FAQs on Betta Diseases/Health 25
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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,
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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:
eSHa...), Copper, Formalin, Malachite Green, Anthelminthics, Organophosphates, All Other Betta Med.s (Mela-non-fix,
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
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.
Betta with Velvet - almost out of ideas, very
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
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.
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
<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
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
Re: Betta with Velvet - almost out of ideas, very worried
Thanks for the quick response, Neale.
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.
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
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.>
Fixing an error... Env. dis.... cycling with fishes, FW.
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
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
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
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
<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
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
<Ammonia removers remove ammonia from tap water, and have little/no
impact on ammonia constantly produced by the fish and organic decay in
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
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
<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
Will it affect my seed bacteria?
<Used as described, medications shouldn't harm the filter
Should I do a 50% water change every 2-3 days?
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
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
<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
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
<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
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
<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
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
<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
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
<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
And finally, since I have my new card, I'll be donating some cash
to the website. You can get those beers you wanted.
(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
<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
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 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
<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
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 :-(
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
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
Re: Sick Betta. Happened all of a sudden :-( --
Thank you Bob,
I did not think it was environmental because the water was very
<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
Every time I do water changes, I make sure that the water is
properly dechlorinated and that is the same temperature as the
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
<... 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).
Your article states that Bettas tolerate pH ranges between 6 and
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
<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
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
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
<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
<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
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
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 :-(
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?
Anyway, body is gone, so unfortunately no luck here. Sorry, I
agree it would have been an interesting thing to do to rule out
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
<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
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
Nitrate as NO3 mg/l Standards =50
Max = 35.7
My results came up as 40 but it might be an inaccuracy in the
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
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
<I would not... but I would do what you choose to get, keep
Nitrate concentration below 20 ppm maximum. Please read here
and the linked FAQs file above>
Thanks so much again for your attention to this case.
<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 :-(
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...
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
The only thing I see could work is the addition of EasyBalance by
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
<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
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
<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?.
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
<And you, BobF>
Re: Sick Betta. Happened all of a sudden :-(
I am going to get rid of this tank any moment because I am
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
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
It did not "move" when I brought it out of the
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.
<Dear; if you'd prefer, there are compounds that can/will
just kill "worms" (see WWM re:
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
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
<Can "come in" with livestock water, plants, live
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
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
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....
<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.
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.
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 !! :-)
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
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.>
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
yet another sick Betta; sincere apologies--
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.
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
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
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
<Yes, for the most part. But Mycobacteria and viral infections can
happen even in the best aquaria, and may be completely
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
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
water additives: Nutrafin water conditioner, Seachem flourish, Nutrafin
plant Gro and Tetra pride which are for the plants
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)
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.
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
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
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
<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,
<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
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
<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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
<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
<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:
Re: very ill Betta 8/9/09
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.
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
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
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
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
Typically occurs when Bettas are kept in inadequate conditions: small,
unheated tanks for example. Do review aquarium size, filtration,
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
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
<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
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
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.>
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)
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
<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
I Really Hope That You Can Help Me: Betta Health\Disease
I have recently purchased a Male Chinese Fighting Fish,
all was well until a few months ago I realized that he may have a
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.
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.
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
Betta (sick, no real data) 7/15/2009
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
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
<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
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
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
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
<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
Thanks so much!!!
Help with Betta tail, red markings (wounds), tail
getting shorter, no biting
First, thank you for all the time and dedication you give to all
of us who love our fish but are confused!
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
<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
<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
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
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
<Given correct conditions, will heal in time.>
Thanks again for all the info and help you have compiled for us a
wonderful resource! :)
Re: Help with Betta tail, red markings (wounds), tail getting
shorter, no biting 7/6/09
Thanks you so much for the prompt reply!
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
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
<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
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
and we have an endless supply of them! :) ), and intend to do
another water change today to finish getting the ammonia under
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
<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
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
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
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>
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term
by Robert (Bob) Fenner