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Old 08-21-2008, 08:39 AM   #1
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Betta, Dropsy - Can I reuse planted tank ?

My poor Spot has dropsy. He's been my special kitchen buddy for 2 years - he's too young to go ! But its happening

I'm keeping him comfortable right now. He's in a 2.5G planted tank with a handmade ceramic hidey hole to duck into.

As I understand it, dropsy can be caused by many different things - could be bacteria, could be viral. I can disinfect the tank and hidey hole with bleach. What about the plants ? Is it possible to transmit whatever caused the dropsy in Spot on the plants if I reuse them ? Would a thorough rinse and a quick bleach dip be sufficient to clean them ?

Has anyone ever put a new betta into a planted tank where the prior occupant died from dropsy ? If yes, was the new fish ok ?

My poor spot (we really need a breaking heart emoticon !)
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2.5G - Spot (beautiful betta - Soft pink with red spots on his fins. Java Moss.
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Old 08-21-2008, 10:09 PM   #2
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I would think you can reuse the plants if you QT them. <We did it with my daughter's 5 after her betta died & it seemed OK.>

I would disinfect all non-living things with bleach. <Make sure you rinse very well after.> You could bleach the plants (but some might not live through a bleach dip). KMnO4 (potassium permanganate) is supposed to be a safer alternative (although I don't have personal experience with that). <I would still QT the plants, as I don't trust a quick dip to kill everything.>

Dropsy likely is a result of opportunistic infection in a compromised fish, and the bugs are unlikely to affect healthy ones. Any pathological bacteria/virus causing dropsy is unlikely to survive without a host for long. So personally I would be just QTing the plants for 2 weeks or so, and skip the bleaching.
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Old 08-21-2008, 10:22 PM   #3
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I agree with jsoong. Two years makes me think it could be simply old age more than anything else; if you've had him two years, who knows how long he was living before you got him.

What you do depends upon how cautious you are. If it were me, I wouldn't necessarily feel the need to do much more than a couple good water changes. If you feel the need to do more, then I would recommend the 1:20 bleach rinse for the tank & gravel, and a quick potassium permangenate (or dilute bleach) dip for the plants--but realize that even when you do that correctly some species are more sensitive than others, and plants can die completely or at least suffer quite a partial death from it.

I've had fish (including, in at least two cases, female bettas) die of dropsy while in my 30 gallon community tank. Never did any of the fish suddenly "catch" dropsy from a sick fish. I just came to learn that when certain species of fish reach the end of their life cycle, there are different ways in which they eventually succumb to old age; for some (including bettas and, even more, some killifish species I've kept), it seems like it always ends up being dropsy.
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Old 08-22-2008, 10:23 AM   #4
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Hi Joann! Nice to see you again!

I lost my betta Eli last week. I don't know if he had dropsy; he wasn't really pineconed, but he was definitely bloated. He lived for about a month in the bloated state. He was active, ate well, and didn't hide or sulk. I knew he wasn't going to get better but it was still a shock to find him stuck under the airstone.

I agree with jsoong and JohnPaul as to what you should do. It also depends on how soon you want another betta in that tank. If you want a new fish now, then bleach the tank and gravel. Place the plants in a bucket of dechlorinated water and don't put them back in the tank for two weeks. You can put the new betta in after the bleaching/rinsing (OR you could have him in his own QT for a week) and then just wait until a bit later to add the plants.

For my betta's tank, it is heavily planted with Eco Complete substrate. I will just let the tank sit fallow (no new fish) while I continue to do water changes once a week. To maintain the biofilter since there is no betta present, I'm adding two drops a day of a 10% ammonium chloride solution. After about a month, I feel that any disease-causing bugs are gone and then I'm ready for a new fish.

I also agree with jsoong about the organisms that caused the dropsy - they most likely caused illness in an already old or sick fish. I got a new betta a few years ago and began to acclimate him with some water from my 5-gallon betta tank. Within a week, the betta in the 5 gallon died (no visible symptoms but he was over a year old). I worried about the water from that tank that I had used with the new betta. The new betta was fine and didn't get sick. He lived to be over a year old himself.

I'm sorry to hear about Spot and I know he has a wonderful home with you for his remaining days.
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Old 08-22-2008, 11:12 AM   #5
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One thing just to be sure, I am presuming that since this is a 2.5 gal tank there is no filter attached...but if you *do* happen to have a filter, realize that the filter bacteria will need to be fed ammonia and kept well oxygenated the whole time you are without a fish.

And, of course, needless to say if any chlorine gets into the filter, the bacteria will be wiped out.
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Old 08-22-2008, 12:05 PM   #6
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Good point, JohnPaul. I am using an ammoinium chloride solution, 10%, in my fallow tank to keep the good bacteria alive. In a 10 gallon tank, I'm using 2 drops a day.
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Old 08-22-2008, 04:55 PM   #7
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Thanks guys. I'll bleach the tank and hidey-hole and QT the plants after Spot passes - excellent idea. I have a spare 2.5G tank that I'll use for the new occupant when he arrives. All my tanks are bottomless so the beneficial bacteria are attached to the glass, decorations and plants. I'll use some plants and filter material out of the main tank to seed the spare 2.5.

How long does the typical Petsmart Betta live ? I thought 2 was actually young - I was hoping for 4 or 5 years with him ! silly how a grown woman can become attached to a fish !
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Old 08-22-2008, 06:48 PM   #8
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You've got to keep in mind that most Bettas are already at least a year old buy the time that you buy them. So even if a Betta lives 3-5 years, at most you'll only get another 2-4 years after you bring them home.
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Old 08-23-2008, 11:00 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joannde View Post
Thanks guys. I'll bleach the tank and hidey-hole and QT the plants after Spot passes - excellent idea. I have a spare 2.5G tank that I'll use for the new occupant when he arrives. All my tanks are bottomless so the beneficial bacteria are attached to the glass, decorations and plants. I'll use some plants and filter material out of the main tank to seed the spare 2.5.

How long does the typical Petsmart Betta live ? I thought 2 was actually young - I was hoping for 4 or 5 years with him ! silly how a grown woman can become attached to a fish !
I am right with you Joanne, I am attached to my fish! I mother them....but that is in my nature I guess. It was nice to see you on the board again. It was one of your posts long ago that made me feel I could actually do this plant thing and now it is the most rewarding hobby I have ever had. Thank you!
I wish you all the best!
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Old 08-23-2008, 03:33 PM   #10
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It was one of your posts long ago that made me feel I could actually do this plant thing and now it is the most rewarding hobby I have ever had. Thank you!
I wish you all the best!
WOW - you've made me blush ! Thank YOU !

Spots hanging in there. Still swims over to say 'Hi' and wag his tail every time I walk past him but he's starting to spend a little more time in his hidey hole. He doesn't really seem to be suffering, so I'm keeping him comfortable and giving him a bloodworm or two (its the only thing he'll eat now - won't even touch the krill anymore).

Part of me wants him to go quickly but there's a part of me that hopes for a miracle recovery and another year (or two !).
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2.5G - Spot (beautiful betta - Soft pink with red spots on his fins. Java Moss.
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Old 08-29-2008, 05:55 PM   #11
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Smile UPDATE - its not dropsy and he's doing well :)

Part of my "keeping him comfortable" was to up the number of water changes. I figured fresh water would feel ALOT better under those scales.

I suspected Dropsy when I saw one part of him getting that "pinecone" scale look. After a couple of days and a couple of water changes (I'm doing 50% a day) the pinecone look didn't increase but I could see a "lump" on one side of his body - looked something like a zit, complete with whitehead. A couple of more days and the whitehead part is gone - the lump is still there but its not bigger and it doesn't seem to bother him. He's still my little bloodworm-pig. He even ate a flake one day, so I know he's actually hungry and not just interested in the bloodworms because they're too good to resist.

Hooray - my Spottie seems to be ok. No need to worry about spare tanks, contaminated plants, blah blah blah

My 'message of the day' is never give up hope.

I"M SO HAPPY !!!!
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2.5G - Spot (beautiful betta - Soft pink with red spots on his fins. Java Moss.
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Old 08-29-2008, 10:07 PM   #12
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YAY! That is such good news! I know you are jumping up and down for joy!

I seem to remember having a betta once with that "whitehead" but I don't remember how close to the end he was at that time. This was probably 3 years ago. Maybe Spot does have a few or several months left! With your good care, I'm betting on it!
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Old 08-30-2008, 12:39 AM   #13
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YAY! That is so awesome! We are celebrating with you!
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