In my short time in owning bettas, I've had a total of 6 bettas. 4 of them have had swim bladder issues. 2 of them ended up dying of some undiagnosed illness, the first symptom being swim bladder issues.
I know that problems with the swim bladder can be caused by a wide range of things, but with so many issues, I'm wondering if it's something I'm doing wrong, or just really bad luck.
My first betta, Morbo, a plakat, I had for about 6 months, though I know he was already a few years old, since he was a surrender to the pet store. Then he started swimming like his tail was too heavy, but otherwise acting totally normal. Started with the usual suspects - fasted for a few days, tried some pea, and did an epsom salt bath. Nothing changed. Then, for his last week, he got really lathargic. At this point I tried Maracyn 2, but with no luck. Right up to his last day, he was still had his normal appetite, but I guess I was just too late, or he was too sick, and he passed.
Time passes, and after a while I get Rosemary, a female. She spent a short time in the same tank that Morbo resided in, but after about a week she was transfered to a brand new tank. I didn't notice it until several weeks later, but she actually has a birth defect, where one of her pectoral fins looks under-developed, and is about half the normal size. Didn't seem to slow her down at all though. After a few months, she starts swimming like her tail is too heavy. Posted a new thread here, but I basically chalked it up perhaps another birth defect that didn't show up until she was older.
At the same I'm I got Rosey, I got Mango, a male Plakat. He also spent about a week in Morbo's old tank, before getting transfered to the divided 10g he shares with Rosey. About a month after getting into the new tank, I find him with a broken ventral fin, a wonky looking mouth, and a big bump on his head. I don't know how he injured himself. Best I can figure is he tried to jump, but hit the egg crate lid, hard. Took him a couple weeks, but the bump subsided. He now has a stubby fin, and his mouth is still a bit wonky, and black, like it didn't heal quite right and perhaps he knocked out some teeth. But other than that, he was totally normal.
Several months later (I have it written down as May 14), I decided to switch the waterfall filter from Rosey's side to Mango's side, since Rosey is having swim bladder issues (so it seems). A couple weeks later, Mango starts swimming like his tail is too heavy. Now I'm getting a bit worried. First I tried the usual fasting (for up to 5 days), plus a bit of pea at the end. Nothing. Tried an antibacterial food for a week. No difference. On June 22, 2010, I decided to try a round of TC Tetracycline. Some really discoloured water, but no difference in the fish.
A few weeks after noticing Mango's issues, my newest addition, Marmaduke a veiltail, starts swimming with his tail too heavy too. Same as the others, acting otherwise normal, at least for a time. Then he started getting lethargic. That's when I got worried and started the Tetracycline on both Rosey/Mango's tank AND Marm's 2.5 gal.
After treating Marm for just about everything under the sun, he just didn't make it.
My current two healthy bettas (*knock on wood!*) are Enigma, male plakat in Morbo's old 15g community, and Pixel, male plakat, in his own 5g.
Morbo was from Total Pet, and all the others have been from PetSmart.
All the tanks get a partial water change once a week (give or take a few days), changing 25-60% of the water.
I don't add anything to any of the tanks, except for Aqua Plus for the water changes.
The 15 gal has java moss, corkscrew val, water wisteria. Besides Enigma, it has currently 10 white cloud minnows and 1 oto.
The divided 10 gal just has java moss, and the two bettas.
The 5g has no plants in it.
Right now my main concern is Mango and Rosey.
Is it possible that both have injured swim bladders, Rosey from her birth defect and Mango from his earlier injury, and the swim bladder injury just didn't show up until several months later?
Or could it be they have some sort of illness?
They're otherwise totally normal, bright colours, begging, cruising the tank a bit, eating like pigs (but pooping/not bloated), and even flirting with each other if they see one another through the barrier.
I'd like to hear anyone else who's had issues with swim bladders in bettas, and if you were able to fix it, or if you've got a betta who's been living with the issues for a while.