I'm new here, but I wanted to tell this story...
I'd been treating this betta for some sort of tail rot or infection. No one could even diagnose it properly because it was up by the body of the fish rather than on the ends of the tail like normal tail rot. It didn't look like a parasite or any other common fungus and he had no other issues, so we treated for tail rot.
Over the past 3 days he'd steadily gotten worse. He was somewhere between 3 and 4 years old and he was blind. I had to hand-feed his pellets to him one at a time every night. But these past few days he'd been turning his head away from me, like a kid who refuses to eat off the spoon.
Today I noticed he was having trouble breathing through his gills. He positioned himself in the roots of his plant so that he could reach the surface easily and I noticed him breathing from the surface a lot. I left for work and when I came home I noticed that he was laying on his side and breathing very shallow. I watched him for a minute and decided to try to help him up to the surface. I lifted him up, he took one big breath and went limp.
I tried moving water over his gills to revive him (I watched my dad do this once with a big bass) but it didn't help. His eyes had already glossed over. :'( I realize that he was "just" a fish, but like I said, I'd had him for almost 4 years now. After hand-feeding a fish pellets every night you get a little attached...
This was him in his prime:
And during a water change:
Coming up for air:
I have only one other betta, but he is much younger (probably about 2 now). I got him for free because he was having problems swimming. He was floating belly-up in his cup at the store and I asked the lady if I could have him and try to save him. She said sure since all the other customers thought he was dead and he'd been like that for a while. I took him home and set him up in a vase with live plant and aerated things regularly. I fed him under the water so he wouldn't gulp more air and after about a week, things righted themselves. That was about a year ago and he's been happy, healthy, and bubble-nest-making ever since. :) Since his brother just passed, I'm going to get him a bigger tank (there's room for it on the shelf now) and plant more plants in there with him and hopefully add some ghost shrimp. I'm looking forward to posting pictures in the tank thread. At least some good will come of this sad, sad day. :(