Betta severe buoyancy issues

Hello all,

I have a ~6 month old Betta that is having some severe buoyancy issues and is giving us some cause for concern. Symptoms began about 2 days ago when I found her lying at the bottom of the tank at a slight tilt. When I got close to the tank she did respond and swim around but quickly settled at the bottom of the tank again. Beginning yesterday I started her on Tetrafish all-in-one regiment (tried to get General Cure but the store was all out) and have restricted feeding aside from one attempt at a cooked pea which she did nibble at but was unable to pursue. I have put additional details below. Thanks in advance, any help including recommendations for additional medications is very welcome.

Symptoms: Lethargy, buoyancy issues (sinking), slight swelling on the posterior part of the body where the swim bladder is located, maybe some slight pine-coning at the posterior but it is mild. May have general bloating but hard to tell.

Appetite: She did eat when I first found her in her sinking state but haven't tested since except for cooked peas, which she did not eat completely but I think that was more a consequence of the swimming issues.

Behavior: Is very lethargic, moves only every half hour or so and it is a quick swim bout followed by rest. Settles either at the bottom of the tank or on a plant leaf near the top of the tank (this allows her to easily get surface oxygen, I believe). When settled she is often at a slight tilt and may have some curvature in her posture. She is able to swim with enough efficiency and accuracy to get onto the leaves.

Conditions: Water at 80-82 degs F. Nitrate levels and pH are good (although this was checked after the 50% water change). 12h light schedule.

Treatment: No food for three days (two days in). One day in of treatment with Tetra all-in-one (1-Chloro-2,2,5,5- tetramethyl-4 - imidazolidinone). Will attempt more cooked pea feeds in a day or two.

Is there any way to tell if this is just constipation or something more serious that requires medications? Should I try and get my hand on General Cure or something stronger or just wait it out? Thanks in advance!
 
Solution
I probably wasn't clear, the swelling/ pineconing isn't expanding, only the scale loss where the original pineconing was. Not sure if that makes a difference or not.

In other words what was once pineconed scales is now scaleless flesh. No other pineconed scales are visible anymore
Another picture would help.
I didn't realize you mentioned that she was pineconing. An Epson salt bath maybe or starting a medication would usually help, but since you said she doesn't have scales, I'm not sure what to do.
I also don't know much about medications, but Kanaplex and Maracyn 2 say they treat dropsy.
I’m so sorry this is happening to your betta! I’ve been lucky enough to not have many sick fish so I can’t help too much but I can tell you that general cure is for parasites and will only cause more stress to your betta. Although I did have a betta that had the same issue as yours, just more severe. When this first happened to him he looked like he wasn’t going to make it through the night. He was barely breathing, wasn’t moving, and refused to eat or respond to me. I couldn’t bring myself to euthanize him so I decided to let nature take its course and leave him to rest.

Well... I woke up the next day and he was still alive and gave a slight response (tilted his head) to me when I walked near him. I was amazed he had the strength to even lift his head! At that time I wasn’t able to get meds so I just kept the water clean and tried to feed him once every 2-3 days

I don’t know what I did or how he didn’t starve but over the next 3 weeks he made a slow recovery with me just continuing what I was doing. After about a week he was able to swim in short bursts and ate a few times.

Those short bursts became more and more frequent to the point where he was able to swim up and return to begging for food like he used to .

He’s still alive to this day but he does still have slight after affects where it can make it slightly More difficult For him to swim but overall he made a great recovery . Sorry I couldn’t be of more help, I just wanted to share my experience with Betta buoyancy issues.
 
Thanks so much jkkgron2 ! That makes me hopeful that she might just pull through. Also, very good to know that sometimes the best intervention is no intervention at all, I think too much effort can end up just stressing her out. I'll do 10% water changes every other day and attempt some light feedings every 3 and hope for the best!
 
Thanks Merlin! That is good to know, I might try and pick up some epsom and try that out.

Also, an update: I went to check on her and she was floating at the top with a bit of a tilt between the glass and a plant leaf. To be honest I thought she had passed because she wasn't moving or responding to my finger passing over the glass. Upon opening the lid to check on her though she swam around and ended up settling in the upper back corner draped over a plant. Maybe a sign of improvement?
 
Feed her daphnia instead of peas. Bettas can't properly digest peas and daphnia is sort of a natural laxative for bettas. What do you normally feed her and how much? Also, do you have a picture of her?

dont ever give him a salt bath more than 5 sec, there is some bad information on this site in regards to that
I don't think a 5 second salt bath would help in any way. I think you mean 5 minutes?
 
dont ever give him a salt bath more than 5 sec, there is some bad information on this site in regards to that
Yeah, I agree with julifhy, 5 seconds won't do anything. My Betta has been in salt baths for 30 minutes and has been fine. What leads you to believe this?
 
Here are some images, since she is floating I can now get a better look at her and can now see i) a white stringy object coming from what I think is her anus and ii) some scale loss on the posterior part of her body.
 

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The scale loss is an egg patch?

I'll fill out the emergency card now
No, julifhy meant the spot between the ventral fins. The other spot looks like a tumor, sore or lesion. I've never seen one in real life though. So I'm gonna leave this to the more experienced Betta keepers.
 
Tank

What is the water volume of the tank? 3gal
How long has the tank been running? 6 months
Does it have a filter? yes (no charcoal)
Does it have a heater? yes
What is the water temperature? range 80-82F
What is the entire stocking of this tank? 1 female Betta

Maintenance
How often do you change the water? 50% change every 3 weeks (now 10% every two days)
How much of the water do you change? see above
What do you use to treat your water? dechlorinator and temp match
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? try to vacuum but not sure how much I get

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? yes
What do you use to test the water? API 5in1 test strips
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.

Ammonia: NA
Nitrite: 0.5
Nitrate: 10
pH: 7.0

Feeding
How often do you feed your fish? every other day
How much do you feed your fish? 3-4 flakes
What brand of food do you feed your fish? OMEGA 1 betta buffet, occasionally Omega 1 dried bloodworms
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods?

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? 5 months
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? May 26
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? Buoyancy issues, bloating, lethargy
Have you started any treatment for the illness? yes daily regiment of Tetra all-in-one
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? Lethargic but ok
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all?

Explain your emergency situation in detail. See original post
 
No, julifhy meant the spot between the ventral fins. The other spot looks like a tumor, sore or lesion. I've never seen one in real life though. So I'm gonna leave this to the more experienced Betta keepers.
Ahh ok that makes more sense, yeah it doesn't look good
 
Tank

What is the water volume of the tank? 3gal
How long has the tank been running? 6 months
Does it have a filter? yes (no charcoal)
Does it have a heater? yes
What is the water temperature? range 80-82F
What is the entire stocking of this tank? 1 female Betta

Maintenance
How often do you change the water? 50% change every 3 weeks (now 10% every two days)
How much of the water do you change? see above
What do you use to treat your water? dechlorinator and temp match
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? try to vacuum but not sure how much I get

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? yes
What do you use to test the water? API 5in1 test strips
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.

Ammonia: NA
Nitrite: 0.5
Nitrate: 10
pH: 7.0

Feeding
How often do you feed your fish? every other day
How much do you feed your fish? 3-4 flakes
What brand of food do you feed your fish? OMEGA 1 betta buffet, occasionally Omega 1 dried bloodworms
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods?

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? 5 months
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? May 26
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? Buoyancy issues, bloating, lethargy
Have you started any treatment for the illness? yes daily regiment of Tetra all-in-one
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? Lethargic but ok
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all?

Explain your emergency situation in detail. See original post
>> Your nitrites should should be 0 ppm! I would also get an ammonia test asap (don'y get the test strip one though). Also get seachem prime. I've never delt with a nitrite spike, but I think you should do 50% water changes until it drops. <<
I would also suggest feeding pellets instead of flakes and make sure to soak the pellets in tank water before feeding it to her.
Why did you use tetra all in one? Is there anything else you were treating for?
In the second picture it does look like she has a tumor. You can't really do much about it though. Sometime the tumor can come off easily and heal (I'll attach a video of the example, but I wouldn't suggest removing it). You should just leave the tumor. If it isn't bothering her in any way or causing her any discomfort, she should be completely fine. If does start getting to a point where it is affecting her, I would go to a professional like a veterinarian to get it possibly removed (sometimes removing a tumor would be too stressful and have a low chance of recovery and euthanasia would be a better option, but hopefully you won't have to do that though).
I would also suggest feeding daphnia, like I've mentioned and if you can a bigger tank (10 gallon) would really benefit her!
 
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>> Your nitrites should should be 0 ppm! I would also get an ammonia test asap (don'y get the test strip one though). Also get seachem prime. I've never delt with a nitrite spike, but I think you should do 50% water changes until it drops. <<
I would also suggest feeding pellets instead of flakes and make sure to soak the pellets in tank water before feeding it to her.
Why did you use tetra all in one? Is there anything else you were treating for?
In the second picture it does look like she has a tumor. You can't really do much about it though. Sometime the tumor can come off easily and heal (I'll attach a video of the example, but I wouldn't suggest removing it). You should just leave the tumor. If it isn't bothering her in any way or causing her any discomfort, she should be completely fine. If does start getting to a point where it is affecting her, I would go to a professional like a veterinarian to get it possibly removed (sometimes removing a tumor would be too stressful and have a low chance of recovery and euthanasia would be a better option, but hopefully you won't have to do that though).
I would also suggest feeding daphnia, like I've mentioned and if you can a bigger tank (10 gallon) would really benefit her!

I picked up some SeaChem prime yesterday and will put some in today to deal with the nitrates levels. I will also pick up an Ammonia test kit ASAP!

I'll pick up pellets as well

I used all-in-one as a last ditch after the recommendation of a **** Petsmart employee (only store available to me). Do you think I should stop it? The cancerous looking patch on her posterior only started showing up after treatment. Although it could be from an abrasion as she has been more mobile.

I think I'll wait for any tumor intervention, although if it is a tumor I do believe that is what is causing the buoyancy issues as they appeared at the same time

Thanks for the detailed response. I'll update as things come in!
 
I picked up some SeaChem prime yesterday and will put some in today to deal with the nitrates levels. I will also pick up an Ammonia test kit ASAP!

I'll pick up pellets as well

I used all-in-one as a last ditch after the recommendation of a **** Petsmart employee (only store available to me). Do you think I should stop it? The cancerous looking patch on her posterior only started showing up after treatment. Although it could be from an abrasion as she has been more mobile.

I think I'll wait for any tumor intervention, although if it is a tumor I do believe that is what is causing the buoyancy issues as they appeared at the same time

Thanks for the detailed response. I'll update as things come in!
I forgot the reason, but I was always told pellets are healthier for bettas, which is why I recommended them. If you can, get some more high quality ones. There are many different ones online and I see a lot of people feed fluval bug bites, so I'll use that as an example.
Why did the petsmart employee suggest you use the all in one? Was there something wrong with your betta before? How long have you been using it?
Also, tumors in bettas are usually genetic, but not cancerous. It's very rare for a betta to get cancer. Hopefully the tumor isn't causing the issues.

It would be really helpful to others if you did explain it though...
 
I picked up some SeaChem prime yesterday and will put some in today to deal with the nitrates levels. I will also pick up an Ammonia test kit ASAP!

I'll pick up pellets as well

I used all-in-one as a last ditch after the recommendation of a **** Petsmart employee (only store available to me). Do you think I should stop it? The cancerous looking patch on her posterior only started showing up after treatment. Although it could be from an abrasion as she has been more mobile.

I think I'll wait for any tumor intervention, although if it is a tumor I do believe that is what is causing the buoyancy issues as they appeared at the same time

Thanks for the detailed response. I'll update as things come in!

Did a quick SeaChem treatment with a 20% water change and nitrate/nitrite
levels are down to 0

Also, looking again at the mark on her right posterior I am not sure it is a tumor. It is not really a protrusion, if anything it is slightly recessed. This just showed up the last 24hrs (unfortunate because I thought I was seeing improvements).
 
Did a quick SeaChem treatment with a 20% water change and nitrate/nitrite
levels are down to 0

Also, looking again at the mark on her right posterior I am not sure it is a tumor. It is not really a protrusion, if anything it is slightly recessed. This just showed up the last 24hrs (unfortunate because I thought I was seeing improvements).
Hopefully it's not a tumor. Keeping up with water changes and changing more water will definitely help. Also I don't think you answered why you were told to use all in one. I'm just curious why you were recommended that.
 
Hopefully it's not a tumor. Keeping up with water changes and changing more water will definitely help. Also I don't think you answered why you were told to use all in one. I'm just curious why you were recommended that.

They didn't say much of anything. I was by the medicines (primarily looking for SeaChem as I had read that helps with water quality) and I was asked what I needed. Told them about the sinking behavior and they quickly said I need API general cure, went in the back, said they were out but that all-in-one was the same thing. Kinda felt they didn't know what they were talking about from the get-go but the guilt of refusing treatment if she died propelled me to go ahead with the purchase.
 
They didn't say much of anything. I was by the medicines (primarily looking for SeaChem as I had read that helps with water quality) and I was asked what I needed. Told them about the sinking behavior and they quickly said I need API general cure, went in the back, said they were out but that all-in-one was the same thing. Kinda felt they didn't know what they were talking about from the get-go but the guilt of refusing treatment if she died propelled me to go ahead with the purchase.
They shouldn’t of told you that without asking any more specific questions. Btw I forgot to ask, did you add anything new to the tank in the last couple of days?
When did you start the all in one treatment?
 
They shouldn’t of told you that without asking any more specific questions. Btw I forgot to ask, did you add anything new to the tank in the last couple of days?
When did you start the all in one treatment?
Yeah, I agree, it was a PetSmart in a big city, I can't imagine they're very knowledgable/ care about much more than making a sale.

Didn't add anything new before the trouble started. all-in-one treatment is on its second day today.
 
Yeah, I agree, it was a PetSmart in a big city, I can't imagine they're very knowledgable/ care about much more than making a sale.

Didn't add anything new before the trouble started. all-in-one treatment is on its second day today.
IMO you don’t have to continue using it. Just make sure to really keep up with your water changes. Not sure if I’ve already mentioned this or not, but Indian almond leave would also help her overall health
 
Update: Bettas behavior is pretty unchanged. Still find her resting on top of leaves or on bottom of tank without a ton of movement. The scale loss is now on both sides of her body, both on the posterior end where swelling and slight pineconing had been observed the last few days. Looks to be expanding a bit.

Did a 70% water change where I made sure to get almost all the debris in the gravel. Water looks very clear and was treated with SeaChem.

As this is her 4th day of no food I decided to give her one fruit fly (lab grown not wild caught). She readily ate it although struggled to swim up to the surface to retrieve it.

No just waiting, hoping and watching for changes to the scale loss or behavior.

Thanks again everyone for their advice.
 
Since the pineconing hasn’t gone away and has gotten a little worse I’m afraid she may be showing symptoms of an early stage of dropsy . I really hope she gets through this.
I probably wasn't clear, the swelling/ pineconing isn't expanding, only the scale loss where the original pineconing was. Not sure if that makes a difference or not.

In other words what was once pineconed scales is now scaleless flesh. No other pineconed scales are visible anymore
 
I probably wasn't clear, the swelling/ pineconing isn't expanding, only the scale loss where the original pineconing was. Not sure if that makes a difference or not.

In other words what was once pineconed scales is now scaleless flesh. No other pineconed scales are visible anymore
Another picture would help.
I didn't realize you mentioned that she was pineconing. An Epson salt bath maybe or starting a medication would usually help, but since you said she doesn't have scales, I'm not sure what to do.
I also don't know much about medications, but Kanaplex and Maracyn 2 say they treat dropsy.
 
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