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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I noticed the center portion of my betta's tail is stuck together. It looks like there's another little portion below that as well. It just became noticeable within the past two days. Information on the internet says that stress can be a contributing factor of fin rot. He was massively stressed last week when I tried adding some cory catfish tank-mates. They were returned to the pet store and an air stone was added. It took him a day or two to adjust back to normal behavior, but he is behaving normal despite his appearance being off. I added some Imagitarium Bacterial Remedy to the tank this evening, but I'm not sure if this stuff actually works. I'm not sure how to treat the fin/tail issue. Photos are included.

Housing:
How many gallons is your tank? 10 gallon

Does it have a filter? Yes

Does it have a heater? Yes

What temperature is your tank? 78 degrees

Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? Yes (newly installed within past week)

Does your Betta have tank mates? What kind? 2 nerite snails. I did have 3 cory catfish in the tank earlier in the week; there is a post in this forum regarding them. They were in the tank about 24 hours. They were stressing the betta too much, so I returned them and bought the air-stone. He seems to enjoy the air stone.

Side Note: there are five decent sized and one small live plants in the tank. The decent sized ones have been in there for months and the small one is a baby of one of them. There are also sea shells that have been in there since October. There is also the new addition of two small pieces of cuttlebone because the snails were showing calcium deficiency in their shells despite having hard water.

Food:
What food brand do you use? Hikari Betta Bio-Gold

Do you feed flakes or pellets? Pellets

Freeze-dried? Blood worms or mysts

How often do you feed your Betta? How much? Twice per day 6 pellets. Freeze dried on occasion (maybe 1x per week or every other week).

Maintenance:
Before your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change? 1x per month scheduled. I have typically changed it the first week of every month. I also test the water weekly and change it before that if there are any changes on my test-strips.

What percentage of water did you change? 2 1/2 gallons

What is the source of your water? Tap

Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water? Vacuum substrate with vacuum siphon with hand-pump. Generally remove all items from tank and rinse and scrub in hot water. Remove plants and clean off and prune leaves.

What additives do you use other than conditioner? What brand of conditioner? Imagitarium Water Conditioner and API Quick Start to every gallon during water change. Aqueon Aquarium Plant Food - weekly.

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'm testing this at 11:00 p.m. My parameters look exactly like they did last week though. I have Tetra 5-in-1 Easy Strips. My test strips read as follows. I can go have it tested at pet-store tomorrow if necessary:

Nitrate: Between 0 and 20 (safe) (there's it's very slight pink tinge, but not even close to the pink of the "20" level -- these say up to a 40 is safe, but idk)

Nitrite: 0 (safe) (not even a slight tinge to this)

Total Hardness: 150 (hard) (it's the exact color)

Total Alkalinity: Between a 40 and 80 (low to moderate) (color is greener than the one for 40 but not as green as 80)

pH: 6.8 (neutral) (it's the exact color)

Symptoms and Treatment:

When did you first notice the symptoms? More or less two days ago

How has your Betta’s appearance changed? Tail stuck together (see photos)

How has your Betta’s behavior changed? It hasn't. He's even returned to his normal social self after being stressed last week by the addition of tank mates. I removed and returned the catfish, and within a few days he started acting normal again.

Is your Betta still eating? Yes.

Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how? I added a teaspoon of Imagitarium bacterial infection remedy this evening.

Does your Betta have any history of being ill? No

How long have you owned your Betta? Since October 2020

Was he or she ill or suffering some sort of damage when purchased? No

PLEASE PROVIDE CLEAR PHOTOS

NOTE: EMBED YOUR PHOTOS. PLEASE DO NOT LINK. Click on the paper clip in the toolbar.

Your fish is your responsibility.
When seeking help be thorough as members give advice based on the information you provide. While we have many knowledgeable fish keepers here, please remember that members' opinions are their own and that it is up to you to determine the best course of action for your fish. We are not responsible for any consequences resulting from following the advice you receive here.

It's pretty noticeable in these two photos:

bob1.jpg
1029913


This was taken Tuesday -- his tail was flowing and fine then. It also was lacking the color it now has where it's stuck/curled:

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This was taken this past Saturday (a week ago today) -- similarly that's how his tail had always looked until now:

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Here's a full photo of the tank:

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I think he has fin melt. I have never had a fish with fin melt but I believe it is a gram negative infection so something like furan 2 would work but I'm not great with meds so maybe @Veloran or @KekeTheBettaDoc would be able to say more about that.
I'd also get some Indian almond leaf and make him a strong tea out of it. You can make it quite dark so the water looks like iced tea. I would do a 25% water change every other day until he’s better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I think he has fin melt. I have never had a fish with fin melt but I believe it is a gram negative infection so something like furan 2 would work but I'm not great with meds so maybe @Veloran or @KekeTheBettaDoc would be able to say more about that.
A 2.5 gallon tank needs 50% water change twice a week. Because he is having issues I would change it every other day until you see improvement. I'd also get some Indian almond leaf and make him a strong tea out of it. You can make it quite dark so the water looks like iced tea.
Thanks. I agree it's probably fin melt. Just to clarify anyone who is reading this, this isn't a 2.5 gallon tank. This a 10 gallon tank with a lot of live plants and generally using charcoal + bio filter. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Update:

My husband brought home some Fish Aid Antibiotics - Fish Amoxicillin. They're good until 2023, and the information on them says they work for fin rot. Regardless, I was worried they'd hurt my snails. I remembered then that someone gave us little 3 gallon plastic tank with no heater or filter or anything awhile back. I did have a spare filter in storage though. It's a shrimp filter I bought when we set up the 10 gallon tank in case the flow of the regular filter was too strong. I set it up as a quarantine/hospitalization tank. The tank held 3 full gallons of water, so I used a bit over 1/3 of an antibiotic capsule (I was aiming for 1/3 but was a bit heavy handed) -- the antibiotics say one full capsule is appropriate for a 10 gallon tank. It dissolved pretty easily in the water. My daughter and I are going to go to the pet store and get a heater that's appropriate for the tank size.

Here's a photo of the set-up. The quarantine tank is on the left. I moved the rock he normal sleeps in, a few betta-beds, and a live plant over from the larger tank, so the betta had a few places to rest and hide. Anyone know how long I should treat for?

1029931
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Oops sorry my mistake about the tank size.
No worries. :) Now he really is in a 3 gallon tank. I felt bad about moving him. I'm sure he wonders where all of his plants and his light and everything else went, but everything I was reading said the antibiotics would kill my snails. I figured since I have the antibiotics, and since the fin-melt went from non-existent to pretty bad within just a few days, and antibiotics appear to be what's recommended when everything else fails, I may as well use them. Since he's now quarantined from the snails -- and the majority of the plants -- I wonder if I could (or should) use Indian almond leaf in conjunction with them. I want to treat the condition aggressively, but I don't want to over stress or overwhelm his system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I would definitely add the Indian almond leaves while doing your round of antibiotics.
Terrific thanks. I added them into the filter compartment on the quarantine tank. I think that makes sense right? It seemed like that would ensure whatever they do is circulating through the tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Hello again folks --

So I've had Bob fish in the quarantine tank for the past two days with antibiotics, a pinch of aquatic salt, and Indian almond leaves. The fin melt has become significantly worse. 😢 His entire tail is now "glued" together. His side-fins and top-fin are similarly glued at the tips. The fins underneath is body are also stuck together. Honestly all of his fins are stuck.

He's been in uncycled fresh water because I've been changing the water in the quarantine tank daily for the past two days. The quarantine tank is a 3 gallon tank with filter and auto-heater. Aside from dechlorinating the water and adding the Quick Start positive bacteria stuff, I have Indian almond leaves in the filter compartment, and I've been adding a pinch of aquarium salt and 1/3 capsule (the full capsule treats 10 gallons) of amoxicillin to the water. I've dissolved the salt and antibiotic in the first gallon of water I put back in the tank. Then I added two additional gallons of water from the same jug to ensure I get anything that may be left-over.

In addition to the fins looking significantly worse, he also looks more swollen in the body -- I'm not even sure that makes sense. He normally looks like a relatively slender fish. He looks like a husky fish now. He's spent most of his time in the little quarantine tank hiding behind the filter. He'll very occasionally do a lap of the tank, and he'll come out to eat, but the rest of the time he's just staying behind the filter compartment. The filter is a shrimp-tank filter, so it's pretty slow-flow.

Is there anything else I can do? Is he just going to die? I can't imagine this is comfortable for him. If we can fix this, then I want to do everything in our power to fix it. If this is just going to be a slow and painful death, though, I don't him to suffer. He's been a sweet little fish. My daughter who turns 3 in ten days loves him (it's her one pet -- she takes such pride in counting out and feeding him his six pellets and watching him swim around and "helping" (I don't really let her help but I let her think she is) with the water changes, adding plants to his tank, and such. All she knows right now is "'Bob fish' sick" and she's a bit worried about it too). Please help.

Here's a photo from today. I put him in a trifle bowl just while I cleaned the tank.

1029963
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Here are the water parameters on the quarantine tank.

Something that worries me, though, is that I also tested the main-tank to take a photo of the water he's used to having. There's no point in posting a photo though. After doing the 60% water change a few days ago, the parameters of the main tank look almost identical to this. The water of the main tank was hard but it's now testing soft, which is bad for my snails. The alkalinity is now low, which probably great for my snails, but it's way too low for my daughter's fish. The only difference between the two tanks is that the Ph on the main tank is right between 6.8 and 7.2 (so I'll guess a 7.0) and here it's a 6.8 leaning towards the 6.2. I'm been aiming for a 7.0 Ph for my snails -- so guess I got that...but bittersweet since everything else is now off.

I'm not sure how to get these parameters back to where they need to be. I'm also not sure how to get the quarantine tank to where it needs to be at for him to recover better.

1029964
 

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I’m so sorry, this is a hard situation to deal with! Here’s what someone suggested on <<another social network>>:

“ It's not bacterial. Fin melt is a symptom, not a disease. Often, when I see a fish with fin melt, I know to expect a storm because his immune system is fighting something off. So he needs help.

1) 100% water change without him in it. This is important.

2) While you're doing that 100% change, give him a bath in aquarium salts. Most bacteria have a really hard time surviving in salt or can't survive at all.

3) You're going to want to turn his tank into a blackwater tank, temporarily or permanently, depending on what's actually going on with him. I personally boil water and then let an Indian Almond Leaf steep in it until the water is crazy dark. In a five gallon aquarium, a gallon of it should be this IAL tea. This nukes... pretty much everything else in the tank. Viruses have a hard time latching on to things in such an acidic environment, as do funguses. The IAL will also help him rebuild his fins.

4) Stress coat- I use double the dose I need to when a fish is sick. It's mostly just aloe vera, but aloe vera is very high in Vitamin E, which is soothing and healing.

5) Brine shrimp enriched with spirulina, laced with garlic. Garlic is an antiparasitic and fish can't resist it. Spirulina is packed with vitamins a betta needs to recover from pretty much everything, while brine shrimp is just a general favorite for all bettas.

Some things to look out for:

Pineconing/dropsy. If he starts showing these signs, please make the decision to euthanize. Fin melt + dropsy = irreversible organ failure.

Columnaris. It looks like fungus, but it's not- it's a fishy flesh eating bacteria. Adding aquarium salt to his tank will kill any of the weaker strains, but there are a few deadlier ones that even a healthy fish can't fight off. Columnaris affects high-oxygen, clean environments, and the tougher strains require a Kanamycin/nitrofurazone double whammy that... honestly kills everything in the tank, sometimes this includes the fish. It's like a nuke- your cycle is gone, all beneficial bacteria are gone, anything living with your fish is gone. But 70% of the time, it saves the fish.

Lymphocystis- This is a new one for me. So, sometimes a fish will develop these nasty little cysts that look like cauliflower after an injury. This is a virus, though, and it needs to run its course. Keep your water clean and the fish fed, he'll be fine- consider this like a flu bug. Most fish carry it, and it's only lethal if you don't take care of your fish. The stress coat and high-protein meals will help him fight this gross stuff off.”
 

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Using a gram positive on an infection caused by gram gram negative bacteria does not work. That's what you've been doing and that's why you've see a steady deterioration.

So before I went though all of the above, I would something that treats gram negative bacteria: Neomycin, Kanamycin and Streptomycin. Or use Furan-2 which treats both gram negative and positive.

The trigger could have been the stress of the Cory. Or, they could have been carrying something and been asymptomatic. Most diseases/infections manifest 7-10 days after exposure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
@Nova betta and @RussellTheShihTzu

Thanks guys. Sadly he's not going to make it. I'm actually really shaken up by it. He was laying on his side on the floor of the quarantine tank for awhile breathing heavily without his eyes moving earlier. He managed with great difficulty to swim to the top of the tank and lay on a betta bed where his breathing has become noticeably shallow. He's lost most of his color now and his eyes aren't moving. I'm not sure how much longer he has, but I suspect it's hours at the most.

I guess my next question is, what should I do to the main tank after he dies to ensure anything else I put into it will survive. My daughter is too young to really understand death. She'll miss her fish though and notice he's missing. I don't want to just keep a tank with two snails in it -- they're not exactly interesting. I imagine I need to disinfect it, but I need to do so in some fashion that won't cause my snails to die. Should I just throw out the old gravel and buy new? Also, how do I disinfect a filter since the water streams through portions that I just can't reach with a brush?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
This may go against what some advise. I've always just let the tank run for two or three weeks if there is an Ammonia source like the snails.
That makes sense. I’m having insomnia, so I was up reading and just read this:


I admit, I was thinking that the bacteria was now living and spreading through the water just waiting to attack any new fish I bring home.

Assuming the most likely scenario that this was a gram-negative bacterial attack, it makes a lot of sense that the bacteria was already there in a small non-harmful and natural quantity, but my daughters fish wasn’t affected by it until his immune system weakened when he was stressed by the catfish.

If I understand this correctly, since he didn’t die in the main tank, there’s no decomposition in that tank for the bacteria to take off, so now we just wait a few weeks for them to come back within normal limits.

Since I semi decycled the tank with a huge water change and heavily hand-stirring the gravel that had only been siphon vacuumed since October (getting a huge portion of whatever poop and uneaten food was in it but also undoubtedly killing a lot of the good bacteria), that will give the already established bacteria colony time to grow again. No sense in stressing the snails though.

The snails should provide enough ammonia for the good bacteria to grow, and while we wait, I can swap to weekly water changes (albeit without removing the plants and decorations) — which it seems like I should be doing anyway with a 10 gallon tank — but I don’t need to do bi-weekly changes because the tank was already cycled.

After a few weeks, we can go find a new fish. We don’t want to add one right away, of course, because we already know this horror-show bacteria is in the water, and any new fish would naturally be stressed in a new environment and thus be vulnerable to a repeat of the problem. Also, since I can’t buy it locally, it wouldn’t hurt to order some Furan-2 to have on hand in case anything like it ever happens again.

Is my understanding of this all correct?
 

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Neptune Pinkey and Geneva
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I'm sorry for your loss. I know what it's like to lose a betta. I had one for several months and he died to fin rot. Best of luck! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I woke up this morning and and suspected Bob the fish has died. What's disturbing is that in death his fins looked fine. I anticipated them to look much like they did the past few days, but they looked absolutely normal. I guess they weren't eroding but were just severely clamped and once dead he was no longer clamping them? Or maybe the bacteria stopped doing whatever was causing them to look like they had been glued at the tips? I'm not sure what to make of why they looked normal, but it was slightly disturbing.
 

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Lupin The Blue Betta
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I woke up this morning and and suspected Bob the fish has died. What's disturbing is that in death his fins looked fine. I anticipated them to look much like they did the past few days, but they looked absolutely normal. I guess they weren't eroding but were just severely clamped and once dead he was no longer clamping them? Or maybe the bacteria stopped doing whatever was causing them to look like they had been glued at the tips? I'm not sure what to make of why they looked normal, but it was slightly disturbing.
I'm sorry for your loss...
and you're right, that is disturbing.
 
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