sick betta

  1. plasmoc Initiate Member

    I have a betta fish who has ongoing illness (a few months now) I can't seem to cure.

    Symptoms" lethargic with bouts of fast swimming, has cloudy eyes (not protruding), a torn fin (which I thought was due to my finding him caught under the filter last week, but it doesn't seem to be healing and instead looks worse), he is more pale than usual, eats less, and it looks like maybe some scales have fallen off.

    I posted about his cloudy eyes and lethargy / fast swimming a while back and was advised to do daily water changes until his eyes cleared up, which I did. But once I resumed my regular water-changing routine (about every 2-3 weeks), the cloudyness came back. I've repeated this cycle multiple times, but he still has cloudy eyes.

    He is in a 3 gallon tank with a heater and filter, by himself. I keep the temp at about 76-78 degrees. We believe he is at least 2.5 years old now. I use Stress Coat whenever I change his water, and sometimes Prime. I usually use a gravel vaccum for water changes and don't remove all the water.

    Does he need medicine or is he just getting old? The water changes don't seem to be helping and stress him out.

    Thank you in advance for any advice you can give me!
  2. soltarianknight Fishlore VIP Member

    You need to be doing weekly/twice weekly waterchanges. Bottomline. 2-3 weeks is terrible in a 3gal, i know, i have one. My fish would be sick aswell. Did you ever cycle the tank? You need to test the water(API master testkit liquid) and get amonia readings. If this tank is not cycled then 2 weekly 100% clean outs are nesseccary as a minimum to prevent amonia build. Honestly it sounds like he has amonia poisoning.

  3. plasmoc Initiate Member

    I was told by others that because I have a good filter I didn't need to do changes that often... I will start changing the tank more often (I did a change last night after doing testing).

    After doing testing last night (see below) I guess the tank isn't cycled as well as I thought. Here is part of why: He was in a 5 gallon tank, and over Christmas time I did a Maracyn I & II combo treatment on advice from someone else, which completely uncycled the tank. In January he was moved to the 3 gallon tank which seemed throw off what cycle had started even though I kept some old water. Then I was told to do partial daily water changes, which i did for weeks, and just stopped last week with a full tank change.

    Last night, the tank readings (note I did a full tank change 1 week ago) were:
    GH: 120
    KH: 0
    pH: 6.0
    NO2: 0
    NO3: ~10
    Ammonia: 1

    So I take it I should keep doing 100% tank changes until the Ammonia goes to 0 and the NO3 evens out... and then what? Though his eye cloud let up while doing daily water changes for weeks, his lethargy, spasms of energy, paleness, and diminshed appetite never let up.

    Any more guidance would be appreciated, thanks!
  4. afremont Initiate Member

    Yeah, 1ppm of ammonia is too high, but no nitrItes is good; usually the ammonia eating bacteria can respond fairly rapidly to an increase of ammonia, but the nitrIte eaters take roughly twice as long to double the population. Do lots of changes, lots. :) There are plenty of other toxins that build up in the water and the only way to get them out is thru changes. I don't think you need to do 100% changes though, just daily 25-50% changes after you get the levels down. That shouldn't stress the fish nearly as much as a total change.

    If you don't already, be sure to vacuum your tank. If you haven't done it much, then try not to stir up too much gunk while doing it. Way too much stuff can grow down there that you just don't need in the tank. Virtually none of it is good for your fish.

    As for the long term, the fish could have a bacterial infection. But cloudy eye is more a symptom than an actual disease (just like dropsy or fin rot). Get the water under control and give the fish some time to heal. Fish that can't see probably don't feel very safe cruising around and that could partially be to blame for the lethargy. Give him a couple of tiny garlic bits to chew on and maybe his immune system will get a boost and maybe treat him to the occasional bloodworm.

    Do you have a heater in the tank? Betta's really like warm water.

  5. plasmoc Initiate Member

    I added Prime to help block the ammonia a bit, but I will do daily changes again. Before when I was doing daily changes I would vacuum the gravel & take about 50-60% of the water out, and then do a full tank change once a week. I'll keep doing daily changes unitl the numbers drop, then go back to partial daily changes.

    Heater is at 76-78... should I bump it up to 80?

    His diet isn't varied as much as I want it to be as he doesn't like bloodworms (weird, right?) or flakes, though I can occasionally get him to eat a shrimp or two. I have like 7 or 8 types of food and he'll only eat 1 type and an occassional shrimp.

    I've never tried garlic before.... Can I just mince a piece of garlic I have at home in the kitchen or is there a special type?

  6. soltarianknight Fishlore VIP Member

    Imo, garlic is only helping digestion and making food tastier, you can soak some pellets in it to get him to eat if youd like. Just keep up the 100% waterchanges or 50% and prime if you want to regain your cycle. From those readings the cycle sounds completley dead. He is showing basic amonia poisoning symptoms. Cloudy eye included.
  7. afremont Initiate Member

    Just ordinary garlic. You can squeeze the juice out of it and use it to soak food like the other poster said. I think it's possible that fresh garlic does a little more than just make the food taste good to the fish. I'm not saying it's a miracle drug, but it certainly won't hurt.

  8. plasmoc Initiate Member


    He wouldn't eat the garlic or garlic-soaked food, and now he's stopped eating altogether (today is day 5).

    I've kept up with the water changes and his tank readings last night:
    GH: 120
    KH: 0
    pH: 6
    No2: 0
    No3: ~0-5
    Ammonia: 0

    Now what? Besides keeping up with the water changes I mean.
  9. kinezumi89 Fishlore VIP Member

    Just a tidbit for your information, if you are planning to move a fish from a cycled tank to an uncycled tank, moving some of the old water over doesn't help to get it cycled. There is nothing in water but bad stuff like ammonia or nitrate. The beneficial bacteria live in the filter, and some on the walls, rocks, substrate, etc. The only way to "seed" a tank is to move a filter over that has already been in a cycled tank. People often ask if they can simply move gravel over, but usually the answer is that there isn't enough beneficial bacteria to take care of the entire bioload.

    If you could upload a picture or two, that might help people better diagnose your fish. :)
  10. plasmoc Initiate Member

    Oh, I knew about the gravel and filter, but I didn't know that keeping some of the water didn't matter. Thanks, that's good to know!

    I kept all of the old filter material when I changed tanks, but that tank had never fully recovered from the Maracyn I&II treatment before changing tanks (and now I know I wasn't changing the water often enough either).

    I will try to take pictures tonight to post tomorrow.
    He pretty much looks the same as he did during my post back in January (minus the cloudy eyes). The old post is:

    I will try to post photos tomorrow.

  11. plasmoc Initiate Member

    Alrighty, here are some photos:

    pic 1 shows how his spine is a bit curved and he had a some white fluffs on his side and fins last night. When I checked him this morning most of the fluff is gone, but there is a tiny bit left. It looks like the same type of white fluffy stuff that grows on an air tube in his tank. In the past I tried treating his tank with fungus guard to try and get rid of the white fluff on the tube, but it didn't help.

    pic 2 shows some of the white fluffy stuff on his anal and pectoral fins.

    pic 3 shows is just a general photo. I think he's lost some scales by his face.

    Please advise, thanks.

    Attached Files:

  12. soltarianknight Fishlore VIP Member

    Yikes, if you want my honest opinon. For the sake of the fish, i would euthenize him. He has a sever spine bend, it may be whats causing this downhill decline.
  13. plasmoc Initiate Member

    I was thinking about that this morning... He's always had a bit of a curved spine, but it is looking worse than usual these days.

    And today is his 7th day without eating :(
  14. soltarianknight Fishlore VIP Member

    include his uneven mouth and honestly, he wasnt made for success.
  15. plasmoc Initiate Member

    uneven mouth? you mean how he has such big lips on top?
  16. soltarianknight Fishlore VIP Member

    A little more complicated then that:p but sure! Its not bad in general, but it is concidered a lesser trait(Much like shovel head, scale faults, spinal deformities, uneven toplines, kinked fins, pinched mouths and so on and so on) that can be linked to poor genetics, which unfortunetly is basicly what petstore bettas are :(. However, most of them arnt as bad off as he is. And im not saying that a betta with any of the listed traits is going to be weak/die :p, it just would appear that he wasnt cut out for sucess. Still, if you want to try saving him at this point(it may be more harm then good). I think Warm clean water, in a nice cycled tank with daily feedings and a lowered water level would be all you can do for him. Meds would be too harsh right now jmo. He is still a betta, and he still deserves the best, its just up to you to decide what that is.
  17. Lucy Moderator Moderator Member

  18. plasmoc Initiate Member

    Soltarianknight, thank you for your help. I decided to euthanize him as the daily water changes seemed to stress him out more and more each day and he still wasn't eating (it had been over a week). Lowering the water would not have helped him as he stayed near the top of his tank 99% of the time (I had some decoration near the top for him to sit on). At least he's not suffering anymore :/