Leaving Very Sick Betta For 7-8 Days...

  1. RobinWhiskers Member Member

    My Betta Scuba I got in February of this year has been sick for a while. His fins are pretty rotted, he's become paler and lost some color on the top of his body, his gills are surrounded by red and inflamed, and his fins are not only rotted but have become almost stringy. They are clear and have a very faded blue but mostly have a red color to them.

    Scuba can be sluggish, especially if I haven't given him salt baths in a while, but when you go up to the tank or if all the lights are out at night he'll swim around for a bit sometimes.

    I've tried stress coat, stress guard, kanaplex, salt baths, indian almond leaves, warm clean water, feeding frozen, and he is on his 4th day of jungle fungus clear.

    As if things couldn't get worse, we have to go to Florida for 7-8 days starting Sunday. We have a neighbor coming to care for the pets and the person is a vet tech but I'm still worried. These are my concerns:

    1. The heater fluctates. If I don't adjust it at certain times of the day, the temp could go up to let's say 84 degrees or down to 75. It's a Hydor Theo 25 watt. I will tell the person to text my mom (and I will text the person back on my mom's phone) if the temperature goes about 80-82 degrees or below 78 degrees.

    2. The power could go out. It's been raining and storming here a lot (I hear thunder and rain as we speak) and obviously power outages and fish, especially sick fish, don't mix. It could get too cold, the filter could release toxins, oxygen could be cut off in the water...

    3. He could be overfed, underfed, or excess food could be in the tank. The one downside of Scuba not being able to eat pellets because he bloats so easy as a halfmoon is I can't feed him pellets any more. I've had him on a diet of frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, and mysis shrimp for a few months and I threw out the packages so I'll get new food tomorrow because it could have expired. I'd want the pet sitter to give him bloodworms because telling to feed one bloodworm is easier than with brine and mysis. Is eating frozen bloodworms for a week ok for him? This is good because no excess food can make the water unsafe for all those days we're gone.

    4. His tank could get too dirty. I never wait more than 3-4 days to a water change when he's sick. I've actually been doing every day or two but I'm waiting till tomorrow so the JFC can kick in. I want to do an almost full water change tomorrow, clean his decor, filter media, etc. I want to keep the IAL in his tank. Should I treat with aquarium salt and/or JFC maybe while I'm gone or no? He'll have to go 8 days about for a water change.

    5. His filter could slow down. If I don't dry and scrub the pantyhose on his filter intake with a towel every few days sometimes it slows down the filter and I wouldn't be surprised if it could burn out when we're gone.

    How can I make sure he's fed right, his temperature stays ok, he doesn't jump out of his tank, his filter is ok, his water stays safe, and he actually survives this week? I normally wouldn't be so worried but he is very sick. Some people I've talked to overreact and say he'll die any day (that was weeks ago and he's still fighting) but one thing true is that he is definitely not healthy.

    This is a family trip. I'm only 14. Scuba is my only fish, my best friend, I have had anxiety attacks over him, I wake up in the middle of the night scared about him, etc. I would do anything to get out of this trip if I could but I have to go and I need my best bud to be ok for me.

    I should also mention some sluggishness has definitely returned this week
     
  2. tunafax Well Known Member Member

    Hi! Sorry about your situation, I'll do my best to help calm your nerves.

    1. If you are sure the temp range is between 75 and 84 if left unattended and never goes lower or higher than that -- it's best to leave it alone. Under 78 is fine for a week. Much higher than 84 is not. I think it's best to avoid a situation where the family friend can forget or set the heater too low/high by mistake - and the best way is to not create it at all. If you are sure the temp does not go outisde of the range you specified, than leave it alone. (Related: it sounds like your heater isn't functioning at all. Can you get your parents to buy you a 10$ heater from walmart?)

    2. Your betta will be fine without power for a few days, sick or otherwise. A pic of the fish would be helpful - but you shouldn't worry about oxygen/filtration if the power outage lasts for a couple of days. Re: heat - where do you live? Unless the weather is freezing, again - a few days should be just fine.

    3. A betta can survive without food for a week. With zero food. Don't worry about underfeeding. That being said, don't do that lol. If you have someone feeding your fish, err on the lesser side and show them the smallest amount your fish can get away with. This will solve the bloating as well. Also, if you're that worried about it - separate foods into portions and label them Mon Tue Wed etc, and the person won't feed more than the ammount you gave.

    4. Don't do a full water change tomorrow. Do 70% at most, this is a tropical fish - never do 100% unless for very good reasons. The water will be fine even if the filtration goes out for a week. Given, I'm assuming at least 10-20 liter (2.5-5g tank).

    5. As I said before, even without the filter, the fish will be fine


    Now, re: sickness. What are his symptoms at the very start, and when did this begin? Can we get a pic? What is his age? I'm assuming you don't have a water test kit, so let's just see what we can do without one.


    Again: if someone is there to come feed him at least 3-4 times during your week of absence, there won't be too much difference if you're there or not. Pix of the sick fish would be helpful, though.




    Also, do you have anyone who can just take the fish for a week? I mean the whole thing, tank and all.
     

  3. Pastel.Fish. Member Member

    The best medicine to give him would be tetracycline, it`s a bit on the expensive side but it works very well and aggressively fights fin rot and other illnesses to but it has helped a few of my fish! That`s what I`d recommend if you want to try that to help him to get better it will really help but you have to be around to do water changes so maybe you could when you get home, other than that I don`t have very good tips other than set up a good care guide and get a fish-sitter, currently my Grammy who was a great fish keeper takes care of mine so maybe teach a family member that could stay behind? Hope this helps and that he gets better! :)
     
  4. RobinWhiskers Member Member

    No, we only have immediate family members in our household. Our only family members in our extended family are in New York and in Florida (whose house we will be staying at while our Florida family members visit our family in New York!). My heater does operate but the temperature on our thermostat seems to effect how it stays in my fish's tank. (It's 2.5 BTW)

    I have a test kit and I tested the water when I got it about a month ago and again after that. Especially because I rarely ever see my Betta's poop, the water stays pretty clean. And I know all those things up there are true, tunafax, but he is super sick so I know even the little things can be harmful. I got him not even 5 months ago at Petsmart so there's a good chance he isn't too old. I also should mention that because he eats frozen it comes in packets so I can't separate it for days of the week. I'll just tell them 1 bloodworm every day or two.
     

  5. tunafax Well Known Member Member

    Oiii. Poor boy, that's quite a difference.

    If your heater has a thermostat but isn't keeping the temperature stable, it's broken. You will need a new one eventually.

    One thing that can agitate the fin rot is damage from the gravel / ornaments. I see one good pic of the tank where its barebottom with very little decor and the hammock. That's how you want to leave it for the caregiver, and that's what the tank should look like when you treat.

    Great that you have a test kit! :) Can you test now and post the parameters? I care about nitrate and ammonia. Nitrite too, if you have it - but not too important. It sounds like you've been treating a lot - and if nothing helps, then there is an underlying problem preventing it from improving.

    With all these treatments... my shot in the dark is that your cycle is shot and your tank is spiking all over the place with all those aggressive water changes.


    Tetracyline is an excellent suggestion!


    But that's all for when you come back. :)

    How lethargic is he? I imagine the last few weeks have been stressful for him with so much medication and moving from container to container. It's hard to tell sometimes if the betta is lethargic or very scared.

    1. Does he sit on the bottom of the tank more?
    2. Does he sit in is hammock more?
    3. Does he get excited about food?
    4. Do a mirror test for a few seconds, and let me know how aggressively he flares.
    5. Is he stationary when you try to stimulate him with lazer pointer/glass tap etc?
    6. When you cup him for the salt baths, does he try to get out of the cup or just sits there all like "whatever"?
    7. Does he hide from you?



    I understand that he's sick and you're afraid to leave him - but the 5 reasons you listed are very unlikely to happen (let's go high and pretend 10% chance it will happen) - and if they do happen, it is very unlikely that they will effect him (let's go with 10% again). That means, even with high estimations, the chances of him getting worse due any of that is 1%. That's why I'm sure it'll be fine.

    ..but if you've been treating for a week, maybe it's for the best that you leave him alone for a week and give him a chance to actually heal.
    Fins don't heal overnight. Or over a week - or a month.
    And the best way to cure stress is to just leave the fish alone.


    Edit: forgot to mention I would still like to see pics. Current pics. The last one is from 6 days ago.

    Edit 2: research appropriate amount of salt for a tank your size, and do a low dose before you leave. Since there is someone fish-sitting - get them to do a waterchange at the half-way point with water you prepare before hand.
     
  6. RobinWhiskers Member Member

    I have an accurate glass thermometer in my tank. By thermostat I meant on the second floor of our house.

    I will turn his tank into a hospital tank tomorrow if that's best but I will keep the water level high, not halfway, or the temperature fluctates all over the place.

    I will do a large water change tomorrow, test the water, but I will keep a plant and his heart shaped hide in there because he is less stressed when he has it. Is that a good idea or no? I thought places to hide might be okay.

    He can swim around fine but he does swim kind of lop sided sometimes with his upper body faced more downwards. Because he constantly has stress stripes he is very stressed sadly so I hope that stops soon. Before his sickness he barely ever was stressed. Now he seems to come to the front of the tank when someone is there, stress stripes still intact. He doesn't seem to hide or be afraid of people.

    1. He has been hanging out at the surface of the water sometimes and in his heart hide he likes to lay on the gravel, especially to sleep. He doesn't really ever use the hammock, he lays on the gravel instead. The other day he was kinda laying on his side to sleep but I haven't seen it since. He also swam on his side the other day so I cupped him for a second, put him back in, and it stopped.

    2. As I mentioned, no interest in hammock. Ever.

    3. When I dangle his tongs near the water's surface he'll come and eat. He'd eat forever if I allowed him to.

    4. IDK if it's ok to let him flare now, but a few months ago I saw him flare his gills once or twice, so he doesn't aggressively flare too much but maybe it's flaring what he does whenever he goes to the front of the tank where I am. He paces back and forth, turning each time.

    5. If I gently tap (not even really tap) the glass and he isn't asleep (can be hard to wake up sometiems) he'll usually come or swim around a little. He has never been a fish to explore his tank all day but instead paces back and forth, no matter what I do to try and stimulate him. I planned on teaching him tricks but that was before his sickness.

    6. He swims around flaring in his cup. I haven't done salt baths but put aquarium salt in his tank instead lately because moving him from salt bath to tank has been extremely stressful for him. I don't even do water changes with the siphon much anymore, I've been taking out some of the tank water with Scuba's cup while he's in the tank and then adding a gallon or so of just conditioned water.

    So I shouldn't do the JFC? Should I keep the IAL in? It can't hurt, right? And his fins progressively have gotten worse a lot. I've talked to some experienced Betta people on Instagram and they say he'll probably die when I'm gone but your messages give me hope. It stinks fish health isn't so black and white...I also hate how the top line of his body has gone kinda pale.

    I'll post a pic of Scuba soon.
     
  7. tunafax Well Known Member Member

    Oh. Then you definitely need to invest in an aquarium heater asap. Seriously.

    Yes to all of those, they are great ideas. Keep the heart and the plant, just no gravel. At this point maybe his favorite things will help.

    Stress causes sickness causes stress causes sickness. It's a terrible cycle. It's good that you've been keeping him in the tank instead of scooping him out for the baths. Make sure not to compound the salt.

    #3 is encouraging. #4, 5, 6 is fine since you say he flares in the up and gets mad and responds to you.

    Finish the jungle treatment, if you're on day 4 there's only a day left anyway. Put it in, and then when the person comes to feed, instruct them to do a partial WC (prepare water beforehand). If you are worried, get them to do it twice (every 3 days; prepare 2 containers of water). Leave the leaf.
    Edit: you're dissolving the tab in a separate container right? Because you should never just drop it in the tank no matter what the box says.

    If he passes in your absence, then you should know there isn't much you could've done even if you were there, and there is nothing you could've done because you had to leave.

    He is pale and sickly and kind of lethargic, yes - but bettas are fighters in every sense of the word, and though he looks bad, he doesn't look or sound like he's on his deathbed just yet.

    On a sidenote, your fish needs to eat pallets as a staple, not bloodworms every day. The sickness could well be because of vitamin deficiency, because many vitamins are absent in bloodworms/proteins.



    Otherwise, like @Pastelguppygirl said, leave a good guide for the fishsitter. Leave 2 containers of prepared water for the WC (you can even include the salt they would take out). Show how much to fed. Ask to keep an eye on the temperature.

    When you come back, buy tetracyline and a real heater!! I didn't realize you were controlling his water with ambient room temperature. That's a huge no-no. The fluctuations might be what's killing your fish, you need a heater in the tank unless you literally live in a tropical country, which you don't - so get a heater, it's ten bucks at walmart. Heck - get one before you leave for the trip.
    Edit again: because your heater is clearly broken. If your room temp goes t0 literally freezing, a functioning heater would keep your tank temp stable.


    Otherwise this is all I - and even you - can do, so be prepared for whatever happens, but do hope for the best. Good luck to your fishy!
     

  8. RobinWhiskers Member Member

    I'm not controlling his tank with room temperature! I use an aquarium heater (Hydor Theo 25 watt) but sometimes the temperature upstairs seems to effect the tank a little, like it will drop a degree or two sometimes at night. I don't trust anyone else to do a water change so I won't ask anyone to do one sadly. Also, I don't understand your statement, should I dissolve some salt in his tank before leaving or no?

    And at first you said you think he should be fine....do you think there's a good chance he'll be ok when I'm gone?

    Also, I constantly rotate what frozen food he eats. I try pellets and he ate them the first month or two I had him, but he gets bloated every time since then. *sighs* But just for this week, instead of rotating would just the bloodworms be fine? It's easier to tell someone to feed him a bloodworm every day or two than estimating with mysis shrimp or brine shrimp, which spreads in the tank anyway.
     
  9. tunafax Well Known Member Member

    I'm not entirely sure I understand. You said the temp fluctuates between 75 and 84. If that is the case, your heater is broken. If the temp upstairs affects your tank, your heater is broken. If it's just a degree or two F once a week - that is fine more or less fine, as long as the first 2 statements aren't accurate. If any 1 of the first 2 are actually true, your heater is broken and you need a new one.

    It's a small tank. Cupping a few scoops of water out and pouring someprepared water back in can't be a problem at all, and would benefit your fish far more than the risks - I don't see risks at all, actually. But it's up to you.

    Leave the water exactly the way you would if this was a regular water change, except 70%ish. Small ammount of salt would be fine.

    Try feeding less pallets then. Diet is very important for bettas, especially sick ones, and just because you're rotating lamb steak and chicken steak and beef steak doesn't mean you're getting any other vitamins - all you're doing is eating steak. That was what, 10 months ago? Try a different brand of pallets until he eats them and doesn't bloat. Omega One is a very good choice. 3-5 pallets is enough.


    And yes, I still think he will be fine. But sometimes the unexpected happens, so make sure you are prepared for it. From your replies, he doesn't sound terminal or deathly lethargic, so he should be alright.
     
  10. RobinWhiskers Member Member

    I gave him Omega One pellets but for him not to bloat he can only eat one every couple days sometimes and honestly I don't think that's enough nutrients...but I'm not the expert so you may be right. And I'm worried that maybe if they add the new water that because it's sat out it will be cold and not a good idea. Plus they drive here in their golf cart so it makes you smell like gasoline that could be harmful to fish.

    Today he has been laying down a lot...

    Check his Instagram (I linked to it in a previous post)

    The top of his body has been discol0red over the past weeks. It's alread late evening and we leave tomorrow morning. :/
     
  11. RobinWhiskers Member Member

    We're back and his middle tail fins looks worse.

    Because we were gone for so long I did a much needed full water change (I was advised to do so by many while he is in this state without a change for so long), scrubbed his decor under warm water, dissolved some Jungle Fungus Clear in a cup and added it to the tank, dissolved some aquarium salt in a cup and added it to the tank, I removed the filter for now because of the JFC, and I added a large chunk of Indian Almond Leaf in.

    Last night I fed him some frozen mysis shrimp. I was advised to feed him pellets twice a day and frozen food in the afternoon, but even after one pellet Scuba has gotten bloated. I tried to give him one this morning but now he's bloated. I never really see him poop or his poop on the bottom of the tank, but I hope he poops soon!

    I'll be soaking his frozen food in Vita Chem
     

  12. tunafax Well Known Member Member

    You know, do you mind posting a pic of him bloated?
     
  13. RobinWhiskers Member Member

    Go on his IG linked above. His stomach is slightly rounded so it isn't something I'm too worried about, I mean I hear it's ok for them to be full but Scuba will take a while to get his stomach normal again most likely.
     
  14. RobinWhiskers Member Member

    Scuba has been VERY sluggish. Staying in one top corner of the tank most of the day. He is slow to get stress stripes and does appear to have a darker blue, which is good. He ate 2 small bloodworms soaked for 7-8 minutes in Vitachem today and I did see one or two pieces of poop in the tank, YAY! However, he is very slow and sluggish, unless he's spooked than he zips around the tank at a hundred miles an hour. What should I do? I just did a very large water change to be safe and I'm not adding more aq salt or JFC right now because I'm not sure what to do. He isn't very alert at all.