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Page 3 about

Signs of Stress and Disease

This page contains Customer Comments and our Replies about the Signs of Stress and Disease in fish.

Click here to go back to the first page in this discussion of the Signs of Stress and Disease.


Customer Comments

This might be a very stupid question. I've always had pet rodents, and so I got pretty good at being able to tell how they were doing, physically and emotionally.
Is there any way to tell how a fish is doing?? My betta is kind of slow. It's like the water is really thick for him. It almost seems like he sinks if he isn't' working very hard to swim.
Does that mean anything? I have a guppy in the same tank (he's a very peaceful betta) and the guppy seems fine. What could be wrong? Or am I just incorrectly assuming my fish would act like my pet mice when sick?
My other question is, is there any way to tell if the aquarium gets enough air? If the water is moving around a lot, does that mean it is properly aerated? Or should I be looking for bubbles?
Finaly ... do fish need enrichment? How do you make a fish's life more interesting? Do you know of any resources that I could learn more about this stuff?
Thank you for your time. You answered a question I had earlier about cichlids, so I know that you are knowledgable. :)
Stephanie S.
Reply. Hello Stephanie. I actually like your question. It seems to me that you are saying that you have lots of experience with rodents like mice, and you can use that experience to tell if a mouse is feeling good, energetic, and interested in its environment, or if the mouse is tired and bored.

I like the fact that you are trying to generalize from your knowledge about the mice to gain the same sort knowledge about Bettas.

Bettas are fish, and mice are mammals. Fish and mammals are quite different sorts of animals, but they are also similar in many ways.

Both have two eyes, a brain, and a heart. Both eat food, and burn that food in their bodies with oxygen.

I have been around thousands of fish every day for many years. I can usually glance at a fish and tell if it's feeling good, or if it's feeling not so good.

The first thing I look to see is: Where is this fish? If it's gasping at the surface of the water, then that is a big problem.

Click here for more about Gasping and what to do about it.

Or the fish may be sitting on the bottom. If that fish is a catfish, that normally sits on the bottom, then it may be OK, but if that fish does not normally sit on the bottom, like a Goldfish or a Betta, then it is definitely having a problem.

In fact I've given that problem a name. I call it Crashed-on-the-Bottom or just Crashed. Click here for more about that problem and what to do about it.

Next I look more closely at the fish to see if it has Shimmy. Click here for more about Shimmy.

I'll notice if the fish is rubbing itself on an ornament or on the bottom of the aquarium. We call this rubbing behavior, Glancing. Click here for more about Glancing.

I look to see if the fish has tiny spots of Ich. Click here for more about Ich. Then I look to see if the fish has any larger sores. Click here for more about sores.

Perhaps most importantly, I look at the way the fish swims. It should be energetic and smooth with the fins usually held up and away from its body not clamped against its body.

Click here for information about clamped fins.

As I said, I can do all this very quickly. In a couple of seconds I can somehow see all these details about a fish or even a whole aquarium full of fish.

But long ago I couldn't do it very fast. In fact I was very slow, and I had to spend lots of time carefully and patiently watching my fish and learning how to spots these Signs.

Eventually over a period of years I had to learn how to do it quickly, because gradually my brother and I accumulated hundreds of aquariums.

Now our facilities have lots of people, who have also learned to check the fish for these Signs of Stress and Disease, and to treat the fish before little problems turn into big problems.

If you see a Sign of Stress and Disease the first day it happens, you can very often correct the situation and quickly bring the fish back to good health.

If you don't see it for a few day, then it will be much more difficult to bring the fish back to good health.

For example, a few days ago one of my Betta Fish had his fins down and would not eat. I immediately gave him all six steps of the Recommended Treatment, and repeated that treatment the second day.

By the third day his fins were back to normal and he was eating. I felt very good that I had helped him recover. Click here for more information about the Recommended Treatment.

This is a very long answer to your question. I wish I could make it shorter, but I think you may be able to relate what I've said to what you already know about mice.

You asked about fish boredom and happiness. First, for example Tiger Barbs and many other schooling fish seem to be very happy and do very well when kept in a group with six or more of their species.

They constantly interact with each other and seem happy. They don't annoy other fish. But if you have only one or two or even three Tiger Barbs, then they will usually nip and annoy other species of fish.

Bettas do not seem to need other Bettas. I always keep my Bettas in big fish bowls. One Betta in a bowl, except when a male and female spawn for an hour or two.

Each bowl has a thin layer of gravel and a nice big live Java Fern plant. The Bettas seem to like this environment. Click here for more about this Fish Bowl Kit.

One of my male Bettas will often build a huge bubble nest, then let that nest break up and disappear.

Sometimes a male Betta will look bored. If so, I have a mirror. My fish bowls have two flat sided, and I put the mirror about 3" away from the flat side of the bowl, so it's not too close.

The Betta can see himself in the mirror, and I guess he thinks it's another Betta. So he flares his fins and does lots of other interesting things to drive this "other" Betta away from his territory.

Some people put a mirror right against their fish bowl and this really infuriates the Betta fish inside the bowl. But I think sometimes this is too strenuous and might not always be good for the Betta.

Incidentally, in my experience a Betta will usually loose interest in what he sees in a mirror after about three days. So I remove the mirror, and put it back later, if he seems to get bored again.

A while ago I saw a bag of aquarium ornaments. These were round purple glass blobs about 1" in diameter and maybe 1/4" thick.

I never buy stuff like this for my aquariums or fish bowls, but I thought I might try these and maybe sometime I'd report on them here.

I put three or four of the blobs in each fish bowl, and my Bettas seem to be very interested.

In particular one Betta examined each blob very carefully, and for several days he was fascinated by the new blobs.

Then he lost interest in them and started building a big bubble nest again.

Another thing I do for my Bettas is to feed them a variety of food. There are several floating foods made and labeled specially for Betta Fish, and Bettas also usually like to eat frozen or freeze dried blood worms, which are actually mosquito larvae. I feed my Bettas about three live Black Worms every other day.

My Bettas are very interested in everything that goes on both in and around their fish bowls. They notice something new, and then their interest wanes and they go on to do something else.

I enjoyed your question. I hope my comments help you and all your fish.

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