I Don't Know If My Betta Has Fin And Body Rot, Or What. Help 

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SharkX

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Copy and pasting the 'sick fish template' here.

Tank

What is the water volume of the tank?: 10 gallons.
How long has the tank been running?: Not even sure what this means.
Does it have a filter? Yes.
Does it have a heater? Yes.
What is the water temperature? New thermometer isn't clear on that with numbers, but the old one with the current heater had it stay between 74-76.
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.): 1 betta. 1 pepper catfish. 1-2 guppies (one died mysteriously yesterday. First guppy was there since we had the betta. The dying one we had for only 5 days)

Maintenance
How often do you change the water?: Once a week with the previous exception where we waited two weeks. This is explained later.
How much of the water do you change?: Usually close to half, except after we waited two weeks to change the water, we changed ALL of it.
What do you use to treat your water?: AquaSafe
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water?: No idea what substrate is.

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish?: No.
What do you use to test the water?: pH Test Strips
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.: Don't know. My mother usually did the checking and she's not here at the moment.

Ammonia:
Nitrite:
Nitrate:
pH:

Feeding
How often do you feed your fish?: Once a day.
How much do you feed your fish?: Some. I don't really know how it's possible to answer this.
What brand of food do you feed your fish?: Tetra flakes or mini pellets.
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? Once in a while we tried to feed fried dried blood warms, but they don't seem interested. So we don't even try anymore. Waste of bottle so far.

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? About a month.
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? White spot today. Missing and tearing fins 4 days.
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? Other than the top fin disappearing, a small hole in his tail fin, and his tail fin seemingly tearing more, I don't notice any other symptoms. He still moves around a lot and plays around.
Have you started any treatment for the illness? No, because I don't know what the illness is. Whole reason I'm here in the first place.
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase?: Not that I know of. He was clearly unhappy being in a cup. But once we got him a bowl, he seemed happy-ish. Then when we got a 10 gallon tank the next week, he was much more active. This was 3 or 4 weeks ago.
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all?: Other than the fin issues, his behavior hasn't changed any.

Explain your emergency situation in detail.

Don't know why my text is suddenly in bold. Can't fix it. Anyway, We had the betta for about a month. Don't know the exact week. I know we had no tank, my mother just felt bad for it in the tiny cup, and it was pretty, so she bought it, and a bowl. When payday hit the following week, I convinced her to get a 10 gallon tank. We changed the water once a week, every weekend. Maybe a 25% change or so. But one weekend, she decided the water still looked clean, so she didn't want to do a water change. The next week, we did do the water change, but because we waited two weeks, we did a FULL water change. Later that day (last Saturday), a few hours after the water temperature was fine, the pH was fine, and after putting the fish back in, I noticed his top fin was mostly missing. I looked everywhere to see if I can find where it might have torn off, but could never find it. I also noticed the rest of it's fins looked like they are disappearing. Then one of the guppies (one we only had for 5 days) died yesterday despite it being pretty active hours before. Today, he has a small hole in his tail fin. I couldn't get a picture of it.

While I was taking these pictures. I noticed a white spot on the side you'll see in the first picture. I didn't notice that spot while I was taking pictures a few minutes ago, so I went back to look for it. Wasn't there, but I noticed the white spot on top of his head and took those extra pictures. Checked again just before posting this, and it's still there. I don't know if it's two separate problems, or the same problem.

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Also want to add we already know not to have sharp stuff in the tank.
 

The_fishy

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@SharkX
So a couple things:


-Your temperature is a bit cold for the betta, they prefer to be in the 78-82 range.
-There are some stocking issues if you would like to discuss them.
-Substrate is what is in the bottom of your tank (sand, gravel, etc). It is necessary to vacuum it with a siphon to remove waste.
-Strips are good for a general look at water parameters, but a liquid test kit is more accurate. Many people on here would recommend the API Masters test kit.

I see in the first picture some nipping on the caudal fin (tail), melt on the dorsal, and either melt or a tear on the anal (bottom fin). I’d do daily 25% water changes until you start to see new growth (transparent white fin increase), as well as get a heater that will reach the proper range. A betta can survive in the lower temp, but when kept in the proper range it boosts their immune system and helps them digest food. Think of it as this: you can live in moderately cold weather in a t-shirt and shorts, but you won’t thrive in it long-term.

The tear in the analfin likely occurred on one of the plastic plants. To test how safe plastic plants are, you can run pantyhose over them; if they catch on the plant, so will a betta’s fins. For this reason, silk plants or live plants are generally best.

Please read about the nitrogen cycle, you should be able to click on the blue words for more info. This is basically what makes your tank safe for aquatic life and problems with this is the root of many cases of issues with fish.
 
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Okay then yeah, we vacuum (or siphon actually) the rocks every time.

What about the white spot?

Funny enough, I was trying to get a picture of the thermometer to show you what I mean about the numbers, and to explain it, and the better decided to swim over and give a good shot at the white spot for the first time just as I clicked it.

It's supposed to be a betta thermometer, and the green areas are said to be where it's good. I also keep the thermometer on the far opposite corner of the heater just to see what reading of temperature it gives while the heater is so far away.

What do you mean by 'stocking issues'?
 

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SharkX said:
Okay then yeah, we vacuum (or siphon actually) the rocks every time.

What about the white spot?

Funny enough, I was trying to get a picture of the thermostat to show you what I mean about the numbers, and to explain it, and the better decided to swim over and give a good shot at the white spot for the first time just as I clicked it.

It's supposed to be a betta thermostat, and the green areas are said to be where it's good. I also keep the thermostat on the far opposite corner of the heater just to see what reading of temperature it gives while the heater is so far away.

What do you mean by 'stocking issues'?
I am not entirely sure what the white spot is and would want to see whether it goes away with the frequent small water changes or if more appear. If you get more, it is likely ich. I’ve never had any experiences with ich in my tanks, but there are other members on here that can give you treatment info if that is the case.

By stocking issues, I mean that a fish or group of fish (stock) isn’t in the optimal tank size or social grouping as what is recommended for the species.

I’d still say the water is a bit cold for the fish. That is a general tropical fish range that is put on the thermometer (mine has it as well) and this doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best range for all fish to thrive at (although some will be able to tolerate it). Also, an aquarium thermostat is different than what you are referring to; it is a piece of equipment that senses the water temperature and shuts off the heater in the desirable range or if it starts to exceed this range.
 
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Oh, yeah we know we are lacking in fish. We just can't afford it, so we were trying to slowing get some over time. Pepper catfish we got the same day we got the dead guppy. He still seems fine, but so did the guppy a few hours before he died.

I'm not sure what you are talking about, but the heater and the thermostat we got are two different things. The heater does shut down on it's own when it gets to a certain range, so I don't know how to change that. There is no settings option on the heater.
 

The_fishy

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SharkX said:
Oh, yeah we know we are lacking in fish. We just can't afford it, so we were trying to slowing get some over time. Pepper catfish we got the same day we got the dead guppy. He still seems fine, but so did the guppy a few hours before he died.

I'm not sure what you are talking about, but the heater and the thermostat we got are two different things. The heater does shut down on it's own when it gets to a certain range, so I don't know how to change that. There is no settings option on the heater.
Your heater is likely preset to do that. Sorry, I didn’t mean to confuse you, just to clarify that a thermometer and a thermostat are two different bits of equipment (the first takes temperatures and the second manages temperatures). Thermostats are used as safeguards or for heaters that don’t shut off on their own. It likely isn’t something that you have or need for your setup.
 
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The_fishy said:
Your heater is likely preset to do that. Sorry, I didn’t mean to confuse you, just to clarify that a thermometer and a thermostat are two different bits of equipment (the first takes temperatures and the second manages temperatures). Thermostats are used as safeguards or for heaters that don’t shut off on their own. It likely isn’t something that you have or need for your setup.
Oh right, I get thermostat and thermometer mixed up all the time. Most of the time I think they are the same word because I never hear both words anywhere around each other. Sorry. But yeah, our heater shuts off on it's own. Not sure how to change that if the water is too cold.

EDIT: Went back and re-edited every instance I said thermostat to thermometer to make things more clear, especially for others. With the exception of the post that led to the confusion, I left as is.
 
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Okay we DID end up getting a new, adjustable heater today. We couldn't find API Test Kits, but we found another strip that tests for more than just pH. They looked good, but I don't know what is best for a betta. She already threw the strip away, so I can't read them out today. I did a 25% water change today. But in this case, I just took out 25% of the water by scooping a cup in and out and getting the water out instead of going through the trouble of using the siphon, taking out EVERYTHING and all three fish every single day. Am I expected to siphon the rocks every single day too, or is what I did for today fine? Because if I have to siphon the rocks every single day instead of once a week, then yeah, I have to get EVERYTHING, including the fish out every single day.

The filter cartridge was also bad, something we couldn't afford to replace until today. I mostly hope it was just the bad filter cartridge causing all these problems, because that would be an easier and cheaper fix...
 

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Why do you have to take the fish out if you siphon?

I siphon the gravel daily right now and do 25-50% water change and testing parameters every day. I just keep it away from my fish and keep really close to the bottom. It also drains into a large bucket, just in case.

Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but I don’t think my fish would appreciate being moved all around every day.
 

The_fishy

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I agree with @Starflyr3; there is no need to take the fish out if you take care to not accidentally suck one up. Most will usually avoid the vacuum anyways. Vacuuming the gravel each day would be preferable in this case, as it limits waste buildup, thus ensuring cleaner water overall.

Filter cartridges are a little bit of a company grab for money over time. It’s really the carbon inside that goes bad after a month or so and you can cut it open to dump that out and reuse the floss until it literally starts falling apart. Just rinse the floss in old tank water occasionally. By throwing away the cartridge, you throw away a good portion of your bacteria that keeps the tank cycled. Definitely keep an eye on your parameters, watch for swings, and do the water changes. If you can, do another test with the strips and let us know the results.

Have you had a chance to read about the cycle yet?
 
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Few reasons. The Pepper Pleco blends in really well with the gravel being the main reason. The betta LOVES trying to play with the siphon when we try, so we are worried it'll get sucked in, and the guppy seems to stress the heck out. But yeah, I don't want to move my fish around every day, that's why I was asking to make sure I wouldn't have to.

I just know the Tetra filter cartridge that came with the take was pretty brown and disgusting looking, especially in different spots.

I have ADD so I can't really read all about the cycle without forgetting what I read (for those that don't have the same issue, if there's a ton of paragraphs like with the cycle, I have trouble taking that much info in or processing it as I'm reading it, and often re-read the same sentence over and over again for hours), but I did send the link to my mother. She just didn't have time today, but she'll hopefully read it at work.

Also, whatever the white spot is (which unfortunately no one here has said anything about), I THINK it turned grayish and shrank a little, but it could just be because it's darker lighting in the room than when it was daytime.

As for the test, looks like the first two are safe (Nitrate and...Nitrate again apparently I guess both at 0), Hardness at hard (150), can't tell if Alkalinity is at moderate or ideal, REALLY can't tell what pH is at. These were the best pictures I could get of them.

EDIT: As time went on, I think Total Alkalinity settled at Moderate (80), and pH is at Alkaline (7.8). Not sure what all is best for the betta, guppy, and pepper pleco. Tried google, it didn't give me all results, or it gave me numbers that aren't even on this test.
 

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SharkX said:
Few reasons. The Pepper Pleco blends in really well with the gravel being the main reason. The betta LOVES trying to play with the siphon when we try, so we are worried it'll get sucked in, and the guppy seems to stress the heck out. But yeah, I don't want to move my fish around every day, that's why I was asking to make sure I wouldn't have to.

I just know the Tetra filter cartridge that came with the take was pretty brown and disgusting looking, especially in different spots.

I have ADD so I can't really read all about the cycle without forgetting what I read (for those that don't have the same issue, if there's a ton of paragraphs like with the cycle, I have trouble taking that much info in or processing it as I'm reading it, and often re-read the same sentence over and over again for hours), but I did send the link to my mother. She just didn't have time today, but she'll hopefully read it at work.

Also, whatever the white spot is (which unfortunately no one here has said anything about), I THINK it turned grayish and shrank a little, but it could just be because it's darker lighting in the room than when it was daytime.

As for the test, looks like the first two are safe (Nitrate and...Nitrate again apparently I guess both at 0), Hardness at hard (150), can't tell if Alkalinity is at moderate or ideal, REALLY can't tell what pH is at. These were the best pictures I could get of them.
In the event that a fish is sucked up, you have a couple options.

1. Pinch the flexible tube of the siphon hard. This decreases flow, which makes it easier for the fish to escape.

2. Raise the siphon tube slowly above the water line so that the fish is released from the plastic part back into the tank.

3. If small fish and was too late for the other methods, retrieve from bucket and return to tank.


I’d mainly be concerned about your ammonia levels right now, which your strips don’t test for (other parameters also appear fine). Unless you are heavily planted, you should have nitrates with a completed cycle. Basically:


Ammonia->Eaten by bacteria #1->Turns into nitrite
Nitrite->Eaten by bacteria #2->Turns into nitrate (removes by water changes or eaten by plants)


Cycled Tank:
0ppm Ammonia
0ppm Nitrite
Some Nitrates


Since both ammonia and nitrite are pretty toxic, the early stages of cycling a tank have great potential to stress, kill, or allow for disease to set in with fish. Cycle bacteria lives on all surfaces of the tank, but primarily in the filter.

Throwing away the filter cartridge causes this process to start all over again. If the cartridge is falling apart, shove in a new cartridge with it in the filter. Running it with both in there for a week or more should help seed the new cartridge with some of your bacteria and help prevent cycle crashing.
 
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I edited my previous post one minutes before your current post. But to rehash, I stated this in the edit. As time went on, I think Total Alkalinity settled at Moderate (80), and pH is at Alkaline (7.8). Not sure what all is best for the betta, guppy, and pepper pleco. Tried google, it didn't give me all results, or it gave me numbers that aren't even on this test. I also don't have real plants.
 

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I just want to suggest making your own media bags that you rinse out in water change water to save you money from buying cartridges over and over and over. You just need small/medium media bags, filter floss, and ceramic rings and stick them in the HOB where your cartridge would go.
 
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