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Old 07-14-2014, 10:55 PM   #1
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Exclamation Betta fish trouble swimming, bloated; constipation?

***CAUTION: deceased fish photo - VIEWER DISCRECTION advised***

1 gallon tank without filter - 6 months old
1 betta fish - had 6 months
Didn't use test kit at the time of incident
Temp 81 and pH of filtered house water ~7
"brackish" water (1/4tsp per gallon, nowhere close to 3TBS/5gal rule)
Natural window light about 12hrs
Changed 40% of water every 5 days, swished substrate to remove particles
Never used net; allowed him to swim into cup & swim back out for WCs
No quarantine period - this was my 1st fish : /
Was acclimated to new water over a few hours when I got him
Fed 1x/day small amount; eaten within ~30 seconds
Rotated use of betta flakes, crushed betta pellets, crushed algae pellets
----------------------------------------------

I regularly use 1/4 tsp per gal aquarium salt to ward off common fish parasites and somewhat soften the hard NV water. He was acclimated to the salt content over about 1 week's time. I have never seen any odd growths, no parasites, or strange behaviors from this guy for 6months
[Came from a foreign dollar store, where he appeared dead in the cup. At that time he didn't eat for almost a week, until finally he began eating pea insides.]

This post is for those who may have a similar betta illness, to attempt to pinpoint the problem & help in treatment. I'm almost ashamed to post my story because I feel so much responsibility for his death, :'( but I feel that maybe someone else out there can benefit & improve betta housing before it's too late. Before I get yelled at, I do understand now the tank was not large enough, needed filtration, and my WCs were not done correctly *SMH* . I now have a 20gal that I keep my fish in. I have compiled a list of potential errors in my care at the bottom.

I noticed one evening my male betta seemed to be having trouble swimming, with some jerking movements, pausing and sinking, he was very weak and exerting an unusual effort to occasionally reach the surface. I also noticed him bump into the wall a couple of times, as if he didn't want to waste strength coming to a full stop. No rubbing or scratching on the gravel. He wasn't doing this around 12pm, I had observed him awhile, after regular feeding time. I did a 50% water change in case water was the issue (without replacing salt content, clean water added), the last water change was a day before. An hour later I lowered the water line to about 2" about him, I read it would be easier for him to reach the surface. He had a small visible "bloat-type" bump on the lower end section by his back caudal fin, only in a pencil lead shape inside where his intestines would be (not his whole body), that I had never seen before. I will note this bump was slightly easier to see on his left side, from his right side it appeared less swollen. This causes me to think he may have been bloated. His scales became slightly raised in a pinecone look showing internal swelling. With the temp at 80-81, I moved him to another area of the house that was slightly warmer ~85. I read later that warmer temperature creates less oxygen in the water, and this may have been a key problem.

OBSERVATIONS & ERRORS:
-Regular aquarium salt use, even at a low level, may have compromised his kidney filtration & introduced an internal disease or kidney failure.
-No air stone or filtration provided limited oxygen supply. I also read that moving tank to a higher temperature area, caused further decrease in oxygen content.
-1 week earlier I had moved the tank into what I now realize was an area with draft, this may have reduced tank temperature & caused stress.
-2 days earlier I had removed one of his tank decorations on the hunch he would prefer more swimming area, this action could've removed a whole colony of beneficial bacteria.
-Moving to a larger tank may have helped immensely, higher oxygen content may have allowed him to rest on the bottom peacefully.
-If someone does not have a larger tank option... the water level was not low enough for his condition, it would've been better to remove him from the 1gal tank altogether & use his original cup with clean water, maybe 1" above him so reaching the surface would be easier
-Possibly an epsom salt bath could've been used to reduce swelling & reduce constipation affects if this was the case
-Possible medication if it was a parasitic or bacterial illness, and could be identified with some certainty

Seamus (Shaymus) passed within 12hrs by the time I woke up the next morning. He was resting on the bottom of the tank. I think this demonstrates that he ran out of oxygen *face palm*, and energy to reach the surface, even if the initial issue was only constipation or something minor.

Let me know if my observations are correct in your opinion, and if there's anything you can add as far as what steps to take if a fish shows these symptoms. I'm also wanting to know what the odd bloating may have been, for anyone who's fish appears this way, does this sound like bloating in your opinion, or something more severe as dropsy? It seems this was a case of appalling fish housing , and too many changes in his fish life at one time, causing an undue amount of stress and succumbing to fish illness. Thank you for making it through this sad story of my foolishness, if I have been any help to you please comment, I hope this is not in vain. It's hard to think about. The best I can do is give all my fish the best care in the future.

***CAUTION: deceased fish photo - VIEWER DISCRECTION advised***
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Old 07-16-2014, 08:15 PM   #2
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Arrow Deceased Fish Photo

Sorry, I did not attach the pic correctly to the 1st post . . .
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Old 07-17-2014, 01:16 PM   #3
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I am glad you shared your story as this happens frequently, especially seeing those cute little bowls advertised for bettas. People think a cup is good enough since they are in the pet store that way.

I think we all have "killed" our fish in the beginning, it is just part of the learning process unfortunately.

I have had 10 years with my tanks and still make mistakes. My last undertaking was shrimp, I bought some beautiful blue shrimp...they all got sucked up into the filter, then I got smart and tried ghost shrimp and went with a smaller filter...they all died with 2 weeks. I had problems with them molting so I knew something was missing from their environment. It was a long trial and error period before I got it right.
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