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Hi, everyone. I'm sure you get a lot of posts like this, but I'm a new betta owner, and I have just discovered... a lot of mistakes! I tried to do my research before getting one, but clearly I didn't do enough. I hope you can help me!

My new betta, who I've had for about a week, is a beautiful red double-tail named Iroh. Unfortunately, although he was very active when he came home from the store, he now has what I believe to be a bad case of Ich! I have been doing lots of reading about cycling since I got him and unfortunately, my tank seems to be on stage two of the cycle - nitrite spikes. Here is the "form" for my setup.

Housing:
How many gallons is your tank? 5 gallons
Does it have a filter? Yes
Does it have a heater? Yes
What temperature is your tank? Usually 80 degrees Fahrenheit; now 88 degrees to treat Ich
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No, not besides the slight turbulence created by the filter
Does your Betta have tank mates? What kind? No (hoping to get a snail or two eventually)

Food:
What food brand do you use? Topfin Betta Bits
Do you feed flakes or pellets? Pellets
Freeze-dried? Yes, bloodworms
How often do you feed your Betta? How much? About 3 pellets a day, with the occasional bloodworm treat

Maintenance:
Before your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change? My betta has been ill almost since I got him, but I plan to do one 30% water change per week when this is resolved
What percentage of water did you change? My plan is 30%
Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water? Vacuuming is my plan; currently doing daily changes where I just dip out the water
What additives do you use? What brand of conditioner? I add API Stress Coat + and a tiny bit of Topfin Tapwater Dechlorinator just in case

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: 0
Nitrite: less than .5, but more than 0
Nitrate: less than 20
pH: about 7.8
Hardness (GH): about 80 - 100
Alkalinity (KH): about 110?

I'm using Tetra Easystrips, so I don't have exact numbers - this is the closest I can get.

Symptoms and Treatment:
When did you first notice the symptoms? about 5 days ago
How has your Betta’s appearance changed? He is covered (covered!) in white dots, and his fins are always clamped. I'm afraid that some of what I think is Ich may be fungus, because some of the spots seem really big!
How has your Betta’s behavior changed? He is sometimes lethargic, sometimes flashing frantically
Is your Betta still eating? Yes, thank goodness!
Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how? Yes. I raised the temperature (over two days) from 80 to 88, but he's only gotten worse in the 3 days since then! I've been doing daily 30% water changes, once with gravel vacuuming. I tried to add 1/2 tsp of salt for every gallon, but I noticed that some of it wouldn't dissolve, and I don't want to burn him. I'm not sure what the best treatment is - salt? Ich meds? What will stress him out the least? I know I shouldn't be cycling the tank with him in it, but I don't think I have another choice at this point. How can I minimize the damage?
Does your Betta have any history of being ill? Unsure - he's new!
How long have you owned your Betta? Was he or she ill or suffering some sort of damage when purchased? Only about a week; he must have been, but he didn't seem to be!

Can anyone give me any advice? I really want to help the little guy, and I feel horrible that he immediately got sick when I started caring for him! :( I thought I was doing right by him... fishless cycling it is next time.
 

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I don't see ich; just his natural iridescence. Are you talking about his symmetrical body stripes (for lack of a better word). Ich looks like random grains of sand/salt sprinkled all over the body.

Ich.jpg

He should be getting twice as much food as he's getting. Feed him three pellets 2x or 3x per day depending on how large are the pellets.

Get the temperature back to around 78.

Fish-in cycling does not harm fish; however, you need to be using Seachem Prime instead of Tetra or API. Also, I could be wrong, but I don't think you should have 20 Nitrates and also Nitrites? Follow this tutorial and do a 25% water change when Nitrites or Ammonia hit .25ppm.

http://www.bettafish.com/30-betta-fish-care/507585-cycling-two-sentence-tutorial.html
 

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I don't see ich on him either. He looks to have a very similar coloring to my boy Monet. Here's a picture of Monet so you can compare, if it's what you are seeing on your boy. You can see on Monet that he's got speckling where his body meets his tail, and that his ventral fins (long fins that flow under his head) are white. Also that his blue scales seem to be lined. All of that is just his coloration, and near as I can tell from your picture Iroh is similarly colored.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you guys so much for responding! I can understand why you wouldn't think he has ich, but look at this picture - I think it's a little bit clearer. Either ich or some other kind of fungus is all over his fins.
 

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It does kind of look like ich in that picture. Mostly on the caudal and anal fins. A clearer picture would definitely help. I have no experience but ich though so I am not the best person to ask.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well, thanks for the help guys, but when I woke up just now my little guy was gone... agh. I don't know what I did, but it looks like some white stringy stuff in his gills and... :( I don't know. Man. You wouldn't think I could get so attached in just a week...

Thanks anyway.
 
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