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Old 12-06-2012, 07:02 PM   #1 
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Unhappy Please Help Me Help My Poor Betta, Cecil (Sick and Not Eating for 5 weeks)

My betta fish, Cecil, has been sick and refusing to eat for about 5 weeks now. I've scoured the internet to diagnose his condition and tried every suggestion I could find. I am desperate to help Cecil. I just want him to get better, and I feel awful because he looks so terrible. I tried to provide all the recommended information below. . .

Here's the info:
Cecil lives in a 5 Gallon Fluval Chi Tank, which includes a filter. He has a water heater that I keep set to 78 degrees. He lives alone and there are no aeration stones etc. in his tank. I do have an assortment of plastic plants, glass rocks, a betta leaf hammock, and a plastic japanese hut (his very favorite that he won't go in anymore).

Back when he was eating I would feed him freezer-dried blood worms. I've since tried pellets and flakes with shrimp brine bits in them. He won't eat anything. I used to feed him twice a day, 5-8 bloodworms/as much as he could eat in a few minutes. I always remove all uneaten food immediately.

I keep Cece's tank pristine. I always use aquarium salts, water dechlorinizer, and a bacteria supplement. I vacuum and change ~50% of the water at least once a week. I also change the filter pad once a month. When he got sick, I changed all the water and cleaned all of his plants and rocks and gave him a new filter pad. I've also completely changed everything a second time after administering a cycle of tetracycline, which they recommended at the pet store but made his tank red and disgusting.

Water Parameters
I did a little dip stick test that didn't seem too reliable, but everything came out normal. I keep an ammonia and ph monitor on his tank at all times. Sometimes the ph level looks to be between 7.0-7.4, but the monitor is hard to read, so I can't be sure.

Symptoms and Treatment
First, I first noticed that Cecil's gils appeared whitish and slightly inflamed. I changed his water and the next day he had fin rot, most severely on his front right fin. I immediately went out to get medicine and administered the tetracycline, which was a dissolving powder. It turned to red algae and gross residue in his tank, but I followed the instructions and he went through a full course of the antibiotics. His fins haven't rotted anymore, but he hasn't improved. I started a new antibiotic recently (tetra lifeguard all-in-one), after a full water change and several days in between. He hasn't gotten any better thus far. He now appears emaciated, occasionally curved, and miserable, and he seems to open his mouth rapidly and breathe heavily at the water's surface (I thought this was gil disease). He floats at the top of the tank in a corner all day/night, sometimes by his heater, sometimes on his leaf hammock. In the past few days, he has started floating essentially horizontal to the ground at the top of the water, as if he's dead, but he perks up and moves a bit when I come over to see him. (Note: He doesn't have any visible external parasites).

I got Cecil in February 2012, and he was just a cute, baby betta fish. I love my Cecil fish, and I would really appreciate it if anyone can help me at all!!
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Old 12-06-2012, 07:30 PM   #2 
Sena Hansler
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How about internal parasites? Has he pooped?

I would give epsom salt a try, it is a lot gentler which will be best since he has already been through two different medication rounds. 1-3 teaspoons per gallon, pre-dissolved. Since he was only eating freeze dried I bet he hasn't pooped? Is he at all bloated?
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:49 PM   #3 
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Hi Sena,

Thanks for the tip -- I will try epsom salts tonight. Should I just put it in once or repeat it every few days?

I thought it might be internal parasites at first, which is why I tried the antibiotics. He hasn't produced any waste in weeks as far as I know, which I had attributed to not eating. I don't think he looks bloated at all really. I would say he looks pretty skinny.
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:54 PM   #4 
Sena Hansler
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I would do it every couple days, after a water change re-add the salt you take out. A picture might help a little :)
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Old 12-07-2012, 12:56 PM   #5 
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You may want to stop using the AQ salt with every water change.

Prolonged use of salt for bettas will damage their organs.

  • How much salt were you adding with every WC?
  • Also you don't need to change your filter media every month.
  • Just rinse the media once a month in the water you siphon out of the tank.
  • Changing to NEW filter media every month can create little ammonia spikes.
  • Highly recommend buying a API Master water test kit instead of using those strips.
  1. So your betta has ONLY eaten freeze dried bloodworms since February 2012?
  2. What brand pellets and flakes did you try to feed C?
  3. What brand water conditioner are you using?
  4. Like Sena mentioned, a clear focused photo of Cecil would be very helpful.
  • His current health issues could have been caused by an improper diet. Younger bettas need proper foods to grow.

My bettas get 2-3 freeze dried blood worms maybe once every 2-3 weeks. Their diets consists of high quality pellets, live insects & they hunt snails too.
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Old 12-07-2012, 02:29 PM   #6 
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Pictures of Cecil

I tried to get clear photos... I took one close up of his body and the other of him floating sideways on the surface. :( Thanks for your replies!

As for aquarium salts, I didn't know they were bad for bettas; I usually put in 1tsp/5gallons and only when I changed the water completely or sometimes a little when I vacuumed up all the salt with a partial water change. I hope I didn't cause any permanent damage! I read online it was a good thing to do to keep your betta healthy.

W.r.t. food, Cecil ate pellets for approx. a month when I got him, but then he stopped eating, so at the advice of the pet store employee, I got him bloodworms. I think the real issue was that I didn't have a heater when I first bought him, as I didn't realize it was necessary until he stopped eating. He's never eaten any of the pellets or flakes I bought recently, but the pellets are Aqueon Betta Food, and the flakes are Tetra BettaMin Tropical Medley.

Oh, and the water conditioner is also Aqueon.

Thanks again! I so appreciate your help. I feel as if I've tried to do the right things, but perhaps the pet store employees telling me what to do were misinformed, so I'm glad to learn what exactly constitutes proper Betta care.
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Old 12-07-2012, 03:50 PM   #7 
Sena Hansler
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Betta fish are an exception to that "salt added" rule. Sure it works for platys, mollies, etc, but any fish with a labryinth organ or has no scales (Cories, snails, shrimp) should avoid due to possible damage and death.

To me his fins look chewed - which can be from stress.

Right now start doing 50% water changes to transition him to only fresh water.

A major question: did you just sprinkle the salt in or did you dissolve it before adding? Adding salt directly can cause more problems - including burns.
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Old 12-07-2012, 04:47 PM   #8 
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Oh no!

I just sprinkled the aquarium salt in undissolved. I thought it said on the carton that it didn't dissolve?!

As for the Epsom salts, I couldn't find any at the grocery store last night, so I'm going to a different one after work today. Do I have to dissolve that that salt in too?? Should I put it in hot water to accomplish that??

Is there anything else I can do besides a 50% water change to help Cecil de-stress? I was thinking of using bottled spring water in case my tap water is poor. Is that recommended? Or perhaps Brita filtered water? I didn't mention that about 4 months ago I moved with Cecil from Pasadena to San Francisco, and the water here is not pleasant to drink unfiltered, so maybe it's not good for him either?
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Old 12-07-2012, 07:51 PM   #9 
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Check the hammock and make sure it's not rusting.. It tends to do that and the rust becomes toxic over time..

You need to predissolve salts. I wouldn't use epsom and AQ at the same time. If he's not bloated, then AQ would be the first choice. You need to predissolve it. Just take a little cup of tank water, Dissolve the salt. Add it back in.

Even though he has a filter, with all the pad changing and medicine adding, the cycle has likely been hurt if not completely broken down. I'd get a drops test kit for Ammonia at the least, if not also nitrite and nitrate to monitor it all to make sure it's still stable. You should see 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrite and <20ppm nitrate.

Last edited by callistra; 12-07-2012 at 07:54 PM.
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:17 PM   #10 
Sena Hansler
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When a betta is sick I do daily water changes (50-100). Aquarium salt does dissolve... I use warm water and mix it, letting it cool, and dechlorinate it before adding to a fish's tank. Perhaps the overuse of AQ salt could have lead to this - but not 100% sure. All I know is when I first started out I fish's same thing - ended up making one sick and the other died :/
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float sideways, gils, not eating, rot, sick

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