So I’ve reached a veritable quandary about what to do with my betta Maxwell. I noticed on Wednesday of last week that his behavior was out of the norm. When he used to swim about the entire community tank gladly he was in and would come to investigate me when I sat next to the tank on the couch; he now sits only underneath the food door and swims around to the side of the tank to hide next to the heater/filter. I also observed that if he swims down in the water column, he’ll float back up to the top and assume a more vertical position. I identified this as something to do with his swim bladder. I also noticed that his stomach was /slightly/ larger than normal but not something that can be seen at first glance. I started reducing the amount of food I would feed to my community tank because of this until I could go out and purchase a hospital tank.
On Saturday, I got his 3-gallon hospital tank with a filter and a heater and set him up. I used a donation of the water from the community tank (about 1.5 gallons) and topped it off with aged-tapwater that also had been treated with API Stress Coat+. I started his fast in full on Sunday morning. After 48 hours had passed with little change in his swimming ability, I started administering an Epsom salt bath (1 TBSP per gallon) in API-treated tapwater. I float a small container of it in his hospital tank to get the temperatures the same. I remove him from his tank and place him into the Epsom bath for 10 minutes (I don’t want to push him), then into a wash-container with a 1:3 ratio of Epsom water/tank water, before placing him back into his hospital tank.
I’ve seen him swim down to a lower part of the tank and float like normal. However, that is short-lived, and he starts floating back up to the top of the tank. He’s had no identifiable bowel-movements, and his appetite is still severely diminished. I tried feeding him some defrosted brine shrimp to no avail. He insists on eating his pellets but can only eat one.
My question is, should I continue his treatment regimen of Epsom salt baths, or have I missed a key indicator of something else that might be wrong? His scales do not look like a pinecone (nice and flat against his belly and sides), no clamping of the fins, occasionally flares at his reflection, no sign of popeye, or any other poor health.
(Photos that are included are of him sitting underneath the filter on his hospital tank. He likes to stay there because it keeps him under the surface of the water. When he rests near the surface, his lips /barely/ protrude past the surface, nor does the rest of him leave the water.)
Housing:How many gallons is your tank? 3 gallons (current hospital tank)Does it have a filter? YesDoes it have a heater? YesWhat temperature is your tank? 80 FDoes your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No (gentle filter provides some natural aeration, but minimal)Does your Betta have tank mates? What kind? None currently. Was house with African Dwarf Frogs, neon tetras, and snails.
Food:What food brand do you use? Aqueon Color Enhancing Betta Pellets, Frozen Brine Shrimp, Freeze-dried Blood Worms (in the community tank) would sometimes eat some flakes for the tetras. This is now fully removed as an option.Do you feed flakes or pellets? PelletsFreeze-dried? Bloodworms only a treat; they are rehydrated before given.How often do you feed your Betta? How much? 2-3 pellets twice a day
Maintenance:Before your Betta became ill, how often did you perform a water change? BiweeklyWhat percentage of water did you change? Approx 33%What is the source of your water? New York TapDo you vacuum the substrate or dip out water? Vacuum substrate alternating with a siphon of the water column.What additives do you use? What brand of conditioner? API Stress Coat+
Water Parameters:What are your water parameters? Please give the exact numbers. If tested by a pet store, please get exact numbers. “Fine” or “Safe” won’t help us help you. Important: Test your water before the regular water change, not after one.
Original Tank (tested as of October 28th, last water change and betta was removed Saturday, October 24th)Ammonia: 0 ppmNitrite: 0 ppmNitrate: 0 – 5.00 ppmpH: 7.6Hardness (GH): (Currently Unknown)Alkalinity (KH): (Currently Unknown)
Hospital Tank (tested as of October 28th)Ammonia: 0 ppmNitrite: 0 ppmNitrate: 0 – 5.00 ppmpH: 7.2Hardness (GH): (Currently Unknown)Alkalinity (KH): Currently Unknown
Symptoms and Treatment:When did you first notice the symptoms? 1 week agoHow has your Betta’s appearance changed? The stomach region was slightly larger than normal.How has your Betta’s behavior changed? The betta has become more skittish than normal, also hung out at the top of the tank near the feeding door. The betta would then quickly hide if anything spooked him and hang out next to the filter/heater in the tank’s back at the surface. He also stopped swimming through the tank and only stayed on the surface.Is your Betta still eating? Hardly anything. I’ve tried feeding him defrosted brine shrimp, and he has no interest, tries to eat a pellet but spits it back out.
Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how? The problem was identified Wednesday of last week. I continued to monitor him, and he was eating small amounts in his community tank. I purchased my hospital tank on Saturday, transferred him to the hospital tank, and started the fast. After 48 hours, I prepared a solution of 1 TBSP of Epsom salt dissolved in a 1-gallon bucket of aged tap water that also has been treated with API Stresscoat +.
I also purchased mini Indian almond leaves; I boiled them to sanitize the leaves and added the boiled leaves (sans hot water) to the tank.
Does your Betta have any history of being ill? NoneHow long have you owned your Betta? April 2020Was he or she ill or suffering some damage when purchased? The betta was showing no symptoms of being ill or suffering. He was pleased with the outset and was regularly investigating his neighbors in the tank and building bubble nests weekly.