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Swim Bladder Disorder
Symptoms : Young fry are 'sliding' across the bottom on their bellies as though they cannot swim otherwise. Older, adult fish float sideways as if 'stuck' to the surface. Other adults will float tail down, vertically. Some become adult 'Belly Sliders'
Info :SBD (Swim Bladder Disorder) is an undesirable abnormality that is usually culled out by the breeder. However, if the SBD is not life threatening or degrades the quality of life, just leave it be and brag to your friends about the baby you didn't cull and rescued. Otherwise, the young fish should be humanely destroyed. 
There are different opinions as to the causes of SBD. I believe there is no single cause. There are different types of SBD, therefore different causes. 
1-One theory is that at least one type of SBD is genetic, therefore passed on from generation to generation. This makes sense as fish with SBD are being sold or passed off as gifts to new breeders, who, in turn, breed them being told it is not genetic. This passes the SBD gene around. This, of course, being that there IS a SBD gene.
2-Another theory is that one type may be caused by the over feeding of BBS (Baby Brine Shrimp). That the brine shrimp harbor air bubbles that will get trapped and cause the swim bladder to develop incorrectly. An under or mal-developed swim bladder will not return to normal. Once it is developed, it is done. I have fed entire spawns TONS of BBS and had low rates of SBD so I don't think this theory holds as much water as people think.
3-Cancer or Tuberculosis in an organ near the Swim Bladder. This is curable as it is not the Swim Bladder that is the cause.
4-Rapid Fluctuation in temperatures are thought to have an effect.
5-Serious Parasitic or Bacterial infestations could also be a cause.
6-Common on DT bettas, the short body will produce a mal-formed or short swim bladder, causing it to float vertically.
7-Constipation is a more common problem than realized. Please go to that page for more info.
8-Sudden change in diet is also a common cause in adults. Adjust their diet.
Out of all these causes, the most common are 6,7 & 8. Sometimes an under developed Swim Bladder, later in life, will not even inhibit the fish. Later in life, they may seem perfectly normal. Other cases, I have seen some very, very sad cases where the fish should have been put down. Instead, they were given away as a gifts, I assume to get them off their hands and be able to say that they did not cull them.
Treatments : Tender love and care, sometimes in serious cases the fish may need to be euthanized. It is sad, but it is sometimes sadder to watch a fish slowly starve and whither because it cannot swim correctly to breathe or eat. In many cases the betta will be fine and be able to live a somewhat normal life, but in those rare cases they cannot.
Prevention : Proper feeding, selective breeding and sometimes there is no prevention.
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Last update:
  March 23, 2009 10:27 PM CST

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