Unknown Mouth Illness Affecting Betta.


I've been looking everywhere and posting to various forums looking for some guidance on one of my Betta fish named Smokey. He's been slowly getting worse over the past few weeks and I haven't been able to pinpoint exactly what his ailment is.

First things first, his environment and water parameters.
He has been in a 5 gallon heated/filtered cycled planted tank for about a year. I pre-cycled his tank with fish food for about 7 weeks before I was happy with my readings. Ever since adding him, I test his water right before doing water changes (weekly 25-35% or so) and have never gotten a reading for ammonia or nitrite above 0, with nitrate usually 5-10ppm. HIs PH has been steady at 7.6 forever. His heater keeps the tank at 78 F. I had a small run in with some hair algae in his tank a few months back, but that was taken care of with light adjustments and manual removal, no chemicals needed.

On to Smokey himself.
Smokey is probably around 1.5-2 years old. I first noticed there was something wrong with his mouth about 2 weeks ago. He was having trouble eating floating pellets (Ocean Nutrition Betta Pellets). The willingness to eat was there, he just could not get his mouth on them. He would strike at them and would just push them around. I noticed his upper lip was pushed out way further than normal, with a thin piece of skin showing between his head and upper lip. His lower lip is somewhat mis-aligned slightly to the left and crooked. I've looked down his mouth and can't see anything stuck down there. He couldn't have gotten a piece of substrate, the smallest pebble is larger than his entire head.

I started soaking his pellets in a small container for 10-15 minutes, crushing them, and hand feeding the soft flattened pellets to him with a pair of aquascaping tweezers. By now he's trained to swim up to the feeding spot when he sees me pick up the tweezers. He seems to be able to actually eat the pellets when they are about level to his face in the water and slightly lower. He can't hit anything above eye level. I've ruled out any blindness/eyesight issue since that boy can spot a speck of pellet dust across the tank and chase after it fruitlessly. He's still energetic and has a healthy appetite and is producing waste normally.

About a week ago I watched him struggling to get a gulp of air from the surface, then frantically darting around the tank trying to breach the water before quickly sinking to the bottom of the tank breathing heavily. Then, several minutes later he swam to the surface, got a good breath, and swam around like nothing happened. Since then, I've noticed this happening more and more often, to the point where he's spending almost half of his time looking sad and exhausted laying on either the substrate, or a large leaf near the surface of the water, almost a textbook case of SBD. I wonder if in labyrinth fish if inhaling water through the labyrinth organ can cause these issues with buoyancy? I initially lowered the water level to about half, trying to give him less distance to swim to reach the surface. That seemed to make matters worse, as he wasn't able to get as good of a run up to actually breach the surface with his entire head.

As far as treatment goes, here's what I've done so far.

Since I'm not the type to jump right to medications, first I turned his light off to help him de-stress, added some Indian Almond Leaves, and turned the heat up to 80F. With no improvement after a couple of days, it was time to move on to meds. Last Saturday I started him on a round of Kanaplex added directly to the water column, and added the last dose on Wednesday.

He made it through the treatment seemingly no better or worse than before, so I guess it could be counted as a win? After doing several water changes and running carbon in his filter to clear out the Kanaplex, his condition has gotten worse over the past weekend. He's spending more and more time stuck at the bottom of the tank out of breath. Last night we started round 2 of Kanaplex, and I've been watching him all day on my security camera. He spent most of the morning crash landed on a decoration, making an attempt for air every 20 minutes or so. Then around lunch time he perked up and has been meandering around his tank like all is good in his life. I have a mesh breeder box I set aside to put him in, but I'm really hesitant to do that since he still spends a good amount of time swimming and patrolling like nothing is wrong.

Other medications I have available are Aquarium salt, epsom salt, API General Cure, API Fungus Cure, and have Furan-II and Seachem Focus on the way from Amazon.

So far I've been told it's either a dislocation, mouth fungus, gill flukes, just SBD, or bacterial septicemia. I've been leaning towards septicemia since I thought I saw a little blood streak near the back of his body when shining a flashlight from above. It really could have been me seeing what I'm looking for.

Any help/advice/2 cents would be greatly appreciated by Smokey and myself. I want to do everything I possibly can to return him to a happy healthy normal Betta life.

Here is an album with pictures of Smokey and his mouth issue, as well as a couple videos of one of these sinking "episodes". The first couple of pictures are before pictures of when he was first added to his tank.



I've no idea what it is but I also have a couple bettas with a similar issue. The nose/mouth suddenly began to change shape. One of the two will have issues gulping air and has to launch himself up a bit. The other is not as bad but she developed a more "puckered" mouth after I moved her to a 20gal holding tank with many of her siblings.


I've no idea what it is but I also have a couple bettas with a similar issue. The nose/mouth suddenly began to change shape. One of the two will have issues gulping air and has to launch himself up a bit. The other is not as bad but she developed a more "puckered" mouth after I moved her to a 20gal holding tank with many of her siblings.

Exactly what Smokey is doing, except now it's becoming more and more constant. He needs to get a full head of steam so he can basically jump out of the water just to get air. Sometimes he becomes a victI'm of surface tension and even though his entire head is above water level, he doesn't "pop" the surface and just sinks back down and crashes on a leaf/decoration/substrate. Eventually he'll get that magical gulp and returns to normal. He's a bit apprehensive about going for air now I've noticed. Completely understandable.

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