Fin rot and lethargy after water change

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miawyatt

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My male betta was healthy and active (always building great bubble nests) until a few weeks ago when we did a complete water change in his 2.5 gallon filtered tank. We forgot to rinse the filter before putting in a new one, so the tank was cloudy for awhile, but he didn't seem to mind. We gradually got it cleaned up, but soon noticed that he hadn't built another nest and was spending most of his time sleeping in a plant near the surface. He never stopped eating. Then he started hanging in one place looking into a corner (where I had kept a mirror at an angle) and not being very responsive. Now he's very jumpy and goes straight to the bottom of the tank to hide whenever he's startled. I started fasting him 3 days ago because he seemed to be swimming funny..kinda jerky (and at that time he was staying near the top), so I thought it might be constipation or SBD. In any case, now his fins are starting to show rot and I don't know what to do. I've been doing partial water changes daily and adding aquarium salt to his tank...along with conditioner. I have not medicated him with antibiotics...there seems to be mixed recommendations on that issue. Do you think he needs a specific remedy or just continued maintenance? I've had him less than a year, but I don't know how old he was when I got him. He seems a little bulgey behind the front fins and his color has lightened a bit there, but otherwise his scales look OK (as in no white spots etc)..just the fin rot. I am desperate. I don't want to lose another fish, though my last one died of old age, I am pretty certain. Thanks for any help you can give me and my little guy.
 

Butterfly

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Welcome to FishLore!! Here are some good articles to read. you do complete water changes and change the filter all the beneficial bacteria is being thrown away with it. Then the tank has to cycle all over again. Do you have a water testing kit? If so please test your water and post Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate readings. If not you need to get one so you can keep your buddys water clean. In a tank as small as 2.5 gallons the water pollutants(ammonia, Nitrites, Nitrates) can build up really fast.
As for medications Maracyn II is excellent for finrot. Hope that helps.
Carol
 
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miawyatt

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Thanks Carol. I read the articles you suggested. I do not have a water testing kit, so I can't report any levels. I did save some of the old water before doing the "complete" water change in the tank, so I'm hoping that some good bacteria were still present. Do you think I should purchase a product containing more beneficial bacteria or just use the Maracyn (is that tetracycline) to treat the fin rot? In either case, I still haven't solved the problem of the behavior change. Now he is darting to the bottom and "hiding" when I approach. I was going to feed him some daphnia (since his 3 day fast is over) but he swam away too fast. Sometimes he has trouble seeing it anyway, compared to the floating pellets.I really don't know what to do next. I hate to stress him more, but I have to do something. Of course, it might be old age...I've never yet found any resources to describe what happens when a betta fish dies of "natural causes". Please advise further if you can. Thanks again, Mia
 

chickadee

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I think Butterfly is right, but I might add one thing. What is the temperature of the tank? When my little guy had finrot I kept his tank at a steady 82 degrees. He got through it okay and is doing okay with the fins regenerating slowly now in his regular tank, (He had been in a quarantine tank because i had other fish in the regular tank and did not want to medicate them). I would do every other day water changes (no more than 20% and save the bacteria) The Marycyn II I am not familiar with, but if Butterfly recommends it it is probably going to be okay. Just follow the directions religiously. The important thing is to keep the water extreemly clean.

I sure hope this is helpful. Welcome to Fishlore. It is my hope that your experience here is as pleasant as mine as been. It is a great site and the people here are great and so helpful.

Rose
 
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miawyatt

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Thanks Rose. The temp is in the mid 70's. Right now my big concern is the behavior even more than the fin rot. Does a betta with fin rot normally hide out at the bottom of the tank?? M
 

Butterfly

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miawyatt said:
Does a betta with fin rot normally hide out at the bottom of the tank?? M
Mine didn't so thats the only experience I've had with it.

Tank water has very little beneficial bacteria in it, but the gravel, the decor, the plants and the filter do. when these are cleaned/replaced all at once the the bacteria is lost and the tank has to cycle again. This really rough on fish, especially a betta. Also the ph is a little different in used tank water and completely fresh water. Too many fluctuations in water parameters can make your Betta a sick fella.
As far as the meds are concerned.. I'm a die-hard no chemicals freak If something can be accomplished without chemicals I say do it. But have had good luck with the Maracyn II have never used what Rose uses, If you decide to give it a try make sure you read the directions carefully and make sure it's still safe for use on Bettas. Companys change things periodically (improve) and may not be safe for certain fish. Follow the directions to the dot. Hope this helps.
Carol
Carol
 
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miawyatt

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Thanks Carol. I went to a tropical fish store today and the owner recommended Bettafix for the fin rot instead of Maracyn, even though I specifically asked about it. He said to treat him for 7 days in a separate container. In the meantime, should I clean the big tank, except for maybe the gravel? I want to leave the good bacteria, but don't want to leave the pathogens!!! I'm a little confused, but don't want to screw it up if it means killing my Leo. How would you proceed if you were in my shoes? Thanks in advance. Mia
 

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No don't take everything out and remove all the decor and clean it. The finrot bacteria will be cleaned out with a really good tank cleaning and vacuuming. The important thing is clean water and to keep the gravel vacuumed. Vacuuming the gravel is not going to take the beneficial bacteria out. You can do a 75% water change if you will feel better but you do not need to take the decor and plants out and clean them. It would be too much loss of bacteria.

Bettafix is a good medication and made especially for Bettas, but is generally made for those people who keep their Bettas in the terrible Betta Bowls so be prepared to use quite a bit of it. Please be sure to keep the Betta in a quarantine tank of no less than 2 gallons. They also need to be in extremely clean water the whole time and without ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate as those will make the problem worse in a big way no matter what medication you are using. Test your water every day and change the water in the quarantine tank as often as necessary to keep the parameters really as close to perfect as possible. Also realize it takes a lot longer for a Betta to regenerate fins as the fins are so long and flowing. They are especially hard to regenerate if the damage is up next to the body and not away from the body. That is a much more serious situation for a Betta for some reason.

I hope this helps.

Rose
 
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miawyatt

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Here are some recent pics (5/24) of my sick betta. ??? :-\

Hi Rose. I just posted 2 pictures of Leo. I admit that I'm more than a little confused about this treatment scenario. The Bettafix directions say not to change the water for 7 days, and seem to indicate that you add more medication each day. The man at the fish store said the same thing. He also advised me to keep him in my small auxillary travel tank while medicating him (it only contains 1 quart). The water is starting out clean, and I have not fed him. Should I offer food? If he does eat, then I can see the need to change the water since it will contain waste products. I would like to minimize his stress and maximize the medication. I will try to vacuum the gravel in his main tank without cleaning all the plants in the mean time. Please help me figure out what to do regarding this daily treatment. Thanks so much for all your help.
 

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Hi there.

I realize I'm a newbie to this site, but I'd like to offer some advice. First of all, pet store are, unfortunately, sometimes staffed with people who don't know as much as they should about fish. I've heard some absolutely shocking advice from pet store employees.

I would not try to treat a fish in a 1 quart container. That's way too small, because there is so little water than the waste becomes concentrated in the water very, very quickly, and it doesn't take long to build up to lethal levels. There is nothing that helps a fish recover like clean water, and the greater volume of water in a tank, the cleaner the water. I didn't read anything about tankmates in your original post, so I'm assuming that he lives alone (as a betta should in a 2.5 gallon). If this is the case, then you can treat him in his home, you don't need to move him somewhere else for treatment. Just turn off the filter (if its an internal filter) and take out any carbon inserts.

Second of all, looking at the pictures of your betta, I can see that he is sick. His color is pale and sickly, and his fins are clamped. Luckily, his fins don't look too, too bad. Once the fin rot is cleared up, I think the fins should grow back nicely. I don't see anything in particular that's wrong with him though (no specific diseases).

Finally, about feeding him. My personal opinion is that you need not feed him during the time in which you are treating him. Bettas are often not hungry when they are sick, and they can go for a week to two weeks without eating, and the less they eat, the more slowly the water becomes fouled. My boy got columnaris, and picked up fin rot as a secondary infection, and I didn't feed him during the two weeks that I treated him.

Good luck with the treatment!
 
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miawyatt

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That sounds like good advice. I think the store owner was trying to be helpful by suggesting I use a smaller container so I wouldn't have to use as much medication, but that is not a concern of mine. So, I guess I should put him back in his big tank (alone, of course) after I've dumped the bad water and suctioned the gravel. Does that sound right? Then, do you still recommend a 100% water change daily in the big tank? Otherwise, I could do partial changes and just adjust the amount of Bettafix I'm adding daily to account for the amount removed. The math is getting complicated and I'm afraid to mess it up. I appreciate the advice...keep it coming. M
 

chickadee

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I am very sorry to have to disagree with you, but please do not turn off your filter for any reason. After 30 minutes the beneficial bacteria start to die and you will have to start your cycle all over again. You never stop feeding a sick fish as long as he will eat. It is always a good sign that he will eat. If he will not eat you just remove the uneaten food from the tank so it will not foul the water, but do not quit offering it. It is important that he be the one to make the decision to eat or not. It is true that most stores hire people who have not dealt with fish for very long and you must be careful taking their advice. If you have your fish in 1 quart of water, it is asking for disaster. The less water you have the harder it is to maintain a decent water parameter level plust there is no way to heat and filter a quart of water so that tells me that you are putting him in what will amount to a sewer by the time a week is over. If he is already sick, it will stress him to the point of being nearly dead by the time he is dealing with ammonia poisoning after a week. Whether he is producing solid waste or not he will still produce ammonia and that is one of the main causes of fish death.

The quarantine tank can be 2.5 to 3 gallons since it is a temporary and fairly capable tank of being heated and filtered but not a permanent home. The Bettafix or Melafix can be used for 7 days without a water change only if the water parameters are okay, but if the ammonia, nitrite or nitrate levels are above normal levels you have to change the water no matter what. The medication will do no good if he is having to fight poor water quality. Clean water is the first requirement. I would not bother with gravel in the quarantine tank as it is easier to keep the tank cleaner without it. Plants (fake) can be weighted down with small baggies of gravel if you like just to give him something to hide in but that is all that is necessary and a small new clean flower (clay) pot for him to use for a cave and he will be perfectly happy. (unless you have an extra cave) He needs to have a temperature of 80 degrees or a little more (82 no more). An airstone would be nice to help keep the oxygen level of the water up.
Medicate according to the bottle directions as long as the water quality is fine.

Rose
 
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Thank you all for your advice, but Leo died overnight last night. Rest in peace.
 

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I'm so sorry to hear Leo died!!!
Carol
 

chickadee

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I am so sorry that Leo died. Finrot is a terrible disease and the problem is especially bad in Bettas. You have my deepest sympathies. I know how terrible it feels to lose a fish you care about. I hope that you can have good memories of him to help you.

If you would like you can post a little memory post on our memorial section in this area of the forum. Some of the members have posted about the fish they have loved who have passed on.

Again, I am so sorry.

Rose
:'(
 
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miawyatt

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Thanks. Me too. I only wish I knew what really killed him. His fin rot wasn't that advanced. Maybe it was the Bettafix...or maybe not...either way I feel very guilty about it. . We're going out to bury him right now.

Thanks Rose. I didn't know there was a memorial board..that is so nice. It's nice to know there are people like you out there who actually understand how I can be so upset about a fish. Most people just look at me like I'm crazy. M
 

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You are not crazy. You just loved another living, breathing and beautiful being. There isn't supposed to be a limit on that. He meant something to you and that is all that is important. Just remember the good times, that is what Leo would want.

Rose
 
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miawyatt

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You're right, but I think people who appreciate all living creatures are definitely the minority these days. It makes me sad that most people don't care. I think my curse is caring too much. It will be better tomorrow and hopefully I'll just remember him at the peak of health. I think this forum is very therapeutic! Thanks for everything.
 
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