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Old 10-02-2011, 10:17 AM   #1 
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Question Please help, Betta is very sick.

What size is your tank?
5 Gallon
What temperature is your tank?
80 degrees
Does your tank have a filter?
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration?
Is your tank heated?
Yes, during the winter. Not during the summer or other warmer months.
What tank mates does your betta fish live with?

What type of food do you feed your betta fish?
Standard Betta feed from Walmart.
How often do you feed your betta fish?
Twice. Once in the morning, once in the evening.

How often do you perform a water change?
Every month.
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change?
All of it.
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change?

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?
Carlos has always been a perfectly healthy Betta, we have never done any kind of testing on his water.


Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?
Carlos has white spots on his head and his eyes and he is not nearly as fantastic in color as he used to be. His poor fins look shredded, his large back fin also has holes in it.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed?
He has been laying on the bottom of the tank, often on his side. At first, he would dart up for air every now and then and just randomly swim around frantically before once again laying down on his side. He has not been eating, either. Carlos is usually very social and often came out to see us and show off how beautiful he is.
When did you start noticing the symptoms?
About two weeks ago, starting out as just odd behavior but continued to get worse and worse as time went on.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how?
No, I don't have a clue what to start with...
Does your fish have any history of being ill?
Not at all. He always made us laugh by being a lazy Betta, it wasn't unusual for him to lay down on the bottom of the tank. But as soon as he saw us, he would swim up and all around, happy and healthy.
How old is your fish (approximately)?
We have had Carlos for 1.5 years.

I have included some photos to help figure out what is wrong with our Carlos. The first 3 are of him in his tank. I realize the rocks are dirty and were in need of a change. We have since thrown them all away and cleaned his tank out. We also threw out all his current decor, fearing they might be harboring bacteria and access algae. We plan to buy all new for Carlos in the hopes that a fresh environment will help him recover. We have had this Betta for a year and a half and he has always been happy and healthy, never had a single problem with him. His good health and fun attitude led us to get another Betta (who is in his own seperate 5 gallon tank!). We are so sad to see Carlos suffering and just want to help him get better. He has been hanging on for days now. Sometimes we look for him and just hope that maybe he had already passed away so that his suffering would be ended, but he is always still alive. Please help us figure out what is wrong with our Betta. Thank you!

In these photos, it is hard to see the white spots I described above. He just looks pitiful. In the last photo, you can really see his split fins. He is not a crown tail Betta, just a standard. He should not have those splits... The fins do not appear to have anything on him, they just look... broken.

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Old 10-02-2011, 10:43 AM   #2 
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First thing I would do is lower the water level so he can reach the surface easier. I'll let the smart folks take over though.
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Old 10-02-2011, 10:47 AM   #3 
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Welcome to the forums and I'm sorry to hear about your little guy..

Ammonia poisoning can happen suddenly, or over a period of days. Initially the fish may be seen gasping at the surface for air. The gills will begin to turn red or lilac in color, and may appear to be bleeding. The fish will begin to lose its appetite and become increasingly lethargic. In some cases fish may be observed laying at the bottom of the tank with clamped fins. As the damage from the ammonia poisoning continues, the tissues will be damaged as evidenced by red streaks or bloody patches that appear on the body and fins. Internal damage is occurring to the brain, organs, and central nervous system. The fish begins to hemorrhage internally and externally, and eventually dies.

Once a month cleaning in a 5 gallon is nearly not enough. Even with a filter you should be doing minimum of 1 50% water only and 1 50% substrate only cleaning per week. Some would even recommend 1 50% water and 1 100% per week.
That plus the lack of any water conditioner is recipe for death.
So it looks to me as if he has ammonia poisoning that has finally caught up with him.

Put him in a small QT bowl, tupperware, anything small that is soap residue free, with about 3 inches of water so he doesn't have to swim as far to get air. (Bettas can drown) Tape it or float it in his tank to keep him warm. You will need to put in water conditioner. Whether it is Prime or Tetra conditioner, or any of these on the list that is a dechlorinator HERE.
That is a MUST in every aquarium. So in the QT add that with water from the tap of the same temp as the tank. He is in severe distress, the use of a chemical to neutralize the ammonia is recommended. Feedings should be restricted so that additional waste is reduced. In cases of very high ammonia levels, feedings should be discontinued for several days.

I'm wondering if at this point should use AQ salt as well, since the white patches may also indicate other issues such as fungus or parasites. But honestly I think the white patches are due to his body shutting down.. poor thing =(

Last edited by Myates; 10-02-2011 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 10-02-2011, 11:02 AM   #4 
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Sorry if I sounded short there, but wanted to say what needed to be done quickly.

Basically ammonia, nitrates/ites build up in aquariums from the waste and from the fish using their gills. Why regular water changes are important. Sometimes you can get away with less of them if you have a naturally planted tank, etc. But even so, weekly water changes are a must for every tank, it just varies on how much you take out. If your tank is cycled, that would make a difference as well.

Water conditioner will take out the chlorines, chloramines, etc that are in your tap water. Will pretty much make it safe for fish. Without it, that too can and will poison a fish. Don't use bottled water of any type, nor distilled either. They lack the nutrients and minerals fish need that they get in tap. So just make sure to get the dechlorinator/conditioner and use tap with any fish you get.

Bettas can live in bad water for a while, but it will always catch up to them at some point. Faster if not having the proper water changes and conditioner-dechlorinator. I'm not saying you are a bad owner, just did what you thought was the best, a bigger tank and the right temp.. but forgot the basics of water chemistry and cleanliness. Which can happen. I hope he pulls through, but honestly I can't say yay or nay on it right now. It looks bad in my opinion, but never know.. if he has the will to survive and you get the conditioner in fast enough he may pull through. They are tough little fishes. My heart goes out to him and you.
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Old 10-04-2011, 03:10 PM   #5 
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Thank you for the wonderful advice. We went to the store right away to pick up the water conditioner. We placed Carlos in a small tupperware container and changed the water often. We hoped he would limp it through, but it was too late. I believe that if we had started him on treatment when he started showing symptoms two weeks ago we could have saved him. We are very sad to see him go.

As a result of his death, we are more educated. Our other betta named Santana, is still healthy and happy in his tank. We added the conditioner to his water and have set up a schedule to do weekly water changes. We'd also been tossing the idea of buying a gravel vacuum but never had yet, so we went ahead and bought one for his tank.

In the future, we would like to reuse the now empty 5 gallon tank. All the gravel that was in there has been thrown away, as were the plastic plant decor. But I was wondering if it were possible to use the plastic cave hide out. And how would I make sure the tank itself and plastic pieces of the filter are clean enough? Is there any kind of special cleaner out there that is safe to use?
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Old 10-04-2011, 03:22 PM   #6 
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I'm so sorry to hear you lost him =(

Yep, now you know.. also remember that no matter how much water you take out during a change, always add in the full dose for that size tank.

Just hot water works. Some people use vinegar, but you'd have to really rinse it off after, and that is for the cave and tank but I can't stress enough to rinse with hot water to make sure every bit of it is gone. As for the filter, what type of filter do you use? You can always buy a new cartridge, but honestly? Since he passed away in a separate container, you wouldn't have to replace it. But I'm assuming you torn it all apart, so you could either start over with a fresh, or rinse and swish with hot hot water. Just make sure to not use soap, or anything with soap residue on it, as that can kill a fish as well.
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Old 10-04-2011, 04:44 PM   #7 
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Location: Citrus Heights, California
Whenever I have gravel in a sick fish's tank and they pass, I take the gravel in an old sauce pot and boil it like you would beans or something. Then set it out to cool slowly. Seems to work as I hate to waste gravel. Just an idea so next time you won't have to replace gravel all the time. Some very strongly made decor can join the pot too.. Sadly fake plants may not hold up to it. Sorry you lost the little guy. :( You tried your best.
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