Please Help! My Bettas Are Dying!


Is it an issue of water quality or underlying infection?

  1. Infection/parasite

    0 vote(s)
  2. Water quality

    1 vote(s)
  1. EllaFishgerald Initiate Member

    I have a 20 Long, very well planted tank. Started with 12 bettas, down to 6 with a couple being re homed. I have lost 3 in about 2 weeks. My water levels are decent, we have a high PH where I live, but most of my girls were bred here and have been acclimated to it. My ammonia and nitrites were both under .225 ppm, but my nitrates were in the .40 range for a when I worked the day I normally clean their tank and had to put it off, but I've changed their water since and I normally do weekly 30% changes and I always use water conditioner. Their tank stays around 82 depending on how hot it gets here, but they've always seemed to enjoy the warmer temperatures. All of a sudden my happy little sorority is falling apart. I was being vigilant and watching them, I am treating one with dropsy now in a separate tank, but the three others who died were just getting a little slow and then the next day they were floating. They weren't incredibly bloated, but their stomachs were slightly distended and grayish. Otherwise they seemed mostly healthy, they're fins look great, they were all growing into their color and really bright, no white spots, no bumps or contusions. It was just such a quick transformation, and I thought if I did a few extra small water changes it might help. Anyway, now there are 2 more who seem to be getting lethargic and I am now recognizing the signs early enough to possibly treat whatever it is. Is it my water quality? It's been so healthy and clean especially with all the plants getting larger. They have all been growing and their colors were looking really great! I've been reading so much and trying to decide what to do. I am suspicious of parasites or possibly bacterial infection? The one with dropsy had been in my kuhli loach tank for a while after she had been bullied too much, but once she healed I put her back after totally cleaning everything and rearranging it. That was about 2 weeks ago. I'm trying to think of as many details as possible that mthe gut effect it. If you have questions, let me know! Please give me suggestions or any bit of information that may help! Update the one with dropsy died and another is showing signs of being sick. I don't understand because the water seems better than it has been. I cycled it for 4 weeks before adding them even after using an old filter. What is happening? I feel so terrible and I have put so much effort and care into these ladies all for some unknown thing to take them out. It's heartbreaking. Please help.
  2. Caitlin86 Well Known Member Member

    The correlation between water quality and illness is substantial. In your case I think water quality is causing a lowered immune system in ur fish therefore making them susceptible to parasites/bacteria that they would normally be able 2 fight off. Your tank isnt cycled if u r getting an ammonia and nitrite reading. I recommend purchasing Prime and Stability by Seachem. Prime is a dechlorinator with the added benefit of detoxifying ammonia nitrite and nitrate at 1ppm for 24hours while Stability is ur bottled bacteria designed 2 use in conjunction with Prime.

  3. EllaFishgerald Initiate Member

    Something I just thought of, I added an air stone to the other corner of my tank, could part of the issue be that the current was too strong? I just unplugged it. Hoping they'll come around.
  4. Caitlin86 Well Known Member Member

    I don't think the air stone is the problem...the exposure 2 ammonia and nitrite is extremely toxic 2 ur fish.

    What r the current parameters? Pics?

  5. EllaFishgerald Initiate Member

    Thank you immensely for the feedback! Do you think when I took everything out and cleaned it, it hurt my bio filter? I've read it takes typically 6-8 weeks for a fishless cycle without old filter material? My tank has been up for about 3 months, 2 months with fish. It's just weird because they were doing SO well for a while. Also I could have misread my results. I'm going to do another water change today and then retest my water. This is making me really sad.
  6. tunafax Well Known Member Member

    Hi, can you post exact parameters for:

    As well as your 82* temp sounds a bit questionable . Do you have a themrometer on the tank or just in your room? Is there a heater in the tank or do you live in a tropical country?

    Do your girls ever fight/display aggression?

    How old is the khuli tank and was the dropsy betta alright in it originally? Was this the first fish that got sick as soon as it was transferred? Or did other bettas show illnesses before they met dropsy betta?
  7. EllaFishgerald Initiate Member

    I will get back to you shortly regarding the other questions. I am about to do a small water change. Should I test the water before I do the change or after or both?

  8. Caitlin86 Well Known Member Member

  9. EllaFishgerald Initiate Member

    Is 20% an okay amount to change?

    Thank you! On it! Any helpful bits of advice for using API master test kit?
  10. tunafax Well Known Member Member


    @Master kit - shake tubes between part 1 and part 2. Record results after the tubes sit for 5 mins.

  11. EllaFishgerald Initiate Member

    Thank you both! On it! Will take pictures of everything.
  12. Caitlin86 Well Known Member Member

    As long as temp and pH r matched water changes aren't a problem.

    For the API Freshwater Master Test Kit- the nitrate test can sometimes be a bugger. For nitrate bottle 1 add 10 drops, cap test tube and invert bottle until mixed...for nitrate bottle 2 shake for 30 seconds ( really really shake it...u want the crystals 2 be suspended in the solution rather than stuck to the bottom/sides of bottle) uncap test tube, add 10 drops of bottle 2...cap again and shake for 1 mins...let stand for 5 mins thereafter.
  13. tunafax Well Known Member Member

    Thanks! And pic of the tank as well as the bettas would helpful.

    It's rare to see nitrite (not nitrate) readings, but I have a bit of a hunch that it may not read as zero.
  14. Kellye8498 Well Known Member Member

    Don't change your water and THEN test because you will skew the results that way. You will really just be testing mostly tap water. Test prior to the change so you know what they have been living in.
  15. EllaFishgerald Initiate Member

    Here are my test results before a water change. About to upload fish/tank pictures and then proceed with a water change upon your recommendations!

    Over all tank picture.

    This is my Queen. She's normally large and in charge, but in the past day has started to hide in the back and I am observing pineconing! Noooo!!

    Rosie has been hiding in the back since I took her betta log out for the fish with dropsy, but more than that she didn't come to eat this morning. Physically no signs of damage and she was getting more and more red past couple weeks(started out white) which is a good sign, but troubling seeing as she is hiding in the back.

    The two crown tails have been doing fantastic. The whiter one in particular is increasingly active since I got her a little later than the others. They have always been shaped the way they are, thought it was weird, but has never been an issue and seem feisty as they grow up. The little brown one has recently started getting color and growing more since the others have died. I think she was lowest on the pecking order, but seems to be thriving.

    Attached Files:

  16. tunafax Well Known Member Member

    Let's start by lowering that nitrate. Wait a few hours to see what th wc accomolished, then change a larger amount, like 50%. You have to do it gradually to not shock them, but still do it enough to be effective.

    Take the obviously very sick ones out, separate into containers, treat dropsy with kannaplex, and betta revive for the ones without dropsy. I am very sorry to say this, but prognosis for betta dropsy is bad. :(
  17. EllaFishgerald Initiate Member

    My wifi is spotty, but I am in the process of uploading more pictures! Thank you for all the feedback!

    Okay so about 10%-20% initially and then more?

    I have never had a fish survive dropsy. And it frikken sucks because that big girl was doing SO well. After I rehomed one that had been incessantly bullying the other, she grew huge and took over. It was like a switch over night she got ill.

    I am making a trip to my lps asap. My photos won't upload, but the one is really sick and quickly fading.
  18. EllaFishgerald Initiate Member

    Now you know my parameters. I can answer the other questions quick. I have a heater in my tank as well as thermometer. My room was built as almost a 3 seasons porch. I have 4 skylights which greatly affect the temp in my space. I have an ad unit which keeps it mostly regulated, but on days it's gets to be around 85-90 my space gets pretty hot. I try to control it as much as possible because I have pet rats as well.

    My bettas don't really fight, but they stick to their little areas and chase the others out when they get too close, they nip a little sometimes, but with all the plants and decorations they typically find a good place to swim away to pretty quick. I have read a lot about failed sororities and it seems like it's normally because they don't have enough room and places to get away from each other.

    My kuhli/snail tank is about 6 months old. I had originally started my sorority in there, but quickly set up a 20 long so they would have more space. I believe one of my fish died before I added the girl with dropsy (her name was Martha) back.

    Could all the adding/substracting of fish and messing up the hierarchy have added too much stress??
  19. EllaFishgerald Initiate Member

    Also, since my water change on Saturday one of the lethargic ones is becoming more responsive. She swam up just to look at me.
  20. EllaFishgerald Initiate Member

    I now believe there are several factors involved. I think they were stressed because the nitrate, the pecking order being out of wack, on top of the current being too strong- making everything more stressful.

    Question: when adding water, I have a python that goes right to my sink. Should I add stress coat right before I add the water, or after? Seems like before makes sense, but I don't want too high a concentration