My female betta is sick. Here is the story:
I have a 6.6 gallon AquaVista "picture frame" tank. I got it for christmas, and rather than do the right thing and let it cycle, I put fish in early like the instructions said (mistake #1). Put in 2 female bettas and a dwarf gourarmi.
Kept watching the tank chemistry and everything looked fine. I know it's supposed to take 4 weeks or so for a tank to cycle, but being a beginner I followed the instructions and put the fish in after only letting the thing cycle fishless (no ammonia source) for two days.
Anyways, after two weeks, I decided to put two more fish in, because the dwarf gourami was looking pretty lonely. Got another dwarf gourami and a cory cat.
Next day, I check the tank chemistry. Didn't have an ammonia test at th etime, but nitrites were about 3ppm and nitrates about 15-20ppm. This freaked me out, because a few days prior both were reading about zero. I now understand a bit more about the nitrogen cycle, and tossing those two extra fish in there probably made the nitrites skyrocket.
So I got afraid for the fish, as 3ppm nitrites is terrible. I decide to do some emergency water changing. And, also being a beginner, I was stupid and used distilled water (the original water was conditioned tap water). So I did a 30% water change. I didn't have an external thermometer at the time, so I just tested water temps by hand to match the tank temperature (~77F/25C). The digital temp gauge on the tank didn't change when I added the water. Retested nitrites and they were down to about 2.5. Did another 30% water change about 30 minutes later. Nitrites down to about 2. And another 30% change 30% later, down to about 1.2. I did one more change and got it down to about 1. The last two changes were with conditioned tap water, because I ran out of distilled. I now know that using distilled water is a bad idea....
Before I went to bed, I dropped an ammonia clear tablet in the water. I know those things are sorta bogus, but I figured it couldn't hurt. All this time the fish are acting entirely normal.
Next morning (monday of this week), I check the tank and one of the bettas is laying on the bottom barely moving. I can't get her to respond, so I try moving her with a stick, and she moves about a half inch and then just lays on the bottom again. She wouldn't swim around at all, except a couple of times to the surface to breathe pure air. I also notice that her scales seem the very slightest bit raised but only around her abdomen. And her abdomen is quite swollen. Also one of her eyes was bulging.
I check the tank and the nitrites are down to about 0.4. I decide she is sick and put her in a hospital tank, and turn the temperature up to 82F. I put marcyn and marcyn two in the water (two days of treatment so far), and last night I put some epsom salt in the water. Her eye bulging has gone away, but the scales are very raised now, and seem to be getting more raised. But every so often she swim around entirely normally, only to eventually lay on the bottom or sit at the top breathing air.
Here are pics of her from a few moments ago:
Looks like dropsy to me from the pics I see on the web. She was always the pig and overate all the time (frozen bloodworms), so maybe she ate way too much protein and her kidneys were freaked? And then the water change + distilled water stressed her out and she got sick? Any ideas?
I figure she's pretty much going to to to fish heaven soon... but I'd like to figure out what I did to cause this, because I certainly don't want to do it again. All of the other fish in the tank are still entirely healthy.