Help! Bettas Sick And I Don’t Know What To Do!!

Hebebebe

Member
My poor Betta has started acting strange and I only got him from the pet store a day ago. He has constant laboured breathing, his fins are all curled in and he swims around the tank in a erratic way. Most of the time he curls up against the thermometer and doesn’t move for hours. I have a 18 litres tank with a heater and filter. But I don’t have any testing kits, can anyone help me??!

 

endlercollector

Member
I am so sorry to hear that he isn't well, but I suspect that he is just too traumatized from his trip to the LFS and his stay there. So many of them don't make it. I would not recommend running out and buying meds but rather looking at the basics: water parameters and temperature. Could you please tell us what you have?

I just saw that you're not familiar with the nitrogen cycle, which is ok, most people learn about it after they get fish, and we all limp along till we learn. Betta fish are among the best fish to learn on if they survive that first week home from the store.
 
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Hebebebe

Member
endlercollector said:
I just saw that you're not familiar with the nitrogen cycle, which is ok, most people learn about it after they get fish, and we all limp along till we learn. Betta fish are among the best fish to learn on if they survive that first week home from the store.
My tank is 27 degrees as I’ve read this is the best temperature for them to be in. I have a 18 litre tank that is an interpret edge glow with a heater.
 

endlercollector

Member
Hebebebe said:
My tank is 27 degrees as I’ve read this is the best temperature for them to be in. I have a 18 litre tank that is an interpret edge glow with a heater.
What dechlorinator did you use? Do you know if your local water is soft and acidic or hard and alkaline? Tell me about the filter and the media you're using.
 
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Hebebebe

Member
Hebebebe said:
My tank is 27 degrees as I’ve read this is the best temperature for them to be in. I have a 18 litre tank that is an interpret edge glow with a heater.
endlercollector said:
What dechlorinator did you use? Do you know if your local water is soft and acidic or hard and alkaline? Tell me about the filter and the media you're using.
I have used the I love pets tap safe for all my other tanks and had no problems. I am from the north east of England so my water is ‘moderately soft’. The filter is built into the tank
 

endlercollector

Member
Hebebebe said:
I have used the I love pets tap safe for all my other tanks and had no problems. I am from the north east of England so my water is ‘moderately soft’. The filter is built into the tank
OK, that's all good. I'm so jealous of your soft water--it's great for Bettas, gouramis, and neon tetras. At this point, I would recommend having a conversation with the LFS. Find out where the Betta was bred (probably in England just because Thailand is so far from you, but you never know). Go ahead and ask them about their general survival rate and about getting another one from them if this one doesn't make it. I would not medicate just because so many don't survive, meds can get expensive, and they don't do much good if the fish is already nearly DOA from the LFS. I know this can be upsetting, but be strong.
 

Mazeus

Member
HI and welcome,

If you don't have a test kit, I would suggest a large water change 75% or more. If the betta looks better fairly soon after the water change, then you know it is your water parameters.

How long was your tank running before you added the fish?
 
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Hebebebe

Member
endlercollector said:
OK, that's all good. I'm so jealous of your soft water--it's great for Bettas, gouramis, and neon tetras. At this point, I would recommend having a conversation with the LFS. Find out where the Betta was bred (probably in England just because Thailand is so far from you, but you never know). Go ahead and ask them about their general survival rate and about getting another one from them if this one doesn't make it. I would not medicate just because so many don't survive, meds can get expensive, and they don't do much good if the fish is already nearly DOA from the LFS. I know this can be upsetting, but be strong.
Thank you for your help, I have just changed half the water and added a air pump to see if it is the oxygen levels. He seems to be moving around more, maybe this is a good sign?

Mazeus said:
HI and welcome,

If you don't have a test kit, I would suggest a large water change 75% or more. If the betta looks better fairly soon after the water change, then you know it is your water parameters.

How long was your tank running before you added the fish?
I have just changed the water and the fish is moving around more but still has its fins curled inward. he seems to be aggravated and keeps rubbing against plants.
 

Mazeus

Member
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Hebebebe

Member
Mazeus said:
Are there any white spots on the betta?
not that I can see, but he is constantly hid away in a coconut cave so its hard to tell.
 

Mazeus

Member
Ok, I'd monitor him for a while, white spots could mean he has ich- a common disease Ichthyophthirius multifiliis - Wikipedia.

I would change the water daily whilst he seems sick. Clean water often is one of the best treatments for sick fish.

Could you tell us if you cycled the tank before adding the fish?
 
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Hebebebe

Member
cycle? How so? Sorry I'm just new to this all
 

Mazeus

Member
Hebebebe said:
cycle? How so? Sorry I'm just new to this all
No problem. I'll explain. Aquariums need to establish a cycle (called the nitrogen cycle). When fish are added to an aquarium they create waste (poo), this waste produces ammonia. Unfortunately ammonia is poisonous to the fish. Luckily, there is a bacteria that builds up in an aquarium (mainly in the filter media) that converts the ammonia to nitrite. Now nitrite is also poisonous to fish, but there is yet another bacteria that starts to build up in an aquarium that coverts the nitrites to nitrates. Nitrates aren't harmful to fish is small quantities. We need to do regular water changes to get rid of nitrates. A cycle is the procss of building up sufficient beneficial bacteria in the tank to take care of all ammonia and nitrites. So when someone asks if you have cycled your tank, they are asking if you have gone through the process of building up the beneficial bacteria in your aquarium. I think your answer is no. There are a few ways to cycle a tank, probably the easier is a fishless cycle (you do this before adding fish), but in your case you are going to be doing a fish in cycle. Because you won't have the beneficial bacteria (BB) in your tank yet, you will need to change the water daily to dilute the ammonia (and then the nitrites). I would strongly advise investing in a test kit, the API liquid test kit is highly recommended by members on this site, as you will need to regularly test your water to know when your tank is cycled.

You will also need water conditioner (I see you have some) because you will be doing regular water changes for a while (a tank can take weeks to cycle).

I suspect your fish was poorly because of the ammonia building up in your tank. The good news is this can be managed with daily water changes until your cycle is established.

We are here to help so feel free to ask any questions.
 
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Hebebebe

Member
I was completely unaware of this! so what should I do to make him better now aside from frequent water changes?? I was planning on talking to the pet store about it in the morning.
 

Mazeus

Member
There are some products they help speed up the process by adding bacteria starter to your aquarium I have seachem's stability, but this is really hard to find in the stores in the UK. I believe Tetra Safe Start is usually readily available. I've never used Tetra Safe Start so if you choose this product read the instructions carefully before using as I believe you don't need to do frequent water changes when using this product.
 
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Hebebebe

Member
Mazeus said:
There are some products they help speed up the process by adding bacteria starter to your aquarium I have seachem's stability, but this is really hard to find in the stores in the UK. I believe Tetra Safe Start is usually readily available. I've never used Tetra Safe Start so if you choose this product read the instructions carefully before using as I believe you don't need to do frequent water changes when using this product.
I already have Tetra Easy Balance and Aqua Safe, would any of these help? Ill go get safe start tomorrow thanks
 

Mazeus

Member
I only really use Seachem's products so I don't know about those two. Hopefuly, others may be able to advise.
 
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Hebebebe

Member
Mazeus said:
I only really use Seachem's products so I don't know about those two. Hopefuly, others may be able to advise.
Okay, thank you so much for your help
 

Mazeus

Member
Also, what store are you going to? The employees at Pets at home may not know that much about fish keeping. If there is an independent fish store or a branch of Maidenhead aquatics near you, I would go there instead.
 
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Hebebebe

Member
Mazeus said:
Also, what store are you going to? The employees at Pets at home may not know that much about fish keeping. If there is an independent fish store or a branch of Maidenhead aquatics near you, I would go there instead.
I got the Betta from the Pets at Home near me and was planning to go back as it was only a few days ago. what do you think I should do?
 

Mazeus

Member
Check and see if there is a maidenhead aquatics near you . I find Pets at home to be useless. A good fish store should have asked you about your tank and checked that you knew about the nitrogen cycle.
 
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Hebebebe

Member
what should I say and bring when I am there?
 

Mazeus

Member
If you tell them that you have a betta in an uncycled tank and were looking for some a product to help speed up the cycle (bacteria booster).

What I did was buy products off of Amazon (rather than buying from a shop), but if you definitely want to buy from a shop a specialist aquatics shop would be best.

Also see if you can buy an API liquid test kit. Maidenhead will try and sell you the test strips, IMO the liquid test kit is better. You may need to get this off of Amazon.
 

endlercollector

Member
So glad that you're able to get advice from someone in England who is familiar with these stores. The good news is that Bettas are by their very nature tough creatures and can handle fish-in cycling better than most. Just be gentle while you're doing the daily water changes. It sounds like he has a hiding place, so that's good. I used to do 10% daily water changes when I had a 10-gallon of neons. Doing it with the lights off can help and make sure that the new water is about the same temperature. Hope he perks up!
 
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Hebebebe

Member
I went to the store you suggested and they tested my water and everything was fine ie PH 7. But there was 0.5mg of ammonia so I have done another water change today and found an ammonia remover and given him some aquarium salts. He seems to have perked up a little but still not how he was originally, any suggestions on what else I can do?

Also he ate a little for the first time

Still not happy though
 

Dch48

Member
If he is eating that's a very good sign. He's probably just stressed from being in one of those little cups for too long. The water in those cups needs to be changed every day but I'm sure that rarely happens. Since he is now eating, he will probably start moving around more as long as you keep the ammonia level from getting too high. He can probably take up to a 1.0 level but I wouldn't let it go any higher than that. I did a fish in cycle with my betta and 2 snails in a 3.5 gallon tank ad it took exactly a month for the cycle to complete, even using Safe Start. My ammonia stayed at 1 for about 2 weeks , even with water changes. Then it went down and Nitrites went up for a few days until water changes brought them down. I just did a test today and I have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, and 5 nitrate. The 2 plants I put in after I started getting a nitrate reading are both doing great and starting to grow. As far as his fins go, if he is a veiltail, they very often look like their fins and tail are folded up. It's just how their fins grow. Other tail type fish will spread their tails a lot more. In my experience, veiltails also are less active than other types but maybe that's just been my luck. I have only had 3 Bettas in my life and the first 2 were veils. This Halfmoon I have now is far more active than either of the others were.
 
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Hebebebe

Member
I saw that he peeked up a little when I added the salt but has gone back to being isolated and not moving. I chose this from the store as I loved his bright colours of red and blue and he flared while I was choosing. What should I do with the ammonia remover?
 

Dch48

Member
They call those things ammonia removers but that's not actually what they do. They convert the toxic form of ammonia into non-toxic ammonium. Unfortunately, test kits like the API one show the total amount of both kinds of ammonia so you will still get a reading after using the "remover". Just remember this. If your temperature is like 78F and your pH is like 7.4, a reading of 1 ppm of ammonia will probably actually contain about .03 ppm of toxic ammonia.
 

Mazeus

Member
HI 0.5mg of ammonia is still high and can stress out the Betta. You need to keep up with the water changes until ammonia gets to 0.

Dch48 thankfully bettas in the UK are not sold in cups. All stores keep them in individual tanks (prob about 1gallon).
 
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Hebebebe

Member
As he hasn’t moved for a couple of hours, should I be worried?
 

Mazeus

Member
I'd do a big water change to see if he perks up.

The more I think about it, the more I am disappointed with maidenhead. They should not have advised that 0.5ppm ammonia is fine. A healthy tank has no ammonia. My rasboras start to struggle is there is even 0.25ppm of ammonia. Sorry about that, I thought they would be helpful, the store near me are really good.
 
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Hebebebe

Member
Sorry I must have worded it wrong. What I meant was that the store advised to water change, salts, ammonia remover because there was 0.5ppm of ammonia and they couldn’t find anything else to be causing a problem
 

Dch48

Member
All I can say is that my Betta lived through 2 weeks of 1.0 ammonia and then about 3 days of 1.0 nitrite and he's fine. he never showed any signs of stress and was active and eating voraciously the whole time. My personal opinion is that people worry too much over ammonia levels below 1.0 in fresh water. In saltwater, yes, it's toxic, but not in fresh unless the pH is 7.7 or above.
 

Mazeus

Member
Dch48- My betta looked near death when his tank went through a mini-cycle with 0.5ppm ammonia. You clearly have a strong betta, and that's great, but not all are that tough.
 

endlercollector

Member
See if he'll eat some blood worms (frozen, defrosted). If you can get live food, such as dero worms or daphnia, that would be good for strengthening his immune system. Chasing the live food a bit would also get him moving and interested in something.
 
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Hebebebe

Member
I’ve tried blood worms but he just kept in the same position, but the strange thing is he ate some flakes after I added the salt yesterday
 
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Hebebebe

Member
He just seems to be getting worse, anyone any ideas on what to do??
 

Mazeus

Member
When was the last time you did a water change?
 
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Hebebebe

Member
I came back today and he has completely gone back to normal, swimming around, flaring, interacting, eating etc! Thank you so much everyone for all your help x
 

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