Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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gemahto 04-16-2008 12:22 AM

transparent strip above upper lip?
My betta, Crim Wike, has a translucent strip above his upper lip that was not there when I purchased him, when I introduced him to his fully cycled tank, or for the first three weeks in his new tank. In addition his fins have generally been deteriorating since he became a new family member. I researched and prepared to pamper him for months and am extremely disappointed at what appears to be a steady decline in his overall health.

20 gallon glass tank, 1 5ga in tank filter, 1 30 ga power filter, 3 live plants (java fern, vallisneria, and cambomba {which I may ultimately get rid of the cambomba as I'm tired of cleaning miscellanous leafage out of the filter and the gravel}), 3 zebra danios, and 1 african dwarf frog. I should mention that the tank I inherited has three additional glass dividers that have been caulked (with a non-toxic, aquarium-safe caulk) in a manner that divides the tank into thirds, but does not completely close off any part of the tank. To minimize surface turbulence I've put the power filter in the third with the tallest divider. The tap water is not excessively hard, but I do treat with an API treatment that has additives to help the fish produce a healthy coat for their scales. According to the Jungle brand test strips I use, there is no longer ever a trace of nitrite, a minimal trace of nitrate, trace levels of ammonia, no chlorine, and a PH hovering between 6.8 and 7.3. To the fish I feed 6-10 pellets of betta bits every other day in the morning along with a tiny pinch of tropical medley flakes (the flakes distract the danios long enough for Crim to eat the bits). Every other week I throw in some blood worms for them. However, the frog gets blood worms every third or fourth day if I can catch him and set him in a little bowl (again so the danios won't eat all of his food). Though the tank gets ambient light from about 6am until 8pm, I set up a flourescent light as well. I'm not sure what specs are important here so let me list what I know - 975 Lumens; CRI: 93; two 20 watt bulbs. I do not use a CO2 system. The plants love it along with the occasional API root tabs I tuck near their roots (directions say six tabs for my tank size, but I've used two tabs in as many months). Activity-wise everyone seems happy and it's a young tank so I expect things to continue to settle over time.

Bottom line, I don't have deep pockets and believe I have made the most of the resources available and am hoping that I didn't screw up anything major (first tank ever!). Still, I'm at a loss (after hours of perusing sites on-line) when it comes to determining why my betta, while very lively, appears to be deteriorating. Specifically, I'm concerned that the transparent line above his upper lip is going to erode further until it's actually a gaping whole.

Thoughts, suggestions, concerns?

PS- have I overpopulated my tank?

gemahto 04-16-2008 12:36 AM

I forgot to mention...
that despite the fact that I do not have a heater in my tank, the temperature stays between 72 and 80 degrees. I personally like my living space to be warm and as a result have found little need to spend money on a heater (again, shallow pockets). It is my hope, in the not-to-distant-future to aquire an all new set up including a heater.


Flashygrrl 04-16-2008 05:20 AM

OK, let's start from the top.

1. If I could get a pic of your tank that would be great. I'd like to see how much swimming room your danios have. If they are in a divided 20 gallon it probably isn't enough because they like to just very randomly zoom around and dividers take away that choice.

2. You need a liquid testing kit, we all like the API freshwater master. Test strips were a waste of your money and don't tell you things accurately enough.

3. There shouldn't be any ammonia in your tank whatsoever. To have it three weeks after purchasing your latest tank member is a sign something is wrong. When was your last water change and how much?

4. You're feeding too many pellets. 3-4 a day is adequate.

5. Without a heater Crim will not do as well as he can. He needs water that's consistently at least 78 degrees. He will continue to do poorly until you are able to buy him a new heater because the temp is always fluctuating. No alternatives to that, sorry.

It sounds like you're TRYING to do things well and that's good. But you'll have to reconsider how things are set up in your tank. I don't actually know the answer to your original question but the deteriorating fins sounds like fin rot due to bad water quality which is hinted by the ammonia in your tank. Do a 25% water change immediately (and don't forget the dechlorinator). Do another 25% tomorrow and the day after and if you can get the test kit it would be best, otherwise I guess just test with what you have.

Hope some of this helps. Welcome to the forum, anyways :)

stephenmontero 04-16-2008 11:20 AM

but if its fin rot u should try and treat him for it but deff get that amminia out of there

Flashygrrl 04-16-2008 04:15 PM

He won't heal till the water's better.

beetlebz 04-16-2008 04:53 PM

2 thoughts crossed my mind.

first, he says betta bits, not pellets. It could be something like bio gold or something, teeny little crisps, not the normal sized "baby" pellet. as long as hes eating all of it, and hes not bloating I wouldnt worry too much, just like I said make sure hes eating all of it.

the other thing that came to mind, is it sounds like the tank was originally used as some kinda sump. Id like someone else to help me out here, but i dont see any reason not to take the dividers right out of there. as long as the betta and danios dont bicker too much I say let em all have full run of the tank. a razor knife should slice through the silicone caulking just dandy, then I think youll see ALL of the fish alot happier :)

other than that, for my bettas I use the tetra preset heaters. the bigger of the two is only like 18 bucks so its something to save towards, but just keep an eye on the temp of the tank. Warm is fine but shes right, you really dont want it bouncing around too much for crim's sake.

youre doing fine so far, best intentions arent everything but they can go a long way! dont be afraid to ask questions

gemahto 04-16-2008 05:50 PM

many thanks for helping me
generate a list of stuff to pick up at the pet store and for all of the helpful suggestions. I picked up a heater and some liquid test kits.

Though I can't provide a picture, let me try to give a better description of the tank. It has three dividers. Two are about 4 inches tall. I put my plants near the portions that stick up above the level of the gravel. I'm hesitant to remove them as they're caulked into the major seams at the bottom of the tank. The third divider is quite tall, but has an inch of clearance at the bottom (currently covered by gravel) and is about an inch below the water level at the top. It's a project for another day, but yeah, if no one can think of a reason to leave it there, it's going bye bye. All in all Crim, the Dans, and Dr. Cox (the frog) have access to the entire tank and the tall divider only limits about 5 inches on one side.

I'm thrilled to report that there is 0 ammonia (indeed the stips were a waste), 0 nitrite, 5.0 nitrate, and an overall ph of 6.8-7.0. Those are the important readings yes? The water temp is coming up as I'm writing. I've read conflicting information about the ideal temp. I was shooting for 78 or so, which should be comfy for everyone in the tank right?

To follow up on the feeding and changing water: I do a 25% change/gravel vac once a week. The water going in is always aged and treated. The water going out makes my plants happy. When I first put the danios in the tank I did 50% changes every third or fourth day, but unless there's something I'm missing - it's okay to cut back after the initial ammonia and nitrite spikes. As for feeding, well, they're all pigs. Nothing goes uneaten. I love watching them eat so it's a constant struggle to resist feeding them excessively. It sounds like I can still dial the feeding back a bit and everyone will benefit. Specifically about Crim Wike, though his mouth looks strange to me, he eats with as much zest as everyone else. There's no change in the transparent strip above his mouth from yesterday to day. Should I just watch and observe what happens when the temp. stabalizes? Would a salt bath be a good idea? If I were to purchase a premptive fin rot treatment - do I have to put it in the whole tank or can I use it like a bath as well? OMG - so many questions.

Again, thanks for all of the advice.


Flashygrrl 04-16-2008 07:58 PM

If you can take the dividers out without trashing the tank then I'd say do so and just keep an eye on the danios. They really do tend to be a bit bonkers and might try to nip Crim.

Sounds like you do indeed have the water quality under control and 78 degrees is a good all around temp for everyone. I guess just keep an eye on him, maybe removing the dividers will help him with the fins and stuff too. It's kinda hard to treat him with other fish in the tank, some say Bettafix which I guess would be safest for the other fish, there are other combinations out there to treat it but I don't know what they would do to an entire tank or how much to use.

We appreciate you taking our advice and being willing to put out a few extra $$ to make your fish happy. Thanks :)

beetlebz 04-17-2008 06:02 AM

aye well done :)

<high 5>

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