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Advanced Fin Rot. Please Help Me Save My Fish!

6502 Views 33 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  samanthariviere
I got Foster by way of my little sister's friend a little over a year and a half ago She was bored with him and trying to starve him to death, and no one else would take him. I've never been a fish person- too stressful; but I was under the impression that bettas are super simple, so I took him on. I put him in a 1.5 gallon tank with a filter and lid but no heater, fed him, changed his tank semi regularly and pretty much let him do his thing. Recently, he got really sluggish and lost his appetite, but I figured it was due to old age rather than disease. About a week ago, he swam past the front of the tank and I realized that I had somehow failed to notice as half of his tail disappeared. Starting tuesday, I started changing his water daily and dosing with AQ salt. I did this for five days, but because it's fairly advanced already, I switched him to Tetracycline on Sunday and stopped dosing with AQ salt. This is supposed to be his last day on the antibiotics, but I forgot to remove the carbon filter for the first few days, and now the water is only faintly tinted yellow and the black edges show no signs of going away. He's a lot more lively and his appetite is back, but I suspect that has more to do with his new heater than the medicine. Should I keep dosing him for a few more days? Try something else? or just stop with the medicine and keep cleaning the water? I'm trying to make up for a severe lack of knowledge in a very short time and this site has been helpful so far, but I'm still worried that my ignorance is going to kill him. Please help me out here. What else should I be doing?

What size is your tank? 1.5 gallons
What temperature is your tank? 78(F)
Does your tank have a filter? Yes
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Is your tank heated? Yes
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? None

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Aqueon Pellets. Bloodworms (freeze-dried)
How often do you feed your betta fish? Pellets twice a day in small amounts, with one meal skipped every few days. Bloodworms no more than twice a week.

How often do you perform a water change? recently, every day.
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 25% (100% with the AQ salt)
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? water conditioner

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

Ammonia: 0-.25ppm
Nitrite: unknown
Nitrate: unknown
pH: unknown
Hardness: unknown
Alkalinity: unknwon

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? severe fin rot. Half his tail is gone. Both front fins affected. Black edges on tail, but not fins.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? Sluggish, loss of appetite (both seem to now be better)
When did you start noticing the symptoms? a while ago.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? last tuesday (Dec 9th)
Does your fish have any history of being ill? no
How old is your fish (approximately)? 2 years

Picture is a bit dark, but this is what's going on with him:
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Hi Samantha,
Sorry we missed your post, I'm running out the door trying to get to work but I'll get the ball rolling for you. Here is some treatment info from lilnaugrim's Fin-Rot vs. Fin Biting thread to hold you over until the cavalry gets here!

...Now Fin Rot is different, fin rot happens because water quality declines and an infection sets in the fins. This is a bacterial infection that can infect any fish but fish that live in smaller environments that aren't properly cared for are more susceptible to getting this rot. This will not happen overnight and you will notice a steady decrease in finnage. Fin rot is not only black but comes in a variety of coloration, black is the more common one seen on mostly blue fish from simply the coloration. White, orange, red and yellow fish tend to see reddened edges like they are sore and they recede. And then the fin will look dead and no longer healthy.
Fin rot can set in from the result of fin biting but it doesn't have to have fin biting to set in.

Treatment: in most cases you only need to do a few things to help your Betta fight off the infection. First off is to improve your water quality, do frequent water changes through the week to help balance out electrolytes and promote the fish to fight off the infection. A high quality diet will also help out*. Warm, clean water is ideal and if you can get a tannins source that will also help stop the infection.
Many people believe that Aquarium Salt is the key to fighting off the infection; this is indeed false and doesn't do what most people believe it does. What aquarium salt does is balance out electrolytes which is a nice thing but not necessary, and secondly it aggravates the slime coat. This is why when you use AQ salt you often will notice a stringy substance coming off your fish, this is extra slime coat he has produced and is now shedding the old coat he had as the new one comes in. This is effective for helping to get rid of Ich, the old slime coat knocks off the parasite which helps to kill off the parasite.
You will notice that in the two major things that salt does, it does not cure fin rot. What it does do is it can sterilize an open wound. This is helpful when your fish does bite his fins; this creates an open wound on the fin for a day or so until it closes up. Fin Rot is not an open wound, think of it as a nasty scab, you wouldn't pour salt on a scab since it doesn't do anything! Now if you opened that scab, then you can use a saline solution to keep it clean until it heals.
So in most cases of fin rot you can; do frequent water changes, use a tannin source for antibacterial properties and make sure his water is warm (80-84*F).

In very bad cases of fin rot medications will be needed, skip the salt and head right for an antibacterial medication such as Triple Sulfa, Erythromycin, Tetracycline, General Cure or KanaPlex. KanaPlex is the best to get if the fin rot is aggressive, you may use a combination of medications but further diagnosis will be needed to tell that.

The OP can be found here,

Hang in there!
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Thanks Mike! The link was helpful, and I'll look into the tannin sources. I'm hoping the tetracycline does the trick, but I'll certainly look into KanaPlex if the infection proves stubborn.
Here's my 2 cents Samantha,

You need to be doing 100% water changes everyday until this gets licked. Be sure to cup him & re-acclimate him every time.

I would switch your water conditioner to Seachem Prime. Add 2 drops per gallon when you condition your water and 1 drop per gallon a day to keep the ammonia build up in check. Poor water conditions are most likely the cause of the fin-rot. Prime can lock-up the harmful ammonia for 48 hours until you can do a water change.

You will need a test kit. I would recommend getting an API Master Test Kit. This way you can accurately keep track of your water parameters

Raise the temperature to 80-82°.

As far as medication goes, you can do better than Tetracycline. Erythromycin or Kanaplex would be best.

I recommend a source of tannin. This can be found in Indian Almond leaves or Rooibos tea.
You can read about the benefits here,

You can find them on ebay and now Petsmart in the Hermit crab section.;pgid=fVFGcD0GnOtSRpHGKo0ohTag0000WUS8XsTr?_t=pfm%3Dsearch%26SearchTerm%3Dcatappa
If you choose ebay, just make sure you choose a seller that is based in the US or you might have to wait a while to get them, not to mention the expensive shipping costs from Asia.

In the meantime, you can use something called Rooibos tea. It can be found in any supermarket. I recommend the Twinings Brand, Pure Rooibos Red Tea. It's all natural and decaffeinated. Just place a bag in your tank for a few hours, that's it!.

I would suggest switching him to a high quality pellet like Omega One Betta Buffet or New Life Spectrum betta, community or surface feeder formula. The are high in protein and low on fillers. Freeze dried foods can cause bloating and constipation.
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Hey Sam,
One more thing. I noticed that you didn't provide test results for PH. Tetracycline will be ineffective in a PH above 7.5. This might be why you are not seeing results. It can even be effected the hardness of your water. I would suggest switching him to Kanaplex or Erythromycin immediately.

This is why a test kit is important. It helps us help you.
Aq salt does not aggravate the slime coat. It helps the fish produce more slime coat. It kills the bacteria that causes the fins to rot. The change in salinity cause the bacterial cell to burst. It is the key to fighting fin rot not only with betta but other freshwater fish as well. It can be used in conjunction with other medications and often makes them more effective. I would add salt baths to the treatment plan myself. The initial cause of fin rot is high free ammonia which destroys the thin layer of slime coat on betta delicate fins, this allows the bacteria a food source. Methylene Blue dips can also be very useful in treating fin rot and are much easier on the fish than antibiotics, but also can be used in combination with them. The aq salt used at the recommended dose (1 tablespoon per 5 g) will often prevent fin rot from ever getting a foothold and provide the fish other benefits such as reducing stress and improved breathing. It will also reduce the toxicity of free ammonia and help a fish deal with nitrite exposure in the water.
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I'm getting a test kit, the prime, better food and roobios today. There's no place around here to get Kanaplex so I ordered it- should be here in a few days. I'm not sure I can afford a heater, so I moved him to a warmer spot in the house- water isn't quite at 80, I'm working on a better solution for that.

Thank you so much for your help. Hopefully with better information he can get healthy again.
For the methalyne blue, I would give him a bath, not apply directly to fins right? I'm getting some links that suggest netting and apply directly to the fish and that sounds like a really good way to freak out or kill an already sick fish.
Yeah I would just do a MB bath myself. However the direct application isn't that bad, the fish recover from the scare pretty quickly. Cheering for you!
My boy had bad fin rot recently. I used triple sulfa and AQ. Salt. Stopped the rot quickly. Fins are already growing back.
this is what is going on with one of my boys, he got his tail caught in the filter guard :(
alright. Still waiting for the antibiotics to arrive- shipping's a mess right now. In the meantime I've been dosing with AQ salt and changing the water every day. I saw this floating in the water and I don't know what it's from. It's not a fin- he's not missing any new chunks, especially not this big. Should I be concerned?


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I think it is a piece of slime coat that was shed. Not a bad thing at all.
okay, new question (maybe it should be a new thread, but it's the same sick fish, so I'm posting here). Foster seems to be having trouble staying horizontal when not actively swimming. his tail floats up above his head and its freaky. what's going on here? Is the new behavior related to the fin rot?
*I should mention: He's floating head down at the bottom of the tank, not head up at the top. He's got no problem staying horizontal when he's up at the top.
Sounds like he could have swim bladder disorder or SBD. It is not related to the fin issues he's been having.

A 2-3 day fast and the dietary changes I recommended will help him out.
I made the dietary changes and fasted him for three days, as recommended. He's still swimming funny. It's almost like without the tail, he doesn't have enough weight on the back end to keep himself level. Video shows what I mean pretty well. http://
Change your water atleast 50% DAILY!!! make sure the water is close to the same temp as the fish's water, I had body and fin rot did Malflex and AQ Salt once daily after my water change and im happy to say she is fastly improving! Again Water change Daily! Keeps the light off place a towel on the tank and keep heat in!! Avoid any stress!! If you need more help please email me!
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