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Lost a betta to dropsy!! What happened!? Rant included

2057 Views 8 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  92cw12
I've read as much as I could find on this forum, and outside, regarding the fatal disease, and am wondering if it can be attributed as a condition, as one poster put it.

fish:betta splendins, dark deep red, from brother's wedding and made a three hour trip in a car to our home from said wedding.

tank:10 gallon, laterite and gravel mixture topped with beige beach sand(store bought), powerhead filter, and live plants.

backstory:my second eldest brother took a liking to this betta from my oldest brother's wedding, so he took him home with us earlier this year April. I decided to give the betta a better home by eventually moving him to a 10 gallon planted tank from his inappropriate shiny 2 gallon vase, with no plants, and with the glass pebbles to boot, since fish absolutely LOVE that crap. Initially, the betta lived in said vase and did extremely well with distilled water changes treated for ph and the removal of chloramines and chlorine. The betta was finally moved to the planted 10 gallon tank in early August, and appeared to do well. Fish food provided was the same, betta tailored pellets, including overfeeding on my older brother's behalf which I could only verbally control, save a proper slap in the face, which never happened. Just yesterday, my brother tells me the fish doesn't appear to be well, and after isolating into a quarantine tank, finally dies from what appears to be dropsy. "How the hell can you kill a labyrinth fish known for being hardy" was my upset thought process.

conjecture:In the unplanted 2 gallon vase with just plain white gravel and with regular distilled water changes treated for ph and negative chemicals the betta was very healthy, and was so for four months. In the live planted 10 gallon tank with regular tap water changes treated for the same chemicals, the betta died. I'm wondering if overfeeding in an environment with an actual bacterial cycle could have contributed to this? Any thoughts?

ps. I built my brother this tank so that he could have a source of relaxation other than tv; he only fed the fish.
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I wouldn't put too much thought into it. There are a lot of variables that you didn't mention. Over all a bigger tank is better for the betta.

Overfeeding the fish is a possibility... It might has clogged its internal organs and cause dropsy. It's quite common. Some people go a whole day without feeding and the rest of the time would feed a little at a time. And they would feed a variety of foods like, dry, frozen, live etc..
I forgot to mention that the overfeeding was the same in both tanks. Also, I'd replace all of the water in the 2 gallon tank weekly with treated distilled water and rinse and clean the entire tank before returning him to it, versus only water changes in the larger 10 gallon tank with treated tap water. It is very clear to me that the betta's health was better in the smaller tank than in the larger live planted tank. My only viable theory here is that there might have been an imbalance in the bacteria in the larger tank egged on by overfeeding, as the smaller tank's water was completely replaced on a weekly basis, and thus had no chance for a bacterial cycle at all. He had no tankmates at all in either tanks. The larger tank had some algae problems, which I contributed to good tank health, and kept in check. I buried him today in the backyard, I sure am gonna miss that little guy darting out of the water for that first pellet; I fed him a pellet at a time.
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Keep in mind these fish are bred for fin shape and coloration. They are not as hardy as they once were. Pretend you adopted a Golden Retriever and it got hip dysplasia- it's not just the home you gave or the food you fed. Not to say dropsy isn't caused by those factors- it can be, but usually the most commonly affected fish are goldfish (very inbred), guppies (ditto) and bettas (yup).

So, I really wouldn't be angry with yourself. Perhaps pick a fish closer to a wild-type like a paradisefish. If you kill a blue paradisefish then you may want to rant on yourself ;)

Considering what most Betta's have to go through before they ever come into our home, I'm amazed that any of them survive.
Even though some of them do survive for a while, they may have underlying issues that we can't see until it's too late.
As stated, don't beat yourself up, and good for you for trying to make his surroundings so much better. :)

BTW, you did yell at your brother for using live Betta's at his wedding didn't you?? ;)
I've considered getting larger fish for their resilience, but realize that smaller fish is where its at if you want to be really good at the aqua;this is my personal standard, and in no way forced onto another. Having read more about dropsy, I've come across some articles on keeping calcium and other electrolytes in the aquarium water to aid the fishbody osmosis. The article eventually led to a purchaseable item called wondershells. What I've read really opened my eyes regarding water changes, its not just the frequency, but the type of water you change; ro and distilled are the worst kind, unless re-mineralized with electrolytes. I'm wondering what the APC community's word is on electrolytes and their effects on fishbody osmosis. Here are/is the links to the articles.
I've considered getting larger fish for their resilience, but realize that smaller fish is where its at if you want to be really good at the aqua;this is my personal standard, and in no way forced onto another.
If you want to be really good at what? I don't follow. (I've had an off day though, and may just be reading your message wrong :) )

Paradisefish don't get that much larger than a betta and if you're keeping a 10g anyways, it would be very happy in that size aquarium. You could do some danios with it even.

As far as osmosis- sure electrolytes and minerals play an important role. The whole idea of using distilled water for betta bowls stems from the issues created by florists "creating" betta vases. Thinking the fish and plant need the purest water (why they think that, who knows but it likely stems from their lack of fish knowledge) lead to major issues with people using "pure" water. BUT dropsy has been around for a long time, before pure water was really readily available. There are more issues to the disease than just too few nutrients.

As far as "wonder shells" what a crock. Sorry to be blunt but that product is only calcium carbonate- you can achieve the same thing with crushed coral mixed in the gravel (small qty given the environment), powdered buffers, etc. Also, this does affect the KH... where they are getting that it doesn't is purely confusing....

There are chain pet stores around here that push a similar product. It's just an expensive way to do buffer the water in small "cute" doses.

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What I meant was, if you can keep the most fragile creatures alive in a contained environment, then it can be taken as a sign of good care, and move onto bigger, more resilient fish. Hence my personal beginner's choice for smaller fish and shrimp.

I got the same idea about the wondershells, I read about adding crushed shells in the substrate to add to hard water nutrients over time. I use shells from my beach hunts myself.

The electrolytes in the water struck a chord with me however, as I'm trying to setup a low maintenance naturally planted tank that requires no water column fertilizers. This would mean that if fish and shrimp were eventually added to the tank, I'd still have to dose with some electrolytes for optimal fish health?
well i know quite a lot about bettas in my opinion your fish did not die of dropsy. it died of old age. bettas only live for about 2 years sometimes 3 and in some circumstances 5 but chances are when u received your betta it was about 1.5 years old that's when pet shops sell them because they have longer fins than young bettas. also bettas tolerate all sorts of water conditions.
by the way did your tank have quite a strong filtration?
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