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Old 10-28-2010, 07:19 PM   #1 
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Location: Central Texas
Rescued Walmart Bettas Need Your Help


Last night at Walmart I saw two Bettas in the most disgusting conditions and poorest shape I bought them and brought them home thinking I could try and save them, or maybe just give them a happier place to be in their last days. I have called and complained several times before to the store manager, and my complaints fall on deaf ears so I rescued them myself... I have no idea what I am doing! I don't know anything about Betta care, and I am dealing with two very sick boys. I hope someone can advise me.

The first (Stumpy) has an inflamed right gill which is red and sore looking. It is wide open, and inside I can see a sort of black velvety fold of skin. His eyes are almost completely black and he has no discernable pupils. His scales look a little rough, but not what I would label Dropsy based on the examples I have seen online. Since I changed his water, I also now see long stringy clear "wormy" looking things hanging from his gills, side fins, top fins and tail... basically everywhere... I don't know if these are new, or if they were just not visible in the filthy water they were previously in... He floats around a bit, but hangs out near the bottom for the most part. He pops up and grabs a mouthful of air from the top every now and then.

The second (Red) is in better shape but still not great. He also has the rough looking scales. His colors are dark, but he also has black splotches all over his coat. Since changing him into a clean bowl I see that he also has a few of the "wormy" things hanging from him, but nowhere near as many as Stumpy had. he floats very lethargically around the top of the bowl.

I read different forums and sites late into the night last night, and many advised Amicillin but none of the 3 stores I went to today stocked this and one told me that no one stocked this anymore. He sold me Betta fix which he proclaimed would fix everything that could possibly be wrong with the fish.

To answer the forum questions:

What size is your tank?
I don't have one for them -- yet. Right now they are in two large bowls, one is about a gallon and the other about 2 gallons

What temperature is your tank?
No heater, just a bowl.

Does your tank have a filter?

Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration?

Is your tank heated?

What tank mates does your betta fish live with?
None until they are healed, then I may put one in my tank with a Danio and Catfish... But it's only a 10 gal tank, so I am concerned about space...

What type of food do you feed your betta fish?
Betta fish pellets

How often do you feed your betta fish?
Only had them 24 hours, but plan to feed once a day.


How often do you perform a water change?
Just did a complete change today as their water was cloudy and had a thick layer of food and poop on the bottom of the cup. I would guess that it had been weeks and weeks since it was last changed.

What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change?
I did a 70% change last night, and this morning I had room temperature distilled water so I did a full change.

What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change?
I followed the bottle dosage of Stress Coat (using some complex fractions a calculator and a scratch pad to figure out the dosage for each bowl)

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?
Don't have the tools to test water.


Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?
How has your betta fish's behavior changed?
When did you start noticing the symptoms?
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how?
Does your fish have any history of being ill?
How old is your fish (approximately)?

All of these are answered above.
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Old 10-28-2010, 07:39 PM   #2 
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Don't use distilled, use tap with declorinator in it. Something to remove chlorine and heavy metals, like API stress coat or Seachem Prime. Tap water is better because it has minerals and nutrients and stuff the fish need in it. Pick up some aquarium salt too, this will help boost their immune system! Only use it for 10 days straight though. Try to get 25 watt adjustable heaters for them when you can,warmer water will speed up the healing process!

You're doing a good job with your water changes, since you have 1 to 2 gallon containers, keep changing the water 100% every 2 days! You might want to consider doing it once a day to try to keep them clean so they can heal.

I wouldn't use the medicine you got at the petstore yet, it sounds like they have ammonia poisoning or something along those lines. Hopefully someone more experienced than me can help you out, good luck with your new fish!!
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Old 10-28-2010, 08:00 PM   #3 
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If your fish is already in the medicine, I would remove him, most of these betta fixes and fast cures are not beneficial and can make them even worse.
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Old 10-28-2010, 08:52 PM   #4 
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Hi Taylor, Thanks so much for your reply. Unfortunately I am in an area with super bad council water... very limey. And I don't have a water softener. For one bowl I used water that I put through my new Brita pitcher, and the other I used bottled Dasani water which is not spring, but distilled. I figured it was the best way to get quick clear water as I could'nt bare leaving them in that filth another minute. Even the 70% change i did last night didn't help as you can see in the pictures above (taken before the 100% water change). I did add Stress Coat to both bowls though.

I hope this isn't a dumb question, but can I use aquarium salt in a bowl? How much would you recommend in bowls of this size (1gal and 2gal) These are just temp homes until I see if they pull through. Can I use a heater in bowls this small? Being in Texas it's still super hot here and we set our a/c to cool us down to a constant 78 in my house. Will this do?

Unfortunately I dosed their new bowls before I moved them so they've been in the Bettafix medicated water all afternoon.

I just took some new pics and it looks like the stringy bits have fallen off.

Another thing... I have been looking at some pictures and other questions posted here and now I am concerned that they may be a little bloated in the belly for fish so small. I don't know what is "normal" though so I would appreciate advice on this.

Do I change their water now again because of the Betta fix? It will be their 2nd full change today, 3rd change of more than 70% in the last 24 hours. I don't want to over stress them..

Sorry for all the questions! I just really want to do right by them after the bad start they had.

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Old 10-28-2010, 09:13 PM   #5 
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Hi!! I'm pretty new to fish myself, but I do know a bit of basic advice.

I know that they sell stuff that you can add to the distilled water to replace the lost minerals, but unfortunately I don't know what it's called Hopefully someone better with fish can chime in here!

78 degrees is fine, I think most people keep their bettas somewhere between 76 and 82 degrees, so if room temperature is 78 they'll be fine for now.

I've not heard of Bettafix being an effective treatment for anything, and if you don't know what you're treating medicine is not a good thing. As soon as you can get some more distilled water, I would change it and just Stress Coat.

As for the stringy bits and the possible bloating,can you post your new pictures? The stringy stuffy and bloating can be symptoms of different things, so a photo would be helpful. Once again, hopefully someone that deals more with diseases than me can help diagnose!

I'm not positive if they need an immediate water change, I've never used betta fix, and I'm not sure which is worse, stress or meds!

I'm sorry I'm not much help, but I'll try to answer all I can! I hope someone more experienced than me shows and gives you some advice!
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Old 10-29-2010, 03:36 PM   #6 
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Location: USA
Even with the hard water I would still use it or mix 50/50 with the bottled water...the water from the home water treatment (Brita) is worse than your tap water I am sad to say....all it does is change one Ion for another that is far worse on them than the tap water.
Your goal is a stable environment/pH and hardness-they usually will adapt without any problem to hard water since they are a domesticated fish that has never seen its natural water is really hard too with a high pH-I have to soften it to spawn some species of tropical fish but not with the Betta

Even with the use of bottled water-you need to use a dechlorinator-bottled water is not regulated and often it is just filtered tap water and can still contain chlorine/chloramines that are harmful to fish-the filtering process also can remove the needed mineral the fish needs for good health and overall well being as Taylor mentioned-you can use additives like Equalibrium by Seachem...but tap or 50/50 mix wold be best for the fish in general.

For treatment-I would do 100% daily water changes for several days and hold all food-if you have any live mosquito larva to feed since you are in Texas that would be good and helpful as well-also if you have any dried oak leaves to add that will help too with both stress related problems and the fins.

If he is bloated along with the fin issue I would use Epsom salt 1tsp/gal
If it is just fins I would use aquarium salt 1tsp/gal

Both treatment I would do 100% daily water changes for 10 days-Hold food for the first 3 days and then offer half feeding twice a day every-other day during treatment.

I like to premix my salt in a clean 1gal jug to make water changes and correct dosage easier and steep the oak leave in as well

The container you have will work fine for the treatment process-I like to keep the water temp in the 76-77F range during treatment-if I see any floating problems I like to add plastic veggie wrap over the top to keep the air above the water warm and humid, light out in a low traffic location

You have to be careful raising the temp too high with an already compromised fish that came from neglected conditions like can cause other problems

Good luck-you got your work cut-out for you and hope to see some pic soon
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Old 10-29-2010, 03:44 PM   #7 
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The things hanging off of them that you saw earlier were likely pieces of their slime coat that they shed due to the high ammonia content of the water they were in.

OFL gave good advice, the only suggestion I might add is for pure methylene blue if you can find it. It helps soothe ammonia poisoning and will help prevent secondary infections--it can be difficult to find these days, however. Try not to change a whole bunch of things at once--you will want to add heat and any additives like aquarium salt and/or epsom salt very gradually.
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Old 10-29-2010, 05:43 PM   #8 
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Thanks again for all your advice! I did a bit more reading last night and I found out about the slime coat. Boy is that scary to see if you don't know what it is!

Well, I left them overnight as they were, in the Bettafix treated water. This morning the water was pretty cloudy again, and stringy bits and odds and ends floating around the tank. So I cleared most of the water... I did about 80% because they were pretty freaked and I didn't want to distress them any more than is necessary. I figured 80% is better than nothing. I used stress coat as it was all I had in the house and unfortunately I used Britta water again.

Today I went out and bought more supplies. I got a chlorine treatment, aquarium salt, they didn't have blood worms, so he suggested frozen brine or white worms... I chose the brine. I did this because I was concerned that they really aren't eating much at all. I cut a pellet in half and last night I tried to feed them each a half, both sucked them in, and spat them out. I thought I would try something more tempting today. But you say to skip another day of feeding. Today will be day 2 that I know of, not sure when last they were fed in Walmart, but there was a ton of rotting food on the bottom of the cups.

I also got a little tank set up so that I am prepared to move one of them into more permanent digs when the time is right. I have that cycling now (I am learning so much!) and I used regular tap water with treatment. It's a 1.5gal tank with a small filter. How much aquarium salt should I use in a tank this small?

Right now they're in large bowls for treatment, my husband informs me that my imperial measurement skills leave much to be desired (we use metric in my home country) and when I estimated that they were in 1 and 2 gal bowl last evening I WAY overshot. While the bowls are MUCH bigger than the little cups they came in, he says one is about a gallon and the other is about a half gallon. But since we're having gill issues with Stumpy I haven't filled it up too much, I want to make it easy for him to access surface air which he does frequently. How much aquarium salt should I add to these? Should I add some salt today, or do that tomorrow with the next water change?

Red, (the healthier of the two) is moving around quite a bit today and if I hadn't seen where he came from I would think he was hunky-dory. Do I keep him quarantined until he makes some bubbles and eats a little? I am probably putting the cart before the horse here, but I want to be sure that he is healthy before I move him into the new tank and want to be clear on what type of behavior I should be hoping for.

Updated pics below. This afternoon there was a sunbeam coming through the window right across their bowls. They seemed to like it and both went to that side of the bowls, but I Googled pretty quickly just in case and discovered that Betta's do not like sun... so I moved them.

The full bowl in the sun pic is Red. As is the one with my curious cat peeking in. The very sad looking little guy in the close up shot is Stumpy who has the inflamed gill as you can see.

EDITED: to replace pictures as they were HUGE.
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Last edited by acloudconnected; 10-29-2010 at 05:48 PM.
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Old 10-29-2010, 05:53 PM   #9 
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Location: Northern Virginia
Oh my, if they're in such small containers you should be changing the half gallon one every day and the one gallon container every other day. You might find it easiest to go out and purchase a couple rubbermaid/sterilite plastic storage bins--they're safe to use with heaters, super easy to clean, and they're really cheap. A 4 gallon bin is usually about $3 at WalMart, so once you're done treating your fish you can repurpose them around the house or throw them out. I use them all the time for quarantine tanks/hospital tanks and for keeping guppy fry. They are ideal for treating sick bettas because they are long and shallow as opposed to tall, so they get lots of swimming space without having to expend lots of effort going to the surface to breathe. You also won't need to change the water as often in a larger container.

I hate to break it to you about your new 1.5G container, but if you can, I would return it and get something a bit larger. The cycle in a small container would be very difficult to keep stable--due to the frequency of cleaning and the fact that your fish would pollute that small volume of water faster than the bacteria could convert it would ultimately not be a very good environment for your fish. Most heaters are designed to be used in tanks that are two gallons or larger, so you might run into trouble with a smaller tank. I suggest getting a 10 gallon aquarium, big, I know, but you can divide it down the middle and put a boy on each side. This means you only have to maintain one tank instead of two and it will be much, much more stable! If you think about it, two separate tanks would take up more space than one larger one, anyway, and more power outlets. Your dollar also goes farther per gallon the larger the tank you buy.

Last edited by Adastra; 10-29-2010 at 05:56 PM.
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Old 10-29-2010, 06:08 PM   #10 
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Adastra, that's a brilliant idea! I know exactly which tubs you're talking about... I think they're designed for shoe storage, and are about the size of a shoe box.

Bad news about the tank as I already have it all set up and cycling. Gravel, plants ... the works. It kind of scares me how the guys at my local pet stores keep giving me bad advice. Yesterday he was pushing the Bettafix as a cure-all. Today at a different store I was told that this was the ideal habitat for a Betta. (I wanted to put one in this tank and if I was lucky enough for both to make it, I was going to introduce the other to my fairly new -3 month old- 10gal tank with a danio and cory catfish.)

I will figure something out... Hmm... perhaps I can wrap it back up and gift it to my niece who has been begging her folks for a fish... It might help her cause if she has all the equipment!

You have all been so helpful and patient with all my questions, and generous with your advice. Thank you so much!
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