Betta fish death - Was it my fault? How can I improve? Feeling defeated.

bettas456

My little betta friend just passed away this morning. The past month has been a rollercoaster of illness and treatment. He used to be super healthy and active. It started with some fin rot, which seemed to appear out of nowhere, which after it didn't improve for a bit, I treated in a hospital tank with aq salt for a week. Then, shortly (maybe 5 days) after bringing him home to the main tank, it seems he got dropsy. He grew a strange little bulge in his side and became lethargic. I thought maybe he was just constipated so I let him be for a couple days, but then he majorly declined. Then I tried treating him with Kanaplex but it was to no avail and he passed away after a few days of suffering.

I feel terrible. I only had him a few months and so I feel like a terrible fish keeper. I'm not sure exactly what it was that did him in, he seemed perfectly healthy until so recently. I feel like I was doing everything I was supposed to (heated/filtered/cycled 5G tank, only live plants, weekly water changes, high quality foods, IAL). I kept testing the water parameters throughout and they always seemed fine (0/0/~5). The only thing in the tank besides the substrate and various live plants were a piece of mopani wood and cholla wood that was covered in java moss so he couldn't wedge into the bigger holes, a cherry shrimp and a nerite snail.

I don't have plans to get another fish yet right now, I'm too upset. I also don't want to get another fish if I am just going to cause it death. But I don't want to give up on the hobby completely. Does it seem like there was anything I could have done better or differently? Or should I just take it in stride and know that this just happens sometimes? He got so sick out of nowhere and I'm just a little shocked. I feel so bad that he suffered. A few years ago when I knew nothing about fishkeeping I had a betta in a vase with a fake plant, that I infrequently changed the water on (don't worry - I eventually learned and transitioned to a tank) and he ended up living a long life. I just feel so confused since I was trying so hard with this guy.

I do need to put my single cherry shrimp (I used to have 2 but his friend died from a failed molt) and snail back into the main tank (I moved them to a bucket so they wouldn't get sick from the kanaplex). Even though the fish died, should I finish dosing the antibiotic, to be sure that whatever killed him is gone from the tank? Or should I just get some carbon to remove the meds that are already in there and get the critters back in there? OR, should I just tear the tank down and clean everything and start anew? I don't really want to have to do this because I don't think the shrimp would make it if I crashed my cycle on purpose.

Thanks in advance for any advice.
 

AggressiveAquatics

It doesn’t sound like anything was your fault. I’d blame it on genetics because bettas are terribly inbred. Sorry about your little guy
 
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Masspanic

Sorry to hear about your betta It doesn't sound like you did anything wrong; it seems to be luck of the draw with how hardy they are if you get them from chain stores.

If I were you I would clean everything in the tank thoroughly to remove any remnants of what killed him just in case, and then do frequent water changes for the inverts in the tank while checking water parameters. Make sure its fully cycled before considering a new betta and/or adding a few more cherry shrimp. Maybe order the betta online from a reputable store or breeder to get around some of the issues of the chain stores.
 
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Whitelightning

So sorry to hear about your beloved betta. It sounds like you loved him very much. Losing a fish is never easy. You are not a terrible fish keeper! You are actually an amazing fish keeper! You gave this little guy a home and did your best to save him. Most people out there wouldn't have done what you have done, which is be a loving owner and try to save him. He's actually very lucky to have had you! You did everything in your power to help him! Please don't be so hard on yourself! You did the best you could!

Bettas are also very prone to illness like AggressiveAquatics said. So please, don't be so hard on yourself when you have done nothing wrong! So sorry that you lost your betta friend. It sounds like you loved him a lot. That's all that matters in my opinion.
 
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GoldfishEnthusiast

I’m terribly sorry to hear about your loss. People who aren’t in this hobby tend not to understand how close we become with our little fishy friends and how utterly defeating/painful it is to lose one of them. I believe you are a wonderful owner who loved their fish very much! I lost a beloved Comet Goldfish in a very similar fashion and timeline as your betta about three months ago. It seems, based on the details you’ve provided, that there wasn’t much more you could have done for them... and just like it was stated many times in the other responses; bettas hardiness can be a bit on the luck of the draw as they are terribly abused. However, it is nothing but apparent you gave them the best possible life for the short amount of time they were here on this earth... and your betta was so lucky to have you for that!

Not that there was anything wrong with the 5 gallon, but I’ve found that slightly larger tanks can be a bit easier on the maintenance side of things. Perhaps a 10 gallon? Someone with more experience with bettas might be able to weigh in on this better.

I hope you don’t give up on the hobby as the fish in this world need more loving owners like you to learn and to care for them. We will always be here for you as well to teach, learn and to share the grief with whenever you lose a friend. Stay safe please. Your beloved betta will be in my thoughts and prayers for the day!
 
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bettas456

Sorry to hear about your betta It doesn't sound like you did anything wrong; it seems to be luck of the draw with how hardy they are if you get them from chain stores.

If I were you I would clean everything in the tank thoroughly to remove any remnants of what killed him just in case, and then do frequent water changes for the inverts in the tank while checking water parameters. Make sure its fully cycled before considering a new betta and/or adding a few more cherry shrimp. Maybe order the betta online from a reputable store or breeder to get around some of the issues of the chain stores.
Thank you!
So sorry to hear about your beloved betta. It sounds like you loved him very much. Losing a fish is never easy. You are not a terrible fish keeper! You are actually an amazing fish keeper! You gave this little guy a home and did your best to save him. Most people out there wouldn't have done what you have done, which is be a loving owner and try to save him. He's actually very lucky to have had you! You did everything in your power to help him! Please don't be so hard on yourself! You did the best you could!

Bettas are also very prone to illness like AggressiveAquatics said. So please, don't be so hard on yourself when you have done nothing wrong! So sorry that you lost your betta friend. It sounds like you loved him a lot. That's all that matters in my opinion.
Thanks for the kind words, it means a lot. Is easy to get discouraged when things like this happen.
I’m terribly sorry to hear about your loss. People who aren’t in this hobby tend not to understand how close we become with our little fishy friends and how utterly defeating/painful it is to lose one of them. I believe you are a wonderful owner who loved their fish very much! I lost a beloved Comet Goldfish in a very similar fashion and timeline as your betta about three months ago. It seems, based on the details you’ve provided, that there wasn’t much more you could have done for them... and just like it was stated many times in the other responses; bettas hardiness can be a bit on the luck of the draw as they are terribly abused. However, it is nothing but apparent you gave them the best possible life for the short amount of time they were here on this earth... and your betta was so lucky to have you for that!

Not that there was anything wrong with the 5 gallon, but I’ve found that slightly larger tanks can be a bit easier on the maintenance side of things. Perhaps a 10 gallon? Someone with more experience with bettas might be able to weigh in on this better.

I hope you don’t give up on the hobby as the fish in this world need more loving owners like you to learn and to care for them. We will always be here for you as well to teach, learn and to share the grief with whenever you lose a friend. Stay safe please. Your beloved betta will be in my thoughts and prayers for the day!
Thank you for your words. Sometimes I feel silly when I grieve a fish death like this, and I think some of my friends think I’m a bit crazy for being upset over a fish. But I cared a lot about him even though I didn’t have him for very long. It’s nice to see these replies and feel understood.
Coincidentally I had recently purchased a 10 gallon tank that went on sale and am moving soon, so I think once I get settled in my new place I’ll set up the ten gallon and see where I go from there.
 
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GoldfishEnthusiast

Thank you!

Thanks for the kind words, it means a lot. Is easy to get discouraged when things like this happen.

Thank you for your words. Sometimes I feel silly when I grieve a fish death like this, and I think some of my friends think I’m a bit crazy for being upset over a fish. But I cared a lot about him even though I didn’t have him for very long. It’s nice to see these replies and feel understood.
Coincidentally I had recently purchased a 10 gallon tank that went on sale and am moving soon, so I think once I get settled in my new place I’ll set up the ten gallon and see where I go from there.

That’s great to hear! Take some time to yourself, and never feel silly about grieving for a close friend. I’m excited for your future fish as we all know they will be in great hands!
 
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