Hello - I found this website after doing a serious amount of research for my poor little rescued Betta whom I named Vegas. (In loving memory of the last fish I had when I was all of 9 years old, a gold fish - that was actually silver, named Nevada.)
For starters, I am not a fish person (or wasn't really until I met this little guy!) I have 4 cats, so a fish in the home sounded kinda crazy to me... But when someone came to my door with him and said he'd been abandoned, I took him in. His living conditions were less than what I considered proper - a plastic UTZ Pretzel container with all of 3 1/2 maybe 4 inches of water. It was filthy, it was foggy.
So I'm going to go over every detail of what I have done and what has occurred. Please bare with me, I think this guys life is at stake.
I went out and bought a 3 gallon acrylic tank, a small filter, a heater, some betta food (New Life Spectrum Betta Formula Semi-Floating Pellets), Top Fin Betta Water Conditioner, and a book on Betta's.
I pretty much figured out right away that Petco, PetSmart, and my local fish store were not going to be any help to me at all. The managers at both big chains told me to put him in a tiny bowl with a plant and he'd thrive. The manager at the local fish store said that anything bigger than a 1 gallon bowl might shock and kill the Betta, also that they prefer cold water so I don't need a heater. Ugh!
I read the book from cover to cover, fixed up the tank with fresh water (conditioned), set up the filter, set the heat to stay between 79 and 81 degrees and even though the book said to let the tank cycle I had no choice but to put the guy in 24 hours later. For one, the water in the UTZ container smelled really fowl, secondly there wasn't a lid on the container and my cats where pretty curious about this new found family member. So for his safety, I took the chance.
Initially he thrived, he was swimming around and was super interactive. I was feeding him 3 pellets of food in the am. He came up to me whenever I walked over and hung out in the corner where he could see me cooking in the kitchen. I think he was blowing bubble nests (which I read is a sign of happiness?!)I know this is getting long, so I'm going to jump ahead about 2 weeks.
I started to feel kinda bad for this guy swimming in circles and seeming so lonely and bored. My boyfriend suggested maybe giving him a bigger tank to have more room to swim around. So I bought a 10 gallon tank, and did the same deal filling it with conditioned water, heating it to the right temp, etc. I once again got a little ahead of myself and put him in this tank after about 24hrs of letting the filter run. This time simply because I was excited about his new home and wanted him to get in their and enjoy that space.
Let me give you all info on the new tank:
10 gallon glass tank with a film placed on the outside of the tank to block light from the back end and a top light with a day/night option.
INSIDE OF TANK:
About 2.5 inches of gravel
1 live plant
1 Betta Bulb (live plant)
1 fake plastic plant
A porcelain piggy bank with a sign saying WELCOME TO LAS VEGAS - that I bought online from a site that said it was safe for aquariums.
1 horizontal glass heater
1 filter that hangs off the back of the tank (I had to make a barrier with a plastic bottle because the current was too strong for little man to swim around, so it displaces the water and softens the current)
About 2 weeks in the new tank I noticed the live plant was getting slimy so I took it out and tossed it. The Betta Bulb sprouted and turned slimy as well so I took it out and tossed it too. I then bought a new tank decoration from PetSmart and 3 more plastic plants, as well as a floating Betta Log. He really seemed to like the new additions, he swam in and out of the log, would rest in the plants, and also sleep behind the new decoration in the evenings. Vegas and I really had a good routine, and we seemed like things were going pretty decent. This brings us to about Mid-May, so Vegas was about 6 wks into his journey with me and my lack of knowledge.
So here is where the decline starts: near the end of May I saw that Vegas had a small circular hole at the lower tip of his back fin. Within days the hole opened and it was what appeared as a small tear. Then I noticed a thinning spot on the lower part of his top fin. It became a hole within a few more days and I new I had a problem. I am unsure about this but I noticed that his bottom fin had red streaks (they may have been there from the very start, but I don't remember them.) It didn't look inflamed, it just looked like a part of his coloring. But I'm unsure about whether they play a part in all of this or not. Other than these two things, the holes and the possible red streaks in his fins he was totally normal.
So I was reading in my book and online, around the beginning of June my conclusion was Fin Rot, which I initially was going to treat with some liquid that PetSmart recommended to me (Shame, I thought I'd learned my lesson.) But after googling it, I found that it apparently can actually kill Betta's because it creates a film on the top of the water and they can't get through for air. So I returned that and then purchased Maracyn 1 & 2 after reading up a bit on it. I used them both together for 5 days per the instructions on the package. When I started the medication the top fin hole was a long thin strip maybe a little longer than a 1/2in & another one was beginning on the lower fin in the middle. By day 3 the hole in the top fin had closed up & the thinning patch on the back fin was gone. He seemed a bit depressed because by day 5 the water was pretty murky & he wasn't swimming around too much, but I did the full 5 days and thought everything was fine.
I had previously been doing a 25-30% water change about every 2 weeks or so. His water always looks pretty clean and I figured that since it's one little fish in a 10gl tank that this was okay. I also took in a water sample to have it tested at PetSmart and was told it was in good condition with nothing showing up to be concerned about, they recommended the aquarium salt to help Vegas "in general", whatever that means. (I know that I probably shouldn't trust them, but I don't really know where to start when it comes to monitoring water conditions... So I just figured hopefully they do know at least this portion of advice that I'm taking from them..) I did a 50% water change 2 days after I finished the medications and added a tablespoon of aquarium salt, and did another one about 3 days later to start clearing up his water with another 2 teaspoons of aquarium salt. I put his filter back in after the second water change and we seemed like we were on the track to healthy success.
I dropped his food to two pellets in the am in fear of over feeding. For about another week everything seemed good, but then near the end of June I noticed he was hiding a lot. He wouldn't come to the front of the tank except for in the morning to eat. He was staying in the back corner and seemed to be kind of losing his vibrant coloring. I started up my research once again, but there were just so many possibilities. :"( I really felt in over my head. I thought maybe he wasn't happy with his filter and the light current, so I turned the filter off for 2 days and decided to fast him for 3 days thinking maybe it was constipation.
Last week I came home late in the evening and he was suspended mid way in his tank right below his log. He wouldn't move and I really thought he was dead. I was so upset and ran to get my boyfriend. I really wanted to give this poor guy a chance but now he looked dead. I was in tears and my boyfriend came and told me he tapped on the glass and Vegas darted in a circle very erratically and then dropped to the bottom in this U shape seemingly limp, BUT STILL ALIVE! I went and looked and he was alive, if you can call it that. He was sideways at the bottom and just looked so miserable. He looked at me so sad and I know he was just begging me not to give up on him.
The next day (I think the 1st of July) he was still at the bottom of the tank, it didn't seem like he was really able to get to the top for air. His color has continued to drain, he's almost grey from loss of color on his body, his fins are still blue, but much darker as opposed to the bright royal blue he was originally. I set-up the original 3 gallon tank with about 1 gallon of conditioned water and a teaspoon of aquarium salt and put the heater in there. It's shallow for him so he can swim easily to the top and get air. I fasted him for 3 days, and am now giving him 1 piece of food every other day, and changing his water every 3 days (100% change of 1 gallon conditioned water with 1 teaspoon aquarium salt). He is still eating, but seems very uninterested and it takes some urging to get him up to the top to eat. Basically he just lays sideways at the bottom of the tank only coming up for air when he has to. Sometimes his back end seems like it's floating up and he's almost face down tail up (vertical), other times he is back in that limp U shape, most the time he is semi-sideways on the bottom. I don't know what normal breathing is supposed to look like, but if I could describe it it seems like he is taking deep short breaths?! When he swims it's spastic and erratic, like he can't control where or how he is swimming. He doesn't move often, seems miserable. In the last two days he's been staying very close to the heater (his water is staying around 80 degrees).
I know that this is insanely long. If anyone has made it through the entire thread and has any advice at all.. I just want to try to save him. Any tips will help. I'm sure I've made several mistakes, but I am hoping that I can save him and learn how to care for him properly. Thank you in advance to anyone who has read this and can give any advice.