Betta twitching and coughing

GinkoTracks

Tank
What is the water volume of the tank?
- 7 gallons
How long has the tank been running?
- the tank has been running for lest than a year, but I recently had to move so I had to take it down. I set it up again a little over a month ago.
Does it have a filter?
- sponge filter and a HOB
Does it have a heater?
- yes
What is the water temperature?
- I have the heater set to about 72, but the thermometer says it's about 80. Granted I turned it down a while ago (because the thermometer said it was over 80) and the temperature barely dropped, so I'm not sure how accurate it is.
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.)
- 1 betta, 2 amano shrimp, 1 nerite, and a few neos

Maintenance
How often do you change the water?
- I aim for every week, but most often it ends up being 2 weeks between water changes.
How much of the water do you change?
- about 1/3 of the water
What do you use to treat your water?
- I have an RODI system. I remineralize with Salty Shrimp gh/kh
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water?
-mostly just the water.

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish?
- yes
What do you use to test the water?
- API master kit and TDS meter
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: 0 (thats what it looked like ~5 min afterwards, though the next morning it looked more green)
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 7.2

Feeding
How often do you feed your fish?
- 5 days a week, typically. Every other week I feed 6 days a week.
How much do you feed your fish?
- It varies. Small pellets - about 8. large pellets - about 4. Frozen food - 1 piece the size of half a pea (usually. cutting ice cubes is hard)
What brand of food do you feed your fish?
- hikari, lifespectrum.
Do you feed frozen?
- yes
Do you feed freeze-dried foods?
- no

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish?
- a year this november
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? In a few words, can you explain the symptoms?
- I noticed some coughing earlier this week, but ignored it because I thought it was a one off thing. I noticed that she's been almost 'shaken' for a while, but I didn't know if it was abnormal or not. I noticed a few white spots yesterday, and started treating her with water changes and ich-x (yesterdays water change was with old water, TDS was between 10-3, but it was not ideal). After the ich-x treatment, she had a bad coughing fit, and had what almost looked like a seizure. She hasn't had one since, but she seems much more twitchy than she was before treatment. her color has not changed, she's still interested in food (though I feel like she has been spitting up food more often than usual), and she still seems herself. She is a little slower today, after the treatment.

Have you started any treatment for the illness?
- Ich-x and water changes
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase?
- no
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all?
- her appearance is the same. She has largely been the same, but today she has been a bit slower today. not swimming around as much, staying towards the bottom of the tank.

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 don't really know what's going on with her. I desperately want to make sure she lives, but I'm not sure I'm treating her right. her reaction to the ich-x treatment scared me, though I don't know if it was caused by the old water or the ich-x.
 

StarGirl

It doesnt really sound like anything to worry about right now. I would say dont add any more Ick meds. When you are not sure what is happening meds should be a very last resort. Water changes should always be first. If you see something weird grab your bucket.
I would try to do at least 50% once a week water changes because 7g will get bad faster than a bigger tank. You have a good size stock in there also. I would only use fresh water for changes too.
Then again your Neos kind of put a put a strain on that much water change. Maybe a few smaller ones a week? They cant do as big of swings as other stock.

Bettas do strange things like the cough thing you mentioned. :)
 

Rose of Sharon

Hi,

Sorry you are having issues with your little betta girl!

Ick can cause your betta to "cough" and/or have spasms, or flashing against the surface of the tank or tank decor. If you see the white dots, that is a tell-tale sign. Ick can also affect the betta's ability to breathe, so you might see her start to gasp for breath. If you could post a pic of her, that would be great!

I think that this issue may be linked to your water quality. When fish are stressed, bad things take advantage of weakened immune systems. I would do weekly water changes on your big tank to make sure you are keeping the water as pristine as possible. Also if you test your water once or twice a week, you will more likely catch any issue before it becomes a real problem.
 

GinkoTracks

It doesnt really sound like anything to worry about right now. I would say dont add any more Ick meds. When you are not sure what is happening meds should be a very last resort. Water changes should always be first. If you see something weird grab your bucket.
I would try to do at least 50% once a week water changes because 7g will get bad faster than a bigger tank. You have a good size stock in there also. I would only use fresh water for changes too.
Then again your Neos kind of put a put a strain on that much water change. Maybe a few smaller ones a week? They cant do as big of swings as other stock.

Bettas do strange things like the cough thing you mentioned. :)
I didn't think it was much to worry about at first either, but I have seen a few spots that look like ick. Its a bit difficult to tell on a koi betta, but they do look abnormal.

The tank is densely planted, and most of the time when I do weekly water changes and test the water the quality is fine - granted that may have changed since the move. I recently got started with school again, so I will admit I haven't been the greatest at check my water quality ^^'

I do use only freshwater! I just remineralize the RODI water with salty shrimp - I don't think it contains any salt in it, beyond what would be in a freshwater environment. I can't just put the RODI water in there because it's too pure, so I have to add minerals to the water manually.

I only have like one or two neos in there. TBH i was hoping my betta would eat them since they were supposed to be culls, but she's too much of a softie to do it I guess lol
Hi,

Sorry you are having issues with your little betta girl!

Ick can cause your betta to "cough" and/or have spasms, or flashing against the surface of the tank or tank decor. If you see the white dots, that is a tell-tale sign. Ick can also affect the betta's ability to breathe, so you might see her start to gasp for breath. If you could post a pic of her, that would be great!

I think that this issue may be linked to your water quality. When fish are stressed, bad things take advantage of weakened immune systems. I would do weekly water changes on your big tank to make sure you are keeping the water as pristine as possible. Also if you test your water once or twice a week, you will more likely catch any issue before it becomes a real problem.
I did some research and I have seen that, which is why I'm hoping I'm making the right decision. I will say that I have her near my office, and the lights are on in there for a very long time - I'm a grad student, I study a lot. And she is near a window. I'm sure the water quality probably played a role, but do you think that not giving her enough time to sleep could've stressed her out too?

I will do my best to get back into the routine of checking my water quality for sure. They were pretty settled before I moved, but I shouldn't assume they are fine after being taken down and stored in buckets for over a day during my move.

I did try to post a video I took of her, but it didn't let me. Do you know how I can do that?

And do you think I should continue the Ich treatment?
 

Rose of Sharon

I think that the way people post videos is by going through youtube, or something like that. You can post a picture directly into your post.

I don't think that having her in a bucket for one day while you move her would cause the issue. If you see the white dots, like salt, over her body, then I would continue to use the ick treatment. But I would put her into a container that could act as a hospital tank. I use a big glass cookie jar. Some people use plastic totes. I even saw one person on this forum us a juice dispenser. If you have a air stone, and maybe a very small cheap heater, that would be perfect.

It will be easier to dose her in a hospital tank/setting than to dose her in your tank. Usually these meds will mess with your cycle, so that is why it is best to put the ill fish into a different setting. The tricky part is getting the dosage right based on the amount of water in your hospital tank. You will need to track that carefully, so you don't accidentally over-dose her. It would also be easier for you to do daily water changes if she is in a smaller set up.

If you could get her temp up to around 86 degrees, that might help shorten the life cycle of the parasites, too. She will be able to withstand that temp for a few days while you dose her. You will just want to make sure that she has either an air stone for circulation, or be able to reach for top for oxygen, as the meds and heat will take a lot of oxygen out of her water. Bettas breathe air from the top of the tank, anyway, so as long as she can reach the top with ease, she should be ok.

I do hope that this helps!!!!
 

StarGirl

I didn't think it was much to worry about at first either, but I have seen a few spots that look like ick. Its a bit difficult to tell on a koi betta, but they do look abnormal.

The tank is densely planted, and most of the time when I do weekly water changes and test the water the quality is fine - granted that may have changed since the move. I recently got started with school again, so I will admit I haven't been the greatest at check my water quality ^^'

I do use only freshwater! I just remineralize the RODI water with salty shrimp - I don't think it contains any salt in it, beyond what would be in a freshwater environment. I can't just put the RODI water in there because it's too pure, so I have to add minerals to the water manually.

I only have like one or two neos in there. TBH i was hoping my betta would eat them since they were supposed to be culls, but she's too much of a softie to do it I guess lol

I did some research and I have seen that, which is why I'm hoping I'm making the right decision. I will say that I have her near my office, and the lights are on in there for a very long time - I'm a grad student, I study a lot. And she is near a window. I'm sure the water quality probably played a role, but do you think that not giving her enough time to sleep could've stressed her out too?

I will do my best to get back into the routine of checking my water quality for sure. They were pretty settled before I moved, but I shouldn't assume they are fine after being taken down and stored in buckets for over a day during my move.

I did try to post a video I took of her, but it didn't let me. Do you know how I can do that?

And do you think I should continue the Ich treatment?
Yeah you have to download the video to a service like youtube then you can share the link on your post.
 

GinkoTracks


Alright, I managed to get the videos up. Hopefully those work! Rose of Sharon StarGirl

yeah, she didn’t show any signs of stress after the move, she settled in pretty well. Which is why I’m wondering about the lights thing, since I know having lights on for too long can stress fish out. Maybe I should get a black cloth to put over her tank when her light goes out lol, like she’s a bird.

it’s kind of hard to see in the video, but I do still see some white spots. I do have some spare buckets from the move that could work, and I’ll put her spare filter in there too. I’ll just move the heater from the tank to the bucket, I think the shrimp will live for a few days without it.

I was planning on treating her through the weekends, and hopefully that’ll be enough. I missed her dose last night unfortunately, but I’ll make sure to do it soon.
StarGirl Rose of Sharon

so an update: I decided to do another dose in her regular tank, because she seemed to be doing so well. No more coughing, no twitchiness, just the few spots I thought looked like ich. So I did a 1/3 water change and added 3ml of the meds - less then au had last time.

but then she started coughing and twitching again - but only after I had added the meds. Which is actually similar to what happened earlier, though she had been coughing prior to that first dose. I did a quick water change, added some fresh water, and cleaned out the filter (I’m due for filter maintenance and there was some NASTY build up in there. It looks a bit better now). She seems to better again, if a bit out of it. She is still coughing and a bit twitchy, but less than before. She hasn’t gone to hide, she’s still roaming around the tank.

now I’m not really sure what to do. I suppose I could be over reacting about those spots - she is a koi Betta after all. But I’m pretty sure I still see some abnormal spots. And really, it seems like she didn’t react well to the Ich-x. I have some other parasite meds I could use (paracleanse and Prazipro), but maybe I should wait for a bit? Monitor the water quality, wait and see if any more white spots appear. I don’t know. I’m honestly not sure what to do here.
 

Rose of Sharon

She is a very pretty little girl!!!!


After looking at everything and reading about her reaction to the ich-x, I agree that you should stop dosing and wait to see what happens. If she really has ich, she will have more than just a few white spots. She seems to be swimming well, and not lethargic at all. I did see the coughing action that you were referring to. That may be a reflex of some kind, or it can also be that she is trying to release excess air from her swim bladder.

It sounds like she is having a bad reaction to the meds, so I would not use that particular med any longer. I did have a betta who had a bad reaction to erythromycin. They can be allergic, too.

I think that if you keep a close eye on her, and do some small frequent water changes to keep her water pretty pristine, that may take care the problem, if there is even a real problem. Just note any other symptoms if they occur.
 

StarGirl

You can also, if it is indeed Ick, slowly turn your heat up to 86 and add a airstone for 2 weeks. Keep the substrate and water really clean. This is the non meds way to treat Ick. The Neos may not like this either.
 

GinkoTracks

She is a very pretty little girl!!!!


After looking at everything and reading about her reaction to the ich-x, I agree that you should stop dosing and wait to see what happens. If she really has ich, she will have more than just a few white spots. She seems to be swimming well, and not lethargic at all. I did see the coughing action that you were referring to. That may be a reflex of some kind, or it can also be that she is trying to release excess air from her swim bladder.

It sounds like she is having a bad reaction to the meds, so I would not use that particular med any longer. I did have a betta who had a bad reaction to erythromycin. They can be allergic, too.

I think that if you keep a close eye on her, and do some small frequent water changes to keep her water pretty pristine, that may take care the problem, if there is even a real problem. Just note any other symptoms if they occur.
Thank you! I love her too, she's a sweetie. A bit of a coward too, which is funny for a betta lol.

Yeah, I think I will stop dosing her with that. I went ahead and added some carbon to the filter, to clean up any more Ich-X in the water (and as a bonus any ammonia cause there's some zeolite in there too).

I'll do that, and update this thread if anything happens over the next coming weeks!
You can also, if it is indeed Ick, slowly turn your heat up to 86 and add a airstone for 2 weeks. Keep the substrate and water really clean. This is the non meds way to treat Ick. The Neos may not like this either.
Yeah, I think that's what I'll try if it is Ich. I'm not attached to the neos, so as long as the amanos can survive that treatment I'm fine with it.

It mostly seems like I need to take a chill pill and stop freaking out over every little thing with my fish, haha ^^'
 

GinkoTracks

Rose of Sharon StarGirl hope you guys don’t mind me pinging you again. As you have probably figured out, I’m a huge worrywart when it comes to Punkin lol.

I did another water change today, just to make sure I got rid of the ich-x still left in the water, and took another video of her. She still seems a tad twitchy to me, but that could be the after effects of her bad reaction.

the other thing I wanted to ask about is in the pictures attached. It almost seems like she’s a little lopsided, looking top down. Like one side of her belly sticks out more than the other. I know crowntail females can look pretty wonky, but I wanted to check with you guys. I don’t want her to be constipated. I have frozen daphnia I can feed her if she is though, I fed her some pretty big pellets last week. I’m wary of skipping any more days of feeding, since I didn’t feed her Friday night and when I fed her last night she seemed REALLY hungry.

Any advice is appreciated, even if it’s just to tell me I’m worrying too much again lol
Another video of Punkin shaking

 

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Rose of Sharon

Hi,

I don't mind helping at all! She looks fine to me. It's ok that she isn't perfectly symmetrical. I don't see that she is swollen or bloated from the top view or the side view. And I really don't see her twitching or shaking in the 2nd video.

I would recommend that you feed her frozen daphnia every week, just to keep things moving. And one fast day a week is enough to keep her healthy.

One of the best things to keep her healthy is to keep up with your water changes. I think that bad water conditions is probably the number one cause of betta illenss.

You are doing a good job! If you post to this thread, I will get an alert. Once you have posted 50 messages, you can pm me or Stargirl, too.
 

GinkoTracks

Hi,

I don't mind helping at all! She looks fine to me. It's ok that she isn't perfectly symmetrical. I don't see that she is swollen or bloated from the top view or the side view. And I really don't see her twitching or shaking in the 2nd video.

I would recommend that you feed her frozen daphnia every week, just to keep things moving. And one fast day a week is enough to keep her healthy.

One of the best things to keep her healthy is to keep up with your water changes. I think that bad water conditions is probably the number one cause of betta illenss.

You are doing a good job! If you post to this thread, I will get an alert. Once you have posted 50 messages, you can pm me or Stargirl, too.
Alright well I was about ready to do a victory lap after I read this reply and saw Punkin acting pretty normal today - until I saw her have another coughing fit. Like sinking to the bottom of the tank, just coughing fit. I checked the ph and it was 7.6, though I can’t tell if it was that actual number or just the indicator maxing out. Regardless, I did another water change. I’m wondering if I should seed the filter with media from my other tank, cause the ich-x might’ve crashed the tank.

also attached are more pics of her from today- I keep worrying about dropsy , but I don’t exactly trust myself to diagnose her with anything when that ich never spread or anything.

I can’t do much more than the water change tonight - I have a big test tomorrow. But Yeah, I really wish I could do something to get rid of that coughing. I’ve never seen her do it before all this
 

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Rose of Sharon

I hope that you did well on your test today!

From the new pics - specifically those from above, I am not seeing any sign of pineconing of her scales.

I am really stumped about the coughing, though. I am going to pull some of my fish health books to see if I can find any information about that behavior. By using just the internet, you don't always get the best information.

If she is eating and pooping ok, then it's not due to a blockage. I mean she doesn't have something lodged in her throat or digestive tract, or anything like that.

When she coughs, are you seeing her also release some air? You would see air bubbles rising to the top of the tank if she is. I have seen this behavior in a couple of my bettas in the past. Sometimes it means there is an issue with the swim bladder (please don't worry, it's just one example), or, it means nothing at all. They just release air sometimes.

I will go back and re-watch the videos that you posted.

Edit: The only thing that I can find that remotely sounds like coughing is dealing with either a swim bladder issue, or a gill/breathing problem. The gills are affected by ick, so that is why there is a reference to coughing there. Gills are affected with a few different parasites.

Swim bladder issues tend to lean towards too much buoyancy, or not enough. In a effort to control the position in the water, the fish will either expell air, or take air in at the top of the tank. Many things can affect the swim bladder, including constipation, fluid build up, tumors inside of the body, an injury...lots of stuff there.

The problem is that it's hard to tell at this point what is exactly wrong, if anything is even really wrong. If you see her start to balloon up, or struggle to swim correctly, then you can try a couple of epsom salt baths along with fast days and then feed her daphnia.

Until you see more symptoms, then it's hard to pin point a definite issue, and advise on a course of action.

For now, I would keep an eye on her, and closely watch for changes in her body, her color, her eating habits, her swimming ability, and her ability to breathe.

Please try not to fret. You are keeping her water clean, and you are keeping her at a stable temp (80 degrees is good). You are feeding her a good, nutritious diet. She has plenty of room to swim, and you have hiding places for her. As far as the light goes, you can cover her tank with a dark towel if you have to have the light on to study. I cover my tanks every night because of all of the night lights in our living room. Also, please remember that these fish are so over-bred, that many of them have genetic issues that are unknown to the buyer. Unless you know about the parent fish, then you won't know for certain if there isn't some genetically anomoly. So, chin up! Stay positive! Try not to worry! Show her love and affection! Play with her, and enjoy her!

And keep us updated!!!! :)
 

GinkoTracks

I hope that you did well on your test today!

From the new pics - specifically those from above, I am not seeing any sign of pineconing of her scales.

I am really stumped about the coughing, though. I am going to pull some of my fish health books to see if I can find any information about that behavior. By using just the internet, you don't always get the best information.

If she is eating and pooping ok, then it's not due to a blockage. I mean she doesn't have something lodged in her throat or digestive tract, or anything like that.

When she coughs, are you seeing her also release some air? You would see air bubbles rising to the top of the tank if she is. I have seen this behavior in a couple of my bettas in the past. Sometimes it means there is an issue with the swim bladder (please don't worry, it's just one example), or, it means nothing at all. They just release air sometimes.

I will go back and re-watch the videos that you posted.

Edit: The only thing that I can find that remotely sounds like coughing is dealing with either a swim bladder issue, or a gill/breathing problem. The gills are affected by ick, so that is why there is a reference to coughing there. Gills are affected with a few different parasites.

Swim bladder issues tend to lean towards too much buoyancy, or not enough. In a effort to control the position in the water, the fish will either expell air, or take air in at the top of the tank. Many things can affect the swim bladder, including constipation, fluid build up, tumors inside of the body, an injury...lots of stuff there.

The problem is that it's hard to tell at this point what is exactly wrong, if anything is even really wrong. If you see her start to balloon up, or struggle to swim correctly, then you can try a couple of epsom salt baths along with fast days and then feed her daphnia.

Until you see more symptoms, then it's hard to pin point a definite issue, and advise on a course of action.

For now, I would keep an eye on her, and closely watch for changes in her body, her color, her eating habits, her swimming ability, and her ability to breathe.

Please try not to fret. You are keeping her water clean, and you are keeping her at a stable temp (80 degrees is good). You are feeding her a good, nutritious diet. She has plenty of room to swim, and you have hiding places for her. As far as the light goes, you can cover her tank with a dark towel if you have to have the light on to study. I cover my tanks every night because of all of the night lights in our living room. Also, please remember that these fish are so over-bred, that many of them have genetic issues that are unknown to the buyer. Unless you know about the parent fish, then you won't know for certain if there isn't some genetically anomoly. So, chin up! Stay positive! Try not to worry! Show her love and affection! Play with her, and enjoy her!

And keep us updated!!!! :)
My test...went lol. I did my best, and I'll hope for the best. Im glad to be done with it, but now I have to start studying for the 2 other quizzes and 1 other test I have this week :,3 Punkin chose a horrible time to get sick.

It is a huge relief to hear you don't think she has dropsy! I've never had a fish with it before, and though I've seen pictures I suppose its a different beast in person. It doesn't exactly help that crown tail females look wonky all the time either. Glad that right now it just seems to be another thing I was worried about for no reason.

She is definitely eating well! if nothing else, she seems to be hungrier than she usually is. I think I saw her poop the other day too - its a bit difficult to tell the difference between shrimp and snail poop and her poop, especially on aqua soil. But I think I saw it falling from her, so I'm pretty sure it was hers lol. It looks brown and normal, as far as I could tell! It also might've looked a little small, but I'm not familiar with normal betta poop size XD.

I've seen her release some air when she coughs I think, but only rarely. I think I usually see it towards the beginning of the coughing fit. Most of the coughing expels no bubbles. She doesn't seem to have much trouble controlling her level in the water, though I have noticed her backside tends to drop below her head - so that she's kind of at an angle in the water. I also feel like she might be going up to get air more often than usual, but I'm not sure about that.

The ick that I thought she might've had never seemed to have spread - it seems like some of her scales were just becoming more white. I feel like I've heard that some parasites can target the gills and the gills only though. What signs of gill parasites be?

Epsom salt is the same as aquarium salt, right? Cause I do have aquarium salt on hand, as well as several kinds of medication. I'll admit I'm a little wary to try other medications after her reaction to ich-x, but I don't think anything else has Malachite green as the active ingredient so hopefully she should be ok - unless she was reacting to something else in the meds. I suppose I'll never know.

The lack of certainty is driving me nuts, as I'm sure you've figured out ^^' without a clear idea of what's going on, I tend to catastrophize and assume the worst possible thing is happening. I will definitely keep an eye on her though! I'm going to test her water fully tonight, and see how that is. Hopefully better, since this week is super busy and It'd be nice if I didn't have to keep doing daily water changes.

I have actually started covering her tank with a blanket later on in the night! If nothing else, it makes me feel better about staying up to study. I also have her tank by a window, so I hope the light coming through the blinds isn't heating up the tank too much. I have some black cling I could put on the back of her tank, but I worry that putting that there would make any temperature problems worse.

Thank you for all the sweet comments! They made me feel better, and honestly made me tear up a bit, haha. I am truly trying my best. I just hope my best will be enough to get her through whatever this is. I really want her to at least make it to her one year anniversary, which would be this November.

I will definitely keep you guys updated!

Also, slight tangent. May I ask what fish health books you have/do you have any recommendations? I haven't heard of any, and they sound like an interesting read (I don't mind if its technical either btw)!

edit: Oh, I forgot to note! I think i've seen Punkin rub up against the filter and sponge a few times, which may be of note.
Edit edit: something else I forgot to mention: I feel like lately I’ve been seeing her have these twitch fits. Like she’ll be swimming pretty normally, and then suddenly twitch onto her side and curve a bit. She twitch there a few times then go back to normal. Doesn’t last ONF enough for me to record or really do much of anything about.
 

Rose of Sharon

Epsom salt and aquarium salt do different things. Pure epsom salt with no scent or additives can be used in a bath. It should never go directly into the tank. It is used as a bath to help constipated fish, or bloated fish, to pass what is blocking them. It is also used to help fish that actually have dropsy. Epsom salt will help release some of the excess fluid build up.

Aquarium salt helps to promote healing in fish. It helps with some breathing issues as well. It can be used directly in the tank, but invertebrates and some plants have a problem with it. Salt can help retain fluid, so you wouldn't want to use it for bloat or dropsy.

It is good that she doesn't have ich. I am glad about that!

If she were really rubbing/flashing against objects in the tank, you would see her do it a lot. Bettas are very curious, and they will rub against objects just because they are checking them out. There is a difference between investigating and flashing due to illness or parasites.

As far as her being tail down in the water, that is fine. It's when they are constantly on the bottom or at the top, or can't control their swimming that would be a sign of a swim bladder issue. My betta stays at an angle a lot, too.

I got most of my fish health books from Amazon. Some are on the expensive side. I currently have the Manual of Fish Health (Andrews, Exell, and Carrington), which is a fairly straightforward book. I have Foundamentals of Ornamental Fish Health ed by Hellen Roberts, and that one is pretty scholarly. Right now, I have my eye on a book titled Fish Disease Diagnosis and Treatment by Edward Noga. His book is referenced a lot in the literature that I have read. And I sometimes will check out google scholar, and see if there has been a paper published or study done on a certain fish disease. I wasted money on a few books about bettas that I won't even mention. They will have chapters about fish health, but for the most part, it's filled with info that looks like it came directly from web sites. I refer to them now and then, but not very often.
If you want to look for something, then I would look for a book that students in vet health would need. But if you do look for one, be aware that these books advise that many sick fish be euthanized a lot of the time. The Fundamentals book does have a lot of nice charts that talk about meds, dosages, etc. If you are at a college or university that has some type of veternarian program, you could always either go to the campus book store to see what is available, or you could e-mail the lead professer of the program and ask for book recommendations, if you are really interested.

Do well on your other tests this week!!!
 

GinkoTracks

Epsom salt and aquarium salt do different things. Pure epsom salt with no scent or additives can be used in a bath. It should never go directly into the tank. It is used as a bath to help constipated fish, or bloated fish, to pass what is blocking them. It is also used to help fish that actually have dropsy. Epsom salt will help release some of the excess fluid build up.

Aquarium salt helps to promote healing in fish. It helps with some breathing issues as well. It can be used directly in the tank, but invertebrates and some plants have a problem with it. Salt can help retain fluid, so you wouldn't want to use it for bloat or dropsy.

It is good that she doesn't have ich. I am glad about that!

If she were really rubbing/flashing against objects in the tank, you would see her do it a lot. Bettas are very curious, and they will rub against objects just because they are checking them out. There is a difference between investigating and flashing due to illness or parasites.

As far as her being tail down in the water, that is fine. It's when they are constantly on the bottom or at the top, or can't control their swimming that would be a sign of a swim bladder issue. My betta stays at an angle a lot, too.

I got most of my fish health books from Amazon. Some are on the expensive side. I currently have the Manual of Fish Health (Andrews, Exell, and Carrington), which is a fairly straightforward book. I have Foundamentals of Ornamental Fish Health ed by Hellen Roberts, and that one is pretty scholarly. Right now, I have my eye on a book titled Fish Disease Diagnosis and Treatment by Edward Noga. His book is referenced a lot in the literature that I have read. And I sometimes will check out google scholar, and see if there has been a paper published or study done on a certain fish disease. I wasted money on a few books about bettas that I won't even mention. They will have chapters about fish health, but for the most part, it's filled with info that looks like it came directly from web sites. I refer to them now and then, but not very often.
If you want to look for something, then I would look for a book that students in vet health would need. But if you do look for one, be aware that these books advise that many sick fish be euthanized a lot of the time. The Fundamentals book does have a lot of nice charts that talk about meds, dosages, etc. If you are at a college or university that has some type of veternarian program, you could always either go to the campus book store to see what is available, or you could e-mail the lead professer of the program and ask for book recommendations, if you are really interested.

Do well on your other tests this week!!!
Thank you for the fish book recommendations! I’ll see if I can get my hands on them at some point. I don’t know if my uni has anyone that specializes in vet health, but ill

And thank you for the clarification between epsom salt and aquarium salt! Do you have any recommendations? Because I think that’s something I would like to have on hand.

Alright then, it doesn’t sound like she was flashing then. At least that’s one thing ruled out!

I did a water test last night, and have attached the results. The ammonia and nitrites look good, but nitrates are high, and so is the pH. I’m going to try and do some filter maintenance along with another water change today, and hope that helps.

I’ve attached more pictures of Punkin too. She still seems to be acting herself, but I don’t like the look of her scales.



edit: I showed a picture of early stage dropsy to my dad (who knows nothing of fish care and desperately wants me to focus on my studies, even though he also cares about Punkin) and asked him to compare that to Punkin and he said he 100% didn't see it. So hopefully he's right and I'm just making a fool of myself on the internet again ^^'
 

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Rose of Sharon

Water changes are always good, especially if you have an ill fish. With your ph, the most important thing is to keep it steady. Sudden changes in ph will cause great fish stress, which in turn will can cause fish illness or immediate death. Your nitrates don't look super high to me. As long as you are around the 20 or so ppm range, you should be ok.

If it looks like she is bloated to you, or you think that her scales are sticking out a bit, then you can try doing an epsom salt bath. Any brand of epsom salt will do, as long as it does not have any added scents or additives (so avoid stuff like lavendar scented with aloe, etc.). You will want just plain epsom salts. You should be able to get it very cheaply at any pharmacy, or any store that sells things for first aid.

You will want to use one tablespoon per gallon of water. Use a separate, clean container for the bath. You can actually use some of her tank water. Dissolve the epsom salts in the water before you put her in. If you see that she reacts very strongly, or poops right away, or is stressed, take her out asap, and put her back into her tank. If she does not have an adverse reaction, you can keep her in the bath for 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure that the temp of the water matches the temp of the tank water. And make sure that you don't put her in a place where the bath will get cold. You can actually do a couple of epsom salt baths per day if they are needed. But I wouldn't do it unless it was necessary in case it stresses her out. Taking the fish out of her tank, and putting her in the bath is stressful.

Any brand of aquarium salt will do. I don't know where you are, but I get mine from Wal-Mart. It is called Jungle brand. I have some kind of generic epsom salts from Wal-Mart, too.

I am afraid that dropsy is not something that fish bounce back from. If you start seeing her scales start to pinecone out (stick out away from her body) then that is a sign of dropsy. Bloat usually affects the bottom half - the tummy area. Dropsy will affect the tummy and the sides, really in the places where her organs are - the digestive tract. From the last group of photos, looking down, I really don't see that. I can't really say if she is bloated because females do have thicker bodies. But you are there, and you know your fish better than any one else. Since she has been with you for a year, you can tell better than any photograph or video if her scales are starting to poke out because you see her every day.

Do they look like they are starting to poke out to you?

I am not sure what access you have to fish meds, or if you have a local fish store that you can go to. I don't, so I have to get everything on-line.

A combination of antibiotics are often recommended for dropsy - Kanaplex (kanamycin) along with Maracyn 2 (minocycline). Both treat gram negative bacteria, and that is usually what causes dropsy. Dropsy itself is not a disease, but a symptom that occurs from an underlying issue, like an internal bacterial or fungal infection. Bacteria live in your tank, and as long as the fish is healthy and not stressed, it can fight off any type of bug. This is why clean water and good husbandry is crucial to keeping healthy aquariums.

As dropsy progresses, it will get harder and harder for a fish to breathe. They stop eating, become completely lethargic, swell up with fluid, and lose their color. At that point, it is always better to lower the tank water and make sure that they have leaves to lay on so that they don't have to swim to get air. It is at that point that a recommendation is usually made to euthanize. I don't want to say any more about that right now.

If you truly think that you see her scales are pineconing, and you want to dose her with these meds, then I would strongly recommend that you do so in a hospital tank, not in your main tank. It is easier to dose in a small hospital setting, and you won't have to worry about killing off your beneficial bacteria in your main tank or losing your cycle. If she does not have a real issue, and you dose her with antibiotics, it can cause her harm. These meds can be really hard on the kidneys, and should only be used if you are sure that there is a reason. I don't mean to scare you, just want to caution you.

Again, dropsy is not something that most fish don't normally get over. Usually by the time you see the signs, there has been some kind of infection going for a while. Sometimes it is quick, and sometimes it takes days.

I will try to help as much as I can. I am not convinced that she has a real problem, from what I can see. That is why I am relying on you and your being aware of any changes in her body, routine, color, etc. I do have experience with dropsy, but unfortunately, at the time, I didn't know what was going on, so I did not see the signs and it was too late. And that is what prompted me to get into fish disease research, especially where bettas are concerned, and then branch out to other species of fish.

If you just do a quick search on bettas on this forum, you will see hundreds of posts about sick fish.

Please, please remember that many bettas are already immuno-compromised when we buy them. In other words, you did not cause this. The average betta splendens life span is 3 years, but I think that is even an inflated number depending on where you get your fish and how they were treated long before they even got to you. Fish from reputable breeders usually do better. Fish from Petco or Petsmart, not so much.

I hope having this information helps you, and maybe puts your mind at ease.

Hang in there!!! Sending good thoughts and prayers your way!!!
 

GinkoTracks

Water changes are always good, especially if you have an ill fish. With your ph, the most important thing is to keep it steady. Sudden changes in ph will cause great fish stress, which in turn will can cause fish illness or immediate death. Your nitrates don't look super high to me. As long as you are around the 20 or so ppm range, you should be ok.

If it looks like she is bloated to you, or you think that her scales are sticking out a bit, then you can try doing an epsom salt bath. Any brand of epsom salt will do, as long as it does not have any added scents or additives (so avoid stuff like lavendar scented with aloe, etc.). You will want just plain epsom salts. You should be able to get it very cheaply at any pharmacy, or any store that sells things for first aid.

You will want to use one tablespoon per gallon of water. Use a separate, clean container for the bath. You can actually use some of her tank water. Dissolve the epsom salts in the water before you put her in. If you see that she reacts very strongly, or poops right away, or is stressed, take her out asap, and put her back into her tank. If she does not have an adverse reaction, you can keep her in the bath for 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure that the temp of the water matches the temp of the tank water. And make sure that you don't put her in a place where the bath will get cold. You can actually do a couple of epsom salt baths per day if they are needed. But I wouldn't do it unless it was necessary in case it stresses her out. Taking the fish out of her tank, and putting her in the bath is stressful.

Any brand of aquarium salt will do. I don't know where you are, but I get mine from Wal-Mart. It is called Jungle brand. I have some kind of generic epsom salts from Wal-Mart, too.

I am afraid that dropsy is not something that fish bounce back from. If you start seeing her scales start to pinecone out (stick out away from her body) then that is a sign of dropsy. Bloat usually affects the bottom half - the tummy area. Dropsy will affect the tummy and the sides, really in the places where her organs are - the digestive tract. From the last group of photos, looking down, I really don't see that. I can't really say if she is bloated because females do have thicker bodies. But you are there, and you know your fish better than any one else. Since she has been with you for a year, you can tell better than any photograph or video if her scales are starting to poke out because you see her every day.

Do they look like they are starting to poke out to you?

I am not sure what access you have to fish meds, or if you have a local fish store that you can go to. I don't, so I have to get everything on-line.

A combination of antibiotics are often recommended for dropsy - Kanaplex (kanamycin) along with Maracyn 2 (minocycline). Both treat gram negative bacteria, and that is usually what causes dropsy. Dropsy itself is not a disease, but a symptom that occurs from an underlying issue, like an internal bacterial or fungal infection. Bacteria live in your tank, and as long as the fish is healthy and not stressed, it can fight off any type of bug. This is why clean water and good husbandry is crucial to keeping healthy aquariums.

As dropsy progresses, it will get harder and harder for a fish to breathe. They stop eating, become completely lethargic, swell up with fluid, and lose their color. At that point, it is always better to lower the tank water and make sure that they have leaves to lay on so that they don't have to swim to get air. It is at that point that a recommendation is usually made to euthanize. I don't want to say any more about that right now.

If you truly think that you see her scales are pineconing, and you want to dose her with these meds, then I would strongly recommend that you do so in a hospital tank, not in your main tank. It is easier to dose in a small hospital setting, and you won't have to worry about killing off your beneficial bacteria in your main tank or losing your cycle. If she does not have a real issue, and you dose her with antibiotics, it can cause her harm. These meds can be really hard on the kidneys, and should only be used if you are sure that there is a reason. I don't mean to scare you, just want to caution you.

Again, dropsy is not something that most fish don't normally get over. Usually by the time you see the signs, there has been some kind of infection going for a while. Sometimes it is quick, and sometimes it takes days.

I will try to help as much as I can. I am not convinced that she has a real problem, from what I can see. That is why I am relying on you and your being aware of any changes in her body, routine, color, etc. I do have experience with dropsy, but unfortunately, at the time, I didn't know what was going on, so I did not see the signs and it was too late. And that is what prompted me to get into fish disease research, especially where bettas are concerned, and then branch out to other species of fish.

If you just do a quick search on bettas on this forum, you will see hundreds of posts about sick fish.

Please, please remember that many bettas are already immuno-compromised when we buy them. In other words, you did not cause this. The average betta splendens life span is 3 years, but I think that is even an inflated number depending on where you get your fish and how they were treated long before they even got to you. Fish from reputable breeders usually do better. Fish from Petco or Petsmart, not so much.

I hope having this information helps you, and maybe puts your mind at ease.

Hang in there!!! Sending good thoughts and prayers your way!!!

I went ahead and did another water change for her tonight. I personally feel like she might be pine-coning a bit - but you don't, r/betta didn't, and none of my family members (who are all familiar with her) did either. So I'm holding off on that treatment for now, though once I realized I actually dont have gram-negative meds on hand I ordered some. I will at least have kanaplex on hand soon!

She doesn't seem to be flashing much at all, which is good. Though I do think she is keeping towards the bottom of the tank. She's still active though (I've seen her chase the shrimp and engage in what seems to be hunting behavior several times), so that may be because I have both a sponge filter and a HOB filter in there. I try to keep the HOB filter flowing weakly, but I think I've been seeing it push her around a few times. And I can't tell what the temp in there anymore is because I don't know whether to trust the readings on my cheap thermometer or the settings on my mildly expensive heater - they both say different temps that vary by at least 5 degrees F

That being said, I still have no idea what has been causing the coughing fits - which she still seems to be having every now and then. I managed to catch sight of her gills tonight when she turned into an awkward position, and from the glance I had at them they seemed healthy and red. Though I do feel like I might be seeing her gills move more than I would like, but not enough to be immediately concerning.

Do you think doing an aquarium salt bath might not be a bad idea? Just to catch any parasites or anything that might've been causing these fits. (tangential, but I was looking through my old pictures of Punkin, and I realized that I may have treated Punkin in the past with ich-x - and never had any kind of issues. So now I'm wondering what could've possibly been the cause for all this lol)

Thank you so much for all the well wishes, encouragement, advice, and prayers! It really means the world to me. I'll continue to keep you updated!

I'm truly hoping that all this is just a culmination of anxiety and stress, and that my brain decided to latch onto my fish and make me freak about that instead of my tests. And in light of the fact that I know I tend to worry over nothing, I will try to keep the OH GOD SHE HAS DROPSY pics to a minimum lol, unless I truly feel like something is wrong. I may throw in a couple of Almond leaves tomorrow too, since I figure they can't hurt.

edit: putting just one picture in here, just to ease my mind. This is her this morning
 

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Rose of Sharon

For a salt bath, I have read to dose anywhere from one teaspoon to five teaspoons per gallon of water. I think that if you want to try an aquarium salt bath, I might go somewhere in the middle, like maybe two teaspoons of aquarium salt dissolved into one gallon of tank water. The time would be the same - 15 to 20 minutes, but pulling her out if you see signs of stress. Aquarium salt will help if she has some breathing issues, too. If this will give you some peace of mind, then go ahead and give her a bath.

In the newest pic that you posted, it looks like the scales on the right side of her body (the right side as you are looking at the pic) may be barely sticking out a little, but that could be because of the angle of the picture, as it was taken from that side. But please do not get upset. It has been 7 days since your original post. I think that if she were sick, you would be starting to see a lot of bloat/fluid retention by now, along with scales beginning to really stick out as well.

You are a good betta parent. Many of us tend to stress over our beautiful betta babies. After reading so much, you tend to start seeing different issues every time you look at your betta. I was the same way after I lost that first betta to dropsy when I didn't know what the heck I was doing.

I still think that she's ok....

:)
 

GinkoTracks

For a salt bath, I have read to dose anywhere from one teaspoon to five teaspoons per gallon of water. I think that if you want to try an aquarium salt bath, I might go somewhere in the middle, like maybe two teaspoons of aquarium salt dissolved into one gallon of tank water. The time would be the same - 15 to 20 minutes, but pulling her out if you see signs of stress. Aquarium salt will help if she has some breathing issues, too. If this will give you some peace of mind, then go ahead and give her a bath.

In the newest pic that you posted, it looks like the scales on the right side of her body (the right side as you are looking at the pic) may be barely sticking out a little, but that could be because of the angle of the picture, as it was taken from that side. But please do not get upset. It has been 7 days since your original post. I think that if she were sick, you would be starting to see a lot of bloat/fluid retention by now, along with scales beginning to really stick out as well.

You are a good betta parent. Many of us tend to stress over our beautiful betta babies. After reading so much, you tend to start seeing different issues every time you look at your betta. I was the same way after I lost that first betta to dropsy when I didn't know what the heck I was doing.

I still think that she's ok....

:)
I was planning on doing a salt bath today, but it didn't happen because I was too busy in class and studying. I didn't do anything with her tank today - no water changes, nothing. I was just too busy. For better or for worse, I guess we'll see. She seemed to be herself though, and she looked the same as this morning.

"It has been 7 days since your original post. I think that if she were sick, you would be starting to see a lot of bloat/fluid retention by now, along with scales beginning to really stick out as well." You know, that is something that totally slipped my mind lol. I will admit I only started to see any changes with her scales a few days ago - though that may have been because I was looking for it.

I'll see how she looks tomorrow. Hopefully she'll be ok, because then I can head out for the weekend. I'm nervous to leave, but if she seems fine tomorrow I'm most likely good to go. I probably don't need to, but I will likely attach some photos in the morning ^^'

I hope you haven't minded helping me out so much. It really has kept me sane between my tests, and it means the world to me. And thank you for reiterating that I'm a good Betta mom - I do my best :,3
 

GinkoTracks

Hey,

Have a great weekend. And check this out, if you haven't yet....just in case you are interested!

FishLore.com College Scholarship
Oh wow, thank you! I’ll check that out!

Also here are the promised pictures. She came up to see me in the hopes of getting food. You think she’s ok and I’ll be good to leave her alone for the weekend?
 

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Rose of Sharon

Sorry, just getting to this now. She looks fine! Hope you enjoy your weekend!!! :)
 

GinkoTracks

Sorry, just getting to this now. She looks fine! Hope you enjoy your weekend!!! :)
So…I have some bad news. I did end up going home for the weekend, but only for a little while, because Punkin most definitely has dropsy. I started treatment for it on the first - kanaplex. Epsom salt baths and in the hospital tank, medicated food, increased temp- but she hasn’t gotten any better. Her pineconing has gotten worse, her color dull, and she’s become pretty lethargic. She’s still interested in food, and still comes up to say hi, but it seems difficult and tiring for her. She spends most of her time hovering in the little cube I have for her to hide in or lying against the bottom of the floor.

it’s…really hard. To see her like this. I don’t know if I should put her down yet though, because she still wants to eat - even if she isn’t getting any better.

I don’t know what to do. I haven’t had to put down a fish yet. I don’t know when it’s best to let them rest. I don’t want her to suffer unnecessarily.
 

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Rose of Sharon

I am soooo sorry!!!!! :(

I truly did not see that her scales were pineconing in the earlier pics. But I see it in the new pics, along with the bloat on either side of her body.

Treating with kanaplex along with maybe Maracyn 2 is usually the prescribed treatment, along with epsom salt baths. I personally believe in trying all that I can to save my fish.

I just hate it that these poor fish are so prone to disease. It's like they don't even have a shot! You can do every single thing right, provide them with the best of everything, and they still end up with some horrible something.

You will know when it's time to euthanize. When she gets to where she can't breathe, then it is time.

Clove oil is what you will need.

Again, so very sorry!!!!
 

GinkoTracks

It's alright, I think its a bit hard to tell with Koi bettas.

I gave her the last round of the kanaplex tonight, and should be getting maracyn 2 in the mail soon. she has gotten any better pine-coning wise, but she did seem a tad more active today than a few days ago. Still, I don't have much hope. She's so very bloated. But she still wants to eat, so I suppose I won't give up until she does.

I've been giving her epsom baths twice a day - she always seems to be breathing really hard and not moving much in those. I hope they aren't hurting more than they are helping. The concentration for the baths is 1tbsp/gal, which I think is the number I've seen on fish lore's dropsy page.

I still don't know what caused all this. The only thing I can really think of is that the Aquarium was by the window, and I haven't been as on top of my water changes as usual because of school. I definitely won't be doing that again.

I know I gave her a good life regardless, and that hopefully she will know that she was loved - even if she hates me right now for netting her for the epsom baths lol.

I ordered clove oil last week. if she loses her appetite, I'll let her go.

Thank you truly for all the help you gave me, even if it ended badly. I'll keep you updated on how this ends, for better or for worse.
 

Rose of Sharon

So, so sorry!!! It sounds like you are doing everything that you can to ease her symptoms.

And I think she might be scared, too, so that would also account for how she is acting in the bath. I try to use a container to get them out of the tank, like a large cup or plastic contanier. I find that nets are stressful.

I really do chalk this up to bad genetics. As they get older, it seems that most bettas can't fight anything. Bacteria is always in every aquarium. It's just that fish can usually fight off the issues with a healthy immune system.

I'm still hoping for a miracle for you and her!!!!
 

Rose of Sharon

Any update on Punkin? Are you doing ok?
 

GinkoTracks

Any update on Punkin? Are you doing ok?
She's been fairly active lately, even though her pineconing hasn't gotten any better. She also still has an appetite!

I'll be done with the kanaplex tonight, and will go ahead and start a double dose treatment of maracyn 2 and maracyn (or general cure/erythromycin if I don't have any maracyn). I'll be continuing the medicated food (focus and metroplex) and the epsom salt baths as well.

I realize its a harsh treatment but I figure that if it doesn't work she'll die anyway.

I'm doing alright. I've done a lot of my grieving before she's even died lol. I've mostly come to terms with the fact that I'm doing as much as physically possible, and that even if it doesn't work - I've given her a fantastic life. though I'm still very much NOT looking forward to putting her down, when the time comes.

I'm sorry I haven't updated you until now! There hasn't been much change except a slow increase in pineconing (she largely looks the same everyday, so its hard to tell if she's gotten worse or is staying the same).

Thank you for checking in on me, I really appreciate it :,3
 

Rose of Sharon

Sounds like you have it all in hand. You really are doing everything that you can for her. It is never easy to lose a pet. It's almost a blessing, if you will excuse that word, for them to pass quickly, then for them to linger. It can be emotionally exhausting.

Take care of yourself. Sending good thoughts your way!!!
 

GinkoTracks

Sounds like you have it all in hand. You really are doing everything that you can for her. It is never easy to lose a pet. It's almost a blessing, if you will excuse that word, for them to pass quickly, then for them to linger. It can be emotionally exhausting.

Take care of yourself. Sending good thoughts your way!!!
Thanks, I really am trying - though i've realized it probably won't work. But at least this way, I can say I did everything I physically could before she had to go.

And don't worry, I completely understand. To be honest, there's been a few times I've wished she would pass already, as awful as it sounds. I just can't bear to see her suffer, but I also can't make myself put her down until its absolutely obvious she doesn't want to continue anymore. It can absolutely be exhausting, because I am emotionally exhausted lol.

Thank you, I'm doing my best. And as always, I appreciate the kind thoughts :3
 

GinkoTracks

Sounds like you have it all in hand. You really are doing everything that you can for her. It is never easy to lose a pet. It's almost a blessing, if you will excuse that word, for them to pass quickly, then for them to linger. It can be emotionally exhausting.

Take care of yourself. Sending good thoughts your way!!!
I put her to rest today. She was suffering, and it was time.
 

Rose of Sharon

I am so sorry that you had to go through that!!!!! You did the best that you could for Punkin!!!! :(
 

GinkoTracks

I am so sorry that you had to go through that!!!!! You did the best that you could for Punkin!!!! :(
thank you. I really did do my best, but even with two treatments of antibiotics she wasn't getting any better. She probably would've died today even without the clove oil to be honest - she was done. I'm glad she isn't suffering anymore, though i wish she could've stayed around longer.

thank you so much for all the help you gave me throughout this. I wish it had a happier ending.

I'll be getting a new fish soon, maybe after a week or so. But I need some time to process, you know?
 

Rose of Sharon

Yes, I do know what you are saying. Give it a minute, and take your time.

You are a great betta mom!
 

StarGirl

So sorry! :(
It is really hard, but sometimes thats just how it goes no matter what we do. We have a special place in our hearts for special fish. SIP Punkin!
 

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