Betta with the bends or ...? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 9 Old 07-31-2008, 01:41 PM Thread Starter
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Betta with the bends or ...?

Hi all!

I have had a male crowntail betta for around a year now and he's always been plenty active and healthy. He is in a three gallon, filtered and aerated tank with nice open-swimming space and darker hiding areas and seems happy.

Here is my question: as of a few weeks ago, he quite suddenly started floating at the top, usually on his side but occasionally sort-of upright if he props against something. Sometimes he puts out the effort to swim to a different part of his tank, but rarely down to his cave or plants. His bladder isn't inflated (fed him a shelled pea just to be sure), nor is any other part of him looking weird - except that it's almost like he has a *literal bend* in his body (like a shallow "S" when looking from the top-down). I can't get a picture of him that shows the bend since he's almost always on his side, but I'll try.

In the meantime, any ideas? He's eating (granted, only every couple of days) and is otherwise normal-looking and acting...I don't want him to be suffering if there's anything I can do to help.

Thanks for any and all suggestions!
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post #2 of 9 Old 07-31-2008, 02:44 PM
Have you checked your water parameters lately? How often do you do water changes, and how much water do you change? It's great that he's got so much room! Does he have any other tank mates that could possibly be picking on him?

It's possible that he may have a bacterial infection or a parasite, but knowing the answers to the above questions will help rule out more obvious ailments.

Glad to hear he's been eating a little and that you were able to give him a pea heart in case he's just suffering from digestive ailments.

Best wishes for your fishes!
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post #3 of 9 Old 07-31-2008, 03:17 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, temp is good (steady at ~78 degrees) and ph, ammonia, etc readings are well within safe zones. I actually took him out of my large aquarium and put him into the 3gal. after some tetras ganged up on him and ripped his fins. He was fine for a good bit after that, but then he developed the bend and started the side-floating almost overnight. He is the only fish in the 3gal., and I had to put are two small ghost shrimp in there to get the flakes that he doesn't catch before they sink. Neither party messes with the other in the slightest, so that's a good thing at least.

I do a partial water change every 1-2 weeks, being careful about conditioning/treating the new water and bringing it to the tank's temperature first. I haven't changed more than around 10% of the water at a time for fear of accidentally stressing him in his bendy state (not to mention that the water is staying incredibly clean and level with only him and the ghosts in there).
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post #4 of 9 Old 07-31-2008, 05:38 PM
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What does "safe zones" mean? The exact numbers would be very helpful.
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post #5 of 9 Old 07-31-2008, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry, I don't have all the tests that give specific numbers...just the ones that have the colored ranges for "safe", "warning", "danger", things like that. The only one I'm absolute sure on regarding numbers is pH, which is almost exactly 7.0; I keep his tank at that since that is what my big aquarium (where he lived for almost a year until the bend) is also successfully kept at.
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post #6 of 9 Old 08-01-2008, 05:38 PM
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Hmm, it's always good to own a proper liquid regent test kit. Unfortunately, those strips can be very inaccurate.

As for bent spine, the illness I've heard most commonly associated with that is neon tetra disease. While it's most common in neons (obviously), it can infect other fish. Do you have any neons to your big tank? Did you recently add any fish to your big tank before quarantining the betta? Does your betta display any other symptoms- loss of appetite or color, inactivity? Did his fins grow back when you moved him away from the tetras that were picking on him?
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post #7 of 9 Old 08-01-2008, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
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I just read about neon tetra disease today, actually. I have a large school of neons in the big tank, but they're the same neons that I got when I got the betta ~ a year ago. All of the neons are super-healthy, as are all of the other fish in there (I've been keeping an even-closer-than-usual eye on them, just in case). The tetras that nipped the betta's fins are long-fin black skirt tetras; I had them (five total) for at least a month before they suddenly nipped his fins overnight and then left him alone again just as suddenly. The betta's fins started growing back right away after I got him into his own tank and are now full and beautiful again. He doesn't have any other symptoms or weird behavior, and his color is normal.

Another idea that came up during a conversation with another fish keeper is mineral deficiency. I try to give him a varied diet, with brine shrimp, blood worms, and high-quality flakes, but he definitely prefers the flakes and doesn't eat very much of the other offerings. Should I set aside the flakes for a while and concentrate on the meat to see if that helps?

What about age? He was already a good size when I got him, and since that was ~ a year ago, maybe his age suddenly caught up with him with the stress of the fin-nipping?

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post #8 of 9 Old 08-01-2008, 07:33 PM
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I have heard that old age can cause bent spines in fish...perhaps that it the case, especially if none of your other fish that were living with him are showing symptoms.
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post #9 of 9 Old 08-10-2008, 06:48 PM Thread Starter
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Well, I thought that my betta was getting better for a bit...spine straightened out and he tried to swim more often...but he died this morning. :(

Thanks for all of your ideas though - I do appreciate your help!
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