"Um, Ly..." the text message read, "Do U want a new fish?"
About 2 weeks before, I had started a search for a ten gallon tank. My first betta, Eugene, was doing really well. More than well. When my dad had first gave him as a gift to my daughter, he was a raggedy looking little red fish with fin rot. Today, he was a bubbly happy fish who loved attention and was more than beautiful.
I wanted to upgrade him from his little one gallon that he and his tank mate, a snail named Hiccup, were living in. Money was tight and a ten gallon set up seemed out of the picture. I took to craigslist and freecycle, but to no avail. I prayed to the Lord, asking Him to make a way, if it was His will, for me to somehow get another tank. In the meantime, I went ahead and bought a minibow 5 gallon, since it seemed my ten gallon prayer was going unanswered.
Just the night before the text, I had also mentioned to my husband that I would love another fish. But I didn't want to put another betta in the one gallon as a permanent home. It would have to wait. I sighed.
That morning, God answered both prayers in one shot.
It was my cousin Jenn, and she wanted me to take not only her sickly fish, but his ten gallon set up! I was more than pleased to oblige.
I asked her what kind of betta he was, but she didn't know, she just said his name was Rudy, and she had bought him 5 months ago for her older son but had recently had a baby. Rudy? I thought, I'm so changing your name. His tank was covered in algae and he looked grey. He was hiding the entire time behind some prickly fake plastic trees and looked like he was on the verge of death. I felt so sorry for him, but I didn't harbor any negative feelings towards my cousin for his state. In fact, I was proud that she was able to build the humility to ask for help, acknowledge that she hadn't been a good fish keeper and be generous enough to give him and his home away to me. I reassured her that he would be fine, but looking at him, I wasn't sure I could keep my promise.
For starters, his bladder and belly looked swollen. He was swimming sideways and sinking and his fins looked like he had rot going on, the membranes were being eaten away. On the way home, I decided what I would rename him
Sashimi, after the raw slices of fish served in Japanese restaurants.
At home, I did everything I could to clean the tank but not all the algae was getting cleaned out. My snail will make short work of this, I told myself as I scrubbed. I glanced back at Sashimi lying on his side in a jar of his dirty tank water as I cleaned, But will he even live long enough to make it into the tank? It then occurred to me that I would not return Sashimi to his ten gallon. It was massive, and the only place it provided him any place to hide was behind those two sad little plastic trees. He seemed panicked and frightened with all that space and no where to hide. But I knew my Eugene would be over the moon to have more space to swim and play. He was healthy and strong. A big tank would be perfect and Hiccup would have a feast!
For the first couple days, I kept Sashimi in the one gallon. I could already tell that with a smaller space and things to hide behind, he was more comfortable to rest and heal. Every day his betta fix and aquarium salt went in. Then, when I saw he had regained most of his control on his swimming, I moved him into the five gallon tank. I brought in a tank mate for him, an ivory mystery snail named Cannoli.
His SBD was an initial concern, and I would try to get him to pass whatever was built up in his intestines that might be causing constipation by showing him his reflection, but he had no reaction. I stopped, seeing how it would probably just stress him and decided he didn't feel well enough for that. Instead I fasted him every other day for a week to see if that would help.
Then, one morning, I woke up and saw an amazing sight - Sashimi was not only swimming with very good control, and he was flaring at his reflection in the dim light off his tank! I laid back down in bed with a smile on my face. He's feeling better, I thought.
Then, a few days later, after I put his new purple substrate in - he built a bubble nest and hasn't stopped building them since. He also isn't so skittish anymore, he eats well, and his SBD still gives him a little trouble, but he definately has improved tremendously since he came home. His body is now silver, flecks of blue scales, his tail is red and he's growing new membrane. I've included some before and after pictures.
Sashimi is doing alright today. He still wont let me watch him eat. I have to sneak around to see if he's nibbling at his food. His SBD is still acting up, though not as bad as when I first got him. What happened that you couldn't see him fully healed?