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Old 04-12-2013, 04:35 AM   #1 
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Salt Lake City
Toddler "played" with Bettas

I'm desperate about more information about the treatment and survival of an injured Betta.
My daughter just turned 3, and has been helping me to take care of my fish tanks since she was able to walk, so all this came as a huge shock!
While I was cleaning one of my other tanks I had to move the Betta tank. Then when I went to get water in the bathroom my daughter went back into the living room. First I could hear her play with some blocks, and then it went quiet. Naturally I called her and she answered so I thought everything was ok, especially when I heated her giggle once. Just when I was ready to carry the fresh water back to living room she came over to me and told me not to go in the living room. Long story short, she had reached into the Betta tank and caught both of actually her Bettas and must have squeezed them in her hands. Mr Bubbles on the right was dead, and Bob the bubble builder was still alive but hardly moving. He just sat on a leave on top of the tank and was breathing heavily.
I called my husband who thank goodness was on his way home already. He took care of the dead Mr Bubbles and then had a good heart to heart with our daughter.
In the meanwhile I watched Bob, and then moved him into a smaller bowel where it was easier for him to stay on top and breath. In his tank he sometimes just floated to the bottom, and had almost no strength to come up.
I added salt to the water, a small heater, and have been watching him over night. He isn't active at all and just stays very close to the surface. Last night he did not use any of his fins, today his pectoral fins are going constantly.
I did go to a fish store today to try to get more info on what to do, they just offered to euthanize him for us. While I don't want him to suffer I still don't want them to just kill him without at least having tried to heal him.
I'm so torn between my options, and my emotions just take over.
It's been over 36 hrs and there isn't a lot of change. Like I said his pectoral fins are going, and it looked like he was stretching his pelvis fins a few times, but he is just sitting still on his leave and breathing a bit faster than normal. An hour ago he did eat 2 small blood worms, but left the 3rd one just floating about 1/2 inch away from his mouth. I can not see any obvious injuries. He looks normal, except of maybe his gill covers and maybe even beard are a bit wider open. And he lets all of his fins just hang a bit more.
Are there any over the counter pain meds I could ad to his water?
What would his fins or body look like if anything was broken, and can breaks heal?
He is such a trouper. I can see that he is looking at me when I'm close, and that he has not lost his will to live.
How else can I help him besides keeping it quiet, and warm and change the salted water every day?
Are there studies on how to treat pain in a fish? (Besides the one where fish were given Morphine and recovered faster.)
Thank you in advance for your help.
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Old 04-12-2013, 07:30 AM   #2 
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Several researchers published a study (in Dec 2012), saying that fish lack pain receptors. They believe that fish do NOT feel pain the way that humans do.

They compared the number of nerve fibers, which send pain signals to the brain, in both humans and fish. They found that:
  • Nerves in human skin contain 83% of the specific fibers that send pain signals to the brain.
  • Rainbow trout only have 5% of these fibers.
  • Sharks and rays have 0% of them.
The authors say this indicates that sharks and rays probably cannot feel pain at all, and that it is "highly unlikely" for fish to feel pain. They conclude that it was advantageous for fish to NOT feel pain, since it led to better survival in their aquatic environment.

Here is the more detailed wording, if you want to see it:

"Nociceptors are sensory receptors that respond to potentially damaging stimuli by sending nerve signals to the spinal cord and brain.....

A typical human cutaneous nerve contains 83% C type trauma receptors (the type responsible for excruciating pain in humans)....

Rainbow trout on the other hand have only around 5% C type fibres, while sharks and rays have 0%. The absence of C type fibres indicates that signalling leading to pain perception is likely to be impossible for sharks and rays, and the low numbers (5% C fibres) suggest this is also highly unlikely for fish...

Rose et al (2013) concluded that sharks and bony fish have survived well in an evolutionary sense without the full range of nociception typical of humans or other mammals, probably because it would otherwise be disadvantageous to their survival in the aquatic environment."


Last edited by LittleBlueFishlets; 04-12-2013 at 07:45 AM.
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Old 04-12-2013, 07:42 AM   #3 
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Next, regarding treatment....

Aquarium salt is generally used for external issues. Do you see anything externally wrong with him? (Abrasions, etc) If not, I would discontinue the aquarium salt. It contains sodium, which makes the kidneys have to work extra hard. (And the last thing the little guy needs is more stress on his internal organs.) I'm not sure how to tell if a fish has broken bones. They're so tiny that it would probably be difficult to see anything. I'm more inclined to think that it would be internal organs that were injured.

Keep him in a dark room, or put a towel or sheet over his tank. Fish tend to become calmer in darker locations. Also, he needs lots of warm, clean water. (About 80F would be great.)

Vitachem may help. It's a vitamin supplement that can be added directly to water. If he does have internal damage, it may help his body heal.

If someone with more medical experience doesn't reply on this thread soon, you can send a message to Sakura8, Olympia, Oldfishlady or Callistra. They may be able to give you advice. (Try Sakura8 and Olympia first. The others haven't been online recently.)

Sorry, can't think of anything else. Just warm, clean water, a darkened tank, and perhaps some Vitachem. I do think that his interest in food is a good thing. Hopefully, he'll be OK in a few days....

Last edited by LittleBlueFishlets; 04-12-2013 at 07:51 AM.
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Old 04-12-2013, 07:44 AM   #4 
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Location: Alberta, Canada
Fill this out-

What size is your tank?
What temperature is your tank?
Does your tank have a filter?
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration?
Is your tank heated?
What tank mates does your betta fish live with?

What type of food do you feed your betta fish?
How often do you feed your betta fish?

How often do you perform a water change?
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change?
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change?

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?


Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?
How has your betta fish's behavior changed?
When did you start noticing the symptoms?
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how?
Does your fish have any history of being ill?
How old is your fish (approximately)?

I have to say, this is the precise reason that I am the only person allowed around my fish tank... To much risk.
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Old 04-12-2013, 08:21 AM   #5 
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Location: Hampton, Virginia
Firefin, not the same situation, but when I first tried to put a sorority together 4 of the females kept attack 1. The poor baby kept hiding and couldn't even come out to eat without being attacked. I tried to let them work it out, but after awhile I couldn't take it anymore. This poor fish kept trying to fit herself between the rocks & tank wall. After I got her in her own home I noticed that she was bent really tight into a S shape and she was using her pectoral fins only. I think she got her back broke. She's been in her own home for over a month now & is doing fine. She never totally unbent, she's still in a S shape, but not as tight & she uses all her other fins as well now too. I hope Bob has a good recovery for you and your little girl. Don't be to hard on yourself, I have a 3 yr old too and know what they can be like.
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Old 04-12-2013, 09:34 AM   #6 
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If he is still eating, that is a good sign. I would keep him in a dark location and watch him closely. He may just be stressed and needs time to readjust. DOes it look like he is having an issue trying to swim - like he has no sense of balance if he moves? If so, she may of damaged his swim bladder.

f someone with more medical experience doesn't reply on this thread soon, you can send a message to Sakura8, Olympia, Oldfishlady or Callistra. They may be able to give you advice. (Try Sakura8 and Olympia first. The others haven't been online recently.)
OFL left the site from what I have heard.

Last edited by Tikibirds; 04-12-2013 at 09:38 AM.
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Old 04-12-2013, 05:16 PM   #7 
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Sorry for your fishy loss :( Kids are very curious, heh. I'm not really sure anything can be done if bones are broken, or if any internal organs were harmed, but I would just keep him comfortable with some aquarium salt and very clean water. Try to see if he will eat or can eat, try soaking it in some garlic juice to make it more appealing. I have no experience with this but these are my suggestions...good luck and I hope he pulls through!
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Old 04-13-2013, 04:50 AM   #8 
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Thank you all for your advice!

Thank you guys so much for your help, the very kind advice, and your time for posting. I followed your advice, and was very busy today fitting some shopping into my schedule.
Just a short update. Bob is still alive. There hasn't been much of a change. Bob is still not moving a lot, even though I know now that he is able to move if he wants to. He is still staying close to the surface, and keeps doing these fin stretchings, and moves his pectoral fins. It seems like his breathing is more calm now, and a bit slower.
I bought him a 2.5 gallon tank today with a small filter and heater. I did not want to put him back in his old tank, I'm simply still too scared that he might sink to the bottom and can't get back up for air. He showed me that he can swim, but if he would be for any reason a bit weaker who knows what could happen. Btw, if it weren't for the hanging fins and that he stays close to the surface you wouldn't suspect that anything happened. His back is straight, and when I put my hand in he swam normal. He also sits straight up, not leaning or anything.
I user some of the gravel, because of the bacteria, out of his 10 gallon to set this sick tank up for him. Water temp was at 79F, and has been rising a degree about every 1.5 hrs. Also added a small piece of used driftwood to lower the Ph. I got Melafix, health drops, vitamin drops and garlic guard, but he ate a bloodworm without it. He is now in my bedroom where it's dark and quiet.
I tried to give him what ever you guys and I could think of, now it's up to him. He is a very strong willed fish for sure though, I can see that he wants to live. It's been over 48 hrs, he doesn't eat pellets, but when we got him he didn't eat for a week either, only after I got him bloodworms he started to eat.

There is 1 more thing I wonder about. It was a clear divider in his 10 gallon, and Bob and Mr Bubbles were able to see each other through the plants. Bob seemed like he actually enjoyed it when we got Mr Bubbles back then. He would get excited and flash his beard every once in a while, and even started to build bubble nests. He hadn't done that when he was alone. Could it be that he misses Mr Bubbles, and that's a part of the reason why his fins are just hanging? Is he maybe depressed over being alone again?
While he is still weak I really don't want to get another Betta, but do you guys think Bettas actually enjoy the company of another Betta? Even if it is just through a glass wall.
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Old 04-13-2013, 08:50 AM   #9 
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I wouldn't use the Melafix. Medications that end with "fix" contain oils, and there's a lot of controversy on this forum about whether this can coat the labyrinth, making it difficult for them to breath. Since there is so much controversy, I prefer to avoid it until it's determined whether this is an issue or not.

Everything else that you're doing looks good though. Glad to hear his breathing seems to be better. Also, the fact that he can swim and is eating is all good.

I wouldn't add another betta into his tank right now. A new fish will cause stress since males are territorial, and he will see the new fish as a potential rival. This will stress him out, and he doesn't need more stress right now.

Also, I don't feel that fish get "depressed." Some bettas sometimes like the company of other fish. But in nature, they are solitary fish. It's not "necessary" to give them companions. Some fish do like having them though. For example, I have two fish in adjacent tanks that interact all day long.

I'd say to give him time to recover now. Then, once he's fully OK again, if you want to add a new betta next door, that would be OK. (Make sure to quarantine the newcomer though!)
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Old 04-13-2013, 09:10 AM   #10 
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Location: Newcastle Australia
A reason he might not like to swim but is using his pectorals is because using his tail fin requires him to wriggle his body, which is likely strained and sore. A lack of nerve ending on the skin means a bite wont hurt, but no creature would lack internal nerves such as the ones inside their muscles as these are the ones that yell at you when you try to use a strained or damaged one. If a fish lacked these they would swim until the entire tendon snapped.
My own fish uses what I call 'helicopter mode' when doing something that requires fine swimming, holding his body still and using only his rapidly spinning pecs to maneuver into tight gaps. Frankly I think bettas have problems swimming with such massive fins in any case. Often when I see mine trying to turn around on his leaf hammock he doesn't manage to get a full spin and faceplants it, then pretends he did no such thing.

Give him some time, I have faith he will be swimming strong soon

Last edited by Taeanna; 04-13-2013 at 09:15 AM.
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