Betta swims erratically then rests.

DevonM

Hello guys,

For a few days now I've noticed my Betta swimming from one side to the tank and back and then somewhat struggling to reach the surface before he does and gulps air. Sometimes he'll glass surf or swim around and then rest at the bottom for a few seconds before swimming around again. I noticed that he only started doing after my last water change. I also noticed that he had very minor damage to his dorsal fin but it appears that is healed now. Before he would actively swim around without taking somewhat of a longer rest. So I'm wondering if something's wrong with him?

He is still eating his food, is very active as he breaches the surface when provoked to jump and also flares his gills at his reflection.
He doesn't appear to be sick at a glance considering he still has his bright colors and there are no apparent markings or spots on him. His fins are not clamped either when he rests at the bottom.

His tank size is 3.7 Gallons with a heater and a filter. The tank has been cycled and also has a Java fern in it. Substrate is gravel. The tank has been blooming with diatoms which I cleaned off glass. However, I could not do much about it being on the gravel. (added If this information serves any importance or value).

Tank parameters:
Ammonia: 0,
Nitrites: 0,
Nitrates: 0,
GH: 89.5 ppm,
KH: 53.7 ppm.

I've attached a photo of him at the bottom.
 

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FoldedCheese

He sounds like he may be stressed by something. Does he have many hiding places in the tank? From that one photo the tank looks pretty bare. Resting in-between patrols of their territory is normal for bettas but the frantic swimming/glass surfing is not.
 

Rose of Sharon

That's a very pretty betta!

You can add some Indian almond leaves to help with his stress level. IALs will produce tannins, which will tint the water brown. Tannins are very good for bettas. They just love the stuff, and it helps to keep them healthy.

The diatoms should disappear over time. Just keep cleaning off the surfaces of the glass and vacuuming the gravel will help keep it off the gravel.

The light may be stressing him a bit. If you aren't already doing so, keep the light to a minimum, and give him a good 14 hours or more with lights off completely.

Short finned bettas usually need a bit of room, too. Long finned bettas don't swim as much, so smaller tanks are ok. But shorter finned bettas move around more, so the 3.7 gallon may be a bit small for him.

If he is glass surfing, that may be because he sees himself. The IALs and keeping the light at a low level should help with that.

Keep his water as clean as possible. Water quality can go south very quickly in a small tank even though it is cycled (I am speaking from experience - I had a betta in a 2.7 gallon tank).

You can also try adding a betta leaf (betta hammock) to see if he will use that. Some bettas will use them and others won't. Most of mine ended up using them. I would recommend a floating betta log, but that might take up a lot of room in a 3.7. But it would be a place for him to hide, and it floats so he will be at the surface with easier access to air. Just a thought....

Hope this hleps!
 

DevonM

Thanks for your responses.
"Does he have many hiding places in the tank? From that one photo the tank looks pretty bare."

-Yes, that's just a section of the tank. I've put in a Java Fern which he could use as cover for the lighting but he doesn't really swim under it or around it and mostly in the open area. There's a opening under the filter housing that he can swim to also avoid the light but he only uses that when going to sleep.

"You can add some Indian almond leaves to help with his stress level. IALs will produce tannins, which will tint the water brown. Tannins are very good for bettas. They just love the stuff, and it helps to keep them healthy."

- I'll definitely give that a try! I have Biotope (Black water extract), bio black. But I'm confused on the dosing, as the recommended dose is half cap per 13.21 gallons, I don't know if it can be overdosed?

"The light may be stressing him a bit. If you aren't already doing so, keep the light to a minimum, and give him a good 14 hours or more with lights off completely."

- I normally keep the light on in his tank for about 10-11hrs, perhaps it's a bit much? I'll probably look into reducing the light beam or lighting hours.

I was trying to take a photo of the tank to show the whole thing but it's night time here and he's sleeping so I don't want to shock or surprise him. I'll take one in the morning to give you a reference of what the environment looks like. Again thanks soo much for your responses it was much appreciated!
 

FoldedCheese

-Yes, that's just a section of the tank. I've put in a Java Fern which he could use as cover for the lighting but he doesn't really swim under it or around it and mostly in the open area. There's a opening under the filter housing that he can swim to also avoid the light but he only uses that when going to sleep.

If there is only one plant in the tank then I'm afraid there isn't much cover for him and that could be contributing to his stress. One plant won't create much shade either and it doesn't do much in the way of cover or enrichment. I find bettas do best in tanks that are a little busy with plenty things for them to explore and hide behind if needed.

Here is my 5 gallon tank as an example of what I mean by busy. This is what I would consider the bare minimum in terms of cover and hiding spots. As you can see there are plenty of spots that are shady in every level of the tank and he takes full advantage of all of them. There are also plenty of things for him to explore and interact with which he does. Hope this helps.


updatedtank.jpg
 

Rose of Sharon

Concerning the IAL extract, I am not sure about dosing. I don't think that an over dose will hurt him. I have always found that the real thing is so much better than the extract. I have read that the liquid extract is not as healthy and may not provide the full benefits. You can make your own tea, if you don't want to add the actual leaves to the tank. But bettas do love the leaves themselves. They are known to build bubble nests underneath them while they are floating, too. :)
 

DevonM

Hey guys,

So I'll uploaded a few pictures of the tank and the hiding spots for the betta. FoldedCheese, I think you're correct when you said the plant wasn't enough though.

Thanks soo much again for your help.
 

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FoldedCheese

Hey guys,

So I'll uploaded a few pictures of the tank and the hiding spots for the betta. FoldedCheese, I think you're correct when you said the plant wasn't enough though.

Thanks soo much again for your help.

The plants are a good start for sure but spots that are areas where he can rest are key. Caves, tubes, behind tall plants that provide shade can help make them feel secure. It may feel like you are taking away swimming room, but the cover and enrichment these items will provide will help ease his stress and make him feel more secure.

The more I add to the tank the more my betta seems to stop to look and and weave through the new plants. They are truly one of the more intelligent than I think we give them credit. From my experience bettas enjoy exploring/weaving through things just as much as they do finding a shady resting spot. I say this as an owner of a very shy betta. He used to be afraid to come out to eat or see me until I gave him enough spots to retreat to if he wanted.
 

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