Betta Fish Is Sick - Help!

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GoPats1981

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Hello,

My wife and I got a betta fish in a yankee swap for Chrismas 2017. He's currently in a Top Fin Betta Flo Sooth tank 3.5 gallon.

On Friday, October 5, 2019, I did a 100% water change. You could see that there was black gunk (algae maybe) along the white center column. I scrubbed everything down with hot water, including the glass beads and plastic plants we have in the tank. I have a separate, smaller 2 gallon bowl that I treated with Tetra Aquasafe Water Conditioner, SafeStart, and Easy Balance. I scooped my betta with a net and placed him into the 2 gallon bowl while I cleaned the Betta Flo Sooth tank.

Once the Betta Flo Sooth tank was cleaned, I filled it with warm water to about the halfway mark and treated it with the Aquasafe Water Conditioner, SafeStart, and Easy Balance. I then poured the 2 gallon tank into the Betta Flo Sooth Tank. (I think this is where I screwed up). I should have waited until the water got to room temperature first, and then scooped my betta and put him back into the tank, rather then pour him in along with the water.

Saturday morning he appeared lethargic and stayed at the bottom of the tank. I assumed he was stressed from pouring him into the bowl. I noticed he would still eat, but sink afterwards. I thought he might have swim bladder disease, so I stopped feeding him for 2 days. I also lowered the water level by 30% so it would be easier for him to get to the surface for air. Yesterday, I thawed out a frozen pea, and gave him about 1/4 of it (without the skin) as I read that helps with constipation, which may be the cause of swim bladder disease. However, I noticed that my betta had red colored splotches on his head. This made me think he did not have swim bladder disease, but maybe Columnaris.. I put in a dose of E.M. Erythromycin into the tank as it was the only medicine I have. I read that it can help with Columnaris, but is not overly effective.

This morning his fins were translucent and his dorsal fin had a pin sized hole in it. I have snapped 2 photos from this morning. You'll notice some debris in one of the picks. I think it is fish poop, but I'm not sure. It wasn't there last night.

Does anyone know what is wrong with him? What should I do?

Thanks.
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maggie thecat

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Can you provide your current water chemistry readings?

When you say you used warm water, how warm are you talking? Comfy bathwater? Lukewarm?

I think you may have kicked off a stress reaction that left the fish vulnerable to infection, in which case continued treatment with antibiotics per the package instructions , may be your best course of action. But that really is only a guess based on the information provided.
 
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GoPats1981

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I took water to my local petsmart and they tested it. They said it is fine. But I didn't get specifics on the chemistry. I did a test strip at home and everything checked out OK.

I would describe the water as comfy bathwater. 80 degrees or so.

On the way home I think I am going to go get medication for columnaris. I just think that is what is going on based upon the description of the disease that is posted on this site.
 

Leilio

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I have a betta, 80 degrees should be cool to the touch but not cold or warm. You need to get a thermometer to get the water temperature right to not cause further stress. A cheap 3 dollars one from Amazon would do. That is if you don't have one already. I hope your betta gets better soon!
 
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GoPats1981

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Hmmm. Maybe it was warmer than I thought.

Just the same. I think I am going to do a full water change and treat for columnaris. Unless someone thinks it's some other disease.

Thanks for the replies!
 

PascalKrypt

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Heavy-duty antibiotics can be an immense source of additional stress. Personally I just see a very stressed betta in the pictures. I would just do daily water changes of around 30% to keep his water very clean and give him some time to recover on his own.

One thing to definitely do is lower the water level so it will take him less effort to go to the surface and take a gulp of air when he needs to.
Get him some very nutritious food like frozen mosquito larvae or live brine shrimp which you can get at most pet shops to help him recover some of his energy.

I don't think you've stated anywhere what the normal temperature of the tank is? Do you have a heater in there? What kind of filter do you have?
 
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PaskcalKrypt,

Yes, I have a heater in there. The normal temperature is 78 degrees. The Betta Flo Sooth tank is 3.5 gallons and has a central column where you can put in a charcoal filter. There is a little electric pump that circulates the water gently.

I ran out of water conditioner after the last change so I went to the pet store to buy some more after work yesterday. I showed the photos I posted to the girl that worked in the fish section. She said that based upon my betta's appearance, and age (I've had him for 2 years, and he was probably 6 months when I bought him), that he is probably old and on his way out. I'm not so sure. He was fine until that last water change.

Anyway, when I got home last night, I took his old, 2 gallon bowl and filled it half way with water and treated it with Aquasafe Water Conditioner, SafeStart, and Easy Balance. I put a plant in there and an old, smaller heater in there. The water level is about 5 inches, so my betta should have an easier time getting to the surface.

I then cleaned the 3.5 gallon tank again. There was a small amount of black sludge underneath the glass beads. Upon further inspection, I noticed there was some black gunk in the vents inside the pump. I took it apart, and it was filled with black gunk. I cleaned it thoroughly. I feel terrible. I don't know why I didn't notice this during the last change.

I filled the 3.5 gallon with water and treated it. I put all of the beads back in. I put in a fresh carbon filter, even though the last one was only a week old. I put in my betta's log and a fake plant. I put the heater in there and set it to 78 degrees.

I didn't want to disturb my betta any more than I had to so I left him alone. This morning he was resting on top of a plant and I saw him go to the surface a couple of times for air. I put in a couple of dried bloodworms, but he didn't go for them.

When I get home, I'll acclimate him properly to the 3.5 gallon tank. I'm considering buying some other type of food to see if I can entice him to eat.

If anyone else has suggestions about medication, food, or anything else, let me know.

Thanks.
 

maggie thecat

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Fresh/frozen food is always preferable to freeze dried, which can contribute to bloat.

Could the black gunge be charcoal dust residue? Or is it just mulm? Either way, it sounds like you are doing all you can.

If it's a stress reaction, time and peace and quiet (consider leaving the lights off for the next day or two) are great healers.
 

BarbaraLocke

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GoPats1981 said:
PaskcalKrypt,

Yes, I have a heater in there. The normal temperature is 78 degrees. The Betta Flo Sooth tank is 3.5 gallons and has a central column where you can put in a charcoal filter. There is a little electric pump that circulates the water gently.

I ran out of water conditioner after the last change so I went to the pet store to buy some more after work yesterday. I showed the photos I posted to the girl that worked in the fish section. She said that based upon my betta's appearance, and age (I've had him for 2 years, and he was probably 6 months when I bought him), that he is probably old and on his way out. I'm not so sure. He was fine until that last water change.

Anyway, when I got home last night, I took his old, 2 gallon bowl and filled it half way with water and treated it with Aquasafe Water Conditioner, SafeStart, and Easy Balance. I put a plant in there and an old, smaller heater in there. The water level is about 5 inches, so my betta should have an easier time getting to the surface.

I then cleaned the 3.5 gallon tank again. There was a small amount of black sludge underneath the glass beads. Upon further inspection, I noticed there was some black gunk in the vents inside the pump. I took it apart, and it was filled with black gunk. I cleaned it thoroughly. I feel terrible. I don't know why I didn't notice this during the last change.

I filled the 3.5 gallon with water and treated it. I put all of the beads back in. I put in a fresh carbon filter, even though the last one was only a week old. I put in my betta's log and a fake plant. I put the heater in there and set it to 78 degrees.

I didn't want to disturb my betta any more than I had to so I left him alone. This morning he was resting on top of a plant and I saw him go to the surface a couple of times for air. I put in a couple of dried bloodworms, but he didn't go for them.

When I get home, I'll acclimate him properly to the 3.5 gallon tank. I'm considering buying some other type of food to see if I can entice him to eat.

If anyone else has suggestions about medication, food, or anything else, let me know.

Thanks.
One thing I noticed you said is that you have charcoal in the filter. Any meds that you would add to that tank would be quickly removed by the charcoal - so you might want to replace it with some other type of filter media if you are going to go the medication route. I agree with PascalKrypt and maggie thecat that you’re old guy is stressed (which could have been just from moving him back and forth when you first cleaned his tank. Frozen foods (that you thaw). Would be a lot more enticing, and nutritious, than any of the freeze dried and pellets that are labeled for Bettas. It’s expensive when you only have one, as the cubes shouldn’t be refrozen once they’ve thawed (and Bettas only need a couple blood worms or mysis shrimp since their stomachs are so small), but you can just shave a little off a frozen cube so you don’t waste the whole thing. Good luck!
 
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Thanks Barbara. I did remove the filter when I was attempting to medicate my betta. He didn't respond. I was thinking about treating for columnaris, but based upon the feedback I'm getting here that he's just stressed, I'm going to just leave him be and keep him comfortable. I'll get some frozen food as you suggested.

maggie thecat said:
Fresh/frozen food is always preferable to freeze dried, which can contribute to bloat.

Could the black gunge be charcoal dust residue? Or is it just mulm? Either way, it sounds like you are doing all you can.

If it's a stress reaction, time and peace and quiet (consider leaving the lights off for the next day or two) are great healers.
Definitely not residue from the charcoal. I think it was mulm.
 

PascalKrypt

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Really wanted to repeat that treating him without a definitive diagnosis (which there isn't at this point) will sour his chances 4 times out of 5, especially if you use heavy medication that takes a toll on his organs.
As for what the girl at the store said... bettas are capable of living upwards of 5 years. Nowadays due to various reasons, not all of which are equally clear (but genetics definitely has something to do with it) most bettas don't live quite that long. Still I wouldn't say a 2-year-old betta is definitely finished. He may be, or he may just recover and go on to live quite a few years more. Only time will tell.
 
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GoPats1981

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Thank you. I will refrain from medicating him. I hope he recovers.
 

BarbaraLocke

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GoPats1981 said:
Thanks Barbara. I did remove the filter when I was attempting to medicate my betta. He didn't respond. I was thinking about treating for columnaris, but based upon the feedback I'm getting here that he's just stressed, I'm going to just leave him be and keep him comfortable. I'll get some frozen food as you suggested.
Just to clarify - you said you removed the filter, but you should always have filtration. If you meant to say you removed the charcoal from the filter, then you did just fine! Lots of people, myself included, never use charcoal except to remove meds, then take it back out.
 
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GoPats1981

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I see. I just buy the filters that are designed for the tank. I don't think there's a way to take out the charcoal. But perhaps I'm mistaken.
 

BarbaraLocke

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GoPats1981 said:
I see. I just buy the filters that are designed for the tank. I don't think there's a way to take out the charcoal. But perhaps I'm mistaken.
Probably, not, as filter manufactures know that people equate crystal clear water with healthy water (untrue), and pre-made cartridges all have it. If you’re a bit handy, you can always cut open a used cartridge (sometimes you can just break the bottom out), remove the filter media that’s in it, and replace it with a wad of fiber filter material and a piece of sponge. All are available in bulk at many pet stores and, if not, there’s always Amazon. Bettas don’t create a big bio load, so you can keep ammonia and nitrites at bay by doing frequent water changes (since it sounds like your tank would go through a mini-cycle every time you put in a new cartridge anyway). Keep us posted, and fingers crossed for your little guy
 

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Hi,

I think it may be the aftermath of scrubbing everything. You see, every hard surface in a tank has bacteria. Good bacteria that cleans water of toxins. and you kinda killed em.
 
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Yikes. So I shouldn't scrub the tank or the plastic plants during a water change? I've been doing this since I first got my betta. Duly noted.

He had a bit more energy last night. He would surface more often, he ate, and he moved around the bottom of the tank a bit more than he has been. The color on his body looks a bit better to me, but his fins are still a bit translucent.
 

BarbaraLocke

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GoPats1981 said:
Yikes. So I shouldn't scrub the tank or the plastic plants during a water change? I've been doing this since I first got my betta. Duly noted.

He had a bit more energy last night. He would surface more often, he ate, and he moved around the bottom of the tank a bit more than he has been. The color on his body looks a bit better to me, but his fins are still a bit translucent.
Well, that’s great news!! I hope he continues to get better!
You can clean you plastic plants, etc., in the water you remove from the tank before you dump it, and wipe the inside of the glass with a paper towel if you see any algae starting to grow. Swishing the plants around in the water, and rubbing the leaves with you fingers will get the slime off just fine. It’s when you take everything to the kitchen sink and run them under the hot water that you get rid of the good bacteria along with the crud.
 

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I wouldnt b replacing the filter cartridge, ur throwing away bacteria u need when u do that. Just cut a hole in it and dump the charcoal out if u dont want to use it. But id stuff some other diy filter media in there for a few months then get rid of the cartridges, itll save u tons im sure. And just rinse the filter media when needed in old tank water. Also why are u adding easy balance? Thats an unnecessary chemical thats adding to his stress. They sell tank thermometers at walmart too for like $2 if u dont have one already. Also, no need to take him out of the tank when u clean it, also unnecessary stress. Try not to over clean too much at once so u dont take out too much bacteria. But i really hope he perks up and gets better!
 
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Hello,

A couple of weeks ago, I put my betta back inside his main tank with the filter, and the water level at about 5 inches so that it would be easier for him to get to the surface. He would still rest along the bottom, surfacing occasionally for air. Sometimes he would go after the food I put in, other times he wouldn't. After a week, he still had not improved at all. I removed the filter and tried medicating with Tetra Lifeguard, which takes 5 days. I was careful to make sure I wasn't overdosing him. He still didn't appear to be doing any better. I did a 1/3 water change on the 6th day and replaced the filter. I left him alone for the past week. He is still resting on the bottom. Lately, when I've been putting food on the surface, you can see him swim up, rest a second, and then swim up further to try and get the food. But he's missing the food. It's like he knows its there, but can't see it. Once he reaches the surface he then just lets himself sink back down to the bottom. His fins are mostly translucent at this point. His face is white. If anyone has any thoughts, let me know.

Thanks.
 
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