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I am sitting a friend's betta fish over the summer, and I have grown quite attached to him. Unfortunately, I think she (the friend) may have been somewhat misinformed about how I should take care of him, as he seems to be getting sick and much of the information I found online leads me to believe I have to do a lot more to take care of him than she has led on. Let me try and give as much information and pictures as possible. Excuse me if this is painfully detailed...

Background
The betta's name is Lily (the owner told me it was a girl, even though I soon discovered that his habit of making bubble nests means he must be a guy...). I don't know how old he is, but I believe he's fully grown. The owner bought the fish a few months ago, probably around January. She told me he's fairly easy to take care of, and gave me decent advice about how to take care of him (which I shall detail). Except, she did not have or recommend a filtered tank, water temperature monitor, or any other equipment besides what I will describe below. Here he is:

before sickness
http://tinypic.com/r/6yhz7m/5
http://tinypic.com/r/2vdnr4i/5

after sickness
http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=egbf37&s=5
http://tinypic.com/r/30kf62g/5

Environment
I keep him inside a tank that is a bit less than a gallon (again, not my decision, and almost none of these things is). He has gravel and nothing else inside his tank (there used to be a plastic plant that I removed so as to give Lily more room). Occasionally, I put in a colorful plastic straw for the betta to enjoy. There is another male betta fish in another bowl right next to his. Sometimes they acknowledge each other and get somewhat aggressive, but I keep the bowls far apart now so I don't think they see each other.

pic (xbox controller for controller):
http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=abkzlf&s=5

This bowl is right by my sunny window in summer weather, so I assume the water is nearly always room temperature (76-80 degrees, as is optimal for bettas). When it gets cold, I put a small 60 watt lamp right in front of the tank to keep the temperature warm. I don't have a water temperature monitor, but the water has only gotten a little cold or shifted a few times, under my care at least.

Water changes and diet
I do about an 80% water change after every 4-6 days. My procedure is as follows: I scoop out 20% of the water and put it in a separate, clean container. Then, I put the betta in that other container while I clean out the bowl. I empty out all the old water in the bowl, and thoroughly rinse the bowl with hot water and no soap. I shuffle the gravel around a lot to clean it, and spray it with the sink spray, and then I rinse the water out. Then I fill the bowl a little more than halfway with approximately room temperature water. I put in two drops of Prime water conditioner (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-uOX3W-SRfwM/UElTejvlerI/AAAAAAAAAOY/R8s_kgYIMr4/s1600/Seachem-Prime.jpeg) and mix it in a bit with a straw or clean spoon. I let the water sit for about an hour, and then dump the betta with his old water back into the bowl. I top it off with some more fresh water, and that's that. Also, I try to make sure that any leftover food is removed ASAP.

I feed him HBH Betta Bites: http://hbhpet.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/10.jpg

The diet is one pellet every morning and night at somewhat regular times, and I skip one feeding a week so as to fast him. I still am not sure if this is good, enough, or too much.

SICKNESS
Lily has always been less active than Lea, the other betta who lives in similar conditions who is very active and hungry and vibrant; and I conclude healthy. I figured it was just part of his personality. Despite one or two days where he wouldn't want to eat once in a day, he never seemed to have any problems (I've only been looking over them for about a month, though). Then, a couple of days ago from when this post was written, he refused to eat after an 80% water change. I did the same procedure as I always do, except I had the sink running directly into the bowl, so that might have put him in shock? But I've done that before.

Also, he began exhibiting behavioral changes. He would blow unhealthy bubbles, and sulk in the corner, and hardly move. He either stays at the surface, or sulks at the bottom. It's been 48 hours and he has refused to eat. He doesn't move around much, although he's a bit more active today. I did a 100% water change last night, and it didn't seem to change anything.

His water also seems to smell somewhat foul even though I just changed it, although that could be my imagination, or normal (perhaps it's just the water conditioner?). It also has a lot of tiny bubbles that more resemble seltzer water than bubble nests (I cannot overstress that he is not making healthy bubble nests)

Also, and most worryingly, I've noticed little strips at the bottom of the tank that appear to be something the betta has shed :|. Fin rot?

pics: http://tinypic.com/r/qq9v2s/5

http://tinypic.com/r/30m7p8i/5

So, to recap the definite symptoms:
-Total lack of appetite after about 2 days
-Listless behavior
-Air bubbles (that are not bubble nests because they pop immediately)
-Skin/fin/something possibly shedding.


So, I am at a loss for what to do. I honestly don't know if I want to go spending a lot of money on this fish for a filtered tank and whatnot, as much as it truly pains me, because I am not the owner and I cannot afford it. I would be willing to shell out some cash for medication, and I would be willing to buy at least a 1 gallon tank and learn how to properly maintain the fish, even without a filter or water monitor. And I'm open to any suggestions about how to treat the sickness and take better general care even if I am not sure if I can monetarily handle it.

Sorry for the long ramble, but any help would be so appreciated. I just feel so sorry for my little fishy that I love, even if he is not mine.
 

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You need a thermometer and a small heater (marina betta mini heater would be good in this case). I've seen lack of appetite and poor health being caused by cold water more times then I can count.

Omega one or new life spectrum are much higher quality foods and more appealing as well.

He should be getting 100% water changes at least every second day.

Try these treatments first, you should see improvement. If not, we'll go from there.
 

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You can get a critter keeper that's around 2 gallons at PetSmart or PetCo for less than $10. You can get a heater for around $15. If you throw in a silk plant or two you'll end up spending around $30. If that's in your budget you might consider doing it, and maybe asking your friend if you can keep the fish since you put so much work into improving its quality of life.

Also, I'm not 100% sure, but I think it's a drop of Prime per gallon. You may be ODing on Prime, which could be the cause of the smell. I have Prime, but I never use it because my tap water tests at 0 ammonia.

ETA: I'm not sure if your an adult (if you're not don't do this) but you could post an ad on CL looking for a cheap tank. You never know, I've heard of people getting really nice tank set ups for a like $10 on there.
 

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Females can make bubble nests. As for the water changes Im pretty sure for a one gallon the water changes are a 100 percent every other day. When you change his water do you acclimate him to the new temps? The sudden temperature changes can put a fish into shock. If you think he has fin rot then dissolve some aquarium salt(sold at most pet stores) into the tank (1 teaspoon per gallon.) and change his water daily. Before you treat for anything though I would just make absolutely sure what disease it is.
 
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