Ich, debris, or something else?


Another newbie anxiety question from me. The sick neon debacle I went through earlier this week has me on edge, I guess. Over the last couple of days, I noticed my betta has scattered white spots on its body, and upon further inspection, one of the neons has them too, but a lot more. The spots aren’t raised and they’re spread pretty wide on the betta, and there’s a lot of particles in the water as you can see in the first photo, so I’m just as convinced it could just be debris that got caught on their bodies. Personality-wise the betta is fine, lively as ever and begging for food any time I pass the tank, but she is scratching herself on decor a fair bit. I’m asking just because I’m about to make a pet store run for filtration stuff so I’m curious if I should pick up something to prevent ich as well.


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It does look like it. You may want to pick up something. I would get IchX or Rid Ich if they are available. I wouldnt add anything until you know for sure it isnt just debris though.


Okay, new development on the betta front. This week and a half ain’t treating my tank well. So my betta has progressed to what you see in the photos. Again, the white spots aren’t dramatically raised and they’re tiny, but now it looks like she’s got fungus or something over her mouth, it almost seems sealed shut but she’ll gasp occasionally for air. She won’t eat, either. Her nose seems clear since she’s had her nostrils above water 97% of the time I’ve seen her. Can this be columnaris or a general fungus? The cory catfish have had no trace of anything yet, and the neons have the white specs but have been no worse for wear. I have aquarium salt and some meds coming, but I don’t have a quarantine tank; I’ve used a large pot as a last ditch effort before, so I’m curious how to proceed with dosing since there are only five fish total and only three are effected. Might put the catfish in the pot and dose the tank with the others inside.


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I believe with columnaris you will want to treat the whole tank. I don't have enough experience with that to advise you. I'll call in some reinforcement on how to treat it if that's what it is. A201 MacZ


Please use the emergency template. The pictures are inconclusive and otherwise I don't see much necessary info.


What is the water volume of the tank? 20 gal
How long has the tank been running? Since July 28th of this year
Does it have a filter? Yes
Does it have a heater? Yes
What is the water temperature? 78 F
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) 1 Betta, 2 Neon Tetras, 2 Leopard cory catfish, 1 nerite snail

How often do you change the water? Once a week
How much of the water do you change? Still playing with that. There changes ago I did 50%, the last two, including the latest two days ago was 25%
What do you use to treat your water? Seachem Prime
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? substrate mostly, but some water

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? Yes
What do you use to test the water? API Freshwater test
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: 0 -.25
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 5ppm
pH: 7.2
How often do you feed your fish? Twice a day
How much do you feed your fish? About half a pinch each feeding
What brand of food do you feed your fish? Tetramin
Do you feed frozen? No
Do you feed freeze-dried foods? Occasional freeze dried blood worms

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? Betta and corys- A month, neons 2.5 weeks

How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? This one is tricky. A couple of night after I bought the neons all of this started. I had bough five neons and three of them didn’t seem to be as in good condition as the others- sluggish. One died for unrelated reasons a day later. That night I left for dinner once to find one of the neons that hadn’t been in great shape had its jaw jammed open and it looked like some sort of fungus on its mouth, but I wasn’t sure. That same night the betta killed two of the questionable neons, so upon another inspection, it looked less like fungus abd more like it lost its use in a scuffle and I sort of assume the betta attacked it, but it was dead the next morning. Things were fine for about a week (bringing this to a week and a half from today, and I noticed weird white spots on the betta and neons, but the spots didn’t stick out like a sore thumb and the tank water was a bit gross so I wasn’t sure. Picked up an ich cure just in case, but the spots seemed to go away right after I bought it (but didn’t use it), then about two days ago I noticed the betta hiding behind the filter a lot, but assumed it was water quality issues since my filter isn’t great, made plans to get better filtration stuff this weekend. I also noticed the betta was sluggish and not eating, which was super bizarre. Then yesterday morning I finally noticed that it’s mouth had white grey edges (my bettas’s head is solid black/charcoal grey everywhere.) It also looked like it’s mouth was sealed shut, but she gasped for air successfullly at the surface a couple of times.

In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? Non-raised white spots, lack of appetite, white grey mouth film

Have you started any treatment for the illness? I put aquarium salt in the tank an hour ago, have been holding off on dosing meds just yet.

Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? The betta and cories were fine, neons were not, she might have picked something up from them

How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? Betta stays in top corner of tank, usually she’s energetic, has not eaten when she’s usually a bottomless pit, can’t say much about coloration because her fins have always never had a consistent color/she looks to be at the age where she starts coloring up a lot.

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) Explained in the “how long did they have symptoms” question


What is happening today? Do they look any different?


It’s hard to tell with the neons. They might have a few less white spots (I dosed with aquarium salt but after researching Pimafix and it’s potential effects on bettas I didn’t use it), but the betta is the exact same, not eating, keeping her nose and mouth above water and swimming back and forth into the corners of the tank or behind the filter. I’m at a total loss of what could be going on. I considered swim bladder for a while since she’s at a vertical diagonal a lot, but that still doesn’t account for the spots or whatever is going on with her mouth.


Yeah dont ever use any of the fixes on a Betta. It is just essential oils and messes with their labyrinth organ.

The Neons are doing what neons tend to do.....sadly. They are not very good stock now a days. You may get some good ones sometimes. Maybe try Cardinal tetras or Harlequin Rasboras? Ember tetras are my favorite smallies.

Watch the salt with your snail. A little is ok.

Keep doing 50% water changes every week. The cleaner it is and the closer parameters to your tap water will make it less stressful for your fish and you.

As for the Betta that is the one I dont know about. Your water is fine from what you have written so far. Can you get some new pics up? Im not so sure it is Ick for sure because of the mouth thing.


If the neons don’t make it (I hold no reservations of optimism there, I figure the betta and neons days are numbered) I might give embers a try. I’m tempted for cardinals but with a 20 high swimming around might get a little cramped. It also depends on whatever this ailment is progressing, too. Gonna wait it out a long while. It’s still so weird that the betta and neons show the spots but the cories are fine. As far as photos, she’s shoved herself between the back of the filter and the betta log, so i can’t get anything super clear. But I got a shot where you can see the discoloration, and a slightly decent profile of her mouth where it almost looks like a standard injury. Keeping up with this is a ride.


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An update: The bigger neon seems to be taking to the aquarium salt and some of its white spots are gone, the smaller one has next to no change, the cory catfish continue to be visibly unaffected so far, and the betta isn’t doing well at all. She spent a good portion of an hour last night trying to jump on top of the betta log or out of the water (again, conditions were fine last I tested, the other fish are behaving as usual) but now I’ve gotten some more photos of the betta and found an old post on here about a betta’s nose rot, I’m convinced that’s the case here. So I’m torn between keeping up with water changes and aquarium salt, stress coat (not doing them daily at all, just a rundown), trying a different med other than any of the -fixes, or putting the poor thing out of its misery if it’s just a general injury.


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Well, the betta didn’t make it through the night, all but two spots on the bigger neon are cleared up, 90% of what was on the smaller neon is cleared up, and the cories continue to be unbothered. Any last ideas on what either thing could’ve been? I definitely want to get replacement fish down the line, but I’m still apprehensive about a timeline with the neons’ ailment being a mystery. I want to give it two or three weeks after a thorough water change and cleaning if the neons continue to improve, but I’m also weary of adding more fish that the neons could infect.

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