My betta has gotten more bloated over the past month, please help me save her!

sassafras96

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Pictures can be found here: Click to see all photos because I have photos from today as well as from a month ago when all this started at the imgur link.

Sorry for the long text wall but there is a lot to explain. I noticed a little bit of swelling on my betta Sophie a little over a month ago, a strange lump on her left side that didn't look right. I have tried various things over the course of the last month to try and help, and she has just gotten progressively worse. The lump has turned into a huge bulge, and her abdomen has swelled out a ton. She is generally very bloated now and uncomfortable.

This is my first betta fish, and I have tried all I can to read about what this could be but I just don't know. I thought it was dropsy but there is no pineconing, and I figure she would have been long dead since this has been ongoing for a month. Aside from the bent spine and insane inflammation, she doesn't line up with other symptoms of dropsy like lack of appetite. She still has a huge appetite and still loves food. I wasn't sure if it was maybe constipation, so when this first cropped up I first fasted her and then fed her a deshelled thawed pea, but it didn't help and I've read from others that those actually make digestion problems worse because it's plant matter. I then started doing epsom salt baths, first for ten minutes and then eventually 15 minutes every day, but when it seemed like that wasn't helping after a week I bought some Maracyn Two because I read that can help dropsy since I wasn't sure if that's what it was. I did two courses of the Maracyn Two, following the directions on the box. She looked rough before the antibiotics but she didn't look nearly as bad as she does now afterwards so I'm not sure if the antibiotics hurt her kidneys but the antibiotics ended last Wednesday and she is still alive. I added back in the carbon filter after the antibiotics, and did a 90% water change. I made the mistake of not checking the water for awhile, which is something I have done a lot in the past, and when I checked the water this morning the ammonia levels were through the roof. I hadn't ever seen it that high. So I did another 90% water change this morning and fed her some daphnia. I put the parameters for pre water change and post water change at the end of my post. She has been more lethargic the past week since the end of the antibiotics, but I think it may have been partially due to the ammonia in addition to her discomfort. I had no idea the ammonia was so high and I feel so bad. I know she eats her food because I watch her eat it, but I could be putting too much food in the tank.

I have some clove oil and I almost euthanized this little girl last night but I just couldn't do it. She is still so active and has an appetite still despite her discomfort and I just know she wants to live. I told myself if I see no improvement by Friday this week I will end her discomfort. I have tried so many things to help her. I don't know how it could be dropsy because she has survived for so long and I hear that kills fish quickly. I'm thinking maybe the initial lump was a tumor of some kind, and maybe the bloating now is caused by constipation? It's hard to tell if there is any poop in the tank because a few months back I changed the gravel from black to more natural looking river gravel. But I see her poop sometimes.

Her tank is always at a cozy 80 degrees. She is in a 5 gallon MarineLand tank that came with a built in hidden filter. I used to feed her Aqueon Betta Pellets but recently bought some HikarI freeze-dried daphnia in case she is just incredibly constipated and have been feeding her that since Christmas with occasional pellets and bloodworms. I haven't added Aquarium Salt in a long time since I read it causes water retention which I imagine is the opposite of good right now. The ammonia tested very high because I believe the Maracyn Two killed a lot of the bad bacteria, I wasn't monitoring the parameters after the antibiotics which was a mistake. I don't know how accurate my water parameters are since I am using API test strips and the API ammonia kit but here they are as of this morning:

Pre Water Change:
Post Water Change:
  • Nitrites, Nitrates: 0
  • Ammonia: 0
The high ammonia levels obviously weren't helping but before the Maracyn Two the ammonia was consistently at 0ppm and I started the antibiotics because of her swelling.

I was going to try doing two salt baths a day, but wasn't sure if that would be too stressful for her. At the moment she gets an epsom salt bath every day for 15 minutes, I am going to be more diligent about daily 25% water changes until she gets better and I will also do daily water tests.

Please help Sophie! She wants to live and I figure I better do the best I can to help her do so. However if there is zero chance she will get better I am willing to euthanize.
 

SM1199

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With her advanced stage, I see just about zero chance of her improving from this. Antibiotics are the strongest of medications, and if they didn't work, I don't see any further possibilities. If I were you, I would do regular water changes to make sure she stays comfortable for the time being. If she is still moving and interested in food, I would just let her live as long as she is still eating and swimming, and euthanize when she stops one or both. Keep in mind feeding her is probably only going to make her more bloated, but if it makes her happy, I'd let her have her happiness in her final days. I would just feed half what you normally feed so it doesn't exaggerate her problems. If you want, you can try epsom salt baths, but I doubt at this stage it will do anything besides probably stress her out.

I work at a vet clinic (not for fish - but this concept still applies) and we frequently see old animals in advanced stages of disease. Often, the pets are ready to go before the owner is ready to let them. Owners meticulously look for every tiny indication of normal life (but he's wagging his tail! We can't euthanize him!) and use that as an excuse to prolong the animal's suffering. In reality, animals are great at hiding what's wrong, because evolutionarily that's what would keep them from being eaten.

Take this time you have left with her to come to terms with her passing before it happens. You will feel much better seeing this ahead of time, acknowledging it, accepting it and peacefully spending time with her than if you frantically try to save her and watch her die anyway. This is just my opinion, other people may offer different advice.
 

Sien

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how much are you feeding her? with the aqueon pellets they should only be fed 2 pellets a day or 3-4 pellets every other day. First thing I noticed that is concerning is she seems to be bloated on only 1 side. This could be a tumor that is rapidly growing or an internal injury. The meds likely threw off your cycle and that is why you are seeing an ammonia spike. Your tank is probably recycling. If you choose not to euthanize her, I would do daily water changes fo 30%. However, if she is worsening and you are ready to let go, I would take SM1199s advice :(. I'm sorry you are going through this difficult situation.
 
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sassafras96

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SM1199 said:
With her advanced stage, I see just about zero chance of her improving from this. Antibiotics are the strongest of medications, and if they didn't work, I don't see any further possibilities. If I were you, I would do regular water changes to make sure she stays comfortable for the time being. If she is still moving and interested in food, I would just let her live as long as she is still eating and swimming, and euthanize when she stops one or both. Keep in mind feeding her is probably only going to make her more bloated, but if it makes her happy, I'd let her have her happiness in her final days. I would just feed half what you normally feed so it doesn't exaggerate her problems. If you want, you can try epsom salt baths, but I doubt at this stage it will do anything besides probably stress her out.

I work at a vet clinic (not for fish - but this concept still applies) and we frequently see old animals in advanced stages of disease. Often, the pets are ready to go before the owner is ready to let them. Owners meticulously look for every tiny indication of normal life (but he's wagging his tail! We can't euthanize him!) and use that as an excuse to prolong the animal's suffering. In reality, animals are great at hiding what's wrong, because evolutionarily that's what would keep them from being eaten.

Take this time you have left with her to come to terms with her passing before it happens. You will feel much better seeing this ahead of time, acknowledging it, accepting it and peacefully spending time with her than if you frantically try to save her and watch her die anyway. This is just my opinion, other people may offer different advice.
Thank you for the advice. I'll make sure I change the water daily. I almost want to fast her again to see if some of the swelling goes down but it could just be a tumor, and fasting never worked before so there's no point in making her miserable for nothing. I don't want her in pain and it's selfish of me to keep her alive if she's suffering, so I'll keep an eye on her and if she stops eating or swimming I'll consider the clove oil. Thanks for taking a look at my Sophie.

Sien said:
how much are you feeding her? with the aqueon pellets they should only be fed 2 pellets a day or 3-4 pellets every other day. First thing I noticed that is concerning is she seems to be bloated on only 1 side. This could be a tumor that is rapidly growing or an internal injury. The meds likely threw off your cycle and that is why you are seeing an ammonia spike. Your tank is probably recycling. If you choose not to euthanize her, I would do daily water changes fo 30%. However, if she is worsening and you are ready to let go, I would take SM1199s advice :(. I'm sorry you are going through this difficult situation.
Yeah, I'm starting to realize I was likely overfeeding her. She is eating daphnia now, although it hasn't helped. But I was feeding far more than 2 of the aqueon pellets a day, the pellets just seemed so tiny and she always seemed hungry and I didn't want to starve her. But I know now that bettas just love food and will eat more than they need. The tumor lump on the side came first, and the abdominal bloating was there before but definitely worsened over the course of the antibiotics. I'll keep on the water changes, she grew more lethargic over the weekend so if by Friday she hasn't shown any signs of improvement I will use the clove oil. Thank you for your help. If I get another betta I will be far more careful with food.
 

Sien

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sassafras96 said:
Thank you for the advice. I'll make sure I change the water daily. I almost want to fast her again to see if some of the swelling goes down but it could just be a tumor, and fasting never worked before so there's no point in making her miserable for nothing. I don't want her in pain and it's selfish of me to keep her alive if she's suffering, so I'll keep an eye on her and if she stops eating or swimming I'll consider the clove oil. Thanks for taking a look at my Sophie.


Yeah, I'm starting to realize I was likely overfeeding her. She is eating daphnia now, although it hasn't helped. But I was feeding far more than 2 of the aqueon pellets a day, the pellets just seemed so tiny and she always seemed hungry and I didn't want to starve her. But I know now that bettas just love food and will eat more than they need. The tumor lump on the side came first, and the abdominal bloating was there before but definitely worsened over the course of the antibiotics. I'll keep on the water changes, she grew more lethargic over the weekend so if by Friday she hasn't shown any signs of improvement I will use the clove oil. Thank you for your help. If I get another betta I will be far more careful with food.
Hopefully she can pull through or make some improvement in the next 48hrs. Sending you and her good thoughts.
 

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