Surrendered Betta is really sick and I’m not sure what to do


Hello everyone. An acquaintance surrendered a Betta to me and he is not in good shape. I haven’t had any fish in a while but I busted out an old 10 gallon tank and did a setup with live plants. I Purchased a filter from another tank that already has the good bacteria and put it in this new tank. I needed to get this beta out of his previous home quickly so I am currently acclimating him in. He hasn’t ate because he is too weak to eat and I’m kind of at a loss here. I am not sure what to do.

What is the water volume of the tank?
10 gallons
How long has the tank been running?
24 hours
Does it have a filter?
Yes, a sponge filter
Does it have a heater?
What is the water temperature
78 degrees farenheight
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.)
1 Berta and a few live plants

How often do you change the water?
I just set it up
How much of the water do you change?
What do you use to treat your water?
Seachem prime
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water?
I haven’t done so yet but I vaccine when I do water changes

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish?
No, I needed to act fast so I just added the sponge filter with bacteria already on it.
What do you use to test the water?
The master test kit
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia:.25 ppm. I believe this is the ammonia from the tap water
Nitrite: idk

How often do you feed your fish?
I can’t feed him. He is too week to eat

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish?
A few days. He is at least 4 years old
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms?
My aquantance first noticed about 2 weeks ago
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms?
He is breathing but can’t swim.
Have you started any treatment for the illness?
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase?

Explain your emergency situation in detail.
(Please give a clear explanation of what is going on, include details from the beginning of the illness leading up to now)

this fish was in a pretty bad tank before. With algae growing all over the place and the water only 25 % full. There was no cycle and last water change was done months ago. It was a 5 gallon tank. I also would like to have an established cycle if this little guy makes it so I would need some way to keep this bacteria that I purchased from dying


Should take him out of the bag, theres no oxygen if the lid closes on the bag


He seems to be in a pretty rough state for sure. If he isn't able to swim at the moment you will likely want to either lower the water level or put him in something like a breeder box so that he is closer to the surface. This will make it so he doesn't have to waste as much energy trying to get to the surface to breath. You can fairly easily make your own breeder box with a plastic food storage container if need be- there should be lots of tutorials on youtube.

It's kind of difficult to tell what exactly is going on with the little guy unfortunately which is going to make treating him difficult. Just by looking at him I can see what looks to be some fin rot and we can assume that something is going on with his swim bladder.

How you go about treating him will depend a lot on what is available in your area and your comfort level with regards to medications. Many people on this forum are of the opinion that medication should be avoided unless absolutely necessary but I personally am much more open to the idea. If you're okay with the idea of using medications I would recommend looking into ones that can treat multiple things at a time such as furan2 or maracyn or maracyn tc. With medications its best to not mix them and instead to treat one at a time and follow instructions. Some such as melafix may require extra care if used as many people have reported it causing more harm than its worth specifically with bettas and other labyrinth fish.

Some non-medication treatments you may want to look into are aquarium salt baths or dips and the use of indian almond (catappa) leaves. The tannins released by the leaves are believed to have anti bacterial properties and the staining it causes in the water may aid in stress levels as the fish may feel more hidden. Salt baths and dips can do a number of things ranging from helping deal with parasites to helping heal wounds. I personally have used it with my past bettas to treat finrot with decent success. Keeping the water clean is also a major help- doing daily water changes of around 25% while hes healing in my experience can help speed it along. Many bettas can actually be cured of mild fin rot just by water changes alone.

In general some things you may want to consider just to get the little guy comfortable are adding in some fake plants with big leaves to rest on and hide behind. If you decide to move him into a breeder box or something similar you could put almond leaves directly in it to act as cover. If possible you may want to dim the lights or keep them off for the majority of the day to help with stress levels while he heals.

When he is strong enough to eat you may want to consider looking into something like garlic guard- its mostly used to get picky fish to eat but is believed to have some health benefits. I know there are some liquid vitamins such as vitachem that may be worth looking into as well. Both are used the same way- you put a small amount into something like a bottle cap and soak the food in it until it expands slightly, then feed it to the fish. This also can help prevent bloating and constipation as a bonus.

As for the actual cycling of the tank. This may be slightly controversial but I personally would actually not really bother cycling the tank at this stage. If the bacteria from the filter you got has already started it or has fully cycled it then that's fine, keep it going- but if it is just in the very beginning stages still I would stop it. My reasoning is that if hes too weak to eat at the moment he is likely going to have a hard time going through a fish-in cycle. Additionally while treating him you will likely be doing fairly frequent and sizable water changes for the next while which would either prolong or crash the cycling process all together. You would still probably want to test the parameters though, and remember that prime can be used to temporarily detoxify ammonia- it should explain how to do so on the bottle.

Apologies for this absolute novel I've written. I've tried to write down everything I can think of at the moment that could help. I really hope you're successful in your efforts to help him. I hope you know that if he doesn't make it the fact that you tried is enough. If I think of anything else that may help I'll be sure to mention it. Best of luck to the both of you.

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