Little Joey is a red crowntail betta, possible columnaris.

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Little Joey is a red crowntail betta fish in a cycled 5 gallon heated tank for a year. Heat around 74 which I NOW know is too cold for betta but hes been like that for about 1 year with no issues. I cleaned weekly and did 20-30percent water changes weekly. Admittedly i knew nothing of PH all this time until this happened and starting reading...I use Prime conditioned tap water and made sure temps match when doing water changes. Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0 in this cycled tank. I feed him bio gold pellets and freeze dried worms. All started with him as very listless at first at bottom of tank..not that unusual for him to be there for part of the day. I saw one white speck on lip but didnt think much of it..we went away for 4 days. sitter fed him and said he was eating and looked ok but still sitting on bottom. Got back still listless. HOuse was at 60 and tank was 72 even with heater. I fear he was cold stressed for days we were gone. Outbreak started after we got back. Started out as black slightly raised patchy bumps around face and gills with white under mouth and head. then led to pale colored bumps. Not much white slimy stuff coming off but a little (overall does not look cottony. more like hard raised bumps) and then id find a little tinged red slimy stringy things at bottom of tank..just a couple mm in length here and there... not alot. I thought might be poop but may have been part of his gills. When it got bad, he had rapid gill movement. struggled to swim to get to top of 5 gallon for air..swim bladder apparently affected..hanging upside down at times. I stopped feeding him. I moved him into a .75 gallon so he could get to air easier. Started him on Maracyn because i suspected columnaris and it said this fixed it on the box. NOw I see from forums I probably should have used maracyn 2 as well but was scared to mix them so finished the course with maracyn. Had issues keeping temps stable in small tank..stressing him more i think. then got idea to put .75 gallon in my 5 gallon and put him in a fry container within the .75 gallon. so he could sit close to the water but still have the water surrounding him from the .75 gallon container which is easier to do water changes in. that helped regulate temp. I did water change and put salt solution 1/2 teaspoon per gallon. Did that for a couple of days. Things sort of stablizied but still pale and listless. Then read about Attison betta spa. I should say at this this point i did not know about PH and how much it can fluctuate. My PH out of tap is 7.8 and I condition with Prime and make sure new water temp is same as old. On the next water change, I added betta spa. He perked up much better color. I expect teh PH had dropped signigicantly but did not know to measure. He started eating again 1-2 pellets per day. . Seemed calmer. Started reading more and realized this can drop i checked and they were down to 6.4. Removed some water and added some tap water just a bit so as not to upset too much. I finished the maracyn 3 days ago. did almost complete water change and a water change with 1/4 bottled water 2/4 betta water and 1/4 his old water.


Read all about columnaris and now want to try kanpalex. I gave him what i think to be a very small dose 2 days ago PH 7. PUt a little salt probably like 1/4 teas and small peice of driftwood. He looked much better yesterday. but still has white/yellowish patches on face and couple small red ulcers and it looks a bit swollen on his cheeks, I have pictures I can send..not sure if they are healing but do not appear worse. Today he seems a little more listless. Tank temp dropped to 74.5-5. PH 6.4. UGH! So should i try and raise slowly? I went and got RO water....not sure if I should do small water change with that throughout the afternoon? or just do a 'drip' type acclimation with few drops of RO every 5-10 min? So if you agree this might be columnaris...I have 5 gallons of RO water but dont want to medicate the whole thing. Ideally just a gallon at a time. So how do I dose the kanaflex in his tank? How much kanaflex do i mix with his pellets. I bought focus and garlic guard as well. Furan 2 is on the way as I hear this is good as well. Today his spine is an S shape. It has been curved all along but now appears more like an S. He is not fat maybe slightly thinner. Last night I gave him 2 pellets and tiny bit of pea. Today, he ate 2 unmedicated pellets one at 930am one at 1pm. He will no longer eat the worms. Body color is perfect red. Fins are perfect. Only issue is his face, S shape, listless and still sits sort of on his hind quarters vertically in a position near the air. does not seem stressed but does not seem happy either. I want to do water change and medicate immediately but not sure how to do this with PH situation. I also have furan2 on the way. I'm sure all teh PH changes didn't help. I'll only use RO water from now on but would love to keep using Attisons...but is low PH bad?What do you suggest for dosing med and water constitution?

Answered by Anna in 25 mins 8 years ago
30+ years of experience

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Hello and welcome. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a biologist with many years experience keeping fish. You have a very complex situation.Your photos would help. You can upload a photo by clicking on REPLY, then at the top of the area where you would type is a tool bar with icons. Click on the little paper clip icon (it's right next to the YouTube icon). Instructions will pop up. On some browsers, this doesn't work. if that happens, you can put your photo on one of the free photo sharing websites, such as Then come back here and paste the link to your picture in a REPLY.

Also, how old is Joey? If you don't know, tell me if he was full-grown when you bought him.

Thank you.



Here is site with pics:


Thank you for the photos. I just spent some time looking at all of them.I’m working on your answer and will post it as soon as I have it typed up. (I am not a fast typist). I’ll be back shortly.


Anna could you possibly call me . I have emergency

water params all off!!! Amonia 2.0, Nitrates 5.0, nitrites 0, ph 6.0 dont know what to do(NNN) NNN-NNNNor i can call you.


FYI, I read one of your other responses and just did water 75% water change. got ammonia down to 0 PH 6.0 concerns me. When i tested first time it was 7.8 but now i'm wondering if i took water out of right place...but how could it go down that fast. I used RO water to do water change. I put a bit of prime to lock ammonia and little stress coat. Im using api

Thank you for waiting. I feel bad to give you bad news, but Little Joey has more than one serious health problem. I do think you're right about the columnaris, but even if you can clear that up, there will remain extreme problems. But this is such a complex situation, we'll take it one step at a time.

I would stop using the Attison's Betta Spa. It lowers the pH quite a bit, and you don't want that. A rapid pH drop is called a pH crash, and that can kill a fish quite quickly. Even in fish that like a lower pH, a rapid drop is lethal. When pH is too high, we never want to lower it quickly because a sudden drop can be fatal. However, when it's low, we want to get it up fairly quickly. Bettas do fine with a pH between 6.6 and 7.4. They can adjust to a higher pH over time, and I suspect that Little Joey adjusted to your tap water pH of 7.8. You're also using water with all the minerals removed, and that results in a low KH. Low KH in turn causes pH to drop even more. The more we try to adjust pH, the more we risk our fish's health. What you need to do now is slowly raise the pH back to what Little Joey was used to. As far as temperature goes, bettas do best at 78*F, but 74*F shouldn't cause any harm as long as the temperature dropped slowly. I'm glad you found a way to keep him in the bigger tank again. water conditions will be more stable there.

Even though we normally can raise pH quickly, with a fish as sick as Little Joey, it will be better to do it slowly. The first step will be to get the pH up to about 7.0. Add 1/4 teaspoon of ordinary plain baking soda to the 5 gallon tank. Wait an hour and test the pH.If it's not up to 7.0, add another 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. Repeat as many times as necessary. Then remove half the water and replace with it with tap water that has been dechlorinated and is the same temperature as what is in the tank. Wait an hour, then you can do another water change. After a couple of hours in this water, you can go ahead and do a complete water change. At that point you can treat for the columnaris with the Kanaplex.

From what I saw in the pics, I doubt the Kanaplex is going to be enough. The bent spine is even more serious than the columnaris. And it's also possible that Little Joey's other symptoms are related to this. There are three main causes of this condition in mature fish. One is a spinal injury, but we wouldn't expect to see weight loss in that case. Another disease that can cause the spine to bend is Myxosoma cerebralis. It causes the bent spine and often, but not always, the fish will start whirling in a circle, so it is sometimes referred to as whirling disease.

Finally there is fish tuberculosis. This is what I suspect he has. The main symptoms are spinal deformity, weight loss, and skin problems including scale loss, color changes, and skin lesions. Not all fish will develop all the symptoms. This fish illness can cause skin infections in humans, so it is recommended to wear vinyl or rubber gloves when handling sick fish. Until recently, there was absolutely no treatment for either whirling disease or fish tuberculosis, but sometimes now good results can be obtained with kanamycin (so your Kanaplex will work for this, too). Many fish keepers simply choose to euthanize a fish that is infected. Treatment has to be carried out for an extended time, usually about 3 months. Not all fish respond to it, but since you obviously care very much for Little Joey, it is probably worth trying. The kanamycin
can be combined with Furan 2 and Metronidazole for stubborn bacterial infections. Both fish tuberculosis and whirling disease are stubborn, so you may want to consider this. The bacteria that cause fish tuberculosis is often present in aquarium water, but fish don't become infected until they are under stress. You can read more about it here:

I'm sorry not to have better news, but I believe you deserve honesty. Joey is critically ill now, and he may not be able to recover. You can do your best, XXXXX XXXXX'll need to be realistic and realize he could pass away at any time. I hope that doesn't happen. If you have more questions, let me know in a REPLY. I'll be hoping for a good outcome for Little Joey.


My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Please remember to rate my service only after you have all the information you need. Thank you!


Could I just keep acclimating him to RO water and then essentially do a 100% water change? Dont udnerstand why the PH is so low. he is in 1/2 gallon sick tank so would be easier than doing baking soda

I just saw your latest posts after I posted my answer. You did the right thing with the water change. I addressed the pH problem above. The RO water tends to have a low pH. Test the pH of the RO water that isn't in the tank and see what you get.


Ok will test now and get right back iwth you. I thought i tested the other day at 7 but maybe mistaken. I know my crystal spring water in a bottle is 7

maybe i can start adding that slowly


Ok i tested his tank again and RO water. RO water is 6.6 his water is 6.4. should I acclimate to spring water over next few hours. if so how much change water do i put in per hour

Yes, that method will work. Change about 1/4 of the water at a time.

Hi Anna,I signed up for the 46.00 monthly plan after asking my inital question to you so if you want me to open a new case or I am overstepping please let me know. I do have more questions. I pray this is not TB as I do have a small cut on my hand.not very big and does not look angry and is not sore. slightly red and thats it. wonder how long it would take for me to show symptoms. I've had it for at least 4 days I think.






1. When i first suspected columnaris I emptied the tank, ran 125 degree hot water and put a ton of salt in it and let it sit. Is that enough to disenfect or should I do 10%bleach solution and rinse rinse rinse then do dechlorinator. Right now i have water back in the tank so that I could put the other tank in it to regulate tank...its at 78 degrees. If you think its ok,I have some tap water that has been out for a day or two with some drift wood in it. Measured PH and it is 7.0. Wondering if this would be better than spring as it likely has more minerals?? From what you say, this water will be more stable due to mineral which sounds good to me!


So options are:

A use 100% of this aged water with 1/2 teasp aquarium salt

B: i mix half Crystal Bottled water with this aged water?

C: use all Spring water? If this choice, should i put salt in it?


Question 2

Once I set the 5 gallon back up...Should I put some good bacteria in the tank. I have a biofilter (kind with little tube things and some black balls at bottom) Seachem makes that one...Stablity i think its called. Obviously I'll be watching ammonia etc and doing water changes etc but maybe it could start seeding the biofilter. I have other tanks. Would it make sense to seed it with filter medium? or is that introducing possible bad bacteria?


Question 3.


2.Ok so assuming i have him back in 5 gallon. How should i dose the kanaflex, furon2 and metrodiazonal. I've heard kanamycin is very strong so wondering what your thoughts are.


What option should i choose:

A Should i do full strength as directed for each drug

B. Do 3/4 of recommended dose for each drug

C Do 1/2 of recommended dose for each drug.


3. Do you normally put carbon between medicine doses?



By the way he doesnt look as crooked it possible that water params were doing that. ill keep watching.


Again if this is too much please let me know. Thanks for everything!Diane

Hi Diane,

No this isn't too much. However, I would greatly appreciate it if you would rate my answer - I don't receive any credit until you do. You can still ask follow-up questions after rating. When you feel you've received enough information to rate twice, you can do that, too. It then counts as two questions. It's your decision how you want to do this.

Now for your questions:

1) I would go with either the aged water or the spring water. If you're going to use all 3 medications, I wouldn't add salt to any of them.

2) The good bacteria won't hurt anything, so go ahead and add them.

2) I would go full-strength according to instructions on the packaging, on all of them. If this is TB, that's the only thing that has a chance of working. If you're leaning toward thinking this may not be TB because he is straightening, you might want to treat with only the Kanaflex. That would take care of the columnaris.

3) Many medicines state on the bottle to remove the carbon, but run the filter. Carbon will remove Kanamycin from the water.

I can't tell you anything about your chances of getting an infection in your hand because that would be a human health question. I can tell you that I wear disposable gloves whenever working with aquarium water because there are many different bacteria in it that can potentially cause an infection. If you see anything suspicious, just give your doctor a call.

Let me know if you need anything else.

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