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HELP betta fish unwell

Discussion in 'Tropical Fish Emergencies' started by Emily Smith, Oct 18, 2019.

  1. Emily Smith

    Emily Smith New Member

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    I have recently rescued a betta fish, he came from a small 1 litre tank with no heater or filter and no water changes for months at a time. Luckily when I offered to take on the fish if I got a tank he has survived.

    I bought a 18L spilt betta tank ( I have no experience with fish ) with a heater and filter. I overcrowded the tank with 2 guppies 1 sucker fish 3 tetra and 2 betta spilt between the 2 tanks. Many fish got fish rot including the betta I rescued. I hospitalized all fish in SEPERATE tanks ( was a nightmare) and raced to the pet shop and grabbed some fin rot medicine. Most fish died unfortunately but to my surprise the betta survived.
    Since then the remaining guppie, sucker fish and betta were swimming happily with no issue until I seen a small fluff like ball on the betta tail, I quickly removed the betta to an isolated tank with medicine. When swapping tanks the strange ball removed itself, although I kept him in medicine.
    4 days now and he seems in distress and unwell, he lays on his side at the bottom and times and seems to be struggling to swim. He floats a lot at the top and has a S shape pattern when floating, he is eating but still struggling to swim around. I have changed the water today but scared I won't save him
     
  2. Deanasue

    Deanasue Moderator
    Staff Member Moderator Global Moderator Tank of the Month Winner!

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    Can we get a pic? Until then, do large water changes and add 1 tablespoon of aquarium salt for every 5 gallons if water. Be sure to dissolve the salt in some tank water before adding it or it can burn the fish.
     
  3. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    Hi and welcome to the forum :)

    Fin rot and most fish health issues are caused by poor water quality. The easiest and safest way to treat fin rot is by doing a 75% water change and gravel cleaning the substrate every day for a couple of weeks.

    The following link has information about what to do if your fish get sick. It's long and boring but worth knowing. I recommend printing it out and reading it in bed to help fall asleep.
    https://www.fishforums.net/threads/what-to-do-if-your-fish-gets-sick.450268/

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    If the aquarium was new then the tank is probably cycling. This is where the filters develop colonies of beneficial bacteria that break down fish food and waste into less harmful substances. It takes about 4-6 weeks for an aquarium to cycle and during this time, the fish get exposed to ammonia and nitrite, which can kill them very quickly.

    In a new aquarium that has fish in while the tank is cycling, you should reduce feeding to 2-3 times a week and do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate 4-8 hours after feeding. You should also monitor the ammonia and nitrite levels in the aquarium water and do a 75% water change any day you have a reading above 0.

    You can buy test kits from any pet shop or online. If you do buy them, try to get liquid test kits and check the expiry date on them. Don't buy test kits that are kept in warm areas or exposed to bright light because the chemicals in the kits break down faster in heat or light.

    If you can't afford a test kit, take a glass of tank water to the local pet shop and ask them to test the water for you. Write any results down on a piece of paper and keep them for future reference. If the shop says the water is fine, ask them what the results are in numbers.

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    If you can post pictures of the fish it will help us identify the problem.

    Right now, stop adding chemicals and do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate every day until we work out what is going on. You can add salt too (as advised by Deannasue). When you do water changes, you will have to add some salt to any new water you add so the salt level remains constant in the tank. After 2 weeks you can stop using salt.
     
  4. Emily Smith

    Emily Smith New Member

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    Thank you very much for advice I'll upload some photos
    Since the fin rot I have purchased a gravel cleaner although I've only been using once every 2 weeks and not after feedings. I haven't purchased aquarium salt so I will need to grab some of this from the pet shop.
    I've been taking samples of my water into shop every two weeks. Each test has come back in good levels even though the fish were sick, until my master water check the PH was high. The pet shop explained this was most likely because of the amount of water changes I had done since the new tank had started it's cycle and I had stripped most of the good bacteria from the tank in the big cleans I did.
    Since then the fish seemed happy and the current fish in 18L tank seems healthy, although the betta in hospital tank is unwell as of today.
    I'm wondering if I should but him back in the big tank ?? 20191019_144846.jpg 20191019_145525.jpg 20191019_145723.jpg
     
  5. Emily Smith

    Emily Smith New Member

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    Thank you for your advice, I will need to purchase some aquarium salt. I've uploaded some photos to thread. As you can see he is very bent and when he swims his body moves in an s pattern because of the curve
     
  6. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    The pH has nothing to do with the filter bacteria and is related to the minerals in the water supply. If you have lots of minerals in the tap water, the pH is usually above 7.0. Depending on what the pH is, you don't normally need to bother about it unless it is extreme (above 8.5 or below 6.0).

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    Doing big water changes will not affect the beneficial filter bacteria because they live on hard surfaces like gravel and filter media/ materials. Very little beneficial bacteria live in the actual water.

    Bad bacteria, protozoans and fungus live in water and can affect fish. Doing big water changes and gravel cleaning the substrate dilutes these harmful organisms and makes the tank safer for the fish.

    In an aquarium you do water changes for 2 main reasons.
    1) to reduce nutrients like ammonia, nitrite & nitrate.
    2) to dilute disease organisms in the water.

    Fish live in a soup of microscopic organisms including bacteria, fungus, viruses, protozoans, worms, flukes and various other things that make your skin crawl. Doing a big water change and gravel cleaning the substrate on a regular basis will dilute these organisms and reduce their numbers in the water, thus making it a safer and healthier environment for the fish.

    If you do a 25% water change each week you leave behind 75% of the bad stuff in the water.
    If you do a 50% water change each week you leave behind 50% of the bad stuff in the water.
    If you do a 75% water change each week you leave behind 25% of the bad stuff in the water.

    Imagine living in your house with no windows, doors, toilet, bathroom or anything. You eat and poop in the environment and have no clean air. Eventually you end up living in your own filth, which would probably be made worse by you throwing up due to the smell. You would get sick very quickly and probably die unless someone came to clean up regularly and open the place up to let in fresh air.

    Fish live in their own waste. Their tank and filter is full of fish poop. The water they breath is filtered through fish poop. Cleaning filters, gravel and doing big regular water changes, removes a lot of this poop and makes the environment cleaner and healthier for the fish.

    I recommend doing a 75% water change and gravel cleaning the substrate once a week for an established tank. However, if you are cycling an aquarium with fish in, do a 75% water change any day you have an ammonia or nitrite reading above 0.

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    What sort of filter do you have?
    How often and how do you clean the filter?

    Filters should be cleaned at least once a month and every 2 weeks is better. Wash filter media/ materials in a bucket of tank water and re-use them. However, do not clean a filter if it is less than 6 weeks old because you can remove the beneficial filter bacteria and interrupt the filter cycling process.

    To clean a power filter or internal sponge/ box filter. You get a bucket of water from the aquarium and squeeze the filter materials out in the bucket of tank water. When they are clean you put them in the aquarium. Wash/ rinse the filter case and impellor assembly (for a power filter) under tap water. Remove any excess tap water by tipping the filter case upside down, then put the filter materials back into the filter and set it back up and get it going.

    If you have a filter that containers pads/ cartridges that need replacing on a regular basis, do not replace them. Go to the pet shop and buy some sponge for a different brand of filter (I use AquaClear sponges but there are other brands), and use a pair of scissors to cut the sponge to fit in your filter. Keep the sponge and filter pads together for 2 months, then remove the pads and throw them away. Replace the pads with more sponge.

    Sponges get squeezed out in a bucket of tank water and will last 10+ years.

    You can also get round/ cylindrical sponges for some brands of internal power filter. These round sponges have a hole through the centre and they fit over the intake strainer of most external power filters. They add extra filtration and prevent small fish and bits of plant form being sucked into the filter.

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    If the other tank has a filter on it, you can move him back into that tank and do a big water change and gravel clean every day for a couple of weeks. Alternatively, leave him where he is and just change most of his water each day.
     
  7. Emily Smith

    Emily Smith New Member

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    I have carbon filters which I did clean within the first 2 weeks from the fin rot, and have cleaned the carbon filter at least every 2 weeks since so thank you for the correct advice on filter maintenance and will replace carbon filters with sponges when I grab some aquarium salt.

    I will continue to do 75% water changes with gravel cleaner tomorrow and continue every week or 2 weeks if I can't find time.

    The hospital tank has no filter so I'll leave him there and will change water daily as advised.

    Do you have any ideas on why he has fallen ill? I can't see signs of fin rot anymore but he was floating on his side when I found him this morning, I thought he had died I was so upset but when I ran over to the tank he gradually made his way to the top and sat at the top of the tank and has since. I put some pellets in his tank to see if he would eat and he ate them all
     
  8. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    When you get a new sponge to go in the filter, keep the old filter cartridge in the filter with the new sponge. Leave them together for 2 months and then remove the filter pad/ cartridge and throw it away. That will let the good bacteria transfer from the old cartridge to the new sponge and you won't have any problems with the filter bacteria being thrown out and ammonia levels going up.

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    As to why the fish is sick, 90% of fish health issues are caused by poor water quality and a dirty tank. In newly set up aquariums, the biggest killer of fish is ammonia and nitrite, which build up due to fish food and waste, and the lack of beneficial filter bacteria that normally convert these substances into less harmful nitrate. Doing big daily water changes helps dilute these nutrients while the tank cycles and prevents the fish being poisoned from ammonia. If a fish is poisoned by ammonia, it can die, and if it survives, it can take weeks or even months to recover.

    In your case the fish would also have been in a weakened state from lack of water changes and possibly malnutrition at the previous owner. When you got it home it might have been poisoned by ammonia while your filters were cycling, and then it was treated with chemicals, which can make the problem worse. Most fish medications are poisonous and if they are overdosed, they kill the fish. Virtually all medications get adsorbed into the fish's body and affect their organs to some degree. If a fish is already weak and then gets a tank full of chemical medications, it can be too much and kill the fish.

    The fish might also be old and Betta splendens (Siamese fighting fish) normally only live 2-3 years, although some live to be 5 but that is uncommon. An old fish will take longer to recover than a younger healthier fish.

    The best thing for the fish is to keep the water clean and feed him a varied diet and give him time to recover from the stress of everything that has happened over the last few months. Having some floating plants like Water Sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides/ cornuta) in his tank can help him feel safer and more relaxed.
     

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