Epsom salt helps to remove swelling/accumulation of fluids, whereas aquarium salt can actually intensify bloating. Bettas can be left in low doses of ES for many days without issue, but AQS can be an irritant, so it should never be used for longer than 12 days or so. AQS can stimulate healing of ripped tissues, help remove external parasites, etc. Maracyn is an antibiotic.
So I got home today and he seems worse, but it's hard to say for sure. The copper color on his head is going down his spine from his head. The eye growth is still just as bad and his breathing still seems labored. He hasn't eaten in nearly a week now, and that doesn't seem to be changing. Is he beyond hope and it's time to euthanize? I can't imagine doing it, and yet I can't imagine not doing it, either, if he's suffering and has no hope.
Hi Sharkbaits Sad Mommy and welcome to the forum. I'm so sorry Sharkbait is sick.
I see the white spot over his eye. It's possible the white spot is lymphocystis although I can't be 100% sure because the angle is a little funny and I can't tell for sure if it looks like a typical lympho cyst. However, I think the lympho is a secondary response to him simply being old. The average life span of a betta is 1-3 years old with most being around 2 years or so; it's not unheard of though to have bettas live as old as 5 years.
Just like with humans, as a betta ages, his immune system starts to weaken and he becomes more susceptible to diseases and illnesses. I think what may be happening is Sharkbait is succumbing to an illness that he was once young and healthy enough to fight off. That illness could be any number of things though and it's hard to pinpoint exactly what it might be without lab tests or really definitive symptoms.
Unfortunately, just like in humans, when a betta ages, the internal organs also begin to fail and that may be what is causing the puffiness you're seeing. His kidneys may be shutting down and as they shut down, they lose their ability to process fluid, causing it to back up and cause him to bloat. :(
If you did want to try to treat him, the medication I'd suggest is Seachem Kanaplex because of its ability to be easily absorbed via skin and gills; no other antibiotic absorbs so well into the system to target internal infections. However, the bad news is Kanaplex is hard to find and usually has to be ordered online. I'm not sure Sharkbait will last that long. :(
If you'd rather not try to mess with any medications at all and let him go naturally, then I'd suggest doing a water change and adding back in conditioned water without epsom salts. If he has trouble reaching the surface, you may want to try this: get a set of the small round Gladware containers at the grocery store. Fill one with tank water and float him in his tank so he stays warm. Every day, take another Gladware container and fill it with tank water and scoop him out with your fingers and into the new container. Alternate containers like this to keep the water clean.
I'm really sorry I can't offer more advice but I honestly think old age is playing a definite part in his decline. You've given him great care for 2.5 years and that's all a betta can ask for. :)
Hi Sharkbaits Sad Mommy, I'm also really sorry to hear about your boy. It's never fun when these things happen. I also agree with Sakura, although it doesn't look like Lympho to me personally but I know it can take on a few different looks. It does have the characteristic of the cauliflower bumps (bumps building on top of each other to look like a cauliflower) So it's all very possible, however it is a virus and there are no medications for viruses. He would have to fight it off himself, it's very contagious to other fish and usually doesn't lend itself to death but if he's already been compromised by his age first and foremost and possibly another disease (In one of the pictures it looks like he's got a little bit of Columnaris going on), he's going to have a difficult time fighting this off.
I see you've gotten the Maracyn and definitely keep trying with it, it may help him feel a little more comfortable but on the downside it does create more work for the liver and kidney's so if they're already failing then it won't help. And unfortunately there's no cure for failed organs.
I also agree though, KanaPlex is a great drug to have on hand since it is newer and is absorbed easier as Sakura explained. Euthanisia is completely up to you, I judge it for when the fish gives up. If he's still fighting then keep fighting right along side him but again, it's what you feel that he needs. It is a difficult decision and while I can tell you when I decided on euthanizing, I can't decide for you, that's something you have to think about.
On the note of food, 6 pellet's a day isn't that bad actually. My fish get around 6-12 pellets daily depending on their age of course. As fish age they don't need as much food because they don't use as much energy, so yes, 12 in one day might have been a bit much for him. But I gauge it by age rather than how many pellet's a day. Also if you do decide to continue fish keeping, I would look into some better quality pellets. Hikari used to be a pretty good brand but then they changed their formula to contain more fillers. Just like in cat and dog food, they use fillers in fish food to get more for their buck and basically be cheap. So the more fillers (Wheat, Corn and Soybean products) the worse the food is basically.
My favorite and fishes favorite food is New Life Spectrum, minimal filler's, especially in the first three ingredients which are the most important. Also it contains garlic and spirulina, garlic is an amazing food that helps to prevent internal parasites. It doesn't completely prevent, but it certainly helps! Also the higher quality pellet, the more you can feed them and it won't break your bank. The normal Betta or Small Fish formula is only around 4-5 dollars for a pretty good sized container! I have one that I've had for a year now and I'm just about 3/4 done with it but I've also fed a loooooot of fish! (at one point 32 betta's!) so for one or two fishy's, it's going to go a very long way and it's healthy for them too
Anyway, off my rant now >.< and sorry for the long message I know it's a lot to read.
Thank you so much for the replies and sorry for the late reply. I had report cards, progress reports, and awards to handle at school today, so I've been as busy as I get. He's still hanging on, though he's officially gone a week without eating. I found kanaplex today at an aquarium store and I found the garlic stuff that is supposed to make food tastier, too. I also ordered kanaplex online last night with overnight delivery, so more will arrive tomorrow. We know he probably won't make it, but we need to try what we can. I just hope we're not making his last days torture.
Thank you again for all the help! I'm hoping Sharkbait gets lucky and pulls through.
I've been treating him with Kanaplex and epsom salt, changing his water completely once a day. He's mostly laying on his side and he's still not eating. His poor little body seems to be turning more grey. The bulging/swelling is definitely less and the lump doesn't seem as big, but he's gone more than a week without eating, so I don't think he has much time left. Even my husband was crying a couple nights ago because he looks so sad and it feels so hopeless. I'm not sure if the swelling has gone down due to starvation or because of the medicine. Each night, I feel like I should use the clove oil to stop his suffering, but we can't go through with it because with the swelling down, we feel like there is the smallest glimmer of hope.
I'm sorry to hear this about Sharkbait. :( The decision to euthanize can only be made by you and your husband. There is no right or wrong decision here.
At this point, I feel that food has nothing to do with his lump being big or small so if you want to try and feed him, go ahead. It's more important now that he eat and keep his strength up and if he WILL eat, then that is a very encouraging sign.