Help Received A Dying Betta - Please Help

Akins

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What is the water volume of the tank? 3 gal

How long has the tank been running? 1 day

Does it have a filter? Yes

Does it have a heater? Yes

What is the water temperature? 78.6

What is the entire stocking of this tank? Betta fish, Marimo moss ball


Maintenance (note: this is a hospital tank)

How often do you change the water? Daily

How much of the water do you change? 1/4

What do you use to treat your water? Seachem prime or api stress coat

Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? Will vacuum the tank bottom.


*Parameters - Very Important (!!! Please read below for initial water parameters from cup)

Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? No

What do you use to test the water? Api master test kit

What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.


Ammonia: 0

Nitrite: 0

Nitrate: 0

pH: 7.6


Feeding (just got him, please read below)


Illness & Symptoms

How long have you had this fish? 1 day

How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? The store gave him to me, so I do not know how long this has been going on.

In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? Floating on top, sort of looks like he has a swollen abdomen, his breathing was not so good when I got him, but seems to have evened out to a steady pace.

Have you started any treatment for the illness? I put him in a 3 gallon hospital tank with 2 drops of methylene blue, and as close as I could get to 3/10ths a packet of general cure.

Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? Yes, he was given to me because he was sick and they’d otherwise have tossed him.

How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? When I first got him, he was barely breathing and erratically when he did, he had what looked like white waste flaking off of him and was floating at the top without caring to adjust himself.


Explain your emergency situation in detail.

I was given a very sick betta fish from a store, because they figured he would die anyways. It looks like he has swim bladder disease. He was on his last stretch and I honestly didn’t think he’d make it through the night. (I’m sure he would have died last night had I left him in the store.) He was having trouble breathing, looked totally lethargic, was covered in filth, and floating sideways. I brought him home and immediately set up a tank for him. I acclimated him to the warmer water, but I did not have long. I think I gave him maybe 5-10 min acclimation. The reason for this, the store water was absolutely horrible. Horrible. I ran a test on it, here’s what I got:

Ammonia: .25
Nitrite: closest to 5.0ppm
Nitrate: about 80ppm

He is likely poisoned from the bad water.
And it was full of detritus and smelled horrible. I didn’t get to the ph by then, I just wanted to get him out of there. As I was acclimating him to the water, most of the yuck came off of him with the fresh water. He also started to finally move a bit.


I set up the tank, used seachem prime and added methylene blue and general cure. When I added him to the tank, it took a few minutes, but his breathing stabilized. He was even good enough after about an hour to start trying to move around. He’s still weak, but he tries every now and then.

I didn’t give him food cause this guy at the pet store (not the one who gave me the fish) said, “oh he’s probably just sleeping” then he thumped the container and put some food in there. (Which **** me off, but what’s done is done.) I took the container from him and did not let him touch it again.

Anyways, he was so bad, I thought he was going to die in the night, but he did not. I tried giving him a bit of a pea this morning, but he’s not interested and frankly I’m not sure it’s a good idea. I kind of feel like he has swim bladder disease from a bacterial infection because of how gross the water was. I don’t know if I should add salt, or do dips, or what.

I apologize for the quality of the images, I’ll see if I can get better ones when I get home) one of the images is taken from a lower angle so he has his reflection on the water surface.


Please, I need advice. I know he looks about done, but I would really like to give this poor guy even the tiniest chance.

B6F6ABBF-766C-475E-B7EC-F76EC8B37B5A.jpeg 7CD10A12-82B7-458F-B98E-95ADA20DF91D.jpeg
 

pagoda

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That poor lad is possibly beyond help, he looks very underweight, his fins and tail are damaged and you can tell that breathing is laboured. Externally its easy to see how ill he is, you won't know how much damage has been done internally with him in the water you described, you won't know how long he was in that filthy water or what he picked up in there parasite wise or damage wise :(

I love fish dearly and the urge to help them is very strong....but his general health is such that I am not sure that it is fair on him to carry on. He is very distressed and quite possibly in pain. He would have been a beauty had he been rescued sooner, he would have a greater chance of survival but sadly that is not always the way things turn out.....fish are so often thought of as lesser animals and thats very sad cos they are awesome creatures and absolutely worth the time and effort to save but in this lad's case I honestly feel he is beyond help and that is tragically sad :(

Personally I would let him pass away, its a hard choice but at least he experienced something that he never had in his short life til now and that's the unconditional love, comfort and care from a human being.....he will know that you took him on and you have done what you can to make him comfortable and feel loved....I would let him go knowing he was loved and respected by you
 
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Akins

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That poor lad is possibly beyond help, he looks very underweight, his fins and tail are damaged and you can tell that breathing is laboured. Externally its easy to see how ill he is, you won't know how much damage has been done internally with him in the water you described, you won't know how long he was in that filthy water or what he picked up in there parasite wise or damage wise :(

I love fish dearly and the urge to help them is very strong....but his general health is such that I am not sure that it is fair on him to carry on. He is very distressed and quite possibly in pain. He would have been a beauty had he been rescued sooner, he would have a greater chance of survival but sadly that is not always the way things turn out.....fish are so often thought of as lesser animals and thats very sad cos they are awesome creatures and absolutely worth the time and effort to save but in this lad's case I honestly feel he is beyond help and that is tragically sad :(

Personally I would let him pass away, its a hard choice but at least he experienced something that he never had in his short life til now and that's the unconditional love, comfort and care from a human being.....he will know that you took him on and you have done what you can to make him comfortable and feel loved....I would let him go knowing he was loved and respected by you
Well, I was so sure he would die in the night, but he didn’t and he’s breathing much better. I really did not want to leave him in that store though, it was nasty and so undignified. Those stores should be regulated to sell fish....
 

Dechi

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I don’t know how to help him but I hope he makes it. You never know. Thank you for giving him a dignified end of life, if not a good life.
 

Cognac82

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If he's still alive and seems even remotely improved, I say keep trying. Just make sure the water is very clean and warm. Indian almond leaves are supposed to be beneficial for bettas, so see if you can maybe find some. High nitrates contribute to swim bladder issues and removing him from that high nitrate environment can only improve his chances. Clean water changed frequently is the first medicine you should try, and if you are seeing results, keep going!
 

Truckjohn

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I hope you are able to bring him around for a full recovery. So far I have had one betta recover from swim bladder issues.

Here's a bit of the underbelly of the pet industry to consider.

A pet store (in the US at least) is required to dispose of dead animals as hazardous bio-waste. They can't just chuck them in the trash or flush them. They certainly won't feed them to other animals for the risk of disease spreading. This disposal costs $$$$

And so giving away a sick fish to a willing customer "Free" is FAR less expensive to them because they don't have to pay for disposal - they just have to write down whatever they paid for the fish. Disposal costs are not his problem anymore.

It's sort of sad to think of it this way - but that's the business...
 
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Akins

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If he's still alive and seems even remotely improved, I say keep trying. Just make sure the water is very clean and warm. Indian almond leaves are supposed to be beneficial for bettas, so see if you can maybe find some. High nitrates contribute to swim bladder issues and removing him from that high nitrate environment can only improve his chances. Clean water changed frequently is the first medicine you should try, and if you are seeing results, keep going!
I’ll see about getting some today, thanks.
 
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Akins

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I hope you are able to bring him around for a full recovery. So far I have had one betta recover from swim bladder issues.

Here's a bit of the underbelly of the pet industry to consider.

A pet store (in the US at least) is required to dispose of dead animals as hazardous bio-waste. They can't just chuck them in the trash or flush them. They certainly won't feed them to other animals for the risk of disease spreading. This disposal costs $$$$

And so giving away a sick fish to a willing customer "Free" is FAR less expensive to them because they don't have to pay for disposal - they just have to write down whatever they paid for the fish. Disposal costs are not his problem anymore.

It's sort of sad to think of it this way - but that's the business...
Well paying for disposal should be per container rather than individual fish, no? Either way, yea, I think that worked in my favor here, he’s no longer suffocating on the shelf.

I kinda figured they had nothing to lose, I can see that being motivation on their end.
 

Tinytail

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Wait really? That’s dark.... I always get tempted to ask to take the sick betta for free but I don’t want to get in over my head. I once saw an employee at petco feeding dead guppies to the turtles though -_-

Anyways, I find that chain store and bad lfs bettas pass very, very quickly. They are poorly bred and poorly raised. Even ones that seem fine, by the time they start showing symptoms sometimes you can hardly get medications set up before they’ve passed. So the fact that this guy is still kicking, I would say keep trying to help if you’re willing! You’ve pretty much got all the good advice I can think of. Maybe up the water to 80-84F to fight infection and drip dose the recommended amount of aquarium salt for your tank size.

I hope you are able to bring him around for a full recovery. So far I have had one betta recover from swim bladder issues.

Here's a bit of the underbelly of the pet industry to consider.

A pet store (in the US at least) is required to dispose of dead animals as hazardous bio-waste. They can't just chuck them in the trash or flush them. They certainly won't feed them to other animals for the risk of disease spreading. This disposal costs $$$$

And so giving away a sick fish to a willing customer "Free" is FAR less expensive to them because they don't have to pay for disposal - they just have to write down whatever they paid for the fish. Disposal costs are not his problem anymore.

It's sort of sad to think of it this way - but that's the business...
 
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Akins

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Wait really? That’s dark.... I always get tempted to ask to take the sick betta for free but I don’t want to get in over my head. I once saw an employee at petco feeding dead guppies to the turtles though -_-

Anyways, I find that chain store and bad lfs bettas pass very, very quickly. They are poorly bred and poorly raised. Even ones that seem fine, by the time they start showing symptoms sometimes you can hardly get medications set up before they’ve passed. So the fact that this guy is still kicking, I would say keep trying to help if you’re willing! You’ve pretty much got all the good advice I can think of. Maybe up the water to 80-84F to fight infection and drip dose the recommended amount of aquarium salt for your tank size.
Well I already have the equipment, so I’m not taking a hit and I think he keeps trying to swim so I want to give him a chance. Just need to get almond leaves.

Okay, I wasn’t sure if salt would be okay with methylene blue, but I will try that too. I will definitely up the temperature. Hopefully I’m on the right track.
Thanks!
 

mattgirl

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For now the most important thing you can do for this little guy is keep his water as clean as is humanly possible. I wouldn't add any salt at this point. Meds are called for in some cases but since you already have GC and MB in there I wouldn't add anything else. If it were me I would even remove the GC and MB with water changes.

Since you don't really know exactly what damage has been done adding meds may cause more harm than good.

A little bit of salt may be called for once you get all other meds out of there. It is supposed to help when there is a case of nitrite poisoning.
 
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Akins

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For now the most important thing you can do for this little guy is keep his water as clean as is humanly possible. I wouldn't add any salt at this point. Meds are called for in some cases but since you already have GC and MB in there I wouldn't add anything else. If it were me I would even remove the GC and MB with water changes.

Since you don't really know exactly what damage has been done adding meds may cause more harm than good.

A little bit of salt may be called for once you get all other meds out of there. It is supposed to help when there is a case of nitrite poisoning.
Hmmm that’s food for thought....

I initially added the methylene blue because it’s supposed to help for ammonia and nitrite poisoning, as well as some infections and it was quicker than dissolving salt. I think I agree about removing the GC, the water was so gross I was hoping to nip potentialities in the bud. I will remove it.

That stated, now I wonder which is better for poisoning. Salt is likely better to remove bacteria and I know it works... This kind of brings me to my initial concern. I don’t think I want to dose with both. I guess I need to find out Which method of the two won’t be too intense for him.

Thank you, this helps.
 
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Akins

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Alright, so I’m at:

raise the temperature
Keep the water pristine
Remove the GC
Add almond leaf (I need to look into if this is okay while he’s this sick)
methylene Blue or salt investigation

Also, I want to thank all of you for your assistance thus far. I really appreciate it.
 

mattgirl

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It looks like you have a plan. Quite often baby steps are the way to go meaning one thing at a time. Sometimes we want to help them so badly we inadvertently do damage instead.

I feel sure adding the almond leaf is a good thing to do. Since it is a natural remedy I think it can only help.

The very most important thing on your list is the pristine water. A temp of 79/80 should be the perfect temp for him.

I don't know enough about using MB to even talk about it. I know it is recommended to add it to eggs to keep them from growing fungus but also know one is supposed to remove it before the eggs hatch.

Salt is a natural substance so if I were in your shoes salt is the route I would take.

I am really pulling for this little guy. :)
 

PascalKrypt

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Alright, so I’m at:

raise the temperature
Keep the water pristine
Remove the GC
Add almond leaf (I need to look into if this is okay while he’s this sick)
methylene Blue or salt investigation

Also, I want to thank all of you for your assistance thus far. I really appreciate it.
I'd really recommend methylene blue out of the two. It helps with nitrite poisoning (which is probably the worst of his problems right now) and works as an antiseptic as well.
Salt is just against parasites swimming the water (not already internal in the fish) and disinfecting wounds. Moreover salt can add to the stress of the fish because it changes the osmotic value of the water quite a bit.

Edit: since it seems not everyone knows about it, a little tidbit about MB -- it increases the ability of the blood to uptake oxygen if that has been compromised. Nitrite poisoning damages the fish version of hemoglobin, which makes it increasingly harder for the fish to get enough oxygen circulating throughout its body. MB is well known for reversing that effect (I have this from scientific studies on nitrite toxicity levels and poisoning btw).
(Note that nitrite poisoning is rather different from ammonia poisoning as the latter is a burning of tissue - mainly the gill tissue that is notorious for causing breathing problems. So though both cause heavy breathing in fish, they do so for anatomically very different reasons and have different treatment options).
 

Truckjohn

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Anyways, I find that chain store and bad lfs bettas pass very, very quickly. They are poorly bred and poorly raised. Even ones that seem fine, by the time they start showing symptoms sometimes you can hardly get medications set up before they’ve passed.
I agree completely about poorly raised/cared for. Many of these places simply look at the cost of maintaining a fish and say "Every dollar I put into it is a dollar I don't get when I sell it..."

For example - the local Petsmart gets their fish order with a dozen boxes of fish on Tuesdays - and by Wednesday - 80% of their tanks are completely empty. They may well have ZERO fish by Friday... So on the one hand - they could probably sell twice as many fish. On the other hand - their tanks always look clean and they spend ZERO maintenance cost on those 30 or so tanks that only have fish in them for ONE day a week..... and that means they probably spend close to zero on training employees in fish care - simply because they don't have any fish past two weeks....

I disagree on bad genetics. Breeders have to sell a LOT of fish to make money and a limited space to do it in.... They have some allotted time to grow fish out, cherry pick the best, then send ALL the rest out the door so they can raise the next batch.

That means they can't grow out thousands of fish to full maturity to see if a runt or one with small fins might finally grow out and become show quality... They pick the best looking few early on and everything else goes.. Petsmart and Petco each sell thousands of bettas a week - so that's where most end up.... So genetics wise - I would expect them to be about the same....
 
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