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Old 12-19-2015, 08:31 PM   #1 
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Exclamation Potential Fin Rot, Ammonia Burn, or Recovery?

Please fill out this form when seeking help for your Betta. This information and a clear photo posted directly into the thread will help us give you the most accurate advice possible. Without the information and photos the best we can do is guess.

Even if you're already answered many of the questions in text form you we ask you fill out the form so we will have a quick source of information.

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Thank you,

The Betta Fish Team

How many gallons is your tank? -10 Gallons

Does it have a filter? - Aqueon AT10 w/ Adjustable Flow. REPLACED CARBON FILTER WITH FLUVAL FOAM
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Does it have a heater? - Yes, Hydor 25W Submersible Glass Aquarium Heater - Original Theo

What temperature is your tank?
77.2 F
Temperature fluctuates between 77 and 80, 77 at night, 80 during day.

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

Does your Betta have tank mates? What kind?

What food brand do you use?
New Life Spectrum Betta Formula Pellets

Do you feed flakes or pellets?

Only frozen bloodworms, 1 bloodworm a week

How often do you feed your Betta? How much?
3 pellets, 2 x a day (Morning and Night)

Before your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change?
Once Weekly
What percentage of water did you change?

Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water?
Vacuum with Gravel Vac

What additives do you use?
Kordon NovAqua + (10 gallon treat)
Kordon AmQuel + (10 gallon treat)

Betta Spa (5ml) (2 gallon treat)
Seachem Stress Guard (10 gallon treat)

Tetra WaterClarifier (Dose when water gets cloudy, once a month)

Water Parameters:
What are your water parameters? Please give exact numbers. If tested by pet store please get exact numbers. "Fine" or "Safe" won't help us help you.

Ammonia: .25ppm currently (was 0 yesterday 12/18/15) Seems to go up .25 daily

Nitrite: 0ppm

Nitrate: 0ppm

pH: >6.0 (Whenever we assumed to adjust ph to 7.0, it put the betta in shock, so we just leave it alone and he seems to be doing fine)

Hardness (GH): 150 GH
Alkalinity (KH): Between 120 - 180

Symptoms and Treatment:
When did you first notice the symptoms?
Around Nov. 1st before placing him in new 10gallon tank

How has your Betta’s appearance changed?
Loss of color, ragged fins (we think it's due to him tearing his fin in his 1 gallon tank), pinholes in fins, darker ends in some places and lighter in others.

How has your Betta’s behavior changed?
Currently he is swimming around, acting like his normal self.

Is your Betta still eating?
Yes, always wanting to eat.

Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how?
Not currently, please see details below, this has been a long process.

|Does your Betta have any history of being ill?
Yes, since being in his 1 gallon tank.

How long have you owned your Betta? Was he or she a rescue?
Owned since August 2015, from PetCo

Okay guys, so here's the story, I'm going to try to sum it up because it's pretty long, while keeping the very important details.

My girlfriend and I are proud new owners of Tootsie, our curious wandering Betta.

We saved Tootsie (Half Moon Double Tail Betta) from PetCo in August.

We had him in a 1 gallon tank, unfiltered, with a digital thermometer with water being in room temperature.

We did 100% water changes every three days as we have read that it what is best for a 1 gallon.

Tootsie tore his fin (the double tail part, I apologize that my fish anatomy isn't so great) before
putting him in a 10 gallon tank.

He lost half of his color while in the 1 gallon tank due to (what we assume) the stress of tearing his fin)

The tank was not cycled prior, we just followed the instructions since it was part of a kit from
Wal-Mart (the teatra 10 gallon that comes with beneficial bacteria and water filter etc etc.)

We feel that the tank is cycled now.

We have been doing weekly 20% water changes, but decided to do 40% water change since the Ammonia was really high (like 1ppm+).

After the 40% water change, Tootsie was demonstrating clamped fin, loss of color, lethargic behavior, and hanging out at the bottom of the tank next to a hollowed vase away from light. He was darting around wildly as if he was trying to shake something off, and he would only come up for air. He would eat, but then he would go right back down with shallow breath. He seemed very sensitive to light.

We have had the Master Test Kit and checked all water parameters.
We thought the PH was too acidic (6.0)
The ammonia seemed dangerously high ( .50ppm to 1.0ppm)

We used natural methods to raise PH and added one of those fizzy amonia tabs as well as an airstone and baking soda following directions for his tank size. We totally jumped the gun there.
We added Melafix as well, which was another huge mistake we made, but we honestly just didn't know.

PH raised to about 7.6 from 6.0 within a few hours.

Ammonia showed signs of clearing up to about 0ppm

He was still hanging out on the bottom, a day later, water parameters were normal. Nitrate and Nitrite were never changed, they always remained @ 0ppm throughout this whole disaster.

We also tried to add Aq Salt since we read online it should be helpful if he is presenting signs of fin rot or some kind of illness or stress. We stopped with Melafix at that point. We didn't know about Seachem Stressguard, just that the NovAqua should provide some kind of stress relief since it provides a slime coat.

We leave for a weekend on a trip, (he is fasted for one day a week) I decided I'm going to get some Seachem StressGuard and Betta Spa as a last resort, ordered it from Amazon, and it came when we came back the 2nd day. We find him beached on his floating log, halfway in the water, stiff as the log, and we thought he was dead.

He was so pale, I tapped on the tank, and he just slowly fell to the bottom, still unmoving, still pale. He finally moves, and he looks bloated, and I mean dropsy bloated. It was really heartbreaking, so I added 10 gallon dose of Betta Spa, and a 10 gallon dose of Seachem StressGuard.

No kidding, within an hour, most of his blue comes back, his shine, the bloating goes away, and he is swimming around like our normal Tootsie betta. I don't know what it was, but I know that had to have helped somehow.

Currently he remains to be his normal self, however I am still so unsure of his fins. I come to this forum to get some help, I did not want to add any more medication, we are going to start doing water changes every second or third day (20%) because we feel that he might have fin rot, ammonia burn, or may just be recovering.

After typing all this, I firmly believe we have been doing more harm than good by getting overwhelemd and trying to help expecting immediate results.

I'm not touching his PH anymore (unlessy ou guys feel we should keep it at 7.0), because it's on the Acidic side, but his behavior is normal.

I'll provide all the photos I can.

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^^^^^^ September 6, 2015 When we first got him
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^^^^^^^ October 17, a month after being in his 1 gallon

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^^^^^ November 7th and 12, 2015, Two Weeks after moving him in the 10 gallon
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^^^^^ After Betta Spa + SeaChem StressGuard Treat (12/6/15)
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Currently (12/19/15)
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Like I said guys, I feel horrible seeing how much I have put him through with all the medications, water changes, etc.. we don't want to add any more, but we seem to always be presented with conflicting information on whether or not he needs betta safe medication or just more frequent water changes until his fins regrow. I'm glad we took all these photos, and I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read this. We are proud new betta owners who only want the best for our Tootsie, and have learned the hard way to just be patient. For the most part his colors look to be coming back, but I can't tell if his fins are recovering or rotting.

My other question is, we have a fluval foam in placement of the carbon cartridge for the at10, should we replace the fluval foam with a sponge? If so, what would you recommend?

Thanks again,
- Mario
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Old 12-20-2015, 12:04 AM   #2 
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Location: Canada
Well, first I'd like to say, he's a beautiful little Betta, reminds me of one of the fish my grown son once had!

Second is kind of a rule: fresh water fish like fresh water, so regular water changes are a must.

Then there is the issue about cycling a tank, where you need to build up the beneficial bacteria in the filter while keeping the water safe for the fish you keep in it.

At a pH of 6 you do not have to worry about your ammonia of .25 since most of the ammonia will be at the less toxic form called ammonium. It is better to keep the pH at a constant level than to try to alter it, so I would recommend not to try and "fix" your pH. Fish will adjust to your ph, and bettas actually prefer the more acidic environments.
My city's water is soft and has low pH also, but I am now using a substrate (Eco complete) that helps maintain a constant level by improving the buffering (I've had a pH crash and lost some fish and shrimp).

Your tank is going through the cycling process that's why you see the ammonia rising. Your filter does not yet have the beneficial bacteria to convert the fish's waste.

Your pH is low which can make your cycling process a little more difficult for the bacteria but eventually you should see a drop in ammonia and a rise in nitrite. When that happens, at your pH it is very important that you will keep those levels low, very low, since they are more toxic in your pH.

After that you will see a rise in Nitrates. Once you have levels of 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite but reading of nitrates your filter is cycled and you then can go to changing his water once weekly between 30-50%!

I would recommend to stop using all these medications but doing water changes according to his levels of toxins in his tank until it is cycled. Keep using the water conditioner though, it is important for the health of your betta and the building of the beneficial bacteria.

I can't help you with your filter question, maybe someone else will come by shortly with some tips for you.
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Old 12-20-2015, 12:14 AM   #3 
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Location: East Lansing, MI
What she said ^

In regards of filter, I won't mess with it for now. Yes, sponges make great filters, but I see no reason to switch to it if your current one is working just fine, *and* is currently cycling on top of all. If you want to switch to sponge you can run it together with your current filter once it's fully cycled for a few weeks. That way the sponges will gather beneficial bacteria. And then you can either leave it that way or make the sponge the main filter. Not now though. Poor guy has gone through a lot of changes already.
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Old 12-20-2015, 10:24 AM   #4 
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Thank you so much for your kind responses and all the input you have provided me. I'm happy to know you guys feel that he is doing and looking good.

Today I am going to do a 20% water change only adding conditioner.

I will keep a very close eye on the water parameters throughout this cycling process and not touch the fluval foam that has been in place of the filter cartridge (The company suggests replacing the filter every month, and it's $10 for 2 little cartridges...)

The reason why I was thinking of placing a sponge in there was because the fluval foam is a little more open than a fine sponge (if that makes sense), so (I thought, but please correct me if I'm wrong) it would be better for beneficial bacteria to grow. As you have said though, I'll just place a sponge in conjunction with the foam when the tank has been fully cycled.

Now to my question!
His fins, I know they have recovered significantly over time, but with his current pictures, how can I truly tell if they are recovering or rotting? I'll definitely be patient with it, I just don't want it to be too late and have it get to his body.
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Old 12-20-2015, 10:40 AM   #5 
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Location: Canada
I'm sorry, I missed addressing your Betta's fins. My computer screen is not so great, but from what I can tell the white-ish bits on the end of his fins may be new growth. It comes in clear and then colours up in time.

The issue with your filter cartridges is, that you should never replace those unless they are actually falling apart, otherwise you will have to start over cycling your tank each time. Once you find your filter is starting to fall apart try to fit a new filter along with the old filter to re-seed the new filter. I have heard people recommend removing the batting from its filter frame and fit it over the new filter. Not sure if that is a possibility with your system.
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Old 12-20-2015, 10:58 AM   #6 
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^ Hear, hear! Don't ever change your filter media unless you reeeaaally really have to. I don't know what media you use, but most will last you a very long time. Heck, they don't even need to be cleaned all that often. Mine has been running for a good solid year, through three fishes, and has only been cleaned once. I imagine when the day comes for my current Bio Bag to be replaced, I will run a new media along with the current one for at least a month before I take the old one away. That way the new media will take over the job no problem. But then again if you have two filters: your current one and the sponge, then you can take away one of them any day.

Side note: cleaning filter medias
- Please only use tank water. Scoop out some tank water in a bowl and then, if you use Bio Bags like me, scrub your media a little bit while pressing it down on several places. Flip it over, do the same. Toss the (very) dirty water away and return the media to the filter. Some says this will shock the fish a little, so keep an eye out.
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Old 01-16-2016, 06:19 PM   #7 
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Good evening guys!

I apologize for not being as active, with Christmas, New Year, and State tests coming, I've been neglecting the forum.

We have been doing water changed every 2-3 days, fasting him one day a week still, and he is doing absolutely wonderful. His fins are much more vibrant, he has a very nice opalescent sheen to him, and he's very active.

I haven't checked his water parameters as religiously as before, andi t is still the same, which is no issue. Nitrate and Nitrite's are 0ppm. Ammonia seems to go up .25ppm after a day or two of a fresh water change but no more than that, and he continues to show signs of fin growth. I'll post pictures. :)
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Old 01-16-2016, 06:40 PM   #8 
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Smile Betta Recovery Progress Pics

Wanted to say thanks again for everyone's helpful advice. It has helped a lot with Tootsie's recovery!

P.S. The pictures don't do it justice.

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Thanks again for everything. I'm unsure of how threads are closed, but I would consider this one closed due to the fact that it has been almost a month and he is continuing to show signs of progress. I will definitely open up a new thread if things start to go south, but otherwise, everyone's advice has helped with the recovery of our beloved betta.
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Old 01-17-2016, 08:40 AM   #9 
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That's wonderful, your Betta looks great! :)

The only issue I see is that your tank does yet not seem to be cycled. You say that the ammonia goes up 2 days after a water change. This tells me that there is no beneficial bacteria using up that toxin.

You also do not yet have any Nitrate levels, although in a 10 gallon tank, with one fish and water changes of every 2-3 days, the levels could be so low that they aren't readable. But that would only be applicable if your ammonia would stay at 0 as well.

A cycled tank (filter) has 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite but readings of nitrate. Are you always treating the tap water with dechlorinator before turning the filter back on? You are not rinsing the filter under tap water, are you? Chlorine and Chloramine will kill the beneficial bacteria of your filter, and you will have to start cycling your tank all over again.

Here is one of the stickies on the forum to explain the cycling process

Glad to see he has recovered so beautifully, keep it up with those water changes, but once your tank is cycled you will only have to do a water change (30-50%) once weekly.
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Old 01-17-2016, 11:04 AM   #10 
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The way we are doing the water changes is adding the amount of NovAqua+ and Amquel+ to the amount of water we are putting in.

For example, we do a 20% (2 gallon) water change every 2-3 days, and add 2 gallons worth of the NovAqua and AmQuel, pretreating the water.

That was one of my major questions, regarding the filter media, because the filter media we have in it is considered a foam. We have cleaned it only once but with the tank water. The foam is about 2 months old, but I'm unfamiliar with what beneficial bacteria can grow on. I have done the cleaning by putting it in a bowl of tank water and just squeezing out the filter repeatedly per instructions on this site. The filter and heater gets turned back on after adding the new water.

If necessary, I could always put the required filter media (which was a sponge + carbon filter) that goes with the AT10 filter we have, and just leave it, but the issue would be that I can't really take it apart to clean it if I ever have to since it is in its own case.

In Addition:
The reasoning behind adding the foam was to decrease the amount of flow that the filter produced. Even though it is an adjustable flow, at the time we had to have the filter face against the tank glass so that it wouldn't push our Betta around. At the time he was very weak and swimming against the slightest current produced by the filter when it was facing the wall. He is not so weak now and does not seem to be phased even the slightest by the current, but I still have the concern of if or if I don't have the proper media in the filter. As a reminder, the PH is in 6.0 and possibly lower, according to the PH test, but it has been like that during his recovery and he seems to have adapted to it.

Last edited by MDBro; 01-17-2016 at 11:10 AM.
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