Betta flashing against plants and decor - no other signs of illness

Franklyfrankie

Tank
What is the water volume of the tank? 15 gal
How long has the tank been running? ~4 months, 1 month with livestock
Does it have a filter? yes
Does it have a heater? yes
What is the water temperature? 26C
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) 1 male Betta, 3 Amano shrimp

Maintenance
How often do you change the water? Usually 1 per week, lately twice per week due to algae issues
How much of the water do you change? 25-50%
What do you use to treat your water? Seachem Prime (recently starting adding half recommended dose of Easy-Life Profito once per week also)
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? Mostly the water - it's very heavily planted

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? Yes
What do you use to test the water? API liquid test kit
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5ppm
pH: 6.8

Feeding
How often do you feed your fish? twice a day
How much do you feed your fish? ~6 (extremely tiny) of the micro version of Fluval's bug bites
What brand of food do you feed your fish? Fluval's bug bites
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? sometimes Tetra's FreshDelica freeze dried bloodworms or my LFS's own brand frozen brine shrimp

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? Just over a month
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? Just today
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? Flashing against plants a few times, and once flashed his gills briefly against a rock.
Have you started any treatment for the illness? No
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? No
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? see below

Explain your emergency situation in detail. (Please give a clear explanation of what is going on, include details from the beginning of the illness leading up to now)

I've seen him flash against plants on two occasions, once was three times in a row. He also more worrying flashed his gills against a rock. He's also been flaring a lot more than usual at the back of the tank - possibly because I recently trimmed back the plants against the dark backdrop (which I unfortunately can't take out) and I think he can see his reflection back there sometimes. It's honestly a bit hard to tell if he's scratching himself or if it's aggression-related darting behaviour, as the plants he's flashing against are around where he flares, too. The flashing against the rock in the foreground, brief as it was, worries me a bit. The only other change I've noticed is that he was glass surfing quite a lot yesterday, and I was a little worried because he looked a little more frantic than usual (he often comes up to the glass begging for food in a way that doesn't worry me). I had been putting canvases up against the glass to discourage him, which seemed to help (This had helped me when he was new and glass surfing a bit more regularly). He had seemed very calm this morning, then he spent quite a long time flaring in the back, and it was after that that the flashing started.

My question: am I looking a parasitic problem here? I've had him for a month without adding anything to the tank. I can't see anything else about him that looks off or different. Could the flashing be related to his aggressive behaviour, i.e. due to seeing his reflection? Or should I try to get something to treat him? There are shrimp in the tank.


ETA: Another thing I'm a little worried about is that the pH of my tap water recently seems to have done a big fluctuation. I was at a steady 6.6 for months and it skyrocketed to 7.4. The initial change seemed to be ok because the tank obviously changed slowly and I deliberately have done smaller water changes as a result. Very recently it seems the tap water has gone back down to ~6.8.
 

Rose of Sharon

It sounds like his behaviour is mostly due to flaring, IMO. If he has a parasite issue, you will see other signs besides flashing.

Depending on the parasite, there will be changes to his body or his eating habits. You will see white spots if he has ich. He will become lethargic and not want to eat if there is an internal parasite. If he continues to flash against decor, then he might have something going on with his gills. If you see body sores, that can be a sign. If you turn the lights out and shine a flashlight on him, and see a srpinkling of what looks like gold dust, that is velvet.

When I get new fish, I like to give them a round of levamisole fish flakes as a dewormer, just as a precaution. Many people don't do anything like that, but in all of my research, it is part of best practices.

For now, I would just keep doing the small water changes and keep a close eye on him for additional signs of stress. Also, if you don't have anything in the tank that produces tannins, you might want to add some Indian almond leaves. They will tint the water brown (if you can stand it), but they help bettas with stress. Tannins also have mild antibacterial and anitfungal properties.

I hope this helps!
 
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Franklyfrankie

It sounds like his behaviour is mostly due to flaring, IMO. If he has a parasite issue, you will see other signs besides flashing.

Depending on the parasite, there will be changes to his body or his eating habits. You will see white spots if he has ich. He will become lethargic and not want to eat if there is an internal parasite. If he continues to flash against decor, then he might have something going on with his gills. If you see body sores, that can be a sign. If you turn the lights out and shine a flashlight on him, and see a srpinkling of what looks like gold dust, that is velvet.

When I get new fish, I like to give them a round of levamisole fish flakes as a dewormer, just as a precaution. Many people don't do anything like that, but in all of my research, it is part of best practices.

For now, I would just keep doing the small water changes and keep a close eye on him for additional signs of stress. Also, if you don't have anything in the tank that produces tannins, you might want to add some Indian almond leaves. They will tint the water brown (if you can stand it), but they help bettas with stress. Tannins also have mild antibacterial and anitfungal properties.

I hope this helps!

Thanks so much for all of this! That is pretty much what I had gathered online, that I would likely see other signs if parasites of some kind were in question. And very good to know that this behaviour could indeed be due to the flaring! Since writing this, he has entirely settled down and seems as happy as ever, at least for now - hasn't flared or flashed (or glass surfed) in several hours. So I'm hopeful that it was all simply due to the stress/aggression from thinking he saw another fish. I've been wondering about maybe getting some Indian almond leaves actually, for times like this when he seems a bit antsy.

I hadn't heard of fish flake dewormers actually, that sounds like a great idea in general. I'll see if my LFS has anything like that.
 
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Rose of Sharon

I am glad that I could help! Good luck with him!!!
 
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