Help Betta with a swollen belly

Kaptain

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Hello, I’ve made a very large error and I’m looking for advice.
When I got my first fish last year my sister had told me that you could just plop frozen food in the tank and that would be okay, I trusted her because I was just starting out and she seemed to know a lot more than me. I gave both tanks some frozen brine shrimp last night only to turn the lights one this morning and boom, two bloated bettas(not gonna mention my make here since his bloating is very mild compared to hers).
After doing some research I learned that you’re supposed to soak frozen food and I feel really bad for not knowing that sooner but here we are.
Another issue here is that I have some vision issues and to me it kind of looks like she’s pineconing? Her energy level is the exact same and she swims around okay so I’m really confused as to whether or not this is indeed dropsy.
She’s in a filtered, heated 5 gallon with a nerite snail and some hitchhiking snails that I’m currently unable to identify.
Parameters are
-pH 7.8(I’m aware that it’s not ideal but I’m gonna make another thread about my struggles with pH pretty soon)
-ammonia 0 ppm
-nitrites 0 ppm
-nitrates 5.0 ppm
The tank has been running since Christmas and I got this girl from PetSmart about two weeks ago. I did a water change yesterday and I used API Tap Water Conditioner.
She usually eats two Omega One betta buffet pellets in the morning and at night but I had skipped the morning feed yesterday because I knew I’d be giving out brine shrimp.
I’m going to be fasting both bettas and I’m unsure if I should give them a pea afterwards since I’ve heard it’s not really good for them. I’m unable to get something like daphnia atm due to COVID but I do have epsom salt.
These are the best pictures I could get of her and any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

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AquaticQueen

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This sounds like dropsy. I would try adding some epsom salt and see what happens.
If she really is pineconing (I can't really tell) than I'm very sorry, but I have never heard of a fish surviving after it has pineconed.
 
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Kaptain

Kaptain

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AquaticQueen said:
This sounds like dropsy. I would try adding some epsom salt and see what happens.
If she really is pineconing (I can't really tell) than I'm very sorry, but I have never heard of a fish surviving after it has pineconed.
Ty for responding
Should I do a salt bath or should I just add the epsom salt directly into the tank? If it’s directly into the tank how much should I add?
If she gets worse I’ll probably euthanise her to avoid any discomfort since I’ve watched dropsy kill before and it was absolutely horrible to watch
 

AquaticQueen

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Kaptain said:
Ty for responding
Should I do a salt bath or should I just add the epsom salt directly into the tank? If it’s directly into the tank how much should I add?
If she gets worse I’ll probably euthanise her to avoid any discomfort since I’ve watched dropsy kill before and it was absolutely horrible to watch
I would probably add directly into the tank. The package should say, but I would probably do a tablespoon per gallon.
I hope she doesn't get worse.
 

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I had a female betta in a couple community tanks, she was a pig. She ate way too much, it's hard not to overfeed in a community setup. She lived a long life fat as can be. Hopefully its nothing serious, I loved my female Betta had her since she was a baby for 3 years. Amazing fish!
 

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Woah woah slow down, first of all you should not add Epsom salts directly to the tank, and second of all is this the first time you fed her frozen food?
 

andy305mia

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Up the temps a little help out her metabolism, give her a chance to come out of it. Not sure about salt, some swear by it, some fish simply can't stand it. I have a new unopened box of API salt still sitting there for about a year now, for what you never know!
 
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Kaptain

Kaptain

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andy305mia said:
I had a female betta in a couple community tanks, she was a pig. She ate way too much, it's hard not to overfeed in a community setup. She lived a long life fat as can be. Hopefully its nothing serious, I loved my female Betta had her since she was a baby for 3 years. Amazing fish!
She’s pretty small so I didn’t want to put her in my community tank(no matter how much I feed them my amanos will shred any fish that’s old, sick, or small) also as the day goes on the pineconing is getting way more obvious so I’m starting to think she does indeed have dropsy
 
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Kaptain

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AquaticQueen said:
I would probably add directly into the tank. The package should say, but I would probably do a tablespoon per gallon.
I hope she doesn't get worse.
As the day goes on the pineconing is getting more noticeable so I think she probably has dropsy
I’ll definitely try the epsom salt tho
 

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Yea Epsom salt and aquarium salt have totally different effects, aq salt is sodium chloride and Epsom is magnesium sulfate. Aq salt is safe in aquarium but Epsom is not. Aq salt irritates the slime coat which can dislodge external parasites and encourages slime production, you could say it draws fluid out. Epsom salt does the opposite and draws the fluid in. Humans can take it as well because it has a laxative effect- but it's painful, so it's not something to take lightly!

If you are using Epsom salts, make sure they're non-scented. For peace of mind, I use only some labeled for human consumption (they're cheap anyways). Make up a bath using tank water, I do 1 gallon and I stick an extra heater I have in there because you want the temp to stay the same. I've heard a variety of different amounts of salt to use, but I think 2 teaspoons a gallon is more than enough. My betta looked incredibly uncomfortable even in that and he loves aq salt baths. I'd probably do less tbh, like maybe just 1 tsp. Make sure it's completely dissolved before you add her.

Peas are safe to use sparingly for bettas. Yes they don't eat veggies in the wild. That's why peas produce a laxative effect- their intestines are very short because carnivores process rich animal matter quickly before it rots vs herbivores which need to spend more time extracting nutrients out of a large volume of fibre-rich greens etc. So peas, being high in fibre, go straight through your betta and take everything with it XD also, carnivores do get some veg matter in the guts of their prey and it's integral to their health, so it's NBD to feed a blanched pea every so often.
 
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Kaptain

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Fae said:
Woah woah slow down, first of all you should not add Epsom salts directly to the tank, and second of all is this the first time you fed her frozen food?
I haven’t added in any salts directly to the aquarium as of bow but I’m getting some mixed answers here so I’m not sure
This is the first time I’ve given this particular betta frozen food
 
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Kaptain

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andy305mia said:
Up the temps a little help out her metabolism, give her a chance to come out of it. Not sure about salt, some swear by it, some fish simply can't stand it. I have a new unopened box of API salt still sitting there for about a year now, for what you never know!
I have a box of API salt that I was told to use on my first fish when she had dropsy(this wasn’t in the same tank btw)
I’ll try upping the temp a bit to see if it helps

Fae said:
Yea Epsom salt and aquarium salt have totally different effects, aq salt is sodium chloride and Epsom is magnesium sulfate. Aq salt is safe in aquarium but Epsom is not. Aq salt irritates the slime coat which can dislodge external parasites and encourages slime production, you could say it draws fluid out. Epsom salt does the opposite and draws the fluid in. Humans can take it as well because it has a laxative effect- but it's painful, so it's not something to take lightly!

If you are using Epsom salts, make sure they're non-scented. For peace of mind, I use only some labeled for human consumption (they're cheap anyways). Make up a bath using tank water, I do 1 gallon and I stick an extra heater I have in there because you want the temp to stay the same. I've heard a variety of different amounts of salt to use, but I think 2 teaspoons a gallon is more than enough. My betta looked incredibly uncomfortable even in that and he loves aq salt baths. I'd probably do less tbh, like maybe just 1 tsp. Make sure it's completely dissolved before you add her.

Peas are safe to use sparingly for bettas. Yes they don't eat veggies in the wild. That's why peas produce a laxative effect- their intestines are very short because carnivores process rich animal matter quickly before it rots vs herbivores which need to spend more time extracting nutrients out of a large volume of fibre-rich greens etc. So peas, being high in fibre, go straight through your betta and take everything with it XD also, carnivores do get some veg matter in the guts of their prey and it's integral to their health, so it's NBD to feed a blanched pea every so often.

Please check out this website
As they are absolutely the best resource I've found for anything fish, they really know what they're talking about and explain things in a way that's easy to understand. They also have a really good line of medicine and are well respected in the industry!
Tysm for all of the advice you really saved me there, as of now I can’t really afford more medications though so I’ll have to do my best with what I have(In terms of meds I have API genral cure, melafix, and Seachem stress guard. I was going to stock up on different types of meds but there were some more important issues I had to take care of)
The more the day goes on it’s becoming more obvious that this is dropsy and not just bloating/constipation
Should I go ahead with the epsom salt bath? And if so do you have any tips for acclimating her?
 

AquaticQueen

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Fae said:
Yea Epsom salt and aquarium salt have totally different effects, aq salt is sodium chloride and Epsom is magnesium sulfate. Aq salt is safe in aquarium but Epsom is not. Aq salt irritates the slime coat which can dislodge external parasites and encourages slime production, you could say it draws fluid out. Epsom salt does the opposite and draws the fluid in. Humans can take it as well because it has a laxative effect- but it's painful, so it's not something to take lightly!
Wow, I did not know that. I was always under the impression they where the same thing. Thank you for correcting me.
 

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Kaptain said:
Tysm for all of the advice you really saved me there, as of now I can’t really afford more medications though so I’ll have to do my best with what I have(In terms of meds I have API genral cure, melafix, and Seachem stress guard. I was going to stock up on different types of meds but there were some more important issues I had to take care of)
The more the day goes on it’s becoming more obvious that this is dropsy and not just bloating/constipation
Should I go ahead with the epsom salt bath? And if so do you have any tips for acclimating her?
Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. Is she still kicking it? Just in case, I'll tell you what I would do.

If it is obvious it is dropsy, and she looks to be in pain, consider euthanizing her.
If she doesn't look to uncomfortable, try treatment.

You said this is the first time feeding her frozen food. I've never heard that you need to soak frozen first (although I do thaw mine), but even so one feeding wouldn't have been enough to cause dropsy. This has been building for a while. Is there a chance you're overfeeding her regularly?

Blanch a pea by putting it in a mug with some water in the microwave for about a minute. Cook it in until the skin burst; discard the skin and the hot water. Cool it down with cold water or wait. Add some tank water to your cup, and break the pea into a tiny piece. You should never feed more than the size of your bettas eye at one time- their stomachs are about the same size. Your betta will hopefully eat the pea.

Prepare an Epsom salt bath for her. If you have enough tank water, take 1 gallon out into a smaller container and either float that in your tank or stick a heater into it. Basically, keep the temp warm. If the hospital tank is too small, take as much as you can and mix up fresh water to add to it. Dissolve 2tsp Epsom salt. Make sure it fully dissolved before you add her. If you have an airstone, put it in as well on a very gentle setting.
Add your betta and keep your eye on her. If she starts to look panicey or uncomfortable, prepare to remove her. Keep her in for 10-15 minutes max. When you're ready to remove her, you want to reacclimate her. Take out 50% of the water in her bath and replace with unsalted tank water. Leave her in 5-10 minutes, then replace her in her tank. I usually do a water change while mine is in the bath since it takes so much water anyway.

If you're able to get your hands on some methylyn-blu, it's only about $10 and should help tremendously. You can add it to the bath and it calms the fish as well as it has an antibacterial effect.
 
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Kaptain

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Fae said:
Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. Is she still kicking it? Just in case, I'll tell you what I would do.

If it is obvious it is dropsy, and she looks to be in pain, consider euthanizing her.
If she doesn't look to uncomfortable, try treatment.

You said this is the first time feeding her frozen food. I've never heard that you need to soak frozen first (although I do thaw mine), but even so one feeding wouldn't have been enough to cause dropsy. This has been building for a while. Is there a chance you're overfeeding her regularly?

Blanch a pea by putting it in a mug with some water in the microwave for about a minute. Cook it in until the skin burst; discard the skin and the hot water. Cool it down with cold water or wait. Add some tank water to your cup, and break the pea into a tiny piece. You should never feed more than the size of your bettas eye at one time- their stomachs are about the same size. Your betta will hopefully eat the pea.

Prepare an Epsom salt bath for her. If you have enough tank water, take 1 gallon out into a smaller container and either float that in your tank or stick a heater into it. Basically, keep the temp warm. If the hospital tank is too small, take as much as you can and mix up fresh water to add to it. Dissolve 2tsp Epsom salt. Make sure it fully dissolved before you add her. If you have an airstone, put it in as well on a very gentle setting.
Add your betta and keep your eye on her. If she starts to look panicey or uncomfortable, prepare to remove her. Keep her in for 10-15 minutes max. When you're ready to remove her, you want to reacclimate her. Take out 50% of the water in her bath and replace with unsalted tank water. Leave her in 5-10 minutes, then replace her in her tank. I usually do a water change while mine is in the bath since it takes so much water anyway.

If you're able to get your hands on some methylyn-blu, it's only about $10 and should help tremendously. You can add it to the bath and it calms the fish as well as it has an antibacterial effect.

From the website I linked to before,
"Dropsy is basically a "Condition" or "Syndrome". In other words a symptom with many causes, often a mix of causes such as diet, osmoregulation, bacterial pathogens such as Aeromonas and generally affecting the kidneys...

What the aquarist often observes is a “pinecone” swelling generally caused by fluid building inside the body cavity (often involving the Kidneys), for this reason, reducing this swelling is an important step in effecting a cure... I would also note that since Aeromonas bacteria is a common cause of infections... that result in Dropsy and since this bacterium is often anaerobic; maintaining good circulation, aeration and overall good tank hygiene goes a long ways in treatment...

Sometimes liver issues are blamed for Dropsy, which is certainly possible, however liver malfunction and infections generally do not result in the classic "pinecone" Dropsy appearance...
Other issues blamed for Dropsy include swelling for egg impaction, swim bladder issues, Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, & Costia...
This said, besides treatment for a possible underlying infection, you want to take steps to remove the swelling."
Sorry for taking almost a week to get back to ya!
As of now I’ve tried peas and epsom salt but she’s begging to decline more and more so I think the most humane thing is to euthanise
I have a family friend bringing over some spare clove oil tomorrow
As for food I had been giving her two Omega One Betta Buffet pellets in the morning and at night and I was thinking more that the frozen food could’ve caused her symptoms to flare more(I probably didn’t express that correctly I’m sorry)
I’m wondering if this could’ve been contracted during her time at the store? The only thing I could see maybe being a hygiene issue was the lack of a proper gravel cleaner but my old siphon could get a pretty okay amount of stuff off of the gravel(I finally was able to acquire a proper cleaner)
Once I have more money I will be using it to stock up on fish meds to avoid anything like this in the future, once she’s gone the tank is going to be fully deconstructed, sanitised, and I’ll probably let it air out for at least a few weeks just to be completely safe
Thank you for all of your advice, have a wonderful day :)
 

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