Betta suddenly not eating after water change

  • #1
What is the water volume of the tank? 20 Gallons
How long has the tank been running? 1 1/2 years
Does it have a filter? Yes
Does it have a heater? Yes
What is the water temperature? 80 degrees Fahrenheit
What is the entire stocking of this tank? Male betta fish

How often do you change the water? Every 1-2 weeks
How much of the water do you change? 30 for one week, 50 for two weeks
What do you use to treat your water? I use spring water
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? Substrate and water

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? Yes
What do you use to test the water? 5 in 1 strips
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 10
pH: 7

How often do you feed your fish? Every day except Wednesday
How much do you feed your fish? A small pinch
What brand of food do you feed your fish? Hikari Micropellets
Do you feed frozen? No
Do you feed freeze-dried foods?

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? Since August
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? 1 1/2 weeks ago
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? Laying on side at bottom, not eating, not responsive
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? He used to be very active

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 noticed some very strange things in my tank, that weren’t going away. I did a very large water change, 70-80 % probably. I added media from another tank and put my betta, Nimbus back. Since then he has not been himself. He lays on the groud on his side, doesn’t eat, doesn’t respond to me or light anymore. I was wondering if it was shock, but it doesn’t make sense for it to last almost two weeks. I can’t see any other things except that, could you please give me some advice on how to save him? He wasn’t acting strange while the strange things were in his tank.

Things that changed from the tank change
Parameters -50 nitrates to 10 (I wasn’t home for a long time)
Removed driftwood and Anubis(They were infected with the strange things mentioned earlier)
Removed many silk plants (Also infected with the strange thing)
  • #2
My betta fish died after I did a large water change. I think it is shock. IDK why it lasted so long tho.
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Would it help to use stress coat or something? He’s still alive for now. He moves around the tank, but very rarely.
Rose of Sharon
  • #4
What are the strange things that you were talking about? Worms, algae, floating particles?

Can you post a pic of Nimbus?

And what about the media that you added - was there anything going on in that tank?

Did you make sure that they new water was the same temp as the old when you did the change?

Sorry, just trying to rule things out...
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Strange Things - Strange White and Orange Stuff | Aquarium Water Forum | 511261

Picture - I can try, but he hides most of the time. I can't find him right now. If I see him I'll get a picture really quickly. It doesn't help that his color blends perfectly with the gravel.

Media - Nothing wrong with that tank, the betta in there is healthy

I didn't make sure the temperatures were the same but a temperature acclimated him. I did not parameter acclimate him. (Sorry I don't know what its called)

Its ok, for the questions, I appreciate the help. I'm beginning to suspect maybe dropsy? Low water quality, high stress from the parameter change, it kind of makes sense. There aren't any other symptoms except for the ones stated earlier.
Rose of Sharon
  • #6
Ok, got it.

I use nothing but spring water in my tank, too. The white spots, etc., are all by products of using spring water. There are a lot of minerals in spring water, and the water is hard. I tested mine with the water test kit that stargirl was talking about. Even film tends to build up on the tank glass that must be cleaned off. And the hard calcium that builds up is sometimes hard to get off. I have to take a razor blade to it to get it off.

As for your little guy, he wouldn't be having issues from shock 2 weeks after you did the big change. You are right about that.

If he has dropsy, one of the things that you would see is bloat/swelling in his middle and/or tummy area. If you look down on him from above, you would see his scales begin to stick out. It's called pineconing, because they stick out like a pinecone. The fish will have a really hard time breathing. You will see him gasping for air. He won't be able to eat at all, and will be so lethargic that he won't be able to move, or will only move to come up to the top for air, and then go right back down.

Dropsy is just about 100% fatal. Very few people catch it in time to save their fish. It's not really a disease, but symptoms caused by another underlying condition, like an untreated bacterial infection, or somthing like that. The kidneys shut down and fluid builds up around the internal organs and cause the scales to poke out.

It's hard to advise on a course of treatment when the only things known are that he is lethargic and won't eat. That could be so many things.

At this point, I would recommend that you keep his water pristine. Do small frequent water changes, like maybe 20% every other day. Lower his tank water if you can, so he doesn't have so far to swim to get air. If you see that he is having trouble breathing, you could try adding some aquarium salt, but aquarium salt shouldn't be used for more than 2 weeks at a time. It is a general help in cases of body/fin issues, too.

If you see anything else, or think of anything else, post again, and I will get the alert.

Hope this helps a little!!!!
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
He's not struggling to breath. In fact, its hard to tell if he even is breathing at all. He has little bursts of energy, but he'll swim really hard and end up in the same spot. No pine coning or bloating as far as I can tell. I'm going to try and feel him a pea in case it's swim bladder. Still not eating anything...

I got some pictures of him. He’s usually not curled up like this. When I turned on the light to take pictures, he didn’t react. I’ll try to get better ones.


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Rose of Sharon
  • #8
With swim bladder issues, if it is constipation, you would see some bloating. The pea is only in case you are trying to get him to poop. But if he will eat it, then at least that is something.

You could try soaking his betta food in some garlic juice to see if that would help. Garlic helps their immune systems and is also used for picky eaters.
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
Ok, I'll try that tonight, thank you!

Some interesting things happened when I fed him -
I first tried to feed him his normal pellets. I think he realized it was food, because he dashed to the top of the tank, and did the mouth thing that bettas do for food. Then he rushed downwards and hid under a log. I tried to give him more, but he just kept on going further under, so I left it for today. I'm going to try and get a type of food that doesn't float Whenever I forcefully put food in the tank, as soon as I let go, it floats to the top.
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
  • Trouble swimming and buoyancy problems – You may notice your betta unable to move from the substrate in your tank or on the other hand he may only be able to float on the surface of the water.
  • Lopsided swimming – as well as floating on the surface or sinking to the bottom it’s not uncommon to notice a betta with swim bladder disease swimming on his side or swimming lopsidedly.
  • Struggling to maintain a normal position – This is a classic one. No matter how much your betta swims in a certain area, he will always begin dropping down or floating up.
  • A distended belly or curved back – This is a tell-tale sign of constipation or overfeeding. However, if along with this symptom you also notice your betta’s scales are pineconing then he is suffering from dropsy (which can be fatal if left untreated).
  • Affected appetite – Your betta may lose his appetite completely and not want to eat. Or he may have trouble eating if he’s stuck on the bottom or top of the tank.
  • Lethargy – If you’ve ever eaten so much you don’t want to move then you know how your betta feels when it’s been overfed. Lethargy is a classic sign but beware, in some cases, it could occur because of an infection.

Nimbus has most of these symptoms. I'm pretty sure its sbd. He struggles to swim upwards. How should I go about treating this if he won't eat anything? Its the fifth day, I don't think he can go without eating for much longer, I believe it's 10-14 days without food.
I tried feeding him peas today with no success. He just moves away from the food, and doesn't even attempt to eat anything. Is there a way to treat sbd without feeding him food?
Rose of Sharon
  • #11
Unfortunately, when bettas stop eating all together, it's hard for them to bounce back. And there is no way to force them to eat. :(

From his pic, I don't think that he has SBD due to over feeding/constipation. It may be a swim bladder injury or caused by a swim bladder infection (something internal).

I think that I would try to put him into a hosptial tank. It will help if he doesn't have as far to swim to get air. You can use almost any type of container as a hospital tank. Some people use plastic totes. I use a glass cookie jar. He will need a heater and an air stone. He will need frequent water changes. It may also help him with eating, especially since it will be bare bottom and sinking food will stay, and he may be able to see it that way.

If it's a swim bladder infection, you can add some aquarium salt. Just make sure that you follow the instructions on the aquarium salt package, and don't over do the salt. When you change the water, you should only add as much salt as was taken out when you did the water change.

You can also try a broad spectrum antibiotic along with the salt. A broad spectrum antibiotic will treat both gram positive and gram negative infections. There are a lot of them; I use Seachem products and Mardel products (kanaplex, maracyn 1 and 2, etc.) and there are also meds by API. Using meds in a hospital tank is so much better because the meds will kill the cycle in your big tank.

I hope this helps!!!!
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
Nimbus died this afternoon, I’m still not sure what happened to him. S.I.P.
  • #13
So sorry about your loss :( sip Nimbus
  • Thread Starter
  • #14
Guys you won't believe it but he's alive

Edit: I'm moving him to a 3.7 gallon tank, I have Kanaplex, so I'll start using that. Thank you!

I put him in a cup, for the move and tried to feed him. He's going for it but the food is too small...

He doesnt have physical symptoms of sbd, but he always sinks to the bottom when trying to swim up. He also always lays on his side.

My food options are micropellets which don't work, bloodworms, which make sbd worse, and flakes. Which do I use? I’m almost out of food anyway, so I can buy food too.
Rose of Sharon
  • #15
Wow, so happy he is still alive!!

You could crush up those flakes, and soak them in garlic juice and see if he goes for those. Or, you can try a frozen food, like frozen brine shrimp or even frozen blood worms.

Putting him in something shallow that will allow him to get air easier would be perfect. Also, if you have something that he can lay on towards to top of the 3.7 gallon, that would be a big plus (if he will lay on it).

I hope he makes it. He has a will to live!
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
Is there any other food you would recommend? I’m going out for fish food anyway because I’m basically out.
Rose of Sharon
  • #17
Daphnia (great for betta digestion), brine shirmp, and blood worms are sold as frozen foods. The freeze dried daphnia isn't so good.

If you are looking for a better pellet, then I would recommend Hakari baby bio gold pellets, New Life Spectrum betta pellets, or Omega One betta pellets, but you said that they aren't working.

My betta LOVES Fluval Bug Bites betta formula. They are slow sinking granules. Great protein source made from black fly larva. My guy attacks them like crazy!
  • #18
How is he doing now?

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