I got my little guy Lord Dexter about 6 months ago mostly on a whim. I never read up on keeping bettas; I just went on the advice of a friend who was a betta owner. In the last couple weeks Dex has really gone downhill and tonight I started looking to see if I could help... I've since found that there's a lot wrong with how I'm caring for him. I'm going to buy him a decent-sized tank and some salt in the next week, but I'm broke until my next paycheck comes in the mail and in the meantime I want to do whatever I can to get him back to health.
Here is how he's been kept so far:
- 1-quart tank, changed 100% roughly once a week (sometimes less often)
- I don't have a thermometer, but I'm sure his water temp has been fluctuating more than he'd like, tending to be on the cold side (it recently got warm enough here to open the windows; so figure it's probably been around high 60s)
- Fed once a day, fairly carelessly (more than he'll eat... the uneaten food just floats or sinks until the next cleaning)
Lately, he's been really lethargic, unresponsive, and his tail and top and bottom fins are constantly tightly clenched. He acts very "butt-heavy" (his tail is almost always pointed down) and it seems to be a lot of effort for him to reach the top of the tank for air. Also, maybe most alarmingly, his back end (near the base of the tail) seems red and irritated... perhaps swollen, but it's hard to tell. Tonight I used his net to clear off some of the old food at the top of his tank, and there was a filmy coating on top of the water even though I just changed it two days ago.
Here are the steps I know for a fact I need to take
- Bigger tank
- More frequent water changes
- Warmer environment
I'm also going to fast him for a day or two... After my reading I'm certain that I've been overfeeding him.
Is there anything else that anyone recommends for immediate treatment? I feel like a monster for leaving him in such a tiny, cold, filthy environment all the time.... I really hope he makes it until I can get him a decent home.
Hello and welcome to FishForum. A 2.5 gallon or larger is usually what is reccommended. I would definitely get him a larger tank as soon as possible. Definitely get him a heater. I think a larger tank, a heater and clean water will go a long way toward making your fish better. In a 2 1/2 gallon or smaller, change the water once a week and yes, salt would help. Feed him a pellet food as his staple diet. You can also feed him freeze dried or frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp or daphnia as a once or twice a week treat. Most people fast their bettas one day a week to help clean out their digestive system. Hope this helps.
Hmmm.... unfortunately symptoms like this can sometimes mean he's past the point of return.
For best chances of survival I would try to keep the stress level down. The red irritated area could be signs of an infection. You might want to consider treating with an antibiotic. I've used pimafix or maracyn effectively before. Be careful treating and I would avoid an overdose.
Do you have a test kit? I would test for ammonia because it builds up fast in small tanks. Also, when you do water changes, use filtered water if possible. I buy refill water at the grocery store for $.30 cents per gallon... It's reverse osmosis water which is much purer than tap... I'm not an expert on bettas, so I can't really give you any advice with regard to salt... I had a betta that lived for 2 years and I did add a small amount of salt every once in a while. I kept it in a 2 qt tank on a small shelf above my 29 gallon and the heat from the lights (both from the 29g and from the small, built-in light) kept it around 75 degrees, which was normally higher than the ambient room temp. Sometimes I suppose we have to get creative with these things It actually died when I added it to my larger tank... It was a peaceful tetra tank and while I'm not sure who the culprit was, it was FAST... I would say acclimate your betta alone in a larger tank. I don't think mine had the strength to fend off attacks...
Oh, and I agree with dramaqueens feeding advice...
I don't have a test kit (I'll buy one as soon as I can) so I don't know about the ammonia content of the water, but considering how long he usually goes between changes it wouldn't surprise me.
How often can I change the water before it's causing him more harm than good? If cleaning his tank every day will keep the ammonia content down and help him get better, I'm happy to do it. Then again, getting scooped up in a net can't be good for the stress level, either, I imagine...
I gave his tank a good thorough cleaning and in the process, noticed that mold had grown on his decorations :( I threw away his live bamboo (I'll get him a new one) and scrubbed down his plastic trees really thoroughly. I also put him near a space heater (not on top of it or anything; I'm not gonna bake him... but now he's in a part of the room that's "comfortable, but warm" instead of "comfortable, but chilly").
He definitely seems to have perked up since warming him up. He's spending basically all of his time at the surface (gasping for air, but at least he's moving instead of just laying on the bottom of the tank).
I really hope he pulls through, though I'm preparing for the worst. If nothing else, at least I'll be more prepared next time :/
now now now, no one thinks your a bad dad, you are a beginner and beginners are easy prey for petstore myths.
1 quart bowl, sorry but I say that breeders are the only ones who should use this size of a bowl, I reccomend at least 1 gallon. If you wish to house him in this size of a container, change ALL the water every 3 days.
Overfeeding, feed only what your fish can eat in 2 minusets, bettas should only get 3 peices of food once a day, remove uneaten food.
Cold temps, because bowls and jars are horrible at holding a temperature, you must keep the room warm, the temp should never drop below 70F.
correcting these mistakes,
Get a cheap 1 gallon jar from walmart, I've made these homes for my pet bettas and it is a great home, add some gravel and a live plant, you could also buy a tank, I reccomend a tank that's larger than 2.5 gallons, since they can be heated.
If housing him in a jar, do a complete water change every week, in a tank you can get away with monthly water changes.
Keep him in a warm area of the house, if in a tank use a small heater.
have a gentle filter, to keep him nice and clean.
keepin him alive
add bettafix, this wont hurt your betta but will help, salt will perk him up, aquarium salt! bettas ARE NOT pretzels.