Sick Betta Fish - Please Help!

rpmisc

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A bit of background: My friend dumped her baby male betta on me a few weeks ago. I am pretty new to having fish. My betta was very playful and responsive for the time he has been with me. Unfortunately, I do not have the ability to purchase medications, treatments, etc for my betta at the moment. I am working it out as best I can.

Tank

I only have a glass tank and I am unsure of its size. I do not use a filter, heater, or equipment to measure the temperature of the water. I currently have one relatively young male betta in the tank in addition to moss balls.

Maintenance
I usually change the water once a week. I do a half way water change most of the time and do not treat the water.

*Parameters - Very Important
I did not cycle or test the water. I am unsure of the parameters.

Feeding
I feed the fish twice a day. 2-3 pellets. I believe the brand I use is Tetra (?)

Illness & Symptoms
I have had the fish for maybe 3 weeks now. The symptoms started 30-45 minutes ago. My betta suddenly became super unresponsive after a water change. He had been with a friend because I was out of town this past week. I decided to do an almost complete water change as his tank was in a pretty bad condition after I came back. He started staying near the surface of the water, gasping, and his fins were clumped. He sometimes starts swimming frantically for no apparent reason. Currently, he is becoming even more unresponsive -- barely breathing or moving at all. It was hard to tell what condition my fish was in when my friend gave him to me. Other than clumped fins, his appearance has not changed.

Explain your emergency situation in detail.
I was out of town for a bit longer than a week and left my betta with a friend to care for him. He was perfectly fine before I left. He was very playful and responsive. However, when I came back and went to pick him up earlier this afternoon, his tank was filthy. I decided to do a water change (almost completely) because I noticed that there was a paperclip in the tank. Right after the water change, he was doing fine. After 10-15 minutes passed, he started staying near the surface of the tank, gasping, and swimming erratically. I did feed him 2-3 pellets as I had not fed him yet. Afterwords, he became even more unresponsive. As of now, he is not moving at all. Please help! I understand that I do not have the proper care or resources for my fish but I would like to do the best with what I have. I believe that I may have a chance to later purchase better resources for my fish. Thank you.
 

CheshireKat

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rpmisc said:
My betta suddenly became super unresponsive after a water change.
Did you dechlorinate the water first? If your tap water has chlorine or even ammonia in it, your fish is probably being poisoned. Without testing the water, we can't know for sure, but that's likely it.

I don't want to sound harsh, but you're treading on a very thin line here on proper fish care. I myself have a betta in a 1 gallon tub with no heater and no filter, but that's because I know what I'm doing, plus it was cycled. This isn't something a complete novice should do, especially without being able to test the water. He could be living in a toxic environment that's killing him. I hope that's not the case, but the amount of ammonia that could've built up in a filthy tank can be surprising.

I would say "change the water" but that might not help him if the water is the problem. The water could've been too hot or warm, too.
 
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rpmisc

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CheshireKat said:
Did you dechlorinate the water first? If your tap water has chlorine or even ammonia in it, your fish is probably being poisoned. Without testing the water, we can't know for sure, but that's likely it.

I don't want to sound harsh, but you're treading on a very thin line here on proper fish care. I myself have a betta in a 1 gallon tub with no heater and no filter, but that's because I know what I'm doing, plus it was cycled. This isn't something a complete novice should do, especially without being able to test the water. He could be living in a toxic environment that's killing him. I hope that's not the case, but the amount of ammonia that could've built up in a filthy tank can be surprising.

I would say "change the water" but that might not help him if the water is the problem. The water could've been too hot or warm, too.
I completely understand the conditions are not optimal. Thank you so much for replying. Should I try to destress him in any way? Also, the water I used has been the same for the whole time I've had him. Do you think that the change in the water conditions might have been too muck of a shock for him?
 

Crispii

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rpmisc said:
I completely understand the conditions are not optimal. Thank you so much for replying. Should I try to destress him in any way? Also, the water I used has been the same for the whole time I've had him. Do you think that the change in the water conditions might have been too muck of a shock for him?
Check your pH and ammonia of the water that you're using, assuming that you use pure tap water.
 

CheshireKat

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rpmisc said:
Do you think that the change in the water conditions might have been too muck of a shock for him?
It's possible that while cleaning it out or adding fresh water in, something happened in the water. It's hard to say for sure because there's several possibilities and we can't rule anything out without information that you don't have.
Has he improved at all?

At the very least, take a sample of your tank water and of your tap water to your local fish store and ask for a water test if you can't buy once yourself yet. Make sure to get actual numbers for ammonia, pH, nitrite, and nitrate. Sometimes people's tap water changes (maybe your city increases the chlorine during summer or something) and that could be a shock to fish if the difference is substantial.

There's not a lot you can do at this point. Do you have any fish supplies at all? I'm just trying to get a bigger picture of what we're working with.
 

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