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New Betta Fish.. ich? Fin rot? Both?


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Hey all, this is Blueberry. Purchased 8/27, seemed totally fine, very active. Ignored offered food for several days after we got him home, after a week we figured out he was eating small bladder snails and tiny worms. Paid no attention to brine shirimp, but excitedly ate the little water fleas we found in another tank. After that he seemed to learn the signs of ‘the humans are giving you food’ and ate when fed. Til today, he still seems to be hunting the tiny worms, but spat out or ignored offered food.  He is looking significantly tattered compared to previously, and we want to make sure it doesn’t get worse.  A couple times he has done a wierd thing where he rubs his gill on a leaf or decor, and then jumps across the tank like he got cartoon-electrocuted. He will do it two or three times in a row, and then go back to his normal behavior.
Photos of him a week ago, and earlier today. (The lighting is less in the today photos)

Tank details:

  • pH 7.2
  • Nitrates 0
  • Hardness 8
  • Nitrite 0
  • Ammonia 0
  • KH/Buffer 6
  • Water Temperature 75f

tankmates: otocinclus, mystery snails, bladdder snails, assorted plants.

Removed a decorative rock today that may have had too sharp edges. I’m wondering is the coarse sponge around the filter intakes could be an issue, since he seems to like hanging out near there. (The flow is pretty low, so more that he might hatch on it swimming past.)

Any clarification from your collective experience would be much appreciated, we know something is going on, but.. not what. 





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Hi! The cartoon-electrocuted behavior sounds like "flashing," which my betta also developed about two weeks after I got him. How often does Blueberry do it and has it been happening for a while? It could be caused by gill flukes (or other parasites), especially if your betta is doing it often and you notice this behavior repeatedly over the course of days. Parasites can be treated with Paraguard and I would follow Cory's instructions to do two rounds of treatment a few weeks apart. It is also possible that your betta is stressed by something else (like high ammonia or other water parameters), which can cause flashing too. 

The fins look like fin rot to me, which could be caused by the stress from the gill flukes or the stress of whatever else is causing the flashing. It also looks like there might be some fin clamping, which is usually caused by stress too. So I would continue to eliminate any sources of stress and treating the flashing, which will probably also help the fins get better also. 

I personally wouldn't worry too much about the food because he looks well fed, and you mentioned that he's been hunting the worms still. He's probably just a picky eater.

Hope this helps! 🙂

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Hi, thank you! I agree about the fin clamping, and I had noticed he seems to have a bit of white something on one side near his gill. 

I found the page with most of the medication instructions, did you mean ParaCleanse?

Is it a hospital-tank treatment or should he stay in the main tank to avoid the stress of moving?

Thanks again!

Edited by Kirrashi
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Yes I think I see the white something on the gill but I am not sure it's ich or just the photo or his colors (and it could be stress ich even if it is). If there aren't more white spots by now, it's probably not ich.

I did mean ParaCleanse - sorry about that!

If you want, you can do a med trio approach too (ParaCleanse, Maracyn, and Ich-X) where you treat for everything at once. That would cover all your bases for ich, bacterial fin rot, and parasites and it's the standard Aquarium Co-Op quarantine method too. But medication can be hard on your fish and medication will not fix stress-caused illness. 

I think you can treat either the hospital tank or the main tank because ParaCleanse (as well as the med trio) is safe for plants, snails, etc. ParaCleanse will not stain your silicone but Ich-X might, so I would be careful of that. Since you have an otocinclus in there as well, it may be worthwhile to treat the other fish while you're treating already. Otos are wild caught so they often carry diseases like gill flukes. Gill flukes are also very contagious.

Re: stress, it is possible that moving your betta to a new environment like a hospital tank will stress him out, but it's also possible that moving him away from whatever is stressing him out in the main tank is going to help him get better (esp if his tankmates are the reason for his stress). 

Personally, I am a bit cautious about medication (esp antibiotics) and I don't think his fin rot is that bad yet (i.e., not close to invading the body). So I would probably treat the entire main tank with two rounds of ParaCleanse (assuming your main tank isn't very large and it wouldn't cost too much to treat) a few weeks apart and do a wait and see approach on the fins. If his fins REALLY start getting worse at any point, I would put him in a hospital tank immediately and start treating with Maracyn or salt immediately. It has been my personal experience that betta fin rot responds really well to salt treatment, but salt is no good for plants and snails. But you know your fish the best and I also think pulling him out to a hospital tank now would be a reasonable approach too!

In any event, I would definitely also test your main and hospital tank water very often for the near future to see if there is anything going on. I noticed my tank when I first started would go through pH swings throughout the day because it was not as fully cycled as I thought and those pH swings caused my betta to get fin rot. 

Also I should mention that in general bettas prefer temps slightly higher at ~78, although I highly doubt that your temp being 75 degrees is the main reason for everything that is happening as long as that 75 degree temp is stable. 

Good luck! 🙂

Edited by abigail
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