Illness Passed from Locally Caught Fish


Yoshiko!, originally uploaded by Fabiz Rabbit©.

Q: EW wrote,

I am in quite a stand still with what is wrong with my betta and I do not want to lose him! A few days ago I noticed a “film” if you will on my fish. I did a complete water change, and the symptoms went away and the fish resumed it’s happy behavior. Last night I noticed a bit of the film had returned. When I woke up this morning the fish had gotten much worse! The film is white in color with a cottony, lacy texture that has consumed it’s entire body, focusing mainly on the body and not so much of the fins. There are no ulcers, sores, lesions or wounds on the fish, just this film that has consumed him! I fear that I have little time to correct this before I lose him. I looked up some things before I went to bed, and then again this morning, but am still at a loss as to what it may be. Do you have any idea? Any information you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

A: A filmy coating on a fish is usually one of two things; a bacterial infection like Favobacterium columnare which can be life threatening if left untreated or an overactive slime coat, which isn’t usually very dangerous but may signal some sort of irritation. An overactive slime coat may be the result of adding aquarium salt to the water or possibly even be caused by the type of water conditioner you are using.

To read up on Flavobacterium columnare visit the treatment page on the Nippyfish website.

Also, let me know a bit about your cleaning regimen and tank set up so we can narrow down the cause. Here is the list of questions that will help me to understand better what is happening in your tank. You can find these questions in the future by viewing the HELP TEXT link or by clicking the “READ ME” link on the Blog. Answer them as best as you can and definitely take a look at the treatment page for Flavobacterium columnare.

1. What is your tank size?

2. Have you tested for ammonia- what were the results?

3. Have you tested for nitrite- what were the results?

4. Have you tested for nitrate- what were the results?

5. Have you tested for pH- what were the results?

6. What temperature is your tank?

7. How often do you perform water changes, how much water do you change?

8. What water additives are you using (please include any conditioners,
salt or medications)

9. What type of food are you feeding, how often and how much?
10. What kind of tank mates, when were they added?

11. Is your tank planted?

12. What are the symptoms, when did they begin and is there anything
else
we should know?

EW Follow-up:

Thank you so much for answering so quickly Christie. The tank that I have him in is a one gallon that came with a light and a little filter. There are no other tank mates, just him. I do have a live plant in there with him. The reason that he got this infection was because I was stupid and put a tiny crawfish that I had found in a river in with him. Needless to say, the crawfish died shortly after and within a few hours I had noticed this infection. I use bottled spring water with a dab of stress coat for his water, and it get’s changed every Saturday. I’ve never had any problems with this method, and have been doing it with my betta that I have in my office at work for the past two years. SO I know it was my mistake for putting in the crawfish. It is a bacterial infection and I went to the store and bought “Betta fix” it has made all of the fuzz fall off of him, and he seems to be doing better then he was. I think now is just a matter of time for him to recover, so the good news is, I think I caught it just in time. Whichever infection this was, it was very fast working in regards to killing a fish. To be sure, I bleached (diluted) everything associated with his tank ie rocks, filter, tank, net last night and have laid it out in the sun for the day just to make sure if any residue is still present that it will be broken down before I set it back up. As stated before, I do believe that he will be fine, but once again, thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly.

Nippyfish Reply:

Thanks for the follow-up. I have to agree, adding the wild crawfish likely introduced some sort of nasty bug to your Betta tank. Most Bettas found at local fish stores have been domestically bred for generations and just don’t have the ability to fight off bacteria from foreign waterways. If the Bettafix is working for you, which it sounds like it is, then go ahead and continue to use it until all signs of the infection are gone.

I’m glad to hear you fish is doing better and thanks for writing in.

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Christie F is a Betta splendens hobbyist that enjoys spending time caring for her fish and helping new betta keepers learn the ropes. More posts by:

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