicate to my fine aquatic friends!
<Sounds like you'll have some fun!>
<Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Help with Betta tail, red markings (wounds), tail getting shorter, no biting7/6/09
Wow! You guys really are fast! I am going down today to my aquarium store to pick up some Maracyn Plus they recommended as the antibiotic.
I wasn't thinking the Mystery snails would do well in the pond, just my rapidly multiplying Ramshorns. They are pretty heavy competition for the lettuce I put in for the mystery snails that finally had babies, so I wanted to thin out their population.
<Fine. Ramshorn snails should do well outdoors, assuming they're a coldwater rather than tropical species. Colombian Ramshorn (Marisa spp.) snails are tropical species and essentially Mystery/Apple snails in terms of biology, and despite their common name, they're only distantly related to true Ramshorn snails (Planorbis spp.).>
I cannot just not feed my mysteries in the hope that the Ramshorns will multiply less in a supply and demand format, so thusly I need a home for the excesses (I mean we have hundreds almost! I have to admit they are rather cute though, and we have 2 that are golden, and most are the lovely red color and not the brown...)
<Get a loach? Or a puffer? Just kidding. Your Koi will eat (some of) them.>
I didn't really think the heat would work, I have just read that a few places, so I thought I would run it by someone I trust instead. I figured out quickly that a 10 gal wouldn't support any real fish, especially tropical.
<You can stock 10 gallon tanks, and I have a really fun 8-gallon system with gobies and shrimps, but you need to know what you're doing. Throwing in gouramis, barbs and so on usually ends in tears.>
We had some tetras in the beginning but I took them back, it was way too crowded (yes, I was unsold by the Pet conglomerate! Grr). That's one of the reasons we will upgrade when we move. I know that the taller tanks for the Bettas aren't as good, but he doesn't seem to be stressed by the travel, he is a very multi level swimmer and hangs out in different parts of the tank all the time.
One last thing (! :) ) while I am doing these 25 % changes over the next little while, and am medicating, do I change the water and then add the medicine?
<Ah right, yes. The packaging should explain. Usually, you don't do water changes, though in practise, if you do a water change 24 hours after adding the medication, any negative effects are minimal. My instinct here would be, while treating, don't do a water change unless the fish shows signs of distress and/or ammonia goes above 0.5 mg/l.>
Will I need to add extra meds to compensate for the removal of the water for the cleaning so that a cumulative effect is still reached?
<No. What generally happens is within 24 hours the medicine has been absorbed or otherwise metabolised by the fish and bacteria. The ideal is antibiotic food, which some shops sell, but otherwise follow the instructions precisely as on the package, and don't improvise!>
Once more, Thank You Thank You Thank You for being there for us with your vast knowledge!
<All learned the hard way, believe me. Cheers, Neale.>

Dying Betta   6/21/09
Hello Crew,
I have a female Betta, Flame, whom I believe is dying.
<Oh? Make sure you review all the basics: Bettas need a reasonably big tank, certainly 5 gallons or more, and that tank needs a heater and a filter. There should be zero ammonia and zero nitrite, and the temperature should be around 25-28 degrees C, or 77-82 degrees F. You shouldn't be adding anything like salt to the water except in the short term, when treating against certain parasitic infections such as Ick. Female Bettas are more mobile than male fancy Bettas, but they can still be bullied by other fish such as barbs, so they're best kept on their own or with very gentle tankmates. Their diet is primarily carnivorous in the wild, things like mosquito larvae, but a certain amount of plant material, like squished _cooked_ peas, do help avoid problems with constipation; live daphnia and live brine shrimp also do this job nicely.>
Flame has lost all her color and hadn't eaten in a week. I'm on this site about seven (not several) hours out of the day and due to my extensive reading I was able to help her a little bit. After noticing no poop in the
tank, I gave her the inside of a thawed out pea (found this on your site) and she nibbled at it once but a day later she pooped and this occurred on yesterday.
<Make sure the pea is cooked, not raw!>
Besides that nibble of the pea she hadn't eaten days prior to that or yesterday nor today. Is she dying? Is there anything else I can do to help her?
<Well, it does depend on how old she is; Bettas live for about 2-3 years in captivity when properly cared for, though they'll be a good six months old before you buy them. So if you've had her for more than 18 months, she may well simply be old, in which case you often find they lose some colour, don't swim about much, and generally show less interest in food than otherwise. But even so, you should check the temperature and the water quality, and it's always a good idea to change 25-50% of the water in situations like this; if the fish perks up afterwards, it's a good sign that water quality was poor beforehand.>
Thank you for always replying so promptly and having the best site,
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Very Sick Betta   6/23/09
I have a year and a half old Betta. He has been a very happy little man until 3 months ago. He started getting a white patch on his back.
<I see this...>
I treated him for Ick
<... not Ich>
per the pet store. (he was a gift so I only knew to go to the pet store)
That did not work so I started adding Aquarium Salt.
<Also a poor idea>
Then Water treatments ( that almost killed him) Now the lump / mass is so large he cant even keep himself upright. He swims sideways. 2 days ago he stopped eating and is just laying on the bottom of the tank. It is so sad.
He used to swim so crazy around the take when I tapped on it with my finger nails. Now he just jerks on the bottom. As to say to me I just feel to bad today. I'm attaching a photo. I hope you can help. But at this point I fear its to late for my little friend. But maybe I will prevent this next go around.
<This appears to be some sort of granulomatous tumour... Viral in origin, prompted by... genetics, environment, nutrition...
Not treatable per se... Perhaps time will show improvement with the last two co-factors above maximized. Bob Fenner>

New Print and eBook on Amazon

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: