Why is my Betta Imbellis so pale and deteriorating?

Fae

I have a male imbellis that I bought from Frank's Betta's almost a year ago. He's always lived in a 10 gallon by himself, with some cherry shrimp, snails, and live plants.
His name is Cassis, and this is how he often was when I first got him (not always flaring of course, but spicy and colourful)

PXL_20210711_224710670.jpg

This is how he often is now:

PXL_20220623_231351246.MP.jpg

He no longer flares at a mirror... He avoids it and hides in fear.

I used to have a female betta in her own 10 gallon tank right next to him. He started going downhill after she died a couple months ago. I had attempted to get them to breed a couple times, but she was too big for him. He was always super excited to try and would build a bubble nest, but she had no patience for him after realizing he couldn't flip her, and he'd end up chasing her until I removed her. Regardless, they used to spend time looking at each other every day (the tanks are about 4" apart).

He likes to chase cherry shrimp around, but is tolerant as long as they are ugly. So I thought maybe he needs some company, and I bought 4 otos. I quarantined them for two weeks, then added them in.

He coloured up more initially. I think he likes them. He at least has a healthy respect for them. Sometimes I see them testing whether or not friend and there's never any tension. Cassis seems to feel they aren't a threat, but are too big to bully so leaves it at that. He's definitely less bored than he was before. He patrols more often and is more interested in what's going on within his territory than beyond the glass, which is what I was hoping for.

But he is still afraid of a mirror, still very pale, and I'm not sure what the black marks on him are. Bruises? He also stares in fear sometimes, or maybe that's just his eyes.

This is his tank right now:

PXL_20220623_233154184.jpg

The lights aren't always this bright, they're on a 24hour led natural light cycle (nicrew). Glass lid.

Filtered with a HOB and heated to 77°

I added the airstone when I added the otos because there's very little surface disruption from the HOB because of how it's set up.

I do monthly water changes of 50-60%. I know that's not the accepted wisdom, but the nitrates have literally never risen above 0 with all the plants, and I feed minimally/target feed Cassis.

Here is my chart containing the data from water tests since setting up this tank. Not all water changes are mentioned because sometimes I don't test/only check ph and forget to write it down.

PXL_20220623_233206472.jpg

As you can see, my ph/gH/kh aren't completely stable. This can't be helped, I do my best. My water out the tap is anywhere from 6.8-7.6ph, 0gh, and 0-1kh. I add seachem alkaline and acid buffers plus equilibrium to try to keep it stable. The most recent reading from today was with strips and I doubt it's reliable.



Things I think may be causing the problem:

1. Wants a lady betta, since he never got laid before when he had his shot

2. There's a pretty bad algae problem. Not sure what to do about it, green thread algae. Comes back no matter how much I remove and treat.

3. Water's a little murky/seeing lots of particulate. More frequent water changes might help

4. Moving the tank. This is a pretty high traffic area (right beside my bed, where I also work on my laptop pretty frequently).

5. Changing the filtering system. Might be too much current the way things are.

Oh and did I mention the tank might burst soon??

PXL_20220623_235616679.jpg
My short term plan is to move everyone to a different tank and tuck that tank into a corner to give him some privacy. Thoughts?
 

Cherryshrimp420

Your pH is way too high. Not sure if you seen the video where they measure their water pH but their bettas live in pH 4-5
 

Fae

Your pH is way too high. Not sure if you seen the video where they measure their water pH but their bettas live in pH 4-5
You mean Frank's specifically? I will look into this, thank you.
 

MacZ

The fish is likely ridden with a bacterial infection. Softwater fish are very sensitive to these. The Otos can still have brought in some nasty parasites, as they are usually wild caught. Two weeks of quarantine is a bit short for wild caught fish. Besides the water the most likely problem I see here.

Also, what do you feed?

Edit: And before you go get heavy meds (or even antibiotics), FIRST try and optimize keeping conditions, which in your case mostly concerns water parameters and quality.

I do monthly water changes of 50-60%. I know that's not the accepted wisdom, but the nitrates have literally never risen above 0 with all the plants, and I feed minimally/target feed Cassis.
It's not only about nitrates. There are many organic compounds accumulating in a tank over time, deteriorating water quality.
My water out the tap is anywhere from 6.8-7.6ph, 0gh, and 0-1kh.
GH/KH would be PERFECT for this species. Add humic substances (e.g. in the form of IALs) to stabilize pH in a fitting low level of between 4.5 and 6.5. But stop adulterating your water with buffers and regulators. Read my article about Blackwater, the chemistry is explained there.
You will have to change to softwater levels slowly, though, to not change the osmotic pressure too quickly. But generally this species is very much adapted by nature to parameters that are almost as acidic as vinegar (pH 3.5 - 5, with being "ok" up to 6.5) and hardness levels akin to distilled water. Those parameters keep bacteria counts low.
I add seachem alkaline and acid buffers plus equilibrium to try to keep it stable.
Do you add this directly to the tank? If so and the fish gets hit by it you might have chemically burned it.
1. Wants a lady betta, since he never got laid before when he had his shot
Nope.
2. There's a pretty bad algae problem. Not sure what to do about it, green thread algae. Comes back no matter how much I remove and treat.
Again: No influence on your fishes wellbeing.
When you stop messing with your water parameters this should stop. Addition of humic substances will also reduce light impact, also reducing algae. But that is a whole different topic.
3. Water's a little murky/seeing lots of particulate. More frequent water changes might help
Just a cosmetic problem.
4. Moving the tank. This is a pretty high traffic area (right beside my bed, where I also work on my laptop pretty frequently).
Might be an extra stress factor. Yes.
5. Changing the filtering system. Might be too much current the way things are.
Unlikely, a hob produces far less current than any canister or internal filter with a pump, while barely producing more than an airdriven filter.
Oh and did I mention the tank might burst soon??
:facepalm:
 

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