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Old 05-18-2011, 02:24 PM   #1
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Sluggish Betta: Please help!!

I have had my male betta for two and a half years. When I first got him, he was very lively, always swimming, etc. For the past two and a half years, he was kept in a one gallon tank (please don't think I'm a terrible betta owner). -.- I always did weekly water changes, fed him betta pellets every other day, and he seemed happy. For the past few weeks, he has started acting very sluggish and strange. He started just laying at the bottom of the tank, sometimes on his side and slightly curled up. He would only come up for air, and occasionally for food, but would sink back down to the bottom, tail first. He seemed excited about food, no matter the circumstance, but he wouldn't always eat it. I thought maybe it was swim bladder, so I tried the "fasting for a few days them feeding the cooked pea" thing, but he wanted nothing to do with the pea.

I started thinking maybe the ammonia levels were high, or that he was cold, so I went out and bought a ten gallon aquarium with a filter and a heater, and if it matters, some little caves and a new plant. I rinsed out the tank and thoroughly rinsed all of the decorations and marbles, and did everything as instructed. I set up the tank, heater and filter, let it run for 24 hours, then slowly acclimated him to the new tank. Once he was in the tank, he seemed interested, but still hung out on the bottom. He slowly made his way around the tank and stopped in the caves frequently and just layed there.

It's been a few days now since he's been in the tank, and I know they take time to adjust, but he's just acting the same. I thought the heat might perk him up a bit, but he's still laying there most of the time. He's not even interested in food anymore (he used to come to the surface when I shook his food container in front of the tank). He just looks at it and won't move. I added a few corydoras, which he doesn't seem to mind. The tank temp is at a constant 78-80 degrees F, and the filter is running on one side of the tank. I tested the ammonia, which was at zero.

Could he still be adjusting to the new tank or could there be something else wrong with him? His fins, scales and coloring still look healthy; he's still his usual bright red. Could he just be getting old? Please help. I love this fish to death, and I don't want to lose him if there's something I can do to help.

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Old 05-18-2011, 06:09 PM   #2
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The upgrade to 10 gallons will be nice for him if he pulls through, but I'm not sure the timing is a good choice. Is there another place you can put the corydoras so he's alone in his new home? He might appriciate the company more when he's feeling well. In the mean time you don't want them generating any ammonia that could stress him out.

Is there any swelling around his swim bladders? The peas will help with constipation, but there are other possible causes of swim bladder malfunciton. Does he appear to struggle when swimming up? He could have an infection or prasite in the swim bladder.

You could start with an antibiotic, but you're sure to have ammonia or nitrite problems and have to do large water changes to keep the water healthy for him.

Since this tank is new and occupied, test twice a day for ammonia. Make sure your kit is not expired. If there's no expiration date, there might be a lot number, which you can write to the company with and get the expiration date.
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Old 05-18-2011, 07:15 PM   #3
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Quote:
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The upgrade to 10 gallons will be nice for him if he pulls through, but I'm not sure the timing is a good choice. Is there another place you can put the corydoras so he's alone in his new home? He might appriciate the company more when he's feeling well. In the mean time you don't want them generating any ammonia that could stress him out.

Is there any swelling around his swim bladders? The peas will help with constipation, but there are other possible causes of swim bladder malfunciton. Does he appear to struggle when swimming up? He could have an infection or prasite in the swim bladder.

You could start with an antibiotic, but you're sure to have ammonia or nitrite problems and have to do large water changes to keep the water healthy for him.

Since this tank is new and occupied, test twice a day for ammonia. Make sure your kit is not expired. If there's no expiration date, there might be a lot number, which you can write to the company with and get the expiration date.
The only other tank I have is the one gallon one, and I really cannot afford ANOTHER tank, let alone have the spot for one.
Like I said, he doesn't seem to mind the corys, and if they're stressing him out, he's not showing it. He even swims up to them and follows them, and he only flared at one once, which was when I had just put them in the tank and they invaded his space. He just seems genuinely chill about everything, but for all I know, that could mean there's something else going on.

He does seem to struggle to swim, like he has to really push himself to the surface. And like I stated, he didn't want anything to do with the pea when I tried not too long ago. He doesn't appear bloated or swollen at all; he looks very healthy.

The corys seem to be doing okay, but it's only been a few days. If my betta had a parasite or something, wouldn't it have spread by now? How big of water changes should I do, and how often? And my ammonia tests are not expired; I have the liquid one, if that means anything. (I heard they were more accurate?)
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Old 05-18-2011, 08:55 PM   #4
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It's possible he's just aging. Have you noticed any difference in his coloring?

Most cories are not suitable for a 10 gallon tank. They are highly active catfish, some growing to 3" or more and needing a minimum tank size of 29 gals. The only cories I would stock in a 10 would be the pygmy varieties such as hasbrosus or nanus, but those can be hard to find. In addition, cories are going to be even more sensitive to cycling than your betta is. I would take the cories back since they will likely die on you during this process anyway.

You mentioned your heater, make sure your temp is at 80F. I would recommend you feed Hikari Betta Bio-Gold pellets (2-3) 4 days a week, a frozen food such as bloodworms or brine shrimp twice a week, and 3 pellet sized peices of blanched shelled frozen pea once a week.

Are you familiar with the nitrogen cycle and cycling? Read here: The Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle Does your 1 gal tank have a filter in it? It's possible you could use the media from that filter to help with your new cycle. It is crucial you understand what your fishies are about to go through. You need an API freshwater master test kit if you do not already have one.
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Old 05-20-2011, 03:11 PM   #5
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Update: The coloring around his face is getting dull. On the underside of his face, it's turning a dull yellowish and he's getting spots of rusty whiteish on his face. He tried to eat today, but kept spitting out the food. Now he's just laying at the bottom again. I really don't know how old he really is. I have HAD him for two and half years, but who knows how old he was when I got him. I have a feeling my old friend is just dying of old age. ):
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Old 05-20-2011, 03:35 PM   #6
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Does the rust look like gold dust? Does it "shimmer"?
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Old 05-20-2011, 04:21 PM   #7
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No. It's just rusty in color. Like the color is just fading away.
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Old 05-20-2011, 04:38 PM   #8
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Stress can fade colors. It may not be a primary symptom. Is there any texture to the white spots?
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Old 05-20-2011, 07:07 PM   #9
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It sounds like it could be velvet. Shine a flashlight on him and see if you see a shimmer of gold covering his body in the light.
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Old 05-22-2011, 01:21 PM   #10
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Okay. I shined a light on him. His body looks normal, but around his face, the dull coloring looks silver. Is that bad? Should I isolate him? I tried feeding him freeze-dried brine shrimp, just to see if he'll eat ANYTHING and he looked at it then darted and hid. He then emerged and starting eating the tiny pieces that were pushed down by the filter. So he's obviously hungry, but doesn't want to come up to eat? Also, he's hanging close to the corner with the heater now. Also, when he's laying at the bottom, his fins are constantly going (idk if that's normal?) as are his gills. The slit at the bottom of his head (where the gills meet, I guess?) doesn't ever seem to completely close, dunno if that's because his gills are just always going.
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Old 05-22-2011, 02:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
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It sounds like it could be velvet. Shine a flashlight on him and see if you see a shimmer of gold covering his body in the light.
Here's what I saw (this is the best pic of him I could get):
http://twixie09.deviantart.com/art/Sampson-209877008
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Old 05-22-2011, 03:12 PM   #12
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Hmm..It usually starts on the head. However, typically it's described as a copper sheen. When you say the dull coloring looks silver, that makes me wonder. It wouldn't look dull, I doubt, if it were velvet. It would have a metallic sheen under the flashlight. Is that what you are seeing?

Is it normal for him to hang close to the heater? Is he rubbing on it?

Do you have a freswhater master test kit? His problems may just be simply poor water quality. What are the pH? Ammo? Nitrite? Nitrate?
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Old 05-22-2011, 03:13 PM   #13
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From that pic I'm still undecided. I do see what could be velvet. What kind of heater is in there? (brand, does it have a dial?)
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Old 05-22-2011, 04:00 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Hmm..It usually starts on the head. However, typically it's described as a copper sheen. When you say the dull coloring looks silver, that makes me wonder. It wouldn't look dull, I doubt, if it were velvet. It would have a metallic sheen under the flashlight. Is that what you are seeing?

Is it normal for him to hang close to the heater? Is he rubbing on it?

Do you have a freswhater master test kit? His problems may just be simply poor water quality. What are the pH? Ammo? Nitrite? Nitrate?
Sorry for the confusion. If you're just looking at it, it looks like a dull greyish red. If you shine a light on it, it seems to have an almost shiny look to it. Before yesterday, I hadn't seen him hanging near the heater. I haven't seen him rubbing it, or anything else for that matter, just laying below it. The tank is at 80 degrees F. The heater does have a dial on it. The heater I have I can't find a brand name for, but it came with this starter kit: Top Fin&#0174 10 Gallon Aquarium Starter Kit - Sale Category - PetSmart It's a 50 W heater that sticks to the side of the tank with suction cups. I don't have a pH test kit, but ammonia levels are and have been at zero. They somehow got to .5 a few days ago, but after a 60% water change, ammonia has remained at zero ever since. I am testing the water probably about three or four times a day for ammonia. The kit says it tests for "Ammonia NH3/NH4". Those are nitrite and nitrate, are they not?
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Old 05-22-2011, 04:37 PM   #15
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The kit says it tests for "Ammonia NH3/NH4". Those are nitrite and nitrate, are they not?
Those are two forms of ammonia. Ammonia is NH3, Ammonium is NH4, Nitrite is NO2-, Nitrate is NO3-.

I would expect after an ammonia spike to get a nitrite spike. You need a nitrite test kit too. Nitrate is less critical, but you'll know your cycle is over when you see Nitrate go up and Ammonia and Nitrite are 0, so it's nice to know that number too.
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Old 05-22-2011, 05:12 PM   #16
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Yikes you may have nitrites present then, and/or high nitrates. Nitrite is even worse for him than ammonia. I would do a large water change and get a master test kit asap.

It sounds like he has velvet. Here's some pics you can refer to to try and be sure:
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The treatment for this is salt and heat. The heater from the kit should be good enough. You will need aquarium salt. Start bumping the temp 1-2 degrees no more than every 12 hours until the temp reaches atlease 84, if possible. Did you say there is cories in the tank? Cories don't do well with salt, but velvet is contagious so the whole tank will need treated. You could opt to do a treatment such as Aquarisol if you don't have any inverts in the tank you are worried about. I prefer salt and heat, but with your cories you may want to do the meds. You might want to do a little research and make your own decision on that. If you add salt, start adding it slowly, never right to the tank, disolve in some tank water first. How much salt to use is also debatable, I would slowly work your way up to atleast 1 tsp per gallon. Build this up slowly every 12 hours as well. You will need an airstone in the tank if you don't already have one also, since the salt and heat will decrease the oxygen in the water.

Velvet is usually caused by improper heating and/or bad water quality. You now have a heater keeping him at a stable 80, so that part is taken care of, but you must be testing the water on a regular basis and keeping the ammo/nitrites to 0 and nitrates from exceeding 20ppm to keep everyone healthy.
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Old 05-23-2011, 09:11 AM   #17
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Okay. I am going to the pet store today to pick up everything I need. I will update when I find out anything. What do I do if nitrites or nitrates are high? Another large water change?
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Old 05-23-2011, 10:28 AM   #18
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Okay. I am going to the pet store today to pick up everything I need. I will update when I find out anything. What do I do if nitrites or nitrates are high? Another large water change?
*nod* Yep!
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Old 05-23-2011, 11:38 AM   #19
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k And what if it's something other than Velvet? Will the salt help with whatever else it is? Or should I be prepared to buy more stuff? Also, how long will it take to have effect on him?
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Old 05-23-2011, 07:21 PM   #20
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Well I would make sure to positive ID it as velvet before you start treatment. We dont want to make the situation worse by treating the wrong thing.

If it is velvet salt and heat should hopefully eliminate the visual signs of it within a week, but you'll want to continue treatment until atleast day 11.
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