I am paranoid: scales, pectoral fins, and strange swimming

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antisen

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First, a quick summary:
Dory had been living in a bowl with infrequent water changes and inattentiveness on my part since I got him last summer. A few weeks ago he got sick with bouyancy problems and overall dead-looking-ness. A water change fixed this problem, but the research I did led me to drastically improve the way I take care of him and I bought him a 5-gallon Hex with a heater. Dory seemed pretty happy about this.

Before he got sick that first time, although I paid him a lot of attention I paid him very little CLOSE attention. Now that I am, I am seeing all sorts of things and have no idea whether any of them are normal for him.

For example, there are some odd-colored scales around his face. Most of his face is pink with brown splotches... these I know he has always had. However there are lighter-colored shiny bluish-white areas on his face (near gills and under body) that don't appear to be spreading... but I am in no way sure about them or what they are.

Another example is the appearance of his pectoral fins. Dory has had fin rot since his sick incident, but only on his tail fin and the other fins have all seemed better than ever after a treatment of bettafix and the new heated tank. For the last couple days I noticed happily that his pectoral fins were wide and healthy-looking, but today they seem very constricted/thin. Do pectoral fins even constrict, or could this be more rot?

Lastly, although he was totally enthralled about his new tank for the first two days, he seems kind of "worn out" and is floating at the top, moving very little. He is upright and doesn't seem to have any swim bladder issues, but when he tries to swim around he seems to "sink" just a tiny bit like he's too tired to be swimming around. He then returns to his little floating spot near the front of the tank. His swimming looks more "wiggly" than usual today... not unstable, but like he might be having trouble using his pectoral fins? Or maybe he is just tired? Or maybe I am totally exaggerating all of this?

Extra info, if it helps: He is on Maracyn and Maracyn 2 for his tail rot. I don't know if this could cause his change in mood, though it is certainly making the surface of the water murky and bubbly (not bubblenest bubbles ). I can't tell yet if it is helping his tail rot... the end of his tail is whitish/clear but I haven't determined if this is new growth or more deterioration. His ammonia and nitrites are 0. During the day his water stays at 81-83 but since the light is off at night it drops a little lower, 78-80.

I know this is a lot of information, but I really don't know what to make of any of it and in case there is something wrong I want to nip it in the bud. I figured people with more experience with different bettas would have more insight than I about any of these weird things... if in fact they're weird at all! Any information at all would be super-appreciated.

Thanks always,
Whitney
 

chickadee

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I guess since he is already being medicated the first question would be, did you remove the carbon filter? If you got a Hex5 that means taking out the filter cartridge and replacing it with filter floss or some type of bonded material without carbon. This can be found at any store that sells the stuff you stuff pillows with (100% polyester) or a quilt batt as long as you read that it does not contain other chemicals. (100% polyester there too) If the carbon is still in there, it is removing the medication almost as fast as you put it in there. I do not care if they say you can leave it in, the performance of meds lately leaves me to believe it needs all the help it can get.

You can also remove the cartridge and break a small hole in the plastic area on the bottom and simply dump out the carbon, you are going to have to put a new one in when the meds are done anyway.

Next, the temperature should not be falling below 80 at night so if it is then the temperature needs to be raised. I know he may be getting warmer during the day but as long as you have an airstone running he will be okay for oxygen content in the water. You can control the amount of bubbles with a knot in the airline if you do not have a valve to control it with.

Now when the tank lights and the room lights are off, try to shine a flashlight on him from above and do it calmly so it doesn't scare the dickens out of him. See if he will shine or if he is just his own sweet little self. I do not think that he has Velvet but when you mentioned shiny. Velvet makes them shine like they have gold dust on them...but only in the dark with a flashlight.

Pectoral fins can be clamped up next to his body if he is not feeling well but they would not be waving at you...are they? If they are still waving he is not clamping. The finrot can spread to them but unless they are really decreasing in overall size, I would doubt that this is what it is.

The medication can be having an effect on him energy wise. I know that antibiotics always make me kind of humdrum feeling. He was also used to being in a bowl and did not develop many muscles in that standing water. Now he has moving water to swim against and could very well be a bit tired. He needs to build up his strength.

Shimmying in the hindquarters during swimming could be a sign of water chemistry change or even constipation. Do you do the pea treats.

I would not get really too concerned about his behavior as long as he is swimming and eating like usual. If he is overeating (more than 5-6 bloodworms OR 2-3 pellets twice a day) then he could be having digestive or even swimbladder problems. Try fasting him for a day and giving pea treats for a day or two with no other food.

I hope some of this has helped. If you still have questions, please post them as I could have gotten a bit lost.

Rose
 
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antisen

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You answered most of my questions, and thanks so much.
I guess since he is already being medicated the first question would be, did you remove the carbon filter?
I took your advice and changed to a plain bonded filter pad before I started the meds, so they haven't been filtering out. So that's good.
Next, the temperature should not be falling below 80 at night so if it is then the temperature needs to be raised. I know he may be getting warmer during the day but as long as you have an airstone running he will be okay for oxygen content in the water. You can control the amount of bubbles with a knot in the airline if you do not have a valve to control it with.
I don't have an airstone in the tank, nor do I know what one is or how it relates to the heat. ??? What I think I will do is turn the heater up slightly at night and then back down in the morning when I flip the lights on, that way it should stay at about 83 all the time.
Shimmying in the hindquarters during swimming could be a sign of water chemistry change or even constipation. Do you do the pea treats.
I feed 2-3 betta biogold pellets twice a day and fed him some pea yesterday, so it shouldn't be constipation. He doesn't look bloated, either. How do I know if it's a problem with water chemistry change, and what could I do to help that?
I would not get really too concerned about his behavior as long as he is swimming and eating like usual.
His eating is normal, so I guess that's a good sign, but as I mentioned, his swimming/energy level isn't.

I'll also try the flashlight thing tonight and let you know how it goes.
Thanks again for all your help,
Whitney
 
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antisen

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Okay, not good!!! I am pretty positive he has velvet.

NOW what!?

Here are my thoughts: finish out the Maracyn treatment (2 more days), clear it from his water, and start fresh with Jungle Fungus Clear Tank Buddies(or Eliminator... what's the difference?), which should take care of both velvet and tail rot (I think). Or should I not wait that long to treat the velvet?
 

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Velvet needs to be treated with Coppersafe. You can use it together with Maracyn. He will also have to be in complete darkness for a couple weeks. That means covering his tank so no light gets in. That is the only way to get the parasites off him. Rose will be along shortly and can explain the whole procedure to you. Someone else one here went through this not too long ago. Maybe he/she can also explain what to do. Velvet can be very serious is not treated right away so pick up some Coppersafe today.
 

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Hi Whitney,

We went through the velvet treatment back in December - it's not easy.  We used CopperSafe and put our Betta in the darkest conditions we could for two weeks.

We had an airstone running (there are a number of reasons to aerate a tank and the warmer the tank gets, the more it needs to be aerated) as well as the filter.  The combined current was too much for our Betta, so the flow of air had to be cut back and a small bit of bulk filter pad had to be placed over the output of the filter to disperse the flow and cut the current.  As I knew we wouldn't see the fish for two weeks, we made sure his conditions were livable (currents weren't bouncing him off the walls) before putting him into the dark.

Aerating the tank is a matter of getting an air pump (Rena makes some good quiet ones, but I wouldn't get the small one), some air line (though they come in packages of several feet, you'll need at least 36 inches), a control valve (could use a gang valve), a check valve, and an air stone (even a small, 2 inch stone would suffice - ours has a suction cup attachment to pin it to the tank wall).

I don't know if your tank is cycled, ours wasn't (and still isn't due to complications arising after the velvet treatment, and which are still being addressed).  Consequently, we needed to do daily water changes.  Because the water changes were done with the tank submerged in darkness, vacuuming the gravel was not possible.  The only water we could change was that which we scooped out using a clean 16-ounce drinking glass.

Though I did everything I could think of to do before putting our Betta in the dark, a situation that assured we would be unable to see anything that went awry, there are things I would do differently today if I had to submerge ours into the darkness again.

First treatment, we had plastic plants in the tank.  If we had to do treatment today, I would not leave them in there.  Prior to the first treatment, I vacuumed the gravel with every water change (in fact, it was the only water extraction method I used).  If we had to do treatment today, I'd be mega-aggressive with the gravel cleaning before starting the treatment.  First treatment, we used an airstone for aerating.  I'm now going to try a sponge filter in place of the air stone in our Hex 5 as it will aerate the tank and help assist the filter.  First treatment (the tank was not cycled), we used Stress Coat to condition the tank and replacement water.  If we had to do treatment today, I would use Amquel+ to help cut the ammo, nitrites and nitrates.

Before putting our Betta into the dark, we made sure the temp was kept stable at 84 degrees and that the Betta could handle the currents.  That was a 24-hour process.  To put our Betta in the dark, I lowered the water level enough to allow the tank to be more easily moved around and put it squarely in a brand new black trash bag.  I then put that assembly into the box that the Hex 5 came in, located the whole thing where it would be for two weeks, and filled the tank with new, aged, conditioned water.  Once the hood assembly was put back, there was very little light that could get in except through the light vent and access holes in the back.  Completely darkening the tank was only a matter of loosely draping the top of the bag over the hood of the tank.  But I made sure to leave enough of an opening to let the tank breathe.

Medicating with CopperSafe was a relatively simple thing.  I used the dose called for on the box.  For our Hex 5, it was 1 1/4 teaspoons for the first dose and 1/4 teaspoon in each gallon of replacement water.  CopperSafe is considered to be a stable medication.  So, when I took a gallon of water out for a water change, all I needed to do was replace the amount of CopperSafe extracted, 1/4 teaspoon.

I don't know where you are in the m1/m2 treatment, or if you plan to continue that during the treatment for the velvet.  I believe the three meds can be used simultaneously if you plan to continue treatment with the maracyns.

We avoided pea treats during the process and kept very close to a feeding schedule that wouldn't result in constipation or excess waste from the Betta.  I think it gave our Betta a bit of moral support to provide more frequent, but smaller feedings, so he knew we were "out there" and still thinking of him.  Rose suggested we converse with him regularly by putting our hand squarely on the wall of the tank while talking to help voice transmission.

As far as using the Jungle Labs products concurrently with CopperSafe, idk.  They may potentiate or otherwise interfere with the CopperSafe treatment.  You might want to consider finishing out the m1/m2 treatment and initiate it again after two weeks (Dory will need to be on the CopperSafe for at least three weeks) - anyone knowing how long the m1/m2 off-time is, feel free to chime in.

That's all I can think of for now.  Hopefully it helps.  Good luck to you and Dory.

Mike
 
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antisen

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Okay, either the whole forum wasn't working yesterday or it was just my computer, but I acted on my own on this one, and here's what I did so far:
  • I did a 25% water change with a thorough gravel cleaning.
  • I ran a carbon filter before and after this to eliminate the meds already in the tank. The instructions said Coppersafe could be used with Maracyn OR Maracyn2, but didn't specify both, so I didn't want to take any chances.
  • I removed the carbon filer and added the coppersafe.
  • I started the Maracyn treatment again (just Maracyn, not Maracyn II)
  • I've been keeping the light off in the tank.
Dory is already in a much better mood with his fins all spread out again and his normal energy level. I assume this is probably from the lower medication dosage, but it could be signs of improvement already.

As for your suggestions, I have a few problems.

At this point I won't be able to get any aeration into the tank because I'm totally out of money and don't drive.

The idea of that much darkness scares the **** out of me because he is JUST getting used to this new tank and also has tail rot. Me not being able to keep an eye on either seems like a bad idea. I would probably do as you say and take out all my plastic plants, but I can only imagine Dory sulking around with no plants to hide in and nothing fun to look at and it depresses me.... it seems like an awfully unpleasant experience.

My tank is not cycled either, and if at all possible I don't want to stop the process. Could I keep taking levels in the darkness and do partial water changes only when they spike?

I guess I'm just afraid I'll do more harm than good stressing him out like that at such a sensitive time. Shouldn't the Coppersafe and lower light conditions do the trick, or do you think he really won't recover without absolute darkness?
 

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The forum was down, it wasn't your computer.

Looks like you were busy with some tank work.  And, it's good to see Dory in a better mood.  I'm wondering how Dory is looking, any better?

As for submerging Dory into the darkness, it's what I understand needs to happen to get the parasites to let go.  I was told how to do the process by Rose and have read elsewhere that total darkness is the ticket to success with velvet treatment.

I, too, was leery of putting our Betta into a tank I couldn't see into.  The idea of putting him into darkness was something that arose within a week or two of me finding him with one of his fins hanging out of his mouth.  I had to physically intervene as he had chewed up and swallowed some of it already.  Our Betta's tank was also new and I had no idea how he'd deal with filter currents that seemed overwhelming for him and decorations he'd not seen before.  So, lowering our Betta into darkness for a two-week period was equally as scary to me.  But, if he had velvet, there was really no other choice.

I've not done the treatment without an air supply into the tank.  So, I can't tell you what will happen if you initiate the treatment without air in Dory's tank.  I do not recommend going without an air supply, though.

WRT plants/decorations, if I were to do the treatment again today, everything that could cause injury to our Betta would be pulled (even the gravel).

Our tank was not cycled, either.  I did 2-gallon water changes daily and that gave me a little face time with our Betta.  Though he needed to be in the dark, there was a little latitude given here.  As long as those few minutes spent a few times a day with our Betta occurred in semi-darkness (enough light that I could see to feed him or remove water without pouring it on the floor), it didn't seem to interfere with the treatment.  But the rest of the time, he was in the dark.

<a href=" link</a> gives a history of the lead up to our Betta's treatment if you'd like to see it.

I take it you are trying to cycle the tank with Dory in it.  For me that's uncharted territory so I have no suggestions for you.  I can say that I found the task of providing treatment along with water changes enough of a task.  Ours still isn't in a cycled tank, and we've had a packet of Bio-Spira sitting in the fridge since December 12.  I've just not been comfortable with the idea of going 7 days w/o a water change while treatment was underway, and that's how long you have to go w/o a water change when using Bio-Spira to cycle the tank.

Treating for velvet is not something you want to do unless you are certain Dory has the disorder.  I understand your fears about not seeing Dory for 2 weeks, the money angle and not being able to get to the store.  But if you are convinced Dory is ill with the disease, it may be better to treat and worry, than not treat at all.  I know I'd be doubly sure about our Betta before going through the routine again.  But if it was true that he had velvet, he'd go right back into the dark for a couple of weeks.

I know I didn't give much good-to-hear information, but I hope it was helpful anyway.

Mike
 
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antisen

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For now, I am treating Dory with a towel around his tank to keep out as much light as I can. I've also been keeping the lights out and shades drawn in my room. Pathetically enough I can't get out and get black trash bags and right now we only have white, so this is the best I can do for now. The original box is also unavailable as I turned it into a recycling bin last week

He still gets a little light while I feed him because he seems to have trouble finding the food otherwise I take this time to check on him... from what I see he looks very healthy aside from the shiny parts. He also gets super-happy when he sees my face checking his thermometer. Do you think it would be okay to let enough light in to take pictures, in order to get a good diagnosis from everyone here? I know I don't want to keep him in these conditions if he doesn't even have velvet.

Thanks for the link... reading what you went through has helped tremendously. For starters, I most closely identified the shiny coloring as "copper" as well, and it is most prevalent on his upper body. Additionally looking at the pictures at the beginning of the post, in full lighting Dory looks very similar to this. I this helps confirm the suspicion that it is probably velvet.

I also made the decision to keep the plants in... you're certainly right about not wanting him to get hurt on them, but since I do not have aeration in the tank I think he needs a place to rest near the surface.

Let me know your thoughts.

Thanks,
Whitney
 
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antisen

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Sorry to double-post but I just remembered I already took some pictures.

I took them in the dark with a flash to emulate what I see with the flashlight.

Poor Dory, these are rather unflattering pictures.
 

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My only experience with velvet is with our Betta and that does not make me an expert.  Hopefully some others can give the photos a look and provide their input.  The discoloration, however, is very similar to what our Betta had.

Good to see Dory is acting happy and eating.  Beyond being good signs, it makes it easier to treat your Betta.

You're going to be feeding, when you can, three small meals a day, and changing water pretty regularly.  That will give Dory a feeling he's not been forgotten.  I'd avoid as much light getting in as possible, though.  You don't want to have to go through multiple treatments.

I don't know how things are going to go without aeration.  Re-oxygenating the water is something needed on a number of levels, not just to supply air to the Betta. 

We'll have you and Dory in our thoughts and prayers.  Keep us posted on how things are going.

Mike
 

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Poor Dory. It is so sad to see our little fish in pain. Hopefully he will have a speedy recovery from his ailment. We are thinking of you.

CherryRose
 

chickadee

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I am sorry the pictures that I have show a much finer gold dust appearance like a salt shaker shook gold colored powdered sugar all over the fish. The parasites are very tiny and really look like dust when they have been pictured in the photos I have seen. I looked all over on the websites for pictures I could show here but could not find any. I am just so sorry.

I am sending all the best to you both and wish I could do more. I truly do believe that you need to aerate the tank as a good part of the treatment is to raise the tank temperature and that means your fish could suffer from oxygen starvation before the treatment is done.

Rose
 
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antisen

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Rose, do you think it is something else then? Should I continue to treat it like it is velvet?
 

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Since I cannot see the side picture that well, I am going to say yes, treat for Velvet as it will not hurt him and may save his life. I know it is a bit of work but I do believe that you love this fish and he is worth it. The more I look at the side of him, I cannot discount the fact that it may be Velvet and it is worth the treatment. Even if you only put the Coppersafe in and put him in the dark treatment and put the temperature at 82 it should work. It will just take patience.

Rose
 
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Okay, it's been a few days, so I'll update:

Dory is eating well (though sometimes it is hard to find his food in the dark!) and swimming well. He seems to be tending towards the surface of the tank... this may be an indication of the water quality or lack of aeration so I gave him a nice water change tonight. From what I can see through the darkness it looks like his tail is healing surprisingly well. My guess is that his tail rot was some sort of secondary infection of this problem all along because of how well it's healed since I started the Coppersafe. There are still shiny areas around his face but they SEEM to be getting better, though it is hard to tell because I lost my flashlight! All in all his demeaner seems fine and I think I'm doing the right thing (though I still wish I could afford aeration). It's just a waiting game at this point, I suppose.

His fins are more flared out than I have ever seen them (but not his gills, so not like he's angry about something). I don't know if this is a bad sign (stress?) or a good sign (happy + healthy in his new big, warm tank?). Let me know your thoughts.

Whitney
 

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It's good that Dory is eating well and active.  Swimming at the top is good, too.  In addition to Bettas being surface dwellers, he's likely coming up to visit when you open up his access port.  And, very good wrt the fin rot.  Often Bettas rest on the floor of the tank and may develop a case of it from the gravel.  If I treat again for something like velvet requiring darkness, I'll seriously consider a simultaneous treatment for any secondary diseases.

Bettas erecting their fins is normal.  At least it is for ours.  Unless he's resting, he'll show off his fins to us.  But it's not continuous and he only flares his gills when he thinks there is a threat.  If there is too much of that with Dory (and I'd include gill flaring), it could be a sign that he is really geared up about something.  Eventually it could result in him being stressed.  You'll have to be the judge about whether or not Dory's posturing is too much or just a sign of excitement to see you.

If you're not testing the water regularly you might want to consider daily water changes (if you're not already doing them) to make sure Dory doesn't get overwhelmed with toxic ammo levels.

I hope things continue going well.

Mike
 

chickadee

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His dorsal fins should always be waving. If they are clamped down to his sides they are an indication that he is not feeling well. So this is a good sign and it generally means "I feel good and am pretty happy now" The tail healing is great and the Coppersafe is a good medication to help keep the bacteria down so it could be working on more than one thing.

I am very encouraged by this report and think you have every right to be also. Congratulations.

Rose
 
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