Help Everything I'm Doing is Making Things Worse! Betta fin help needed

Mamastacia3

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I'm so stressed right now, everything I'm doing to try to help my betta and my tank is making it worse.

My betta Simon has some kind of fin melt/rot/biting/disease, I don't know. My water is clean-clean-clean, always is. Everyone agrees he looks like ****, but I can't seem to help him. Keeping water super clean, added salt then removed salt when that might be part of the problem (he is shedding his slime coat too). I keep changing out the water, 10-20% per day, sometimes 30%, today about 40%...because...I also have hydra in my tank so I keep trying to get rid of those manually without dumping a bunch of chemicals in the tank that will no doubt make everything even worse and kill my snails on top of it. So I keep removing decor and plants that have hydra on them and watch like a hawk for new hydra. I'm keeping the lights off to de-stress the fish and the hydra seem to multiply more with light. I only see little clumps of 3-4 of them but when I remove them, a few more usually appear a day or two later. I'm sure sticking my hand/arm into the day every day and stirring everything up by taking out decor or killing hydra is not helping anything and stressing out my fish.

Advice is helpful but conflicting: add salt, don't add salt, the salt is irritating him, that's why his slime coat is coming off, take the salt out. Add Stress Coat, don't add Stress Coat. Treat the tank for hydra but take out your snails first because that will kill them - oh and you can't put them back in for like ever because the hydra killer will settle into the substrate and kill them later. Treat the fins for a bacterial or fungal disease, or leave him alone because he's had enough and let him heal. Maybe take out/clean/replace the sponge filters - no, don't do that because the bb will be destroyed. Keep the water clean and it'll get better. But it's not.

I'm at the end of my rope. I got my bettas as a hobby to enjoy and de-stress. They stress me out more than anything when they aren't doing well, and it's breaking my heart watching Simon go downhill.

So does ANYONE have some advice that will help him? First with what it looks like? Fin rot? Fin melt? Biting? The water quality has never been anything but super clean with good parameters (0/0/>5, ph 7.6, temp steady 79). Should I keep changing out small amounts of water to keep the water clean and add Stress Coat to help with his fin healing? I added the normal amount of Stress Coat, should I add the "treatment" amount, which is double? Anyone have opinions on stress coat?

I'm feeling like I agree that the salt wasn't helping - I usually underdose but have had salt in the tank for quite a while - because there always seems to be some kind of issue that calls for it - a torn fin, healing fins, etc. It's definitely not helping this time.

Also any words of encouragement? I feel like I'm doing everything "right" but my fish is a mess. I've been at this for more than a year and I've learned a LOT, so I still have things to learn but I'm not a rank beginner by any means. Why can't I get this tank to a point of stability and just leave my poor fish alone and let them just enjoy life? And me too...so frustrating.

I can give all the background info again if it'll help, but in a nutshell, I have a 20g divided betta tank, opaque divider, two bettas. Each side has a heater and sponge filter. I've had Simon a little over a year and rescued his neighbor Ted about six months ago. Simon was in a 10g by himself, they moved to the big tank in mid-March. Had a trauma on April 11 when a new decor released microfibers into the water that almost killed Ted. Fixed that, two days later Simon got a huge rip in his lower fin because of an improperly replaced decor. Took all the decor out, sanded it, etc. Added roiboos tea and salt to heal the fin. That fin IS healing, it's his tail that is a wreck.

Two weeks ago (?) the hydra appeared. Took out the decor and plants that had it, tossed the plants, cleaned the decor. Sometime around then Simon's top fin was clamped. I kept the water clean, left the lights off, and that has seemed to improve.

So it's been one issue to deal with and then the next.

Anyway, thanks for letting me vent, and if anyone can give me some solid advice on what is happening with his tail and slime coat, and suggestions for how to help him. Much appreciated! Thank you. Pics attached show his wrecked tail fin, and one pic of what he looked like before I started doing everything wrong.
Simon ragged fins 5-13-2020.jpg
Simon ragged fins 2.jpg
IMG_8653.JPG
 

AquaCaitlin

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I don’t have experience with hydra so I’m afraid I can’t be of help with that but I believe I can help with the tail problems.

1) Get him into an aquarium all by himself if possible (if he is already by himself than good, I was a little confused as to his current aquarium situation) It will make it easier to treat him.

2) Keep adding tannins. Add until the water is a noticeably brown color.

3) I do not suggest ever adding salt to the aquarium itself, but rather removing the fish and placing them in a salt bath. Let the tannins do their thing first, but if it’s getting progressively worse than start with salt baths.

4) I do think stress guard is a good plan if his slime coat is suffering. Between the tannins and the stress guard his slime coat should be on the mend pretty quickly.

5) Keep your water warm and clean. Lights dimmed as well, to reduce any potential stress.
 

kippielynn

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Agree with above! If you haven’t tried his own space to treat, that may help so he is solo and you can add indian almond leaves or more tannins.

Also, rosetails have heavy tails and he may be fin biting because of that. Not sure if that is something they just start doing but maybe. I personally always avoid salt unless for bloat, haven’t had luck with it.

Last thing, you mention you have had him for a year, not sure how old he was when you got him but if he is near 2 (was a year when you got him) he may be older and genes kicking in. Aging doesn’t look good on everyone:( Not sure if that is it but you seem to be doing the best you can and sometimes that is enough:) Less can be more to just make sure all water is good and give time:) good luck!
 
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Mamastacia3

Mamastacia3

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Thank you!! I will follow the advice! To answer your question Simon is in a shared, divided 20g tank. Each betta (Simon and Ted) has his own 10g with heater and filter on his side. I can't move Simon to his own tank at this point unfortunately, I don't have the 10g anymore. I think treatment wouldn't do any harm to Ted, his fins are good but still growing out from his original deplorable state when I got him. Luckily Ted seems to be doing just fine.

Re: tannins: I have been using roiboos tea to stain the water. Someone told me to just hang a teabag into the tank, but someone else said not to do that, to put the tea in a cup/bowl first and then put the stained water into the tank. In your opinion, is one of those a better method? Indian almond leaves are helpful but I can never find enough to stain a 20g tank, so is the roiboos okay - serve the same purpose?

I tend to be on the less-is-more school of thought, and usually feel like as long as the tank is clean and fishie can be left alone, nature tends to go the right way (except this time, things still seem to keep going wrong no matter what I do).

Okay - so I will use some Stress Coat, leave the lights off, add tannins, don't add any more salt - and soon tank will be 100% replaced with clean (no salt) water since I change out 10-30% daily. I also feel like less is more that way too and try not to change out more than 20% at a time unless there is a compelling reason.

So it doesn't look like fin melt/fin rot/disease to you? The edges are ragged but look "clean" to me, tail itself is not coming off in pieces or anything like that, he just looks either the same or a little worse every day - so far.

Thanks again, I appreciate it!!
 

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Hi! I am not well-versed in treating fin rot/disease, and I cannot give you any advice on what to do. BUT, I did want to say that you are not doing everything wrong! You are actually doing everything you can to save your fish. I just want to remind you that as long as you continue to care for him in the manner you have, you are doing your best and that is all you can ask of yourself. I wish you the best of luck with Simon and the hydra situation!
 

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Sorry to hear Simon is still a concern.

Mamastacia3 said:
Re: tannins: I have been using roiboos tea to stain the water. Someone told me to just hang a teabag into the tank, but someone else said not to do that, to put the tea in a cup/bowl first and then put the stained water into the tank.
Ultimately it is us who are responsible to research everything that we put in our tanks. There are lots of resources besides the forum that directly address adding steeped rooibos.

Mamastacia3 said:
I tend to be on the less-is-more school of thought, and usually feel like as long as the tank is clean and fishie can be left alone, nature tends to go the right way (except this time, things still seem to keep going wrong no matter what I do).
He's a petstore Betta and not bred to be healthy. Sometimes there really is nothing you can do. It's really sad that these animals are considered throw away by commercial farms and big chain LFS. Remember the Teddy Tank?

Mamastacia3 said:
I also feel like less is more that way too and try not to change out more than 20% at a time unless there is a compelling reason.
You can do large water changes daily if you choose. It's best to add the clean, dechlorinated water back in slowly to avoid shock.

Mamastacia3 said:
So it doesn't look like fin melt/fin rot/disease to you? The edges are ragged but look "clean" to me, tail itself is not coming off in pieces or anything like that, he just looks either the same or a little worse every day - so far.
I think you plan to keep water clean is best. Tannins can be helpful as mild antibacterial but certainly won't cure a systemic problem.

Hope he turns the corner for you.
 
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Mamastacia3

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AquaCaitlin said:
2) Keep adding tannins. Add until the water is a noticeably brown color.

AquaCaitlin, can roiboos tea work for tannins, and per question above can I add the teabag to the edge of the tank (like a giant cup of tea lol) or better to soak the teabag in water first and add the water to the tank?
 
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Mamastacia3

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Fisheye, thanks. I know that everything I put into my tank is my responsibility, hence the feeling bad that I'm doing everything wrong.

However I do understand that dumping in a half a tank's worth of cold water all at the same time is a bad idea.
 
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Mamastacia3

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dottiemae said:
Hi! I am not well-versed in treating fin rot/disease, and I cannot give you any advice on what to do. BUT, I did want to say that you are not doing everything wrong! You are actually doing everything you can to save your fish. I just want to remind you that as long as you continue to care for him in the manner you have, you are doing your best and that is all you can ask of yourself. I wish you the best of luck with Simon and the hydra situation!

Thank you so much! It's really hard to not feel like I'm wrecking him with everything I'm doing, but thank you for the words of encouragement. We all need that from time to time. :)
 

AquaCaitlin

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Mamastacia3 said:
Thank you!! I will follow the advice! To answer your question Simon is in a shared, divided 20g tank. Each betta (Simon and Ted) has his own 10g with heater and filter on his side. I can't move Simon to his own tank at this point unfortunately, I don't have the 10g anymore. I think treatment wouldn't do any harm to Ted, his fins are good but still growing out from his original deplorable state when I got him. Luckily Ted seems to be doing just fine.

Re: tannins: I have been using roiboos tea to stain the water. Someone told me to just hang a teabag into the tank, but someone else said not to do that, to put the tea in a cup/bowl first and then put the stained water into the tank. In your opinion, is one of those a better method? Indian almond leaves are helpful but I can never find enough to stain a 20g tank, so is the roiboos okay - serve the same purpose?

I tend to be on the less-is-more school of thought, and usually feel like as long as the tank is clean and fishie can be left alone, nature tends to go the right way (except this time, things still seem to keep going wrong no matter what I do).

Okay - so I will use some Stress Coat, leave the lights off, add tannins, don't add any more salt - and soon tank will be 100% replaced with clean (no salt) water since I change out 10-30% daily. I also feel like less is more that way too and try not to change out more than 20% at a time unless there is a compelling reason.

So it doesn't look like fin melt/fin rot/disease to you? The edges are ragged but look "clean" to me, tail itself is not coming off in pieces or anything like that, he just looks either the same or a little worse every day - so far.

Thanks again, I appreciate it!!
Sounds like a plan! I believe you will extract more of the tea from the bags if you boil it first, but it’s up to you. :)

As for his fin situation- it looks like some tearing either from a previous injury or biting that has picked up some rot. He actually doesn’t look too bad compared to some other cases I’ve seen bettas bounce back from so you’re doing things right!
 

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I hope I didn't say anything to make you feel a certain way-that wasn't my intention at all. I realize this is a very stressful time with your fish and only meant to help.

I didn't suggest you were dumping in cold water at all. I just meant that you can safely do a large water change if the new water is introduced slowly so as not to shock.-even if the temp is the same.

Pretty sure we all have at some point, just reacted to the situation in our tanks when really, there is more often ample time to broadly research trusted sources. Very few situations happen overnight and similarly, won't resolve over night.

That Simon and Ted are living in the same water and just Simon is sick says more about his breeding and less about your care.
 
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Mamastacia3

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I'm sorry (Fisheye), I'm obviously feeling sensitive and defensive...just really stressed. Thank you for trying to help me, I do appreciate it. :)
 

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I'm just wondering, does he have any other symptoms other than the ripped tail? Is he lethargic, not eating, swimming weird? Or is it just the ripped fins? I'm an amateur myself but I almost wonder if there's not so much a disease probelm as a fin biting/ripping problem? I'm so sorry you are going through this and I don't have more help
 

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It could be fun bitting. Try to rearrange the tank. And just large waterchanges every couple of days. It will heal up. I would do 50% every 3-4 days.
 
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Mamastacia3

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redmare said:
I'm just wondering, does he have any other symptoms other than the ripped tail? Is he lethargic, not eating, swimming weird? Or is it just the ripped fins? I'm an amateur myself but I almost wonder if there's not so much a disease probelm as a fin biting/ripping problem? I'm so sorry you are going through this and I don't have more help
Good question! He is acting completely normal, swimming around, always happy to eat, curious, friendly, comes over to say hi. His behavior hasn't changed at all. The only time I noticed weird behavior was a couple of weeks ago when the top fin was clamped - he seemed uncomfortable trying to swim around. That's improved and he's acting as if he had a whole set of beautiful fins.
 

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I would boil water, add the tea bag, let cool and then add the tannins. I agree this gets the most out of it & you can control how much is added. Be sure it is not a blend but 100% rooibos. He'll get there, but fins can take soem weeks to come back:)


 
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Mamastacia3

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Fisheye said:
Just wanted to check in on you and Simon, Mamastacia3. Really hope today was a good day!
Hi Fisheye...yes it was a pretty good day, thank you! This morning Simon had less slime coat shedding than yesterday. I changed out 25% more water, and last night added a roiboos teabag to the tank. His tail looks the same, not better but not worse.

He seems his normal self, active, curious, and hungry. So...fingers crossed.

Thanks for asking!

-St
 

Jmcknight123

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My betta had the same problem when I got him. He was kept with a bunch of other fish and a crayfish. I put him in a heavily filtered planted 20 gallon long and after 2 weeks the issue cleared up. I've had him almost 3 years now and he is doing amazing. I recommend plants with bettas and to get rid of all your substrate and start over. No fake plants or rough decorations. He is beautiful by the way. I agree with the almond leaves. A black water aquarium is the way to go.
 
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Mamastacia3

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Update: almost a week later, Simon’s fins are about the same, maybe even slightly worse. That’s the not great news. Better news is that he is no longer shedding his slime coat, and there are possible little nubs of new fin growth. I’ll try to take a pic tomorrow.

I’ve been replacing 20-30% of the water every day, and putting in roiboos tannins (new teabag each night).
I’ve reduced the number of hours the light is on to about 3-4 hrs a day. I can reduce that even more but my plants might die (which I can live with, I got the plants only for the fish).
There have been very small crop-ups of hydra but I can usually remove the item they’re on along with them.

Any suggestions of anything to do differently? Should I just keep up with what I’m doing and report back in another week? He still appears unfazed and is very active, curious, greedy etc.

Thanks!
-Stacia
 

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