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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, I have a very young betta fish and he is sick. Here's the information about him:

Housing
1 Gallon Tank
I don't know the temperature but I have the light on during the day, and an automatic heater at night that's supposed to keep it at mid-70s
There is an underground filter
I don't have an air stone but the filter pumps air through the tank
He has two snail buddies, and a small fern-like plant

Food
I feed him tropical betta flakes once a day

Maintenance

Usually, I don't perform frequent water changes but in the last week I've changed about 80% of the water twice because he was sick and I was worried something was wrong with the water.

Every time I change the water I add StressCoat+ to dechlorinate it and keep his stress levels down. It says to add double the dose to repair skin and scales and since he was looking bad I did that.

Water Parameters:
I haven't tested the water but I did two major water changes (I took him out and even cleaned the rocks and his house and plant and everything)

Symptoms and Treatment
I noticed the symptoms last week.
He doesn't have any history of being ill that I know of... except one instance I will mention below.
He is about 2-3 months old; I got him from Petsmart about the beginning of January. He has had zero loss of appetite despite being sick, probably because he's still growing.

Here's what's been happening.
After he had been in his tank for a few weeks, I'd tried to give him snail friends but he kept eating them. He must have discovered they didn't sit well with him because he finally stopped attacking them and he had two snail friends for a few more weeks before he got sick. He'd been eating fine and swimming and being happy. I always kept the little flap (where you put in the food) open but one day I closed it; didn't see any changes so I figured it was fine. Until one morning and I woke up and he was sitting on the bottom, pale white like a ghost and I was absolutely terrified. I opened the flap, fed him, and went to class; came back and he was red again and swimming around just fine. I made sure to keep the flap open after that but he seemed to be perfectly healthy.

Then. About 1-2 weeks later, I found him laying on the bottom of the tank more, swimming jerkily, and suddenly he began thrashing around the tank like he wanted to knock himself out -- it was absolutely terrible to watch. I immediately looked on this site to figure out what on earth could be wrong. I looked at him closely and it seemed he might have a very faint layer of gray filmy stuff on his back half, and there was a pale region under his dorsal fin that looked like a saddle.

First I gave him a nearly 100% water change (cleaned the rocks and everything) and he seemed to do a bit better, but the next morning he was doing poorly again and laying on the bottom. He didn't thrash around though. I figured it must be some kind of fungus so I got Fungus Cure fizzing tablets and salt from the store. I put a tiny bit of salt in, added the appropriate amount of medicine (I forgot to turn the filter off so I had to do it twice basically) and left his light on overnight so the tank would be warm. After four days he seemed to be doing a little better and would open his fins up when he ate; but he still looked sick and the instructions called for a second dose so I changed 25% of the water and added the second dose, as it said. Things went way downhill from there. He got worse and worse.

Three days in I was scared he was going to die because he was swimming weird, a cottony white spot had appeared on his back, and he started thrashing around the tank again. I turned on the filter for several hours then did another 100% water change to get rid of the medicine that was obviously not helping. He seems to like water changes and will swim with open fins for a couple hours before resuming laying on the bottom looking dead. I added salt to the water because the medicine had not been working...about a teaspoon per twelve hours, three times, like the forum had said to do for ick or columnaris(I think?) and put in the heater so that even at night the temperature wouldn't drop below like 75 fahrenheit.

But he continued to get worse and only swims to get a breath of air or food (for which he still has a large appetite) or if you accidentally bump the tank. He didn't even move when I showed him a mirror. He hides in his little hut and won't come out... and after looking at another post I worried I'd added too much salt. So, I just changed out about 25% of his water for fresh water (and added more StressCoat+) and he seemed to like that and swims around a bit more. But he still looks sick. Also sometimes he looks like he has stripes but I don't think that's good.

What do I do?!? I don't want him to die :-( I want to see him grow into an adult and I can see his fins growing and I don't want to lose that

When you look at the picture keep in mind he hasn't grown all his big long fancy fins yet which is why the bottom one looks all clamped up.. it just hasn't grown. But his tail fin is clamped. you can't see the white spot on his back (between his head and his dorsal fin) in the picture but it is there.

 

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First of all I'd recommend a tank big enough to accommodate a heater. A baby that young needs to be at temps at at least 80*. Right now I'd use just salt and a bit of stresscoat. Indian almond leaf would be good if you could get some. Poor little thing! I hope he perks up for you. Please keep us posted.
 

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Your problem is almost certainly a combination of overstocking and under-cleaning. One gallon can house a betta, but not a betta and two snails. If you were going to try that you would need to do frequent water changes just to keep up with the ammonia. I suggest you rehome the snails, and start doing daily or every-other-day 50% water changes. With a filter your tank is trying to go through the nitrogen cycle, so ammonia turns into nitrite, which is very toxic. And baby bettas especially need extra water changes so they don't stunt their growth.

Because he's stressed by poor water quality it's easier to contract illnesses, such as Columnaris which it sounds like your guy might have. In this case, a lower temperature might actually be helping him- normally I would tell you to buy a heater that can keep his water a steady temp between 76-82*F.

So first, keep doing frequent water changes, at least 50% every-other day. It might just be a good idea to turn the filter off, especially if it's bothering him. If it is Columnaris you can dose up to 1tsp/gallon of AQ salt, but not with the snails- salt hurts them- and get a gram-negative antibiotic like Maracyn-2, Kanaplex, Triple Sulfa or I believe Jungle's "Fungus" cure is actually one (There are more, these are just off the top of my head).

Can you post photos of your betta + tank? They would help a lot with a diagnosis.
 

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Discussion Starter #4

Here's his tank. He was sitting near the bottom, hadn't moved in several minutes so I shook the pineapple gently hence the picture (he got up, took a breath of air, then went and hid in his house again.)
 

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I can't see your photo unfortunately- you can upload the file directly into the comment by hitting "Go Advanced" and there will be an option to upload an attachment on that page. Or if you've already uploaded it to a website like Photobucket, you can use the little picture icon on the top of the comment box and paste the URL into there.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I took the snails and the heater out. Should I keep the light off so it gets cooler? Also I don't have the space for a larger tank right now but I plan on buying one next semester if he survives (or for another). I really hope he pulls through though :/ I'm worried I might have too much salt in it, should I continue to wean that out again? And I treated using a fungus cure fizzing tablet, but I'm not supposed to use it longer than 8 days and it's been more than that now
 

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Mkay, I can't see the fuzz clearly (Darn website re-sizes things wonky), but he doesn't look too happy. Keep the heater in, but turn the light off- darkness will help keep him calm, and you don't want him getting as cold as room temp.

I'd do a 25-50% change with fresh water, if you're not sure how much salt you added. It's better to have too little than too much, especially with babies. Are the tablets you used Jungle brand?
 

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Okay, I wanted to see what the medicine they used was. Looks like it should work for Columnaris but if it didn't work after dosing for the full treatment I would stop using it. Some strains are resistant to different medicines and of course it might not even be Columnaris in the first place. I doubt it's a true fungus since they mostly show up when there's already an open wound of some sort, like the tips of fins when they've got fin rot.

Right now I think he needs a few days of fresh water and darkness, if he looks like he's getting worse or hasn't changed at all, then I would get one of the other medicines and try to see if that works.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
He's suddenly lost his appetite as well...laying on the bottom looking miserable and swims with his tail hanging down. For tonight I will keep the light off and heater on, I am worried he won't make it though
 

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Swimming like that could be a sign of swim bladder problems, but the lack of appetite is worrying. There really isn't anything more you can do tonight, so maybe cover his tank so it's completely dark and try not to stress yourself out too much.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Update: He's now moved up to staying at the top of the tank instead of the bottom. He moves his side fins but seems handicapped in his tail. If I look at him really closely it looks like the scales on his tail are sticking out like the symptom of Dropsy, but only on a part of his tail? The Fungus Guard stuff I got was supposed to treat Dropsy too, should I treat him with it again now that it's been out of the tank for a little while, even though the box says only to treat with two treatments? He's also still not eating, even when I put food right up by his head. I have the light off and heater on. I just turned the filter back on because the water was coated in a weird cloudy film, and it gave off a weird smell, but is diluted now that it's been on a while.
 

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How long has it been since his last treatment? Also, do a large water change and get any waste out of there, as much as possible. If you have a lot of gravel, take most of it out and leave just enough to cover the bottom.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
My friend says it looks more like he's molting... but fish don't molt, do they? His coloration is all off and spotty too, and just gray where he's molting/dropsy/whatever that is. The white cottony spot that was on his back is faded and flat now though, I think that is a good sign?
 

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How long has it been since his last treatment? Also, do a large water change and get any waste out of there, as much as possible. If you have a lot of gravel, take most of it out and leave just enough to cover the bottom.
It's been 8 days since I gave him the second dose, and it's been out of his water for four days now. I did a 100% water change then, do I still need to do another one? Also I have an undergravel filter that supposedly needs at least a couple inches of gravel, do you think it's still ok to take some out?
 

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^ you need to be doing at least 2-3 water changes a week in a one gallon bowl as long as you have it- whether the fish is sick or not. If you don't have a filter if do 80-100% every time but some people do %50
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Hi guys.... good news! My precious Betta has begun eating again! He's also swimming much more happily. The scales on part of his tail are still white and peeling but I think he is definitely improving. Thank you so much for your help, and I'll put up one last post when he's all better (or if anything else goes wrong).
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
I got a 5.5 gallon tank with a heater, filter, and aerator... but it's been a couple days since he's been put in it with his two friend snails and now his fins are clamped again. The heater is set at about 85*F (because it still reads 81*F on the thermometer on the other side of the tank). He's been spending a lot of time hiding and he's stopped eating again. At one point he was hiding underneath the heater, but I moved it so he can't do that. Sometimes he sticks his head straight down in the rocks. Is the water too warm? I don't have any salt or medication in the tank now, but should I? I'm so confused... he was getting better, and I put him in a bigger tank, and now he's worse again.

I'm still keeping him in relative darkness (the shade is drawn in the window next to him and his light is off) and there's only enough gravel in the tank to cover the bottom, except where there are live plants, because I needed enough to keep them from floating up to the top.
 
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