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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,
Our son's betta, named Curly - for the curl that we noticed in his dorsal fin when we got him in January 2021 - seems to be having a problem with his fins. You can clearly see the "before" and "after" photos - before from earlier this year and more recent. They seem to be losing color and wasting away.

We think this has been a slow progression and we really didn't notice the dramatic shift until more recently.

Curly isn't behaving any differently from what we see, is still blowing bubbles on the surface, seems to be swimming around okay and is eating just fine.

We haven't shifted any routines on our end. Food is the same. Temp and water conditions are consistent - weekly water changes. He has a log and plastic plant in the tank - we first thought he may have torn some of his dorsal fin on a sharp edge on the log but we then noticed the fin issue is not confined to the dorsal.

Any help would be appreciated. Our son lost his other fish, Happy, in under a year so we want to do everything to make Curly healthy again.

Thank you!

-Rob



Housing:
How many gallons is your tank? 2.5
Does it have a filter? Yes
Does it have a heater? Yes
What temperature is your tank? 79 F
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? Yes, Aqueon Mini-bow aerator and filter
Does your Betta have tank mates? What kind? No

Food:
What food brand do you use? Northfin Betta Bits
Do you feed flakes or pellets? Pellets
Freeze-dried? No
How often do you feed your Betta? How much? Twice daily, 2 pellets each time

Maintenance:
Before
your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change? Once per week
What percentage of water did you change? Approx. 50%
What is the source of your water? Tap
Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water? We vacuum the substrate every other water change
What additives do you use other than conditioner? What brand of conditioner? Conditioner is API Stress Coat+ No other additives.

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-.25 (prior to today's water change), after change 0
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0
pH: 7.4-7.6 (both before and after water change - this has been relatively constant for this and previous fish)
Hardness (GH): Do not have this info - did not test.
Alkalinity (KH): Do not have this info - did not test

Symptoms and Treatment:
When did you first notice the symptoms? Symptoms have slowly progressed, probably about 6-8 weeks
How has your Betta’s appearance changed? You can see the pictures when we got Curly in Jan 2021 and current. We first noticed the dorsal fin much shorter and curl gone. Then we noticed the fins below and behind him - loss of color and fullness
How has your Betta’s behavior changed? We haven't noticed any particular change in behavior
Is your Betta still eating? Yes
Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how? No
Does your Betta have any history of being ill? No
How long have you owned your Betta? We got him in January 2021
Was he or she ill or suffering some sort of damage when purchased? We noticed some lighter/whiter areas in front of his gills and of course the curled dorsal fin, hence the name - Curly!
 

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Im sorry to say but Curly is severely malnourished. I also feed northfin betta bits and my bettas get 12+ pellets per day. I would start increasing his food intake, you could add a pellet or two to each feeding, I’d start doing two extra feedings a day, 4 hrs apart until he is looking better. Overfeeding is not about how much they eat at one time.
The fins could be a result of the nutrition, it’s hard to tell. I would start changing 25% every other day and add some Indian almond leaf.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Im sorry to say but Curly is severely malnourished. I also feed northfin betta bits and my bettas get 12+ pellets per day. I would start increasing his food intake, you could add a pellet or two to each feeding, I’d start doing two extra feedings a day, 4 hrs apart until he is looking better. Overfeeding is not about how much they eat at one time.
The fins could be a result of the nutrition, it’s hard to tell. I would start changing 25% every other day and add some Indian almond leaf.
Thank you for your reply. We were told that 2x feedings daily, 2 pellets each time was plenty - and that anything over would be overfeeding. Are you saying each betta you have gets 12+ pellets daily?
 

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I'm sorry you were given such poor information. Bettas are often underfed as a result of misinformation and fear of over feeding. Yes I feed each of mine 12+ per day, broken up into 2-3 feedings. For yours I would do 3-4 feedings because he's not used to much food. If you can get some frozen bloodworms you could trade one of the feedings for a couple worms, they are good and fatty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm sorry you were given such poor information. Bettas are often underfed as a result of misinformation and fear of over feeding. Yes I feed each of mine 12+ per day, broken up into 2-3 feedings. For yours I would do 3-4 feedings because he's not used to much food. If you can get some frozen bloodworms you could trade one of the feedings for a couple worms, they are good and fatty.
Okay, thank you. We upped today's feedings to 3 pellets, 2x day and will try to increase from there. I've ordered the Indian almond leaf and removed the plastic plant - though thinking we can replace with a silk plant so the fish is not totally bored or surprised by the change? We will do the water changes, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks to everyone for your advice.

Just to confirm it seems that no one is recommending introducing any medicine at this time, correct? Just increase the food a bit, change the water 2-3x per week (25% each time)? Will the fins start to grow back - and if so, how long will it take - if we have identified the issue?
 

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Thanks to everyone for your advice.

Just to confirm it seems that no one is recommending introducing any medicine at this time, correct? Just increase the food a bit, change the water 2-3x per week (25% each time)? Will the fins start to grow back - and if so, how long will it take - if we have identified the issue?
I agree with BettaLoverSara. Your guy looks real skinny, and the transparency of his fins is likely caused by a lack of nourishment. I'm assuming the loss of the bright blue color from his body is probably caused by the same. All of that will change as he gets healthier, and his fins will grow back as well. The fins will take a little time. Kinda like growing fingernails. In my experience, the healthier the Betta, the faster the fins grow. It could be a few weeks to a few months or so.

Also, aside from the Indian almond leaf, no medication. There is no need at this point since the only problem appears to be malnourishment. You really don't want to medicate unless you absolutely have to and you're 100% sure of what you're medicating for. They don't always take to medication well, especially if their immune system is down, and with him being malnourished his immune system probably is low. The only things that your little guy needs are more food and clean water, and lots of love. ❤

EDIT*
Oh yeah, one more thing, you can also try some other frozen fish foods for him. Like frozen brine shrimp or frozen daphnia. The frozen bloodworms are great too, but I've noticed my betta gets healthier and more colorful if I give him a variety. Hikari is a good company to go through for frozen fish food. I've also read that daphnia is great for aiding in the healing process, so that could help with growing back his fins. (Although I'm not sure if it's true or not, but it's good for him either way.) Just make sure you get FROZEN, not freeze dried, if you decide to go down the frozen food route. The freeze dried foods have almost no nutritional value and are really only good for an occasional treat. I also feed him refrigerated black mosquito larvae by UHT just for added variety. All of these foods have lots of protein and good fats to help him pack on some weight and get some color back. Pellets from a reputable company like Northfin are great choices too. Never hurts to know your options. (y)
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I agree with BettaLoverSara. Your guy looks real skinny, and the transparency of his fins is likely caused by a lack of nourishment. I'm assuming the loss of the bright blue color from his body is probably caused by the same. All of that will change as he gets healthier, and his fins will grow back as well. The fins will take a little time. Kinda like growing fingernails. In my experience, the healthier the Betta, the faster the fins grow. It could be a few weeks to a few months or so.

Also, aside from the Indian almond leaf, no medication. There is no need at this point since the only problem appears to be malnourishment. You really don't want to medicate unless you absolutely have to and you're 100% sure of what you're medicating for. They don't always take to medication well, especially if their immune system is down, and with him being malnourished his immune system probably is low. The only things that your little guy needs are more food and clean water, and lots of love. ❤
Okay thank you. I have seen in another posting elsewhere that fin rot appears to be evident and that in addition to upping the food, we should also do some more frequent water changes and add aquarium salt in proper proportions. Do you agree with this approach?
 

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Okay thank you. I have seen in another posting elsewhere that fin rot appears to be evident and that in addition to upping the food, we should also do some more frequent water changes and add aquarium salt in proper proportions. Do you agree with this approach?
I do agree with doing more frequent water changes, yes. I believe Sara recommended 25% every other day, which I agree with. And I believe you mentioned that you vacuum the substrate every other water change? I'd do the vacuuming with every water change, just to make sure you don't give the waste any time to decompose in his water while he's healing. Or if you'd rather use a turkey baster instead that's fine too. Just make sure it's new, or has never been exposed to soap before you use it.

As far as the epsom salt goes, I have personally never used it before. The research I've done doesn't make me very confident in it. I do know that it works and is good in certain situations. I just don't fully understand the details in proper use of epsom salt or know when the right time to use it is. I've been able to make do perfectly without it so far with just regular water changes and the Indian almond leaf, so I'm not entirely sure if epsom salt would be needed. But definitely look to others for more opinions on using epsom salt.
 

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Shoot, I forgot to add that I'd bump up his meals to 3 or 4 times a day starting with minimum 3 pellets per meal, then adding a little more to it each day or every few days. 3 pellets twice a day just isn't enough. You'll want to be able to see a little bulge in his belly when he's done eating. Not a grotesquely huge bulge like the worst case scenarios you'll find on Google search engines. Just a nice happy little round pot belly. It'll shrink down to normal size after a few hours once he's had a chance to digest. It'll probably be very easy to see at this stage with him being so thin, so it probably won't take too much food to give him that bulge right now. He should be able to hold bigger meals later on.
 
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I would not do any medication or salt at this time. I do not believe that he has fin rot but even if he did I would try the water changes and IAL first. When people are malnourished their hair and nails are not healthy and have a hard time growing, so do bettas fins.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks again
Shoot, I forgot to add that I'd bump up his meals to 3 or 4 times a day starting with minimum 3 pellets per meal, then adding a little more to it each day or every few days. 3 pellets twice a day just isn't enough. You'll want to be able to see a little bulge in his belly when he's done eating. Not a grotesquely huge bulge like the worst case scenarios you'll find on Google search engines. Just a nice happy little round pot belly. It'll shrink down to normal size after a few hours once he's had a chance to digest. It'll probably be very easy to see at this stage with him being so thin, so it probably won't take too much food to give him that bulge right now. He should be able to hold bigger meals later on.
Okay, we are starting today with 3 meals today. Will let you know how that goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I would not do any medication or salt at this time. I do not believe that he has fin rot but even if he did I would try the water changes and IAL first. When people are malnourished their hair and nails are not healthy and have a hard time growing, so do bettas fins.
Okay, well we did a large water change yesterday and added a proportional amount of Aquarium Salt. Would you recommend we don't do any more salt in water changes going forward? The Indian Almond Leaf is coming tomorrow - will add that in.

Also, we took out one of his fake plants that we think may have injured him at some point - that's the pink one. I bought these silk plants last night and was thinking of adding one of them - maybe the stringy one on the right. But wasn't sure if that is too much stress for the fish right now, as we've done a lot over the past 48 hours: upped the food amount, a couple of water changes, removed the fake plant.

Unfortunately now we are noticing a change in behavior - he's hanging out at the top of the tank more but is still eating just fine. Wonder if it's because he's having a hard time swimming?


Water Tap Liquid Automotive tire Automotive lighting


Natural material Flowering plant Event Magenta Electric blue







Food Ingredient Recipe Plant Cuisine
 

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First thing I'd say is to check and see if he's gasping. If he is, then he may be entering a critical condition and the water is likely not properly oxygenated, so you'll need to adjust your aerator and filter accordingly. Otherwise there could be a large number of reasons why he'd be hanging out near the surface. It could simply be out of boredom if the tank has too few decorations. Or it could be something is wrong with the water and he's searching for a way out. Double check your perimeters. If nothing else, it could be the aquarium salt. Like I said, I don't know much about the salt, but it could be possible that the change in water was too much for him in his weakened state. (I could be totally wrong, but considering his behavior changed shortly after adding aquarium salt, I'm making the assumption that it's connected. It's also not the first time I've heard of this... But like I said, I just don't know enough about epsom salt to say for sure.) The fact that he's still eating is good. But keep an eye on him. It's probably not from him having a hard time swimming, as exhaustion is usually coupled with the betta sinking to the bottom, rather than floating at the surface. It's not likely that it's caused by the stress of changing a piece of decoration. Although when you say a large water change, what percentage are we talking about? 25% as Sara suggested should be plenty. I wouldn't want to do too drastic of a water change in his condition. Also make sure when you're doing your water changes that the new water is as close as humanly possible to the same temperature as his tank. Too much of a jump in temperatures can put him into shock, or at the very least upset his immune system which could ultimately be fatal. I'd personally leave him in the tank while you're doing it. Some people prefer to remove the betta temporarily while doing water changes, but I find that it's sometimes too stressful for them to be removed from their environment. So I'd leave him in, and just slowly add the fresh water to the tank so it doesn't freak him out. And no, I personally wouldn't do anymore salt, especially since you're noticing a negative change in behavior shortly after adding it.

As for the decorations, any of those in the pictures should be good. To make sure though, grab a set of panty hose and run it along the decorations. If it snags anywhere, then don't use that decoration. Anything that'll snag panty hose will rip a betta's fins. Adding decorations can be a good thing. It can peak his curiosity and happiness as well as give him cover if he's afraid of anything. It'll ultimately do him good. Just move slowly when you do it if you're worried.
 

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Just not to confuse the salts:
Aquarium salt was added. Epsom salt would be a remedy if he had issues with an accumulation of fluid or if he couldn‘t pass stool.

Bigger water changes are more stressful for the fish that‘s why 25% every second day were recommended.
I would stick to this recommendation and wouldn‘t use any aquarium salt. It alters parameters and he‘s already weak.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Just not to confuse the salts:
Aquarium salt was added. Epsom salt would be a remedy if he had issues with an accumulation of fluid or if he couldn‘t pass stool.

Bigger water changes are more stressful for the fish that‘s why 25% every second day were recommended.
I would stick to this recommendation and wouldn‘t use any aquarium salt. It alters parameters and he‘s already weak.
Okay, we will hold on any more aquarium salt and do 25% water changes every other day, and keep an eye on the parameters - as well as up the food. Right now, we're at 7 pellets per day (up from 4). He seems very hungry!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
First thing I'd say is to check and see if he's gasping. If he is, then he may be entering a critical condition and the water is likely not properly oxygenated, so you'll need to adjust your aerator and filter accordingly. Otherwise there could be a large number of reasons why he'd be hanging out near the surface. It could simply be out of boredom if the tank has too few decorations. Or it could be something is wrong with the water and he's searching for a way out. Double check your perimeters. If nothing else, it could be the aquarium salt. Like I said, I don't know much about the salt, but it could be possible that the change in water was too much for him in his weakened state. (I could be totally wrong, but considering his behavior changed shortly after adding aquarium salt, I'm making the assumption that it's connected. It's also not the first time I've heard of this... But like I said, I just don't know enough about epsom salt to say for sure.) The fact that he's still eating is good. But keep an eye on him. It's probably not from him having a hard time swimming, as exhaustion is usually coupled with the betta sinking to the bottom, rather than floating at the surface. It's not likely that it's caused by the stress of changing a piece of decoration. Although when you say a large water change, what percentage are we talking about? 25% as Sara suggested should be plenty. I wouldn't want to do too drastic of a water change in his condition. Also make sure when you're doing your water changes that the new water is as close as humanly possible to the same temperature as his tank. Too much of a jump in temperatures can put him into shock, or at the very least upset his immune system which could ultimately be fatal. I'd personally leave him in the tank while you're doing it. Some people prefer to remove the betta temporarily while doing water changes, but I find that it's sometimes too stressful for them to be removed from their environment. So I'd leave him in, and just slowly add the fresh water to the tank so it doesn't freak him out. And no, I personally wouldn't do anymore salt, especially since you're noticing a negative change in behavior shortly after adding it.

As for the decorations, any of those in the pictures should be good. To make sure though, grab a set of panty hose and run it along the decorations. If it snags anywhere, then don't use that decoration. Anything that'll snag panty hose will rip a betta's fins. Adding decorations can be a good thing. It can peak his curiosity and happiness as well as give him cover if he's afraid of anything. It'll ultimately do him good. Just move slowly when you do it if you're worried.
Yes, we leave him in the tank during water changes and will just stick to the 25% water changes every other day and the increased food - right now, he's at 7 total pellets (3/1/3). Take a look at a short video from today. One other question: Do you think it would help/hurt to shut off the aerator occasionally over the next few days? Thinking that he may be having a hard time swimming and tiring him out a bit due to his tiredness and trying to recover. What do you think?
 

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Yes, we leave him in the tank during water changes and will just stick to the 25% water changes every other day and the increased food - right now, he's at 7 total pellets (3/1/3). Take a look at a short video from today. One other question: Do you think it would help/hurt to shut off the aerator occasionally over the next few days? Thinking that he may be having a hard time swimming and tiring him out a bit due to his tiredness and trying to recover. What do you think?
I would leave that call up to you. If he's spending a lot of time at the bottom of the tank like he is in the video, and if he doesn't appear to be gasping, and if you keep the filter on, you can try turning off the aerator for a little while. Just keep a close eye on him. If he starts gasping, turn it back on right away. But as long as you have a filter that's meant to function in a tank of that size, that should churn the water enough to give him plenty of oxygen. (The filter must stay on though. Don't turn that off. It's super important for a number of reasons.) Otherwise, if you're able to adjust the aerator to a lower setting, you can do that instead. Some people will put a sponge over their aerator to slow it down. You'll need a particular sponge though, you can't just use any sponge, so you'll have to do some research to find the right one. The wrong one could be deadly. It's just another option.

In the meantime I'd invest in a few more silk plants. It looks like your tank is a little bare, which can be part of the reason why he's just laying around. Not only can it be boring for a Betta so they resort to just laying around, but it can also add a lot of stress to their lives. They like to have a few different options for cover in case they're startled by something. Being out in the open may make them feel vulnerable. Also, the current from the filter and / or the aerator can be too strong without any plants to break it up, which can be very stressful for him and may cause him to lay at the bottom of the tank out of exhaustion. I like to put some tall plants in the back of the tank where I have my filter and air stone. It helps break up the current so it's not so strong and that might make it easier for him to swim around without sacrificing the aerator. I also put some smaller / shorter plants around the front or middle of the tank. It'll encourage him to swim around and investigate, which can be fun for him. Betta beds or hammocks are good too (with the little suction cups to put on the tank walls) because it offers places for him to rest if he does get tired. Having a tank that's too bare isn't always the best thing and it can actually require a lot more energy to swim, especially with those big fins. (The fins aren't actually for swimming, they're for decoration and attracting attention to females. Those big fins actually make swimming harder. Swimming for males can actually be pretty laborious without any resting spots or plants to break up the current.) Just make sure it isn't over crowded as well so he has room to swim around. I can't remember if I posted a link or not, but I'll do it anyway. These are the Begondis plants I use for my tank. They've been recommended to me by some other people here and I love them.


This is also the Betta bed I use. It offers some rest for tired or weak bettas. My betta is pretty fond of them too.

 

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If it’s not blowing him all over the place I would leave it on. If he can eat with it on and find places to rest it should be fine, he needs the oxygen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thank you again for your continued responses and detail.
I would leave that call up to you. If he's spending a lot of time at the bottom of the tank like he is in the video, and if he doesn't appear to be gasping, and if you keep the filter on, you can try turning off the aerator for a little while. Just keep a close eye on him. If he starts gasping, turn it back on right away. But as long as you have a filter that's meant to function in a tank of that size, that should churn the water enough to give him plenty of oxygen. (The filter must stay on though. Don't turn that off. It's super important for a number of reasons.) Otherwise, if you're able to adjust the aerator to a lower setting, you can do that instead. Some people will put a sponge over their aerator to slow it down. You'll need a particular sponge though, you can't just use any sponge, so you'll have to do some research to find the right one. The wrong one could be deadly. It's just another option.

In the meantime I'd invest in a few more silk plants. It looks like your tank is a little bare, which can be part of the reason why he's just laying around. Not only can it be boring for a Betta so they resort to just laying around, but it can also add a lot of stress to their lives. They like to have a few different options for cover in case they're startled by something. Being out in the open may make them feel vulnerable. Also, the current from the filter and / or the aerator can be too strong without any plants to break it up, which can be very stressful for him and may cause him to lay at the bottom of the tank out of exhaustion. I like to put some tall plants in the back of the tank where I have my filter and air stone. It helps break up the current so it's not so strong and that might make it easier for him to swim around without sacrificing the aerator. I also put some smaller / shorter plants around the front or middle of the tank. It'll encourage him to swim around and investigate, which can be fun for him. Betta beds or hammocks are good too (with the little suction cups to put on the tank walls) because it offers places for him to rest if he does get tired. Having a tank that's too bare isn't always the best thing and it can actually require a lot more energy to swim, especially with those big fins. (The fins aren't actually for swimming, they're for decoration and attracting attention to females. Those big fins actually make swimming harder. Swimming for males can actually be pretty laborious without any resting spots or plants to break up the current.) Just make sure it isn't over crowded as well so he has room to swim around. I can't remember if I posted a link or not, but I'll do it anyway. These are the Begondis plants I use for my tank. They've been recommended to me by some other people here and I love them.


This is also the Betta bed I use. It offers some rest for tired or weak bettas. My betta is pretty fond of them too.

Thank you again for your continued responses and detail.

As for Curly today, here's a link to a video I just took. He's spending quite a bit of time at the top of the tank, fins fluttering a bit and still kind of heavy breathing. He ate all three pellets for breakfast and his one lunch pellet.

An update on the water parameters:
We had to swap out a bit of the water yesterday due to adding the silk plant, but the large water change (50-60%) was on Tuesday when we added the salt. Not sure if it's a coincidence or not, but after that is when Curly started hanging out more at the top of the tank.

Currently 0 nitrates and nitrites. The pH is about 7.6 - this has been the case since we got the fish (we do have a pH down product but have never used it). Ammonia is a bit hard to read, looks to be slightly more than 0 but less than .25 ppm.

Would you recommend another water change today (25%) or waiting another day?
Should we not do any other salt - or another medication?

We'll look to add the rest of the plants, too.
-Rob
 

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