Please help with improving Betta fish tank conditions! Is this tail rot (mild, moderate, or severe) and how do I proceed?

hbeisch

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Hi! I got a Betta fish from PetCo around August 20, 2019. I will admit that I have not taken good care of him and feel horribly about it.

Current Tank:
He is in a 1.6 gallon Aqueon tank with a filter that was recommended by the PetCo employees. I have been doing a 50% water change and gravel and decoration cleaning every week. I condition tap water with Tetra AquaSafe For Bettas. I have a plastic (I think) pineapple decoration that he loves to go in and a silk leaf fake plant. I feed him about 5 pellets of API Betta Food (Floating Pellets) every day. I keep his light on about 8-10 hours a day. He has one small/medium marimo moss ball. He does not have a heater or any companions.

Future Tank:
I have ordered a five gallon tank that includes a filter and led lights. This is the largest tank that I can accommodate for now. I have also ordered a 25-watt submersible heater that ranges from 68 to 93 degrees F. I am also ordering the API Freshwater Master Test Kit. I now know the appropriate levels of pH, dH, ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite for a Betta fish and will work to get my water quality to these levels using the master test kit. I will be keeping the gravel and decorations from his current tank in the new tank, but I would like to eventually have a live plant tank and potentially a nerite snail or two. Please give advice/critiques on my new tank setup. Also, I cannot seem to figure out what substrate to use for my future live plant tank, please help!

Fish Health/Tail Rot:
It said on the container that I got him in that he is a Dragon Scale Male. I am almost positive that he has a level of fin rot and is just overall unhealthy. He is still just as active and has the same appetite as he did when I first got him, but looking at comparison pictures just makes my heart ache. It doesn't even look like the same fish:(. I wish I had taken better care of him from the start. Attached below is a picture from August 27, 2019 and a picture from March 1, 2020. I have done some research on tail rot and I'm pretty sure he does not have severe tail rot, but I can't tell if it is mild or moderate tail rot. What severity of tail rot is this or is it tail rot at all? Should I proceed with just a 100% water change into his new tank, aquarium salt, anti-fungal/anti-bacterial medication drops, or a combination of any of these?

Thank you so much for your help! I am excited to make my fish as happy and healthy as possible!
 

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Blueberrybetta

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Did you cycle the tank before getting him? Please read into the nitrogen cycle.

What are you water parameters? Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate , ph ,gh kh ?

For one , A 1.5gal is way too small for any fish. They only sell those for money , don't listen to any more LPS employees as they know nothing about fish & just need a job. A min of 5gal is suggested for a betta fish for a stress free healthy life.

5 pellets a day?? That's to many for a Betta. They only need 1-2 pellets 5 days a week and fast him 2 days . Too much food at once and over time will make him constipated which can lead to SwI'm Bladder Disease, or dropsy .
Make sure you are pre soaking the pellets!! As they will swell inside his stomach! Making him constipated and 5 at once? Please fast him for the next 3 days. Bettas need to fast as they do not eat everyday in the wild anyways.

!!Never do 100% water changes!! This stresses fish out way too much plus you remove a lot of the Beneficial Bacteria in your tank and given you didn't cycle , you need all the bacteria you can get.... do 25% water changes for now
 

Addictedtobettas

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I'm sure he'll appreciate the new 5g!! I highly recommend getting several long stemmed plants for it. Anubias are some good ones they can swim through and leaves to rest on.

It does look like he has some fin rot and possibly tail nipping (they often nip when they have rot and rot when they nip so its hard to say sometimes). Have you looked at peace river gravel? I order CaribSea substrates from Amazon but I've had to grab some gravel/small stones from the chain stores at times. I also used fluorite black and my plants love it, but it's not necessary unless you're heavily HEAVILY planting to really worry about the substrate too much - it was also a pain to clean beforehand.
The smaller gravel is easier to clean than larger river stones substrate, sand can look lovely but be very hard to clean comparatively.

I would cut back to 3 pellets a day, personally. 5 is a bit high, but keep an eye on his stomach and make sure he's not bloating.

To treat his fins, if it were me:
WC every other day 50% max (25% is ok if he's showing stress to bigger wc, but 40-50% is ideal for a week or two)
Treat with Aquarium salt, no more than 1 tsp (I believe that's the max dose per gallon), and when you do a WC keep in mind to redose salt based on how much water you removed, it does NOT evaporate and you can overdo it if you keep adding in 1 tsp every wc
Add in Rooibos tea, indian almond leaves or monkeypods for the antiseptic qualities and tannins in them (I prefer the tea personally, for various reasons but they are all great)


And I'd see how he's doing after 2-3 water changes. Are you seeing improvement? Keep going for another week or so. No Improvement? May need to consider medications or more aggressive water changes - keeping in mind big, frequent water changes are stressful for all fish but Bettas seem exceptionally sensitive.

Kudos for trying to learn more and take better care of your guy! I'm sure he'll appreciate all that you do.
 

opalEssence

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I feel like as soon as you get your new 5 gallon, you need to set it up. My betta had mild fin rot in a 3.5, and as soon as I put him in a ten gallon because I was so desperate to stop it it stopped progressing. Ask around on kijijI or craigslist if someone has cycled tank filter media. Usually if the fish is young his tail will grow back.
 

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Salt baths should help with the fin rot. You can look up on how to do it on youtube. Also, make sure to use the correct salt.
Another thing is that if you are using salt baths, when you catch your fish, try to not stress them out too much as that just makes the fin rot worse.
P.S. make sure to research on the salt baths!!!(if you decide to go that route), don't just add a random amount of some salt you found in your kitchen to a cup full of water and dump your betta in.
 
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hbeisch

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Blueberrybetta said:
Did you cycle the tank before getting him? Please read into the nitrogen cycle.

What are you water parameters? Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate , ph ,gh kh ?

For one , A 1.5gal is way too small for any fish. They only sell those for money , don't listen to any more LPS employees as they know nothing about fish & just need a job. A min of 5gal is suggested for a betta fish for a stress free healthy life.

5 pellets a day?? That's to many for a Betta. They only need 1-2 pellets 5 days a week and fast him 2 days . Too much food at once and over time will make him constipated which can lead to SwI'm Bladder Disease, or dropsy .
Make sure you are pre soaking the pellets!! As they will swell inside his stomach! Making him constipated and 5 at once? Please fast him for the next 3 days. Bettas need to fast as they do not eat everyday in the wild anyways.

!!Never do 100% water changes!! This stresses fish out way too much plus you remove a lot of the Beneficial Bacteria in your tank and given you didn't cycle , you need all the bacteria you can get.... do 25% water changes for now
Thank you for your help! I just got my 5 gallon tank in the mail and I want to get him in there as fast as possible! What are your thoughts on Tetra SafeStart to quickly build up the beneficial bacteria and cycle the tank?

I haven't gotten my API Master Kit yet, so I don't know what my water parameters are right now and I won't begin the cycling process until I receive it.
 
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hbeisch

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bgntoc said:
Salt baths should help with the fin rot. You can look up on how to do it on youtube. Also, make sure to use the correct salt.
Another thing is that if you are using salt baths, when you catch your fish, try to not stress them out too much as that just makes the fin rot worse.
P.S. make sure to research on the salt baths!!!(if you decide to go that route), don't just add a random amount of some salt you found in your kitchen to a cup full of water and dump your betta in.
Thank you for replying! I just got API Aquarium Salt and if he doesn't improve after I put him in the larger tank, I will begin salt treatment. In my research, I found conflicting methods of salt treatment. Do you recommend doing the salt baths in containers separate from the tank or putting the salt directly into my tank and doing appropriate water changes? I'm leaning more towards the separate container salt baths, but I am definitely a novice aquarium/fish owner so I'm in need of experienced opinions! I also got a fish net to move him with and looked up how to do it safely and make it less stressful for my fish!
 
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hbeisch

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opalEssence said:
I feel like as soon as you get your new 5 gallon, you need to set it up. My betta had mild fin rot in a 3.5, and as soon as I put him in a ten gallon because I was so desperate to stop it it stopped progressing. Ask around on kijijI or craigslist if someone has cycled tank filter media. Usually if the fish is young his tail will grow back.
Thank you so much! I just got my new 5 gallon tank in the mail and I want to get him into it as soon as possible! What are your thoughts on using Tetra SafeStart to cycle my new tank?
 
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hbeisch

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Addictedtobettas said:
I'm sure he'll appreciate the new 5 gallon!! I highly recommend getting several long stemmed plants for it. Anubias are some good ones they can swim through and leaves to rest on.

It does look like he has some fin rot and possibly tail nipping (they often nip when they have rot and rot when they nip so its hard to say sometimes). Have you looked at peace river gravel? I order CaribSea substrates from Amazon but I've had to grab some gravel/small stones from the chain stores at times. I also used fluorite black and my plants love it, but it's not necessary unless you're heavily HEAVILY planting to really worry about the substrate too much - it was also a pain to clean beforehand.
The smaller gravel is easier to clean than larger river stones substrate, sand can look lovely but be very hard to clean comparatively.

I would cut back to 3 pellets a day, personally. 5 is a bit high, but keep an eye on his stomach and make sure he's not bloating.

To treat his fins, if it were me:
WC every other day 50% max (25% is ok if he's showing stress to bigger wc, but 40-50% is ideal for a week or two)
Treat with Aquarium salt, no more than 1 tsp (I believe that's the max dose per gallon), and when you do a WC keep in mind to redose salt based on how much water you removed, it does NOT evaporate and you can overdo it if you keep adding in 1 tsp every wc
Add in Rooibos tea, indian almond leaves or monkeypods for the antiseptic qualities and tannins in them (I prefer the tea personally, for various reasons but they are all great)


And I'd see how he's doing after 2-3 water changes. Are you seeing improvement? Keep going for another week or so. No Improvement? May need to consider medications or more aggressive water changes - keeping in mind big, frequent water changes are stressful for all fish but Bettas seem exceptionally sensitive.

Kudos for trying to learn more and take better care of your guy! I'm sure he'll appreciate all that you do.
Thank you for your reply! It was so helpful! I just got my new tank and I'm thinking of getting Java Moss, Java Fern, Amazon Sword, Anarchis, and/or Anubias today to plant my tank. Do these plants need active substrate or root tabs or will they do fine in an inert substrate? Would I also need a water fertilizer for the water column feeders?
 

Addictedtobettas

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I’d personally set the 5 gallon up with water conditioner and the safe start, put 4 gallon of fresh water (properly conditioned) and whatever filter material you’ve got from the 1.5 in to the 5 - even if that’s directly in to the tank.
Let the water temp get up to 78 or so.
Put your betta in a cup (I love those pint/quart containers from the bulk sections of almost all stores for this) or other floatable container.
Move everything over from the smaller tank, this will keep as much of the beneficial bacteria going.
Let your guy float in the new tank water to stay warm and temp matched while giving the tank a good half hour to ‘cycle’ everything through.
Your plants should be ok in the gravel.
 
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hbeisch

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Addictedtobettas said:
I'm sure he'll appreciate the new 5 gallon!! I highly recommend getting several long stemmed plants for it. Anubias are some good ones they can swim through and leaves to rest on.

It does look like he has some fin rot and possibly tail nipping (they often nip when they have rot and rot when they nip so its hard to say sometimes). Have you looked at peace river gravel? I order CaribSea substrates from Amazon but I've had to grab some gravel/small stones from the chain stores at times. I also used fluorite black and my plants love it, but it's not necessary unless you're heavily HEAVILY planting to really worry about the substrate too much - it was also a pain to clean beforehand.
The smaller gravel is easier to clean than larger river stones substrate, sand can look lovely but be very hard to clean comparatively.

I would cut back to 3 pellets a day, personally. 5 is a bit high, but keep an eye on his stomach and make sure he's not bloating.

To treat his fins, if it were me:
WC every other day 50% max (25% is ok if he's showing stress to bigger wc, but 40-50% is ideal for a week or two)
Treat with Aquarium salt, no more than 1 tsp (I believe that's the max dose per gallon), and when you do a WC keep in mind to redose salt based on how much water you removed, it does NOT evaporate and you can overdo it if you keep adding in 1 tsp every wc
Add in Rooibos tea, indian almond leaves or monkeypods for the antiseptic qualities and tannins in them (I prefer the tea personally, for various reasons but they are all great)


And I'd see how he's doing after 2-3 water changes. Are you seeing improvement? Keep going for another week or so. No Improvement? May need to consider medications or more aggressive water changes - keeping in mind big, frequent water changes are stressful for all fish but Bettas seem exceptionally sensitive.

Kudos for trying to learn more and take better care of your guy! I'm sure he'll appreciate all that you do.
Also, I think that treating him with aquarium salt in his tank may be difficult for me because I'm such a novice aquarium/fish owner. Would doing salt baths separate from his tank and putting him back into the tank once the bath is finished also be an effective (and safe!) way of treating him?
 

Addictedtobettas

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hbeisch said:
Also, I think that treating him with aquarium salt in his tank may be difficult for me because I'm such a novice aquarium/fish owner. Would doing salt baths separate from his tank and putting him back into the tank once the bath is finished also be an effective (and safe!) way of treating him?
What I would do.. put 2 teaspoons in the new tank, preferably in a filter section or pre dissolved in small cup of water. Those plants will tolerate it and it’s a low dose.
Salt baths are.. tricky and stressful in my opinion. See how he’s doing in a new tank for a few days. Also your 1.5 gallon might make a good hospital tank if you can keep it going.
 
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hbeisch

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Addictedtobettas said:
What I would do.. put 2 teaspoons in the new tank, preferably in a filter section or pre dissolved in small cup of water. Those plants will tolerate it and it’s a low dose.
Salt baths are.. tricky and stressful in my opinion. See how he’s doing in a new tank for a few days. Also your 1.5 gallon might make a good hospital tank if you can keep it going.
Thank you so much for all of your comments! You have been so, so helpful! I can't thank you enough!
 

Addictedtobettas

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hbeisch said:
Thank you so much for all of your comments! You have been so, so helpful! I can't thank you enough!
And thank YOU for getting your betta friend a new home and taking the time and effort to get it done right. I’m sure he’ll enjoy the new digs!
 

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Addictedtobettas said:
I’d personally set the 5 gallon up with water conditioner and the safe start, put 4 gallon of fresh water (properly conditioned) and whatever filter material you’ve got from the 1.5 in to the 5 - even if that’s directly in to the tank.
Let the water temp get up to 78 or so.
Put your betta in a cup (I love those pint/quart containers from the bulk sections of almost all stores for this) or other floatable container.
Move everything over from the smaller tank, this will keep as much of the beneficial bacteria going.
Let your guy float in the new tank water to stay warm and temp matched while giving the tank a good half hour to ‘cycle’ everything through.
Your plants should be ok in the gravel.
I agree. Just move everything into the larger tank, and because it might still be cycling, be prepared to do 2-3 water changes a week. Everyone will have a different amount, but I would recommend each change be around 25%. Until you get a test kit of some kind, this will have to do. Test strips also work, and are quicker, but are also easier to ruin and cost more per test. Ask yourself if you have the patience to wait 5-10 minutes for each test every few weeks, which is how often you should be testing if all else is fine. If anything goes wrong, though, test.

Anyway. Unless something goes horribly wrong (i.e. a friend/enemy dumps half a container of food in the tank, you have a mass snail extinction event, etc.) you never need to do a 100% water change. They are always and only for the worst-case scenario.
 

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