I've been a little stressed lately due to multiple reasons, one of which being that my betta, Kaze, seems to be showing signs of old age. This is a natural process that all living things go through but as I also have a huge habit of second-guessing myself I've been wondering if I am wrong.
I've had Kaze for nearly 11 months, he was fully grown when I bought him so I assume he was at least a year old. Off that assumption I imagine he is at least 2 years of age now. He has encountered his fair share of aquarium changes in his time and despite me ensuring his aquarium was cycled there is always a possibility that these changes shortened his life span.
Alarm bells started going off recently after I upgraded him to a 27 litre aquarium (fully cycled). I had a large piece of driftwood in there that I later realized caused him some fin damage, it has since been removed and replaced with lots of live plants.
My concern is that Kaze has slowed down a lot, his fins haven't healed at all but they haven't shown any signs whatsoever of fin rot. His eyes are beginning to cloud over and he spends the vast majority of his time sat in the back corner of his aquarium at the top. I can find no signs of disease despite his symptoms so I have been putting this down to old age. As mentioned before, I second-guess myself a LOT so I'm looking for some additional advice as to what may be causing this change in behaviour.
I've sent messages to multiple friends but as I still get the occasional bout of NTBS (New to Bettas Syndrome... or not so New to Bettas Syndrome now) I wanted to make a post about it.
What size is your tank? 27 litres/7 gallons
What temperature is your tank? 80 degrees F (thermometer at front of aquarium, heater at back)
Does your tank have a filter? Yes, it is cycled
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? I suppose so, the filter is powered by an air pump but the bubble stream causes next to no surface movement
Is your tank heated? Yes
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? Snails: Malaysian trumpet, ramshorn, bladder and a single assassin snail
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? A varied diet consisting of Hikari BioGold pellets (before they changed ingredients), high-protein flakes, freeze-dried bloodworms, daphnia, tubifex
How often do you feed your betta fish? Twice a day, 3 pellets each time (small pellets) with occasional meal swapped for bloodworms, daphnia or tubifex
How often do you perform a water change? Once a week, aquarium is cycled
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 50% with substrate and mulm siphon
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? API StressCoat+
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters? Tested before water change
Hardness: Unknown but I believe it to be hard
Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? Fins deteriorated without signs of fin rot (the edges are clean although very tatty), eyes gradually clouding (it's minor right now but is worsening), colours very slightly faded, scales aren't as smooth as they used to be.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? He's resting a lot more than he used to, doesn't seem to see me sometimes, still comes to the front of the tank when he finally notices me and does his food wiggle dance, he eats plenty but has difficulty seeing pellets on occasion, he also seems to have to try harder to break them down (he ends up carrying them around for a few seconds before he can swallow them). Mistakes little snails for food far more often than he ever used to. Doesn't explore his entire aquarium like he used to (he prefers to sit in the back left corner just above the heater behind some plants and it takes him a long while to come to the front).
When did you start noticing the symptoms? Roughly two to three weeks ago, they've been occurring and increasing in intensity gradually. I put the fin damage down to the old piece of driftwood as there are no signs of fin rot and it doesn't look like tail biting.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? I haven't, I've been putting this down to old age but have monitored all symptoms for signs of distress that indicate disease... haven't found anything that correlates to a disease.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? No.
How old is your fish (approximately)? I'm not entirely certain, I would assume he was over a year old when I bought him (he hasn't grown since and was fairly large upon purchase) and I've had him for nearly 11 months so I assume he is at least 2 years old.
Regarding his fins: Kaze used to be a tail biter. This behaviour stopped for a long while but it is possible that it has come back, perhaps due to his age and lethargy he is frustrated by his fins as his tank is larger than it used to be and he has to swim further to be fed -- I don't know, this is just speculation. The damage to his fins looks consistent with them tearing on something rather than fin biting, though, and I cannot find anything in the tank that is causing this. Due to the issue with the piece of driftwood in the aquarium before, I've been extremely careful with what goes into the tank. It is possible that the tatty damage was caused by the driftwood and Kaze has started to bite his fins again.
I have just done my weekly water change. Kaze was nosing around a little bit while I sorted the water out but he still seems slow, I would say he is subdued but I do not think that term is correct. He is now back in his corner.
Here is a photograph I took of him last week, you can clearly see the tail damage (I feel awful):
The lighting for this image isn't particularly good and you can't see his slight eye clouding nor the washed out colour of his face. He has also lost a chunk of his anal fin, I think I'm actually putting that one down to fin biting as it's a very clean slice.
He tries to show interest in people when they sit on my bed (his tank is at the end of my bed) but it doesn't last for long and he then retreats back to his corner.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this huge post.