Betta Illness Develops After New Fish Arrive


beauty in the bottle, originally uploaded by anzyAprico.

Q: LM & SM wrote,

What is your tank size?
Dudley’s normal home is a 20 Gal

Have you tested for ammonia- what were the results?

Yes, I’m a bit of a fanatic here – I use the Mardel master kit strips at least twice a week. All readings are great.

What temperature is your tank?

Between 82 – 84 degrees

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

Tank is cleans every Saturday with a 25 percent water change

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

API Stress Coat and Stress Zyme

What type of food are you feeding, how often and how much?

Dudley loves Bloodworms and Brine Shrimp (frozen cubes). He has a couple worms in the morning and the shrimp cube in the evening

What kind of tank mates, when were they added?

2 Corydoras, 2 Algae Eaters have been with Dudley since we’ve had him. However, recently we purchased 4 orange/with black on tips of tails kind of tetra fish.

Is your tank planted?

We have live plants in the tank but they don’t seem to root. I remove them each week and clean them.

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

We’ve had Dudley since December 4, 2006. He is (was) a gorgeous red betta. Usually very active but about two months ago I noticed he was staying up at the top of the tank by the heater a lot and his ventral fins getting smaller (around the time we introduced the 4 tetras) however I have never seen them go near him. We began treating Dudley with Melefix and Prifix recommended to us by a guy who works in the Aquarium department at Petsmart. It didn’t seem to make any difference after 7 days of treatment. We then tried Fungus Eliminator by Jungle but still no results. Two weeks ago Dudley started getting bigger in his abdomen. At that point we moved Dudley to a 2 Gallon hospital tank. It has a small heater and air stone bar. We did not add any gravel or plants. It was suggested to us that Dudley may be constipated so we held off on his meals for a day and then fed him the inside of a pea which he seemed to enjoy. As Dudley has become larger I have desperately been trying to find information on what this could be so that we could treat him correctly but I think I have too much, overwhelming information now. It could be Dropsy/Bloat/Swim Bladder Disorder or a Tumor. I though it might be dropsy but Dudley doesn’t show signs of the pinecone effect people talk about so much. It is just his tummy which now looks 3 times bigger than normal. I reduced the water in the hospital tank to 1 Gallon so that he didn’t have so far up to go for air. He only goes for air if he has to now. He spends most of his time balancing on his large tummy at the bottom of the tank. His gills are working very fast and I can’t bear the thought of my beloved Betta suffering. I found your website and blog by accident and think it is by far the best I’ve seen and I’ve been on so many over the past weeks. I spend a lot of time in tears lately and wish I could do more for Dudley. It is heart breaking to watch him. I was at the point over the weekend where I thought (and read) about Euthanasia and purchased the medication on line but took note of your article because Dudley has a least eaten a bit of pea every now and again and he still doesn’t like the net too much when I move him to an Epsom Salt bath.

If you have any thoughts/suggestions you can offer us we would be so very grateful. Dudley now seems to be leaning to the side and hasn’t eaten for me today. I’m fearing the worst.

Thank you so much for your beautiful and informative website and blog. It has helped so much.

A: Hi. Thanks for writing with Dudley’s story. I’m so sorry to hear that he isn’t well. It’s hard to say exactly what is wrong with your little Betta but I do have a couple of thoughts. First, I don’t think constipation is likely in this case. Since he had both fin deterioration and bloated abdomen that came on suddenly without a change in his feeding routine and because his condition is so severe (laying on his side) we can make a reasonable guess that the problem is pathogenic in nature. (Some kind of bacteria or virus). The other major factor that contributes to this diagnosis is the addition of new aquarium fish. Adding fish to a tank without properly quarantining them for several weeks puts existing fish at great risk. Transmission of disease from new fish is so common that many experienced fish keepers will automatically assume the new fish are harboring diseases whether or not they really know for sure. Usually keeping new fish in a separate tank for four or more weeks is adequate, making sure not to cross contaminate nets, siphons and other shared equipment. If the new fish show no signs of illness after four weeks then they are probably safe to add to the community tank.

In this case you said the water parameters were all in the safe range but your Betta was loosing fin tissue. I’m guessing that your orange and black tetras may actually be Tiger Barbs which have a reputation for being fin nippers, though many tetras can be aggressive to slow moving, long finned Bettas. It’s possible Dudley got his fins nipped by the barbs which led the open wounds to become infected leading to the onset of Dropsy. Of course I can’t say with total certainty but all the factors are there that make this quite plausible.

The swollen abdomen you describe is quite common with Dropsy and while we commonly associate the condition with pineconing, in reality the pineconing probably only happens in less than half of the cases. I tend to tell people that pineconing is a nearly sure sign of Dropsy but Dropsy doesn’t require pineconing. It may help to compare Dudley’s situation with examples from other Nippyfish readers. Visit The Many Faces of Dropsy, Betta with Severely Swollen Abdomen, and Dropsy: Ruling Out Constipation.

Continue to keep Dudley away from other fish and if the net is severely stressing him then I would recommend foregoing the Epsom salt baths unless you noticed they are making a significant difference. I will keep you and Dudley in my thoughts. Again, I’m sorry to hear the little guy is so sick.

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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:

2 Comments for this entry

  1. Christie says:

    Update from the original emailers:

    Hi Christie,

    Thank you so very much for taking the time to respond to our plea for
    help with regard to our little Dudley. Sadly, Dudley passed away on Thursday evening. He was definitely a little fighter to the end. It was as though he had waited for me to come home from work on Thursday. I had a brief opportunity to speak to him when suddenly he spiraled, laid on his side and passed away.

    I had prayed that if it was God’s will for Dudley and I to keep fighting then so be it or if Dudley would be happier giving up his fight and moving on to the Rainbow Bridge, I would understand but to tell you the truth I’m having a hard time with his passing because I wish I had done more quicker but I know he is at peace now.

    Thank you for all your advice and thoughts. We will definitely quarantine our new Betta before he heads to his new permanent home. You have created a wonderful website and blog. We have searched through so many betta websites over the past months and have been overwhelmed with so much conflicting information. Your information is by far the best we
    have come across and has made such a difference.

    Thank you again.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi, My name is Katherine and i was wondering if you could help me with my betta fish.

    A couple weeks ago he developed popeye, he had trouble breathing (his mouth was always open and he would gulp air from the top more than normal) the scales on his gills were also more noticable and a little pointy. There was also some white stuff on his body. He wouldn’t eat and I bought him Maracyn Two and added epsom salt to his bowl and after a few days he started to get a little bit better.

    Now his popeye is going down and he’s very hungry. However there’s what it looks to be little holes in his gills and they’re still a little pointy and discolored. he’s not gasping for air and his mouth closes but i’m still a little bit worried.

    Any thoughts?

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