Female betta with unknown problem

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TaylorAnn

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I have a female betta with some sort of damage or illness that she has had for a little over a month. I tried Pimafix and I think it got slightly better, but I can't seem to get it to go away. She is otherwise basically healthy. Eats normal and swims fine. At the time of the first three pics, she was living in a 10 gallon tank with 2 other female bettas and 5 harlequin rasboras, a few snails and a some ghost shrimp. After her first week or so in the tank (a long time ago), she developed what looked like stress stripes. Thinking that whatever this was, was likely already infected the whole tank, I treated them all with Pimafix, for 7 days I think (whatever it says on the bottle). Then waited about 10 days & took the first three pictures. After seeing she was still afflicted with whatever this is, I quarantined her into a 2.5 gallon with live baby plants (and a filter obviously) and a less-bright light (but still next to the 10 gallon, like glass-about-about-an-inch-apart-close). Also, none of the other fish appeared any differently (not that they did in the first place) after the first course of medicine.

After about two weeks (after the last day of the first treatment cycle), I did a second treatment, as directed to by a local fish store. Afterwards, she looked about the same I think. While it never really appeared to be fuzzy at all, after the second treatment, it looked softer, and a smaller of a bump & not as block hard looking like it did before (you can see in one of the first three pics, it kinda looks like a corn that you would get on your foot). In her 2.5 gallon tank, I noticed her stress-stripes left and her color brightened, but the spot above her eye is still there, but less distinguished. *I also noticed in the second set of pictures (while her color is brighter, her front half of her body appears to be black). Is this bad?

In the 10 gallon now, are the same harlequins, snails & shrimp and one of the same bettas she already knew, plus a new one. The other betta died from what I think was swim bladder disease maybe? She was pretty old I think, and the water quality wasn't perfect (but not bad, aka still measuring fine with strips). I normally do water about 40-ish% changes about once a month with the vacuum (and others, a gallon or two, as needed without), but when the betta died, it was about 1.5-ish months since the last one, (only about two weeks longer than normal) cause I was just super busy and couldn't get it done (but the parameters were still measuring fine).

Also... one more thing to note: I talked to multiple LFS's who all said that they didn't know what it was. Since it wasn't fuzzy at all and she behaves pretty much normally (minus MAYBE staying towards the top of the tank slightly more than normal -when she was in the 10 gal.), one LFS fish person thought it might have been a physical trauma that just needed time to heal, but I can't really tell if she is actually getting better. There were very minimal things (if any) in her old tank that she could have scraped it on, and the only aggression whatsoever in the tank was the occasionally feeding time aggression from the one betta still left in the 10 gallon at feeding time... but I can't imagine she caused this damage to her cause it doesn't seem to be healing as if it was a physical trauma incident causing this.

She looks happy playing with the other bettas through the glass wall, and appears to behave normally, & eat normally, but still has an apparent bulge on her head. As I want to eliminate having to keep yet another tank set up to clean & maintain, I would like to reintroduce her to the tank to see if her stripes return (and if they do, she will just have to be a single betta in her own tank). Also, since female bettas do better in groups of 3-5 females, and she is always running along the glass wall with the new betta that looks like her I would think she would be happier in with the other two girls. Just a thought... but I was wondering if putting her back with the others will help her heal quicker (as in her body fight it off on its own faster), but I don't know if it would be the best idea.

BUT... before I can do this, I want to try what I can to heal her fully. I am willing to spend some money on her (medicine wise, lol), but I need to know what it is causing the problem, in order to treat it. My next step was the API General Cure meds unless somebody has a better ideas as to what she has/how to treat her. It doesn't appear to be anymore fungal or bacterial (external) than the other, nor any internal bacterial infection? I am most certainly sure it is not a parasite either. Despite the 'corn-like' looking image in the first three pictures, it doesn't look like any parasitical things I can find online.



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First three, dull/less colorful pictures: This was after the first, but before the second round of Pimafix (images above) a little more than month ago (Feb. 15, 2023). In the 10 gallon with other fish.

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Second five, brighter/more colorful pictures: This was about 3.5-ish weeks after the second round of Pimafix, & taken last Saturday (Mar. 18, 2023), in her own 2.5 gallon tank.


Please note that not only is she probably about 1.5-ish years old, so her color is a bit faded, but her color vibrancy does differ throughout the pictures too. I tried super hard to get a good picture that actually represented the affliction, but can't get the perfect one, so these will have to do.

For those of you actually willing to read through my entire post, I can't thank you enough. However, please, if you are going to try to help me, please don't just say "IDK". Please offer suggestions or questions that would help narrow it down. I tried to write down as much as I could that would eliminate some of the questions, but as I am a pretty knowledgeable person when it comes to aquaria, so I come to here as a last resort. I am no expert by any means, but I have independently owned fish for 5+ years and I am out of ideas. I would prefer to not flood her system with meds after meds, but rather find the right one(s).

The water parameters are perfect-ish in both tanks. I check them 1-2x a week & more if questioned. (10-15-ish Nitrates, 0 Nitrites, 0 Ammonia, 0 Chlorine, 150-200-ish ppm hardness, 7.0/neutral ph, and 78-80-ish Fahrenheit for temp).
 

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Welcome to TFF. This is a slow time of day. But you should get answers within several hours.
 

jaylach

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:hi:

I really can't help as I don't really have the diagnostic knowledge that others here have and I don't do betas but two things struck me.

1) A 10 gallon tank is WAY too small for the fish population you describe.

2) I don't understand why you are using meds when you don't know the issue. Often meds can cause more harm than good. Is this something the LFS people said to do? If so remember that the people in such stores often have little real knowledge and are on commission. Being on commission they are more interested in getting your money than anything else. Now, if your store is a privately owned store this could be different but, if a chain store, it is all about getting your money. That does not mean that no one in a chain store cares but how they react is dictated by the main corporation and they can risk their job if they don't follow corporate dictates.
 
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TaylorAnn

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:hi:

I really can't help as I don't really have the diagnostic knowledge that others here have and I don't do betas but two things struck me.

1) A 10 gallon tank is WAY too small for the fish population you describe.

2) I don't understand why you are using meds when you don't know the issue. Often meds can cause more harm than good. Is this something the LFS people said to do? If so remember that the people in such stores often have little real knowledge and are on commission. Being on commission they are more interested in getting your money than anything else. Now, if your store is a privately owned store this could be different but, if a chain store, it is all about getting your money. That does not mean that no one in a chain store cares but how they react is dictated by the main corporation and they can risk their job if they don't follow corporate dictates.
(1) the population count is not too high because of the size of each fish. the harlequins are pretty much babies still & they will get moved away to a different tank eventually.
I know its only a 'general rule', but if you can have 1 inch of fish per 1 gallon of water and I have... 2.5" betta (x2 or 3), plus >0.75 inch harlequin (x5), that is really only about 11.5 inches... so technically I am bending the rules a little, but I have never had any problems with water quality or aggression (cross-species wise) related or unrelated to overstocking in the tank.
There is also only 3 shrimp & 2 snails in there.

(2) If you and no one you asked knew what the problem was, would you just leave the fish to die/leave them alone when there was a clear problem? Wouldn't you do something to try?
Pimafix isn't actually a medicine. It's a natural remedy kinda thing... and couldn't really harm the fish unless I overdosed them massively. The LFS employees I go to are not commission related at all and the one that told me about the API general cure was not only their fish expert (either petco or petsmart), but a friend of a friend. Plus, they weren't trying to sell it to me because I already possessed it. I also don't treat fish with meds unless I need to because I understand that in using medicines, it needs to, in a way, attack their immune systems in order to enter their system and actually be able to attack the problem. I don't pump fish up with drugs so readily as you make it seem. I don't take it lightly.

Also, I don't mean to sound offensive in any way, but who is to say that the fish expert isn't any more knowledgeable than you? A lot of fish caretaking falls along a fuzzy line of right and wrong. There are obvious right/wrong things to do, but if the fish are happy & healthy, who is to say that what someone is doing is wrong (or right). I refer to stocking guidelines specifically. If you look up 'how many fish can you keep in a XX gallon tank, you are certainly going to get many different answers because there isn't always only one right answer.

I asked for a diagnostic opinion, not for you to critique my fish caretaking abilities. I don't mean to sound rude or be rude, but you didn't actually give me any helpful information because the info in the second part of your comment doesn't apply to me. I appreciate you trying to help, but I know enough about stocking and whatnot that I need diagnostic opinions, not personal opinions about caretaking.

Again, thank you for trying to help though! :)
 

jaylach

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Sorry if I offended but your tank IS to small for the fish when they reach mature size.

Actually I DID put up diagnostic advice in saying to not use meds unless you know exactly what the issue is. I also stated that I did not have a lot of diagnostic knowledge. Doing this can cause more harm than good.

No problem and sorry that I seem to have offended, it won't happen again as I will set my profile to ignore your posts. I tried to help as best as I could with even admitting that I could not claim a lot of diagnostic knowledge and you yell at me? :dunno:

No bad feelings from my end but I just will not put up with being yelled at for trying to offer what help I am able.
 

AdoraBelle Dearheart

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A bit wary of wading in here, but will hesitantly give it a go...

I don't think she needs any more treatment. In the first photos she's covered in excess mucus, along with the stress stripes and injury above her eye. In the later photos it has healed up a great deal, and she's transformed into a much healthier, happier fish. The solution is to keep doing what you're doing, in keeping her in her own tank, keep the water clean, and let her live her life without the stress from the other bettas. I'd stop with all the pima/mela etc fixes - not only not needed, but these contain aloe vera, which has been shown to be particularly bad for labyrinth fish like bettas.

There's a great deal of excess mucus in the first photos, suggests a water quality issue, or might be related to the head bump, producing excess mucus to try to protect and heal her scales. The head bump I suspect is an injury, either from another betta, or perhaps she crashed into something while trying to evade another betta or net perhaps. It might leave a permanent scar in the scales, but seeing the difference in the way she's healed up now, I wouldn't be concerned about it, or try to medicate it. Only monitor it and her general health now.

I know a lot of people like to try these "sororities" of female bettas, but they rarely work out for ery long. I've yet to hear of one that hasn't been a rotating round of rescuing different individuals from being bullied or attacked, or replacing the ones that have been killed or died from the stress. You say that female bettas do better in groups of 3-5? According to who? Because that isn't how they live in the wild.

People attempt them because female bettas hatched from the same spawn will usually remain peaceful for longer than males, so can be kept together in the store tanks etc, unlike males. But when you switch in unrelated unrelated females, or the related females have been separated for a while, things are very different, and all bets are off. But female bettas don't spend their lifetime living with other female bettas. They go off on their own to travel around looking for males to mate with.

If you don't want another set up to maintain, I wouldn't try keeping the sorority anymore, or bettas in general really. There are too many potential things that can go wrong, and it's inevitable that you need to put them in different set ups. There's always a pecking order, and the lowest ranked female is always going to end up becoming stressed or worse.
 

AdoraBelle Dearheart

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Forgot to say - a 40% monthly W/C on a 10 gallon with that many fish and not many (any?) live plants isn't much, and you said that the water parameters weren't always great at first, and W/C's skipped some months? It's hard to imagine nitrates remaining below 10ppm for a month and a half in ten gallons without live plants. Poor water quality can be another cause of excess mucus. Really would scale up the frequency of water changes, or reduce number of tanks to a more manageable level.
 
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TaylorAnn

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A bit wary of wading in here, but will hesitantly give it a go...

I don't think she needs any more treatment. In the first photos she's covered in excess mucus, along with the stress stripes and injury above her eye. In the later photos it has healed up a great deal, and she's transformed into a much healthier, happier fish. The solution is to keep doing what you're doing, in keeping her in her own tank, keep the water clean, and let her live her life without the stress from the other bettas. I'd stop with all the pima/mela etc fixes - not only not needed, but these contain aloe vera, which has been shown to be particularly bad for labyrinth fish like bettas.

There's a great deal of excess mucus in the first photos, suggests a water quality issue, or might be related to the head bump, producing excess mucus to try to protect and heal her scales. The head bump I suspect is an injury, either from another betta, or perhaps she crashed into something while trying to evade another betta or net perhaps. It might leave a permanent scar in the scales, but seeing the difference in the way she's healed up now, I wouldn't be concerned about it, or try to medicate it. Only monitor it and her general health now.

I know a lot of people like to try these "sororities" of female bettas, but they rarely work out for ery long. I've yet to hear of one that hasn't been a rotating round of rescuing different individuals from being bullied or attacked, or replacing the ones that have been killed or died from the stress. You say that female bettas do better in groups of 3-5? According to who? Because that isn't how they live in the wild.

People attempt them because female bettas hatched from the same spawn will usually remain peaceful for longer than males, so can be kept together in the store tanks etc, unlike males. But when you switch in unrelated unrelated females, or the related females have been separated for a while, things are very different, and all bets are off. But female bettas don't spend their lifetime living with other female bettas. They go off on their own to travel around looking for males to mate with.

If you don't want another set up to maintain, I wouldn't try keeping the sorority anymore, or bettas in general really. There are too many potential things that can go wrong, and it's inevitable that you need to put them in different set ups. There's always a pecking order, and the lowest ranked female is always going to end up becoming stressed or worse.
Forgot to say - a 40% monthly W/C on a 10 gallon with that many fish and not many (any?) live plants isn't much, and you said that the water parameters weren't always great at first, and W/C's skipped some months? It's hard to imagine nitrates remaining below 10ppm for a month and a half in ten gallons without live plants. Poor water quality can be another cause of excess mucus. Really would scale up the frequency of water changes, or reduce number of tanks to a more manageable level.
The water parameters have never once been anything but pretty much perfect lol. There are live plants. Plenty of them too. Also, sometimes based on how dirty it looks, I do more like 60%, but like I said… the water parameters are never an issue. Unless all my 1-2x weekly test strips (different brands) and liquid tests are wrong, the tank water quality is not the problem. Unless there is something that those don’t test for lol.
 
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TaylorAnn

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The water parameters have never once been anything but pretty much perfect lol. There are live plants. Plenty of them too. Also, sometimes based on how dirty it looks, I do more like 60%, but like I said… the water parameters are never an issue. Unless all my 1-2x weekly test strips (different brands) and liquid tests are wrong, the tank water quality is not the problem. Unless there is something that those don’t test for lol.
Also, I know what I said last night sounded mean, but I specifically said that if someone didn't know, to not respond with that. As such, thank you for the helpful response!

My question to you though, is what is the mucus you talk about? Like how can you tell thats a problem? What does it look like on her?

And for the pimafix. I didnt know that, thanks for letting me know.

As for the trauma, if it is a trauma injury, wouldn't that heal up more than it has in a month? I’m not sure on this.

Also, regarding the “extra tank part”, I didn’t mean it that way. I only meant if I didnt have to have it up, it would be easier on me to take it down, but if she needs it to be happy and healthy, I wouldn’t obviously keep it to satisfy her needs. I value my fishs’ lives too much to allow them to live sad/stressful lives lol.
 
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TaylorAnn

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Forgot to say - a 40% monthly W/C on a 10 gallon with that many fish and not many (any?) live plants isn't much, and you said that the water parameters weren't always great at first, and W/C's skipped some months? It's hard to imagine nitrates remaining below 10ppm for a month and a half in ten gallons without live plants. Poor water quality can be another cause of excess mucus. Really would scale up the frequency of water changes, or reduce number of tanks to a more manageable level.
I said I took 2 weeks longer than I normally do to do the water change, but that shouldnt have been her C.O.D. because the parameters were fine.
 
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TaylorAnn

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Sorry if I offended but your tank IS to small for the fish when they reach mature size.

Actually I DID put up diagnostic advice in saying to not use meds unless you know exactly what the issue is. I also stated that I did not have a lot of diagnostic knowledge. Doing this can cause more harm than good.

No problem and sorry that I seem to have offended, it won't happen again as I will set my profile to ignore your posts. I tried to help as best as I could with even admitting that I could not claim a lot of diagnostic knowledge and you yell at me? :dunno:

No bad feelings from my end but I just will not put up with being yelled at for trying to offer what help I am able.
I am sorry I offended you, but I specifically said, if you don’t know, don’t say idk. My problem with your post though, wasnt that you posted idk, it was more how aggressive the wording was and still is. There is no one right way to stock a tank and without all the information, say fish size (aka harlequins being babies), you can’t make such a strong statement without being offensive, even if only slightly when you don’t know the whole story. The point of saying they were in the tank was just to state that the presence of that breed was there.

Anyways, thanks for trying to help, I am sorry it came off as yelling, as I apologized multiple times (trying to not sound like that), but feel free, if you see this message, to keep me as “ignored” if you please!

Have a great day!
 

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