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Betta Pineconing - is it too late?


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Things seem to be going from bad to worse.¬† I could use some help from the FNEs (fish nerd experts ūüôā¬†)

I have 4 male bettas, separate tanks.  Since December, I have been spending 2 weeks with my 95 yo mother in Michigan to help her through a rough patch, and then 1 week back home here in Minnesota to catch up on all my stuff and junk.  My husband feeds the fish sparingly every other day while I'm away to keep the bioload down.  When I get home, I do my tank maintenance and then do once more before I leave.  Still, all 4 bettas started experiencing differing levels of fin rot in late February/early March.  Because it wasn't severe, I started adding catappa leaves and doing more frequent, smaller water changes while home.  Two started to improve with tails growing back, 1 - Ghengis - held status quo, and 1 - Leo - got worse. 

I'm going to focus on Leo.  I think he got worse in part because I added an Aquaclear 10 to the back of his 14g aqueon cube because the substrate was filthy, his nitrates were high.  I had recently switched from one sponge filter to another and it didn't appear to be doing the job.  So I added the hob to clean things up.  Even though I baffled the hob, I think the flow may have caused undue stress and soon he was hiding inside his decoration and his fins looked much worse.

So, I did a 50% water change and started him on Furan-2 April 5.  April 6 I noticed his abdomen looked a bit pudgy in front.  There was no evidence of pineconing but my spidey sense went off.  I mixed 2 teaspoons of epsom salts in 1 gallon of water, and soaked him for 15 minutes.  Then added 2nd dose of Furan-2.  Today, April 7, I did another ES bath.  This time, there is pineconing.  

My questions are:

  1. Am I too late?
  2. Should I increase the ES concentration for his bath? In some blogs I've ready you should do 1 tablespoon per gallon for 10 minutes.  Others say to bathe them 2x per day.  So many conflicting theories. Makes me crazy.
  3. Is Furan-2 the right thing to use right now? Or a combo of F2 with something else? I also have Kanaplex, MetroPlex, General Cure, and PraziPro.  I can pick things up locally if there's something I should get.

My water parameters are:

  • pH: 8.3 (note it comes out of the tap at 7.4 and slowly rises; I use a mix of 70% well water, 30%¬†softened water; not ideal but that's my reality)
  • Nitrates: 20, but can sometimes increase to 30-40
  • Hardness (GH): 9 drops of API or 161.1 on the¬†conversion chart
  • Nitrite: 0
  • Ammonia: 0
  • KH/Buffer: 15 or greater than 214.8 on the conversion chart
  • Water Temperature: 77

Leo Pineconing 4-8-21.jpg

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My experience with dropsy is very limited (and unfortunately unsuccessful), but I do remember using a combo of Furan 2 and Kanaplex. I also used Epsom salt full time in a hospital tank, rather than do the baths. If your Betta is eating, I believe medicated food may be a good route to take as well. I think I used Seachem Focus to bind meds (Either Metroplex or Kanaplex) to the food.

In my case, I believe I did 6-7 days of treatment total. The fish did not get better, but did not at all get worse either. He also kept his appetite throughout. I received some advice to try a med called Ciproflaxin. I figured Dropsy was an "all in" type treatment, so I ordered it. It came the next day. and within 30 minutes of the first treatment of Cipro, the fish passed. Perhaps the dose was too strong, or perhaps it was just too much after the previous 7 days of treatment. I ultimately came to terms with the fact that I gave it my best shot.

Leo is beautiful, and I hope he pulls through.

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