Oh yeah, and you'll want to dose with a med for Bacterial Infections. API and Tetra both have general bacterial meds. Not sure of the best one to choose. I dosed my goldfish so long ago that the name and brand escape me.
Whesandra, based on the pics, it doesn't look like velvet so that's good. When a betta has velvet, they look like they have been dusted with sand or gold dust. Benny doesn't look like that. He does, however, look like he's definitely suffering from ammonia poisoning. I hesitate to use aquarium salt on such bad ammonia burns, though, because instead of helping I worry it could irritate them more. :/ Instead, try these two things: first, if you can, go to your pet store and pick up API Stress Coat water conditioner. When you change Benny's water, use the Stress Coat instead, adding in a little extra. Secondly, if you have any clean, naturally dried oak leaves, crumble several up into his water until the water changes color. If not, you can use decaffeinated green tea with no additives (so no lemon flavoring or anything like that). Soak a teabag in his water until it changes color. You'll have to redo this every time you change his water.
Another thing that will help is doing a small partial water change every day for the next week or so. Make sure the water you put back in has been treated with Stress Coat and is roughly the same temp as the water you put back in. You might want to get a thermometer to monitor his water and make sure the temp doesn't get below 76 degrees farenheit, minimum. Anything below that is going to be too cold and Benny will end up using all his strength to survive the cold instead of fight off his ammonia poisoning.
And again, I just want to reiterate that it's possible old age is catching up to Benny. In that case, all we can do is make him comfortable. If it seems like Benny is suffering or in pain, please post back immediately.
Thank you, everyone, for trying to help! ;; Sakura, your insight and advice--and especially your encouragement--ease my mind a little, even if the news is still grim, so thanks!
People keep giving me so much advice, it's hard to know what to do! D3 Let me explain the setup I have now:
WATER: 1 gallon tap water + 20 drops water conditioner with aloe vera + 1 tsp aquarium salt + 1/5 tablet Lifeguard
STRUCTURE: Benny is currently in his 1-gallon tank (no filter, no heater, no decorations or plants), suspended near the surface in a fist-sized net--he's a small betta, so he's not cramped, but it's not fantastically roomy. I couldn't figure out how to keep him in a shallow container without keeping him in less than a gallon of water, and I need at least a gallon of water to (relatively) accurately administer his Lifeguard, so I improvised. (Maybe tomorrow I'll try moving him to a casserole pan?)
His tank is sitting on top of the freezer now because the freezer radiates a little heat which seems to keep his tank at a steady 80 F. (I have a candy thermometer constantly in his water.)
The current setup is a modified version of the setup I had him in while I was at work. This picture shows less than a gallon of water in his tank (he has a whole gallon now), the candy thermometer on the upper left, and his blue bubbler on the bottom right. I have since put the bubbler back in its tube, which keeps the bubbles contained until they hit the surface. He has a blue light bulb in his tank light just because I blew the other one and only have Christmas lights to replace it. (The light is turned off now.)
I had 1/2 tsp salt in his water yesterday, but I bumped it up today because lots of people said 1 tsp per gallon. But now I hear add no salt at all! So I guess I'll change his water again? ;;
He's had three 100% water changes in the past three days.
I have no other test strips, but I tested his water today for pH, and it's neutral.
I was planning on doing a 100% water change every day for the next few days (I read this advice somewhere online), but now I hear I should only do partial changes! ;; (I'm sorry I'm so stupid! I knew virtually nothing about caring for bettas until yesterday. ;;) But now his water is all full of salt, so what about a 50% change tonight, maybe a 50% change tomorrow, and, what? 25% changes after that? I'm so confused. T^T
Also! What the heck am I supposed to do about him not eating?! ;;;;;; He hasn't eaten for four days, I think. ;;
Whesandra, hehe, sorry, yes, too many posters can get confusing. Let's see if we can clarify it for you.
Okay. First, the water changes. If the 100% water changes are not stressing Benny, then by all means, continue those. The more, the better, but only if he isn't stressed. If they seem to be stressing him, drop down to partial changes.
The salt. Since you've had salt in there and it doesn't seem to be bothering him, then please continue. If he starts twitching, then remove the salt. You can put in either 1/2 tsp or 1 tsp, whatever you feel Benny is comfortable at. Right now, his comfort is our priority.
One thing you can do is administer the Lifeguard in his 1g tank but then transfer some of the medicated water to a shallow container, leaving the rest in the tank for future water changes. That way you can keep him in shallow water so he can reach the surface easy to breathe and you can medicate easily. I know, I really wish they'd come up with dosing instructions geared toward small tanks. It can be very frustrating figuring things out. However, I'm not sure how much help the Lifeguard will be since he doesn't have any bacteria or parasites or funguses (fungi?). If you'd like to continue the Lifeguard, feel free to. Otherwise, I'd recommend stopping treatment.
I would still recommend getting Stress Coat, if you can. It neutralizes ammonia as well as chlorines, chloramine, and heavy metals.
Since you're using both salt and Lifeguard, I would hold off on tannins for now. If you stop using the Lifeguard, do a 100% change of his water to clean out all the medication, then redo the salt. Then add tannins using the clean dried oak leaves or decaffeinated green tea bag. But only without Lifeguard.
Foodwise. Does Benny refuse all food without even trying, or does he try to eat but can't seem to swallow? You can try soaking his pellets in garlic juice (plain no-salt garlic powder dissolved in water or fresh garlic juice, either one) to see if that entices him. Also, frozen bloodworms are a good appetite inducer.
I hope this clarifies things a little for you. If you have any more questions, don't hesitate to post and ask. Get well soon, Benny!
One thing you can do is administer the Lifeguard in his 1g tank but then transfer some of the medicated water to a shallow container, leaving the rest in the tank for future water changes.
OK, my friend strongly cautions against 100% water changes, but I'm gonna do at least one more right now to get rid of the Lifeguard, per your recommendation, Sakura. ;; My sister just left to get some Stress Coat, so whatever amount the bottle recommends, I'll do a little extra in one gallon of water, plus 1/2 tsp salt, and then soak some green tea in the tank. (I use Stress Coat instead of the water conditioner I'm currently using, right? Or do I use both?)
Also, Benny doesn't even TRY to eat. I'll try soaking some pellets in garlic juice, and maybe my sister will even bring back some blood worms to try, too.
I'm still struggling with the shallow water issue... If I keep him in shallow (less than a gallon) water, I have to do more frequent water changes, right? But how much, how often, and how will I know if it stresses him? ;; He just sits on the bottom and breathes heavily all the time... He'll dart around very briefly, and only travel a couple inches, if I disturb him (like when I change his water). I also really worry about maintaining his water temperature... It's hard to take his tank down and put it back on top of the freezer all the time. >> I'm so worried about stressing him! D3
Is a 1-gallon casserole pan a good idea for a temporary tank?
Yup, use the Stress Coat instead of your usual water conditioner. Unless the usual is Prime, I'd actually suggest switching over to Stress Coat. Because you have a smaller tank, ammonia builds up faster and Stress Coat neutralizes ammonia.
I hope we can get Benny to eat, but it may take a few days for him to recover from the ammonia poisoning first before he gets his appetite back.
If you can find a 1 gallon shallow casserole, then yes, that would be a good hospital tank for Benny. It's true you have to change the water more often because you'll have a smaller volume of water, so ultimately, the call is up to you. Actually, the arrangement you had in the pic with Benny in a container propped up so it's close to the surface would work fine too. The key is mainly to make it easy for him to reach the surface so he can breathe air. There's also something called a netbreeder that you attach to the inside of your tank. It's mainly used to keep breeding fish separate from their tankmates without removing them from the tank but it can also be used to keep sick fish isolated as well. You could also try that, if you wanted. It will attach up near the top of the tank and you can put Benny in it. He'll be in a bigger tank but up near the surface.
If you can eventually get a heater, that would be good too. Warm water will help Benny a lot. Possibly putting a warm water bottle next to the glass might warm him until then but make sure he doesn't get too warm, like over 84 degrees.
It's hard to tell when a sick betta is stressed because he's already exhibiting every symptom of stress that bettas have, ie, the lethargy and the heavy breathing, clamping of fins. But if he ever starts twitching, he may be reacting to the salt, in which case you'll want to remove it.
Okay, that's about all you can do for Benny now. Keep observing him and if he gets worse, gets bloated, or seems like he's suffering, post immediately.
I'll definitely keep Benny in my thoughts. Hope he gets well quickly!