My poor betta, Rooster, has unfortunately developed a moderate case of fin rot. I'd tried treating it with more frequent water changes (he was in a gallon tank, recently moved to a 1/2 gallon tank for treatment) but the fin rot kept getting worse. I woke up two days ago to find that his tail was almost completely shredded.
Of course, I panicked and scoured the internet and decided to treat his little hospital tank with aquarium salt (a little less than 1/4 tsp). He seemed to do fine with it initially but after a few hours he seemed really stressed out, but I didn't have any aged/treated water to move him into, so I left him there overnight. I woke up this morning expecting him to be dead as a doornail, but he was alert and energetic, so I figured he must have acclimated to the salt.
I'm nervous about doing additional water changes, and was considering switching out the salted water in his hospital tank with clean treated water and just trying a 5 minute salt bath, but I'm really worried about stressing him out more. I've heard different people recommend 100% water changes every day with salt treated water, 25% changes every third day, or just doing salt baths and leaving his tank unsalted... I have no idea what would be easiest on my little guy, and he really didn't seem to love the salt.
Any help would be greatly appreciated! I'm a first-time betta owner so I'm really just flying by the seat of my pants here...
In a tank that size you will be forced to do 100 percent water changes very often. oddly enough keeping him in a larger volume of water is easier for treating, ammonia spikes are less drastic and you can more gently siphon out HALF the water and replace it.
I recommend finding him a larger home in general, but for treating him I suggest popping him back in his normal home. he knows it and wont fret so much, same as I prefer to be in my own bed when not feeling so great.
in my experience, moving the fish is more stress than leaving them where they are and doing water changes every day.
Salt baths need to be done several times a day and that can be more stressful.
You can increase the salt to 1/2 tsp for the half gallon tank. Bettas can stay safely in salted water for up to 10 days, after that the salt might cause liver damage.
Also, you can get some stress coat plus and put in 5 drops with every water change with the salt. It is a good water conditioner and has aloe in it to help him regrow the lost tissue.
Indian almond leaves, or blackwater extract is another natural remedy that may help him cure.
If he is not responding to the slat, the infection may be too severe, you might want to consider an antibiotic before the wound gets too bad. If fin rot reaches his body it may not be curable so you want to make sure you stop it before that.
I don't like using chemical treatments or medications, but just like with humans, there is a time when natural remedies simply won't work and it is time to switch to something more drastic.
hope he recovers quickly for you, you obviusly love him very much and doing your best to take good care of him.
When he gets better, do consider a larger home, it will make both your lives much happier. :)
Thank you both for the sound advice! I'm already looking at a 2.5 gallon bowl for him in the future. I had been told by the people at the pet store that a 1" fish would be fine in a 1 gallon bowl, but considering how fast the fin rot has spread, I feel like a larger home might be better for fewer water changes.
Also, I've decided against salt baths... the poor guy really didn't take to salt very well the first time so I'm going to try and work my way up to adding more to his tank gradually. Should I do 100% water changes? How often?
I've been using Nutrafin to treat his water for the year that I've had him, would it be safe to use Stress Coat Plus on top of that?
You should do 100% or at least 80% water change every day. with a partial water change you won't have to take him out as he will be fine in a tiny bit of water for a few minutes, this may be less stress for him than a 100% water change.
Keep this up untill he starts improving, then you can slow down in the larger tank doing water changes every 3 days instead.
I started with a 2.5 gallon tank and have moved up to a 5 gallon, I can't tell you how much happier I am with the 5 gallon. Though the 2.5 is perfectly fine, I would recommend the 5 gallon if you have the space, they would cost about the same too, and you can probably use the same filter and heater you have now with it. But a 5 gallon can be cycled and you only need to do a water change ones a week instead of every 3 days.
anything you do with fish you have to do slowly. The best way to add salt to his aquarium is to dissolve the full dose (1/2 tsp for 1/2 gallon) in a cup of treated water, then add a little bit every 15 minutes to his tank. if you spread this over 3 hours or more he should adjust just fine.
The worst thing to do is to keep changing your mind, start the treatment and complete it over at least a week. By stopping and starting you are simply allowing the bacteria to build a resistance to the medication.
also, when doing water changes, make sure the water temperature is the same as he is living in.
This will also reduce stress on his emotions and his organs.
A rapid change in water conditions (this can me temperature, PH change or chemical change) can cause stress or even a heart attack or other organ failure - with fish, the general rule is nice and slow, no matter what. I learned this the hard way.
I've been doing 100% waterchanges with salt for the past few days and Rooster had been looking really good, not stressing out too much or swimming weird after changes-- I even spotted some fin regrowth-- but for whatever reason I woke up this morning and his tail fin has split straight down the middle.
He's still swimming alright but I can tell it's hurting him... he's keeping his tail clamped down and won't fan it at all. I don't know what to do... Should I keep up with the saltwater treatment, or try something else?