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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My daughter's Betta Fish is really sick. He has been hiding in his rock pyramid for 4 days and won't come up to eat. He has Fin Rot likely because his tank wasn't cleaned often enough. When we took him to the Aquarium store, they confirmed severe Fin Rot and recommended treating with MelaFix. After 7 days of MelaFix, we are supposed to clean the tank out 25%. We did not clean the tank out before starting MelaFix. We removed the carbon filter from the 3.5 gallon tank filter. Fishy seems to be worse since we started the treatment with the MelaFix. Today is the 4th day of treatment. We took Fishy out of his tank and put him in the container we use for cleaning so we could get a picture (for the small container we used 50% Spring Water and 50% water from the tank and made sure it was the same temperature as the tank - 75 degrees).

How many gallons is your tank? 3.5
Does it have a filter? yes, carbon
Does it have a heater? yes, it did we took it out because the water was a little too warm
What temperature is your tank? 75 degrees (in the middle of the safe zone on the thermometer).
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No, I'm not certain what this is
Does your Betta have tank mates? What kind? No mates

What food brand do you use?TetraBetta Plus
Do you feed flakes or pellets? Mini Pellets
Freeze-dried? not sure
How often do you feed your Betta? How much? When he was eating 4 pellets twice a day

your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change? 50% monthly
What percentage of water did you change? 50%
What is the source of your water? Crystal Geyser Spring Water
Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water? Both
What additives do you use? What brand of conditioner? None

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.

I don't know

Hardness (GH):
Alkalinity (KH):

Symptoms and Treatment:
When did you first notice the symptoms? Sunday, 5/17/20
How has your Betta’s appearance changed? He has lost one of his fins and the others look ragged.
How has your Betta’s behavior changed? He is laying inside his rock pyramid, barely moving and won't come up to eat.
Is your Betta still eating? No
Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how? Yes, Started MetaFix 5/18/20
Does your Betta have any history of being ill? No
How long have you owned your Betta? 11 months
Was he or she ill or suffering some sort of damage when purchased? The Aquarium said no but we got him at a HomeTown Fair.

Super Moderator
18,793 Posts
He doesn't appear to have fin rot. Can't really tell but it looks as if his dorsal was torn off. Was the deterioration slow or did it happen suddenly? If sudden, it is not fin rot.

A few things:

1. Unless the heater kept the temperature above 82, put it back in. At 75, a Betta's system slows down and they can become lethargic and not eat.

2. Do one 50% water change per week on a five gallon. And even though it's Spring water, add two drops of SeaChem Prime per gallon.

Is there any way to get a more clear photo of the damaged area?

I am sure at this point you need some sort of antibiotic but I'm not as versed as others in which ones.

3 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Thank you so much. The fin changing color wasn't sudden but the hiding, not eating and not swimming around seemed to happen quickly. Fishy has always been a grayish-brown blue so it wasn't easy to see the change in fin color when Fishy was in the tank. We changed 50% of the water and tried to clean out the rocks the best we could. We also put the heater back in and I added two drops of Sea Chem Prime per gallon. We also added back in new charcoal filters (we kept the filter on but took out the charcoal when we started the Melafix). I'll watch the heater, it was at 85 on Sunday which is why we took it out (and honestly, I thought that was why Fishy started laying on the bottom of the tank). I couldn't get a better picture of Fishy, he wouldn't flip over and he won't swim around. Should we get an air stone? He seems to be breathing heavily. Thank you so much for your help.

1,003 Posts
That looks like damage to me, rather than fin rot, because of the way it goes into his scales, and the fact that the entire dorsal isn't gone (I am pretty sure I can see some of it still attached anyway). It's possible he scraped it on a decoration, or got stuck and ripped the fin trying to get out. It's also possible you may need to check if your lid is secure if you also own a cat...

Because it's a pretty nasty looking wound, I'd suggest using antibiotics instead of Melafix. My main suggestions would be to look for Triple Sulfa, Erythromycin, Fin & Body Cure (Tetracycline), or MetroPlex (Metronidazole). These are all fairly broad-spectrum, and not the harshest medicines either. If you can't get any of them, let me know what you can get and I will help you decide between them.

If you use an antibiotic, take the carbon out of your filter if it is less than a month old. If the carbon has been in your tank longer than a month, it's already "used up" and can be left in.

You can also add a bit of Aquarium Salt to the tank if you have some, it is a general antiseptic and can help keep his wound cleaner while he heals. I'd use 1/2 teaspoon per gallon if you're also using an antibiotic, or 1 tsp if you are only using salt. After about ten days, do a water change to take the salt out.

3 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Thanks so much! Since our Aquarium store closes a bit early, I bought what I thought we could use before getting your post. We don't have a cat so Fishy must have got caught on his pyramid house. If Fishy makes it, he will be getting a much bigger home! So this is what we were able to get and do today to help Fishy . . .

A. Changed out 50% of the water that was treated with Melafix and run carbon filters for about 4 hours.
B. Had water tested, everything fine but PH was 7.2, so a little high.
C. Added a little over 1 1/2 teaspoons of aquarium salt (after taking a cup of water from the aquarium and dissolving salt and then adding to aquarium - aquarium is 3.5 gallons)
D. Could only find the following antibiotic - API Erythromycin - mixed 1/2 packet with cup of aquarium water put in tank after removing carbon filters
E. Bought an Indian Almond Leaf which is rather large but we will stick in the side of the tank against the glass to give Fishy some privacy and hopefully bring down the PH a bit.
F. Bought an air pump and really small air stone to put in tank since Fishy isn't coming up to the surface for air.

1. The Aquarium store said we only needed to do 4 days of antibiotics, 1/2 package a day, so they sold us 2 packages. Please let me know if we should do more.
2. Fishy isn't eating at all and he isn't swimming around, he just lays on his side, should we try to give him different food instead of the pellets?

Thank you so much for all your help. We do not have an aquarium vet in our area. I've attached 2 new photos of Fishy from this evening.


Super Moderator
2,921 Posts
These are the instructions for the API "For each 10 gallons of water, empty one packet directly into aquarium. Repeat dose after 24 hours. Wait another 24 hours then change 25% of the aquarium water. Repeat this treatment for a second time, for a total of 4 doses. Then make a final 25% water change and add fresh activated carbon or replace filter cartridge. "

Since your tank is only 3.5 gal you are over medicating him by using 1/2 a pack. A trick to dosing powder medicine in a small tank is to take a clean, unused container and add to it 10 parts tank water, I like to use 1 tsp depending on the size of the packet, to the container, then mix in the medicine pack till the medicine is dissolved. If the packet of medicine treated 20 gal of water I'd use 20 parts tank water.

To dose the now dissolved medicine in your 3.5 gal I'd add 3 1/2 tsps of the medicated water to his tank and discard the rest of the medicated water.

Did the store sell you 2 boxes of the medicine, or 4 packets of the powder? Each box should contain 10 packets.

You could try to tempt him to eat by feeding frozen bloodworms, or brine shrimp, but if he doesn't eat don't worry too much, betta can safely go 1 week without eating.

if the air pump is putting out too many bubbles you can get an air flow control valve to control the air flow.
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