Help - Betta looks like it has fin rot - confused re:treatment

  • #1
What is the water volume of the tank? 20 gallon Long
How long has the tank been running? 3-4 months
Does it have a filter? Tidal 35 - replaced original one with a new Tidal 35 last week after concerns that the original one was not working properly
Does it have a heater? yes
What is the water temperature? 78 degrees
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) One betta, one mystery snail (and two live plants)

How often do you change the water? weekly normally
How much of the water do you change? Usually about 10-15%
What do you use to treat your water? Nutrafin Betta Plus
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? Both

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? Yes
What do you use to test the water? Strips
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 7.5-8.0 When last tested by aquarium store it was 7.6

How often do you feed your fish? Twice a day
How much do you feed your fish? 3 very small pellets
What brand of food do you feed your fish? Aqueon betta food
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? A frozen blood worm or two, once a week at most

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? 4 months

How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? 10 days ago
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? Started with him hiding and not coming out to be fed. Noticed fins deteriorating. Now he swims on top of water, eats normally, either lethargic or swims very quickly in a panic.

Have you started any treatment for the illness? Previous owner had given me Melafix. Instructed that they had used it because this fish has had fin rot before. I gave one dose and then read that it can affect the labyrinth organ and should not be used. Did 30% water change the next day and put in carbon filter. Only treatment I am now doing is water changes and cleaning gravel using an electric Fluval vac

Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? Not on purchase - but I accidentally put the manual gravel vac on him when cleaning the substrate several weeks ago. He seemed okay afterwards but might have suffered minor fin damage(?)

How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? He stays at the top of the tank, is either lethargic or swimming hyperactively when startled. He is eating normally when I bring food near to him.

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 think he has moderate fin rot. I don't know what to do.

1) Medication – Melafix at a lower dose? Bettafix? Other? No medication? After reading many posts and many different sites, I am completely paranoid about adding anything to his water. Also, I don't want to hurt the Mystery Snail.

2) Is there more going on? I adopted him in September from an owner who had him, two mystery snails and a guppy in a 3 gallon semi-circle tank with no heater. She said that she had had him for a year and a half. My goal was to give all of the inhabitants a better life. I set up the 20 Long and gave it 4 weeks of cycling. No ammonia spike showed up; was using matrix/foam filter/carbon filter that was already seeded from my other betta's tank and Stability so thought it would be ready. Noticed though that there was alot of white stuff on tank bottom.
Guppy died within weeks of being introduced to the new tank - stopped eating, bloated up. Water paramenters seemed fine - same as my other betta's tank (also a 20 long).
Betta looked like he was doing very well. Mystery snail was fine. Though the filter was pumping water (new Fluval 35 with seeded/used matrix/foam/carbon from other betta tank), it ran noisier than my other one. Experienced major problem with accumulation of debris at the bottom of the tank – especially considering that it holds only one betta and one mystery snail. So, took extra time vaccuuming the bottom of the tank. Changed the filter with a few days ago.

3) Quarantine: Confused about whether or not to quarantine and medicate. Don't want to stress the fish or the snail. I can put the betta in the 3 gallon semi-circular tank he came in but how do I prepare that tank? Would it need a month of cycling first? Prefer to leave both snail and betta in the 20 long.

I feel very confused and paranoid - I am unable to figure out what further action to take. Any help/advice will be greatly appreciated.
  • #2
Could you show us pictures of the fin rot?
  • #3
can you get a picture?
if its fin rot aquarium salt will be safe for the betta and snail not sure what plants you have though some are not safe with salt
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
I am trying to add a photo. Please note that the lighter area on the body is actually glare - body colouring is not washed out.


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  • #5
yes he has severe fin rot put in about 2 table spoons aquarium salt for a 20 gallon
I think indian almond leaves will also help a bit.
yes he has severe fin rot put in about 2 table spoons aquarium salt for a 20 gallon
I think indian almond leaves will also help a bit.
put in salt then do a 50% water change before adding more salt repeat for up to 7 days.
this has worked for all my bettas
good luck and hope he feels better soon!
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Thanks - I have aquarium salt here. Will see where I can source almond leaves from.
I can remove the plants for the time being. Are you sure the salt is safe for the Mystery Snail?

Should I quarantine the betta and then add the salt to the quarantine tank? If I do that, how do I get around cycling it?
  • #7
for mystery snails salt is safe in small amounts but you will need quite a bit for the betta so to be safe you might want to put the snail in a small tank temporally. I would keep the betta in the 20 gallon as he is the only fish and it might be stressfull for him if you moved him. i get the Indian almond leaves from my local pet store but you can also get them on amazon.
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Okay - thanks. Not sure how to set up a tank for the snail without cycling first? I would use the 3-gallon acrylic tank but would putting tank water and a decor item and some of the gravel from the original tank suffice? Would I need to acclimate the snail? My other tank with a betta also has assassin snails in it so that won't do. (I will also ask this question on the part of this site dedicated to snails.)
  • #9
No need to add the tank water as the beneficial Bacteria does not actually live in the water. You can move a little substrate and a decoration and that should be plenty.
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
I was thinking of using existing tank water too because that way the parameters would be definitely the same and I would not have to drip-acclimate the snail. Does that make sense? (Should I also move the two live plants to the smaller tank along with the snail?)
  • #11
I'd move the two live plants. That way you don't have to worry about the salt hurting them.
  • Thread Starter
  • #12
I have received advice to move the betta to the smaller tank instead of the snail and plants because the salt may settle into the substrate of the larger tank and cause harm to my snail when he returns. Also, it may be easier to medicate a smaller tank. I prefer this plan. Really don't want the snail to get sick too.

If I do this, will I need to drip-acclimate the betta before putting him into the smaller tank? I will use tank water, tank substrate, a piece of tank decor and add Stability as well as make sure the water temp is the same?
He's now in the smaller tank. Re: the salt – I calculate that for 2.5 gallons (measured the water I put into it), I would need 1.25 teaspoons. (Is this correct?) Do I put it all in at once or would it be better to put it in gradually?
  • #13
Gradually the first time.
  • Thread Starter
  • #14
I have been doing this. I don’t know if it is helping or not. Fins don’t look any better - perhaps not worse though - difficult to tell. This morning he seemed to have more energy - went after food. But all that changes when I do the daily water change. It stresses him out, he becomes lethargic and lies on his side on a silk plant in the 2.5 gallon quarantine tank.
I have ordered a 1 gallon (Aqueon Betta Boe with Smart Clean) so I can prep a second tank, move him into it and then clean the previous tank, to minimize his stress and mine.
I have ordered both Maracyn and Maracyn2 but it is coming from the US so will take a while to get here.
I have received Hikari Betta Revive from Amazon. When the new smaller tank gets here, I plan to try that instead of the aquarium salt.
Any thoughts about my plan?
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
Update: Please see my thread regarding BettaRevive.
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
Update: He recovered using only the salt water treatment. Many thanks to you all for helping. :) His fins have grown back and he is a very happy betta.

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