Sick Betta

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CMarie

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Pictures are showing up out of order so I numbered them.

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1. The first day we brought Pirate home from Petco - he was small and immature
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4. Infection looking slightly better
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2. First (sudden) symptoms
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3. Infected dorsal? Treated with Fungus Clear
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6. Dorsal looking much better, tail slightly improved
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5. Confusing test strips

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7. Parameters before an 80% water change and adding him back to the tank after showing improvement and stable water
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8. Flaring upon entering the tank - stressed or happy?

Hello,

This is my first post. I have some experience with fish keeping, but haven’t kept fish in a while. I was wondering if anyone could help me figure out what could be wrong with my tank that would cause my fish to become sick with fin rot? I apologize if this is long - I’ll try to keep it as short a possible while including necessary info.

Recently, my kids and I went to Petco to get our cats their yearly rabies shots. I don’t like to support pet shops who don’t take stellar care of their animals but it turned out we couldn’t leave behind a young, spunky, little opal delta-tailed Betta who obviously had bigger dreams than living in a dirty little cup.

We bought our new family member, dubbed “Pirate”, a 2.5 gallon tank with a filter, a heater, live plants, API water testing strips, an API ammonia test kit, betta food and a thermometer. I stopped at a friends house who had a fully cycled, healthy, established tank that was over 5 years old and borrowed some filter media to seed Pirate’s new home.

I watched the water parameters like a hawk knowing the dangers of a cycling tank and changed 75% of the water every other day. Nitrates showed up very quickly, but there was a low ammonia reading of .25ppm all of the time - even right before and after big water changes. I tested the tap water and it read .25ppm, which I hoped/assumed was harmless ammonium. Pirate seemed to love his tank, was very interactive, and built a big bubble nest soon after moving into his new home. All seemed well.

Suddenly, a few weeks after the tank was set up, Pirate developed fin rot on his tail and dorsal fin with symptoms that appeared overnight. I was perplexed and quickly moved him to a bowl, then ran to the store and bought him a 1 gallon hospital tank. His dorsal looked to be infected so after several days of not getting better or worse I added Jungle Fungus Clear and it cleared up in about 4 days.

Tonight, after a week of Fungus Clear and then a week or two of close monitoring in clear water, I finally moved him back into his old tank. I’ve been making sure to keep the biofilter going and cycled and finally bought an API master test kit. Ammonia is 0, Nitrite 0, and Nitrates were around 15ppm before a big 80% water change (right before I reintroduced him to the tank.)

He started flaring right away - I wasn’t sure if he was just excited or if something was wrong and he was stressed. I’m still confused about what caused the fin rot and I’m afraid if I don’t figure it out it could happen again.

My only ideas are:

- Faulty or inaccurate test strips that showed incorrect readings (tank readings seemed almost identical to tap with nitrate readings on both strips.) If so, this should be fixed now with the new API Master Test Kit (no more strips)

- Not vacuuming enough and keeping the filter flow too low, resulting in rotting food on the bottom (it’s almost bare bottom with one decoration, a few large flat aquarium marbles, and a few moss balls, but I did find a little bit of old food down there after he became sick)

- A new food I tried before he got sick that created a lot of waste that was possibly too much for the biofilter to handle - but again, the ammonia and nitrates were always low on the tests and I was vigilant with water changes

- I have aquatic plants - moss balls and a small Anubis - and also houseplant cuttings with lots of roots (the name of the houseplant escapes me now but I looked it up and it is supposed to be a safe plant to add to a tank.) Possibly the houseplant is the cause, though I don’t know how?

Sorry for the long post...we really love Pirate and want to keep him happy. It has been a while since I kept fish - am I missing something important?

*The houseplant cuttings are pothos
 

Jeff041419

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Have you done the panty hose test on the pothos roots and stems to be sure they can't snag his fins? I know nothing about how smooth the roots of a plant are, so I would want to check.

Judging by photo 8, he probably just flared at his reflection.

In reading about pothos I find, among other things, "Excessive contact with the plant can also lead to general skin irritation." That refers to skin irritation for humans, and it doesn't say what "excessive" means. But it's a plant that can be irritating.

It leads me to wonder if repeated contact with the pothos, by the betta's fins, over a period of time, might have become irritating enough to produce a flare-up. I don't know, so that's only speculation, but if it were me, I think I would remove the pothos.
 

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The plant may be causing the issue as they said above but it's also possible the lack of substrate and amount of rotting food on the bottom caused some sort of damage. If possible when conducting water changes, try to vacuum the substrate so all the uncaught food is taken out of the tank. Also monitor what your fish isn't eating because anything left uneaten can cause ammonia spikes I believe.
 
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CMarie

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Okay - I will remove the pothos. I was hoping it would help absorb nitrates. I also remember thinking it would help ease the current because filter was pushing him around a bit much but I’m not sure how much it actually helps. I don’t want to potentially cause irritation so I will remove it.

I will definitely vacuum very well at water changes going forward.

May I ask why the lack of substrate would be harmful? I’ve always left my tanks bare bottom - I like the minimalist look but I’ve also understood it to be harmless and beneficial in some ways (less chance for uneaten food build-up.)
 

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Jeff041419 said:
Have you done the panty hose test on the pothos roots and stems to be sure they can't snag his fins? I know nothing about how smooth the roots of a plant are, so I would want to check.

Judging by photo 8, he probably just flared at his reflection.
The pothos aren't a problem unless the plant is submerged, they only need water from the stems to grow roots, the leaves shouldn't touch the water.
shecamefromtheocean said:
The plant may be causing the issue as they said above but it's also possible the lack of substrate and amount of rotting food on the bottom caused some sort of damage. If possible when conducting water changes, try to vacuum the substrate so all the uncaught food is taken out of the tank. Also monitor what your fish isn't eating because anything left uneaten can cause ammonia spikes I believe.
Sorry, I don't mean to come off as rude or anything, but the amount of substrate in a tank doesn't matter unless you are keeping plants that would need it, otherwise it would be easier to vacuum less substrate and find the waste inside.
 

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CMarie said:
Okay - I will remove the pothos. I was hoping it would help absorb nitrates. I also remember thinking it would help ease the current because filter was pushing him around a bit much but I’m not sure how much it actually helps. I don’t want to potentially cause irritation so I will remove it.

I will definitely vacuum very well at water changes going forward.

May I ask why the lack of substrate would be harmful? I’ve always left my tanks bare bottom - I like the minimalist look but I’ve also understood it to be harmless and beneficial in some ways (less chance for uneaten food build-up.)
I thought the substrate was an important part of the nitrogen cycle for decomposing food so the bacteria could eat the ammonia given off. I'm not super experienced in fishkeeping, so I apologize for any misunderstood advice.
 

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Okay, so if I were you, then I would most likely take out the pothos just for this time, as it's really the only plant you have besides the moss ball and that tiny one near the sign decoration.

It appears to me that he's gaining improvement as seen in the photos, but the damages on the fins are either caused by snagging them on something or him doing it manually.
I personally think it's biting, as I see the "U" shaped chunks out of the back of the caudal fin the most, and they can bite their fins due to stress or the fins being too heavy for them.

You can use the tannins of an almond leaf to help repair fins, along with daily water changes, which you can optionally add aquarium salt dissolved into the new water at every other water change.
 
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Fanatic said:
Okay, so if I were you, then I would most likely take out the pothos just for this time, as it's really the only plant you have besides the moss ball and that tiny one near the sign decoration.

It appears to me that he's gaining improvement as seen in the photos, but the damages on the fins are either caused by snagging them on something or him doing it manually.
I personally think it's biting, as I see the "U" shaped chunks out of the back of the caudal fin the most, and they can bite their fins due to stress or the fins being too heavy for them.

You can use the tannins of an almond leaf to help repair fins, along with daily water changes, which you can optionally add aquarium salt dissolved into the new water at every other water change.
I never considered he could be biting himself! He seemed happy and content so any stress would probably be from something environmental. The roots and stems of the pothos are very softened (they were in water long before I had the tank) so I could be wrong but I don’t believe they could snag him. I haven’t done the pantyhose test so removing it is the safe choice.

He did have that jagged edge along his fins but the edges were darkened, which I read usually signifies fin rot. I thought I could see the telltale thinning along the edges as well before he started improving. If he was biting himself would the edges still have the darkened look to them? It’s more noticeable in the pics below when it had just happened:
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I don’t remember ever dealing with fin rot personally before but everything I looked up seemed to match so I didn’t consider other options.

Also, where would I find an almond leaf? I have a piece of smooth driftwood that I found in the ocean many years ago that’s been a shelf decoration ever since. I did thoroughly boil it once because I considered using it in the tank for tannins. Is this a safe option?

Also - I used to use aquarium salt often when I had goldfish. I thought it was best used as a quick dip for Betta’s rather than adding to their tank?

shecamefromtheocean said:
I thought the substrate was an important part of the nitrogen cycle for decomposing food so the bacteria could eat the ammonia given off. I'm not super experienced in fishkeeping, so I apologize for any misunderstood advice.
No apology necessary - from what I understand substrate can be good for colonizing bacteria when it’s cleaned thoroughly and correctly due to the increased surface area for the bacteria to grow. I always had trouble with keeping it clean though so I prefer the bare bottom method.

Instead I usually use extra cut up filter media in the filter to provide a lot of places for the bacteria to establish itself and rinse it only when it gets really bad - I usually let months go by between a quick swish in a bucket of tank water, and cycle which ones I rinse so not to disturb all of it at once. Plus, you can pretty much buy a lifetime supply from an aquarium store for a few bucks - you don’t need much and you keep reusing it instead of disposing of it.
 
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Hello again

Bad news unfortunately...my bettas fins are worse than ever!! (Despite how the pics look, he’s a delta tail.)

He must be biting them...I’ll attach more pics.

Water parameters are good. Can anyone help please?!

He does seem to be swimming more easily without such long fins, and I noticed he did it less in his hospital tank (which wasn’t filtered.) Do they ever do this due to filter current? I removed the plants which helped a little but when I felt them I wasn’t confident that they couldn’t rip him - but it’s gotten much worse since I removed them.

Help, please?
 

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Biting and fin rot are not mutually exclusive. I mean, biting can create a pathway for infection. It might be time for another round of fin rot treatment.

How is his appetite? Still eating normally?

Some enhancement of his diet might be worthwhile. Do you ever feed live food? Also, there are liquid vitamins used to soak pellets. This would be a time to be especially sure his nutrition is good.
 
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Oh no ‍♀ I had hoped to rule out fin rot.

What should I do at this point? It’s still progressively getting worse.

I found almond leaves online so I’m going to order those.

Should I treat again with the Jungle Fungus Clear? Is it safe for the biofilter or should I use a hospital tank?

I’m truly at a loss. I feel like I’m failing him and I don’t know what to do to help.
 
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Hi,

I have another thread going but I haven’t received a response in a while and I’m desperate for help with my betta.

(It’s the thread called “Sick betta” with the opal betta who either has fin rot, biting his fins, or both.)

It is getting worse every day and I don’t know what to do. Water parameters are good.

Will Fungus Clear by Jungle labs hurt the biofilter, and is it advisable I treat him?

I really need some advice/help. Thank you

Constance
 

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Pictures?
 

Gypsy13

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Hello. Having two threads can become very confusing. It took me a while to find this original thread. The very best way to take care of your betta’s fins is having clean warm water. I keep mine at 79-81 f. Almond leaves seem to help their overall health. Do you have anything just below the water line for him to rest on? They love having things to play with. My crowntail has a hot pink ping pong ball he pushes around. If he’s biting himself it’s important to provide other interests. There are ring toys for them to go through. Just always do the pantyhose test on everything you put in his tank. A 5 gallon tank may help as well.
As for salt. Since you have the plant in there baths would be best. But, netting him may cause more stress. If you want to put him in the 1 gallon hospital tank you can treat the tank. Using half the normal dose. Do a 25% water change after 4 days. But don’t add more salt.
If I’m missing something let me know.

Pics are on the other thread. Coradee can we merge these two threads. The other is Sick Betta. Thank you.
 
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Gypsy13 said:
Hello. Having two threads can become very confusing. It took me a while to find this original thread. The very best way to take care of your betta’s fins is having clean warm water. I keep mine at 79-81 f. Almond leaves seem to help their overall health. Do you have anything just below the water line for him to rest on? They love having things to play with. My crowntail has a hot pink ping pong ball he pushes around. If he’s biting himself it’s important to provide other interests. There are ring toys for them to go through. Just always do the pantyhose test on everything you put in his tank. A 5 gallon tank may help as well.
As for salt. Since you have the plant in there baths would be best. But, netting him may cause more stress. If you want to put him in the 1 gallon hospital tank you can treat the tank. Using half the normal dose. Do a 25% water change after 4 days. But don’t add more salt.
If I’m missing something let me know.

Pics are on the other thread. Coradee can we merge these two threads. The other is Sick Betta. Thank you.

Hi and thank you for your response! =)

His tank is 78° with a heater, water parameters within healthy limits. He has 3 moss balls that he likes to sleep between but I can buy him something to rest on by the surface. I also found a ring online so I’ll order that as well (along with the almond leaves.)

We are limited for space but I might be able to fit a 5 gallon on top of the bookshelf.

His fins are so bad right now!! They are worse every day. I’m still not sure of the exact cause. He was so happy and healthy for the first couple of months then all of a sudden he looked terrible literally overnight. I can’t figure it out. Otherwise he is very active and has a great appetite.

Constance
 

Gypsy13

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Can you post a new pic? It may be time for a stronger treatment.

Edit to ask questions. Constance what do the edges of the fins look like? Is there any redness at the base of the fins/tail? Are you seeing anything fuzzy anywhere?
 
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E1378339-617D-4729-B9B7-3B1E9FAD59EF.jpeg Hi Gypsy

This is the newest pic - just taken now. =\ I don’t see anything fuzzy anywhere or any redness.

I just now tested his water before I did a water change. Ammonia has been showing up from the beginning at somewhere between 0 and .25, and it always reads .25 right out of the tap. Today it appeared slightly higher - between .25 and .50 (hard to tell.)

I removed all of the pothos last week in case they were ripping his tail. Maybe they were absorbing some ammonia and the biofilter needs to catch up?

I’ll attach pics of latest test results too. Thank you!!
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If there’s no redness or fuzzy stuff let’s concentrate on partial water changes every few days. 30-50%. Keep the bottom super clean. Also when you do another test hold the tube up next to a white surface in a well lighted area. Preferably one with a daylight bulb. When you can get the SeaChem free ammonia test kit. It will tell you if your test for ammonia is reading ammonia or ammonium. If the only plants you have in the tank now are the moss balls and the anubia you can get away with adding 1/2 teaspoon dissolved aquarium salt to the main tank. Don’t add more until after the third water change. Then dose one last time. Keep doing those water changes. What is the ph btw? Please see if you can find a five gallon. And do give him something high to rest on. Toys (make sure there’s no holes he could get stuck in) interact with him a lot. If the fins don’t start improving please please jump in and let us know. Use the almond leaves too.
 
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Sounds like a plan. I’m ordering a 5 gallon today, leaves for tannin, a suction cup leaf to sleep on at the surface, a coconut shell cave that’s smooth, and a ring to swim through. I would like to add more plants but I don’t want substrate (or very little) so I’m going to see what I can find.

I believe the ph was 7 last time I checked and stayed pretty steady. I do water changes with extra filter tubing (using gravity by keeping the water bucket lower than the tank) and I make sure to vacuum the bottom with it really well - something I may not have been doing thoroughly enough in the beginning.

Thanks!!
 
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