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Old 10-25-2010, 10:44 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Help! Fin Rot Emergency

Please Help!!

Our poor little betta is suffering from tail rot. It's been a never ending struggle with short periods of health over the past 4-6 months.

What size is your tank?: 5 gallon
What temperature is your tank?: 80 F
Does your tank have a filter?: Yes (Little charcoal insert, if that counts)
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration?: No
Is your tank heated?: No
What tank mates does your betta fish live with?: No, now that his snails died, presumably from the meds.

What type of food do you feed your betta fish?: A variety of betta pellets
How often do you feed your betta fish?: Twice a day (skipping one day a week)

How often do you perform a water change?: Once a week
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change?: 25%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change?: Aquarium salt only (Added to fresh water R.O. mix purchased from a local aquarium store)

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?

Ammonia: 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 6.5
Hardness: 30
Alkalinity: 40

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?: He has fin + tail rot
How has your betta fish's behavior changed?: He no longer blows bubble nests
When did you start noticing the symptoms?: About 4 months ago
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how?: Numerous cycles of Maracyn II followed by Melafix. But the fin rot kept coming back a week or two later. Then we switched to Seachem Kenaplex. Changed his gravel. Fin rot kept returning a few weeks after each treatment cycle. Now it's worse then ever before and he's not responding to the Kenaplex. Please help!!
Does your fish have any history of being ill?: Yes, see above
How old is your fish (approximately)?: I'm not sure how old he is. My girlfriend "rescued" him from PetCo 5 months ago, at which point he seemed quite healthy, but got his first case of fin rot perhaps a month later, when the new live plants we bought him started to die. He's our only "child". Please help.

Thank you,

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FishyWishy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-26-2010, 12:48 PM   #2 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
I would get some good dechlorinator and use your tap water-the R/O water lacks the needed mineral he needs to heal
Mix up a 1gal jug of tap water with declorinator and add 1tsp aquarium salt or kosher salt-Qt him in a half gallon container-no filter-start making 100% daily water changes with this jug of water for the next 10 days-try and keep the water temp in the 76-77F range during treatment
If you have IAL or oak leaf-steep them in the 1gal jug of pre-mixed salt water
Feed a good high protein diet small frequent meals

Things that could be the cause:
tail biting
too strong of a current from the filter
Lack of needed mineral in the water
poor water quality
sharp gravel
over treating with medication
poor immune name a few...
Good luck and keep us posted
Oldfishlady is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-27-2010, 09:30 PM   #3 
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Hello and thanks so much for the post. Jr's dad posted the initial message. I'm Jr's mom and very worried, so providing additional info.

We got Jr five months ago. We're both new to this and unfortunately not nearly as well versed as we would like (or as he needs us to be). We put him in a 5 gallon tank and he was so happy to get out of that horrid little cup from the pet store. The gravel is Seachem Flourite, because we heard it was good for live plants, and we wanted to try to go that route. We added a log made of Africa Root with a swim through hole he loves to hang out in. We were then lost as to what plants to get, as it seemed we needed low light plants that were small and easy to care for for beginners like us. We gave it a shot and ordered some online. We also got Seachem fish safe liquid carbon and liquid plant food for them. At this time we were using conditioned tap water for the tank. We have always done 25% water changes every week along with water testing. Well, the one species of plants in the back started to turn yellowish brown and transparent. I went to my local (non-chain) pet store and asked about the plants. The fish guy there said they were just adjusting and to give it some time. Well, by the time we gave up on the plants and pulled them, they were rotting. A few days later Jr's tail fin started to disintegrate. He's a beautiful half moon butterfly with a very thick white band all around the edge of his fins; perhaps one third the total width of the fins. One day we noticed the white all around his tail fin had started to fray. The next day, it was even worse. By day three, I was very concerned and we started to research it online. We came to the conclusion it was fin rot. I went back to the local pet store, took a sample of my water for additional testing, brought pictures of Jr and provided a description of the problem. The same fish guy said my water was fine other than the fact that it was incredibly hard, which he said was why that particular species of plant probably didn't make it. He told me to treat Jr's bacterial fin rot with Maracyn II and said that the dying plants likely contaminated his water, even though it looked clear to us and tested fine. That's when we switched the tank water from dechlorinated tap water to R.O. (with added salt and adjusted to a neutral pH.) Well, we followed the instructions on the Maracyn II package. The fin rot stopped progressing and eventually his tail started growing back. A few weeks later he relapsed. We treated again with Maracyn II. Again he recovered. But then he relapsed again. By the third time we were desperately searching for something that might be more effective. I read that KanaPlex was sometimes more effective against bacterial fin rot, so we tried it. He recovered well and was starting to get the lovely white band around his tail back. This time he went perhaps 4 weeks, before it came back again. We did more research. Replaced his gravel with new, thinking some of the plant debris might still be hiding in the old gravel. He relapsed again. He's been through three cycles of KanaPlex. Each time he would recover and start regrowing tail, then it would come back and we would treat again. But in this current situation, he's not responding to the KanaPlex. The tail rot just keeps going. It never really got past the white butterfly border into the purple interior section of his tail before this, but now it's deeply invaded the purple and has spread to his anal and dorsal fins as well. And it just keeps going! I read that if the bacterial rot spreads to the fish's body it's life threatening. Behaviorally, he's still okay with the exception of not blowing bubble nests any more, which he hasn't done since the first time he got tail rot months ago. I don't know how to stop it! We are afraid he's now resistant to the antibiotics. Given all of the additional history, what are your thoughts? Thank you so much to "OldFishLady" and all who may reply. We're totally stuck here and in need of help.
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Old 10-27-2010, 10:01 PM   #4 
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Join Date: Oct 2010
P.S. He only ever flares if you put a mirror next to the glass, which we do maybe once a week for exercise. So from the little I have read about "blown tail", I don't think that's it. We have also never ever seen him chase or bite his tail, so I'm not sure that's likely either...
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Old 10-28-2010, 12:18 AM   #5 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Northern Virginia
Looks like tail biting to me, I apologize, but I have to admit that I did not read the whole wall of text you posted, so excuse me if I'm going over something you've already been told.

First of all, stop giving him antibiotics. You never want to give a fish antibiotics unless you are sure they are sick, or you will make them sick. They are very harsh medications that are likely exacerbating your problems. Please read and understand the information in this article before ever using antibiotics again: it will help you understand the risks involved, how to use them appropriately, and why it is important to be responsible about their use.

Second, are you treating the RO water with a remineralizing product like Seachem Equilibrium? You must treat the water because it is so pure that it lacks vital minerals that contribute to the health of your fish and buffer pH.

Due to overbreeding, stress, and their confinement in small spaces, many bettas develop destructive neurotic behaviors. This is similar to dogs and cats that have been in a kennel too long without stimulation--many of them overgroom themselves and walk in circles compulsively. Bettas do the same thing, in the form of glass surfing, neurotically swimming back and forth across the same area over and over, and tail biting--self mutilation of the fins. If the fins are ragged, tattered, and uneven, it's likely that the fish has been biting himself. Many owners never see their fish do this because their presence is usually enough of a distraction to stop them from doing it.

Fin rot, on the other hand, usually originates from ammonia burns on the delicate, thin tissue on the edges of the fins. The burns caused by the ammonia develop a secondary infection--fin rot--which turns the edge of the fin black, gray, and crusty or fuzzy. The edges are usually smooth and the infection usually moves quite slowly. It will take days for fin rot to make any significant advance--it's not as if you could go to bed and wake up to a horrible rotted up fish. The infection simply does not move that fast. A fish biting himself can tear out large chunks at a time, and yes, they can reach to bite themselves all the way to the body if they wanted to.

Wounds inflicted by the fish biting himself can be infected with fin rot, too, although if you're keeping your water clean and doing proper maintenance, it shouldn't happen. Look for the dark coloration on the edge of the fin to determine if he is actually infected. Clear or whitish edges are a good thing--new fin tissue often comes in clear or whitish and colors up later.

In each case, consistently clean water is all you need to get him to recover. Warm temperatures and a high protein diet will help him build new fin tissue faster, although halfmoons tend to regenerate slowly due to the complicated structure of their fins compared to veil tails and plakats.

To stop him from tail biting in the future, you have to get to the root of what's causing him to bite. Finding his "trigger" can be quite difficult, each fish is an individual, so there's no blanket recommendation I can give you except to try to examine his living situation for possible signs of stress, such as temperature fluctuations, proximity to another betta or something that looks like another betta (like a brightly colored sheet of paper nearby or a poster), too much traffic in front of the tank, proximity to electronics, too much decor in the tank, not enough decor in the tank, too much filter current, etc.

I have had two tail biters in the past--it took me weeks to figure out their triggers. For one, it was that he hated to be in total darkness at night. Once I added a dim light to the room at night, he stopped biting himself. The other did not like having two large caves in his tank. Once I removed one of them to free up more swimming space, he stopped biting himself. It just takes some careful trial and error--try not to stress him out by changing a bunch of things around constantly.

Last edited by Adastra; 10-28-2010 at 12:26 AM.
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