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Blind Betta Care - need advice

1609 Views 13 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  JessiesGill
A Betta was given to me to see if I could help him since I've had some luck with sick ones. When they got him at the pet store I think he was blind. His eyes are about 95% black with a tiny sliver of white. He has always had trouble finding his food except for the happy accident so he’s underweight and I think slightly malnourished.

He also doesn’t react to big things like light and shadow or someone approaching the tank. He only reacts if I move the water or tap on the tank because he can feel it. I can tell he smells the food, but not with enough accuracy to get to it. Sometimes he misses by a fraction of an inch or passes right over it. He’ll spend hours sticking his nose into the gravel digging for food that’s just out of reach.

I’ve tried rigging up all sorts of contraptions to get him to his food but it’s not working well. I’d love to hear some more ideas! Here’s what I’ve done:

1. I tried putting the food on a spoon and sort of pushing it towards him. He keeps getting scared by the water turbulence and swimming away. It only worked once.
2. I tried feeding larger pieces of fresh cooked shrimp. At first this was working pretty well, but as of the last two days he’s not getting any of the pieces I’ve left for him despite the little guy’s best efforts to find them.
3. I sank a plastic cup lengthwise into the bottom. My thinking was if I could feed him in there, he’d know eventually to stick his nose in there for the food, and it would have less room to float away from him. Problem is, I can’t seem to get the pellets and such to sink to the bottom and I can’t seem to get them into the cup very easily. They keep floating away.
4. Feeding ring 9 I put all his food at the surface under an upside down floating cup so the food would stay in the circle of the cup rim. But he was too afraid of the foreign object in the water. He’d approach and then back off.
5. I put him in a small cylindrical Tupperware and put some food around the edges of the Tupperware. I over-fed him, hoping he’d at least find something, but he keeps missing it by a hair. Sometimes he’ll be right over it, but too high up in the water where the food is at the bottom. 

Anything else I can try? I really want to save this little guy.
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I think you're on the right track... perhaps you can invest in sinking pellets, and go with the cup idea? I think that's really smart. I know some people also use a little plate, and always put the food on that.
I would also something every time to let him know that food is coming. If it doesn't freak him out too much, tap the glass gently twice or something every time he's gonna be fed.
try putting a little plate on the bottom, the food could sink there and if he has a smaller area to search he could easier find it withou having to search through gravel, and you could clean up uneaten food easier.
I have a betta who gets so excited that he ends up knocking his food all over the tank with his spaz-outs about being in the mere presence of food. I bought 100 disposable plastic pipettes on Amazon for like $5, and I feed him with the pipette now. He has learned that food comes out of it, and he will just sit there with his mouth open at the end of it. I know your betta can't see the pipette, but you could hold the food in it right in front of his face so he could smell it and maybe he would learn to just open his mouth when he smells, feels it in front of him? It works with all types of foods - even the normal sized NLS pellets will fit in the pipette opening.

These -

They are also useful for a ton of other things, and I don't throw them away with each use. I use them to suck up extra food, dose water conditioner in my smaller tanks, etc.
Thanks everyone for the tips. :)

So I tried the cup a bit longer today but ran into two problems. In order for me to get even sinking food into the plastic cup I pretty much have to stick my hand in there and place it manually. That kind of freaks out the little guy. Also he decided to come from the side of the cup to the food instead of the opening. :p

And now that I've tried to move him to a Tupperware, then tried so many things involving sticking things into the tank I think I traumatized the little guy a bit. Gonna take changes a bit slower with him tomorrow, but I have to figure out something that works. :)

I think I'll try the plate method soon, though I don't have anything small enough and sinkable enough right now to fit in his 1 gal tank.

Might look into pipettes too. Any other ideas are always welcome. :)
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You can get teeny little terra cotta saucers, or a teacup saucer... Do you know/were you once a small girl? They are known for having tiny teacup sets XD
Soaking the food in garlic juice might help him smell it better? That's my only real suggestion as I've never had a blind fish before. You're very kind to take him in!
I have a half blind doubletail boy and have had several fully blind bettas.

Borg's left eye is like a crystal and he doesn't see anything from that side, so it's tricky to get his attention. He gets quite stressed when it's water change time - like whenever I put him back into his tank he'll swim around the edge frantically trying to figure out where he is, but within a few minutes he settles in.

To feed him can be difficult, but patience is the key. What I've done is "tap training" - every time I feed him, I'll tap the edge of the tank gently and try to feed him one food item at a time. It's always in the same corner, in around the same time of day. He's gotten used to that and comes out to eat what he can see, and the rest is usually found a few minutes later.

I don't have any gravel, strong current or decor in the tank either - it's easier and just safer for him if he can't bump into sharp edges or errant corners or whatever.

The good news is that blind bettas adapt well, and I am sure that whatever you do with yours is the best you can do for him. Just be patient, and he'll be fine. It's good of you to take him in :)

Hope this helps somewhat and looking forward to updates! There's lots of info on blind bettas on the forum with great advice and I'm sure they might help you out.
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Teacup saucers are a good idea, and it might even look good in the tank. Dollar stores usally have toy tea sets made out of hard heavy materials. Like fleetfish said, whatever you get to work with him is your best bet.
Hey everyone,

Thank you so much for all the ideas. I think I've had success today!

I sort of combined the cup idea I had with the saucer idea presented here. I forgot my little saucer at home and didn't want the fish to starve over the weekend at work, so I jury-rigged something in between. :)

So I cut a plastic cup in half lengthwise and laid it side ways in the tank on top of the gravel. It formed a kind of trough which was open at the top. Then I dropped pieces of shrimp in which sunk into the cup. It took some time but I think he's starting to realize that is the feeding area. He was going in and out of the cup taking nibbles here and there. It's still not easy but it seems less of a challenge for him to find his food.

I also soaked a few of my floating pellets in a cup of water til they sank, and then scooped them up and dropped them into the cup too. But that took forever to waterlog them.

I bought these tubifex worm cubes they sold as fish treats at my supermarket. I think I'll try those too until I get some other food that sinks. (Unless any of you guys think it's a bad idea.)

So I just wanted to share. I'll try to post a picture of the little guy next week from my phone. His previous owner never even named him so today I have named him Stevie (after Stevie Wonder). Being legally blind myself I think I'm getting attached to him now. :)
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that's great news! the little guy isn't going to starve! I heard they can go a while without food anyway, so you had time to figure it out. Just be careful about moving stuff around when you clean, but you should know that.
Hello there!
I've had experience with blind bettas, and Andrea (funny name for a boy) is diamond eyed on one side and very nearly diamond eyed on the other. For about two weeks after I got him, feeding him flakes from Petco, then pellets, he had a difficult time.
Finally, we worked out a little thing that he seems to like. Every day, I gently tap the tank to alert him food is coming, then drop about five freeze dried bloodworms in. Always tapping in the same spot, always dropping food in in the same spot. He's so used to it now it's easy for him to eat.
To start with, I'd recommend using a strong 'scented' food, like bloodworms, garlic soaked, or something along those lines. Andrea has also gone after sinking shrimp pellets and gobbled them up after they dissolved (he can feel them drop into the water, and then he just follows them down and they dissolve quickly, so he has no issue) but they usually go in larger containers, and there's no guarantee your fish will like them or be able to follow them like mine.
In the beginning, it was very difficult to feed him. I went with everything from pipettes, bottom plates, no gravel, feeding rings, and more. But really, if you wanted, a feeding ring with the bloodworms would be perfect, then just gently tap the glass when you feed.
Hope I helped!
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Thanks. :) I've been afraid to look into bloodworms. I've seen some things about it causing fish to get infections. But I could be misinformed. Are there any cons to using them?

Being legally blind, getting a ride to the pet store frequently is difficult (I totally hate not being able to drive. :p ) but if you think they're safe I might give it a try whenever I can get there.

Monday I'll post pics of Stevie and my little set up. :)
What about sinking pellets, too, after he learns where his feeding spot is? New Life Spectrum makes the best fish pellets, and their Thera-A formula has extra garlic and is described as a sinking pellet. That may be easier for him to find compared to the floating betta formula.
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