I went away for 4 days and left him in the care of my co-workers. When I left him he was good (not great but good). He had his appetite and personality and his fin rot seemed to be improving.
Upon my return he was back to laying at the bottom of the tank and hardly moving.
I had turned the filter off during his fin rot recovery and when I went to turn it back on he just couldn't handle the current. He doesn't have enough strength for it. He still eats. He seemed a bit bloated so I fasted him and fed him a pea last night.
I did a 100% water change on Monday since the water was "dirty" with poop upon my return. I added some aquarium salt after not having used any in over 1 week.
I am going to check his water parameters this morning and I will lower the water level so he doesn't have far to go to reach the surface but I don't know what else to do.
He is definitely kinda bent at times so I assume it's something to do with his swim bladder but could it be something else that I should be treating with medicine maybe?
lethargy/lying at the bottom are just signs his sick and since most diseases are caused by microbes, I think you might want to try a broad antimicrobe. sometimes aquarium salt doesn't work, especially if a fish is very stress and doesn't have a good immune system, which I think in your case is true.
you can buy Jungle's fungus clear, it s a broad antibacteria/fungus or API's triple sulfa. I think petsmart carries both, walmart carries the fungus clear. jungle's products are cheaper and a bit more gentle but you need to treat longer. I used to clear popeye on my fish, make sure if you use it, you use it for at least a week.
for a future tip, his tail doesn't look like it was completely caused by finrot, the edges are too straight. he might have either bitten his tail when he wasn't so sick or it got damaged in the filter intake. than the tail got infected, the egdes look like progressing finrot. I would try to get him a silk plant he can rest on. you might also want to wrap a mesh around the intake of your filter in the future. cover the tank with a towel, its a good way to reduce stress. :)
Is his buoyancy affected? Is he bloated? (I can't tell in the photos.)
Since you think the issue is with his swim bladder, I would discontinue the aquarium salt. It contains sodium, which can contribute the fluid retention, bloating and swim bladder issues.
Instead of aquarium salt, I would use Epsom salt. It reduces fluid retention and bloating, and acts as a laxative. It doesn't contain sodium, so it doesn't stress the kidneys, the way that aquarium salt does.
1) Put some of his tank water into a cup.
2) Add the same # of teaspoons of Epsom salt as you have gallons of water in the tank. Ie: If you currently have 1.5 gallons of water in the tank, add 1.5 teaspoons Epsom salt to the cup.
3) Stir until the salt is completely dissolved.
4) Add 1/4 of the Epsom salt solution to the tank.
5) Wait 15-30 minutes. Then add another 1/4 of the solution.
6) Repeat this two more times. In other words, you're adding 25% of the Epsom salt solution to the tank every 15-30 minutes. So the process should take from 1-2 hours to complete.
This will provide a dosage of 1 teaspoon Epsom salt per gallon.
Keep him in this dosage of Epsom salt for a few days. If you do a water change, add Epsom salt at the same dosage (1 tsp/gal).
If you don't have Epsom salt, it's available at supermarkets and pharmacies (but not pet/fish stores). Look for plain magnesium sulfate. (No dyes, additives or perfumes.)
Also, cover the top of the tank with plastic food wrap. This will increase the humidity level of the air, and make it easier for him to breathe. It also has a calming effect. Make sure you leave at least several inches of air for him to breathe. (I can see you're OK, since the tank is only partly filled.)
If you can find mosquito larvae for him, that would be great! This is their natural diet. It provides good nutrition, and will keep his bowels moving along. (Amazing the things we talk about on a public forum, huh?)
My fish also developed a tail biting habit (Out of loneliness when his companion died). He also lies on his side at the bottom of the tank, but this is something he does even when he's healthy. Sometimes they just start doing things like that out of the blue. My hospital tank is also 2.5 gallons. Here are some things I recommend based on my experience:
If natural remedies (Clean water and salt) aren't working, I'd recommend you try bettafix. It works quickly, is effective, and tends to calm the fish as well.
I have a whisper low-flow filter for my 2.5 gallon. It took my betta a little while to get used to it, but once he did he could swim in and out of the current easily, even with an injured tail fin. My particular filter includes bio and mechanical filtration, and aerates the water without the use of an air stone. This feature is good for the bettas when they are feeling weak or injured, because the extra oxygen in the water relieves them of the pressure to constantly get air from the surface. As with all filters, I had to remove the carbon when medicating with bettafix.
I have three leaf hammocks and a broad leaf fake plant in the tank, all safe for bettas. By arranging the leaves and the plant at different levels, my fish was able to rest at whatever depth he wanted, and could make it all the way to the top of the plant decoration by using the hammocks as though they were stairs. Although it may seem like the fish don't understand the arrangement at first, they will use it when they need to. This, and the aeration from my filter, eliminated the need for me to lower my water level.
Also, when feeding became a problem with my other fish, I added one of those food cubes you put in the water when you're going on a long vacation. This way, the fish can pick at it whenever they want, and it is meant to be in the water for a long period of time, unlike pellets and freeze-dried food.
I fasted him for a second time and gave him a pea. He's pooped green twice so I'd say that worked. I added some water back into the tank (which still has the aquarium salt from Monday in it) so I could turn the filter on. I feel like he needs the filter and I watched him closely and he seems stronger today and able to handle the current.
He's a bit more active today but still resting on the bottom of the tank.
I'm debating trying some Betta Fix. I'm hesitant b/c I don't want to do further harm but since he's only slightly improved I'm willing to give it a try I guess. I might stop by my local fish store and ask them for some advice.
This poor fish has really been put through the wringer the past month but he's a fighter.
Many people condemn Bettafix because they confuse it with Melafix, which is harmful to bettas. However, even though Bettafix is an excellent medication for the speedy recovery of physical wounds, some fish plain don't like medication, and psychological stress will stall physical recovery. The same could be said for salt if not used correctly (Although, when used correctly, it is a proven stress-reducing tonic).
My fish was young and very sensitive when I started using medications and salt to treat him. I find it's important to keep them happy during recovery, or they do have the tendency to reject your care. Things I did were to feed my guy frozen bloodworms (Or other live foods). It really makes a difference in their attitude. LittleBlue's suggestions for mosquito larvae and epsom salts are excellent, but if your fish isn't eating yet, it's safe to say you can focus on the medication side of things first.