Sick Betta

Colleen

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Hi, I'm new and very happy to be able to speak to people who understand how someone could fall in love with a fish! I bought my betta (Blu) for my son but quickly was very taken with him myself. Long, sad story short, he has finrot and is going downhill very quickly. I've treated him with bettarevive, but that didn't work. I now have him on the second day of bifuran+, but seems to be worsening still. Can I give him anything else? Someone please help my poor little guy! It looks like he is rotting from the inside out!
 

Wansui

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Well, can you tell us what sized tank he's kept in and the water parameters? these thing can greatly effect a fish. Did you cycle the aquarium before hand?
 

fm1978

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Sorry about your little guy.
 
We need a little more info about his living space and his water. Specifically, tank size/volume, Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, temperature and ph levels, what you use to treat the water and your tank cleaning regime.
 
Without that right now, it's difficult to say (oh, and a picture can sometimes help, too). Some things I would do right away are;
 
Make sure his water is pristine - a large water change (95%) should achieve that for the time being, replace with temp matched and treated water. Wash all the tank decor, including plants, gravel/sand etc.
 
Add some aquarium salt (follow the manufacturers instructions).
 
Also improve his diet. Get hold of food packed with extra nutrients, vitamins and also garlic, if possible.
 

l_l_l

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Hi and welcome!
To help you treat this I'd like to know what size of fish tank you have him in?
Is it filtered?
What temperature is your water?
What readings do you have for Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates?
Are you doing any water changes?
 
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Colleen

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I guess I should have included all that info, sorry, I'm in a panick. Ok, so tank parameters are GH 120, KH 120, PH 7, NO2 0, NO3 20, temp is at 78 in a 10 gallon tank. I've been doing 100% water changes for 2 days now as the bifuran calls for it daily. His fins seem to be getting shorter by the day, under his body are very painful looking red streaks. His eyes are white with a lot of red and it's all red around his gills. It's very silvery looking under his mouth toward his gills. I didn't cycle, he was a spur of the moment gift for my son and like an idiot, I believed how easy they told me he was to take care of. I only realized how bad he'd gotten after taking him out of the tank after the first treatment of bettarevive. He is blue, so it was hard to see him in the blue water. I don't have an ammonia test, I was told since he's all alone that it wasn't important. Should I get one? He has stopped eating. Last he ate was nutrafin flakes & a few white things from bettamin. I've shut off the filter as it seems to scare him and he's too weak to handle any current. The water changes stress him out. All he is doing now is lying on the bottom coming up for air. Normally he is such an amingly funny little guy. I hope I've given enough info.
 

Wansui

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This is a very unfortunate situation. You see, with the tank being uncycled it leaves the ammonia to build inside the aquarium. These are symptoms of ammonia stress - 
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hovering at the bottom of the tank (especially for surface dwelling fish)
  • Gasping at the surface
  • Inflamed gills
  • Red streaks or inflammation in the gills
  • Inflamed eyes or anus 
And to top it all off you're doing 100% water changes which cause the fish a great deal of stress. Test kits are essential when keeping fish, and yes you do need to get a test kit for ammonia. Keeping tabs on the levels of ammonia  are very important with fish-in cycling. The filter needs to be ON because the bacteria will colonise the filter media, converting the dangerous ammonia into nitrite, then nitrate. Do you have a full understanding of the nitrogen cycle? If not, please read this - http://www.fishforums.net/index.php?/topic/421488-cycling-your-new-fresh-water-tank-read-this-first/ I can't help too much with fin rot as I've never had any fish suffer from it. 
 
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Colleen

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Ok Wansui, while you were responding to my plea, I was out getting an ammonia test. It says it's fine now, but from the symptoms you described, that's my poor guy exactly. I really appreciate the cycling reference & I guarantee if Blu doesn't make it, I will be doing that in the future. Unfortunately I'm learning way too much too late. He is now hovering at the surface gasping for air. I also now have "jungle" fungus clear. I really don't know where to go from here. I was thinking I'll do the bifuran again, tomorrow will be the third day & if there's no improvement I'll start the fungus clear on Saturday. I bought the proper heater for the smaller tank. Do you think I should put him back in a smaller tank while I'm treating him?
 

Wansui

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As I said, I really have no experience when it comes to sick fish. I'm sorry I can't be of further help, but hopefully someone who has had experience with fin rot will know what to do. I hope the poor guy makes it, best of luck.
 

GuppyGirl20

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I'm not knowledgable with meds but I don't think it's a good idea to mix them. You need to treat the ammonia poising first because clean water affects the healing process of fin rot. Treat for ammonia then if that doesn't improve the fins then start a treatment for fin rot. Really, clean water affects everything so it is important that all the levels are where they need to be.
 
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Colleen

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Thanks Wansui, from what I've read I wish it was fin rot. If it is ammonia poisoning my poor Blu is suffering worse than I thought. I've been looking for a cure for it everywhere, but it seems there's nothing more I can buy for him. I'm going to keep trying with what I've got, you never know. I realize I should have done more research but I'm so angry that pet stores will let untrained personnel be so misleading. Aaaaaaaaargh!!! Sorry...needed to vent. I sure have a new perspective and respect for people with healthy fish that's for sure
Is there a treatment for Ammonia poisoning besides clean water? I'm doing everything right as far as his water goes. If there is something else I really need to know, I will do whatever it takes!
 

AJNOZ

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Dear Colleen, at this point it sounds like you've solved the ammonia problem but the beta's slime coat is probably gone due to the frequent water changes.  The slime coat is exactly what it sounds like but it's also a dual action barrier against chemicals and bacteria/fungi/parasites and a reservoir for the good bacteria the beta's (and other fist) need to be healthy.
 
So I'm not sure if you're still having problems but if this is fin rot or due to ammonia toxicity I'd recommend the following.
 
  1. Ensure that you are treating the water.  Most tap water is treated for humans and contains chlorine which can cause major damage to these little guys.  ((See #5 if not))
  2. Shine a light on him, preferably a cell phone LED flash.  If you see flecks of goldish color he has a fungus that responds very well to most fungal treatments from your local fish store.  Don't use this if he doesn't have it as it can also inhibit beneficial bacteria growth.  If you see white then he most likely has ick.  If he does have ick DO NOT TOUCH HIM, get an ick treatment, and if you have any areas of your body that have white/red itchy patches contact your primary care physician for a treatment.  Ick is very contagious so if you do see this please be careful.  However with all the water changes the likelihood of either of these is small.
  3. Stop the bactricin as this is most likely NOT a bacterial infection, especially if it's on his scales and surface of his body.
  4. Stop the 100% water changes if the strips say that the levels are low, stick to every other day unless you're treating with the fungal, ick, or bacterial medications.  Also move to a 20-25% water change instead of 100%.  Be sure to test the water before you change it and then wait 2 hours for the water to cycle properly.  Also keep that filter ON so we can get some good bacteria growing.
  5. Get stress coat.  I know that some people don't like it but it can help especially in these cases.  In a 10g tank it's usually 1ml per 5g but read the labels.  More on this in a moment.
  6. Get freshwater salt.  It sounds insane but think about it.  He basically has sores all over his body that can become infected with bacteria and fungi very easily.  Be sure to only use about 1teaspoon for every 5 gallons, less is more esp. with Beta's.
Now about the stress coat.  My first beta had a similar problem when I first got him.  My school (in college) had very high levels of Chlorine and fluorine in the water which was causing fin rot, not to mention he contracted a fungal infection also most likely from the water (I stopped drinking the tap water and was amazed at how much better I felt).  Stress coat helps to replenish your fish's natural slime coat and can ease transition into a more stressful situation.  This also helps when there is damage to the fins as unlike humans the webbing between each spines (and even the spines) on their fins CAN regrow if given the proper care.  The slime coat is the first step to this process.
 
When doing your next water change in half of the water put the proper amount of the stress coat for your 10g tank.  Most stress coats solutions also treat the water for chlorine so be sure to NOT add salt to this portion of the water.  If your solution does not also treat the water add the treatment for your full water change now.  
 
To clarify:
On the first change IF the stress coat treats the water:
add enough stress coat for the entire water column so you're treating 10g in this case.  This will be more Chlorine treatment than needed but that isn't important.
This all goes in 1/2 of the water to be replaced so about 1.25g if you're doing a 25% water change.
 
On the first change IF the stress coat does NOT treat the water:
Add enough stress coat for the entire water column, again 10g is being treated.
Add enough water treatment to treat ONLY the amount of water you are adding to the tank.
This all goes in 1/2 of the water to be replaced so about 1.25g if you're doing a 25% water change.
 
 
At the same time put in another container put the other half of the water.  Let it stand while we let the stress coat do it's thing, this should take about 1-3 hours.  Right before you want to add the second half of the water add about 1 teaspoon of freshwater salt to the water and stir it until it dissolves completely, DO NOT ADD ANY UNDISSOLVED CRYSTALS.  Also do NOT add any treatment for chlorine to this water.  Now most people will yell at me for saying this to you but I have science to back me up here.
 
Chlorine is actually not very stable in water.  After 1 hour about 1/2 of the Chlorine that is in our tap water will dissipate into the air.  This is because it binds to the molecules in our air.  If you have a bubbler you can speed this process up but it's not a necessity.  However, Flourine (if you're in the US or a country that adds this to their water) is more hardy and will remain.  We compensate because the first half of the water has enough treatment to treat BOTH halves.
 
The point of this is to help replenish any electrolytes that are lacking and to treat and prevent infections from taking place while recovering.  The excess treatment will take care of the chlorine quickly enough and in the mean time the freshwater salts will help your fish.
 
At this point if you're beta is still alive it is best to STOP using chemicals as much as possible.  So after this water change you need to add just enough stress coat to treat the water being removed (so for a 25% change it would be 2.5g treated) along with the dechlorination.  The salt does NOT evaporate out and you usually don't need to add much more as it can be detrimental.  I add 1 teaspoon every other week with a 25% water change to help prevent any infections from taking root and replace minerals our tap water doesn't have that the fish need.
 
After a week of the stress coat + treatment (if not included in stress coat) stop using the stress coat to avoid over medicating your beta as too much can harm the gills.  You can use it again if you see the fin rot worsening but hopefully by this point it will have begun to heal.  I will warn you to wait it out the next week (the stop stress coat week) because it may look like the rot is getting worse but in reality that is the slime coat being restored and the fin beginning to heal.  Stress coat has aloe in it (most brands) which while helpful in treating wounds can damage the gills.  Luckily beta's are lungfish and their gills while important don't have to be fully functional for them to survive.
 
A word though, the fins of beta, while they can be healed will take a long time and may never fully heal to the state they were before the rot set in.  I wouldn't beat yourself up too much about this as it's your first fish and the pet stores don't educate people enough.  Next time you can choose to cycle the tank first but beta's are usually fairly hardy.  
 
If you do loose this beta don't dump the water if you get the fish out quickly.  If it's more than 30 minutes dump it but otherwise treat with the antibacterial and do a 50% water change the next day, then let the tank cycle fish less for a week or two, until the ammonia levels are within your test strips safe zone.  The only time that I would not recommend doing this is if your beta succumbed to dropsy.  Dropsy is a rather mysterious disease among betas and I've lost two to it so far.  Towards the end you will see their scales sticking out from their body and they will be bloated, almost looking like a fish porcupine.  There is some evidence that epson salts and freshwater salts at higher doses can help draw out some of the liquid and cure it but it's very circumstantial.  Dropsy is usually a death sentence though, BUT do not be discouraged.  As I said I lost two beta's to dropsy and both were in very good health, they just swelled up and kicked the bucket.
 
I hope your little guy is still around and doing better, and that my advice is helpful.
 
- AJ
 

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