Ray has been a dorm pet for my roommate and I for the last few months. I bought him from PetSmart and he was a bright blue, very active little fish. He lives by himself in a 2 gallon tank with a rock hut, a silk plant, and a mixture of river rocks and aquarium sand. The tank has a filter and a light but no heater, however the temperature of the water remains fairly constant around 75 degrees. Progressively over the last few months I have noticed that he has become less and less active and the color of his fins is getting more dull. Lately he just lays on the bottom of the tank all day and rarely comes up to greet me as he used to, even during feeding time.
My roommate and I both left town for an extended weekend (I was gone Thurs through Sun) and needed to leave him in my dorm alone. Before I left I had put a small portion of a weekend feeder food (Tetra Weekend Tropical Slow Release Feeder) and did a 1/4 tank water change. When I returned he was inside of his hut and none of the food had been eaten. The water in the tank also had a white film on the surface. Wanting to check on him to make sure he was okay I tried to get him to come out of his hut to eat some of his normal pellet food but he wouldn't budge. When I finally did get him to come out (by removing the hut) he began swimming around the tank and bumping into stuff, almost as if he didn't see it. Eventually he sank to the bottom of the tank and I thought his weird swimming was due to the change in light from taking away his hut. However after changing the water again to remove the film I tried feeding him and he wouldn't/couldn't eat. He would come to the surface and search for the food, as if he could smell it but he never managed to find it or eat any of it, like he couldn't see it. He seems extremely lethargic and weak, much more so than usually. His breathing is very slow and when he's not swimming he is completely motionless on the bottom of the tank. I don't know if I have any reason for concern but after about an hour he is still swimming blindly or not at all and has yet to eat any of his food. What should I do?
The weekend feeders tend to cause more problems than they're worth. It's hard to tell from your post but did you just get back today, how long has he been like this? How big of a water change did you do when you got back? I would do a 50%+ & I would get my water tested with a liquid water test to see what the ammonia, nitrites & nitrates are. Are you vacuuming really well? For future reference, a Betta can go without food for a long time, I wouldn't go more than 7 days by choice though. I would do daily water changes for a few days because the water quality was so bad to get it where it should be. If you just got back today I would watch him for the next couple of days & see if he improves from the clean water. I also suggest a heater to make sure his water stays a constant temp, preferably 78-80F.
Firstly, do a 100% change on the tank. Replace it with water as close to what it is now and condition it as normal, then acclimate him.
The feeding blocks are usually largely inadequate in nutrition for a betta, even though they're marketed for bettas. The chalky stuff they make them with is simply bad.
Anyway, Let him get used to the clean water over the next day. Offer food tomorrow, if he doesn't eat it then remove it. Try again the next day. A couple days without eating is not going to harm him but once he gets hungry you will know!
Good luck! Also, try to invest in a heater. Betta's need a steady temperature of 80F to live long and healthy lives.
Thanks so much for the advice everyone. However my poor betta hasn't improved. I have been changing half of the water in the tank every day all of this last week and attempting to feed him all week with no success. At this point he has lost nearly all of the color in his fins, which are starting to rot. He only gets up and swims around when I am disturbing him by pouring fresh water into his tank. Other than that he just lies on the bottom. Additionally his scales are starting to poke out from his body. I read that this could be dropsy and is caused by kidney failure. Sadly it doesn't look like the poor guy is going to make it but if anyone has any advice on what to do it would be greatly appreciated.
Lower the water in his tank so it easier for him to swim up to the surface, or put him in the smaller container. Do you have aquarium salt? Get aquarium salt. While you don't have aquarium salt change his water now. Do it daily 100% of the water daily. If you can, buy stress coat by API. When you change his wated make sure new water is the same temperature as his. You can put water conditioner and let water sit for 17-24 hrs this wat it will be the same temperature.
If you can't manage temperature you can acclimate him to new chemistry/temp by adding new water in his changing cup,while you have him in it with his original water. Do it for a 3 times and each time let him sit in that new water for 5 min.
Go by aquarium salt in the pet store. You will need to pre mix it in one gall jug for the right dosage or if you don't have one gall jug , just pre mix it in the cup. Do daily water changes 100%. If you can get stress coat.
Is there any new symptoms? He is not bloated right? Is his scales up? Is he darting around like you said before? Is he trying to rub his body on objects?
The best thing to do is lower the water level, if he is having problems getting to the surface, if it is dropsy, there isnt much else that can be done, however it could be bloating, he could of gorged on the feeder, he could be constipated, I would try some epsom salt in a hospital tank, for about 3-5 days, to see if there is any improvement, I hope it does help, also are you using a Water conditioner? that is a must, and sometimes if you keep trying to give him his pellets, he may eventually come around, if not, try a Frozen bloodworm..does he have cloudy eyes, he could be develping a cataract.
Sorry i didn't see that ftish wrote about scales I read first post mostly... Yes i agree with lelei, unfortunately if it dropsy it nothing can be done, and since he is sick also for long time too. You can lower the water you can try epsom salt. You can buy it i think in any pharmacy. Pre mix 3tsp/gall with daily water changes.
To sunlight: Ok I can buy aquarium salt and the API stress coat but I won't be able to have it for a week or so as I'd have to buy it online (as I'm currently stranded on campus with no car). I'm not sure if I understand your directions on changing the water exactly. He is by himself in a 2 gallon aquarium. I can decrease the amount of water in the aquarium if need be but only to half of the tank otherwise the filter won't be able to run. Should I remove the sand in his aquarium to help with 100% water changes? There are no new symptoms other than the ones I've described. He is no longer darting around and lies nearly motionless most of the time except for his breathing. No visible bloating, no rubbing. His scales are starting to poke up but haven't reached the extreme of some of the pictures of fish I've seen online with dropsy.