nasty white film on my betta

Discussion in 'Betta Fish' started by bass master, Mar 15, 2010.

  1. bass masterWell Known MemberMember

    I checked on sid this morning, I saw he had a small amount of white film on his gill, I figured that he may have just scratched up his slime coat on a rock or something and I would fix things when I got home. I just got home and checked on him and the film has spread.... hes pretty much stopped using his pectoral fin on that side and is acting very lethargic... Can anyone tell me what this is an how to treat it??? Its mostly on his gill cover but has started to surround his eye area (not entering the eye) and I do see a little extra white pigment on his immobile pectoral fin, I will post pictures ASAP
  2. StatholNew MemberMember

    Hard to say for sure without pictures, but based on the location and color, I would guess either columnaris (bacterial) or saprolegnia (a fungus-like protista).

      gets highly technical about both. I'd recommend actually reading it rather than relying on my summary, but:

    If it's columnaris, the results of the study quoted in the above article indicate that ~2.5 teaspoons of salt per gallon is pretty darn effective just on its own. He also recommends potassium permanganate or methylene blue. Antibacterials are another route, but only the gram-negative types will be effective against columnaris. Apparently columnaris is most common in aquariums with low mineral content (food for thought for future prevention if that's what he's got).

    As for saprolegnia, increased salinity and malachite green are supposed to be effective. Interestingly enough, saprolegnia, like true fungal diseases, will generally only attack dead tissues. This makes sense, when you think about it -- fungi are decomposers.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2010
  3. bass masterWell Known MemberMember

    thanks for the help stathol, right now Im leaning towards columnaris (either that or costia) and I plan to treat my tank with salt and methylene blue, im not sure if I should really be using salt though as Im trying to establish some plants in the tank, currently the only option I have as a hospital tank would be a small 1 gallon tank with a UGF which I dont think would be all that great for treatment... Im uploading some pictures with this post to see if that helps with the identification

    Attached Files:

  4. bass masterWell Known MemberMember

    I closely read your article and it was a ton of help! thank you very much, Im gonna run to the pet store to grab some meds and then prepare a bucket to give him his 30 minute bath
  5. ShawnieFishlore LegendMember

    aww poor lil man....can you get us a reading for ammonia/nitrites/nitrates ? what test kit are you using? the tank is so new it could also be ammonia burns...dont medicate just yet and especially not with salt ..bettas dont do well with it...a good week of daily water changes with some stress coat+ could be much more fish friendly...having the tank readings can help allot ! hope your lil man perks up!
  6. bass masterWell Known MemberMember

    the tank is fairly new, about 3 weeks since it was set up now, but the cycle was jumpstarted using media from an established tank as well as using "biozyme" to aide with establishing new colonies. just tested it with a generic strip test from petsmart, readings were all clear, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and about 5 nitrates

    Id really like to go ahead treatment if at all possible considering the speed that this has spread and the shape hes in. He was perfectly fine and perky last night and already this...

    Im considering adding him to a 1 gallon container treated with 1 teaspoon of salt as well as some malachite green (couldnt find the methylene blue, but Ive heard both are good for bacterial infections). I also bought him some medicated food designed to aid with treating bacterial infections.

    thanks again for your help guys
  7. ShawnieFishlore LegendMember

    I cant tell you what to do with your tank, but I can give you some advice :)
    jumpstarting doesnt always work but the strip tests almost never relying on them is something I wouldnt do.....instead id buy some prime or amquel+ and do some daily water changes as I dont think the tank is cycled properly...biozyme is a product that isnt an aquatic bacteria and will actually eat up the good bacteria you might have had on your media from the established has to be added for the life of the tank in order to work...but it will never actually cycle properly........I can tell you he will do worse with salt and malachite is very very toxic ....either way I wish you and your boy well! good luck!
  8. bass masterWell Known MemberMember

    dang, just when i thought I had things figured out, I will put off medicating him with the malachite and salt but I would really like to do something about it asap, the infection is continuing to spread hour by hour (his eye just turned cloudy) and Im afraid that good water conditions are not enough to heal him... Im gonna go ahead and change about 25% right now (even though I gave it a good water change yesterday) and continue to monitor his conditions. What do you think about bettafix? I used it when I first got him to clear up some fin rot he had and I know its a realtively gentle treatment for most illnesses
  9. ShawnieFishlore LegendMember

    im sorry i hate being the bad news gal....but remember MOST of us have been there!!! use the betta fix for now but smaller portions....the daily water changes with the prime or amquel+ is going to be needed before the other fish in the divided tank get something...although what your boy has isnt contagious (again I think its from an uncycled tank) it could be if it gets worse....cloudy eyes is another sign of bad water :( I really will be pulling for all your fin babies!!!
  10. bass masterWell Known MemberMember

    the cloudy eye isnt a new infection, the disease has just spread over his eye pretty much, it surrounded his eye then engulfed it... and with the betta fix, I definitely dont have enough to treat 20 gallons, probably not even ten... should I move him to the one gallon or do you think it would be better not to disturb him and risk stressing him more?
  11. ShawnieFishlore LegendMember

    do you have a heater to keep his water at least warm in the 1g? if so, id move him .....otherwise you dont have a choice but to treat the entire tank....or maybe take some tank water and put him in the bowl for treatment then put him back in the tank? im not sure and you will probably have to make the choice....and im not sure if the bettafix will have an effect on the other fish in the tank or not? ive never needed it but maybe some other members have! he acting stressed or just looks awful with the things on him?
  12. bass masterWell Known MemberMember

    hes acting very stressed, his gill movement isnt rapid but it does look strained, the infection is right around the gill plate so Im suspecting is starting to attack his gills, hes also lethargic, not moving his pectoral fin on the side of the infection, and refusing any food, hes been handin around the bottom of the tank mainly, I originally kept him in the one gallon, the lightbulb generally keeps it at a steady 80 degrees which is nice, and by taking tank water, do u mean like move him gently in a cup filled with tank water? Ive filled up the 1 gallon from the tap and conditioned it with stress coat and ive had the UGF running for a few hours now
  13. ShawnieFishlore LegendMember

    I would stick with that for now and use a small amount of betta fix in the bowl...if you can keep his temps warm with the light, do that ...the tap water is more clean if its ammonia/nitrites so that will be fine :) I hope he perks up for you ...but id still get some amquel+ or prime to cycle the main tank with daily water changes....
  14. redlessiWell Known MemberMember

    Nothing to add just sending best betta wishes your way. Your boy looks just like my Bleu.
  15. bass masterWell Known MemberMember

    thanks guys, hes in his new tank with bettafix, gonna help he starts to recover...
  16. Red1313Fishlore VIPMember

    Poor boy :(

    I can't advise, last time I had an infection move that fast I lost my poor boy Fuzzy. I'm hoping for you and pulling for your guy.

    It's impossible to say what he has however if the tanks isn't cycled then that puts extra stress on his immune system and makes it easier for him to get sick. If the 1 gal is heated then I say treat him and do frequent partial water changes for the course of the treatment.

    All the Gang over here sends good vibes your way.
  17. StatholNew MemberMember

    I realize I'm new here, but I'm afraid I really do have to disagree with your diagnosis. I'm not certain of precise disease, and don't claim to be. However, the initial locus of the disease, it's rapid and radial progression, and bassmaster2010's chemical readings (yes, even with imprecise test strips) are all indicative of this being an infections disease, not an ammonia problem.

    Water quality might very well be an underlying and indirect factor in all of this, but there's more to water quality than just frequent water changes and pH, NH3/4, NO2, and NO3 levels. As the article I linked explains, mineral content and electrolytes are significant in the disease process as well, and with respect to certain diseases they can be even more important than nitrogen levels. At the very least, KH and GH levels are a significant and often overlooked factor, at least in part because of the heavy emphasis the internet aquarium community puts on nitrogen. But even KH and GH are not the sole arbiter of aquatic disease. It's a complex topic. The causes and solutions don't always boil down to frequent water changes and proper "cycling". But I digress...

    To get back to the matter at hand, I'd like to address the specific concern about salt. To wit:
    Again, I'm not trying to offend, but I don't think you can say this with any certainty. Admittedly, there's not a lot of peer-reviewed research out there on the subject as it specifically pertains to bettas. However, it is generally the case that scaled, egg-laying fish are significantly more tolerant of sodium chloride than, say, catfish. The solid research that we do have indicates that not only can catfish tolerate 3000mg/L levels over short (~2 week) durations, but that in fact, groups treated at this concentration (specifically for columnaris) had -- by far -- the lowest mortality rates of all. I will refer (and defer) to this article, which gives a far better dissertation on the subject than I can:


    To put it succinctly, such factual data and research as we have indicates that neither the "always use salt" nor the "never use salt" camps are per se "correct". Using NaCl all the time as some kind of preventative measure is wishful thinking at best. It is effective in treating certain illnesses, but it's not a panacea. As to whether low levels of salinity are chronically toxic -- honestly there's just not much evidence one way or the other. But at the same time, the proposition that any use of salt at all is going to cause terrible, imminent kidney failure and death is equally ill-supported. I think a moderate approach here is the best: there is no verifiable evidence that short term use of relatively low salinity is in the least harmful to bettas, and in those cases where there is good evidence that increased salinity is an effective treatment, either in part or in whole (ex. columnaris and ich), use of salt should at least be considered.

    As for malachite green, methyl blue, etc.: yes, these are toxic. Make no doubt about that. These are chemotherapies, and like many human chemotherapies, they are not something that you want to throw at every problem, or give to an otherwise healthy person. Nevertheless, when the situation warrants it, they may be appropriate. You have to bear in mind that infectious bacteria, fungi, etc. are also toxic to your fish. And the longer the exposure is dragged out, the more damage that will do to your fish. Again, the situation is similar to human chemotherapy. It might be the case that a week of chemo, though toxic, is still less damaging to your fish than a month of fighting infection without it. And in any case, the toxicity of short-term exposure to malachite green has been at least somewhat overstated. But feel free to come to your own conclusions from the studies:

    That said, for most purposes (including columnaris and saprolegnia), methylene blue is equally or more effective than malachite green, while being appreciably less toxic. The catch is that it's far more toxic to nitrifying bacteria because they are gram-negative. This is precisely what makes methylene blue effective for treating columnaris. If you want to go the chemo route, separating out your fish into a hospital tank and applying methylene blue rather than malachite green is probably the better part of valor in most cases.

    For all that, I'd personally try a salt treatment first, and then resort to chemo only if the disease is still progressing too rapidly and you feel there's an imminent threat to your fish's life -- especially since I'll gladly grant that I'm not certain exactly what infection this might be. Columnaris and/or saprolegnia just seem to be the most likely candidates IMHO. I'd certainly welcome some expert diagnosis.

    All said, we definitely agree on one thing -- I can't tell you what to do with your tank. I only encourage you to base your decision, where possible, on factual data and professional research rather than on personal opinions.

    Including mine.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2010
  18. EtceteraValued MemberMember

    I have to disagree with some of the advice given here as well.

    Bettafix is simply an antiseptic, and a very weak one at that. And labyrinth breather + melalueca controversy aside, this looks to be something bacterial, and fairly bad. Bettafix would not help, since using it is more like putting peroxide on a cut than taking actual medicine for an infection.

    I also have successfully used salt for treating fish with open wounds, and in none of those cases did the fish "do worse." I am not a scientist, but I don't see any reason to dismiss salt completely just as I don't see any reason to accept that garlic is god's gift to fish. It will neither kill your fish nor will it cure your fish, but I believe it has positive applications that should be considered by people with sick fish.

    In my opinion, this infection screams bacteria. I would use a broad spectrum antibiotic like tri-sulfa or a combination of maracyn-I and maracyn-II. The antibiotic/medicated food would probably help immensely if you can get him to eat it.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2010
  19. marina3Valued MemberMember

    All what I have to say is how lucky we are to have people caring to give a solution to the problems we may encounter along the way...You guys are so knowledgeble and filled with just good intentions...What more can we ask??? Just to know that this forum have people like yourselves, I am honored (and relieved) to be part of it....As a Newbie with a major case of "betta bug" I THANK YOU and keep up the great work!!! Sid's mom...consider the facts and follow your "gutt instinct"!!! My thoughts are with you!!
  20. bass masterWell Known MemberMember

    let me just start off by thanking all of you for your abundance of advice, it was very reassuring knowing that so many people were glad to help out. Stathol, I definitely think you helped out a ton on providing TONS of useful information on illnesses and treatment (much more than I was able to find searching through google). Etcetera and Shawnie, I was very happy to hear some input coming from people with a lot of betta experience. Unfortunately by the time I read your post etcetera, it was too late to run and get some maracyn... I put him in a small 1 gallon hospital tank (I realize now that I definitely need to upgrade in that area, I plan to buy a decent 5 gallon tank) and added small doses of salt and malachite green, I also lightly swabbed his affected area with bettafix on a q-tip (I read this can help infections without the risk of harming any labrynth fish). Unfortunately none of this seemed to have an effect, the infection continued to spread, and he was lifeless this morning..... Im pretty sad to have lost my betta, but I feel at least a little bit fortunate that I didnt end up messing up anything else in my main tank and Im glad I was able to learn so much from all of you that will hopefully prevent this from happening in the future.

    As to what cause the infection, Im almost positive now it came from a petstore fish I recently stocked (another reason I plan on buying a decent q-tank). I was at the petstore to buy a few supplies and to get my water tested. The tests showed that my nitrites were almost gone and my nitrates were at a decent level, I decided to go ahead a buy a pair of swordtails, mainly out of impulse because they rarely have any stocked and they just looked so good... after adding these two new fish, things initially seemed ok, and I figured 5 fish in a 20 gallon tank wasnt too high, especially because the cycle was almost complete. However after a few hours, my male swordtail began acting a little weird, hiding while all the other fish were active and I noticed his black tale was beginning to turn clear, I figured he was just stressed so I added some stress coat but he died soon after anyways. He spent his last few hours up against the divider in the back corner, the same spot I noticed my betta had been sleeping in the morning I first noticed the infection...

    Ive definitely learned several lessons from this experience and hopefully I wont have another problem quite like this again.... Ive kept the divider up, and in maybe like two weeks or so, provided my tank stays stable, Ill probably end up restocking a betta in there.

    Thanks again for all your help guys, its a shame things ended up the way they did