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Old 02-02-2013, 04:09 PM   #1 
NorthernLights
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Question Odyssey of Shredded Fins

Ok, so at this point Odysseus has been battling fin rot/tail biting/torn fins for over a month. I'll answer these in one post, then add a narrative in a reply so that this stays readable.

Housing
What size is your tank? 3 Gallon
What temperature is your tank? 80-81 Degrees F
Does your tank have a filter? Yes, Undergravel
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? Yes, air-stone driven UGF.
Is your tank heated? Yes, Hydor Theo 25 watt.
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? Marimo balls

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? NLS Betta or Omega One Betta Buffet Pellets, alternating weeks, although he seems to do better with OO.
How often do you feed your betta fish? 2x per day, usually 3 Omega One pellets each morning and night.

Maintenance
How often do you perform a water change? At least 2x/week.
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 90-100%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Prime and Stress Coat.

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters? Just changed water yesterday evening, but in general:

Ammonia:0
Nitrite:0
Nitrate:0
pH:8.0
Hardness:N/A, but the water here is VERY hard.
Alkalinity: N/A, but likely high (see Ph)

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? Fins keep tattering, shredding, occasionally he'll have taken maybe 2 bites from the tail. Redness near the shredded area. Dorsal fin never really got better.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? Hangs around the bottom of the tank more, and is a little lethargic.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? Evening of Jan 1, 2013
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? Aq Salt, Stress Coat, Kanaplex, frequent water changes.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? Not before this started.
How old is your fish (approximately)? Got him in November 2012, he seemed full grown then, so probably a bit over a year.
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Old 02-02-2013, 04:37 PM   #2 
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narrative

Ok, Odysseus had gotten a red wash in his tail a couple of weeks before this began, but I had not really thought about it. He suddenly developed tons of holes in his dorsal fin on the night of Jan 1, 2013. I had been bad about water changes, maybe doing 100% once per week up to 1 per 10 days, with a little Prime added every couple of days.

By the evening, his tail was shredding, and the dorsal holes had turned into tatters.

After 9 days of Aq Salt and Extra Stress Coat (I have always added a little along with the Prime when I did water changes), with 100% water changes every 3-4 days he showed basically no improvement. A couple of days after ending the salt treatment, my Kanaplex arrived, and I added that at the recommended dosage over 8 days (I forgot on the night of day 3, so he only got 3 doses). He did seem a bit better after that. One of my Zoo Med bamboos showed a spot of rust around that time and I took it out of the tank. After returning to just clean water with plenty of stress coat, he showed some nice real fin growth for a week or so. Last Sunday, he'd taken a couple of tail bites again so I added Aq Salt with the water change. I also realised his betta leaf hammock had rusted, and I pulled the wire from it and the other Zoo Med Bamboo that day, and returned both bamboos to the tank. I temporarily replaced his leaf with a silicone piece while I got a new unrusted leaf and pulled its wire before putting it in the tank.By Tuesday has was shredded at the edges again in very noticeable way. I did a full water change and went back to just lots of Stress Coat. The silk plants I ordered a while back in a fit of paranoia arrived and I put them in last night.

Many people have suggested he was tearing his fins on plastic plants, but all of them have been tested by me and are very soft, and I have always trimmed the sharp bits off in advance. He lived with plastic plants very happily for 3 weeks in a 1 gallon and several weeks in the 3 gallon with no issues, so this seemed unlikely to be the problem.
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Old 02-02-2013, 04:46 PM   #3 
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Picture Timeline

Here's picture timeline.

Picture 1 is his original finnage in his 1 gallon QT Tank.

Picture 2 a view of his 3 gallon when this started happening to give you an idea of the tank setup. His color was still bright blue, but the picture angle makes him look dark.

Picture 3 is a closer view of his fin damage on that day.

Picture 4 is a view of his new setup with silk plants.

Picture 5 shows his current dorsal fin damage.

Picture 6 shows his current tail damage.

For whatever reason, it is hard to show the redness around the shredding areas.
Attached Images
      
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:08 AM   #4 
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salt

The mystery of why the AqSalt seemed to make him worse may have been solved. According to a friend of mine (who has a PhD in Chemistry), if the water here is very hard, it will already contain a great deal of many varieties of salts. In essence, he gets overdosed on salt when AqSalt is added, even at 1 tsp/gallon.

He was shredded worse yesterday, this morning it looks like some of it might have healed up.

One thing I do notice since I changed his decor is that he seems more fearful now. He used to spend much more of his time on near my spot on the couch and watch me constantly. It used to be that when I opened the lid to feed him, he'd coming swimming over to his hammock (where I feed him) and stay there for quite a while (hoping for yet more food, I guess). Now he seems to dart away when my finger comes in the drop in the food, and he spends a lot less time on my side of the tank.

Is it possible that now that there's more decor, he's stressing because he's worried he'll find another fish invading his territory, carefully hidden among the leaves? Either that, or the number of times I have had to catch him to change the water has traumatized him.

I realize that there are a lot of fin rot questions here at the moment, but this whole thing is just so puzzling. I am wondering if another round of kanaplex is a good idea?
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:27 AM   #5 
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I would take your fishie off salt. A little bit of salt can induce skyrocketing TDS, Ive never approved of it anyway. after all, bettas are fresh water arent they?
My fish always shreds his fins, it's become such a normal phenomenon that I often ignore it. The water is clean and he never gets infections anyway...

Do invest in some Indian Almond leaves. Amy Lim off ebay is a highly recommended seller. if things are more urgent, there are US sellers as well.

i do interact with my own fish, but I never put him through the trauma of being removed for water changes. Animals (and even humans!) becomes paranoid when handled too much. try leaving him alone for a while and opt for back to back 90% water changes if you mist do a 100% water change.
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