Urgent! Betta lethargic, cloudy eyes, laboured breathing


I have been trying everything I can to help my fish and don't know what to do. I would love any advice? His name is Nero and he is a male betta and almost 5 months old.

What is the water volume of the tank? 5 gallons
How long has the tank been running? 9 days
Does it have a filter? Yes
Does it have a heater? Yes
What is the water temperature?79
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) 1x male betta

How often do you change the water? Ordinarily every other week.
How much of the water do you change? 25%
What do you use to treat your water? API Stress Zyme
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? Both

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish?
What do you use to test the water? Strips, but as of today the API Master Freshwater Kit
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.
Ammonia: 0 ppm
Nitrite: 0 ppm
Nitrate: ~0 ppm (I don't think its exactly at 0)
pH: 7.6

How often do you feed your fish? Every other day (he had had some constipation/bloating due to overfeeding in March, so I want to avoid this!)
How much do you feed your fish? As many pellets as he can eat in about three minutes (usually about 4).
What brand of food do you feed your fish? Aqueon (He hasnt liked the healthier brands I've given him, I'm looking for a better one.)
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods?

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? Since February.
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? 5 days ago.
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? Lethargic on bottom of tank, labored breathing, possibly cloudy eyes. Previously was burrowing in gravel a lot.
Have you started any treatment for the illness? Yes, I tried partial water changes (+adding in Seachem Stability) to start, then API General Cure, Indian Almond Leaf and now Maracyn 2.
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? Not that I could see.
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? See above symptoms. He was a high energy betta before.

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)

Last week, I transferred my betta Nero to a new 5 gallon tank that I had let cycle with Seachem Stability and ornaments from his previous tank for 48+ hours prior to adding him in. About three days later, he started to become lethargic and lay at the bottom of the tank. I performed a 30% water change (and another the next two evenings, adding Stability in with each) with no improvement. He stopped eating as well. Since he had been showing some signs of burrowing in the gravel quite often in his last tank, I treated him for parasites with General Cure. Still no improvement, so I performed another partial water change after waiting over 24 hours and also added the carbon back into the filter/left him alone treatment-wise for two days to see if that helped at all (it didn't).

Today, I finally acquired a better test kit (I had been using strips only), thinking it might reveal something useful, but ammonia and nitrites were both 0 ppm. Nitrate was not quite zero. pH was neutral and temperature of the tank has been steady at 78.

Currently, he is breathing slowly now and not moving. Looking at him earlier tonight, I didn't see much of anything on close inspection, except perhaps that his eyes were a bit cloudy (I don't know this 100% though, since the Indian Almond Leaf I had added briefly impacted the clarity of the water somewhat, and he is black/has some grey/silver areas around his face to begin with). No swelling or any growths/discolorations on his scales/fins. As a last ditch effort, I added a packet of Maracyn 2 (after taking the carbon out again) a few hours ago, since bacterial infection seems like the next likely cause besides parasites and nitrite/ammonia poisoning. But if anything, now he looks worse.

I realize I have probably done too much...I just have wanted so much to help Nero. I was so excited for him to enjoy his new , larger tank and plants, and had thought after losing my last betta to a hemorrhagic bacterial infection that I had learned how to be a half-decent betta owner.

Please, please let me know if you have any ideas about how to help him. :(


48 Hours is really not long enough to be fully cycled even with ornaments from a previous aquarium.

To maintain the original good chemistry you needed to transfer the filter media across...even if it does not look like it will fit in the new filter...place the old filter into the new aquarium and leave it for a week or more so that the new filter running in tandem can collect bacteria from the old one.

Essentially you are now doing a new cycle with a fish in the aquarium....this thread will explain what you now need to do

Fish In Nitrogen Cycle Simplified | Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle Forum | 414083
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