Betta with Clamped Fins, infrequent movement and surface breathing

Scatterbuns

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Tank size: 3.5 gallons
pH: 7
ammonia:0
nitrite:0
nitrate:0
kH: 120
gH: 120
tank temp: 80F

Fish Symptoms (include full description including lesion, color, location, fish behavior): Clamped fins, lethargic, staying near surface and grabbing oxygen from surface, swimming less enthusiastically and less frequently than previous behaviour, staying still almost constantly and staying by heater.

Volume and Frequency of water changes: 60% (this may have been a mistake and the cause of stress please advise), recently changed for first time 3 days ago.

Chemical Additives or Media in your tank: Aqueon Betta Bowl Plus (other than stress coat)

Tank inhabitants: 1x Betta

Recent additions to your tank (living or decoration): Had clow pleco, it passed before tank change.

Exposure to chemicals: N/A

Digital photo (include if possible):

(it spun sorry)
 
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Deanasue

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Hi! Is your tank cycled? Are you aware of the nitrogen cycle? He doesn’t look happy at all.
 
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Colin_T

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Hi and welcome to the forum :)

Do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate every day for at least 1 week and see if that helps. Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.

Have you got a thermometer in the tank water?

Taking air from the surface is normal for labyrinth fishes (Bettas & Gouramis) but clamped fins and lethargy is a sign of poor water quality or disease. Water changes will fix any problems with the tank water and you should notice a rapid improvement if it is a water quality issue.

Make sure you don't have any cream, grease, perfume or anything else on your hands when you feed the fish or do work in his tank.

Make sure there are no fumes in the room. things like cigarette smoke, perfume, deodorant, hair spray, air fresheners can all cause problems to fish.

Use a clean container for water changes and make sure it has not been used for cleaning products or chemicals.

Is there a filter on the tank?

The tank is too small for any sort of catfish so do not get any more fish for the tank.
 
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Scatterbuns

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Do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate every day for at least 1 week and see if that helps. Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.
Will do.

Have you got a thermometer in the tank water?
No, I will get one I realize that is a missing component for accuracy. I do however have a heater that has a light that turns green when 80F is reached and orange at 75, where the temp stays between both. However, with these events my distrust of it grows.

Is there a filter on the tank?
Yes.

The tank is too small for any sort of catfish so do not get any more fish for the tank.
Yeah, noted.
 
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Scatterbuns

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Hi! Is your tank cycled? Are you aware of the nitrogen cycle? He doesn’t look happy at all.
I'm a beginner, I am unaware of the nitrogen cycle. Please educate me and help save my fish.

Where do I start?
 

Colin_T

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The following link has information about cycling an aquarium. You will be doing a fish in cycle and I will explain about that below.
http://www.fishforums.net/threads/cycling-your-new-fresh-water-tank-read-this-first.421488/

Anything that breaks down in water, be it fish food, fish waste, dead fish, dead plants, will produce ammonia. Ammonia builds up in the water and poisons fish, shrimp, crabs, snails or anything that lives in the water.

Over a period of time you get beneficial bacteria that grow in the filter and they eat the ammonia and convert it into nitrite. A few weeks after that and you get more beneficial bacteria that grow in the filter and these eat nitrite and convert it into nitrate. When there are enough good bacteria in the filter to keep the ammonia and nitrite levels at 0, the filter is considered cycled. This process normally takes about 4-6 weeks but can take up to 6 months.

Because ammonia is caused by fish food and waste breaking down in the water, the best thing to do is reduce feeding to 2-3 times per week. Do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate 4-8 hours after feeding to reduce any ammonia caused by the food. You should also monitor the aquarium water and do a 75% water change any day you have an ammonia or nitrite reading, or a nitrate reading above 20ppm.
Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.

Don't worry about the fish starving during this time. Unlike mammals that need to eat to stay warm, most fish take their body temperature from the surrounding environment (the water). This means any food they eat is used to grow and to move. This allows fish to go for weeks or even months without food and not die from starvation. Feeding the fish 2-3 times per week helps keep the ammonia levels low but still provides enough food to keep the fish healthy.

Once the filter has cycled, you can feed the fish more often and do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate once a week.

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During the first month of a tank's cycle, you monitor the ammonia and nitrite levels. You normally get ammonia readings for the first few weeks. The ammonia goes up and as the beneficial filter bacteria build up in numbers they gradually convert the ammonia into nitrite. After a few weeks the ammonia level will suddenly drop to 0 and the nitrite will start to go up. A couple of weeks later the nitrite levels drop to 0 and the nitrates start to go up. You get rid of nitrates by doing water changes.

During the cycling period you do not test for nitrates until the ammonia and nitrite have gone up and come back down to 0. Nitrate test kits will read nitrite as nitrate and give you a false reading. So you monitor ammonia during the first few weeks and then start monitoring nitrite as well. Once they have both gone up and come down to 0, you start monitoring nitrate.

When you buy test kits, try to get liquid test kits rather than dry paper strips. The liquid kits are more accurate.

Do not buy test kits that are kept in a warm room or near a heat source or window because heat will cause the chemicals in the kits to break down faster. Check the expiry date on them too.

When you get the test kits home, keep them in a cool dry place away from sunlight. I kept mine in an icecream bucket in the bottom of the fridge.

*NB* Make sure children and animals can't get the test kits because the chemicals are pretty toxic.

*NB* Wash your hands with soapy water after doing water tests.

--------------------------
The information about buying test kits also applies to buying fish medications. But do not buy fish medications unless the fish is sick and you know what is causing the problem. Most fish health issues are caused by poor water quality and doing a 75% water change and gravel cleaning the substrate each day for a week will normally fix most issues.

The following link has info about fish health and what to do if your fish gets sick. It is pretty long and boring but worth knowing. I recommend printing it out and reading it in bed to help you fall asleep. :)
http://www.fishforums.net/threads/what-to-do-if-your-fish-gets-sick.450268/#post-3804819

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Do not clean the new filter for the first 6-8 weeks. This allows the filter bacteria a chance to settle in properly and stick to the filter media. Two weeks after the filters have finished cycling, you can start to clean the filter.

Established filters should be cleaned at least once a month and every 2 weeks is better.

To clean a power filter or internal sponge/ box filter. You get a bucket of water from the aquarium and squeeze the filter materials out in the bucket of tank water. When they are clean you put them in the aquarium. Wash/ rinse the filter case and impellor assembly (for a power filter) under tap water. Remove any excess tap water by tipping the filter case upside down, then put the filter materials back into the filter and set it back up and get it going.

If you have an undergravel filter, that will be cleaned when you do water changes and gravel clean the substrate. You can buy a basic model gravel cleaner from any pet shop and they are worth getting. You only need a basic model gravel cleaner like the one in the following link. Do not buy the expensive fancy types because they are no better than a base model gravel cleaner.
https://www.about-goldfish.com/aquarium-cleaning.html
 
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Deanasue

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In a nutshell...Your fish’s waste releases ammonia into the water, which will kill your fish. The nitrogen cycle is a process where beneficial bacteria becomes established in your tank and filter media, allowing ammonia (toxic) to convert to nitrite (toxic), then nitrite to nitrates ( less toxic). That's why it's so import to cycle your tank. Unfortunately, fish stores don’t bother to tell you about this important step. Your fish is suffering form toxicity. As Colin said, do a large water change. You probably need to do this daily until your tank is cycled to reduce toxins. Use Seachem Prime as your dechlorinator as it will bind the ammonia, nitrites and nitrates for about 32 hours to make it non toxic to your fish. After 32 hours it will become toxic again. That is why it’s important to continue the daily water changes and continue to use the Prime. If you don’t have a freshwater test kit You will need to get one. Most of us use the API FRESHWATER TEST KIT. You will need to test your water daily. If ammonia is higher than 0ppm you will need the water change. The ammonia will eventually ( usually in about a week) drop to 0 and you will begin seeing Nitrites. You will need to continue testing water daily and doing the water changes. The nitrites will grow high for several weeks and then will begin dropping to 0. At this point you will see nitrates. Once your ammonia and nitrites have dropped to 0 and you have nitrates, your tank is cycled. You will need to do a big water change at this point to get your nitrates below 20ppm. Most of us try to keep nitrates at 5-10ppm. I know this is a lot to take in but is important in order to save your fish. Believe me, we all learn this process the hard way and feel very overwhelmed at first. Soon, it will all come natural to you. Do the water changes and get the Seachem Prime and test kit. Don’t use test sticks as they are often inaccurate. Google The aquarium nitrogen cycle and read up on it to better understand it. Then read on the process for doing a “ fish in” cycle. We are here to help you and walk you through it. Your fish should improve and thrive if this is done correctly.
 
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Deanasue

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Glad you asked me but it looks like Colin beat me to my reply. Please do as instructed above. We are all here to help and answer questions.
 
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Deanasue

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As long as the fish gets well, that’s all that matters.
 
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Scatterbuns

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Hello! The original person who posted this is at work, I am his girlfriend and co-fish owner. I'm not as good with replying to stuff on here but I will try my best. We had already bought test kits for GH, KH, pH. NO2, NO3, and Ammonia (NH3, NH4+). We tested them and they all came back in the proper numbers for a tropical fish tank, ammonia was at 0.

I have done the 75% water change this morning with water I prepared with conditioner last night, as well as cleaning the rocks, moving some decorations around, and replanting some of the plants of which I have 4 live and 1 fake. During this process, I noticed the water was pretty cold?! I think the heater I had might have broken/stopped working. I ran to the store and got a new better one as well as a thermometer and a bubble wall since I had read this can help circulate oxygen.

The water temp is now sitting at 80 and I have the bubble wall running. Sashimi (our betta) did swim around for a little, checking out the new surroundings I assume? But since has been sitting at the bottom of the tank and gulping kind of a lot??? I am very worried about my fishie friend. He swims to the top every now and again, grabs some air, and goes back to sitting at the bottom on the rocks. Any suggestions on anything more I can do? Anything I have done wrong that I should stop or fix? Stuff I should look out for in the coming days? About how long will it take until his fins go back to normal, or is there no way to know? I plan on cycling the water the next few days as was advised above, I was feeding him 3 pellets a day but should I switch to every other day? Thank you both for all the help thus far!
 
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Deanasue

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The tank was never cycled so does need to be done per instructions above. What is your current reading for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate?
 

Deanasue

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There should be nitrates unless you have a very heavily planted tank. The 0 nitrates indicates the tank is not cycled. Please follow through with steps outlined above. Ask if you need help. Good luck!
P.S. - Most of us have readings of 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and 5-10ppm nitrates. You have to go through the cycle to get the nitrates.
 
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Scatterbuns

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Sashimi has passed. Thank you for your efforts, but whatever solutions were provided did not improve his condition; at least quickly enough.

The leading cause seems to be a faulty heater.
 
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