Sunday, August 7, 2016

unorganized information about sicknesses

Twister the betta's got popeye going on, and I"m hoping that's not what's causing all the minor little problems in my tank.
For those of you who didn't do your basic Betta Fish Popeye reading, let's have some review:
  • ~Popeye is when your fish's eye gets swollen and sticks out of the head a bit. In Twister's case, it's also cloudy. I'll see if I can take a picture tomorrow, but he's asleep right now and I'm not going to stress out my sick fish unnecessarily for the sake of educating your guys, sorry. There's pictures on google.
  • ~Popeye is a symptom, not a disease. The actual cause can be a bacteria, virus, or fungus.
  • ~Because of this, if you treat for the wrong thing, it's not going to do any good. You need to know what the cause is.
Okay, so here's what I'm doing, complete with abuse of the formatting tools. If anyone out there thinks I'm doing the wrong thing or has any advice, let me know! I'm not a 100% fish expert, I can be wrong, and I don't want my fish to die, so I'm going to listen to anyone with any advice. (I'll translate this for the non fish people in case you just love my writing or something)
1) Like with all fish shit, first thing to look at when a fish is sick is tank parms. Mine's a split 20l with 4 male betta, cycled UGF, 78 degrees, 0/0/15 
*(Translation: 20L is a size of tank, 4 male betta live in it, "split" means I'm not a nutbag trying to keep 4 violent fish with each other. Their spaces are split, but their water is shared, so they all have been exposed to whatever made Twister sick. Cycled means it's established the nitrogen cycle and ammonia waste is being converted into nitrate by the bacterial filter. UGF is a type of filter. Sometimes people ask what kind of filter because certain filters are known to be unstable, and some don't have good places for filter-bacteria colonies to grow, so it's always a good idea to mention. 78 degrees is the temperature of the tank, and 0/0/15 is my ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. Everyone lists them in the ammonia-nitrIte-nitrAte order, pretty much always. "parms" is short for "parameters" and not "parmesans")
If you're asking for fish help, always provide this information up front.
Even though I know that my water stays in the good range with my current maintenance schedule, I still checked this anyway. I use API's liquid ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate tests. I don't like test strips, because they expire much more quickly, and lose accuracy.
WHAT THIS MEANS: In any case where your betta is sick, if the water isn't 76-82 degrees or your water levels aren't 0/0/<40, the first step is to make that happen. I say it every time I talk about betta help, MOST BETTA SICKNESS IS CAUSED BY BAD WATER QUALITY.
If the water was bad, the first thing I would do is change the water to get it to the right level. Then, if it's not immediately life-threatening, I'll give it 24 hours of careful watching but no further treatment.
In my case, the water's fine. Depending on the sickness, I might boost the heat of the filter, but I'm not going to do that until I know what's causing the sickness.

2) Step two is to look for other symptoms. That's right, you make sure the water's right before you look for other symptoms. If the water's not right, that needs to be fixed. Nothing else matters until the water quality is better. You can't tell what symptoms are sickness and what symptoms are water quality until you get the water quality in line. 
The first thing is to look for any life-threatening symptoms. Is the sick fish sitting on the bottom, panting or gasping? If you've got a community tank like mine, you need to look at all the fish. Anyone on the bottom struggling to breathe? Is anyone bloated or swollen around their middle? This can be a sign of organ failure, especially if they also have scales sticking out. Does anyone have fuzzy things around their mouths? This is the sign of columnaris, which is a nasty bacterial infection that needs fast treatment.
If I see any of those, there's no time to wait. Something needs to be done and it needs to be done fast. I usually pull the fish into a hospital tank of new water, so I can get a better look at them and look for anything else. Swollen fish get epsom salts, obvious bacterial infections get antibiotics, and so on.

Other symptoms <list in incomplete. Always google your symptoms*>
Fungal/Parasitic: fuzzy spots not on the mouth, raised white dots, gold dusting that shines under a flashlight, indent-lookin' thing between the eyes
Bacterial: sores, cloudy eyes, ragged fins that won't go away with clean water
Other: torn fins that showed up suddenly, things that look like physical damage
Long-term: tumors, scars, the suchlike. 

My tank's symptoms:
Twister: the stickin' out eye. No fin damage or rot, no body damage, no lumps or scars. Nice iridescent shine. Acting withdrawn and has been spending time at the back of the tank, sleeping on plants or the floor. Has been withdrawn for maybe 3 days. No trouble moving or floating. Breathing normal. Not struggling to reach the surface. Swimming normally, but less active. Good weight.
Bo: Swimming normally and actively. Iridescent like normal. Raggedy fins that have been refusing to grow properly for over a year (can be the sign of a bacterial infection, but I'd chalked it up to bad genetics). Internal tumor-like lump (could be bacterial) showing through his skin that's been there for 3+ months. Good weight.
Mr Tipsy: Mr Tipsy has some fucked up genetics. Skinny due to not eating well due to mouth that doesn't close. Tumor-like lump on one side that's been there for 5+ months, tumor-like lump on the other side that's been there for 3+ months. Not iridescent and never has been, so useless diagnostic criteria. No fin damage or rot. Swimming normally.
Fierce Mango: Black tips on his tail rays (can be bacterial but could also be coloring). Growing normally and eating and swimming well. 

All in all, what I saw with my fish was several things that, on their own, weren't worrying me (except Twister's eye), but when looking at the whole tank, made me think bacteria. Since I'd treated the whole tank with prazi (an antifungal) less than 6 months ago and nothing new had been introduced except Fmango (who had also been treated with prazi when I got him), I thought bacteria was more likely than fungal. 
If your fish is sick, but not looking life-threatening, it's usually better to start with an antifungal than an antibiotic. Antifungals don't make resistant bacteria and they're more easily processed by the kidneys of the fish.
If your fish has damage, like a torn fin or a wound, bettafix is an okay product. Bettafix is an antiseptic, not an antibiotic. It doesn't do anything for internal infections. It doesn't do anything for bacterial problems that aren't cuts or scrapes. Think of it like fish neosporin. Also, if you see an oily sheen on your water, do a big change right away. The oil in bettafix is actively bad for their fish lungs.
If I thought it was viral, all I could do would be to separate the sick fish, empty and clean the whole tank, leave it to dry for a few days, and reassemble it.

But since I had good reason to believe that it's bacterial, I stuck two packets of API tetracycline in the water in agreement with the package directions, and now I wait and keep following the instructions. 
Because I had good reason to think everyone was exposed, I'm treating the whole tank instead of excluding Twister. 
 When you're using an antibiotic, it's extremely important to follow the instructions exactly and to use the proper dose for the proper length of time. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are a real thing and they're scary and you don't want them in your tank. 
Because I'm really tired, the story ends here for tonight.

*75% of my betta care is googleing shit for other people

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