I returned from a glorious time friendwise, weatherwise, and otherwise in New Orleans very very late Monday night. As soon as I entered I greeted Max, my little Piscean companion, who normally greets me by coming to the side of the bowl,undulating happily (or so I imagine - the happy part, that is.) This time I had to look for him amongst the artificial fronds and leaves. He seemed to be resting amongst the plants. I tapped the bowl, called his name, but there was no response. Of course I was alarmed. I did notice slight movement in his fins, so I knew the worst had not happened. After quite a while I observed him trying to come to the surface, then sinking down. He attempted to come to the surface several times, then eventually I saw him inhale some air and then, shockingly, he sank down, belly up! He remained like this, not moving at all. I tried praying, still no life. Then I wondered how to dispose of him, in a dignified fashion. I even said Kaddish for him. I was exhausted after a long day of airport 'hopping' and flight delays. I thought he could remain in the water until the following morning, besides, I couldn't deal with removing him.
The next morning I saw he had moved, and was no longer belly up. He had almost propped himself on one of the plant leaves. I gave him his food, but he ignored it. I called my neighbour who cared for Max in my absence. She immediately said that he hadn't eaten the whole weekend, and said that he does not look well. This pattern has continued until today. I thought that either he is too cold and is hibernating, so to speak, or that he is getting old. He has been with me for two years, and I don't know how old he was when I bought him. One of my patient's moms gave me two books on bettas today when I told her of my concerns. I looked at The Guide to Owning Siamese Fighting Fish, subheading, care, breeding, combat raising, varieties, diseases - that is what I needed, diseases. After careful observation of Maxie he appears to still have good coloring, and there are no signs of fungal infections, fin rotting, swelling, or popped eyes. All signs point to Maxie as having swim-bladder trouble, and there is no cure! Infrequently, apparently, a fish can come out of this condition spontaneously, so I am praying for Maxie's recovery, and ask all of you to keep little Maxie in your thoughts.