Strange betta behavior swim bladder??

Kelly Preussner

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I have a female beta in my community take. I have had her for about 3 months. She has been great! She gets along with all the other fish and they all get along with her. There have been no issues whatsoever. Since the day we got her she has always been a “lazy fish”. She would swim for a bit and then lay on the bottom swim for a bit they on the bottom. I got her a floating log and a hammock for her to lay in. For about two months all she would do is lay in the log. She would swim out to eat and for the occasional swim around the tank but then lay there all day. I just thought she was lazy. For the past week it appears she is having trouble swimming. It appears as though she would sink unless she swims really hard not to. I am wondering if she is eating too much. The problem is I feed all the fish in the tank and she loves to eat. I don’t have a separate tank. Should I remove her during feeding times and then put her back in when all the other fish are done eating? How do I prevent this from happening in the future? I can’t remove her every day for the rest of her life. She seems to love the tank so I don’t want to isolate her forever. Any help is appreciated!!

tank specifics: 36 gal bow. Live plants
PH 8.0-8.2 ammonia 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 5.0. Water changes weekly 1/3-1/2 of tank.
fish: 2 female swords, 3 female platy, 2 male platy, 2 female teenage black molly, 3 dwarf gourami (2 female, 1 male)
 

FishFinatic77

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I don't know if this has anything to do with your problem, but gouramis and bettas should never be kept together. Gouramis can transmit all sorts of bad diseases to a betta. I would get a new tank and put some of the filter media from your original tank into the filter to pre-cycle it, then move your betta into there. Good luck!

(If she looks bloated, you could try feeding her some cooked and shelled peas.)
 

Jan Cavalieri

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As far as I know only Dwarf Gourami's have been known to carry a special virus - and it's not THAT prevalent any more. I've had a tankful of dwarf Gourami's for the last 8 months and none have them have carried a virus.

To me the behavior sounds like swim bladder disorder. I actually have a Gourami I've been working with for months and she is still fighting it.

There is no official cure, but supposedly it's a result of feeding too much dried food and the fish get constipated, which leaves their swim bladder organ unable to work properly (the swim bladder allows a fish to rise and fall in the water - they release water to rise, retain water to lower. Pretty simple navigation but when you can't poop it doesn't work. To get a fish unconstipated most people recommend that you microwave frozen peas for about 1 minute or so to thaw and partially soften them. Then you PEEL the skins off the peas, saving all the stuff inside and feed that to your fish. Peas are full of fiber - so it's like giving them a stool softener. The fish poops and the swim bladder starts working again.

My problem is this particular gourami won't eat peas. I've got other fish that are interested in eating them but only a few fish consume them with a lot of gusto. I started soaking mine in a garlic extract they make for fish, then mashing them up along with some Metamucil and using a needle=less syringe - hand feeding the "pea soup" to my fish. She does occasionally try it but she spent over 4 weeks or so eating NOTHING or barely eating then puking it back up- I have no idea how she is alive.

In any case, another treatment is to add one tablespoon of Epson salts to a 5 gallon aquarium (only plain, without additive Epsom salts) - Epsom salts are a muscle relaxer and actually good for a whole lot of issues that even humans use it to get rid of foot or other skin infections.

So try some skinned peas for all your fish (they're probably all at risk if you feed a lot of dried foods) and see if the problem fish poops (if you can tell), if you have Epsom salts and an aquarium to isolate the fish to - add some to that aquarium. You can add it to the aquarium itself if you don't have any catfish or corycats but it's use with those species suggests they may not tolerate it very well.

You can also do an Epsom salt bath - 1 Tablespoon of Epsom salts to 1 gallon of water and let them swim in it for about 15 minutes or until they poop, then set up another bucket with only a teaspoon of the salt in it per gallon and let them soak for about 10 minutes to adjust to less salt in the water. then return them to their tank. If they struggle or seem in distress during the initial bath then get them out of there - they obviously won't tolerate it well.

If any of these treatments work please let us know - I'm getting desperate to cure my little fish. I've never really gotten that fond of a fish before but it has now been over 2 months of daily care and hand feedings, baths etc and her body is currently vertical in the water rather than being horizontal. She swims normally only if she goes really fast. One of my friends said they had a goldfish that lived years with the disease but he ate regularly. Right now all mine will eat are tubiflex worms which is probably partly what caused her to have this disease.
 

Colin_T

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Any chance of a short 30 second video of the fish?
If the video is too big for this website, post it on YouTube and copy & paste the link here. We can view it at YouTube. If you are using a mobile phone to take the video, have the phone horizontal so the video takes up the entire screen. If you have the phone vertical, you get video in the middle and black on either side.

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The fish could have been born with a bad swim bladder, or it might have suffered an injury some time during its life. Either way, don't move the fish around, just leave it in the tank and make sure the water is perfect (big weekly water changes, gravel cleaning and filter maintenance).

Feed the fish a varied diet and let it be. When the fish can no longer swim or it stops eating, then euthanise it.
 
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Kelly Preussner

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I have never recorded a YouTube video so I hope this works. In the video she actually looks pretty good. But she was struggling to get back to her log. Every time I pulled the log away to try to video her she just quickly went back to lay in the log. Should I try feeding her the pea first or the Epsom salt bath first? The past two days I have taken her out of the tank during feeding time. Feeding time is the only time she comes out of the log. When she lays in the log her tail hangs out so it has gotten a little eaten in the past week. . The gourami fish leave her alone even when she is swimming. Actually my 2 female are doing great but I think my M gourami is dying.
 

Colin_T

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definitely a swim bladder issue.

if you have a spare tank you can put her in that and lower the water level so it's about 4 inches deep. That will make it easier for her to reach the surface.
 

betta fish

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I agree it looks like swim bladder but also there is far too much flow going on in the tank and not enough plant cover hence why she is hiding in her log all the time, bettas hate flow. I agree on giving her her own tank space and at least then you can regulate her food intake too.
 
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