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Author Topic: Fin Rot and NitrAte poisoning: Can I mix these meds, if not, treat which 1st?  (Read 4888 times)
Akeath
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« on: August 03, 2009, 10:14:49 AM »

I noticed a few days ago that my boyfriend's Betta has been acting ill, laying on the bottom of the tank all the time with his fins clamped and not eating. Last night I grew concerned enough to bring all of my test kits over to check his water. I hadn't taken a really good look at him for a while, either.
The test results were quite disconcerting.
Ammonia: 0.5 ppm
NitrIte: 0 ppm
NitrAte: between 80-160 ppm
pH: off the chart low

The tank is 2 1/2 gallons, temp is 80 (it has a mini heater), running on a  Whisper Micro Filter, it has been established for at least 1/2 a year.  Upon questioning, my boyfriend hasn't been changing the water as often as he should. 

With some effort, I got the fish to get up so I could look at him. I then discovered that he had fin rot, kind've severe. I also noted that one gill was inflamed, and he was breathing oddly. My boyfriend and I immediately headed out to the pet store, but we found that all of them were closed. It was Sunday night. We went to every one in the area, and then went quite a bit out of the way, but it was all the same. So I went back to my boyfriend's house and did a water change, which lowered the NitrAte down to 10 ppm and the pH became 6.5. At that inopportune moment, my Ammonia testing kit ran out of drops. I think it is safe to assume that there is still a lot of ammonia in there though, from past experience of how much water changes effect Ammonia.
Right now I am waiting for the clock to tell me it is time for the pet stores to open. I read up on NitrAte poisoning, and found that it changes the Hemoglobin in the blood so it doesn't carry as much oxygen, which would explain the gills and breathing. I found that Methylene Blue was a treatment for this. I also know that I need to pick up either Maracin 1 and 2 or Tetracycline for the fin rot. I also want to grab some Ammo Chips to get that Ammonia down.
My biggest question is, can I mix Methylene Blue with either of the fin rot medications? If not, what should I treat first?  Are there any other treatments for the same problems that I can mix?
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Wheels on the Bus
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« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2009, 11:22:45 AM »

1. Continue to change water to keep the levels in check- but you already knew that. Smiley Usually when nitrate is that high, a series of smaller water changes is done to gradually lower the amount of nitrate in the water.
2. You don't need the ammo chips if you are doing daily or twice a day water changes.
3. Use one med at a time with this fish- it has already had quite a shock, and may not survive due to the living conditions. You can use maracyn 1 and 2 at the same time- they are designed to be complementary. I would not use those at the same time as methylene blue.
4. If there is ammonia in the water, the tank being "established' for at least 1/2 year is irrelevant. It's not cycled anymore, if it ever was.
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« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2009, 06:22:47 PM »

That seems like a pretty drastic change in Nitrate, wouldn't that cause shock?  Is there a filter in the tank?  I think 2.5g is pretty small, even for a betta. 
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« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2009, 06:46:20 AM »

What was done to that microfilter to kill the bacteria?  Has it been rinsed in tap water?

You need to do a LOT of small water changes. 

The best treatment for nitrate problems is to correct the problem, not "treat the problem".  Change the water.  If your hand hurts, you take an advil, but unless you open the car door and remove you hand from the latch, the pain won't go away no matter how much advil you take.

FYI: the fin rot is also being caused by water quality issues.  If its bad, go ahead and treat it. But keep changing the water.
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Akeath
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« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2009, 05:31:33 PM »

Thanks for the help, I'll be sure not to mix the medications then.
There is a filter, and as far as I know, the filter hasn't been touched.  He knows not to rinse it with tap water or anything, and I quizzed him on if he'd rinsed anything in the tank or put in water before putting in dechlorinator, changed all of the media at once, etc. when I noticed something was wrong.  I have a feeling that the problem came from overfeeding, is that likely?  Apparently, the Betta had been snubbing his flakes for some time now and just eating his pellets, and no one noticed.  When I did the water change, the amount of detritus was amazing to me (I have some idea of how much detritus is normal from my own weekly water changes on my tanks).  Yesterday I took my boyfriend to the pet store where he bought a gravel vacuum, and we cleaned out most of the detritus. 
I feel stupid now for changing so much of the water, I didn't think of him going into shock from the change in nitrate.  I did act as if he was a new fish though, floating him in a bag etc. before introducing him to the clean water.  But now that I think of it, would that help much for acclimating to anything other than temperature?  I see now that I was very thoughtless with the shock issue. 
Luckily, the Betta hasn't shown any signs of shock.  In the cleaner water, he finally regained some of his energy, swimming around, and eating the 3 Hikari Betta Bio-Gold pellets offered to him by my boyfriend. 
I remembered that I had some fin rot medication (Tetracycline drops that the fish eats) left over from a Betta I had rescued who already had the disease.  I'd kept it stored correctly in the fridge, and the label said that, as long as it was refrigerated (which it was) it would be good until September of 2010.  Remembering how well it had worked on my rescue, I put it in a cooler for the 1/2 hour trip to my boyfriend's house and left it in his fridge, with directions to start treatment after the fish hadn't eaten for 24 hours, and to do daily water changes of 10-20% to help with the water parameters. 
If the 2 1/2 gallon is too small for the Betta, perhaps I could give him a 5 gallon as a present for our anniversary, it is coming up in September.  If I get it soon, I might be able to get it cycled by our anniversary, and the gift would be ready for him to put his fish in on the date.  That would be cool.  I'll talk to him about it. happy
One more question:  I understand that aeration is desirable in a tank with ammonia levels, would that be applicable to this situation, considering that the fish is a Betta and the tank 2 1/2 gallons?  If so, I can get an air stone in there pretty soon, I already have an extra air pump, with a dial that can go between quite a few levels of air, and extra check valves and air line tubing, all we would need was the stone. 
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Akeath
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« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2009, 05:22:46 PM »

I decided to go ahead and use an air stone in there, and it has really helped.  He isn't panting anymore, and his gill looks less inflamed.  He's found a nice place to rest near the top of the tank, where he can gulp atmospheric air without having to swim up anywhere.  He is a bit more active than before, but still is usually just resting. 
The aeration is about the only good thing that has happened....   lazyboy
I went over to my boyfriend's the day before yesterday I think, to test the water and check on the fish.  It took me about 5 seconds to realize the filter was off.  "How long has the filter been off?"
"What?"
"The filter is off.  It was on when went I home the other day, but now its off."
Long story short, he reckoned it had been off a couple of hours.  We found that it was partially unplugged. 
I tested the water, and found that the Ammonia had risen 0.5 ppm to 1 ppm, and the Nitrites from 0 to 1 ppm.  So I felt it was safe to assume the bacteria had died.  We did a water change to get those levels down as much as possible (an extra one, besides the daily ones we are already performing), then I took him to the store to get some Tetra Safe Start, which is the fresh water version of the cycling product bio-spira, and supposedly has live bacteria in it.  I've heard varying reviews of that, either that is is great or didn't work at all, but I figured it couldn't hurt.  Then I went home to get a couple of Bio-Stars from my cycled 75 gallon, I have tons of them between my filters in there.  I carefully transported them to his house, then put them in his filter.  Then I went back home for the night. 
My boyfriend hasn't been able to get Amarant to eat his medicine once.  I have twice, but I can't get him to do it consistently. 
Next day I returned with my test kits.  Ammonia was back down to 0.5, nitrites were quite high, nitrates were 20.  Water changes to get the nitrites down to 0.5 again, then off to the pet store to get some Maracyn 1 and 2, since he wasn't eating the tetracycline.  Put in the medicine, fed him 3 pellets.  He came to life when he saw them, going after them with gusto and more energy that I thought he possessed.  Discussion on how to get water changes done without messing up the dosages of medicine too much, then another testing, whereupon I found the meds were messing with my test results, so I told him to assume the levels were horrible and act accordingly. 
He thinks Amarant will be okay, since his behavior has improved so much.
I'm still worried, primarily because of the death of the bacteria, and knowing the aquarium is going through a cycle that would be hard on a healthy fish, let alone a sick one.  *deep sigh*  It seems that everything that can go wrong is going wrong.  I've certainly got my hands full trying to save this fishy. 
Well, at least my boyfriend understands the importance of regular water changes now.  To his credit, he is working very hard to get Amarant healthy again.  He's doing everything he can, going on with his daily water changes and buying all the medications etc. without hesitation, and he is very sad and angry at himself for letting things come to this.  I talked to him about getting him a 5 gallon, to see if he would like the idea before I went out and bought it (I think the household would be in an uproar if he didn't want one and I came home with yet another tank.  I don't think I have enough self control to buy one and then return it if he didn't want it, even if it isn't big enough to put much in it.)  Anyways, he was thrilled with the idea, so that is pretty much determined. 
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Akeath
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2009, 10:58:35 PM »

Update:

It is beginning to look like Amarant might pull through this.  His fin rot is beginning to get better, and he grows more active by the day.  My boyfriend is still doing daily water changes and gravel vacuuming. 
We went and got a 5 gallon kit (and I bought a heater and thermometer separately), but when we opened it at his house he saw it wasn't a bowfront, and said he didn't want a regular rectangular tank.  So we'll have to return that one and get a 5 gallon bowfront kit instead. 
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Lyarlla
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« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2009, 06:04:30 AM »

Hi there Akeath. First let me congratulate you on your persistence to save your boyfriends betta Smiley The frequent water changes are very good and will be the primary factor in the recovery from both the nitrate poisoning and the fin rot. In an unfiltered 2.5 gallon tank, normally you would do an 80% water change weekly and a 40% water change weekly. Although with a fully functional filter you could get away with a bit less. Be sure when you clean the tank to clean out the gunk amongst the gravel at the bottom. The spike you witnessed which caused both the poisoning and fin rot comes from lack of water changes as mentioned above and also from the excess uneaten food which would lead to a rise in bacteria. Flakes often result in water fouling faster since betta will often spit them out before eating them again resulting in food fragments also dispersing into the water. You also mentioned the betta was not eating all the flakes. Uneaten food should be removed within 30 minutes ideally to avoid fouling the water.

I agree totally with your reacclimatising of your betta and treating him like a new fish when you readded him to the tank. Many people are unaware how sensitive betta can be to temperature changes, and you were correct to assume betta will go into shock from temperature changes. Be careful with the airstone. Even at lowest settings, in small tanks such as 2.5 gallons they have a tendency to move the water around a fair bit. If your betta has long flowy fins, water movement can exhaust your betta and stress him out and sometimes cause them to go into depression. Given your betta is a labyrinth fish, and given the regular water changes you are doing, it is unlikely the air stone is helping him much. I would be inclined to believe that the regular water changes are what is making the difference to his no longer breathing heavily and his recovery.

Be sure not to medicate for fin rot longer than the medications suggest. Watch for red tips on the edges of the fins as these are signs of an infection. The fins can take many weeks before regrowth will show. If you can get your hands on something called indian almond leaves or ketapang leaves, these work wonders for preventing and assisting with fin rot in the milder stages. Otherwise, clean water and some aquarium salt or sea salt (NOT table salt) will also help him recover and promote regrowth Smiley Once again I commend you on your efforts towards saving this betta from what was otherwise sure to be a painful death!!
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« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2009, 11:56:42 AM »

I would disagree with adding salt to this tank, as you are already adding a medication. I would also not add any leaves to this tank. What you are doing seems to be working, so don't change it. There is such a thing as over medication.
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Akeath
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« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2009, 12:56:54 PM »

Thank you for the kind words.  
His treatment with the medication is now over.  His fins look much better.  It is no longer dark and slimy looking at the edges (He's a bright red Betta, so I look for the slightly darker color and the slimy texture rather than if his fins are red, since they are always red).  I think the bacteria causing the fin rot is gone, and now we just have to take care of him so he can gradually grow back some of his fin.  We did a large water change after the last day of treatment was over, and I put in some new activated carbon to take care of the medicine that hadn't been removed in the water change.  Next time I have an opportunity to get there, I am going to test the water again.  Hopefully, the levels will be better then.  He is still doing the daily partial water changes, I told him to keep doing it until I was satisfied that the tank was fully cycled again, and to monitor the water carefully afterward.  
Amarant does dislike the aeration.  I took it out for a bit, watching carefully for the result.  Unfortunately, his gills began to labor heavily again shortly after I took the air stone out.  I put it back in, and his breathing became more regular.  So for now, I'm going to keep it in there.  When the ammonia tests 0, I'll take it out, because then there will be a more normal amount of dissolved oxygen in there, but while there is still ammonia lowering the amount of dissolved oxygen, I think it might be best to keep it.  
My boyfriend wanted the 5 gallon model of the 2 1/2 gallon he has now, the mini bow acrylic aquarium kit.  He says that a) he likes the hood a lot b) he likes bows, not rectangular tanks and c) the filters that come with it have very low settings that won't bother a Betta.  
I finally found it for a decent price (from the same place I got all of the artificial plants for my 75 gallon).  All I have to do is have him look at the pictures to make sure he hasn't changed his mind about the color and order it, then get some more of the gravel he has now.  I've already got an appropriately rated heater and a thermometer for it.  We'll have to cycle it too, of course.  He's getting the additional decorations himself.  And I think he will have to end up getting his own test kits too, you really need those when you are doing a fishless cycle.  Then again, I can't think of a time when you don't really need those.   Wink
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« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2009, 02:25:15 PM »

You could always set up the tank, move the old filtration components into the new tank's filter, and transfer the fish- no restarting of the cycle involved. Smiley  I'm glad this is working out so well for you and the fish.
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« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2009, 06:23:16 AM »

Ammonia has no impact on available oxygen in a tank.  None. 

Nitrite however bonds to the hemoglobin easier than oxygen and while there may be oxygen in the water, the fish isn't able to get a hold of it easily.

The filter really should provide sufficient aeration, especially for a labyrinth fish.
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