Betta Is Lethargic And Pale Help

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish Disease' started by Janelie, Apr 20, 2019.

  1. JanelieNew MemberMember

    I've had my Betta fish for almost a year. I bought her from Petco as a baby and I keep her in a 1-gallon tank. For about a month or two, she has been super lethargic and when I gave her food today she didn't have the strength to go to the top of the tank to eat it like she usually does. She tends to sit at the bottom of the tank or on top of her favorite rock. She is also very pale.

    I did a full tank cleaning two days ago and added two new plants to the aquarium. She has a total of three plants.

    Another thing that worries me is that she tends to stick herself between the glass and the filter. I just figured it was a quirk of hers, but lately, she has been spending all her time there.

    Please help me! I love Bertram so much and I would do anything to make her happy again. #PrayForBertram

    P.S: Keep in mind that this is my first fish ever. If you could please advise me on any mistakes that I made so I can learn from them, that would be greatly appreciated.

    -Janelie IMG_3279.JPG
  2. RepolieWell Known MemberMember

  3. EveeValued MemberMember

    Hi, Im sorry to hear about Bertram, it sucks when you don’t know what is going on and feel like you can’t help. So you said you did a full tank cleaning. What did you use to clean? Did you prepared the water , like adding prime? Do you have a heater? Do you have a water test kit? Usually you should never do a complete water change. She could be stress out. Also, 1 gallon tank is way too small. Can you get her in a bigger tank? At least 5g.

  4. FahnFishlore VIPMember

    When you cleaned the tank, did you scrub the filter or replace the cartridge?

  5. jenmurFishlore VIPMember

    Hmm, clean warm water always is a good thing! Ideally larger home but let’s work with what you have at the moment, shall we? Maybe fast her for a day or two. Offer daphnia (frozen or if free dried make sure it’s well soaked first)
    Hopefully clean warm water helps. I’m not seeing any big signs of sickness.
  6. NoroomforshoeValued MemberMember

    You NEED at least a 5 gallon tank, you need a quality filter cyled and established and not blowing the fish around, "immpossible in anything under 5 gallons.,
    YOU NEED an adjustable heater to keep the tank at a stable temp of 78-82 24/7
    NEVER change All the water!, Get a gravel vacuum and use it every week to change 25% of the water while sifting through the gravel. Add treated water that is the same tempurature as the rest of the water in the tank!
    NEVER remove the fish from the tank outside of an emergency or rehoming. Add Seachems paragaurd of other stress coat product any time woul handle the fish. because everytime you handle fish, you rub away slime coating . Slime coating is the fishes immune system!
  7. JanelieNew MemberMember


    What is the water volume of the tank? - 1 gallon
    How long has the tank been running? - almost 1 year
    Does it have a filter?- yes
    oes it have a heater?- no, a heater is not needed because the room is hot enough to keep water warm. I only use it in the winter when the room is cold.
    What is the water temperature?-80 degrees Fahrenheit
    What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) -1 Betta fish (Bertram), 2 live freshwater plants (recently added), 1 rock with a live plant on it (has been in the tank for 4 months, hasn't been a problem.), and lastly white substrate rocks from Imagitarium. (She used to have a moss ball but I removed it because I felt it was making the tank more filthy)

    How often do you change the water?- Every 2-3 weeks
    How much of the water do you change?-100%
    What do you use to treat your water?- 1mL of AquaSafe for Bettas from the brand Tetra
    Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water?-When I do my water changes, I replace the dirty substrate with new substrate. I thoroughly rinse before putting it in.

    *Parameters - Very Important
    Did you cycle your tank before adding fish?- No, what does this mean?
    What do you use to test the water?- I just bought the strips, I bought the API 5 in 1 Aquarium Test Strips
    What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.

    Ammonia: ??
    Nitrite: 0.5
    Nitrate: 0
    pH: 7.0
    Carbonate Hardness: 0
    General Hardness: 30

    Apparently, the Carbonate Hardness is bad, and the Nitrite levels are bad.

    How often do you feed your fish?- Every 2-3 days
    How much do you feed your fish? a small pinch
    What brand of food do you feed your fish?- Tetra Betta Flake Medley, today I gave her some Aqueon Betta Food since she didn't eat the flakes.
    Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods?- yes, I occasionally would give her freeze dried bloodworms, she was fine when I was feeding her this. I stopped for a while because I misplaced it. The problems started after I stopped feeding her this.

    Illness & Symptoms
    How long have you had this fish? almost a year, I got her as a baby
    How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? one month ago, she has always been lazy so I wasn't worried until now
    In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? Pale, lethargic, doesn't swim around anymore, sticks herself behind filter, skinny, not eating
    Have you started any treatment for the illness?- No, I don't know what's wrong
    Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase?I got her as a baby, so I hope not
    How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? skinny, lost color (pale), and she usually gets excited when she sees me getting her food but now she doesn't seem to care.

    Explain your emergency situation in detail. (Please give a clear explanation of what is going on, include details from the beginning of the illness leading up to now)
    I noticed about a month ago that she was a little bit pale and she was swimming around less. I haven't really been home because of school so I didn't pay much attention to it since she is a pretty lazy fish, she is always resting on her favorite rock. Now that I'm on spring break, I cleaned her tank and added some new plants that I thought she would like (two-three days ago). Ever since then she hasn't been moving much or eating and she's super skinny. It makes me so sad to see her this way, please help me find a way to save her and advise me on what I've been doing wrong. Thank you.
  8. RepolieWell Known MemberMember

    So there are some things I see wrong here. Bettas need an absolute (consensus) minimum of 2.5 gallons as the tank size which provides them the swimming space they need and room for other necessary equipment. It also has a larger water volume which mean it dilutes the waste produced making it less toxic. The bigger the better.

    I also see that you don't know about the nitrogen cycle and suggest that you research more about it. Basically all tank inhabitants produce ammonia as waste which is toxic, but you have beneficial bacteria which live in the filter to convert it into nitrites then nitrates which are less toxic and can be removed with a simple water change. A cycled tank means you have the beneficial bacteria to do that process.

    Water changes are required for maintaining a healthy aquarium because of these toxic wastes produced. For a tank that small that doesn't look like it's cycled, I'd suggest partial 50% daily water changes to keep the waste down. It's also ill advised to do a 100% water change as that's very stressful for fish and you'd have to re-acclimate the fish back into the tank so that you don't put them into shock with a temperature or pH difference. So small water changes should be done instead.

    It's good you're at least trying to test the water, however test strips are often inaccurate and don't test for ammonia. I (and many others) will suggest that you invest in the API master liquid test kit which tests for all the needed parameters, is more accurate and lasts longer than test strips.

    As I said before, it's usually an environmental issue that causes the problems.
  9. FahnFishlore VIPMember

    Your 100% water changes and cleaning the tank thoroughly are killing the bacteria that process ammonia into nitrates. Thus your tank hasn't completed the nitrogen cycle.

    >fish waste and uneaten food create ammonia.
    >in new tanks or tanks cleaned too thoroughly, there is nothing to break this down. water changes are the only solution.
    >eventually, good bacteria will begin to colonize the substrate and filter that convert the ammonia into slightly less harmful nitrites. this is why you don't deep clean the whole tank.
    >keep doing water changes during this process.
    >eventually, another type of good bacteria colonizes that converts nitrites into much less harmful nitrates.
    >when your tank consistently shows 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and some nitrates, the cycle is complete.
    >nitrates are removed with water changes and live plants.
    >overcleaning the tank and replacing filter media will KILL these good bacteria.

    Keep up with water changes, doing 50% water changes DAILY. Also, get a test kit for ammonia or have a store test it for you. Your fish is probably feeling ill from ammonia buildup in the tank.
  10. BettaishValued MemberMember

    The symptoms she's exhibiting are probably from the conditions she is kept in. Don't feel bad about it, I can guarantee you every member here has made a similar mistake
    -She'll need a 2.5 gallon+ tank
    -You'll need to do water changes once a week (25% each), but for now 50% every day or every other day because the tank is cycling
    -I wouldn't recommend flakes with bettas, the brand you're using has made some of my bettas sick (try Aqueon betta pellets)
    -Honestly, a heater is helpful because it keeps the temperature stable even when the water is already at the correct temp. For now that's fine though.
    Also, be sure to read up on the nitrogen cycle.
    Good luck!
  11. JanelieNew MemberMember

    Yes I did. I always do.
  12. BettaishValued MemberMember

    Which one?
  13. JanelieNew MemberMember

    How would I change the rocks/ clean the plants/ add new ones without removing my fish? I usually remove her from the tank to scrub her rock decor/ add new plants.
  14. FahnFishlore VIPMember

    Step number one to getting your betta in better shape: stop cleaning that filter!

    Sounds counter-intuitive, but see the above posts. If it gets grungy, give the cartridge/media a swish in some old tank water during a water change.

    It would be difficult in a tank as small as yours but you would use a gravel vac to siphon waste and dirty water from your gravel. The decorations you can still take out and clean, but in a well maintained tank there's rarely any reason to remove more than 50% of the tank water.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2019
  15. JanelieNew MemberMember

    I have a clean toothbrush that I use to scrub down the sides and ONLY for that purpose. I usually remove everything from the tank and once I clean and have everything set I fill up the tank with water and I add the water conditioner. I turn my filter on and I wait 10 minutes before putting her back in. I have a ten gallon tank, but it's very dirty at the moment. Thank you so much for your help.

    Thank you so much for your help! I will do my best.

    Alright, thank you so much!

    Both. I replace the cartridge and I scrub the filter itself.

    Thank you so much! I have the Aqueon ones, I'll switch to those. The reason why I don't use a heater is that my room is already at a super hot temperature since it's warm where I live, I'm worried that if I use a heater the water will start to boil. Without the heater, the temperature is usually 80 degrees. Any advice?

    Question: Is there any fish that I could keep in a 1 gallon tank? Or should I just get rid of it?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2019
  16. FahnFishlore VIPMember

    If the water is consistently 78-82 degrees no heater is necessary.

    Snails and shrimp, not much else.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2019
  17. JanelieNew MemberMember

    Ok, noted. Is there anything I can do for my fish right now that would help? I would have to wait until tomorrow until I can go to Petco.
  18. FahnFishlore VIPMember

    If possible, get that 10 gallon cleaned up and transfer the fish ASAP. Even with no filter it would be much cleaner and more stable than the current 1 gallon. You may even be able to run the 1 gallon filter on it temporarily.

  19. EveeValued MemberMember

    If you feel like your house is too hot then maybe you won’t need a heater, but just make sure the water is not cold or too hot. Also, I read that you have a 10 gallon tank? It will be amazing if you can switch her to that tank, she will be the happiest. I promise you. Just make sure if you clean it do not use any chemicals like Clorox or things like that. And like everyone here has been telling you, knowing the water parameters are super important as it is doing some partial water changes. And don’t feel bad, trust we all have made mistakes.

    You can keep the 1g tank for QT, in case you ever have to medicate her or something so you don’t use your main tank. No fish should live in such of small tank :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2019
  20. JanelieNew MemberMember

    When using the water conditioner, how long should I wait before adding her into the water? I've always worried about this.

    Okay thank you! This really helps.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2019