Betta Fish Heavy Breathing

coderedjulia
  • #1
I just did a 2 gallon water change in my aquarium and I made sure to use water conditioner.Anyways, he seems to be breathing a bit heavily than normal. He was laying on his side a bit which concerned me. But I thought it might've been the strong filter which I've yet to fix. I also topped off the water a bit more this time so I thought it might've been lack of oxygen. I took some of it out and he seems a bit better. He's swimming around with lots of energy. But the breathing is still a bit heavy. I'm scared to do anymore water changes because I don't want to mess with the PH. Should I be concerned? If he isn't lethargic, is he fine? I'm really not sure how fast fish breathe . I just noticed it was a little faster than normal. Also, two questions. 1. He's just one fish in a ten gallon tank. Is it ok to change his water every other week? Or should I still do it weekly?. 2. Should I get an air pump?

Edit: I forgot to mention I changed the water last night. I think his breathing is getting better but I can't tell since he's moving around a lot. I wonder if turning off the heater and then turning it back on had anything to do with it.
 
Macha
  • #2
Every other week for water changes is plenty. You don't need an air pump but I don't think it would hurt him either.
Bettas have a labyrinth organ, which is like a primitive lung, so he would be fine in lower oxygen water as long as he can reach the surface for air.

The heavy breathing may have had to do with a sudden temperature change or pH swing, if you didn't take those into account when changing a large volume of water. If he is swimming upright and not at a weird angle, he's okay. It's a great sign that he's active and unless something else seems off, I think he's got it handled.
 
Sergeant Pepper
  • #4
It's my understanding that pH shouldn't change if you're doing water changes. Not enough to hurt a fish that's been living in it for a long time. I do water changes on my 10 gallon every week. The smaller the tank, the more water changes I would do. I would highly recommend sticking to weekly. To request as the previous posts says, what are the parameters?
 
coderedjulia
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
His ammonia reading is at 1.0 ppm from what it seems. Everything else is fine. I've had him for about a month and even used marineland total care aquarium bacteria that said it instantly cycles the tank. I do 2 gallon water changes every week but skipped one week once. I can't seem to get the ammonia down. It's been a month. He is still leaning against ornaments and breathing heavily. But then he swims off like hes fine. I was thinking maybe the filter was too strong. I'm at a loss on what to do. I just changed his water last night. I'm afraid doing it again will kill him.
 

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Racing1113
  • #6
Oh goodness. You need to immediately do a 75% water change and test again. Unfortunately, none of the bacteria supplements instantly cycle a tank. It's misrepresentation on their part. If you didn't cycle the tank before adding him, then you're in the middle of cycling right now. So will need to test parameters daily to keep ammonia and nitrite in check. Right now, he's being slowly poisoned. What size tank is it? Seems like 2 gallon water changes aren't enough.
 
coderedjulia
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
Oh goodness. You need to immediately do a 75% water change and test again.

But I just did a 2 gallon water change last night. I actually took 2 gallons out and added almost 4 gallons in. Wouldn't that just re-cycle my tank?
 
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Racing1113
  • #8
But I just did a 2 gallon water change last night. I actually took 2 gallons out and added almost 4 gallons in. Wouldn't that just re-cycle my tank?

No. The bacteria live in your filter media, not in the water. Please trust me and do a water change. The longer you wait the longer your fish is suffering.
 
coderedjulia
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
No. The bacteria live in your filter media, not in the water. Please trust me and do a water change. The
Oh goodness. You need to immediately do a 75% water change and test again. Unfortunately, none of the bacteria supplements instantly cycle a tank. It's misrepresentation on their part. If you didn't cycle the tank before adding him, then you're in the middle of cycling right now. So will need to test parameters daily to keep ammonia and nitrite in check. Right now, he's being slowly poisoned. What size tank is it? Seems like 2 gallon water changes aren't enough.

I have a 10 gallon tank. I'm doing the 75% water change like you told me right now.
 
Racing1113
  • #10
Ok perfect. After the water change would you please test the ammonia again and post the results? You said nitrite and nitrate are both 0, right? Thank you!
 
coderedjulia
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
Ok perfect. After the water change would you please test the ammonia again and post the results? You said nitrite and nitrate are both 0, right? Thank you!
yes and yes
 
Racing1113
  • #12
Ok. So after the water change, the ammonia should be at .25 but just want to confirm. Is your ammonia usually 1.0? Have you ever seen it higher? Lower? Do you usually change about 2 gallons once a week? What do you use for your water conditioner/dechlorinator? Sorry for all the questions lol.

Edit: sorry, just saw you already answered your normal water change routine
 
coderedjulia
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
nitrit: Looks in between caution and safe
hardiness: Seems like its very hard, although its never been like this before
alkalinity: moderate
ph: neutral

ammonia: Looks like I got it at 0 ppm

My ammonia has usually been at 1.0 ppm. If I knew doing a massive water change would help. I would've done it a long time ago. Unfortunately I'm still new with this and received horrible advice. Mainly from PetSmart employees. So thank you. What should I do now?
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coderedjulia
  • Thread Starter
  • #14
So sorry, I was looking at the salt water card. It looks like ammonia might be 0.25 ppm.
 

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Racing1113
  • #15
Not your fault! You are far from the first person who's gotten bad advice from pet store employees. Ok, so just a quick overview of the nitrogen cycle. Fish produce ammonia from respiration and waste. Ammonia is toxic to them. A bacteria grows that eats the ammonia and turns it into nitrites, which is also toxic. Then another bacteria grows which turns nitrites into nitrates. Nitrates are much less toxic, but you still want to aI'm to keep them at 20ppm or lower. Once you have your cycle established, you should always see 0 ammonia, and 0 nitrite. Weekly water changes should be sufficient to keep nitrates at 20 or below.

Since you already have your betta, you're going to be doing what's called a fish in cycle. Bacteria supplements can definitely speed up the cycling process. I would recommend Seachem Stability. Also for your water conditioner, I would recommend Seachem Prime. It's super concentrated so a bottle lasts a long time, and it also protects fish up to 1.0ppm ammonia and nitrites for 24 hours. Other water conditioners don't provide that protection. You'll need to test the water frequently until your cycle is established so you can keep an eye on the toxins. AllieSten has a good formula for this so hopefully she'll see this soon.

There is another way to cycle your tank with a bacteria called Tetra Safe Start Plus. With this, you dump in the whole bottle and don't do any water changes or testing for about 2 weeks. By that point you should be cycled. It's much faster, but I'm a control freak so I like to be able to test and change water as I see fit. Both ways work, and both ways have people who swear by them. Kinda just depends on what you're comfortable with. Also, if you can, I highly recommend the API freshwater master test kit. It's an all liquid test kit and is more accurate than the strips. If you can't right now, that's ok.

I know this is a lot of info to throw at you. Ask questions if you need to, or let me know if you need me to clarify anything. For now, your fish is fine at least until tomorrow. You've already taken a great first step by coming here for help.
 
coderedjulia
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
thank you. I'm still concerned about him though. He's having the actions of a dying fish. But then sometimes he gets up and swims like normal. He's resting on the bottom and laying on his side a bit. Like I said, I'm not sure if this has to do with the strong filter. I don't think he likes it. Is he dying? :/
 

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Racing1113
  • #17
If you think it might be the filter, you could turn it off for 30 minutes or so and see if his behavior changes. As long as the filter media stays wet you won't lose any bacteria.
 
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coderedjulia
  • Thread Starter
  • #18
Thank you. I'll try that. I guess if he is sick the most I can do is water changes every couple of days to keep the ammonia from spiking. He's had the same filter for about a month. Should I just keep using it for another month while the tank cycles? Sorry for so many questions. I really want to save him.
 
Racing1113
  • #19
Don't apologize for asking questions! Ask as many as you need to. What kind of filter is it? Does he seem to get pushed around by the current?
 
coderedjulia
  • Thread Starter
  • #20
Thank you. I did turn off the filter but he was still laying on the bottom just the same. But to answer your question, yes he does get pushed around by the current. I'm thinking he has ammonia burns maybe? Maybe nothing internally. Since I think he wouldn't be moving at all if that were the case. He still swims and eats. You might've saved his life if he makes through this. I have a Marineland Bio-wheel penguin 75 power filter.

I know you're not supposed to tap on glass. But he was at the bottom leaning against the glass and not responding. I thought for sure he was dead but then he started swimming again. This time around not as active but still swimming. I just noticed his bottom red fins were not flared out. They look damaged. His side seems to have a bulge. I think. Idk.
 

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Racing1113
  • #21
I'm so sorry for not responding. Just got home from errands and was putting new fish and plants in tanks. If he's getting pushed around by the current then yeah it's probably too strong. There's different ways to baffle filters - can use a cut plastic bottle or a sponge. Just slows how fast the water comes back into the tank. I would see if you can do that, and lower the water level as much as you can but still have the filter work. That way he won't have to swim as much to get to the top for air. It very well could just be the ammonia catching up to him. It's funny how differently fish are affected by parameters. Some will be bothered by the slightest spike, and some are accidentally discovered they've been living in like 8ppm ammonia.

I would do daily or every other day smaller water changes. That way you can keep the ammonia in check without putting him through a huge water change every few days. Also Seachem Stress Guard or API Stress Coat would help. Also Indian Almond Leaves if you can find some locally, if not Amazon has them. At this point it's kinda watch, wait and see.

Ah! Just saw your post that the ammonia might be closer to .25 instead of 0. IF you think he can tolerate it, I would do another small water change to get it down to 0 or as close as you can. Probably less stressful than the ammonia staying in there but you know your fish the best.
 
coderedjulia
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
like maybe 2 gallons? Or a gallon? Also, should I keep that filter for another month?
 
minervalong
  • #23
Are you tossing old filters out? That could be the reason you might be having ammonia problems. The bacteria that converts ammonia and nitrites live in your filter. I'd just swish the filter in the old tank water when you do a water change about once a month. You can get polyester pads in the craft department at like walmart that you can cut for replacement when the one you have been using is coming to pieces. Just make sure to put it in a few weeks before you dispose of the old one so it has a chance to develope a healthy bacteria colony.
 
coderedjulia
  • Thread Starter
  • #24
I took two gallons out and didn't put more back in. It's still reading at .25 ppm but I don't think I want to take more out. I might if he starts being lethargic again but I'd have to put the heater in sideways and turn it off and back on again. He seems to be responding well to the lower water though. I was think every other day 25% water change. Until everything is cycled.

Edit: No I have not changed his filter since I got him. I was thinking changing it right now would get rid of all the good bacteria.
 
Racing1113
  • #25
like maybe 2 gallons? Or a gallon? Also, should I keep that filter for another month?

Yeah, like 1-2 gallons. Just go slowly if he still seems stressed. For the filter, it's up to you. Personally I would just because you're already seeing some nitrites so you're halfway through your cycle. But that's only if you can baffle it. If you'd like to get another filter that's gentler so you wouldn't have to baffle it, then I'd recommend either getting the Tetra Safe Start plus or the Seachem Prime/Stability combo for the cycling process. Actually, either way I would get Prime lol. The good news is that whether you keep your current filter or start over with a new one, either way you know more info going forward and can make sure the cycling process is much less stressful

I took two gallons out and didn't put more back in. It's still reading at .25 ppm but I don't think I want to take more out. I might if he starts being lethargic again but I'd have to put the heater in sideways and turn it off and back on again. He seems to be responding well to the lower water though. I was think every other day 25% water change. Until everything is cycled.

Edit: No I have not changed his filter since I got him. I was thinking changing it right now would get rid of all the good bacteria.

Right, it will still be reading .25. The way the water changes work, when you add fresh water in it basically dilutes the parameters already in the tank. So for me, my tap water has 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 0 nitrate. So say I have 1.0 ppm ammonia in my 10 gallon tank. I take 5 gallons out and put back in 5 gallons of my 0 ammonia tap water. Then my total ammonia in my tank would have decreased by half. Does that make sense? Basically taking out water doesn't affect water parameters, putting fresh tap water in is what changes it.

Just keep an eye on him. If he seems ok, you can likely wait until tomorrow. Give him a break for the night. But if he starts acting weird again you'll likely need to replace some water to get that ammonia down more. And again I totally don't mean to push Prime on you. This is just a great example of when it's good to detoxify the ammonia through adding Prime instead of diluting with water changes. Just keep a close eye on his parameters in case the 25% every other day isn't enough.
 
coderedjulia
  • Thread Starter
  • #26
Thanks for the info, he is swimming around this morning so that's good. If I have the money. I will do the seachem prime/stability combo off Amazon but unfortunately money is tight right now. I might have to do the safestart.I have car payment, bills..etc. Plus I live in a very small town where the only place to buy fish products is at Walmart. I usually have to drive an hour to PetSmart to get my supplies. Which I saw the only Prime they sell is a gallon of it which cost $70. I've spent so much money on this fish already. If I may ask, what do you mean by getting the Prime either way? Wouldn't I won't be able to use it if I'm using Safestart? You said not to mess with the water for two weeks if I use it. Or do you mean after the two weeks is over when I go back to do water changes? Also, will the safestart protect him from ammonia, nitrate, nitrites while in the process of working? I hate not being able to test.

Oh, I was looking at the bigger bottles on Amazon.I didn't notice they had smaller bottles lol. I think I can do it. Anyways, I noticed he has a bit of fin rot? Or maybe ammonia burns? I'm guessing it wouldn't be wise to treat it while I'm cycling the tank.
 
Racing1113
  • #27
Yeah, sorry, I worded that wrong. I just meant getting Prime in general is a good idea - didn't want it to sound like only get it if you're going to do the Prime/Stability combo.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not super confident about how to do the safe start. I've just never used it when cycling. From what I've read on here, you do a large water change, add your dechlorinator/water conditioner, if your water conditioner says it removes or detoxifies ammonia then wait 24 hours from the water change, add the bottle of safe start and then do nothing for for 2 weeks. Then test your water and you should be cycled. Normally nitrates will be high so do another large water change to bring them down, and then you should be able to switch to a regular weekly water change schedule.

Also no, the safe start won't protect him from ammonia/nitrite/nitrate. If you make a thread on the nitrogen cycle board that you need help with safe start you should get lots of help. Sorry to have to have you make another post, I just don't want to give you any wrong info. In the meantime, I'll see if I can find any threads to link for you

Prime does already have a stress coat in it, but you could always get a bottle of API stress coat to help his fin rot/ammonia burns. You can use that if you do the Prime/Stability. Not sure about doing it with safe start. Can you get any pictures of his fin rot/ammonia burns?

Q & A With Tetra about Tetra SafeStart
 
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coderedjulia
  • Thread Starter
  • #28
Sorry, just got home. I'm not sure if it's fin rot but his red little fin is clamped up when he swims and the red parts seem rigged. When I got home he was laying on his side again. I don't see any improvement except the occasional swimming up to the surface if I turn the light on. Then he goes back to laying down again. I'm honestly prepared for the worst just in case. I'm trying to save him as much as I can. I'll try the prime/stability combo. I'm sad, but I'm not trying to beat myself up over this. At least my tank is halfway cycled for the next fish. I don't think he has anything contagious that I would have to clean out the tank and re-cycle.
 

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Racing1113
  • #29
Poor guy. I'm pulling for him! Have you tested the water today?

I think Prime/Stability is a good choice. It takes longer, but since he's already having a bit of a hard time I'd be nervous to do the safe start, but that's just personally how I'd feel if it was my betta. I'm gonna try to find that formula for you, I haven't seen AllieSten on here today.
 
coderedjulia
  • Thread Starter
  • #30
Ok thanks. I might take your advice and use the prime/stability combo. The safestart I might use to finish cycling the tank for a new fish just in case he doesn't make it. Fishless cycling of course.
 
coderedjulia
  • Thread Starter
  • #31
I did a 4 gallon water change today and got it as close to 0 ppm as I could. So he's good for today.
 
Racing1113
  • #32
Ok perfect. Hopefully he's just a little stressed and will bounce back with a few days of good clean water. Bettas are generally hardy fish, I'm not too worried about him since he's not showing any physical signs of any bigger problem.

Forgot to ask, were you able to baffle his filter? I'm wondering if that's still factoring into his behavior.
 
coderedjulia
  • Thread Starter
  • #33
No I haven't. Just been busy today. I don't think it is because he was laying sideways when I turned the filter off.
 
Racing1113
  • #34
Oh right. I forgot we already tested that. I'm sorry. A lot of threads today lol.

Here's the formula I finally found:

Ammonia + Nitrites = less than 1ppm, add full tank dose Prime & Stability. Recheck parameters in 24 hours
Ammonia + Nitrites = 1ppm or more, do 50% water change. Add full tank volume Prime & Stability. Recheck parameters in 24 hours

The goal with water change is to get ammonia and nitrites below 0.5ppm so you may need to do more than a 50% water change to achieve that.

Once you have Prime you shouldn't have to do daily water changes anymore. This should get you through to the end of the cycle.
 
coderedjulia
  • Thread Starter
  • #35
I don't like the water bottle method. I think it makes the tank look ugly. I have a wheel on my filter that turns for the bacteria to grow on. So I wouldn't know how to baffle it. And to be honest, I don't want to spend more money on another filter. That tank was $80.
 
coderedjulia
  • Thread Starter
  • #36
Thank you so much!
 
Racing1113
  • #37
I don't like the water bottle method. I think it makes the tank look ugly. I have a wheel on my filter that turns for the bacteria to grow on. So I wouldn't know how to baffle it. And to be honest, I don't want to spend more money on another filter. That tank was $80.

Hmm. You could get a sponge (Aquaclear has some cheap ones) and stuff it in between the filter cartridge and the biowheel. I just looked at my Penguin and that's the best baffling option I can see. Not sure if the water flow would still be strong enough to keep the wheel turning though. Otherwise I'd suggest a sponge filter. They're super cheap - I got one off Amazon for like $4. All you need is airline tubing for less than $2 and an air pump - I use the Aquatech one from Walmart and it's less than $7.

Surprisingly I actually like the filter I got with my tank kit. Just did the Petsmart 10 gallon kit for $30 which came with an internal filter. I normally don't like them since I don't think they're anywhere near as good as the hang on back type, but it has an adjustable flow and I don't have it turned even halfway up since that was too strong and my betta loves the slow flow lol
 
coderedjulia
  • Thread Starter
  • #38
Thank you so much for everything. I see him improving a bit today. Doing the prime/stability combo and filter baffle with a sponge. You have helped me a lot ☺
 
Racing1113
  • #39
So glad he's doing better!
 
Racing1113
  • #40
How's he doing?
 

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