Question Help determining a Betta's cause of death

Fae

Active Member
Member
Messages
168
Reaction score
102
Location
Vancouver Island, Canada
Experience
Just started
Okay so not my betta, but my 10 year old sisters.

I hadn't been to my mom's house since getting into fish, but had spoken on the phone to my little sister and she told me about her betta. She'd had him for almost 2 years. She told me he was in a jar and all the terrible things inexperienced people do without knowing better. Luckily, I had recently upgraded my betta from a 2.5g to a 5.5, and I had all the things to go with it, so when I visited last week I brought that for her.

I made sure to temp match, used prime and stability in the new tank as well as took the top layer of gravel from his jar. I did pour some clean water into his jar to help acclimate a little before adding him, but honestly I wasn't completely sure he was even alive.

He was laying at the bottom of the jar, on his side, completely fin-clamped. I couldn't tell if he was breathing because the jar walls were dirty. There was layers of old food and poo on and in between the gravel. Water was ice cold (no heater and our summers aren't terribly hot). According to my sister, he spent most if not all of his time laying on the bottom, barely even eating (she thought he was lazy, she didn't know better). Thankfully my parents are at least on well water, because they didn't dechlorinate (or temp match, I'm assuming)

How the poor thing was alive is beyond me, as I checked the ammonia levels after out of curiosity and it was AT LEAST .25 (light green). Probably what saved it was that the water would be dumped out but the gravel left undisturbed more or less. So basically what I'm getting at, is this fish was in living **** and suffocating constantly.

The first thing it did in the new tank was go straight to the undergravel filter output and put it's gills straight into the bubbles for a deeeeeeeep breath. It stayed there so long I thought he was dead until I checked him. I tried to feed him some gel food, but he wasn't interested. I explained to my sister that his stomach is about the size of his eye and not to feed him too much. I also gave her a turkey baster to suck up uneaten food. No idea if she followed my advice but I'd imagine she tried a little at least.

I brought a heater, but my mom didn't want it to go in in case the power shut off, since their house is kind of rural and it happens minimum like 4-5 times a year, usually doing winter. However, most of their heat is from a big fireplace, so I convinced her. The only problem was the outlet nearby only had 2 ports, and the light, filter, and heater were then at odds.

So I came back again yesterday, a week later, and checked on him. My sister and Mom were camping somewhere since Monday, and they had for whatever reason left the heater unplugged. Well, that poor little guy didn't make it. Not sure if it was the heater and related temperature swings, but he was decaying behind it (definitely could have drifted there though).
According to my step dad, he was swimming around for the first time in who knows how long before they left Monday, and seemed healthier. I'm puzzled at how he died, because the heater turning off seems like such a minor thing compared to what he's been through. The temperature swings wildly enough during the day, let alone the winter when the fire goes out overnight.

It could have been ammonia or nitrite poisoning, but I thought moving a fair amount of the gravel (and decorations + stability) would help establish the biofilter quickly enough, especially as it's an undergravel filter. Could the switch have been too sudden, even though it was to something healthier? Thinking about it now, I remember your supposed to do it gradually... But I couldn't leave him in that condition knowingly.

Honestly, I think it's for the best no matter what. That poor fish had suffered for too long and I think it was probably well past the point of being able to recover. At least he got to breathe and swim comfortably for a few days before he died.

I didn't see any obvious signs of infection, surprisingly. I'm going to take her to a LFS to get another betta when she gets back- do we need to strip the tank? I'll double check the parameters and change most of the water, but I'd rather not restart the cycle if I don't have to. There's a couple live plants and some decorations in there along with the gravel. He was dead in there for long enough to grow some clearish fungus in a cloud above him though.

I could also always bring some seeded media along and shove it in the UGF output.
 

SanDiegoRedneck

Well Known
Member
Messages
952
Reaction score
811
Fae said:
Okay so not my betta, but my 10 year old sisters.

I hadn't been to my mom's house since getting into fish, but had spoken on the phone to my little sister and she told me about her betta. She'd had him for almost 2 years. She told me he was in a jar and all the terrible things inexperienced people do without knowing better. Luckily, I had recently upgraded my betta from a 2.5g to a 5.5, and I had all the things to go with it, so when I visited last week I brought that for her.

I made sure to temp match, used prime and stability in the new tank as well as took the top layer of gravel from his jar. I did pour some clean water into his jar to help acclimate a little before adding him, but honestly I wasn't completely sure he was even alive.

He was laying at the bottom of the jar, on his side, completely fin-clamped. I couldn't tell if he was breathing because the jar walls were dirty. There was layers of old food and poo on and in between the gravel. Water was ice cold (no heater and our summers aren't terribly hot). According to my sister, he spent most if not all of his time laying on the bottom, barely even eating (she thought he was lazy, she didn't know better). Thankfully my parents are at least on well water, because they didn't dechlorinate (or temp match, I'm assuming)

How the poor thing was alive is beyond me, as I checked the ammonia levels after out of curiosity and it was AT LEAST .25 (light green). Probably what saved it was that the water would be dumped out but the gravel left undisturbed more or less. So basically what I'm getting at, is this fish was in living **** and suffocating constantly.

The first thing it did in the new tank was go straight to the undergravel filter output and put it's gills straight into the bubbles for a deeeeeeeep breath. It stayed there so long I thought he was dead until I checked him. I tried to feed him some gel food, but he wasn't interested. I explained to my sister that his stomach is about the size of his eye and not to feed him too much. I also gave her a turkey baster to suck up uneaten food. No idea if she followed my advice but I'd imagine she tried a little at least.

I brought a heater, but my mom didn't want it to go in in case the power shut off, since their house is kind of rural and it happens minimum like 4-5 times a year, usually doing winter. However, most of their heat is from a big fireplace, so I convinced her. The only problem was the outlet nearby only had 2 ports, and the light, filter, and heater were then at odds.

So I came back again yesterday, a week later, and checked on him. My sister and Mom were camping somewhere since Monday, and they had for whatever reason left the heater unplugged. Well, that poor little guy didn't make it. Not sure if it was the heater and related temperature swings, but he was decaying behind it (definitely could have drifted there though).
According to my step dad, he was swimming around for the first time in who knows how long before they left Monday, and seemed healthier. I'm puzzled at how he died, because the heater turning off seems like such a minor thing compared to what he's been through. The temperature swings wildly enough during the day, let alone the winter when the fire goes out overnight.

It could have been ammonia or nitrite poisoning, but I thought moving a fair amount of the gravel (and decorations + stability) would help establish the biofilter quickly enough, especially as it's an undergravel filter. Could the switch have been too sudden, even though it was to something healthier? Thinking about it now, I remember your supposed to do it gradually... But I couldn't leave him in that condition knowingly.

Honestly, I think it's for the best no matter what. That poor fish had suffered for too long and I think it was probably well past the point of being able to recover. At least he got to breathe and swim comfortably for a few days before he died.

I didn't see any obvious signs of infection, surprisingly. I'm going to take her to a LFS to get another betta when she gets back- do we need to strip the tank? I'll double check the parameters and change most of the water, but I'd rather not restart the cycle if I don't have to. There's a couple live plants and some decorations in there along with the gravel. He was dead in there for long enough to grow some clearish fungus in a cloud above him though.

I could also always bring some seeded media along and shove it in the UGF output.
Seeded filter media from established healthy tank can cycle a new tank in a day or two not weeks.
 

New Threads

Follow FishLore!

FishLore on Social Media

Online statistics

Members online
83
Guests online
2,246
Total visitors
2,329

Aquarium Photo Contests

Aquarium Calculator

Top Bottom