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Old 12-31-2011, 10:22 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Urgent help please! Son's new fish looks to be dying!

He just picked out a fish from Walmart today (and named her Chewy). At the time it seemed to be the healthiest of the bunch besides some fin damage. At home before we had moved it into its new tank it went downhill and I'm worried he's going to wake up to a dead betta.

Please help! His first pet only living a couple hours is going to be hard on a four year old!

- UPDATE, she's swimming around a bit now and going to the surface for air and not gasping as much, but I definitely think the stuff coming off her is something more than a slime coat. It is hard to get a good picture of it.

What size is your tank? 5 gallon, but the symptoms started when he was in a tiny plastic cup
What temperature is your tank? 81 F
Does your tank have a filter? yes
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? no
Is your tank heated? yes
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? none

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? the fish came with some little trial packet of something, but we bought (and haven't yet fed) Omega One betta pellets
How often do you feed your betta fish? so far, just once


How often do you perform a water change? so far only transferred from small container to 5 gal tank
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? n/a
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? I added Stress Coat to the new tank's water

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters? don't have a test kit yet


Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? she's got a lot of white haze on her (maybe slime coat?)
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? was actively swimming before, now stays on bottom of tank with head pointed down, gills moving rapidly and mouth opening and closing rapidly
When did you start noticing the symptoms? tonight
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? no
Does your fish have any history of being ill? no idea
How old is your fish (approximately)? no idea

Last edited by lreilly; 12-31-2011 at 10:41 PM.
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Old 12-31-2011, 11:00 PM   #2 
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AnothEr update - she's down at the bottom again like the photo. I read through the info posts again and it seems to be a fungal or bacterial infection. I almost picked up aquarium salts today too, but decided to hold off and get it at another store with better prices. The store opensnat 10am tomorrow, I really hope she makes it until then.

How long can a betta survive an untreated infection?

Once I start the salts and daily 100% water changes tomorrow, when can I hope to see improvement?

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Old 01-01-2012, 01:37 AM   #3 
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: North Carolina
Oh, what a poor girl. She's a pretty one too. First, I really hope a more experienced member comes to the rescue. I will try to help as much as I can.
Besides her fin problem it definitely looks like she has some fungle thing going on. Did her body look like this when you bought her? To me it almost looks like she got in a fight with another fish. Does she appear to have any missing scales? If so then don't use AQ salt. It can Burn scaless fish. If she doesn't appear to have missing scales, I think AQ salt is your best bet.

About your son. If she does make it through the night I think it would be best for your son not to see her. You could say that she is sick and your giving her medicine but that, she needs to be alone and get some rest. This way, if she does die your son won't be right there watching.
Good luck, I really hope she makes it. :)

Last edited by ArcticRain; 01-01-2012 at 01:45 AM.
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Old 01-01-2012, 03:47 AM   #4 
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Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
I have no advice as I usually use medication on these kind of cases (Mardel Maracyn) but I can say you should bring the temps down in the tank. If it is columnaris, it likes heat and will spread quicker in higher temps. Sadly, many people are not on at this hour with the knowledge you need for your fish. I have my strong points with fish but this kind of stuff isn't it :(

I do have to agree though, maybe not letting your son see her would be best, just in case she doesn't pull through unless you want to have "that talk" with him. I really really hate hate hate walmart selling these fish :(
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Old 01-01-2012, 04:37 AM   #5 
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Location: Vancouver, WA
Hi and welcome to the forum! The female is beautiful and I'm so sorry she's sick. I hope she pulls through, and if not well I hope you are willing to try again. It's terrible Walmart sells bettas, I agree with Pitluvs.

It DOES look like your betta has bacterial infection to me. They look very near death and it's scary, but I had one I misdiagnosed and wrongly treated him and he lived for a few weeks like that.

I righted him in just a few days by combining maracyn 1 and maracyn 2 along with 1/tsp of aquarium salt per gallon. If you can, I would lower the heat to 78 or so to slow down the bacterial growth. If you have a 1 or 2 gallon container, I would transfer her there- it will make treating her easier because with these medications and a sick fish you will need to change the water 100% every day. If you only have the 5 gallon, I'd do a 75% change every day with full redosing of the medications. In my experience petsmart has the cheapest fish meds, most petcos in my area have stopped keeping meds. You could check local fish stores as well.

I hope she makes it. You did everything right in terms of setup and tank for her it sounds like. Good luck to you.
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Old 01-01-2012, 04:57 AM   #6 
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Thank you for the replies and advice everyone, unfortunately Chewy didn't make it through the night :(

I also hate the way Walmart treats their fish. We live practically in the middle of no-where and there are no local pet stores, no petcos, no petsmarts, just walmart. I was hesitant about buying one from Walmart but my son was so excited and I felt bad for the fish.

I had been looking at the beautiful bettas on aquabid, but didnt want to pay that much AND shipping for his first pet. Now I think I'm happy to not to go through this again. But I'll try to hide the new fish when it arrives until it seems healthy and to be adjusting well from the trip.

I had a great betta growing up. We got him at a nice local fish store that knew what they were doing and he lived for 5 years! He was never sick once so I didn't really know what we were getting into with a fish from walmart. I think it is great that some of you rescue the walmart fish, I'd want to too if I didn't have little ones to worry about.

My son will be up soon and we'll have to talk about it. He might be ok with it, I hope. He's not unfamiliar with animals dying (we have chickens and earlier this year tried to save some orphaned baby mice but they were too young to pull through) but this is the first time something he identifies as HIS, who he named, has passed on.
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Old 01-01-2012, 05:00 AM   #7 
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Location: Vancouver, WA
I'm sorry... it might be good to have those meds on hand in case anything does happen in the future with another fish if you want to try again. I'm really sorry for your loss and I hope your son does ok with it tomorrow.
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Old 01-01-2012, 09:03 AM   #8 
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: Shangdong, China
Poor Chewie :(

Aquabid has pretty fish but shipping them here is out of the question, so almost all my bettas are from walmart and a few from petco. Even at a petstore, most employees are clueless when it comes to bettas.

If you and your boy want to give it another try, here is my guide for picking a walmart or Petco fish:

1) Look for one that is Alert, not necessarly active (they are in a tiny cup, so they probably won;t be too active). If they respond to you picking up their cup, that's good. And sometimes when you look at them in their cup, they respond by giving "the look". I can't really explain "the look" but when one gives it to you, you will know

2) avoid bettas with rapid gill/mouth movement. I'm not really sure what causes it, probably ammonia poisioning, but gasping for air and rapid gill movement is not a good thing.

3) Check their body. avoid ones with white salt like dots (ick) and white fuzzies (columnaris or fungus).

4) clamped fins - most likely from bad water conditions in their cup but it can also be a sympthom of something more serious.

5) Pineconning - if looked at from the top, the bettas scales stick out like a pine cone. It can be a sign of Dropsy which is usually fatal.

6) Ripped or missing fins - probably fin rot which is easy to cure via aquarium salt (NOT table salt). However sometimes it is a sympthom of something more serious.

Well, that's about it for my fish buying guide.

Even if you had maracyn 2, there was still a high probability that the fish would of died. Columnaris usually kills quickly but there is a strain of it that kills more slowly.

As greentea said, it is good to have certain meds on hand, just in case. Maracyn and Maracyn 2, if you can find it. I had to order mine off ebay. Also aquarium salt and plain old epsom salt are also good to have on hand.
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Old 01-01-2012, 03:04 PM   #9 
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it does look like it was columnarious, sorry you couldn't save her.
I lost three girls to that just this past week, it can be hard to treat, and the heat just makes it grow like a weed.
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