Rollercoaster w/fin rot & disappearing fins despite meds, AQ salt, & pristine water
I have had my sweet betta, Tom, since January of this year, and it has been a roller coaster with the condition of his rear fin ever since I brought him home from PetSmart. I think he already had some fin rot coming home from the store, and I have beaten it a few times only to have it either be very resilient or to see his rear fin mysteriously continue to dissolve without any signs of it at all. Tom is a very happy fish; he is spunky and fun-loving, so there haven't been any problems with his behavior. I have been keeping a betta consistently for about 5-6 years, so I am experienced in how to care for them. Thus, I feel like I have done all that I know to do and do not know WHAT is going on. I appreciate any help you can give me!
Here are my answers to the questions:
What size is your tank? 1 gallon. Please do not make judgmental comments about his living space; I live in a dorm room with very limited space, but I am in the process of upgrading to a 5-gallon tank, and his water conditions are pristine.
What temperature is your tank? constant 78-80 degrees
Does your tank have a filter? No
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? It used to when I first got Tom in January, but I took it out (it was an undergravel aeration system) because Tom did not like the current that it caused in the water.
Is your tank heated? Yes; I have a mini heater that keeps his water in the 78-80 degree range.
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? None
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? He used to eat TetraBetta pellets with occasional freeze-dried bloodworms as a snack, but I recently switched to Omega One Betta Buffet Pellets due to the things I have read about the poor nutrition in the TetraBetta food.
How often do you feed your betta fish? On 6 days out of the week I feed him 3 pellets every morning and maybe bloodworm a couple times a week. On the 7th day he fasts.
How often do you perform a water change? I do partial water changes every other day and a 100% water change once per week. This is what I read was recommended for 1 gallon tanks.
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? Approx 30-50%, depending on if the fin rot has reappeared or not.
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Betta water conditioner, 1/2 tsp AQ salt, and Fish Protector (stress-reducer and slime coat additive with vitamin B12 and Echinacea). If the ammonia level is any higher than 0 after I complete a water change, I will add a few drops of Tetra AmmoniaSafe.
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?
Alkalinity: N/A, but please note that for some reason the water from my tap is slightly acidic. It used to cause Tom's water to have a pH of about 5.8-6.0, so about a month ago I started mixing the tap water with Deer Park spring water, which has now brought his water's pH up to 7.0. I did this because I was still fighting this issue with his rear fin, and I thought that maybe the water was too acidic for his fins. I have made this water mixture change gradually over 3-4 weeks.
Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? His rear fin is the main problem. When I first got him in January, it started having slightly jagged edges but without any sign of fin rot or other diseases, so I changed his plant to a silk one (the first one was plastic) thinking that maybe it was tearing his fins. I thought that helped, but then he DID come down with fin rot. So I did water changes everyday until I got rid of it. Then it came back a while later despite my routine water changes and I could not get rid of it, so I used Maracyn Two to clear it up. That seemed to take care of it, but ever since January his rear fin has been slowly dissolving, even when there isn't any sign of fin rot (like right now). His lower and upper fins have regrowth, but his back fin just won't heal; whenever I see some regrowth starting on it, it just ends up falling off and/or I'll see a new split or pinhole in his rear tail, which then falls off.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? It hasn't; he is always swimming around, begging for food, playing with his plant, being sweet, and flaring up at me.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? A couple of weeks after I first got him from PetSmart in January.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? Yes, I have tried various things ever since this roller coaster first started in January (refer to previously answered questions for how I have been treating him up until now).
Does your fish have any history of being ill? Yes, fin rot that has come, gone away, come back, been resilient, and gone away again. No signs of fin rot right now, but for some reason his rear fin is still dissolving away.
How old is your fish (approximately)? I got him in January of this year, so maybe right around 1 year.
The picture in my avatar is of Tom when I first got him. Below are some pics that I took of his fins just today:
Thanks for your reply! I was thinking that that may be a possibility. I've heard that tailbiting is relatively rare, but that could still be possible. Hopefully we can all put our heads together on this one and figure out what I could do!
The first thing I will say is if someone wants to be judgemental then they may as well not bother posting here, as you have already stated your boy's water is pristine (if I were a betta I would want to live in Thomas's tank) sounds like your water changes are plenty!!!
moving onto the illness, knowing nitrate and nitrite would help, does your local pet store test peoples water?If they do then I would advise you to get the water tested for nitrate or nitrite. It sounds to me like it is some VERY persistant fin rot, how long have you been (on-off) treating him for fin rot?It may be that your boy's fin rot may have become "immune" or "resistant" to that paticular treatment you are using if you have been using it for a long time, so the first thing I would say is try a different treatment once the "safe period" for the last treatment is done.Other than that I don't know.
Thank you for your insight, BeckyFish! I just stated what I did because I know that living space can be a sensitive topic, and I wanted to avoid any misinterpretation of his living quarters Anywho, I will definitely look into testing the nitrite and nitrate levels in the water - that is definitely something that could be contributing to this mystery! Thanks again
Hi again! After doing some more research, I think my Tommy Boy may be a tail biter. I have found some natural treatments to help de-stress him (if stress is the problem). I am also going to test the nitrate and nitrite levels of his water to see if that is having an effect on all of this. I have a feeling that he may improve after I move him to a 5-gallon tank since that will give him some more room as well as more things to investigate and play with. I also think that having much less water changes in the 5-gallon tank will help lower his stress too.
Thanks for the help, everyone! I'll keep you updated about my sweet Tommy.
How often do you perform a water change? I do partial water changes every other day and a 100% water change once per week. This is what I read was recommended for 1 gallon tanks
Some people say daily water changes, others on here say you still only need to do one 50% and one 100% a week.
Anyways, yeah - looks like tail biting to me too. It MAY be because of the every other day water change is stressing him out or he may be bored in his 1 gallon. Do you have plants or cave for him to explore?
They claim tail biting is rare but I have 3 tail biters at the moment - 2 VT and one HM.
You make great points, Tikibirds! I agree that the frequent water changes may be stressing him out, so I am going to try out some other things that people recommend regarding how often to change his water and what percentage to change at a time (like what you stated). As you said, I also think that he may be bored with the 1 gallon tank. I do currently have a mini terra cotta pot on its side for him to explore, along with a silk plant and a betta bed leaf hammock that he loves.
In addition, I will be bringing back his new bigger tank early next week, so then I will start the fishless cycling before I introduce him to his new abode.