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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello! ;; I'm worried sick. My sister has had a male betta, Benny, for about two years, and over the past week or few weeks, his condition's deteriorated dramatically, and now I'm trying to save him or at very least make him comfortable as he dies. ;;;;;; Please help! ;;

Housing

What size is your tank? 1 gallon
What temperature is your tank? 78 F today, but he's spent his whole life probably at 65-70 F
Does your tank have a filter? no ;;
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? a bubbler with a blue rock thing at the end?
Is your tank heated? no ;;
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? he's alone

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Top Fin brand betta pellets with color enhancers
How often do you feed your betta fish? she fed him three pellets a day for a long time, then went up to four pellets a day (the jar says feed six to eight pellets a day) Benny looks very skinny!

Maintenance

How often do you perform a water change? I don't know, but she changed his water for the first time in maybe as much as a month yesterday? I changed it again today. (I'm guessing she normally changes it every couple or few weeks.)
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? 100%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Jungle brand "Start Right" water conditioner, 10 drops per gallon (She fills a gallon jug with tap water, then puts in 10 drops, then caps the jug and lets it sit [up to a month?] until the next water change. I changed Benny's water today using the water from the gallon jug she treated yesterday.)

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?
I haven't tested the water, but he's probably been poisoned with ammonia, huh? ;;
Ammonia:
Nitrite:
Nitrate:
pH:
Hardness:
Alkalinity:

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? He has white/blue shiny blotches all over his chin and gills and face, even on his eye, but not white spots all over like ick. Maybe a fungal infection? He's also coated in a shiny film that may be gold or rust-colored or even white. It's hard to tell. I'm not especially familiar with how he normally looks. (He's dark purple with reddish fins.)
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? He's stopped eating, won't even try to eat a pellet. He might not have eaten for days. He's been sitting in the top of his fake plant, near the surface, almost 24/7 for the past week or weeks, not moving. His fins are limp. Then, after my sister changed the water yesterday, he was sitting in his plant, but I nudged him, and he kind of floated upright, with his head pointed toward the surface. Today I found him lying curled on his side in a pocket in the shells on the bottom, not moving, so I changed his water and took everything out of the tank except his bubbler, and now he's just lying flat on the bottom, panting, kind of holding his head up, sometimes waving a pectoral fin weakly, sometimes turning over onto his other side or moving a few millimeters across the bottom.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? I noticed he spent all his time sitting still in the top of his fake plant maybe as much as a month ago, certainly a week ago. He stopped eating two days ago, maybe longer ago, and started lying on the bottom two days ago. (He'd go back and forth between lying in his plant at the surface and lying on the bottom, but not on his side on the bottom, just sitting upright on his belly on the bottom.)
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? I changed 100% of his water with the treated water from my sister's fish jug (tap water plus ten drops water conditioner), plus I added 1/2 tsp Jungle brand aquarium salt. Then I added some Jungle brand "Lifeguard All-in-One Treatment" which says it treats "ick, fungus, red streaks, milky or shedding slime, flukes, bacterial gill disease, mouth and fin rot, clamped or torn fins, and ulcers". The box says add one tablet for every five gallons of water every 24 hours for five days, but Benny's tank is only one gallon, so I crushed a tablet and tried to dissolve it in five half-tablespoons of untreated tap water, then added one half-tablespoon of that solution to his tank water.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? When she first got him, my sister fed him the eight pellets a day the jar of pellets recommends, but Benny got a bloated white belly, so she cut him back to three pellets a day, I think? She kept him on that reduced diet for about a year, probably, then bumped him up to four pellets a day, which he's been on ever since.
How old is your fish (approximately)? I don't know how old he was when she got him, but I think he was full-grown, and she's had him almost two years now.

I know we haven't been ideal betta owners. ;; My sister got Benny when she was in college, and he lived in her dorm room in this same tank and setup, and she saw and fed him routinely every day. Over summer she brought him home (transported him in a jar for a six-hour car ride) two years in a row (this is the second summer now). Over summer, she sees him less often and feeds him just as much but less regularly. This summer she's been especially absent, I think not noting his change in behavior since she never sees him anymore, and she didn't recognize his change in appearance even after I pointed it out to her. And I didn't think much of his change in behavior, because I'm not familiar enough with him to recognize quickly when something's wrong. I just trust him to her and ignore him, mostly.

But I'm so sad now. ;; I can't stand to think he's going to die because of our neglect! ;;;;;; I want to nurse him back to health or, like I said, at least make him as comfortable as possible if he's beyond help, but I can't afford to buy a bigger tank with a heater right now; besides which, I'm afraid Benny won't live long enough to make use of it if I did. ;; Tomorrow I plan to change his water again, with 15 drops of water conditioner, 1/2 tsp aquarium salt, and 1/5 of a crushed Lifeguard tablet. I don't know what I should do about feeding him; he won't even swim to the top to look at a pellet. (He CAN swim to the top, though--he did it when I changed his water today, and he swam very fast.)

Oh! I should also note that I'm using a candy thermometer to read his tank temperature, and I have no way of regulating his tank temperature since I don't have a heater. ;; I brought his tank up to the attic where it gets hot during the day to get his tank up to 78 F, but now it's getting cool outside overnight, so the tank temp is dropping (73 F right now)... I don't know what to do... Maybe I'll put some towels in the dryer to heat up and then wrap his tank in them?

Thank you for your help. 3,C
 

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The tanks is definitely too cold. Bettas are tropical fish. Do the best you can with making it warm. You should shoot for the 76-82 F range.

You need to change the water more than once a month. Ammonia and nitrite will build up pretty quickly in such a small tank. Regular waters changes are needed so that the betta doesn't get sick.

If he's struggling breating. You may want to lower the water level so it's not so hard for him to get air.

Can you get some pictures for us to check out?
 

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Hi Whesandra and welcome to the forum. Newbie32 is right, the water definitely needs to be changed at least every other day in a gallon tank. And the temperature is too low so warm towels might help.

That said, Benny has been with your sister for two years and survived a lot. Sadly, I think old age is catching up to him. Bettas only have a natural lifespan of 1-3 years on average and since most pet store bettas are at least 6 months to a year old by the time they get to the store, Benny is most likely about 3 years old. At this age, his organs will function less efficiently which is why he is skinny (common in old age, in any species). Also, his immune system will be less efficient so he'll be susceptible to disease. The white splotches on Benny's face are probably ammonia burns and it sounds like he has velvet. You can continue using the Lifeguard, although I don't know how effective it is against velvet. It's certainly worth a shot.

I suggest, however, either putting him in a small, shallow container or lowering the water level in his bowl so he can breathe easier. Beyond that, there's not a whole lot that can be done that you aren't doing. Please do try and keep him warm, that will help him a lot.

Please keep us posted and I'm sorry I couldn't offer much good news. You have been the best betta owners that you knew how at the time, so please don't feel bad. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone was once a first time betta owner. Now that you know about this forum, we will all help you and your sister be SUPER betta owners for any future bettas you might get. :)
 

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Here's a great tip that has worked for me for years for smaller tanks (1g-5g).

Save the pet store cups they come in, or a tea cup, and scoop out one cup that size of his water daily and refresh it with new water that size. Then do a 50-75% water change weekly.

Once a month is VERY dangerous, I'm shocked he hasn't passed already.. Try adding some epsom salt. It's one tsp/gallon I believe.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm sorry I don't have time for a detailed message, I'm late for work! Here are some pictures I took of Benny as I was changing his water about an hour ago.



 

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He looks like he could have some fin rot. His fins are looking awfully raggedy. Though, I do not see any black edging.

To treat fin rot, you can put 1 tsp. of AQ salt in one gal of water and treat him that way. Change all the water out everyday and replace with the AQ water. Do not exceed 10 days of this treatment.

Before you start that, please confirm with other members that he may have a case of fin rot. I would not want you to start treatment unnecessarily.
 

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It doesn't look like finrot to me. Looks more like he's a tailbiter.
 

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Hi Whesandra - Welcome to the forum. I'll give you my two cents based on my past experience and loss of my goldfish. I wasn't doing big enough water changes and she got a bacterial infection. If the white spots are slimey vs. cotton-like/fuzzy, then it's bacterial. Based on what I could see from your photos, I'm not seeing a velvety, spotish sheen. Velvet can be confused with ich because it has a spotty appearance, but the spots appear more in its advanced stage. Once you notice velvet, you usually lose your fish within 24 hours. Since your little guy has been in solitude his whole life, he probably has a bacterial infection and ammonia burns like Sakura stated. I'm not a disease person - Sakura is much more experienced than I!! But like everyone said, the best thing is to do is a water change. Also, like Sakura said, it may be too late, but you'll learn lots of great stuff on this forum. Everyone is really nice and helpful!
 

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i forgot about tail biting! yes! i'm impressed that he can reach his top (dorsal?) fin.
He might have done it before he got sick. I'm sure we all know how betta's can managing to contort themselves in ways that would be painful to us. I have a tailbiter who had finrot as well. Two totally different appearences.
 

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Oh yeah, and you'll want to dose with a med for Bacterial Infections. API and Tetra both have general bacterial meds. Not sure of the best one to choose. I dosed my goldfish so long ago that the name and brand escape me.
 

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Whesandra, based on the pics, it doesn't look like velvet so that's good. When a betta has velvet, they look like they have been dusted with sand or gold dust. Benny doesn't look like that. He does, however, look like he's definitely suffering from ammonia poisoning. I hesitate to use aquarium salt on such bad ammonia burns, though, because instead of helping I worry it could irritate them more. :/ Instead, try these two things: first, if you can, go to your pet store and pick up API Stress Coat water conditioner. When you change Benny's water, use the Stress Coat instead, adding in a little extra. Secondly, if you have any clean, naturally dried oak leaves, crumble several up into his water until the water changes color. If not, you can use decaffeinated green tea with no additives (so no lemon flavoring or anything like that). Soak a teabag in his water until it changes color. You'll have to redo this every time you change his water.

Another thing that will help is doing a small partial water change every day for the next week or so. Make sure the water you put back in has been treated with Stress Coat and is roughly the same temp as the water you put back in. You might want to get a thermometer to monitor his water and make sure the temp doesn't get below 76 degrees farenheit, minimum. Anything below that is going to be too cold and Benny will end up using all his strength to survive the cold instead of fight off his ammonia poisoning.

And again, I just want to reiterate that it's possible old age is catching up to Benny. In that case, all we can do is make him comfortable. If it seems like Benny is suffering or in pain, please post back immediately.
 

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Go with Sakura! She knows her stuff!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Trying my best.

Thank you, everyone, for trying to help! ;; Sakura, your insight and advice--and especially your encouragement--ease my mind a little, even if the news is still grim, so thanks!

People keep giving me so much advice, it's hard to know what to do! D3 Let me explain the setup I have now:

WATER: 1 gallon tap water + 20 drops water conditioner with aloe vera + 1 tsp aquarium salt + 1/5 tablet Lifeguard

STRUCTURE: Benny is currently in his 1-gallon tank (no filter, no heater, no decorations or plants), suspended near the surface in a fist-sized net--he's a small betta, so he's not cramped, but it's not fantastically roomy. I couldn't figure out how to keep him in a shallow container without keeping him in less than a gallon of water, and I need at least a gallon of water to (relatively) accurately administer his Lifeguard, so I improvised. (Maybe tomorrow I'll try moving him to a casserole pan?)

His tank is sitting on top of the freezer now because the freezer radiates a little heat which seems to keep his tank at a steady 80 F. (I have a candy thermometer constantly in his water.)

The current setup is a modified version of the setup I had him in while I was at work. This picture shows less than a gallon of water in his tank (he has a whole gallon now), the candy thermometer on the upper left, and his blue bubbler on the bottom right. I have since put the bubbler back in its tube, which keeps the bubbles contained until they hit the surface. He has a blue light bulb in his tank light just because I blew the other one and only have Christmas lights to replace it. (The light is turned off now.)


I had 1/2 tsp salt in his water yesterday, but I bumped it up today because lots of people said 1 tsp per gallon. But now I hear add no salt at all! So I guess I'll change his water again? ;;

He's had three 100% water changes in the past three days.

I have no other test strips, but I tested his water today for pH, and it's neutral.

I was planning on doing a 100% water change every day for the next few days (I read this advice somewhere online), but now I hear I should only do partial changes! ;; (I'm sorry I'm so stupid! I knew virtually nothing about caring for bettas until yesterday. ;;) But now his water is all full of salt, so what about a 50% change tonight, maybe a 50% change tomorrow, and, what? 25% changes after that? I'm so confused. T^T

Also! What the heck am I supposed to do about him not eating?! ;;;;;; He hasn't eaten for four days, I think. ;;

Thank you, and I'm sorry! D,3
 

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You stepped in for me and were totally correct with your diagnosis. I know there are lots of posters that know their stuff, but I'd always be happy to see your advice! Oh, and you're welcome!
 

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Whesandra, hehe, sorry, yes, too many posters can get confusing. Let's see if we can clarify it for you.

Okay. First, the water changes. If the 100% water changes are not stressing Benny, then by all means, continue those. The more, the better, but only if he isn't stressed. If they seem to be stressing him, drop down to partial changes.

The salt. Since you've had salt in there and it doesn't seem to be bothering him, then please continue. If he starts twitching, then remove the salt. You can put in either 1/2 tsp or 1 tsp, whatever you feel Benny is comfortable at. Right now, his comfort is our priority. :)

One thing you can do is administer the Lifeguard in his 1g tank but then transfer some of the medicated water to a shallow container, leaving the rest in the tank for future water changes. That way you can keep him in shallow water so he can reach the surface easy to breathe and you can medicate easily. I know, I really wish they'd come up with dosing instructions geared toward small tanks. It can be very frustrating figuring things out. However, I'm not sure how much help the Lifeguard will be since he doesn't have any bacteria or parasites or funguses (fungi?). If you'd like to continue the Lifeguard, feel free to. Otherwise, I'd recommend stopping treatment.

I would still recommend getting Stress Coat, if you can. It neutralizes ammonia as well as chlorines, chloramine, and heavy metals.

Since you're using both salt and Lifeguard, I would hold off on tannins for now. If you stop using the Lifeguard, do a 100% change of his water to clean out all the medication, then redo the salt. Then add tannins using the clean dried oak leaves or decaffeinated green tea bag. But only without Lifeguard.

Foodwise. Does Benny refuse all food without even trying, or does he try to eat but can't seem to swallow? You can try soaking his pellets in garlic juice (plain no-salt garlic powder dissolved in water or fresh garlic juice, either one) to see if that entices him. Also, frozen bloodworms are a good appetite inducer.

I hope this clarifies things a little for you. If you have any more questions, don't hesitate to post and ask. Get well soon, Benny!
 

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You stepped in for me and were totally correct with your diagnosis. I know there are lots of posters that know their stuff, but I'd always be happy to see your advice! Oh, and you're welcome!
*blushes furiously* Thanks. I'll do my best to never let you down. But don't forget, it's always okay to seek second opinions. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Just sent sis to the store for supplies.

Sakura8 said:
Right now, his comfort is our priority. :)
<3 ;;

Sakura8 said:
One thing you can do is administer the Lifeguard in his 1g tank but then transfer some of the medicated water to a shallow container, leaving the rest in the tank for future water changes.
OK, my friend strongly cautions against 100% water changes, but I'm gonna do at least one more right now to get rid of the Lifeguard, per your recommendation, Sakura. ;; My sister just left to get some Stress Coat, so whatever amount the bottle recommends, I'll do a little extra in one gallon of water, plus 1/2 tsp salt, and then soak some green tea in the tank. (I use Stress Coat instead of the water conditioner I'm currently using, right? Or do I use both?)

Also, Benny doesn't even TRY to eat. I'll try soaking some pellets in garlic juice, and maybe my sister will even bring back some blood worms to try, too.

I'm still struggling with the shallow water issue... If I keep him in shallow (less than a gallon) water, I have to do more frequent water changes, right? But how much, how often, and how will I know if it stresses him? ;; He just sits on the bottom and breathes heavily all the time... He'll dart around very briefly, and only travel a couple inches, if I disturb him (like when I change his water). I also really worry about maintaining his water temperature... It's hard to take his tank down and put it back on top of the freezer all the time. >> I'm so worried about stressing him! D3

Is a 1-gallon casserole pan a good idea for a temporary tank?

Thank you. 3,C
 

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Yup, use the Stress Coat instead of your usual water conditioner. Unless the usual is Prime, I'd actually suggest switching over to Stress Coat. Because you have a smaller tank, ammonia builds up faster and Stress Coat neutralizes ammonia.

I hope we can get Benny to eat, but it may take a few days for him to recover from the ammonia poisoning first before he gets his appetite back.

If you can find a 1 gallon shallow casserole, then yes, that would be a good hospital tank for Benny. It's true you have to change the water more often because you'll have a smaller volume of water, so ultimately, the call is up to you. Actually, the arrangement you had in the pic with Benny in a container propped up so it's close to the surface would work fine too. The key is mainly to make it easy for him to reach the surface so he can breathe air. There's also something called a netbreeder that you attach to the inside of your tank. It's mainly used to keep breeding fish separate from their tankmates without removing them from the tank but it can also be used to keep sick fish isolated as well. You could also try that, if you wanted. It will attach up near the top of the tank and you can put Benny in it. He'll be in a bigger tank but up near the surface.



If you can eventually get a heater, that would be good too. Warm water will help Benny a lot. Possibly putting a warm water bottle next to the glass might warm him until then but make sure he doesn't get too warm, like over 84 degrees.

It's hard to tell when a sick betta is stressed because he's already exhibiting every symptom of stress that bettas have, ie, the lethargy and the heavy breathing, clamping of fins. But if he ever starts twitching, he may be reacting to the salt, in which case you'll want to remove it.

Okay, that's about all you can do for Benny now. Keep observing him and if he gets worse, gets bloated, or seems like he's suffering, post immediately.

I'll definitely keep Benny in my thoughts. Hope he gets well quickly!
 
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