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FAQs on Betta Diseases/Health 21

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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/Antibacterials Anti-Protozoals(Metronidazole,eSHa...), Copper 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

Betta In Danger! 11-12-08 Hello! <Hello! Good Morning!> My friend has had a little Betta, Twilight, for about four months now. He lives in a 1/2 gallon tank, (one made for wall-mounting, she's trying to get a new one, but can't afford it at the moment), in a relatively cold room, though his water is usually fairly warm when I see him, and he is fed pellets. The last time I came over, I noticed that his mouth was white, and the white spread over his back like a skunk. Unfortunately, I couldn't stomach taking a picture of him, not knowing specifically what was wrong. I guessed it was fungus, as one of my own had fungus, but died from dropsy...so I suggested my friend to buy Melafix, which was for fungus, and showed her the correct dosage. He seemed to be doing fine still, but he has been eating less lately. Her cats do get into the tank to try to drink the water, unfortunately, she's tried covering it, taping plastic with holes to the top and such. I'm also afraid that one of the cats might have licked him by accident, as when I caught one of her cats drinking out of the tank, Twilight was looking a little too close up at her, like a pellet was going to come into his tank. He has also been knocked out of the tank a few times by the cats, but still remained active and healthy. I also have another question: Could a Betta fish react to aquarium salt? Please help! I've lost two Betta's, one young and one elderly, this year, and my friend is getting paranoid...Thanks, Em <Goodness! The Betta needs to be removed from any contact with those cats. He will eventually be killed by them messing with his home. Your friend can get a cheap 1 gallon tank at Wal-Mart that has a lid for under $20.00 and will prevent any more play time with the cats. It sounds like the Betta is suffering from stress and possibly disease. You did the right thing by recommending Melafix which should take care of any fungus. Also, aquarium salt is used with freshwater fish and Bettas alike to cure illness, so yes a Betta would react to aquarium salt. You can add some aquarium salt; just a pinch would be fine. Once he is in a different tank your friend can move the Betta into a warmer part of the home. You are welcome! Good Luck! Merritt A.>

Betta Help 11-10-08 Howdy, <Hello! Taking a break from studying. Merritt here today!> I enjoyed reading through your site but still have a few pressing questions regarding my new Delta-Tail (Oscar). <Thanks for the compliments!> First, let me give you a little back history. My wife had purchased a male Betta back in February and kept it in an open ½ gal (U.S.) bowl. We didn't know a thing about Bettas other than what the employee at the fish store had told her, which was change the water once a month. <The care that LFS recommend won't keep many Bettas alive for long.> Well, we woke up last Sunday to find little Otis dead and in rigor. So, feeling absolutely horrible that our personable little guy had died because we didn't take proper care, I began reading about Bettas online. Wow, there is so much information available that I have had a hard time sorting through what is fact and what is myth. <Great! I am glad to hear you haven't given up. But, it is true about sorting out fact and myth. One time while online I read that the male Bettas explode with eggs for reproduction, the stuff people put online these days.> Later that same day, we went to our local exotic pet store and purchased Oscar, as well as mistakenly buying an Aquablock to keep him in. I took him out and returned it the next day, too small, no temperature regulation, etc. He is now in a 2.5 gal tank with a 3-stage filter (although I have since learned that the tank will never cycle fully do to is small size, so the bio-filter isn't very useful), with a natural gravel bed, 3 air stones (for the filter, which also has an air line directly under the bio-filter foam) two small synthetic aquarium plants, and an electric heater preset to 78.5°F. <Wow! Your Betta is living it up in the good life. I wish everyone took this great of care regarding their Bettas.> The water from the tap tests ph 7.0, Nitrites <0.3 mg/l, Ammonia 1.5 mg/l (Yikes!!), general hardness 6° , Carbonate Hardness 5°, and I haven't tested for Nitrates. I am using Nutrafin's Cycle and Aquaplus, as well as Tetra's Ammonia Detox for the high ammonia level. <I would have to agree on the "yikes" for the ammonia. Increase water changes and how much a day are you feeding him? One or two Betta pellets are enough, with having one day where they aren't feed. I would also recommend Amquel for the ammonia problems.> Unfortunately, I have heard that the Ammonia Detox simply converts the Ammonia to Ammonium so it still records a positive on my ammonia test. Therefore, I am unsure if it is working. I didn't start testing the water until after the Aquablock incident, when I noticed Oscar was lethargic, doing headstand, not eating, and had a skin discoloration under his chin. I first thought he was constipated, so I began treating him for that, but he didn't show any improvement. So I moved him to his travel tank which I had set up as a hospital tank, no gravel or plants, daily water changes, and a constant 77°F temperature. I began adding Epsom salt to his water at a concentration of ½ tsp per gallon, as well as Maracyn-Two (I thought he may have had ammonia poisoning and gotten dropsy or another disease as a result). Well, he has been showing slow signs of improvement over the past 4 days, his discoloration is slowly disappearing, his eyes are still bulging a bit but no longer have any red, his scales are shimmering instead of flat, and he is swimming around. However, he still won't eat his Betta Bites. Then today, he started flitting around his tank like he was on speed, interacting with what appeared to be his reflection. When I walk over and watch him, he swims to the front of the tank and watches me, and then he will go hang out either above or below the heater. I'm wondering if this behavior is normal or if there is something else wrong with him, what may have been wrong with him the first time, recommended treatment regimen, and how to get him to eat. <You did the right thing by setting up a hospital tank and adding the Epsom salt and Maracyn-Two. Not eating his pellets is a little worrying, you could try a different brand, but if he doesn't eat after a week he could still be suffering from his last incidence. And about his behavior, healthy Bettas are constantly watching the world around them and interacting with it. They will eventually recognize their owner and react to them. My Bettas do little happy dances when they see me! Also, the darting around with his reflection is normal too, he thinks his reflection is a competing male and will flare his gills and fins trying to scare the other male away. All of these behaviors mean you have a happy healthy Betta. When your Betta got sick it was mainly due to low water conditions and once he is in a better situation he will regain his health.> Oh, one last thing. Oscar is going to be getting a brand new Eclipse System 6 aquarium for Christmas so he finally has a proper home. I was wondering if you could recommend any plants to add as well as tank-mates that would be compatible with a Male Betta. I am going to plant the 2.5 gallon tank with real plants and use it to condition the tap water prior to putting it in the new aquarium to try to reduce the ammonia level. < I love live plants and use them in all my tanks. I would recommend for your tank easy care plants like, Java Fern, Anacharis, Melon Sword, Banana Plant and any variation of Anubias. All of these plants are relatively inexpensive and can be found at any LFS. You should still treat your water with dechlorinator even with the plants. Tank mates for Bettas are slightly difficult depending on the aggressiveness of your Betta. The easiest tank mates and amazing cleaners are the ghost shrimp that many Bettas usually don't even see. For your 6 gallon you could include Corydoras (Corys) or some Kuhlii loaches. .> Thanks, Frank <You are welcome! Good luck! Merritt A.>
Betta Help: Part 2 11-11-08
Oscar Update (My Betta, not the actual fish Oscar) Good News! Oscar ate shrimp! Ok, not sure how many I gave him though, wow those things are tiny! I will search for what a normal amount is. So...when do you think I will be able to move him back into his aquarium? <Awesome! That is great to hear! About the constipation you mentioned earlier, with the bulge his side, not eating for a couple of weeks will help and you have been adding salt to his tank so it should clear up in a week or so. When you no longer see any bulges, discoloration or lethargic behavior you can comfortably add him to his nice home. He will be excited about the change.> Frank <Glad to help! Merritt A.>

Betta (health; age?) 11/04/2008 Also I could use your help....one of my Bettas is VERY ill...out of nowhere it seems...he's in a 5 1/2 gallon tank...The temperature is at 80 degrees F.....Ammonia's at 0..nitrite 0...nitrate 25 ppm....pH 6.8... <All sounds fine.> I do a 50% water change every week..I'm using a UGF...He won't eat..He'll swim a short distance then lay on his side..very pale and thin...did not improve after water change...fish age unknown. <May simply be getting old. Wild fish are essentially annuals, though in captivity they can live much longer. In any case, you might treat with an antibiotic such as Maracyn in the off chance there's a genuine bacterial infection of some sort. But my gut feeling is that he's simply getting old.  Don't bother with food for a while (few days) and see if his hunger comes back. Take a look at over coloration, particularly the face: old Bettas often show some fading of the colour, especially around the head and belly.  Bear in mind that commercially bred Bettas are effectively middle aged once they are sent to the shops (i.e., around 6 months of age) and so if you've had the fish a year or so, he's well into "senior citizen" territory by the standards of the species. Do try offering some live or frozen foods, perhaps bloodworms using forceps: few healthy fish will reject them.> Thanks a bunch, Lonnie <Cheers, Neale.>

Old Betta care 10-31-08 Hello! I came across your site and spent an hour or two just reading your conversations with Betta owners. Your crew seems very knowledgeable and helpful! <Thanks!> I have a 3.5 year old Betta and I was wondering if there is anything special I should do to keep him happy and comfortable in his old age.  He is still very active, very brightly colored, and has a good appetite. <Wow! Thats not bad for old age in Bettas. Your Betta being active and lively is a great sign that you are taking good care of him. Since he is older it is best to keep his water temperature stable and to give him a variety of food. Mix it up during the week with some frozen and dried food. If he made it to 3.5 years old, I am assuming you change his water weekly and feed him regularly. Just keep up the good work and he will soon be 4 to 5 years old.> Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks! <You are welcome! Merritt A.>

Betta Growth on "Face" 10/16/08
Dear Crew,
I have a Betta fish named Jack in a 2 gallon tank. I guess he is about three years old. I found him in his tank on the side of the road two and half years ago. I think someone received him as a Christmas present, treated him really horribly for three months, and then left him for dead. Needless to say, he had all sorts of diseases when I found him, and he didn't eat for two weeks, but I treated him and in about three months he was good as new. Jack is really tough, but now he has a growth on his "face" and I am stumped. He's very happy, eating well, biting/playing at our fingers, swimming all over the place, and blowing bubbles. He hasn't made any nests recently, but he tends not to in the Fall.
He has this mass that is growing steadily in between his eye and his mouth. It started as a small bump a month ago. Now, it is large enough to worry about. It is not under the skin, it is on the skin or maybe it seems to be made of skin. It is not itching him. It is not bothering him at all, except I have noticed that it is partially blocking his vision of his food, and he sometimes passes by the food before getting to it.
I have tried some different antibiotics: a week on something the aquarium store called "Nitro" (bright yellow) and now he is on Myacin recommended by PetCo. This is his third day on Myacin, but nothing seems to be happening. I have attached some pictures. Do you have any recommendations? How can I find someone who can help me in Boston? I'm willing to pay for an expert opinion, but who am I looking for? A fish doctor? Is it possible to have the growth removed?
(The dark patches on his scales are leftover from when I found him, they have
gotten much better with time but they are still there in some places. I think they may be burn marks or scarring of some sort from the horrible water condition I found him in.)
Thank you for your help and for this useful service!
<Hi Erin. Interesting tale there! Never heard of a fish being rescued on the roadside! Anyway, I suspect this is either viral (Lymphocystis) or else just a plain vanilla tumour or some type. Any Betta that's over 2.5 years old is in its dotage, and will be much more prone to these types of complaints. Viral diseases are essentially incurable though they sometimes go away by themselves. Tumours and cysts can be caused for a variety of reasons and generally don't go away. Vets can remove both tumours and Lympho growths on large fish such as Koi, but I suspect a Betta is far too small for this to be viable. Sadly, I think this is something "chronic" your fish will have for the rest of its days. Reviewing water quality and diet may help, Lympho in the wild particular being associated with water quality issues, particularly heavy metal poisoning. But realistically I don't think there's anything much you can do. Provided the growth doesn't inhibit feeding, I wouldn't be overly concerned. But if the growth did cause problems, then euthanasia may be appropriate, of which more is said elsewhere on WWM (some of the methods hobbyists use are not at all painless). Possibly Bob F. will have a second opinion. Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Betta Growth on "Face" (RMF, second opinion?) 10/16/08
Thank you so much Neale! After some Googling, I think that Lympho is a likely diagnosis.
<Good news and bad news, I suppose. The good news is it isn't normally fatal, the bad news is it takes months if not years to go away.>
Some sites recommend using antibiotics to prevent secondary infections. Do you think this is a good idea?
<Not really. A lot of people have a total lack of understanding about what antibiotics are for. Given Lympho is viral, it isn't helped with antibiotics any more than penicillin doesn't help treat the 'flu. Moreover, the value of giving antibiotics prophylactically (i.e., to prevent an infection) is debated even with humans, let alone animals like fish where out understanding of their biology is vague, at best. Far, far better to let the virus run its course, and simply allow a healthy immune system to prevent secondary infections. Do always remember the reason fish get Finrot isn't because there are bacteria in the water, those bacteria are *always* there, but because their immune system is stressed by poor conditions or diet. Assuming the fish is in clean water and receiving a proper diet, the chances of secondary infections being caused by Lympho are next to nil. Stepping the water temperature up slightly to, say, 30 C might be beneficial, but don't do anything else that might stress the fish in any way.>
How long can I keep him on antibiotics?
<Just as with humans, the ideal is to not use them at all, and when required, use them for the full course of treatment as indicated by the vet or manufacturer. Not a day longer and not a day less.>
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>  

Re: Sick Betta 9/28/08
Hi again. After a few days, I realized that my Betta is actually having constipation. I've fed him peas, but he is still not clearing out his waste and his stomach just keeps getting larger. Why is this so? What do I do then?
<It is possible that it is not constipation and could be an infection or tumor. If the symptoms persist I would try a treatment with Maracyn.>
Oh yeah. I forgot to tell you that my red Betta's stomach is very bloated and kinda yellow, very distinct compared to his red body.
<I would try a round of antibiotic along with the peas, this may be more than constipation.>
It has gone to a point that his scales at his stomach is kinda raised. I've seriously tried everything: feed peas, change water, add salt,............What do I do now? What does the yellow stomach mean? Why does he not excrete waste even though he is eating peas???
<He could be just when you are not around, or something could be blocking his ability.>
Is it another kind of infection coming on??? Thank you. Please save him.
His tank is not filtered but I just changed his water yesterday.
<This is a big clue, like all fish Bettas need a heated and filtered tank, otherwise they suffer and are disease prone.>
It is not aerated either cause the filters are too strong.
<I strongly encourage you to get a air drive sponge filter and heater for this fish. Bettas do not belong in bowls any more than any other fish. Also Epson salts (magnesium sulfate) may help here as well.>

My female Betta has white stringy stuff hanging from her body right by her fins. What's happening?    9/28/08 <Sounds like Finrot, possibly also Fungus. Treat with Maracyn or some other reliable product (as opposed to make-believe medications like Melafix or salt). Both these diseases are caused by the environment, so let's recap: Bettas need an aquarium (not a bowl) containing at least 5 gallons of water, a filter, and a heater. If you aren't using those things, for example keeping your Betta in a jar under a table lamp, then that's your problem. The reason I mention this is that we seem to get huge numbers of messages from people who -- because they haven't done any research -- assume Bettas can be kept in the same way as pet rocks. They can't. If this isn't the issue, and you're sensibly keeping the Betta in a nice filtered, heated aquarium, then do consider the other usual source of Finrot and Fungus, damage from other livestock. Some fish will nip at Bettas, most notably various tetras and barbs. When the wounds become infected (in part because water quality isn't particularly good, it has to be said) then the result is Finrot and Fungus. Again, treat with Maracyn or some equivalent product capable of treating both diseases simultaneously. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: What's happening? Betta    9/29/08

I do have an at least 5 gallons, but it isn't heated. I disappeared today. I kind of scared my because I thought she was giving birth or something! But now that there is a logical explanation it all makes sense. Thanks for the advice, -Brogan
<Well, do ensure the temperature in the tank is around 26-28 C using a heater of some sort. Choose the right size of your tank (admittedly only a limited range are suitable for tanks a mere 5 gallons). Do also remember Bettas are labyrinth fish, which means they breathe air, and the air above the tank needs to be warm and humid otherwise they get respiratory infections. The classic way to do this is to ensure the tank has a lid. That'll not only keep the air humid, but also prevent the fish jumping out. Do also check the ammonia and/or nitrite concentration to ensure the water quality is good and the filter is working properly. Cheers, Neale.>

Fin Rot, Betta    9/28/08 Hello! My Name is Amanda and I have a question about my crimson Betta, Mojo. <Hi Amanda,> I received Mojo as a gift ( I requested him :D) I love Bettas and after watching my room mate (I'm in college) take care of her Betta I really wanted one... Well I have had Mojo for about a month and being a Wal-Mart rescue (he was in less than an inch of water and that was filthy!!!! I was so appalled and upset by this my boyfriend bought him and a one gallon tank that is filtered and has a small air pump) <One gallon is still too little for these fish; 5 gallons is, in all honesty, the minimum for easy care. Do understand these are fish, despite being marketed as if they were Star Wars figures you can just play with and then ignore. They have precisely the same requirements as any other tropical fish: swimming space, heat, filtration.> I have been worried about him being sick. After adjusting him to his new tank he has been a very active and happy fish. I added a soft plant to his tank and blue gravel. <Ugh, blue gravel... fish don't like bright colours underneath them... very stressful. Like putting you in a room with loud noises or bad smells.> The tank is also covered with a light and I clean it about once a week. He eats aqua culture Betta pellets ad loves to eat I feed him 1-3 pellets up to three times a day. The thing I am worried about is he is a very solid red and today I noticed a black line on the end of his fin that was NOT there before. <Incipient Finrot, almost certainly. Do review the key needs, in particular for water quality and temperature, the two things newbie Betta keepers invariably ignore. If you detect ammonia or nitrite in the water, that's one MAJOR problem that will eventually kill the fish. Secondly, the temperature needs to be between 25-28 C, all day along. Unless you happen to live in the tropics, then your room temperature -- even with central heating -- won't be that warm. Anyone in Europe or the US will need to use a heater of some sort.> I just want to know if this could be a sign of fin rot or could he just be changing color?? <Yes to the first, no to the second.> I wouldn't be worried but being a rescue he was in bad shape (nearly dead) when we got him and? his top fin is bent over but not black or receding/tearing. I may just be an overprotective first time owner but I would appreciate any advice you could give me so Mojo can have a long and happy life now!! <Do understand that being "over-protective" is a good thing with animals: but that means researching the needs of a species rather than giving it a name or buying it toys. Fish couldn't care less about that stuff. What makes them happy -- and eventually tame -- is consistently providing them with optimal environmental conditions. Do see in particular here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/betta_splendens.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebindex/bettasysart.htm > Thanks Amanda <Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Fin Rot  09/28/08

Thank you so much for your swift help!!
<Happy to help!>
I must admit I was completely ignorant about him needing a bigger tank and saw some great 5 to 10 gallon desk tanks on you site and was wondering if I should get the ten gallon or would he be happier in the smaller five?
<With fishkeeping, the bigger the tank, the easier it becomes. A bigger tank is more stable, and if you skip a water change or two, it's less of an issue. A bigger tank will enjoy more stable water quality and chemistry, meaning that any fish you keep will be less likely to get sick. So unless there's a huge difference in cost, go with the 10 gallon tank. You'll be so glad you did. I have several tanks this size, and properly stocked with plants, Nerite snails and cherry shrimps, you can turn these tanks into fantastically entertaining environments for your fish and yourself. All this said, a 5 gallon system is absolutely fine, and far better than most people give their Bettas (with the result that most people don't keep their Bettas alive very long...) It's just a 10 gallon system is easier to run, and you'll find it easier to find a filter and a heater that fits. Adding lights will be easier too, so you can add some hardy plants (Anubias, Java fern, Cryptocoryne wendtii) and expect them to thrive. The result will be a really lovely tank.>
Also How long should I let the larger tank cycle??
<Since you have the fish already, this question is a bit academic. Put the Betta in the tank, and use your nitrite test kit to keep tabs on the cycling process. In theory it will cycle in as little as 4 weeks though often up to six. If you transfer media the filter from your present tank (if you have one) into the bigger tank, cycling will be (effectively) instant because the bacteria will be already in the filter.>
I am taking him in to the local pet store that specialize in tropical fish to get the medicine and the water tested! I really do appreciate your help and feel terrible for my poor little Mojo! and the gravel in his tank is a Dark blue almost gray, the reason I added that earlier is I had to wash it over 15 times till no more color came off and didn't know if that would have caused his tail to change!!
<No, this isn't likely to be a factor. Indeed, most freshwater fish would prefer silty, opaque conditions given the chance!>
Thank you for your help and Mojo thanks you too!!
<Good luck, Neale.>

crown fighting fish... beh./hlth.  9/26/08
I have a crown fighting fish and have had it for about a year now, recently it has been doing unusual things like floating to the top on its side like its playing dead but its actually still alive & eating. I never see him at the bottom of the fish bowl anymore, and if he tries to swim down , its with much effort, its like there's a magnet at the top of the water and he's stuck to it, on it's side...why?
<Can't answer this without information on the environment. Bettas never do well in "bowls" without heaters or filters, so my first questions are how warm is this bowl and what is the ammonia or nitrite concentration of the water. Bettas are fish, and like any tropical fish need warm, filtered water to stay healthy. Sticking them in bowl at room temperature is sure way to send one to a speedy death. It's a shame people get persuaded by retailers that they can be kept in bowls; they can't. Let's show respect to the Betta, and ensure that these fish are always kept in aquaria at least 5 gallons in size and with a filter and a heater keeping the water at not less than 25C/77F. If you aren't doing these things, then that's what's caused your fish to get ill. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Betta 9/24/08
Hey. This is regarding a very worried Betta owner. 1 day ago, my Betta fish changed from a bright red colour and feisty personality to just a pale sickly old fish and lethargic thing. I'm worried about his condition esp. since its the first time he's really ill. He has lost his appetite and just wants to rest the whole day. His stomach is significantly swollen and he has lost his colour. Also, his scales are mildly raised on his back, otherwise, his other scales are fine and there is no pineconing. What should I do?...Please answer asap k? Cos I want to start treatment asap. Yup. I really appreciate any help I can get. Thank you.
<The vast majority of Betta problems are environmental in nature. SO what type of tank is he kept in? Is it heated, filtered? How old is he? What are your water parameters and when was your last water change? I think you will find most of your questions answered here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind2.htm , in the Betta section. Please give it a read. Also next time please spell and grammar check your queries as posted here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/question_page.htm , since we have to do this before posting.>

Sick Betta Fish   9/19/08
To: The Crew
I think that my female Betta fish is sick, and if she is, I'm confused as to what is wrong with her. Let me start from the beginning... A coworker of mine owned this Betta fish for about a year and also kept her n the office. The coworker left her job and also left her fish! Rude, but true! Since I had become quite attached to Lucy over this time, I decided to bring her home with me. This was over the Fourth of July weekend, 2008. She had been living in a bowl that wasn't cleaned very often, and in an office that was pretty cold most of the time. I set up a 10 gallon tank for her and introduced her to her new home. Lucy seemed to adjust wonderfully to this change and for about the first three weeks, things were great. Then, I went away for five days at the end of July. I was completely distraught about how to feed her while I was away and eventually decided on getting an automatic fish feeder.
<No....! Automatic feeders are at best unnecessary, and at worst a guaranteed way to turn your aquarium into a septic tank during your absence. Fish can go many days, even weeks, without food. Water quality will stay much better if you don't feed your fish. Instead have a friend just check the water is warm and the filter working, but otherwise leave fish unfed for periods of up to 7 days, and for longer periods a single meal per week is usually ample.>
I knew before I left that it dished out way more food than I wanted it to, but at least I knew she wouldn't go hungry. When I got home, the only visible change was cloudiness, a lot of food on the bottom and after a few days, brown algae. I used a gravel vacuum to clean up the food, which I did three times that week. The ammonia and nitrite levels weren't zero anymore, so I did water changes every day until these were back down to zero.
<Your fish has a serious bacterial infection, Finrot is usually caused by poor water quality, and my guess would be that your fish is quite old (they're basically annual fish in the wild) and exposure to ammonia/nitrite overwhelmed its immune system. The cure is two-fold: treat with Maracyn (US) or eSHa 2000 (Europe) and at the same time optimise water quality.>
Then, the diatoms appeared. I was told that this wasn't harmful to fish, so I didn't worry
about it, but I did vacuum the tank pretty regularly and rinsed off any decorations that were looking really bad.
<Diatoms are indeed harmless. Usually appear in dimly-lit tanks, but they also appear when water quality varies rapidly. Very common in new tanks for that reason. So while they can be an indication something was wrong with the tank, they're not in themselves a problem.>
Then, sometime during the second full week of August, I noticed a few things about Lucy. She wasn't eating as much as she used to. She would stare at the food and then swim away. Eventually, she would eat a flake or two, but she would take a long time to eat. She also
takes a long time to eat blood worms, which isn't normal for her at all. The second thing that I noticed was something strange going on at the top of her body, right behind her head. It looked as though she had dry skin or that she scraped herself. That area eventually became a yellowish color; as if the scales were rubbed off. I can also see what looks like her spine sticking out/up.(I have attached a picture to try to show this). I guess I kept thinking that it must be some kind of scraping, because nothing that I read in books or on the Internet remotely described this condition. She also seems to be "crooked". Now, for as long as I knew her in her bowl, she would often times appear to be a little crooked, but could always straighten back up again. This new crookedness never goes away. She doesn't appear to have any problems swimming because of this, though. Other than what I have described, she was acting normal. Still energetic and friendly.
<As stated, I think this is a combination of age/stress.>
Then, on August 31st, I added two Otocinclus catfish to the tank.
<Not my favourite fish. They are extremely difficult to maintain because they need spotlessly clean, relatively cool water with a strong water current. In other words, not the conditions in your Betta aquarium (and I will bet all the money in my pocket that yours will be dead within 6 months). They also attack slow-moving fish, grazing mucous from the body. I've seen this happen, and while I suspect it might be a sign the Otocinclus are hungry, but even so, why risk it?>
Then, on the 5th of September, I thought I noticed white spots, a few on each side, of Lucy. This is in addition to her "dry" skin, crookedness and lack of appetite.
<I'd be SERIOUSLY concerned about the Otocinclus making things worse here. These catfish just aren't viable tankmates here, and I do wish aquarium shops would stop selling them! Or at least, wouldn't push them on casual aquarists in now way prepared to keep them.>
But, even though I know I definitely saw something on her, I really couldn't tell if it matched the description of Ich. I couldn't always see these spots from every angle and my husband didn't think they looked like white spots. So, I went running around to many different pet stores looking at all the different medicines. Nothing looked like it matched her description, so I didn't buy anything. I did, however, pick up algae wafers for the catfish, since by now the tank was sparkling clean. The instructions on these things were so vague, and I've never had fish before, so I put in two of these wafers; one for each fish. I had no idea what these things would do, or else I would have known not to put that much in.
<One algae wafer per day would be ample for six to eight Otocinclus spp. These are schooling catfish by the way, and don't do well kept singly or in twos and threes.>
Anyway, I woke up the next morning and Lucy was laying in the bottom of the tank right by the algae, which was all soft and flowing now, and she looked as if she was gasping for air.
<Probably overfeeding, likely stress. I just WOULD NOT trust a Betta with Otocinclus.>
She was actually opening and closing her mouth...nonstop. Her gills even seemed to be moving really fast too. I immediately vacuumed out the algae and did a 50% water change. This, at least, stopped her from "panting". At this point, I knew I needed to do something and the safest sounding thing to use/try that I found on the Internet was Aquari-sol. I could only find one pet store in my general area who sold it, so I went to get some. The clerk at the pet store thought that her breathing heaving had nothing to do with the algae (although I was reprimanded for putting so much in) and that he said it sounded like she has parasites on her gills.
<Do be careful about randomly adding medications; you can do more harm than good. In this instance, you surely need to treat for Finrot before worrying about anything else.>
So, I treated the tank from September 7th through the 16th with Aquari-sol, removed the carbon filter and I also raised the temperature to 86 degrees. Throughout this time, Lucy
hasn't been very energetic. She spends most of her time laying in a plant or hanging by the heater. Sometimes she is right up against it. She will swim around for a little bit, but then she will just shut down. Also during this week, her fins became torn looking. They don't looked frayed, just ripped.
<Again, classic Finrot symptoms.>
And now that I stopped the treatment, whatever the white spots were didn't necessarily go away, but now looks like dry skin too, as if she is peeling. I have also noticed a few "dirty" looking marks that have developed on her. These marks are brown in color and it looks like she is just dirty. (I have attached a picture to try and show this - you can also see some damage to one of her pelvic fins). I have now returned the carbon back into the filter and have gotten the temperature down to 82 degrees. I am working on getting it all the way back to 80 degrees, which is where I originally had it.
My tank specifications are:
Size: 10 gallons
Whisper Power Filter
Heater is currently at 82 degrees, but is normally at 80 degrees
pH: 8
ammonia: 0
nitrites: 0
I also added an air stone and an aerator when I turned the heat up.
<Too warm for Otocinclus in the long term; they need something around the 22-24 C/72-75F level.>
I am so sorry for the length of this email. I know that I probably mentioned a lot of unnecessary things, but I didn't want to leave any important information out. I truly appreciate any help that you can give me. I just want Lucy to be happy and healthy and after fruitless hours of searching the Internet for answers, I came across your Website and thought maybe you could help.
Thanks again. I really appreciate this.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Sick Betta Fish  9/22/08
Hello Again.
Thank you so much, Neale, for such a quick reply. I will definitely take the advice about the automatic fish feeder in the future.
Thank you for your diagnosis and medication recommendation. I certainly didn't want to treat her for the wrong thing. From everything I have read about fish diseases, nothing seemed to fit the symptoms that I was looking for, so I am very thankful for your assessment. I started her on the Maracyn on Friday night. Last night was her third dose, and as of this morning, I haven't seen any improvement.
<Oh. Do give it time...>
I still have two days of treatment left though, as per the box instructions. I was wondering what you thought I should do, if this doesn't work. The instructions for the Maracyn seem to indicate that if the first treatment doesn't work, that I can either treat her for five more days with the Maracyn or that I could switch to Maracyn-Two.
<Correct. Maracyn 1 and Maracyn 2 treat different types of bacterial (gram positive versus gram negative, to be precise) so if one doesn't work, the other should.>
I'm certainly not looking to drug her to death, but I do want her to get better. I would truly appreciate your opinion on this. I was also wondering about something else. I had to take my carbon filter out, since the Maracyn instructions said that if the filter was less than five days old I should remove it.
<Correct. Carbon removes most organic materials from water, which is why, for example, it's used to treat poisons in the Emergency Room of hospitals. But while that's a good thing, it just as happily removed good drugs (medications) as well as bad ones (poisons). By default, I recommend against using the stuff in any freshwater aquarium unless YOU know precisely how it works and what it's for. Most aquarists use the stuff because they're told they need it, and they don't know enough to refuse the sales pitch from the retailer/manufacturer.>
As of yesterday, my water tests have been 0 ammonia and 0 nitrites. If these numbers should change and I need to do a water change, do I just continue the medicine doses as normal, or is there something special I would need to do to?
<Just carry on, doing a generous water change at the end of each full course of medication.>
I had no idea that Otocinclus catfish could be so destructive. I have never noticed any aggressive behavior from either one of them. I guess I need to figure out what I am going to do about them.
<They're not "aggressive" as such, it's just that hungry Otocinclus will view slow-moving fish as a buffet bar. Have seen this myself, and had to deal with the consequences, a seriously damaged Goby.>
You mentioned that you were concerned about the Otocinclus making things worse. Do you mean you think that they have already attacked her and I just haven't seen it and that maybe they have caused her some physical damage?
<Either. What the Otocinclus certainly will do is consume the mucous, rasping the skin, producing what looks like pus-filled outgrowths and blemishes. Not all Otocinclus do this, but do be aware of it, and watch them.>
In the meantime, I'll continue her medicine regimen and I'll have to figure out what I can do with the Otos.
Thank you again for all of your advice. I appreciate the time that you must put into answering these questions.
<Most welcome.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

please I need help with my Betta  9/18/09
Good morning,
<Good morning!>
I live in Bangalore, India where pet shops are not very evolved...I was given a small bottle of orange liquid -already mixed ...no clue what's in it!!
<Me neither... could be tea-tree oil (Melaleuca oil), a mild antiseptic sometimes used in fishkeeping.>
and told to add 3 drops when I do a water change- for colour of fish and plants.. That's how evolved it is....and I think, here, when a fish gets sick unless you help me, he will die. I am a first time fish owner. Help!!!
<If this is tea-tree oil, "evolution" has nothing to do with it! This stuff is widely used in America and Europe as well. It's not consistently effective though. So while it could be used to prevent an infection, I wouldn't ever rely on it as a cure for an existing infection.>
So I bought a male Betta. about a inch long. I keep him with a lot of floating and rooted plants in a 5 liter fish bowl.
<Too small... almost certainly any problems you have come down to water quality. Bettas are fish, and like all fish they need filtration.>
When I got him, I got online and checked what I have to do to keep him happy. I realised he had Ich when I bought him and was listless. So I did everyday 1/2 water changes. (I don't have a ph measuring anything nor a filter nor a heater...it's India).
<While I agree heating may be redundant, do check the water is around 25 C constantly. As for filtration, there's no excuse for not using a filter.>
and I added sea salt everyday (less than a teaspoon into his water change) and kept him in the sun where the day temp is 27 Celsius. it made a difference in a few days...the Ich left off and he was happy and energetic. I still continue the daily water changes. Water added
after tap water is left standing for 24 hours.
I feed him one earthworm per day- live food from soil for plants. He does not like the pellets. He eats well. as soon as I put the worm in, he eats it and that's that.
Yesterday when I was doing his water change, I added the orange liquid. And I gave him two worms instead of one. he ate both.
But this morning, his fins have shredded overnight. I don't know about finding black stuff on his fins coz his fins are coloured blue with specks of black anyways. although he is getting to be a little silvery. loosing a little colour.
<The "shredded fins" are likely Finrot. Do a water quality test: if you detect ammonia or nitrite, that's the problem. Finrot is a symptom of poor water quality almost every time.>
I think there are some things that I did different
- I added the orange liquid.
-I fed him two worms
- I poured the water in with a little more force than I normally do
I really need help. please tell me if he is sick and if I need to introduce medicines, how do I do that?
<The orange liquid probably won't help. Certainly can't be sure without knowing what it is. Do see here, and look in the row for Finrot. Melafix is tea-tree oil, likely the same thing as your orange liquid, and of doubtful usefulness.
Can you direct me on what I need to do? please don't tell me to put in medicines unless you can direct me on which med's( we don't have medicines for fish here) and how do I introduce it.
<Sorry, can't say anything about what's available in shops other than the ones in the UK and US -- my parts of the world. Would suggest joining a fish club in your area (many have online forums and other resources where you can talk with people who live near to you).>
speed will be much appreciated.
<Done my best.>
lost and worried
<Cheers, Neale.>

My bloated Betta GiGi... poor env.   9/15/08
I love my Betta Gigi very much and I've noticed that her
<It's a boy.>
belly looks like she swallowed a bean.
<Not uncommon; likely overfeeding, and the wrong foods at that. The worst thing you can do is give them dried "Betta pellets" day-in, day-out. There are the equivalent of frozen pizza for humans. Fine once in a while, but not good as a staple. The problems include a lack of fibre, and this causes constipation, and that causes abdominal swelling (and presumably some discomfort to the fish). The solution is to switch to high fibre foods. Live daphnia and brine shrimp are particularly good, but failing that squished tinned peas work very well, though Bettas aren't wild about them and will need to be starved a bit before they'll eat them. Obviously avoid anything dried or freeze-dried, as these have the opposite effect and will just make things worse. Do see here for more tips on Betta diet:
I'm really concerned about her health.
<Well, I'd be too, given one photo seems to imply your Betta lives in the fridge! Regardless, your "living" quarters for this Betta is essentially a cell on Death Row. I can't make this point any more clearly than this: no-one should keep a Betta in a bowl or jar. They need regular fish tanks just like any fish. I'd say something around 5 gallons would be a good starting point, providing space for the fish to swim about as well as (critically) water volume do dilute metabolic wastes. For example, I don't see a filter here. No fish lives long without a filter. Period. End of discussion. In a 5 gallon tank you can easily install an air-powered sponge filter for very little money. Likewise this is a TROPICAL fish and needs warmth; a heater is essential (unless you live in the tropics!) so that the water temperature is not less than 25 degrees C (that's 77 F if you're still Daniel Fahrenheit's system based on the freezing point of the Baltic Sea and the warmth of blood from a freshly killed pig). Room temperature won't do, and nor will a carefully positioned lamp over the top of the tank.>
My symptom judgment is inexperienced and I've decided to seek assistance from a 3rd party which is yourself.
<Done my best: Here's the solution. Go buy a proper aquarium with a heater and a filter. Nothing else will do in the long term.>
Can you please give me your honest opinion and let me know if there is anything that can help us.
<See above.>
Please email me when you have come to a conclusion.
Gigi's Momme
<For good or for bad, we get a lot of messages like this one. I think people buy Bettas as pets for dormitory rooms and the like, assuming they can keep a fish in a small jug under an angle-poise lamp for warmth. You can't. The fish dies a slow and miserable death. My advice is always this: Animals don't give a hoot about having cute names or whether you love them or not. They don't register stuff like that. All they care about is how well they're maintained. If you want the animal to be happy, you provide for its needs. In the case of a Betta, that means an aquarium with a heater and a filter. The pictures you've seen of Bettas in glass jars are how they're maintained by expert breeders. The jars are in heated "fish houses" where the water is raised to the necessary temperature by the very hot air in the room. The breeder changes the water in the jars at least once per day, and more than likely will be carefully regulating food intake and measuring water quality to ensure good health. This just isn't viable for the casual aquarist with little or no experience of keeping fish in this way. Your ONLY viable option is a regular (albeit small) tropical aquarium that will keep the Betta healthy between 25-50% water changes every week or two. Cold water and cold air above the tank are lethal to them, the latter because they are air breathers and can't handle breathing cold air from a draughty room. Do read Bob Fenner's summary of their care, here:
Hope this helps, and if you need more input after reading Bob's piece, get in touch. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: My bloated Betta GiGi  9/17/08
Hello Friend,
Thank you very much for the quick response. So I took your advice, my Betta GiGi is no longer living in the fridge lol. Just joking she never was I just needed the extra light. But I did buy some live brine shrimp. I was unable to purchase the Daphnia they are unavailable in California.
<Common enough in ponds, if your neighbours have ponds without fish.>
I have just a few questions concerning the storage of brine shrimp. Currently they're in a closed container and I have so many left over.. (1)Where can I store them for later use other than my fridge? Storing them there kinda creeps me out.
<They do need storing in the fridge, or else in a bucket containing salty water and an airstone. The problem is that if you keep them at room temperature without an airstone, they'll suffocate.>
Also I noticed that a lot of them are hiding underneath GiGi's rocks in her tank. (2)Will they eventually contaminate the tank?
<Yes; remove uneaten food within 5 minutes. Golden rule of fishkeeping, and essential in "jars" without filters or enough water volume to be safe. Are you going to upgrade the tank any time soon? What you feed the fish is neither here nor there if the basic environment is dangerous.>
and I also noticed that she is spitting some of them out. (3) Is that normal?
Also she isn't eating all of them there are about 20 swimming around in her tank. I don't want to run the risk of overfeeding her.
<You're overfeeding her already. Anything she doesn't eat, is "overfeeding".>
Thank you for your continued support and advice it is truly appreciated.
<Does that mean you're buying an aquarium with a heater or filter? Knowing that people are going to care for their fish properly is all the reward we want.>
I hope to hear from you soon.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Next Steps for Betta after recovery from serious illness  9/11/08
I am e-mailing to seek your expert advise as to after care for a male Betta who has recovered from what appeared to be a serious bacterial infection.
I have had this fellow for almost 2 years.
<Mmm, do know that this is "about a natural lifetime" for Betta splendens>
Fortunately until recently he has never been sick or needed any type of treatment for parasites.
He lives in a filtered, heated, 5 gallon tank. Prior to treatment with antibiotics the tank was cycled and I performed 30 percent water changes every 4 to 5 days. I use a turkey baster to clean the gravel because he gets very upset with the aquarium gravel cleaner.
<Good to be upset sometimes>
About a month ago I cleaned the gravel as usual and the next day I noticed he didn't seem to be feeling very well. Things went right downhill until he was so sick that I thought he would never live. His eyes turned red (at one point I thought his eyes may even be gone) his gills were swollen and one side looked like it had a blood spot. Some of the scales seemed to be missing around his eyes and mouth and the spots were blood red. He had something around his gills which looked like body fungus. He lost his colour and started to bloat. I thought for sure dropsy was setting in. I tried Maracyn and Maracyn 2 over a two week period but he just kept getting worse. He did not eat for almost two weeks and laid at the bottom most of the time. Finally I thought I'd try Maracyn Plus never expecting anything positive could happen. After three days of treatment I noticed he was moving around a little and seemed to be a little more colourful. The next day at feeding time he swam to the top of his tank and wiggled around just like always. He started eating that day and within a couple more days all physical symptoms of illness were gone. He looks perfect and he seems to have very good sight. At first even though he looked good he seemed to get tired quickly and the aquarium light bothered him. (so I only left the light on while he was being fed) Now his energy has returned and he is back to flaring at his neighbour and sitting on top of his plant and watching everyone's activities.
After all of this I need to clean the bottom of his tank but I am afraid I will unleash something again. I have been doing more frequent water changes but I was thinking about removing him and rinsing the gravel and plants with warm well water.
<Mmm, "well water" covers a wide span of possibilities... I might well use some sort of "bottled drinking water" for this fish>
I would save about 60 to 70 percent of his old water and not rinse or change the filter media at that time. Do you think this is a good plan or do you have other suggestions.
<See above>
I am also watching very carefully for signs of illness again. I thought about running another course of the Maracyn Plus but decided to keep a close eye on him and only use it again if he shows signs of being sick.
He has fought so hard to recover that I really would like to do this properly.
Your assistance would be most appreciated. Thanks so much for being there for us.
<Don't know what course of action to take here... Am not a fan of continuous antimicrobial use... Your system (other than possible water issues) reads as okay... Is the food/s you're using fouling the water (does it appear cloudy, smelly?)... It may well be that this Betta is mostly "getting old"... Bob Fenner>
Re: Next Steps for Betta after recovery from serious illness  9/11/08

Thank you so much for getting back to me. Had a good laugh about your "good to be upset sometimes". A real eye opener for me.
I have heard that Bettas cannot stand stress and that they may die if they get too disturbed.
<The word "too" is provocative... Too little or too much stress can be harmful>
With this in mind I have allowed some of my Bettas especially some of the older boys to train me on their likes and dislikes.
<Good of you>
With respect to the tank there is no odour and the water is clear.
Normally I don't really see much of anything coming up from the gravel when it is cleaned except fine pieces of white debris.
<I see>
I remove any uneaten food but my Bettas usually eat everything. I feed Hikari pellets, freeze dried blood worms and shrimp.
<Very good>
Your response has certainly made me think that I was the one who contaminated the tank somehow when I was cleaning it.
<Most often there are issues of being "too" (here's that word again) clean... the interruption of bio-filtration predominantly>
I always run my fish "things" like water containers and turkey basters through the dishwasher on sani cycle after use. (no soap is used) Maybe this is not really cleaning them well enough.
<Mmm, perhaps so. I would not clean all in this fashion>
I will look into the water again. I had some guidance from Neal a few months ago and everything checked out at that time but I understand it has to be ongoing.
I agree with you on limiting the use of medication whenever possible.
Unfortunately even after a few years at this I still have a problem deciding to medicate or not.
<Many do>
At this point I would like to add that one of the most valuable pieces of advise I have gained from your site is the benefit of trying extra water changes first when a fish seems to be sick. It sounds far too simple and easy to be true but it has worked many times for me.
<Ah yes>
Once again thanks for being there for us.
<Welcome. BobF>

Betta Problems, env., reading  09/08/08
Hi crew!
I am a new fish owner as of a week ago. I decided to start out with a Betta because they're good to have as dorm room fish and they do well on their own. I decided to get a baby BiOrb which is about 4 gallons.
<Do leave the water level down a few inches... Bettas can "jump">
I went to a great aquarium store and bought a beautiful healthy Crowntail Betta. I conditioned the water and let my system run for 24 hours before putting him in the tank.
<Mmmm... needs to "cycle"... do you know what this is?>
He was a very happy fishy for a couple of days!
He would come up to the front of the tank whenever I was in the room and constantly swam around enjoying his big home and patrolling his perimeter (he is a Betta after all...). He was eating great and occasionally flaring whenever I would accidentally surprise him or put a mirror up to his tank.
However, a couple of days ago I noticed he was lethargic and was shoving his face down in the "ceramic media" at the bottom of the tank near his plants. I went out and bought him a water heater and now keep the water at about 80 degrees. I also bought him a shorter plant because I thought that maybe he was trying to move his plants to a better area for building a bubble nest and that's why he was shoving his face into his gravel. The BiOrb has a lot of airflow on the top of the water so tall plants aren't good for building bubble nests. Lastly, I tested the water for ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates and all readings were zero.
<Mmm... will change in a few days...>
However, the pH was a little high at 8.0. Today Willy (that's his name) is hiding whenever possible, his gills are pumping at an alarming rate, and he seems stiff whenever he swims. He is still eating but it's hard to get him to notice
the food (I feed him Hikari Betta Bio-gold). Also, I smelled the water and it almost smelled...burnt?
<Mmm, you have good olfaction>
I think it might just be the halogen light at the top of the tank but it might be relevant. I haven't been able to do a water change because the siphon is still in the mail. Help! What's wrong with my fishy?
Laura and Willy
<Mmm, really... "just" the set-up protocol, timing here. Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bettasysart.htm
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Betta Problems continued 09/08/08

I forgot to include in my last email that Willy's fins are stiff and the "whispies" (again, he's a Crowntail) that are usually flowy and nice are thin and stiff as well. Thanks for your help!
Laura and Willy
<Read. RMF>

Betta help, hlth.  9-01-08 I have 2 male Bettas, in separate tanks and in different rooms. The tanks are both the same size--10 gallon. They both have a water filter that hangs on the back of the tanks. They both also have gravel. I do not have heaters for them yet but their water stays around 80-84. Im going to purchase heaters before winter sets in though to make sure the water temp doesn't drop during the nights. <Good idea on getting the heater! Sounds like they have a nice home!> I have added salt to both tanks. The water get about a 25% water change every 2 weeks. The levels of ammonia, nitrate and nitrite are fine. Their light are off during the night and only on a little throughout the day. They get fed twice a day--morning and evening. Their food consists of Betta bites pellets, freeze dried bloodworms and BettaMin flakes. I switch what they get fed from day to day. <Sounds great!!> My one Betta is doing just fine, although he is a picky eater. He won't eat the flakes but he will sometimes eat the pellets. He just loves the bloodworms. Since I've had him, he has made one bubblenest. <Thats fine. I would not worry about the bubblenest making.> My second Betta is the problem. He is definitely NOT a picky eater. He loves it all, even bits of pea. The problem with him is that he is biting his tail. I though maybe too much stress since he was always "fighting" his reflection in the back of the tank, so I taped paper on the outside back of the tank to prevent his reflection. I dont see him flaring much anymore but he is still biting his tail. I just added some Melafix to his tank at half strength to help his tail heal. <Have you seen him bite his tail?> Is there anything else I could do to try to stop the tail biting? Am I doing anything wrong? I've never owned Bettas before and I would welcome any advice. <Sounds like you are on the right track. Your male Betta that "bites" his tail might have fin rot instead. If you have actually seen him bite his tail, I have heard the biting behavior being from the tank temperature fluctuating too much. You are already getting a heater so if he is biting his tail, it should stop. But, if it doesn't them he might have fin rot. Just purchase some Maracyn to cure it. Don't worry sounds like your Bettas are going to have a long happy life. Merritt A.>

Two red lines on Betta's gills...   8/23/08 Hi, I have had my Betta, Theo Philas, for about a good three months now. He's extremely active and eats very well. Lately, I have noticed that each of his gills have two red vertical lines on them. I think the scales are missing. <Are these markings symmetrical? That is, appear the same on/with either gill?> Not sure. His condition has not worsened though. By that I mean that he's not become lethargic or stopped eating. He still eats the same amount of food that I always give him and he even follows my fingers around until I drop the pellets in the bowl. Normal behavior. Everything seems fine except these red lines. I'm a little worried so I felt that I should ask about them. Could you tell me what they are? Thanks, Taylor <As you state this animal appears in good health and the marks may be bisymmetrical, I suspect that this is a genetic matter... That is, a natural, perhaps scale-less condition on this animal that results in some part of the gill/branchiostegals showing through in these areas. Please so send along images of both sides if you can... and consider looking into breeding this fish to "fix" this trait. Bob Fenner>

Betta hernia? Hi, I'm pet-sitting a male Betta fish right now, and today my family and I noticed a longish pink thing trailing down from the underside of his belly. He seems to be moving around just fine, but we're not exactly sure what to do! Does he have a hernia, and if he does, what can we do about it? ~ Stephanie <Greetings Stephanie! Assuming that this "thing" is merely a long, string-like thing emerging from the anus, what you're seeing is faeces, and more specifically constipation. Bettas that are fed nothing but flake/pellets are prone to this problem, and in the long term it can cause serious damage. So recommend to the pet owner he/she feed a more varied, healthy diet that contains not just dried foods but also things like live or wet frozen daphnia and brine shrimp. I'd recommend limiting dried foods to only 50% the diet for any fish, including Bettas. Cheers, Neale.>

Problems with rescued Bettas 7/11/08 Hello, I'm sorry to bother you all with an e-mail, but I've been conducting a frustrating and fruitless search online for hours, and your site is the most resourceful and knowledgeable that I've found. I rescue sick Bettas from local pet stores, nurse them back to health, and adopt them out. <Interesting... purview and activity> I take the ones with the worst problems that no one else wants, or are going to die anyway (i.e. from TB), so my death rate is pretty high. But I also have a lot of success stories. Since I am only a temporary home for many, many fish, my set up is very simple--unfiltered plastic tanks of less than a gallon. <Can be done... this is how they're raised... with care to feeding, change water...> I have a heater fan to keep them warm and thermometers to monitor temp. I'm a poor college student who spends most of her money on fish meds. My fish spend an average of four weeks with me getting treated before they go to bigger, permanent homes, so I don't feel bad about the less-than-optimal set-up. (Better than cups in an air-conditioned pet store, right?) <Of a certainty, yes> Yesterday I took home a female Betta, "Niobe," because she was having seizures in her cup. I was hoping that fresh water would help because she looked like she was having trouble breathing. (One of my other rescues had bad ammonia poisoning, and sat on the bottom in horrible contorted positions gasping for air for about 48 hours before recovering. Even after that he'd skitter along the top with his nose out of the water once in a while if he got too excited and couldn't get enough oxygen.) I put her in new water and it seemed to decrease the frequency of her attacks, but this morning she had three bad attacks in the span of about six hours. I'm going to start giving her daily 50% water changes and see if it helps. Most of the time she sits very still with all her fins stretched out like her body is straining. She is always breathing hard. During her attacks she spins rapidly like a corkscrew (chasing her tail or on her nose), hurtles around the tank, and even leaps out of the water and bounces off the plastic top several times. Today I'm getting her netting so she will bounce off that instead of the plastic top. I'm worried that she will seriously injure herself by hitting the top so hard. Also this morning one of her eyes is slightly swollen--could be the start of PopEye or maybe just bruised from her bouncing? <Possibly> She's not eating, either. Please help. I've never seen a fish act like this before. <Perhaps too much neuronal damage...> Also, I've encountered a number of fish with a floating problem that won't be fixed by the pea trick. They eat normally and pass things normally, but they're bloated in the front and float by their bellies. No pineconing, though. I don't give them aquarium salt either (that increases swelling, yes?). <Mmm, no, not necessarily. I am a big fan of Epsom use... even as a cathartic, temporary bath> They sit on their sides on the surface fighting to prevent themselves from flipping completely upside-down. Sometimes they start passing a very long transparent-white string. <Mmm, too likely evidence of lumenal parasite fauna... Look up Octomita/Hexamita and Bettas, freshwater fishes imported from the Far East> I thought it might be Dropsy, or at least bacteria, so I treated the two floating girls I had at the time with Maracyn I. <Mmm, generally Metronidazole...> Three days into treatment one of them started passing gas (not kidding). By the end of the treatment she had literally deflated and went back to normal. But the treatment didn't even affect the other female. After three months of floating constantly she finally started being able to swim normally at nighttime, and she was floating less buoyantly during the day. Unfortunately she died soon after. I currently have a male who has been floating for two weeks. Pea didn't work. I'm going to try the Maracyn soon. Thinking about Epsom salts (1 Tbs/5gal, right?). Any ideas or suggestions? Thanks so much, Cindy <Is about right. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/saltusefaqs.htm for background, cautionary statements> P.S. If anyone writes in about a Betta whose back end drags when he swims, it's probably due to a spinal injury from transport. I've got three. I put them in tanks with a lot of bottom surface area and fill the water up as high as they can reach for air (usually I start them at one inch). Then I gradually raise the water level over time so they can develop their front-end swimming muscles enough to compensate for the back-end not working properly. Plastic floating plants to sit in are essential. Eventually they can live at a normal water level--my oldest can now swim twelve inches up to the surface. <Thank you for sharing, this input. Bob Fenner>

Help! Betta hlth.  07/10/08 Hi Crew, I purchased my little crowned beauty on the weekend along with tank, heater, filter. It is a 4 gallon tank and he seems really happy after the first few days of settling in. His water temperature is right. However, I have noticed the ends of his spines appear as though he is suffering from split ends I have repeatedly checked to make sure there is nothing he can get caught on and cannot find anything that would pose a problem. <Very good. Sounds a nice little home for a Betta.> He has dug a bit in his gravel a little but there are fin ends floating around. Could this be fin rot? <Yes!> I really want my little bloke to be with us for a long time...any help would be greatly appreciated. <Treat with a reliable anti-Finrot medication such as Maracyn or eSHa 2000. Don't bother with salt or tea-tree oil medications (such as Melafix). Do also review water quality. If the tank is new, the filter is likely immature. While Bettas have some tolerance for poor water quality, you still need to try and keep ammonia and nitrite levels as low as possible through the cycling phase. After 4-6 weeks they should be zero. The best way to do this is to feed as little as possible, and do 25% water changes daily for at least the first 2-3 weeks. After that, do 25% water changes every 2-3 days. After 4-6 weeks your nitrite test kit should reveal zero amount of this stuff, and you can go to a normal water change cycle of 25-50% per week.> Regards Narissa <Good luck! Neale.>

What is wrong with our poor Betta?   7/5/08 Hello again, <Sandy> Since moving our Betta from his plastic half gallon kit home to a 10 gallon home with live plants and 5-20 Aqua Clear filter, he was doing very well. No need for heater yet - we live in Florida and will get a heater come September when the temps begin to drop below mid 70's at night and we can open the windows again. <Mmm... actually do need the heater now... Not so much a given temp., but any large fluctuation you're trying to avoid... just set and leave... they're thermostatic> Plant lights keep the water at 80 degrees constantly in the days and it is never below 79 when I check on him in the mornings. <Oh!?> Betta began to swim back and forth at the front of the tank - looked like he was pacing frantically. Definitely not swimming around the tank checking things out. <Mmm, perhaps it's seeing its own reflection, and reacting to same. Very common... see below> We decided to get a 6 long-finned Danios to see how he would manage some company. I was at first concerned that he would get the Danios, but he couldn't even get near the Danios. They are some crazy, active fish! <Ah yes. Frenetic... like I wish our federal lame-duck gov't was> Betta seemed very unconcerned with the Danios after the second day. By the end of the 4th day, I noticed him head down in the corner of the front of the tank not moving at all. Then the next day I thought he was "stuck" in the Japanese lantern structure, but he was just hanging out there for a while. Then later that evening, I saw him wedge himself between the Wisteria and the side glass and just stay there - head down again. A few hours later, I saw him at the top rear corner of the tank not moving at all, even after I tapped the glass. I thought he was just stressed by the energy and activity of the Danios, which is pretty constant. I filled his little plastic half gallon tank with the same tank water and put him back in with his plastic plant and purple gravel - where he had weekly 75+% water changes. He immediately perked up, but not for long. He now seems quite listless again, although not as bad as in the 10 gallon tank - he has also looked "fat", but not bloated to me for a few weeks now, but I didn't think too much of it until recently. He does not seem injured at all and I have looked closely. He is fed Hikari pellets - about 4-6 pellets twice a day and Hikari dried bloodworms every other day or so. We have had him for almost 2 years now, and he was the same size when we got him, so I assume, he might have been at least almost fully mature when we got him - no idea how old this fish really is. Could he just be getting old, and have I pushed him over the edge with the Danios? <Perhaps both> The fish manager at PetSmart said Bettas are naturally territorial <Really only towards other male Bettas, or what they perceive as such> and the fact that he couldn't do anything about the Danios was probably extremely stressful. He thought a divider might be just as stressful. <Mmm, no> I went to WWM and read your Betta pages twice. Very helpful. You are all so wonderful and help us to take much better care of our finned friends. <Is our goal to help others understand, provide good care, enjoy/appreciate the living world, themselves> My kids 13, 4 and 2, are in love with the Danios. Much more entertaining to watch than the Betta, if not as colorful. <Ahhh> Would you recommend putting him back in the 10 gallon tank with a divider? <Yes... of the given options, this is best> Or do you think that being able to see the Danios would remain a stress for him? I know - hard to say, but I hate to think of him being in the filter less "tank" again - now that I know better. I will probably put some of the live plants in his little tank until I hear from you. If he is just getting older and tired, I would like him to live out his old age peacefully. Thanks again, Sandy <And do try covering one end or the back of the aquarium with paper... and tape, on the outside... Could be that interacting with the reflection alluded to above that is causing this fish to be "bummed out". Bob Fenner>

Follow up Re: What is wrong with our poor Betta? 7/6/08 Now two days later - I stumbled across all the WWM posts about Swim Bladder Disorder and think this might have been possible for our little guy. He seemed OK in the 1/2 gallon tank after I put in a Java Fern for him to rest on. He didn't seem to be able to keep himself horizontal without it. I fasted him for the past 2 days and added a tiny bit of aquarium salt to his water. This morning, at feeding time, he was swimming around just a little bit more than the past 2 days and I offered a smidgen of dried bloodworms, which he ate right up. A few hours later, his color seems better. We'll keep an eye on him and if he keeps improving, I will try to reintroduce him back into the 10 gallon tank with a divider and see how that goes for him. <Sounds good> We had tried different backings on the 10 gallon tank, but everything we tried was too reflective, until I found a pattern that had a matte finish and that seems to work for him, which makes me think you are correct about him pacing at the front of the tank where there is nothing to diminish any reflection. <I see> With your comment (Oh??) about the plant lights and water temp, do you still think I need to get a heater in now? <I would... can't hurt...> One more thing - Is it the new wisdom that salt in freshwater tanks is not necessary unless the fish are sick or injured? I am concerned about any damage to the live plants (which are considerable) in our tanks. <All freshwaters (unless purposely distilled) have some salt/s content... Adding more, except for certain species, or as you state, for medical purposes, is not a good idea> About our lame-duck gov't... I'm sure I am preaching to the choir, but just REMEMBER TO VOTE! <Thank you for this! To me, folks who don't do their bit at least to review issues, get out and participate in the electorate process at the minimum to at least vote... are non-citizens! "Good gov't demands the active, intelligent participation of all citizens"... 5th century BC Athenian... Greece> Thanks again, Sandy <Welcome. BobF>

Betta meds - 06/08/2007 Hello again, I had a couple more questions that I'm not finding any answers to. One question of mine would be does Prime by Seachem water conditioner neutralize ammonia that is present in my tap water. <Yes it will remove ammonia from tap water. If in doubt, visit the manufacturer's web site, thus: http://www.seachem.com/products/product_pages/Prime.html > My other questions is, I put my Betta into his ten gallon tank which he seems to like. <I bet!> Although he swims erratically diving to the bottom and swims too fast sometimes. <Provided the filter isn't so strong he can't swim against it, he's likely just enjoying himself. The long fins that "show" Bettas have make it difficult for them to swim normally. Wild Bettas (and "fighting" Bettas) have much shorter, more useful fins.> My only problem is that after being there overnight his fins started to rot again and went crinkled. I was treating him before in a five liter tank with Maracyn and aquarium salts and his fins where regrowing even though the ammonia in the five liter tank was higher then the ten gallon one. <Anti-Finrot medications will work, provided water quality is otherwise sound. If there's ammonia in the water, the fish will be cured/get sick again all at the same time. This is obviously pointless.> I didn't put as much salt in this ten gallon tank because there are plants and I'm afraid the aquarium salts would kill them. <Most plants will tolerate low salt concentrations just fine. Provided the dose is less than 6 grammes per litre, I'd not worry about them. That said, salt is of marginal value for treating Finrot. It can help with Fungus, particularly when used as a dip, and may help to inhibit infections should the epidermis be damaged, but once bacteria are inside the epidermis (which is what Finrot is, as opposed to Fungus) then salt doesn't do much good.> I have Maracyn, also seen malachite green at the store. What should I do I'm lost. <Use Maracyn as instructed, taking care to remove carbon (if used) from the filter.> The ammonia levels in the five liter hospital tank reads about 0.3 mg/L much higher then in the ten gallon tank which reads 0.1 mg/L. <Ah, that's part of your problem. You absolutely MUST fix this ammonia problem before you can hope to see any signs of recovery.> My ammonia tests are from Aquarium pharmaceuticals. According to Seachem the false reading of 0.1 mg/L is normal and its really 0.0 mg/L but if its a false reading of ammonia then why is he getting fin rot again? <I'd be VERY skeptical about "false readings". Assume you have ammonia in the system. If in doubt, double check with a nitrite test kit. If you have ammonia, you will likely have nitrite too. Cut back on feeding, do 50% water changes daily, and generally do all the things you'd do while maturing a brand new aquarium.> Please help, should I hospitalize him in another tank... <No.> ...with the Maracyn again <Use this, yes.> which would cause great stress or should I do something else with the salts? <I wouldn't bother.> If u could give me a little outline on what to do It would greatly help the Fish and I. Thanks again. <Do review the articles here at WWM on cycling new aquaria, treating Finrot, setting up a new aquarium. All relevant. Hope this helps, Neale.> 

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

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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