My First Ever Fighting Fish Is Sick - Please Help Me If You Can With Best Practice To Help Her/him

  • #1
Hello you fine people of fishlore! I come to you today with an issue, one which fervently hope you can help me with. I have resisted posting many times, choosing instead to try and learn from all of you through voracious reading and general info absorption where possible, but I am now at my wits end. I am about 6 months into the very rewarding and ultimately fascinating hobby of fishkeeping.

I'll start with my general stats as this is my first very post on fishlore .

Tank : 30G Square Tank, small to medium Gravel, 1 plant (Java Fern), currently heated to 28c.
Filter: Aquaclear 30G (media (never changed, lightly washed this week, scared to remove), filter rock thingies(washed monthly) and carbon (changed every 2 months, refillable bag)
Heater - Aquaone 150w
Community: 3 (or 2?!) female fighting fish
1 (or 2?!) male fighting fish
2 white cloud mountain minnows
4 neon tetras, 2 cardinal tetras, 2 black widow tetras, 2 glowlight tetras, 2 lemon tetras
3 Harlequin Rasboras
1 common loach, 2 pakistanI loaches

Current Water info ( see picture, open to interpretation ) looks to be about

GH: 30
KH: 40
PH: 7.0
NO2: 0.5
NO3: 40

Last water change: 50% water change and large hoovering, 2 days ago.
Previous water change: hoover, 15/20% change, under 2 weeks ago
Tank History : The tank has been running for about 6 months now with a largely similar community. I do a 10-20% water change most weeks (can miss some occasionally due to not being an android).
I did my first cycle with fish present, I know now this was a mistake and I was a total noob, but managed to get it up and running using "Seachem Stablity" once I realised my mistake and thankfully didn't lose any fish.
I also got a silver dollar 4 months back, who turned out to be the cause of what I identified as an ich infection in my tank (thanks Petbarn Australia). I treated with "Blueplanet Multicure" (1/3 for 4 weeks doses due to loaches) and ramped temperature up to 32, which worked, then gave away the silver dollar to a better home due to aggression once I was satisfied he was healthy (again, lack of experience and trusting pet store advice that it would be fine in my tank as a sole species).

The Issue
Sorry if this was exhaustive, I just want to try and cover all bases to get the best advice I can.

I have a fighter fish, her(sold to me as a her anyway!) name is penny (might be a he, was very small but grew strong and healthy and suddenly became very aggressive about 5 months in, so I segregated her into a little betta prison within the main tank with access to the surface for air for the protection of my other male fighter who she was suddenly nipping and flaring at A LOT). Subsequently, she built a bubble nest, so maybe a he, confusing.

Penny has suddenly become very, very lethargic, pale, and looks to have a wound on her mouth. Her, and now one other fighter (the other male), are also starting to poop stringy white (I changed their food shortly before this started to a pet store own brand due to availability issues, could this be causing all of the issues?!)

She is now resting on a leaf as much as she can, but does swim around a little and comes up for air when needed (I let her back into the main tank from the prison when I noticed she began to lose weight and become lethargic, about 4 days ago). She has not eaten in 3 days now and is no longer the deep rich purpley red she once was, looking very pale indeed. Please see the pictures.

I have trawled the sickness thread (as I did to diagnose and successfully treat my previous ich infection) but am unable to decide what to do. I really don't want to lose her, have had her half a year and shes a right little character who I will help in any way I can.

Do I treat the whole tank with broad spectrum anti-biotics? AntI fungal? A course of multicure and hope for the best?
I have a 5L tank, unfiltered (Small, I know, but its all I can get at the moment) which is now heated to 32 degrees, as well as some acquarium salt (not put in yet, ill await your advice) ready to take my sick fighter out of my main tank if you guys think that will help with her recovery. It's unfiltered, but I will change the water every day (this is how my 2 first fish, Penny and Alfred, both of whom are still alive, lived for the first month of their lives prior to my getting them a 30G tank to roam free in).

Sorry for the length and quite possible uselessness of much of this information. Any help you can give me or additional info I can give to assist would be most welcome and greatly appreciated. I have attached pictures.

image1 (1).JPG

ach, wait, the plant is not a javafern, I dunno what it is.

  • #2
there should only be one male fighter per tank as the males fight to the death that's why they are called fighting fish 3 female to one male is the best way to keep them your other fish are ok with the fighters the mouth fungus should be treated with wartley fungus ade for 3 weeks water temp is good at 28 what's your ph fighters like the ph between 6.5 to 7.5 I don't know what plant u have cheers john

  • Thread Starter
  • #3
HI John, thank you very much for your response. Penny, the maybe male fighter, was bought as a female, and was perfectly fine with the other male for over 5 months, i'm still unsure if its male or female (but I can't see the ovihatch.... ill keep lookin!)
Current Water info ( see picture, open to interpretation ) looks to be about

GH: 30
KH: 40
PH: 7.0
NO2: 0.5
NO3: 40

I'll look for that stuff, any idea where I can get in Sydney?

also, do you think its worth separating and salting ?
  • #3
I'd be doing 30-40% water changes daily until you get your nitrites to 0 and nitrates around 20ppm.

I would put the ill fish in the small tank, that way you're only medicating one fish and treating a smaller volume of water
  • #4
HI there.

I am glad you gave such a detailed description. It does make things a bit easier.

First thing. Your tank temp is too high. You have several fish that are not temperature compatible with your Bettas.

Bettas should be kept at 80F (26C) if you want to do a female sorority you can do 6 of them, I wouldn’t do fewer because of aggression issues. With lots and lots of plants to break up sight lines. If Penny is a male, which it sounds like, he will need to be put in a 2.5-5g (10-19l) tank. All on his own. Male Bettas fight. They are solitary fish. They are VERY VERY aggressive with females. Breeding is often very violent, causing deaths. Even females can be overly aggressive if not kept properly. I would rethink keeping Bettas in this tank at all. I wouldn’t keep any other fish with a female sorority or a single male that is aggressive. Usually there won’t be issues until they become sexually mature. I am sure this is what has happened.

You definitely have stocking issues (see below). This is what is going to ultimately be the downfall to your tank. When you keep fish outside of recommendations, they will have a whole host of problems.

WCMM are a cool water fish that shouldn’t be kept any higher than about 70F (21C)

All the tetras should be in schools of 6 or more, and kept around 75F (24C) same with the harlequin rasboras.

As far as loaches go, what do they look like? There are so many species, so not sure what a “common” loach is. The PakistanI loach is also called a yoyo loach. Tank temp around 76-77. So not compatible with the WCMM at all. Should be kept in a larger group of 5-6.

Onto your sick/injured betta. Looking at the pictures, to me it looks like an injury. I would treat with Methylene Blue baths to prevent any other infection from settling in. You will get a 1-2 gallon food safe container, add tank water and 10 drops per gallon of Methylene Blue. Place the fish into the bath for 8-10 minutes. Then put the fish back into his normal tank. Do this and daily water changes for 5-6 days and see if he improves. He should. If he doesn’t, he may need antibiotics. But clean water and MB should do the trick.

One aspect that you need to address is your water quality also. You need to drop your nitrates (NO3) to as close to 0 as you can. 40 is way too high. I would increase your weekly water changes to 50%. Also you are showing Nitrites, which indicates that you aren’t fully cycled. I wish you had an ammonia tester, to see if there was ammonia present. You have nitrates so you do have some bacteria growing. So something else is going on with that. I believe your tank is very overstocked with fish. This is causing your ammonia and nitrites to spike. What filter do you have?

I would use Seachem Prime as your dechlorinator, and add full tank dose everyday that you have NO2 present. It protects up to 1ppm. If your NO2 is higher than 1ppm, do a 50-75% water change to lower it. Your Prime dose is 3ml. Add it directly to your tank as a Nitrite/ammonia treatment daily, and also with water changes.

(Prime dose is 0.1ml or 2 drops per gallon. 1ml for 10 gallon and 3ml for 30g)

Alrighty, I did give you a lot of info. If you have questions please ask. I wish I had better info for you. I know it isn’t what you hoped to hear. Good luck.

Edit: I read back and found your filter. It isn’t big enough for your tank. The rule for hang on back (hob) filters is that you want a filtration rate that is 10x’s your tank volume. With a 30 gallon tank that means you need a filter that has a rate of 300 gallons per hour (gph) The AC 30 only has a rate of 150gph. This is half of what you need. I recommend either upgrading to a bigger filter, or adding a second AC 30. This would be the minimum amount of filtration I would recommend in your tank. I would over filter with your bio load.
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
Dear Jesus this is a lot, thank you all so much for taking the time to help me out here, I really appreciate it. Tropical fish are a rarity in my country of origin due to the general ambient temperature being quite low, so this is all very, very new to me and will continue to be for years to come, despite all the research I try and do.

Right, initially then the forgone conclusion is to perform water changes daily for the moment, thank you Sion and Allie. I'll start with a 50% change tomorrow evening and continue with 40% thereafter until the week is done. I did do 50% the day before yesterday so I'll keep water prepping every day and keep it up.

I currently use biotec water ager ST Untitled Document . My shopping list for tomorrow will be : An ammonia test kit, some Seachem Prime, some meth blue and a 2 gallon food safe container. Can I treat directly with the previously linked ager if I can't get Seachem Prime (dosing the tank and also doing the water changes treated with biotec ager)? I have already treated my water for tomorrow with this, I generally leave it sit uncovered for 24h before use at the least. I'll post the ammonia levels tomorrow after the water change has settled in.

Regarding stock mismatches, I have but one word: ****. I propose to start by dropping my temp gradually to 25-26 (the low range a betta can handle) which should make the rest more comfortable?
I genuinely have no-where else to put the other fish in my home bar 2 little 5L unfiltered tanks that the 2 fighters started in and while I did do some research when I was buying all fish to check temp tolerances, I guess I picked up the wrong info and will just have to try and mitigate the impact on the poor fellas. As for schools, can I afford to get more of some of the fish in the volumes you mentioned to keep help improve their lives (in terms of adding more fish to a tank of my size), or should I just keep what I have and try and keep them healthy?

The other loach is a clown loach (hes actually pictured I just noticed as well, bloody photobomber).

All the fish bar the minnows look to have a a tolerance of approx 25c. We do have an 8g single goldfish tank in my office, maybe the 2xWCMM would be better off in there as its unheated?

Ill start bathing Penny tomorrow then, I'm going to cage her now and keep her caged until I can get another tank just in case she is fighting. Any tricks to get him/her eating again or should I expect the appetite to return within a few days assuming the blue bathing does the trick?

2 more quick questions -
Any thoughts on the stringy defecation? Could it be indicative of something else like a parasite or just diet change related?

Anything else I should be looking out for re water conditions? None of the fish are visibly gasping, rubbing themselves against the sides, hanging constantly at the top, listless or showing signs of irritation or red gills.

Thank you so much again for all the time you have taken to assist me, I'm very very thankful!


  • #7
I would slowly lower the temp of your tank to 25C. I think that would be just fine. It would be better anyways.

Do not add anymore fish at all. Just keep what you have as comfortable as you can. Increase your filtration, that will help your water quality.

I would put the WCMM in the smaller tank without a heater for sure. It isn’t the best situation, but the tank temp is important. So it would be ok to do that. They aren’t very big, so they should be ok.

As far as the 2 male Bettas. Could you manage a 10 gallon tank, and split it in half? 10 gallon isn’t very big and can hold the 2 males. I think it would solve the aggression issues and solve that problem once and for all.

As far as Penny goes, I would offer some frozen brine shrimp. See if that works. Most Bettas can’t resist it. They like frozen blood worms too. It is worth a try.

As far as stringy poo. It could be a parasite. Very common in the fish hobby. All of your fish probably have it at this point, so all of them should be treated. You want to use Praziquantel. The best I have found is HikarI PraziPro. It is gentle and very effective. You will need to do 2 rounds. Try to keep the meds in the tank for 7-10 days. If you can’t get that brand, just look for the actual mediation. Follow the directions on the packages. Treating Penny with a dewormer may in fact solve the appetite issue all by itself. But do the MB baths also.

Edit: oh and the Biotec water Ager will work the same as Prime. You are looking for one that detoxifies ammonia and nitrites. And it looks like it does. So I would use it for sure. Follow their dosing recommendations.
Rainy day
  • #8
To add on to what AllieSten said about your stocking, that tank is way too small for your loaches. Yoyo loaches get 5-10 inches and Clown loaches reach 10 inches +. They really won't do well in that tank, perhaps you can re-home them?

Good luck
  • #9
in sydney I don't know where to get fish but if your fish is a female it should have a white pip near its anual fin if not its a male and your welcome I would split them up to treat
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
Ok, I bathed penny in a gallon container with 4 drops of multicure (contains meth blue and mal green, only thing available to me :/) a quarter spoon of aquarium salt, and a couple of drops of betta fix for about 8 minutes. I was sparing with the dosages, she had been lying on the bottom when I took her out to do this, now shes lying on her side in her segregated cage in the main tank again , she is making violent dashes to the top to get air occasionally, but she looks like shes a goner, any further last minute advice?

I'm going to swap 60l out now, give it an hour and do a water test. I don't think Penny will be alive when I next post though.

If i'm not mistaken, I now see some fungal growth on one of my female fighters.

Re the loaches: I have no-where to place them at the moment but will be on the lookout.

I'll have to look at getting another filter, it was sold to me with the tank from a specialized aquarium shop with assurances that it would be adequate.... GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

Thanks again for all your help.

Update: RIP my beautiful Penny.


  • #11
  • #12
Ohhh I am so sorry for your loss. Sometimes it can come on really quickly.
Rainy day
  • #13
Sorry for your loss, on the bright side you learnt a lot more through trying to save her and can provide your other fish with better care.
  • #14
sorry mate


Dawn Michele
  • #15
Sorry for your loss. RIP Penny.
  • Thread Starter
  • #16
Thanks everyone for your kind sentiments, I certainly have learned a lot, I’ll post some more updates and maybe questions about me seemingly other sick fish soon!
  • #17
your welcome

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