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Old 12-30-2012, 12:53 AM   #1 
Sagat
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Is this a malnourished betta?

Housing
What size is your tank? Standard goldfish sized. Probably 1G
What temperature is your tank? Room temp
Does your tank have a filter? No
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Is your tank heated? No
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? None

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? HBH Betta Bites
How often do you feed your betta fish? 1 pellet / day

Maintenance

How often do you perform a water change? Unknown. Seems to be whenever the water gets low
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? Unknown. Seems to be whenever the water gets low
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Unknown. None that I'm aware of.

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?

Ammonia: 0.25 (most likely because some of the food he refuses drops into the crappy gravel in his bowl)
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 7.0
Hardness: 0

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I'm helping both of my sons babysit their classroom bettas for the holidays, but one of them has me puzzled, both in the way it looks and the way it acts. It's fins looks like a plakat to me, but it's super skinny (half the width of the other two bettas), has giant eyes, swims with difficulty because his tailfin seems too small and stares at food like its something from an alien planet.

When I tried placing it next to one of the other two bettas, it didn't react in any way shape or form (bands, flaring, polite acknowledgement).

My only guess right now is that he's severely malnourished, since they feed him 1 pellet a day, while his bottle says to feed him 3-4 pellets twice daily.

Any thoughts? I've tried bumping up his feeding to twice a day, but he refuses to eat more than his one pellet a day.
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Old 12-30-2012, 04:01 AM   #2 
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Oh wow that is not a good environment for a betta to be in, with such a small tank and no heater. The minimum for betta to thrive in is 2.5 gallons, and they always need a heater, the water needs to be 78-82 degrees. I can only imagine how cold his water is getting at night and on weekends. Is there any way you could pick up an inexpensive tank for him and the other little guy and little heaters to put in them?

He also needs to have frequent water changes, for a container that little it would have to be almost daily. For a 2.5 gal it would be every 4-5 days and for a 5 gal weekly. The new water will need to be the same temp as his tank and it needs to have dechorinator added to it. Make sure you don't warm his water up too fast if you do get a tank and a heater. Only a few degrees at a time otherwise it can shock their system, for example adding cold tap water is very bad. And water that's too cold on a daily basis can cause them to be lethargic and not feel well and be very prone to getting sick.

Yes, one pellet a day is definitely underfeeding him. I feed mine 2-3 pellets a day depending on the size of the betta. From his picture it looks like he has an advanced stage of fin rot from being too cold and not having his water changed nearly enough.

Betta tanks also always need to be covered because bettas like to jump and they are very good at it. I see that you have plastic over his tank :) but a better cover would be a piece of cardboard with some holes in it and a small weight on top or a screen of some sort. Bettas come to the surface to breathe the air so i'd lower his water level a little so there's room for air for him to come up and breathe, and then change the covering for right now. He needs to have some air getting under that plastic.

I'm not quite sure why they have bettas in the class without doing any research as to how they need to be kept, it would be a great way to teach the kids to care for a pet, by checking their water temp every day, changing the water every few days, measuring the water conditioner to add to the tank, taking turns feeding him etc. Is there any way you could get him a little setup and print out some info for the teacher from a website on how to care for a betta? Unfortunately people see bettas in little cups in the pet store or in bowls on tv and they think it's fine to keep a betta in those conditions until the betta gets sick and dies. :(

Last edited by Starfish1; 12-30-2012 at 04:09 AM.
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:21 PM   #3 
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I agree, it's a terrible environment. They really should have a goldfish, given the dynamics of the classroom, but it is what it is.

The plastic wrap actually has a gajillion holes poked in it, but I hadn't considered a piece of cardboard. The poor little guy is such a weak swimmer, I'd be very surprised if he could break the surface, let alone jump out.

Sadly, I think the reason for bettas is because they're the new goldfish. It doesn't help that most people assume their lifespan is normally 1-2 years.
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:27 PM   #4 
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Goldfish in 1 gallon bowls is a common misconception. Goldfish need very large tanks to thrive in; 1 gallons are FAR too small.

Bettas can do decently in a One gallon for a SHORT period of time. They should be bumped up for at least 2.5 gallons. Mini Bow tanks I believe have filters but what you'd want is the Petsmart 2.5 gallons with a mini heater. It's a mini version of a much larger tank, long and rectangular. In total it'll be about $30 for 1 two and a half gallon with a mini heater. Each betta should have one.

Write it off as a classroom donation and saving a few fishy lives.
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:41 PM   #5 
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For right now, until you can get him in a new setup if that is your plan, I would at least go out and get some water conditioner and a small glass thermometer so you can test how cold his water is. I would scoop him out in a small cup, like a solo cup, and clean out his bowl with some warm water along with the marbles or whatever they are using for substrate in his tank. Fill the bowl back up with water and put the amt of water conditioner equal to the size of the bowl. Sometimes it's only a few drops depending on what type you get. Prime is a pretty good choice. API Stress Coat may be good for him as well considering it seems like he has some pretty bad fin loss. I would slowly acclimate him back into the water, which means put a scoop or two of the new tank water in his cup every 5 minutes and work up to 15-30 minutes. Release him back into his bowl, and top off his water. Like Star said though...he needs about an inch at the top so he can come up for air. I would try to put him in the warmest room in your house as you possibly can as well, at least until you can get him a heater. He may perk up with some clean, conditioned water...but if it could be warmer..that would be better for him as well.
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:47 PM   #6 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Starfish1 View Post
I'm not quite sure why they have bettas in the class without doing any research as to how they need to be kept, it would be a great way to teach the kids to care for a pet, by checking their water temp every day, changing the water every few days, measuring the water conditioner to add to the tank, taking turns feeding him etc. Is there any way you could get him a little setup and print out some info for the teacher from a website on how to care for a betta? Unfortunately people see bettas in little cups in the pet store or in bowls on tv and they think it's fine to keep a betta in those conditions until the betta gets sick and dies. :(
I agree with you, starfish.


This poor guy. With how sick he looks, he definitely needs some help.
(Please note that I do get that you are looking after a classroom fish, these suggestions are what I would give any fish owner, and I Know that they involve spending money. I know that investing in a pet that isn't your own is sometimes a losing situation, but the poor little guy needs some TLC).

For the damaged/rotting fins, I would start with daily water changes adding in Aquarium Salt (I believe it's 1 teaspoon dissolved in warm water and added to the tank before the fish, make sure you let it sit so the temp is evened out), and some Stress Coat (API makes a great Stress Coat/water conditioner you can pick up a bottle for $5-$10 at a local Petsmart or PetCo). If you're feeling in any way invested, an added bacterial suppliment is also a good idea, because when you change the water daily you are not allowing for the tank to cycle and for good bacteria to build up. He may have popeye if his eyes are big, and depending on how severe it is you may have to medicate, but start with the fresh water and the stress coat and salt and wait a few days and see how he looks. If he gets worse, you may have to medicate him. Mardel makes some good medicinal products, as well as API. Maracyn-two I think would be your best bet. Remember to only give partial doses according to your tank (which is likely to be a .5 gallon or a 1 gallon, as you said). But you can probably hold off on the medication until you see whether he gets better or worse with the proper water changes and some stress coat and AQ salt.

If the betta is not eating, you can try tempting him with a frozen food. Either frozen glassworms (mosquito larvae) or brine shrimp are the best. Stay away from freeze-dried things like bloodworms. The frozen are the closest to live food you'll get, and that will help him get better, and have the best nutrients. Frozen food generally comes in blocks. The best way I've personally found is to have a little glass bottle with a lid (I use mini ketchup bottles, one for each type of food, respectively). Put one cube in and let it defrost until you can pick up the food with tweezers (gross, I know, make sure the tweezers aren't a favorite pair, and they are cleaned with hot water) and feed the fish a few morsels. Then, you can put a lid on the little container and put it back in the freezer. (this is what I found works best for me, anyways).

If you're feeling really invested, maybe you could buy the lil guy a small tank with a light (like an Aqueon Minibow. This time of year, they're usually on sale) or PetCo carries a $20 one-gallon fish tank (their brand) that has a light/lid, an undergravel filter (You probably can go without the filter if you're going daily changes). It also makes for a better home than a goldfish bowl, although I'm privy to suggest that a larger tank will make for a happier betta in the long run (though I would definitely leave that up to the owner, as that is quite an investment). And, if you so desired, a heater (make sure it is suitable for a small tank if you do, so that it isn't too powerful. A decent one may be around $15). Also, if the fish is looking droopy and depressed, any pet store will sell small plants for cheap. Silk plants are best for bettas aside from live plants, but you can get a plastic one, if you make sure it has no sharp edges, and it's fairly "soft." Sometimes a nice environment addition will help a sick betta feel a little less poopy. If he's having a hard time swimming, make sure to lower the water level a bit so its a shorter trip to the surface.

I'm sure there are things I'm not remembering right now, but these are what I would do for starters. And then like starfish1 said, you can help all of the classroom bettas by letting the teacher know the proper ways to care for her fish.

Last edited by Fishehgobloop; 12-30-2012 at 11:50 PM.
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:08 AM   #7 
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Sadly, he goes back to school on Weds, but I'll see what I can do for him in the time I have him.

I've got some stress coat that I'm using on my guy and some aquarium salt left over from when I had a late-night fin rot scare that I can put in his tank.

What's the best way to avoid transmitting all of his ailments to my tanks or my 6yr old's classroom betta? I have two syringes that I've been using to test water and siphon out food, which have since been replaced or cleaned with dish soap.

Thanks for the info on freeze-dried bloodworms. I bought a whole container of them and was feeding them to my betta as a treat, not realizing they were nutritionally deficient.
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:12 AM   #8 
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+1 to what everyone has already said

In addition, I suggest getting a care sheet about betta's with accurate info, I believe someone made one on this site not too long ago I'll look around for it.
Even if you cant get a new tank for him, I'd suggest atleast buying different better quality pellets for him, something like omega one or new life spectrum if its possible for you to get those. Also, amazon is selling 7.5 watt betta sticks for like $5 right now (plus shipping) I'd get one of those and a thermometer if you cant upgrade him to a bigger tank.

Also I'd suggest talking to the teacher when you give him/her the care sheet and letting them know that you would be willing to either re-home him or take him for yourself if the teacher doesnt want to put as much care into him as required. I know some people think "its just a fish" but they deserve good lives too!
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:20 AM   #9 
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The absolute best way to avoid any actual diseases from fish to fish is to have a separate set of "fish tools" (ie; net syringe, anything you would be putting in the sick betta's water) specifically for sick fish. And, don't under any circumstances use dish soap! No matter how rinsed you get anything you clean with soap, there is always a soap residue that can be harmful to fish. Hot water to rinse your tools every time you use them, and for tanks that have housed sick bettas, you can sanitize them by pouring hot water (like boiled on the stove hot) inside of them. You can do that to most anything you use for your fish, but be careful not to melt your plastics.

The freeze-dried bloodworms make excellent treats bor bettas, as they LOVE them, but you want to make sure your staple food for them is high in protein and nutrients to keep him healthy and well fed. The bloodworms just make the betta happy ;)
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:37 AM   #10 
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Ugh. Ok. Time to break out some boiling water. I had no idea how much more complicated it was to take care of multiple bettas, but better to find out now than when I end up with multiples of my own, right? :)

Unfortunately, re-homing isn't an option :( My wife put her foot down on getting more tanks when I suggested today that I wanted to get another tank.

As for water changes...
OFL recommended two water changes a week for a 1G tank without a filter. Are you recommending daily changes since he's sick so I can redose him with AQ salt?

I'm guessing I want him in fresh water before I send him back to school. I can put some of my spare water sprite or salvinia into the bowl to try and help mitigate the poor water quality and try and provide the little guy some comfort.
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