Here's what I've been doing as far as tank maintenance and how my tank is set up:
Tank #1: Divided 10 gallon, it has always housed 2 males. I had a clear divider for the last 8 months and both fish were very happy, neither of them were ever stressed, or had any problems with disease. I do 50% water changes once a week at least, and I do a full water change once every two weeks. They have an air stone in each side and I run a filter for about 3hours a day on each side. It was a simple tank kit, and it came with one of those simple hanging filters, so I'll filter for 3 hours on one side, and then switch sides. Annoying, but it keeps the water very clear and I have had great success with all of my levels. My hood has a 25w bulb, and the heater stays between 80 and 84 depending on how hot it is in my house.
Every time I do water changes I use Amquel Plus to treat the water, and I typically add a few drops of aquarisol as a preventative, along with some aquarium salt as directed on the package. I've never had a problem with ich or velvet or anything like that.
To make a long drawn out story short, one day one of the males in that tank was swimming on his side, and he died shortly after. I had tested the water the day before and everything was perfect... he just grayed out and died.
I cleaned everything out well (no soap or bleach) with a little vinegar, rinsed a million times, and set up my tank again, exactly the same. I purchased another male CT that was in an inch of crappy water from petco. I quarantined him for 7 days in a treated tank and then transitioned him into my divided tank with my other betta. The original betta was fine for a few days and then started showing vertical barring around the gills. The new one started to flourish, changing colors immediately, while the old one started graying out a bit. He has always had problems with digestion, and i've tried various foods. Now he's very bloated, and very gray around his face. The stress lines are gone. I've changed the divider to something less clear, and that helped.
Buuuuut both of them have popeye. I've secluded the original betta, he's doing an epsom salt bath as we speak. His gills won't close all the way, and his right one seems to have a harder time closing than the left. No pineconing, but his body near his tail base looks swollen almost and he's kind of curling to the right. It is weird, I can fast him for 5-7 days straight and he never passes anything. Yesterday I started giving him some crushed garlic, hopefully that helps along with the epsom salt in his QT tank. Can you think of anything else I should do? I've now learned that adding aquarium salt with every water change can cause a immune bacteria and kidney disease.... I won't be doing that anymore. I hope I can save him. :( He won't eat the blanched peas at all.
And totally unrelated, a friend contacted me yesterday because her little son's betta was having issues. He's a gorgeous teal and dark blue CT. She gave me everything to rehab him.... he's in a 2.5 gal bow front critter keeper. His water was very cloudy and brownish. I did a full water change, rinsed everything out with hot hot hot water, and added aquarium salt, used Amquel + to treat the new water, and a few drops of aquarisol (he had ich). This fish is very lethargic (although he is clearly stressed out after the whole ordeal). I put a heater in the tank that is set at 80, and he's constantly hiding right next to the heater (it is laying on its side on the bottom of the tank) on the gravel. He seems pretty healthy aside from having popeye in both eyes. He's not friendly enough to eat yet.
Sorry for the huge novel, but I'm really at a loss. What else can I possibly do for these guys? Am I doing something wrong all together? As I said, all of my water levels are perfectly normal. I've already got two of the fish in QT, I'm considering taking the third out of the divided tank and putting him into QT to treat him, while cycling the tank. I'm also considering switching from fake plants to live. Thoughts????
I really appreciate your help.