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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone, this is my male betta fish that I have had since December 2019.
He is in a 5.5 gallon tank that has a heater and filter. The temperature of the tank is always 80 degrees F.
In this tank, I keep 2 zebra danios and 1 guppy fish.
I have noticed that his fins became WAY smaller. He has also lost some of his color.
Is this because of stress? Fin rot? Does he nip his fins? I took out a sharp seashell that was in the tank.
He is mainly active and always eats his food. I feed my fish once a day in the morning.

please help and let me know if there is any way I could help him out

  1. thank you
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Housing:
How many gallons is your tank? 5.5 G
Does it have a filter? Yes
Does it have a heater? Yes
What temperature is your tank? 80F
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Does your Betta have tank mates? What kind? Yes, 2 zebra danios and 1 guppy fish

Food:
What food brand do you use? TetraMin Tropical Flakes
Do you feed flakes or pellets? Flakes
Freeze-dried? No
How often do you feed your Betta? How much? Once every day in the morning ( I drop a few flakes in and he eats about 2-3)

Maintenance:
Before your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change? I haven’t been keeping up (2-3 weeks)
What percentage of water did you change? About 40-50%
What is the source of your water? Tap with water conditioner
Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water? Dip out
What additives do you use? What brand of conditioner? Tetra AquaSafe for Bettas

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. Important: Test your water before the regular water change; not after one.

Ammonia: N/A
Nitrite:N/A
Nitrate:N/A
pH:N/A
Hardness (GH):N/A
Alkalinity (KH):N/A

Symptoms and Treatment:
When did you first notice the symptoms? About 2-3 weeks ago, maybe 1 month
How has your Betta’s appearance changed? His fins have become way shorter, he looks smaller now, his color looks faded
How has your Betta’s behavior changed? He doesn’t chase the other fish anymore, used to chase them and swim fast
Is your Betta still eating? Yes
Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how? No, don’t know how
Does your Betta have any history of being ill? No
How long have you owned your Betta? Since December 2019
Was he or she ill or suffering some sort of damage when purchased? No
 

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First, sorry your first post has to be in this section. :(

The first thing I would do is rehome or get another tank for the Danio and Guppy. A 5.5, no matter what the pet stores tell you, is too small for anything other than a Betta a snail. Both the Danio are not recommended to be in less than a 20 (30 x 12 x 12) gallon and the Guppy in a 10 (20 x 12 x 10). Also, Danio are shoaling fish and to diminish their nippiness should be in shoals of no fewer than six.

The problem is most likely related to water quality. A 5.5 with just a Betta need a 25%-50% per week with thorough vacuuming of the substrate; not dipping out. With the added bioload of the other fish, this should be a minimum of 50%. The reason is all of the feces and leftover food stay in the substrate and rot which contributes to dangerous parameters; especially Ammonia.

This Ammonia build-up can cause all of the symptoms your Betta is showing: Paleness, lethargy, loss of fin tissue, clamped fins. The Danio could also be harassing him when the lights are out and causing additional stress.

For now, I would remove the Guppy and Danio and doing four 25% a couple of hours apart. There is a reason for these smaller water changes over a period of time instead of 100%. Most likely the Ammonia is extremely high and if you alter it too dramatically you can throw fish into parameter shock.

Good Luck.
 

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I completely agree with RussellTheShihTzu, your tank has too many fish and you will need to bring the danios and guppy back to the store (or buy another larger tank for them, or find a friend to take them- but they can't stay in a 5g).

Your betta looks pale and his fins are held stiff and closed together, rather than relaxed and flowing- that's called "clamping" and is a sign of stress. Fins becoming shorter suddenly means they were bitten, which could have happened by him or by one of the other fish in the tank. Damaged fins need clean water to heal up and not become infected. If by "smaller" you meant narrow/closed, rather than short in length, then it's just clamping you're seeing.

Zebra danios are very energetic- I had some in a 10g, and regret it. They really do need at least a 20g in order to have enough room to zip around. Because they are so active they will stress your betta just by how quickly and constantly they swim around, and as mentioned, because there are only two in your tank when they should be in a larger school, they will be "on edge" and probably harass your betta- including possibly nipping his fins- rather than keeping to their own group.

Guppies also ideally need a larger tank, and their bright fins can stress bettas because the betta may think they are a competitor. I believe they also do best in groups, and may become nippy if left on their own.

It also looks like you don't have many plants in your tank, which only adds to the stress your betta is feeling. Bettas like having lots of plants- ideally fabric or live rather than plastic- to swim through, rest on and hide among. A mostly-bare tank doesn't give him many places to take cover if he's feeling stressed.

Hopefully when you did today's water change you took Russel's advice and did not change it all at once. If you did do just one large change, your fish may be shocked by the difference in water quality from old water to fresh and potentially you may lose some.

As soon as you are able to, return the danios and the guppy to the store. In the meantime, increase the frequency and amount of your water changes- at least 50% once a week, but an extra 25% during the week wouldn't hurt either.

While you are at the store to return the other fish, I suggest you bring a separate bottle with some water from your tank and ask them to test it- most stores will happily do so for free. Ask for the specific numbers from the test(s) and write them down, since just being told "fine" or "a bit high" doesn't help. Since it's been running since December, most likely your tank either is cycled, or is still going through the process. The water test will help us figure out where in the process you are (Because of the current pandemic situation you may not be able to get your water tested, but it doesn't hurt to ask).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I completely agree with RussellTheShihTzu, your tank has too many fish and you will need to bring the danios and guppy back to the store (or buy another larger tank for them, or find a friend to take them- but they can't stay in a 5g).

Your betta looks pale and his fins are held stiff and closed together, rather than relaxed and flowing- that's called "clamping" and is a sign of stress. Fins becoming shorter suddenly means they were bitten, which could have happened by him or by one of the other fish in the tank. Damaged fins need clean water to heal up and not become infected. If by "smaller" you meant narrow/closed, rather than short in length, then it's just clamping you're seeing.

Zebra danios are very energetic- I had some in a 10g, and regret it. They really do need at least a 20g in order to have enough room to zip around. Because they are so active they will stress your betta just by how quickly and constantly they swim around, and as mentioned, because there are only two in your tank when they should be in a larger school, they will be "on edge" and probably harass your betta- including possibly nipping his fins- rather than keeping to their own group.

Guppies also ideally need a larger tank, and their bright fins can stress bettas because the betta may think they are a competitor. I believe they also do best in groups, and may become nippy if left on their own.

It also looks like you don't have many plants in your tank, which only adds to the stress your betta is feeling. Bettas like having lots of plants- ideally fabric or live rather than plastic- to swim through, rest on and hide among. A mostly-bare tank doesn't give him many places to take cover if he's feeling stressed.

Hopefully when you did today's water change you took Russel's advice and did not change it all at once. If you did do just one large change, your fish may be shocked by the difference in water quality from old water to fresh and potentially you may lose some.

As soon as you are able to, return the danios and the guppy to the store. In the meantime, increase the frequency and amount of your water changes- at least 50% once a week, but an extra 25% during the week wouldn't hurt either.

While you are at the store to return the other fish, I suggest you bring a separate bottle with some water from your tank and ask them to test it- most stores will happily do so for free. Ask for the specific numbers from the test(s) and write them down, since just being told "fine" or "a bit high" doesn't help. Since it's been running since December, most likely your tank either is cycled, or is still going through the process. The water test will help us figure out where in the process you are (Because of the current pandemic situation you may not be able to get your water tested, but it doesn't hurt to ask).
not sure if they are clamped
I’m scared that they might have been bitten off

here are some old pics of my betta when he was healthy in February
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Seems like his fins are indeed shorter, especially his tail and anal fin. It looks like the edges of his fins are healthy and not infected with finrot, which is good. Finrot is usually not fatal until it's quite advanced but it's always better to avoid it.

To heal his fins back to full length- and to regain his health in general- he'll need clean water, to have the nippy fish removed, and ideally you would replace the general "tropical fish" food with something meant for bettas so he has proper nutrition.

If you change his food, look for a formula that has fish/seafood as the main ingredient, and not a lot of veggies which are used as fillers. Some good brands to consider are New Life Spectrum, Omega One, Northfin, and Bug Bites- you should be able to find at least one at most pet stores.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Seems like his fins are indeed shorter, especially his tail and anal fin. It looks like the edges of his fins are healthy and not infected with finrot, which is good. Finrot is usually not fatal until it's quite advanced but it's always better to avoid it.

To heal his fins back to full length- and to regain his health in general- he'll need clean water, to have the nippy fish removed, and ideally you would replace the general "tropical fish" food with something meant for bettas so he has proper nutrition.

If you change his food, look for a formula that has fish/seafood as the main ingredient, and not a lot of veggies which are used as fillers. Some good brands to consider are New Life Spectrum, Omega One, Northfin, and Bug Bites- you should be able to find at least one at most pet stores.
Thank you, I’ll try to get the other fish out as soon as possible. Should I feed him 2 times a day or just once like I have always done?

Would it be ok to put the betta into a smaller quarantine tank for now since some of the local pet stores are closed in my area that accept fish
First, sorry your first post has to be in this section. :(

The first thing I would do is rehome or get another tank for the Danio and Guppy. A 5.5, no matter what the pet stores tell you, is too small for anything other than a Betta a snail. Both the Danio are not recommended to be in less than a 20 (30 x 12 x 12) gallon and the Guppy in a 10 (20 x 12 x 10). Also, Danio are shoaling fish and to diminish their nippiness should be in shoals of no fewer than six.

The problem is most likely related to water quality. A 5.5 with just a Betta need a 25%-50% per week with thorough vacuuming of the substrate; not dipping out. With the added bioload of the other fish, this should be a minimum of 50%. The reason is all of the feces and leftover food stay in the substrate and rot which contributes to dangerous parameters; especially Ammonia.

This Ammonia build-up can cause all of the symptoms your Betta is showing: Paleness, lethargy, loss of fin tissue, clamped fins. The Danio could also be harassing him when the lights are out and causing additional stress.

For now, I would remove the Guppy and Danio and doing four 25% a couple of hours apart. There is a reason for these smaller water changes over a period of time instead of 100%. Most
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
First, sorry your first post has to be in this section. :(

The first thing I would do is rehome or get another tank for the Danio and Guppy. A 5.5, no matter what the pet stores tell you, is too small for anything other than a Betta a snail. Both the Danio are not recommended to be in less than a 20 (30 x 12 x 12) gallon and the Guppy in a 10 (20 x 12 x 10). Also, Danio are shoaling fish and to diminish their nippiness should be in shoals of no fewer than six.

The problem is most likely related to water quality. A 5.5 with just a Betta need a 25%-50% per week with thorough vacuuming of the substrate; not dipping out. With the added bioload of the other fish, this should be a minimum of 50%. The reason is all of the feces and leftover food stay in the substrate and rot which contributes to dangerous parameters; especially Ammonia.

This Ammonia build-up can cause all of the symptoms your Betta is showing: Paleness, lethargy, loss of fin tissue, clamped fins. The Danio could also be harassing him when the lights are out and causing additional stress.

For now, I would remove the Guppy and Danio and doing four 25% a couple of hours apart. There is a reason for these smaller water changes over a period of time instead of 100%. Most likely the Ammonia is extremely high and if you alter it too dramatically you can throw fish into parameter shock.

Good Luck.
how often should I be doing the 25% water changes? Everyday?
And do I do four 25% water changes apart a few hours?
 

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Feeding him once a day is fine. Feeding a smaller meal twice a day helps prevent bloating, but if he hasn't had any problems so far he's probably alright on his current schedule.


If the smaller tank is a) at least a gallon and b) heated, then IMO it would be a good idea to move him in for now.

If the smaller tank is not heated, you will have to decide if the stress of being in chilly water would be less than the stress of being in an overcrowded tank. Since he's already not looking happy to me with clamped fins, I personally would probably go for it. If you can raise the temperature of the room the small tank is in, that will help the water stay a bit warmer. Do not remove the heater from the 5.5g in order to heat the small container, because your other fish need to be kept warm.

In the smaller container, you would want to change 25% twice a week, as well as a weekly 100% change (so a total of three water changes weekly). This is because Ammonia and other waste products will build up quickly in a small container, so you will need to do extra water changes to remove it.

I find it helpful to write a water change schedule on a wall calendar, or you might put reminders in your phone, etc.


Today in the 5.5g change out 25% of the water four times, waiting an hour or two in-between each change so the fish get used to the fresh water you are adding. Do this whether or not you are taking out the betta.

After that is done- if you are keeping the betta in the 5g tank with the other fish- you can start changing out 50% once a week, or 25% two to three times weekly. Your goal is to keep the water in the tank clean, without stressing the fish by constantly changing their water. Again, a calendar can help you with keeping track.

If you decide to move your betta to the other container, you will only need to change 25 - 50% of the water in the 5g once a week. In the future when the other fish are removed and you only have the betta in the tank, you can continue to change the water once a week.


In general, it looks as if your betta is stressed but not actively ill. This is a good thing, and means that once he is happier he should perk back up quickly. So please do not get too worried- he should be just fine once you have made a few changes!
 
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