Sick white head betta

Keiko21

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Hello everybody :),

My betta is usually blue. But since few days, her head is becoming white. I suspect that she's sick. She's also breathing faster than usual, but there are no other symptoms. My betta is active, seems happy as usual. Like nothing happened. I want to precise also that she has the swollen belly (but that is since 2 months).

My other female betta in the tank has no problem.

I have cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) in my tank since 2 weeks, maybe it's correlated.

The only change I made is adding new plants 3 weeks before. So, no big change.

I give in the tank Tee Tree oil since I saw white coloration in my betta head (in fact, this oil cured my other female betta like 3 months ago for another disease). For now, it doesn't changed anything.

I saw that it can be white head disease, but my betta is not lethargic, she eats a lot like usual, keeping dominating my other female betta with no problem.

My aquarium is a filtered29 gallons or 110 L for 2 female bettas, is 25 Celsius or 77 Fahrenheit, I have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite and unfortunately, 0 nitrate (some of my plants doesn't enjoy that...).

I am not an expert so I would like from you some advices, as I started this hobby 4 months ago.

Thank you :)

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Simon Cole

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Keep an eye out for red patches, raised or missing scales etc. and post back if observed. They do change colour as they grow.
 

Keiko21

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Keep an eye out for red patches, raised or missing scales etc. and post back if observed. They do change colour as they grow.
Thanks for your response. My betta is an adult, I bought her adult. But I will update my post if something changed.
 

Simon Cole

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Start by tweeking her diet. Start a culture of flightless fruit flies and grindal worms. Go and collect some mosquito larvae, and aphids or caterpillars if they are on edible plants like cabbages or brambles. Feed regularly to keep the fish active, but try not to let the fish get bloated. Your photo shows a slightly bloated overfed fish.
I am not 100% sure that this is not just the start of a bacterial infection. Take photographs and pay great attention to any changes - if the whitening spreads I'll get straight back to you.
You might as well invest in a cheap set of scientific scales (sensitive to 0.01g) because it will give you a jump start if you need to treat fish quickly. I would also buy some potassium permanganate crystals and some high quality sea salt. Put these items on stand by. We can use each of these to treat your fish to slow down any infection, if we need additional time to look for antibiotics, in the future. For now I would assume that your fish has enough immunity and a slightly better diet could be enough.
 

Simon Cole

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Also - change your water 50% every week. Keep the water oxygenated. Create some rest areas - dark areas and tunnels to keep her happy. Minimise stress. Avoid fast flows. In short - optimise everything and keep your fish active not stressed.
 

sparkyweasel

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Hi Keiko21. :)

I would stop using the Tea Tree Oil, it can be very harmful and there is no evidence that it helps.
Iknow your other fish recovered, but we don't know if the oil helped at all.

Catappa leaves would be useful, they have been shown to boost the health of fish, especially Bettas. Available from aquarium shops or the internet. Just place one or two in the tank.

Water changes, as Simon recommends. Or, if you already do 50% weekly, increase it. The cyanobacteria could indicate deteriorating water quality. Be sure to use tapwater conditioner, and warm the new water to match the tank temperature, to minimise stress for your fish.
 

Keiko21

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Start by tweeking her diet. Start a culture of flightless fruit flies and grindal worms. Go and collect some mosquito larvae, and aphids or caterpillars if they are on edible plants like cabbages or brambles. Feed regularly to keep the fish active, but try not to let the fish get bloated. Your photo shows a slightly bloated overfed fish.
I am not 100% sure that this is not just the start of a bacterial infection. Take photographs and pay great attention to any changes - if the whitening spreads I'll get straight back to you.
You might as well invest in a cheap set of scientific scales (sensitive to 0.01g) because it will give you a jump start if you need to treat fish quickly. I would also buy some potassium permanganate crystals and some high quality sea salt. Put these items on stand by. We can use each of these to treat your fish to slow down any infection, if we need additional time to look for antibiotics, in the future. For now I would assume that your fish has enough immunity and a slightly better diet could be enough.
Thanks a lot for this detailed reply! I will consider your advice for sure!
And yes, my betta is bloated. I started a diet for her 1 month ago, after I learn that the size of the betta stomach is about eye betta size. She eats like my other bettas who don't have this concern, so I don't understand why she's bloated.
I give them high proteinate food, and dried shrimp (they don't like blood worms). But no raw food, so I will consider your advice.

I have salt (Fluval) and Pimafix (API) in case of something goes bad. However, I don't like antibiotics. I would rather prefer a natural alternative. Maybe something preventive?

Also - change your water 50% every week. Keep the water oxygenated. Create some rest areas - dark areas and tunnels to keep her happy. Minimise stress. Avoid fast flows. In short - optimise everything and keep your fish active not stressed.
Usually, I change the water each week for 60%-30% depending of the aquarium cleanliness. But since I have those Cyanobacteria, I change at least 50% of the water. The water is properly oxygenated, and I have a big cave where she can be hidden, but she's not shy and love to explore her environment (and dominate the other female as well). I have a huge plant, but some parts are covered by Cyanobacteria and the plant doesn't like that. The other female like to be hidden, she has some favorite spots to hide but strangely, she likes to be with her dominating female, it doesn't seem to upset her when the other is trying to dominate her. Although, she seems to be stressed (horizontal lines) by that when she tries to rest. Maybe because when she rests, she's not in alert state?
I considered to separate these two females but I am not sure. What do you think?

But overall, they all seem happy. Active fishes and they like to see me! (I hope! :p)

Hi Keiko21. :)

I would stop using the Tea Tree Oil, it can be very harmful and there is no evidence that it helps.
Iknow your other fish recovered, but we don't know if the oil helped at all.

Catappa leaves would be useful, they have been shown to boost the health of fish, especially Bettas. Available from aquarium shops or the internet. Just place one or two in the tank.

Water changes, as Simon recommends. Or, if you already do 50% weekly, increase it. The cyanobacteria could indicate deteriorating water quality. Be sure to use tapwater conditioner, and warm the new water to match the tank temperature, to minimise stress for your fish.
Hi, thanks for your reply! :)

I would like to know, why Tee Tree oil can harm fish? (I put them a small amount in their tank). It's into Melafix (and Bettafix) composition. I considered to buy Melafix. Do you think it's a bad choice?
But thanks for this advice, I will stop to use that for now!

I've read that many kinds of leaves can be used also to improve fish health. But I wonder why catappa leaves are better than other leaves?

And yes, I use a conditioner, and the water is warm when I add it. I think those Cyanobacterias come from the lack of nitrate. Some of my plants seems to suffer because of that. I am always at 0 nitrate, even if I add daily dose of Flourish Nitrogen. (I always add a daily bacteria dose by the way). Maybe because my plants (and cyanos) need them so badly? I tried to increase the dose also. And when I do the water change, I remove cyanobacterias. But I can't remove the green spots on the plants. In fact, only my plants are covered of those green spots and viscous mass when they develop. This viscous mass is about 5 cm in diameter after one week, and localized at the top of my big plant. The green spots are everywhere on plants but doesn't seems to develop.

PS: Sorry for my broken English, I try my best
 

alto

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I considered to separate these two females but I am not sure. What do you think?
The less dominant female would likely be happier on her own

Or you can try keeping a larger group of female Bettas - the idea of a Betta Sorority (group of female Bettas that live together quite peacefully) works quite well with Betta females from the same spawn that have been raised together in a large tank, though you may need to remove super dominant females to maintain this relatively peaceful existence long term

Most hobbyists attempt to repeat this with unrelated females, it can work to some degree if females are fairly well matched (again removing the most and least dominant) and if females are still juveniles/young adults when introduced, and tank is suitably large and well decorated (densely planted or lots of wood and leaf litter etc) and there are sufficient numbers of females (10 is a suggested minimum in a 90cm long tank)
Of course as the females mature, some may not work in the long term (needing to be separated) so one should begin with a few “extra”
Adding more females to an established group is more difficult

Knowing your Betta lines and working with less aggressive lines increases the chance of long term success

Definitely avoid fighting fish bloodlines

Melafix and Pimafix are not recommended for any labyrinth fish (all betta species, gouramis etc) as these compounds have been shown to “coat” the tissue to some degree, limiting oxygen exchange
(Unfortunately the manufacturer/retailers continue to market these products as “wonder drugs” :banghead:
AND regulators do nothing to discourage this)

Quote from Mongabay.com
“This organ enables this fish to breathe in oxygen-deprived waters. This organ is located just above the gills andconsists of folded skin tissues that are lined with numerous blood vessels. This accessory respiratory organ allows Labyrinth fish to breathe air from the surface of the water.”

Cyanobacteria in large amounts (and especially if “killed” with antibiotic treatments) can release potential toxins, so it is helpful to remove this from aquaria, and increase oxygenation of water when it is present - this is where the labyrinth organ is so helpful to bettas, they can go to the surface and gulp air to breathe
(this works best when the air is warm and humid)

I doubt that the Cyanobacteria has any link to your Betta’s white head - as mentioned she does look a little swollen, so I’d suggest not feeding for a few days to see if she improves
You can also try adding some Epsom salt to the aquarium water (though your plants may be less happy, depending on plant species) though this is more often done in a separate container
If your fish has some food “stuck” (impacted), this may help her poop it out - this works best if fish have room to swim etc as activity will help gut movement
Epsom salt may also relieve some swelling, making fish feel more comfortable

http://www.bettaboxx.com/betta-disease-illness/dropsy/

Bettaboxx also includes this page

http://www.bettaboxx.com/betta-disease-illness/tuberculosis/

Before we get started we should mention that it’s quite rare for a betta to contract tuberculosis,

Unfortunately this is far from the truth (I don’t know the site, but my preferred Betta site has gone inactive and Bettaboxx has a reasonable Epsom salt page - perhaps the site author is misinformed or hasn’t updated the information in some time)
Incidence of various fish mycobacterium species (fish TB) have been observed in upwards of 40% of shipped Bettas (one farm in one study had an incidence of over 70%), these young fish appear healthy at the time of sale/shipping and usually when purchased ... over time and especially if stressed (by various factors) these fish will develop active disease state
Once this happens, death may be fairly rapid or quite slow (depending upon the individual fish and the type of Mycobacteria species)

Note I’m not suggesting at this point that your female Betta has active fish TB
She may be basically fine (with some color changes) or have some other internal bacterial infection or may just need a different diet


If possible, I’d suggest changing water daily - with daily removal of the Cyanobacteria and algae - and see how things go
Daily water changes mean that potential algae spores and potential fish pathogens (bacteria etc) are removed every day

Depending on your tank temperature, you might lower this a little

(I’d probably do a short term Epsom salt bath with this fish, then return her to the tank, she may improve with the daily water changes)
 

Simon Cole

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I have saved bettas that had columnaris and lost 50% of their scales and were listing. Seriously. It can be done. I agree with everything Alto has said. The route I normally follow is: 1) diet (nutrients), 2) salt (isostatic balance), 3) potassium permanganate (topical elimination pathogens), 4) antibiotics (systemic elimination of specific pathogen). I don't think we are any way near to stage 3 or 4 yet, so don't worry. Epsom salts are a fantastic recommendation. I was thinking your fish might have a slightly weak slime coat, and all that oil was probably not helping much. But yeh, your fish could do with some nice soft live food. Think about all the lovely vitamins. :hungry:

BTW, Catappa leaves have over 200 active ingredients and many are still being researched. Some plants are like god's remedy - just pure magic.
 

Keiko21

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Thank you alto for this kindly detailed reply! :) I will consider your advice!
The less dominant female would likely be happier on her own
Okay, but do you think I should buy them other fish species or it's better to leave them alone?
Depending on your tank temperature, you might lower this a little
I have a 25C/77F tank. Why should I lower the temperature?
I will buy Epsom salt and Catappa leaves, and see if my fish has better health!
Your English is fine
- and likely much better than any second language I might attempt!
:)
Thanks a lot! It gives me brave to keep learning and practice!


Thank you Simon Cole :)
Seriously. It can be done
I have no doubt!
Think about all the lovely vitamins
I agree that processed food is not the best, as it does not come from nature. Of course, bettas will preferer true fresh food! I agree with you!
I read that is not good for fishes to eat more than one day per week blood dried worms or dried shrimps. I wonder if it's false information? For now, it's the best I have at home. But I will start to give them true food.
Some plants are like god's remedy - just pure magic.
Of course, plants are magic! But I read that the other leaves are good too. So, I was wondering if it's because there is no research on maple leaf for example, or if it's because catappa leaf is really the best among the other leaves?
 

sparkyweasel

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I would like to know, why Tee Tree oil can harm fish?
It is used for skin problems in humans (although without evidence that it works) but should never by taken by mouth and not used on children. In an aquarium the fish will be swallowing it, passing it over their gills and getting it on their eyes and other sensitive places. This is likely to be irritating and stressful for them.
It is toxic in quite small doses, fully grown people have been severely ill after misguidedly taking just 5ml internally.
Some people suggest it can be used on cats and dogs; one of the most distressing things I have seen at the pet hospital where I worked was a kitten that had been given a few drops of Tea Tree Oil on her fur. She was having fits and convulsions, then collapsing and limp. I will never forget that. Fortunately, the lady got the kitten to us in time and we were able to save her by staying up all night treating her, then caring for her in hospital while she recovered.
The vet couldn't understand why the lady had used this strange stuff when she could have come to us and got proper medication that worked. Of course, we didn't say anything to the lady, she had learned the lesson and was so upset.

Well, that was a long story. :)
In short, it's best to use something that we know works and is safe.
And of all the unreliable treatments, I have my personal reason for not liking Tea Tree Oil. :)

Wikipedia says;
"As a traditional medicine, it is typically used as a topical medication in low concentrations for the attempted treatments of skin conditions, but there is little evidence of efficacy ."

"Tea tree oil is poisonous when taken internally. It may cause drowsiness, confusion, hallucinations, coma, unsteadiness, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, blood cell abnormalities, and severe rashes. It should be kept away from pets and children. Tea tree oil should not be used in or around the mouth."
 

Simon Cole

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So, I was wondering if it's because there is no research on maple leaf for example, or if it's because catappa leaf is really the best among the other leaves?

There are written records of certain herbal remedies that go back thousands of years. When pharmacologists are looking for a place to start, they often begin with historic records. Others simply take samples from thousands of different plants and look for what they suspect to be "active" components in compounds... things like alkaloid groups that have some similarity to existing treatments. The advance of technology (to include gas-liquid chromatography and computational modelling) has made this process relatively easy, and new discoveries are worth £billions. Others still, prefer to look at "natures solutions", for example, certain reptiles have powerfully antimicrobial saliva, and some leeches have a symbiotic bacteria so powerful that it protects them from disease. These are great places to look for medicine. In the case of Catappa, there was a strong written and traditional history supporting a wide range of uses. Maple leaves had been studied too - but it seems certain plants are unnaturally beneficial, or have excessive diversity of active compounds. Cannabis is another great example - over 400 active ingredients, some of which can even cure cancer, reputedly. Catappa has therefore been well researched due to it's histric precedent and chemical potential. One very interesting study you should read can be found here. Read it. It shows the concentrations of extracts from this plant that help bettas recover from disease! One lecturer once told me about a study they did: "just to read medical literature of the last 10 years would take 100 years to complete, a lifetime". You might not think the society is so advanced seeing the poverty and war around, and perhaps this is why aliens do not want to land. We behave primitively but are incredibly intelligent as a species.

@sparkyweasel You have blown my mind. Great advice. I never knew it was so dangerous - thank you buddy!
 
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