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318 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all. My little buddy is suddenly not well, and has all the symptoms that I read of in the "diseases caused by poor maintenance" sticky. I don't believe my maintenance is poor, but it has been rather inconsistent, as in, sometimes I think I do too much and mess up the cycle, which I'm starting to think is just as bad? Help me figure out what to do now.

Note: I have a really hard time gravel vacuuming. Sometimes I just CANNOT get it to work. I attempt doing it about once a week. Sometimes it works pretty well. I use a turkey baster about every other day to get bits of stuff out. I recently ordered a battery powered vacuum and a different gravity vacuum. I'm working on it. :s

How many gallons is your tank? 5.5
Does it have a filter? Yes - Aquarium Co-op sponge filter
Does it have a heater? Yes - Aqueon non-adjustable, 50w
What temperature is your tank? Varies by the temp. of the house unfortunately, 80-88 degrees, right now - 80
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? Yes - air stone
Does your Betta have tank mates? What kind? No

What food brand do you use? Hikari Betta Bio-Gold, frozen brine shrimp (have only given 3 times)
Do you feed flakes or pellets? Pellets
Freeze-dried? no
How often do you feed your Betta? How much? Depending on how long I'm away for work, either 3 pellets 3x a day or 5-6 in morning, lately less because he spits them out

Before your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change? Half once a week, or 1/3 twice a week. Two times I have changed 100% of it because (after removing him) I stirred up the gravel and felt it needed a "fresh start." (It is possible that this is what triggered his symptoms)
What percentage of water did you change?
What is the source of your water? Tap water
Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water? I do a combination of ATTEMPTING TO GRAVEL VAC, which I sometimes cannot manage, and using a turkey baster throughout the week, usually every other day. I also dip out the water.
What additives do you use other than conditioner? What brand of conditioner? None other than Prime - two drops per gallon

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: Between 0 - 0.25 (hard to tell with the color card. Color leans mostly toward yellow, but not AS yellow as the color card shows).
Nitrite: 0
Nitrate: 0-10 (sometimes color changes slightly after a minute, and I'm unsure which is most accurate)
pH: 7.5/7.8
Hardness (GH): 30
Alkalinity (KH): 40

Symptoms and Treatment:
When did you first notice the symptoms? Soon after performing 100% water change 4 days ago
How has your Betta’s appearance changed? Dull/faded color - suddenly, about 2/3 days ago, tattered appearance of fins - some fin splitting that I noticed apx. a week and a half ago.
How has your Betta’s behavior changed? Lethargic, loss of appetite, possible flashing - he mostly just rests near the bottom of the tank or under a leaf, but then once in a while darts around a little erratically.
Is your Betta still eating? He is spitting his pellets out recently. Today, he will not even come to the surface to investigate them.
Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how? No, other than extra small water changes every other day. 1 gallon change.
Does your Betta have any history of being ill? No
How long have you owned your Betta? Just over 2 months
Was he or she ill or suffering some sort of damage when purchased? No - very healthy and bright looking, and energetic.


Last month:



Right after 1/3 water change today. I monitor water conditions about every other day. Sometimes the color is closer to yellow, sometimes with a green tint, but barely. I changed the water 100% 4 days ago, to fully clean the gravel.

318 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Today he is just laying on the bottom, on his side. I haven't seen him swim up once, and it seems like he cannot. I've done another 1/3 water change. The water test looks like maybe the nitrates are a little high Possibly around 10 - just slightly pinker than the 0 color on the test chart. I couldn't really capture a color difference in a photo. =( Ammonia test looks good.


I think I'm going to take out half of his water, in case that makes it easier for him to swim up.

318 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Got back from work, and nothing has changed. He is lying on the rocks, will not come up for food or anything. I lowered the water to half in case he'd like to try and swim up.

So what do I do? How long can he go on not eating?

711 Posts
Have you tried feeding him daphnia or frozen bloodworms? On a 5.5 gallon tank if it is cycled you shouldn’t have to do more than 25-30% water changes weekly. could he have damaged himself being taken out for those 100% water changes? If you vacuum at every changes and do a section at a time you shouldn’t have to do 100% water changes. Plus when you do that. UCB of a water change it stresses them out. I would put IAL or the tea in there and add prime to make sure there isn’t any ammonia damage.

Also since you are doing that much of a water change and since his tank doesn’t have a lot of coverage on sides and top coverage he may be stressed also. Can you get a picture of him from the top? You also mentioned maybe flashing, I can’t see anything on the side you are showing but I don’t know what his other side looks like.

Sorry this is all I can think of right now. Hopefully someone else may have better answers for you.

Super Moderator
22,709 Posts
Will he eat the frozen food? If he will I would stick to frozen. Shrimp is good; Bloodworms are fatty and add or maintain weight.

Add either Indian Almond Leaves or plain Rooibos Tea to his tank so that it looks at least this dark. Darker is fine. You can float a leaf or teabag or brew a strong tea of either. Add conditioner to the brew; store leftovers in the refrigerator.

As Kat50 noted, it would be best to stop the 100% water changes. If you are seeing Ammonia his tank probably hasn't cycled.

Can you post a photo of him laying on the substrate?

What issues are you having with the gravel vac? Getting it started? You know the bucket must be below the tank, right? When I started I didn't so I always ask. I start mine by sucking the water up into the tubing. When it reaches the loop it will usually start working.
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