How Do I Help My Old Blind Betta? Help 

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bettafish247

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Hi everybody, Obie (my betta) and I could really use your help. He's an old boy and over the last few weeks, his age has really started to catch up with him.

My betta is going blind and I don't know how to feed him.

And he has a strange scale discoloration. What is it??

He's developed what I'm pretty sure is a cataract in his right eye. (I'm pretty sure it's not Popeye. It isn't bulging out. But there is a chance it's Cloudy Eye. Which do you think is more likely? I'm not sure how old he is now but I think he's 1.5 - 2 years old). He's having a lot of trouble seeing his food and his aim at catching it (just pellets or freeze-dried blood worms or daphnia) is terrible. He can get it sometimes if it stays afloat. But his pellets, which are his most important and nutritious food, always sink to the bottom. I've tried soaking his food in Seachem GarlicGuard. I thought he could catch it better if he could smell the pungent garlic, but it's not helping. I read that feeding blind bettas live food works because they can smell it and sense its movements. However, I have never given Obie live food. So he's never had the opportunity to practice chasing it. And now that he has a vision impairment, and he's older and slower, I worry that he won't be able to catch it. But maybe live food is still the next best thing to try. What do you think? And which live food? Blood worms, brine shrimp etc. ??

And besides which food to give him, what is a good technique to feed him? I'd rather not take him out of his tank and stress him. He's always been fearless, but he's getting more frail and I don't want to compromise his health more. But I need him inside something to help him catch the food and so it doesn't sink into the gravel bottom. And if he will get live food, I don't want the critter escaping and hiding in his tank. I've seen people feed their blind fish in a plastic basket. One that you simply dip underneath the fish and it stays submerged, but afloat at the surface. Where would I buy something like that? I need to figure out an effective, non-stressing way to feed him. And SOON. I don't want him to starve or get malnourished. Anyone have any ideas??

20190908_110405.jpg

This is his left eye. As far as I can tell, it is still working normally. Does anyone think this one looks abnormal?
20190908_111713.jpg

This is his right eye. As you can see, it's gotten cloudy. When I shine a light on it, it doesn't respond. Do you think it's more likely a cataract or Cloudy Eye? If it's a cataract, is there a chance it could clear up or is it more likely permanent?
20190908_211254.jpg

This picture is to show the weird white opaque and transparent scale discoloration. It's spreading, getting bigger. It's just behind his right eye, behind his head and behind his gill. I can't figure out what this is for sure. Is it just that appearing/disappearing white spot that some old bettas get? Or is this a disease?

Thanks for the help!
 

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You could try getting a small syringe (obviously without a needle attached) and put his food into it and position it close to his nose and slowly push the food out....using a baster would not work as its an all or nothing delivery but a syringe that you have full control over the speed of delivery would probably do the trick
 

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It's definitely going to take some adjustment on both your parts. Usually fish can sense food on the surface because of a difference in water tension. My male and female bettas are very visual-based and need to see the food. Like, I point it out to them. My baby betta, on the other hand, is very good at detecting where food is without seeing it based on its movement on the water surface. He doesn't have a filter though, just a weak airline, so there's not as much surface movement as the other bettas' tanks which have more surface movement due to their filters. So maybe that can throw them off. Still, he seems to have more natural instincts than the others.

Anyway, if you don't want to try live food, you can soak freezedried bloodworms and dangle them with a tweezer, imitating a live worm to see if he reacts to that. That's not a really the best staple diet though. You can do this with a small chunk of frozen food to, mimicking a bug on the surface or something. It'll pry be trial and error and practice for you guys.

Apparently I lost track of your previous thread and hadn't been getting alerts. Sorry! Maybe it's just the angles, but his fin and tail don't look well in these photos. Refresh my memory: what treatments have you used with him again?
I know you asked about feeding him, but his eyesight could be affected by whatever is causing what looks to be bad overall condition. But maybe his immune system isn't working well due to age. I don't know.

Previous post for this fish for others to reference: Help - Betta Has Strange Discoloration. Please Help!
 
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bettafish247

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pagoda said:
You could try getting a small syringe (obviously without a needle attached) and put his food into it and position it close to his nose and slowly push the food out....using a baster would not work as its an all or nothing delivery but a syringe that you have full control over the speed of delivery would probably do the trick
I don't have a syringe but I've got a small eye dropper. I tried using that this morning and it helped a little. He still can't see the pellets because they sink to the bottom immediately after they're pushed out of the tip of the eye dropper. I don't think he can detect that falling motion below him anymore. But the eye dropper helped him catch the freeze- dried blood worms and a few freeze- dried daphnia somewhat. So if it continues like this, until his condition declines more, I can feed him a little and keep him from starving.
 
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bettafish247

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CheshireKat said:
It's definitely going to take some adjustment on both your parts. Usually fish can sense food on the surface because of a difference in water tension. My male and female bettas are very visual-based and need to see the food. Like, I point it out to them. My baby betta, on the other hand, is very good at detecting where food is without seeing it based on its movement on the water surface. He doesn't have a filter though, just a weak airline, so there's not as much surface movement as the other bettas' tanks which have more surface movement due to their filters. So maybe that can throw them off. Still, he seems to have more natural instincts than the others.

Anyway, if you don't want to try live food, you can soak freezedried bloodworms and dangle them with a tweezer, imitating a live worm to see if he reacts to that. That's not a really the best staple diet though. You can do this with a small chunk of frozen food to, mimicking a bug on the surface or something. It'll pry be trial and error and practice for you guys.

Apparently I lost track of your previous thread and hadn't been getting alerts. Sorry! Maybe it's just the angles, but his fin and tail don't look well in these photos. Refresh my memory: what treatments have you used with him again?
I know you asked about feeding him, but his eyesight could be affected by whatever is causing what looks to be bad overall condition. But maybe his immune system isn't working well due to age. I don't know.

Previous post for this fish for others to reference: Help - Betta Has Strange Discoloration. Please Help!
My biggest concern right now is the whitish patch on him. It's not only a color anymore and it's getting bigger and changing at an alarming rate. In my previous post, I put pictures I took a couple days ago that show the whitish stuff behind his head and just behind his right gill and on his right eyelid. Here are picture of how it looks today:
20190910_100634.jpg
20190910_100730.jpg

As you can see, it's bigger and spreading. It's a more opaque, cloudy white. The scales it is affecting look more prominent, like outlined. And they have that prickly, pinecone look that Dropsy has. But I don't think it's Dropsy because he isn't swollen anywhere. In fact, he's thinner because he's old.
But what is this?!!
I started him on Kanaplex yesterday. I wasn't able to remove the carbon from his filter cartridge. I tried. The carbon would remove the Kanaplex. So unfortunately, his tank has to have no filtration during this medicine dosing time. I'm afraid to give him the 1 - 2 punch of alternating Kanaplex + Furan-2. I'm afraid the two meds at once might be too rough on his frail little body. At the fish store where I bought the Kanaplex, the associate said the same thing. So for now at least, I think it may be best to give him only Kanaplex.

His behavior is changing too. All the time now, he is at the top of the water level. I think it's because it's easiest to breathe that way. It's too hard to race up to the top for a quick breath like he used to. He's mostly hiding behind his filter or heater. He still has an appetite, but isn't eager to eat anymore. A couple times I've had to nudge him out from hiding to come where he can eat.

I've set up a makeshift rig for feeding time. See the picture below. It's a floating basket that's attached to the sides to stabilize. I scoop this under him in his tank so I don't have to stress him with taking him out and back in for each meal. The white solid bottom helps him see the darker food against it. I remove the excess food so it doesn't go into the tank.

I use tweezers or an eye dropper to hold the food up to his mouth or in front of his good eye. It's a lot of slow, difficult trials at this point. I think I've done all I can for him to detect his food. So far it seems to be working ok. I've bought some new food for him to eat since he's not able to catch or find his good pellets anymore. At this point, I have to make due with what he's able to eat. So I bought some frozen blood worms (not alive when thawed) but they're juicy as if they were alive. He's able to eat those, though I think he prefers his dry food that he's used to. I feed him whatever I can get him to eat.The thawed blood worms, freeze-dried blood worms and freeze-dried daphnia. I can't get him to eat as much daphnia though since they're harder for him to see. He seems to do best with catching floating food himself that's right in front of him. So today I bought some Omega One Freshwater Flakes. I'll try giving him some of these tonight. Is this good flake food for an old betta? Is the quality ok for him to eat? I hope so because I'm running out of options.
20190910_100423.jpg
 
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bettafish247

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CheshireKat said:
It's definitely going to take some adjustment on both your parts. Usually fish can sense food on the surface because of a difference in water tension. My male and female bettas are very visual-based and need to see the food. Like, I point it out to them. My baby betta, on the other hand, is very good at detecting where food is without seeing it based on its movement on the water surface. He doesn't have a filter though, just a weak airline, so there's not as much surface movement as the other bettas' tanks which have more surface movement due to their filters. So maybe that can throw them off. Still, he seems to have more natural instincts than the others.

Anyway, if you don't want to try live food, you can soak freezedried bloodworms and dangle them with a tweezer, imitating a live worm to see if he reacts to that. That's not a really the best staple diet though. You can do this with a small chunk of frozen food to, mimicking a bug on the surface or something. It'll pry be trial and error and practice for you guys.

Apparently I lost track of your previous thread and hadn't been getting alerts. Sorry! Maybe it's just the angles, but his fin and tail don't look well in these photos. Refresh my memory: what treatments have you used with him again?
I know you asked about feeding him, but his eyesight could be affected by whatever is causing what looks to be bad overall condition. But maybe his immune system isn't working well due to age. I don't know.

Previous post for this fish for others to reference: Help - Betta Has Strange Discoloration. Please Help!
In response to your questions about his fins and tail -

I have tried EVERYTHING to get his fins and tail to regrow. You can look at my other threads and see all the discussions I had trying to find a solution. I went over every bit of my tank to make it as safe as possible, in case he was shredding his fins on anything in the tank. I did things like try medicine, put nylon hose over the filter intake grating, only put silk plants in, and filed any and all sharp points on his ornaments. I tried it all for a long time but nothing made it come back. I've been keeping an eye on it all these months. And it never affected his behavior or swimming capability. He remained happy and energetic. And he was fast. Darting and chasing his bubbles. He played rough. So I stopped worrying about it. I don't think there was or is anything I can do to improve his ragged fins and it never seemed to affect his health anyway.

20190910_211940.jpg
I got a closer look at his white growth and took pictures through a magnifying glass. I took this picture a few minutes ago. What is this??!! Is Kanaplex enough to treat it? Please help.

And I'm afraid and hoping I won't need to euthanize him, but I want to be ready if the time comes. I don't have any clove oil. (I do have Young Living Thieves essential oil. Would this work or would it be too diluted because it has other ingredients in it? Clove bud oil is listed first, but then there's lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary oils)
h4hz7ts72bmrkzswk3j0.jpeg
What is another humane, painless way I can euthanize? Or what is a common store where I can buy clove oil? I'd rather get it in person asap instead of buy online and wait for it if I need it urgently and soon.
What about putting him in a bag of water in the freezer? Is that humane and painless? If you do that, how do you do it properly? What would happen - would he fall asleep first?
 
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Update:
Obie is doing a little better. A big chunk of that nasty growth fell off (it got considerably bigger than in the last photo I posted) and he had a good appetite yesterday. Per a recommendation I got about Kanaplex from another thread, I upped his dose. He received 50mg of Kanaplex over a week. Perhaps this is helping him recover. I'm very cautiously optimistic.
 

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Yay!
 
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20190917_124701-jpg.jpg
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I've got a bad update about Obie. He's in very bad shape. The worst I've seen. I think his time may be coming very soon. He had that chunk of growth fall off and was better for a short while, but it grew back quickly within two days. It's big and covering the top of his head and the right side of it. He's been staying at the surface for at least a week now, but today he is floating at the top on his side - the first I've seen him do this. He isn't moving anywhere. Just lying still with labored breathing. I'll attach a picture but it's hard to see the growth because it's the side down in the water and he's up against the side of the tank. The floating things around him in the photo are just food flakes. I wanted to see if he had any interest in eating, but he doesn't. I'll remove them.

Do you think he's suffering now? If yes, does he need euthanasia or should I let him go naturally? I've bought clove oil but it won't arrive in the mail til tomorrow.

His disease/infection grew aggressively. I think I didn't find out quickly enough how much I needed to up his Kanaplex doses. I went by the dosage recommendations from Seachem and erred on being cautious. I didn't want to overdose him. But I underdosed him and now I think he may be too far gone to recover. This morning, I gave him 40 mg of Kanaplex all at once. But that hasn't been enough time to allow improvement and he's only getting worse.
 

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I feel really bad for you but I feel worse for your little guy. I think you've done what you can for him and should send him off because from all you've said and the pictures - it would take more than a miracle for him to recover.
Did I missing you saying how old he is? I've been reading their life expectancy is on average 3 years.
 
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bettafish247

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BettaDollar said:
I feel really bad for you but I feel worse for your little guy. I think you've done what you can for him and should send him off because from all you've said and the pictures - it would take more than a miracle for him to recover.
Did I missing you saying how old he is? I've been reading their life expectancy is on average 3 years.
I hope so. Thanks. Honestly, I'm not sure of his age. The youngest he could be I think is 20 months. But someone who worked at a fish/aquarium store thought he might be 3 years old. (But that was after I gave him my description, just after he went blind. We thought he had a cataract but now I wonder if his eye just got affected by the same infection on his head).
 

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bettafish247 said:
I hope so. Thanks. Honestly, I'm not sure of his age. The youngest he could be I think is 20 months. But someone who worked at a fish/aquarium store thought he might be 3 years old. (But that was after I gave him my description, just after he went blind. We thought he had a cataract but now I wonder if his eye just got affected by the same infection on his head).
I've read males are often sold at the age of 1 year & if you believe he's around 20 months then he could be considered a senior. In any case no matter the age he'll need a miracle.
 
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BettaDollar said:
I've read males are often sold at the age of 1 year & if you believe he's around 20 months then he could be considered a senior. In any case no matter the age he'll need a miracle.
Right yes. He was full grown when I bought him a year ago.
 

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bettafish247 said:
Right yes. He was full grown when I bought him a year ago.
I don't know if you're hoping Obie can hang on until your clove oil arrives but I'd be surprised if he makes it thru the day. Sorry to sound so pessimistic.
I had the misfortune of an outbreak of disease not long ago and lost 11 fish in a day and 1/2.
I was treating them with recommended meds but to no avail. I struggled with the same decision you are, but wouldn't give up until they started floating upside down even then they were trying to right themselves.
At that point I had to give up. Lost 8 young platys & the parents too & 3 other fish.
It's so hard to euthanize but sometimes it's the right thing...
 
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bettafish247

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BettaDollar said:
I don't know if you're hoping Obie can hang on until your clove oil arrives but I'd be surprised if he makes it thru the day. Sorry to sound so pessimistic.
I had the misfortune of an outbreak of disease not long ago and lost 11 fish in a day and 1/2.
I was treating them with recommended meds but to no avail. I struggled with the same decision you are, but wouldn't give up until they started floating upside down even then they were trying to right themselves.
At that point I had to give up. Lost 8 young platys & the parents too & 3 other fish.
It's so hard to euthanize but sometimes it's the right thing...
Oh I know he could go at any time, but if he's here tomorrow, I'll have the option of euthanizing then.

He did just surprise me though. A little while ago, he righted himself. And he's swimming around a little. But he still doesn't want to eat. Not sure what this means but I better not get very hopeful.

Sorry about all those fish you lost. So sad

  1. As you can see in the last photos I put up, Obie is in a floating basket at the top of his tank. I rigged that up to make it easier to feed him since he's half blind. But my question is, should I leave him alone in there or release him back out into his whole tank to be more comfortable and in peace?

    Lately, he has been wanting to squeeze into narrow spaces at the top of his tank, like behind his heater (maybe also because it's warmer there). I put up a "betta hammock", that leaf with the suction cup, by his heater, but he mostly wants to hide in the tight spots. It's been hard to get him out of there and get him into the basket to feed. If he ever does want to eat again, and he's this weak, I'm hesitant to release him and try and catch him again.

    The other concern is, what if he gets to the point where he sinks to the bottom and is too weak to get a breath of air at the surface? I added the bigger 40 mg dose today and he's had about 60 mg of Kanaplex over the last 8 days (with water changes). So I'm worried about the fact that the medicine depletes the oxygen in the water. If he gets to the point where he can't float at the top for air, I don't want him suffocating at the bottom. If you read my earlier posts above, you'd see that I haven't been able to have his filter on because of the filter cartridge removing the meds. So he hasn't had the filter to aerate the water. And since I'm doing frequent water changes, he's due for another, but I hate to disturb him when he's like this. But I want him to be happy and comfortable.... Where should I let him rest in his tank??
 

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bettafish247 said:
  1. As you can see in the last photos I put up, Obie is in a floating basket at the top of his tank. I rigged that up to make it easier to feed him since he's half blind. But my question is, should I leave him alone in there or release him back out into his whole tank to be more comfortable and in peace?

    Lately, he has been wanting to squeeze into narrow spaces at the top of his tank, like behind his heater (maybe also because it's warmer there). I put up a "betta hammock", that leaf with the suction cup, by his heater, but he mostly wants to hide in the tight spots. It's been hard to get him out of there and get him into the basket to feed. If he ever does want to eat again, and he's this weak, I'm hesitant to release him and try and catch him again.

    The other concern is, what if he gets to the point where he sinks to the bottom and is too weak to get a breath of air at the surface? I added the bigger 40 mg dose today and he's had about 60 mg of Kanaplex over the last 8 days (with water changes). So I'm worried about the fact that the medicine depletes the oxygen in the water. If he gets to the point where he can't float at the top for air, I don't want him suffocating at the bottom. If you read my earlier posts above, you'd see that I haven't been able to have his filter on because of the filter cartridge removing the meds. So he hasn't had the filter to aerate the water. And since I'm doing frequent water changes, he's due for another, but I hate to disturb him when he's like this. But I want him to be happy and comfortable.... Where should I let him rest in his tank??
1. I'd leave him where he's at. Like you said it's easier when trying to feed him. And anytime you have to catch a fish it causes stress - that's the last thing he needs. Eh?
2. If you were to run his filter would it circulate the water in his enclosure?
If yes I'd suggest removing your filter floss and run it with nothing in it. I think it would distribute what you're using for meds. now. It won't remove your med's.
3. If he prefers tight places that's not unusual - mine does it quite often. He's probably more comfortable in them. Sometimes I think it's because of the filters water flow. I wouldn't try to persuade to move from those places.
4. I think he's got a strong will to leave and you're a saint for being so concerned.
Keep me posted
 
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BettaDollar said:
1. I'd leave him where he's at. Like you said it's easier when trying to feed him. And anytime you have to catch a fish it causes stress - that's the last thing he needs. Eh?
2. If you were to run his filter would it circulate the water in his enclosure?
If yes I'd suggest removing your filter floss and run it with nothing in it. I think it would distribute what you're using for meds. now. It won't remove your med's.
3. If he prefers tight places that's not unusual - mine does it quite often. He's probably more comfortable in them. Sometimes I think it's because of the filters water flow. I wouldn't try to persuade to move from those places.
4. I think he's got a strong will to leave and you're a saint for being so concerned.
Keep me posted
Even though he isn't interested in eating, and if he's in no danger of not getting enough oxygen if he becomes unable to stay at the top anymore, do you think he should still stay in the basket? I think I'll at least leave him there til this evening and try to feed him again. But if he won't eat then there'd be no reason to catch him in the basket again.

I have been running the filter - without the cartridge so it won't suck up the meds. So yes it does circulate, but a little differently I imagine since the cartridge is missing.

He does seem to have a little fight in him. Righting himself and swimming a little, but not much.
 

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I'd leave him in the basket. Looks like there's enough room to swim if he want's. & easier to rest against the side too. They're labyrinth breathers & able to extract air where others can't.
 
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bettafish247

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BettaDollar said:
I'd leave him in the basket. Looks like there's enough room to swim if he want's. & easier to rest against the side too. They're labyrinth breathers & able to extract air where others can't.
Right. Thanks for the input. I'll make a decision soon
 
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bettafish247

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Hi everyone. Sad news about Obie. He passed away sometime during the night. Never even had the chance to euthanize with clove oil, but I think it was for the best anyway. I made him as comfortable as I could and it was his time. I laid him to rest today. Thank you for your help and concern. I'm going to sign off on this thread now.
 
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