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Betta Laying On Side At Bottom Of Tank

Author Topic: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank  (Read 2979 times)

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Offline Littlefish

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Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« on: August 21, 2018, 11:03:56 AM »
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Seb, the plakat betta, is currently laying on his side at the bottom of the tank.
Water parameters are 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 40 nitrate (same as tap water). Temperature is 26-27C, and by water is 17dH. The tank last had a clean & water change on 18th.
Seb has been laying on his side since last night. His colour is still good, his gills are moving, but he hasn't been to the surface for air. He will move a little if he has to, but that's about it.
I've had a rummage around the internet, and I'm not coming up with anything obvious. A couple of articles said that if they are still eating then there is still hope, so I used the aquascaping forceps to offer a bloodworm, which was eaten.
Any suggestions welcome.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2018, 11:22:03 AM »
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If he has swim bladder problems, should I move the panda cories & assassin snails to another tank while I treat Seb?
He has had one bloodworm today, should I starve him in case of constipation, or try to get him to eat peas?
Should I increase the tank temperature? Or will fiddling with the tank stress him?
Should I try medications? Which one? A quick rummage through my cupboard provides me with a range of ESHA products, along with melafix, and myxazin.

Yes, I'm starting to panic.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2018, 11:25:08 AM »
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Should I drop the water level so he can breath from the surface without moving too much?

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2018, 12:22:42 PM »
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I didn't think he could be overfed/constipated as I was away for a few days last week, so he wasn't fed. He had food on Friday, then again on Sunday, and yesterday.
I'm in the process of getting the 19L tank I use for growing algae on rocks on the windowsill ready to be used as a hospital tank for Seb.

Offline Sue

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2018, 12:36:03 PM »
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Bettas are such odd creatures. They can go from fit and healthy to really sick in such a short time. My last two were like this. But that is no consolation to you  :(


You need to either lower the water level or put him in some sort of container floating at the surface. As you are aware, he needs to be able to gulp air so if he can't reach the surface himself, you need to get him nearer the surface by some means or other. If you can filter the 19 litre while having the water level low that would be perfect. One proviso - if you intend using it again to grow algae, will the algae covered rocks be used in tanks with inverts? Any medication residue could contaminate the rocks/algae.

Do not use melafix, bettafix or pimafix with any anabatid. The organic oils they contain affect the labyrinth organ. But if you have eSHa 2000, that would be my first choice, followed by Myxazin as a second.


How long have you had Seb?


Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2018, 12:48:41 PM »
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I can filter the 19L with a low water level, so I'll go for that.
I've taken out the stones that I was growing algae on, and given the tank a quick rinse.
Should I use water from the main tank that Seb is currently in for the hospital tank?
I can take a bit of the filter sponge out of the main tank and put it in the small filter for the hospital tank.
I'll also move the larger shrimp tubes into the hospital tank, as Seb can fit in them if he wants to.

I'll mark the Melafix as not to be used for bettas, as I'll probably forget this in the future. I do have Esha2000, so I'll give that a go.

I'll have to check how long I've had him.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2018, 12:52:36 PM »
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I think I've had him since around mid-2016.
Yes, I'm aware that he is knocking on a bit.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2018, 01:23:53 PM »
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Seb has been transferred to the small tank, with a small filter, heater, air stone, some decor and some elodea.

Offline Sue

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2018, 01:31:13 PM »
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If you've had him 2 years he is anything from 2 1/2 to 3 years old - they are between 6 and 12 months when they go for sale. 2 years +/- a few months is the longest I've had a betta.

Now he's in the small tank, see how he goes. Make sure ammonia doesn't build up, then all you can do is keep your fingers crossed.


It is always sad to see fish go downhill like this, particularly fish with personality  :(

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2018, 02:54:14 PM »
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I wouldn't like to think that I could have done something to help his situation, but I'm also aware of his age.
At least now he is in the small tank he is getting some peace and quiet. As much as I like the panda cories, they are quite active at the bottom of the main tank.

Offline Matt

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2018, 06:40:31 PM »
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Did you use fresh chlorinated water for him? Water changes are always a good thing in my book... sorry but that's all I have to add apart for wishing you and Seb all the best!  :-\

Offline fcmf

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2018, 07:38:50 PM »
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I think you're doing all that is possible, thanks to others' advice, and he'll appreciate the lower water level, peace from being in his own quarters, etc. As Matt says, frequent water changes can be very helpful (I think he meant to write dechlorinated, though) and I'd probably do a 10% water change daily. Best of luck; I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for Seb.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2018, 07:49:07 PM »
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He's currently in 5L of dechlorinated water in the 19L tank in the spare room. The tank is in the bottom of an open-fronted cabinet, and I've been laying on the floor watching him. He has moved a little, but is still on his side. Although I've put some filter sponge in front of the filter so the flow isn't too strong, Seb has positioned himself between the cave and the shrimp tubes, and under the elodea. I guess it's the quietest spot in the tank.
I'll see how things are tomorrow, and do a small water change if he's still with us.

Offline Matt

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2018, 08:10:42 PM »
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As Matt says, frequent water changes can be very helpful (I think he meant to write dechlorinated, though) and I'd probably do a 10% water change daily. Best of luck; I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for Seb.

Yes sorry... this is the problem with posting from a phone. Between large fingers and small buttons, and the joys of the system autocorrecting everything even if it doesn't need correcting I'm actually surprised I don't make more mistakes like this!

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2018, 07:55:36 AM »
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I'll be doing a water change for Seb today.

He's still laying on his side, but still alive.

Any advice?

I've been up since 6am, but it's taken several cups of coffee before I felt able to go and have a look at him. I've also been thinking, and I know this seems quite pessimistic, but how long do I keep him like this before I consider more drastic action if he's not getting better? I don't want him to be suffering. Also, how do you euthanise a betta?

Offline Sue

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2018, 09:05:28 AM »
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While he is still breathing, there is hope. And I really do understand how you feel, having had several bettas over the years.

I usually wait until the betta shows no interest whatsoever in food, particularly bloodworms. They are so fond of those that if a betta doesn't want one, he's in a bad way.






Should it be necessary, the most recent way of putting down a fish is with an overdose of the fish anaesthetic Aqua Sed. Or you can still use clove oil, or a blunt instrument.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2018, 09:35:37 AM »
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I have a small bottle of clove oil in my emergency cupboard.
I was asking about this because there was a debate in PFK within the past few months on the topic, and I remembered some discussion about clove oil and anabantoid fish, the clove oil forming a layer at the surface, and how painful it could be for fish with labyrinth organs.
I've just gone back and checked on the article, and thorough mixing, and use of an airstone to keep the clove oil mixed with the water, are suggested. They end with noting that clove oil is still the best way to euthanise a fish, for those who don't want to go down the route of blunt force and pithing (and let's face it, who wants to do that unless it is absolutely necessary  :sick: ).

Just a couple of quick questions - after the water change, should I start some esha2000 today? And should I try to feed him? He had a bloodworm yesterday.

Offline Sue

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2018, 09:42:55 AM »
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I would start the eSHa 2000, and feed him 1 bloodworm. If he eats that readily give him a second. Up to a max of 3 bloodworm a day. Though if he recovers you may have difficulty weaning him off bloodworms, which are not an ideal diet for a healthy betta (but are ideal for tempting an off colour betta)

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2018, 09:58:13 AM »
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Thanks @Sue  - you rock!

Just off to start preparing for the water change, etc.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2018, 10:44:10 AM »
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Seb has had a water change - I tested the water I removed from the tank and compared it to the tap water - 0, 0, 40 for both.
I offered him a bloodworm, and he took it with much more enthusiasm than yesterday (hoping that's not just my imagination).
I've also added the first dose of medication - my maths/dilution factor skills leave something to be desired, but I sorted out the pre-dilution of the medication for the 5L QT eventually.

I'm trying not to get my hopes up.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #20 on: August 22, 2018, 06:30:45 PM »
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He's eaten another bloodworm this evening.

Offline Sue

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #21 on: August 22, 2018, 06:35:15 PM »
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Good  :)

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #22 on: August 23, 2018, 08:12:24 AM »
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How is Seb this morning Donna?

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #23 on: August 23, 2018, 09:46:22 AM »
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Still laying on his side, but still alive.
I'll do the same as yesterday - water change, offer bloodworm, add medication.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #24 on: August 23, 2018, 12:01:48 PM »
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Mixed news.
I've done a water change, and added medication.
I offered Seb a bloodworm, and although he ate it eventually, it took a few attempts.
He certainly wasn't as enthusiastic about the food as yesterday. I'll offer him another worm in a few hours, and see how he accepts that.
I'm also concerned about the surface of the water. Although it is very low (approx. 4cm, enough to cover the filter laying on the bottom of the tank) he hasn't made it to the surface to breathe, as far as I'm aware. How much of a problem is this, and what should I do about it?
If he can't get off the bottom of the tank, either to right himself or get to the surface, am I actually causing him to suffer, and/or refusing to face an inevitable conclusion?

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #25 on: August 23, 2018, 02:00:30 PM »
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I've just offered the little fella another bloodworm, and he ate it straight away.

Perhaps I'd just stressed him out with the water change earlier.

Offline Sue

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #26 on: August 23, 2018, 02:53:45 PM »
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Do you have a tub of some sort that you could rig up to float at the surface, and that you don't mind punching a lot of holes into? An old ice cream/margarine tub would be perfect. I have used strips of polystyrene tiles tied to the rim of a tub to get it to float. And some plants, or even a few bits of plant in the tub to give him security.

I know that you know what all this is for, but for anyone else reading it:
The holes are to allow water to circulate in and out of the tub.
Bettas need to gulp air so if they can't reach the surface themselves, we need to help them get there. Using something to support the fish at the surface so he doesn't need to move other than turn his head helps them gulp air.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #27 on: August 23, 2018, 03:25:13 PM »
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It just so happens that I have a breeding trap/fry nursery thingy available.
I'll just sort out some more plants & stones, and I should be able to use the stones to get the base of the container close enough to the surface.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #28 on: August 23, 2018, 06:45:00 PM »
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I put Seb in the breeding trap, and propped it up so it was closer to the surface.
I've also put some small anubias in the tank, and he still has the elodea.
I gave him a few hours to settle, and I've just offered him a bloodworm, which he has eaten.

Offline fcmf

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #29 on: August 23, 2018, 06:57:17 PM »
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Keeping an eye on this thread and keeping my fingers tightly crossed for Seb.

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #30 on: August 24, 2018, 05:58:07 AM »
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Keeping an eye on this thread and keeping my fingers tightly crossed for Seb.

Same here, I think it's encouraging that he's eating readily. I'm personally taking this as he is not in too much discomfort. I have been trying to think what would cause a fish to lay on its side and swim bladder is popping to mind. This is due to pressure of other things on the swim bladder most likely so bloodworm should "flush him out" digestive system wise and the meds should hopefully help with anything which might be inflamed internally. I think the anubias is also I good idea. I should want something in there that would allow him to props himself upright should he wish...

I don't know if this helps at all. I'm just conscious that apart from old age which is still a possibility of course; we hadn't really discussed what else might be wrong...

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #31 on: August 24, 2018, 07:32:14 AM »
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Seb is still alive this morning.
I have a few errands to run first thing, but will be doing the water change/medication/bloodworm routine after that.

I am also keeping my fingers tightly crossed, and also trying to be realistic about the situation. While he is still eating, and not seeming too distressed, things seem ok. I would prefer to see him actually getting better, but will take him not getting any worse for now.

My initial panic made me completely forget everything I knew about fish, which is not a good thing. It wasn't until I starting preparing the hospital tank (i.e. doing something practical and useful) that I started to calm down a little.  ::)

I think you've got a valid point @Matt - it's also a shame that our fish can't speak and tell us how they are feeling.

Offline Rustle

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #32 on: August 24, 2018, 08:37:11 AM »
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Good to hear that Seb is no worse fingers crossed.

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Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #33 on: August 24, 2018, 02:16:07 PM »
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At some point since this morning he has moved to a different corner of the fry trap - the section over the air stone. Also, as I was removing water during the change there was a point where his head was out of the water for a moment, and I saw him open his mouth several times. I'm hoping that he was taking the opportunity to gulp some air (as opposed to trying to yell "FFS woman, leave me alone").
So, I've just done a water change, and added the medication.
I'll give him some time to settle, then try offering a bloodworm.

Thanks for all the support.  :)

Offline fcmf

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #34 on: August 24, 2018, 02:54:10 PM »
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My initial panic made me completely forget everything I knew about fish
This happens to me too, which is exactly the reason why I clarified Matt's dechlorinated water as it's very easy for the mind to read everything literally in the state of stress and potentially act on it rather than realise that a simple typo had occurred.

Keep up the good nursing skills with him - you're doing all that you can, and I'm continuing to keep my fingers crossed that it pays off.





Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #35 on: August 24, 2018, 03:26:16 PM »
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In my initial panic I didn't notice the typo. Just goes to show I wasn't reading anything properly.

Anyway, I've just offered the little fella a bloodworm, and he has eaten it.
I don't want to get my hopes up, but he seemed a bit more active today. I've also noticed that, when the water is barely covering him, he can lift his head enough to get air at the surface. This does make feeding him almost impossible, so I had to add more water to enable him to eat, then remove the water to the lower level before putting the lid back on the tank. I'm hoping that it wasn't my imagination, but when the water level was higher he also seemed a bit more upright, rather than completely flat on his side.

Again, just to reiterate, anything positive could just be my imagination - apart from the eating, he definitely did that.

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #36 on: August 24, 2018, 03:29:55 PM »
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Sending positive vibes your way Donna  :D

Offline Sue

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #37 on: August 24, 2018, 04:50:15 PM »
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Of course when he recovers you'll have a bloodworm addict on your hands  ;)

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #38 on: August 24, 2018, 05:08:25 PM »
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Thanks Matt.

Sue, he's always been a bloodworm addict. He refuses to take betta pellets from the surface, and has been known to stare at me whilst the pellets sink. In return I have been known to hide from him until he eventually swims to the substrate and picks the pellets off the sand.
In his defense, bloodworms are defrosted every day for the dwarf puffers & mudskippers, so no wonder he gets a bit grumpy.
Kimi, the pale betta, will eat anything put into his tank.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #39 on: August 25, 2018, 07:43:05 AM »
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Quick update - Seb is still with us.
I'll do another water change later today, and see how things progress.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #40 on: August 25, 2018, 05:14:34 PM »
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When I increased the water level in the tank Seb seemed more upright than he has since moving to the hospital tank. He also seemed to have a bit more energy, and even moved to get the bloodworm, rather than having to have it put in front of his mouth.
I've left the water at the higher level at the moment, and after I've fed the rest of the gang I'll go and spend some time in the spare room to observe Seb.
I had a bit of a moment earlier of not wanting to tempt fate, but thinking that perhaps his health has improved slightly. I guess we'll see how things progress over the next few days.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #41 on: August 26, 2018, 08:05:25 AM »
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Seb is still with us this morning.
Water change & bloodworm feed for him later.

Offline fcmf

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #42 on: August 26, 2018, 11:55:42 AM »
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Good to read of this - Seb is certainly a fighter (excuse the pun, given that he's a SFF). Keep up the good work with him, @Littlefish. :cheers:

Offline Lynne W

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #43 on: August 26, 2018, 04:09:02 PM »
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All crossable body part are routing for Seb, hope he pulls through.

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Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #44 on: August 26, 2018, 05:45:40 PM »
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Good to read of this - Seb is certainly a fighter (excuse the pun, given that he's a SFF).
That pun was unavoidable.  ;D

I've just increased the water level to offer some bloodworm, which he took with enthuiasm.
Again, with a higher water level he was more upright, and was moving towards the bloodworm.
I've left him with the higher water level for a while, and he is upright, but still on the bottom of the fry trap. He is having a bit of a wiggle, but not actually getting off the floor.
He has had a course of esha2000 treatment, and I'm continuing with daily water changes. His tank is currently running at around 29C, and his colour is still good.
Do I continue with this, or put him through another course of ehsa2000, or try another medication?
He seems a lot more comfortable than he was a few days ago, and my levels of concern and panic are back to reasonable levels.

Thanks all for your support & good wishes for this little fella.

Offline fcmf

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #45 on: August 26, 2018, 06:03:12 PM »
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Glad to read about these promising signs.

From recollection, eSHa 2000 refers to extended doses, and I've certainly done that whereby I've extended treatment for an additional couple of days at Day 2 and 3 levels (as opposed to taking a break and starting all over again at Day 1 dosage, etc). This might be an option for you, but others may have other suggestions.

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #46 on: August 26, 2018, 06:28:11 PM »
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I would go with adding a couple of extra doses at the lower rate.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #47 on: August 26, 2018, 07:26:25 PM »
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Thanks both, I'll go with the extended lower dose regime and see how he gets on with that.

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #48 on: August 26, 2018, 09:41:05 PM »
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Sounds like good news. I would also be tempted to start to bring the temperature down a bit to more 'normal' levels... may be a couple of degrees over a couple of days. And maybe try him on some of his normal food too.

Offline Littlefish

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Re: Betta laying on side at bottom of tank
« Reply #49 on: August 26, 2018, 10:33:00 PM »
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Sounds like a sensible idea.

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