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Pale fins to body rot in 9 hours

1339 Views 20 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  WendyKL
Doktor Mabuse had some fin rot for the past week. Starting on Friday, I've been treating him with aquarium salts (I used BattaFix before, but I am displeased with the results and some things I've learned since). I left for work today, and when I returned a slightly transparent section of his fin has completely melted away, and his body is starting to deteriorate too. I just checked him, and it seems that one of his eyes is enlarged. I'm freaking out. I love my fishie. Here are my answers:

What size is your tank? 2.6-3 gallons, a fairly recent change. Before it was a 2 gallon, given that is was completely full of water and nothing else.
What temperature is your tank? currently 78 degrees F
Does your tank have a filter? Yes
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Is your tank heated? Ambient temperature is high enough that I've had it off for a few days
What tank mates does your betta fish live with? There were three cherry shrimp, but they moved out when I started to treat him

What type of food do you feed your betta fish? Omega One Betta Buffet
How often do you feed your betta fish? A few pellets twice a day

How often do you perform a water change? Generally, I've been going by one or two partials during week, and at the end a full water change. He fasts on Saturdays and gets a freeze dried bloodworm treat after the full change on Sundays.
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change? If it's a partial, it tends to be about 50%
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change? Water conditioner for Bettas made by tetra, and sometimes a couple of drops of Seachem's Prime

Water Parameters:
Have you tested your water? If so, what are the following parameters?

Ammonia: .25 ppm, which is higher than usual
Nitrite: .25 ppm, also higher than usual
Nitrate: between 0 and 5 ppm, higher than usual.
pH: 8.2 (don't freak out, it's always that high. Houston has liquid metal, not water)
Hardness: My water testing kit doesn't measure this or the below.

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed? Please see above.
How has your betta fish's behavior changed? He constantly hides from me, unless I turn on the light or turn off the filter. He used to come to the glass to make fun of me, or whatever was going on in his fishie super brain.
When did you start noticing the symptoms? Please see above.
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how? BettaFix for 3 or so days, aquarium salts since Friday evening.
Does your fish have any history of being ill? The only other time he looked ill, it turns out he was tearing up his own fins on the gravel because he was trying to dig in it all the time. As soon as I put sand in his tank instead, that cleared up, as well as all of his signs of stress. Probably because he wan't tearing his limbs apart anymore.
How old is your fish (approximately)? I'd guess 8-9 months. He's too young to die.

Please, please help. I love my Doktor fish. If he dies, I don't think I'll be able to adopt any more Bettas. I can't seem to keep them alive, so I can't buy more just to kill it.
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Does anyone have any words of advice? He looks even worse this morning.
At this point, I'd be glad to just get something like, "don't immediately go from salty water to medicated water without decreasing the salt amount in stages" or "it sounds hopeless, and you're a terrible fish mom" or anything...
I'm pretty sure that someone from the reference team will ask for photos - if you can do this - I know with a betta - a picture IS WORTH a thousand words. Know that I am thinking of you and Doktor Mabuse - one thing I do know - keeping your water squeaky clean is very important. Good luck!
The biggest problem with getting a picture is that Doktor Mabuse is super camera shy! He tends to swim away from any camera like item frantically. I am concerned that he will be dead by the time I return today. He is worse this morning, and I gave him a 50% water change again last night. I have some water waiting to do another partial tonight, if I still can.
Thanks for your concern.
You could try PM someone on the reference team - sometimes that gets someone's attenetion faster - I'm thinking that maybe you need a broad spectrum antibiotic BUT I am no expert.
By what I can tell from your description (a picture is of course worth a thousand words) he has a bacterial infection. This needs to be treated with a timely amount of speed.

Get a hold of a broad spectrum antibiotic, I prefer tetracycline myself but the US also has brands like kanaplex available.
During treatment keep the tank dark to encourage him to sleep and his system can devote more time to clearing his unwanted guests out. Keep the water sparkling and if you have it get some indian almond leaf and prepare it for max tannin level (boil up the dried leaves like a tea, let it cool and then add the cup of water to the tank- they adore the dark water)

When you have a moment a picture is highly recommended- cup him in a small container if it is easier, one from above is also highly recommended so we can see the eye distention.
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I have Jungle Fungus eliminator and Maracyn two at home. The Maracyn (sp?) two says it is a broad spectrum antibiotic, would that work as well as the recommended? I always have IAL on hand, in an attempt to lower the pH of the water (clearly not working). The lights have been off for a while. Should I get him different food while he is ill? He is still eating at least one pellet at mealtime.
I forgot to mention earlier, that the fins that have disintegd seem to have little bits of them left. They look like little golden spikes protruding from is belly, almost as if his fins had bones. I'm not sure if that means anything, but the color is weird because he's aqua and red.
I will get a picture of him tonight if it isn't too late.
Is Doktor Mabuse still hanging in? I have seen a lot of people recommend both Maracyn I and Maracyn II (many people use both at the same time for serious infections). I would still want Taeanna to weigh in on this.
Thinking of you and the Doktor!
Doktor is still hanging in there. In fact, he doesn't appear to have gotten much worse since this morning. Somehow, I'm relieved. I am attempting to attach the really awful photos I took with my phone.


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Here are two more. None of them show the extent to which his body is discolored. This was a beautiful fish about 8 days ago.


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Go for the Maracyn. Don't warm the tank up any further; 78* is great but any warmer will encourage the bacteria to grow.

If you need to actually pick him up out of the water and set him on a clean paper towel in order to get a good picture of your problem, do it. Try to be quick, but do it. We'd all feel safer telling you how to treat him if we were certain it actually was fin/body rot and not a symptom of something else.

Maracyn's a good start, though, and if there's a chance it'll cure your fish (which there is), use it. This is a more drastic case where I will recommend hitting this disease with meds, even if you aren't 100% sure they're the right ones.
When you say discolored - are the scales gone or has the body actually changed color? Also - is his body swollen - it looks swollen in the photo. Or would you call that an ulcer on his side - like something has actually eaten away at his body?
Some of them have turned a pale color. In one spot, they seem to have been eaten away entirely. It is kind of a fleshy pink color. It's like someone took a scoop out of the Doktor's side.

He is currently in his cup that I put him in for a water change, which is floating in the refreshed tank water. It doesn't look refreshed though, because it is so dark from the IAL mega-extract.

I don't think he is swollen. Some of the scales on the discolored and probably raw (ulcers are a definite possibility, unfortunately) parts of his body seem to be standing out. Not like dropsy, but like they are the remnants of what was once there.

I have attached a picture of the Doktor from when he was healthy, maybe seeing the difference will help? I hope so.


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Without a clear understanding of what exactly is going on with the Doktor - you are at risk of over medicating him (which can be just as bad for him as not treating him at all) - so I would just pick one broad spectrum antibiotic and follow the directions for usage - or wait to hear back from someone on the reference team. It's just not clear from the photos - what exactly is up with the Doktor.
What of the prescribed treatments recommended did you follow through with? it is important we keep a running tab so he is not double dosed or we accidentally assume something was tested that was not.
Doktor is being treated with Maracyn II (three-fifths of a packet isn't easy -_-), and I have also added IAL extract. I ran the water through my Brita filter first, because the pipes in my apartment are old and the water isn't quite clear/clean/safe, then added the Betta water treatment from Tetra and a few drops of Prime. The light is off, and I am keeping the temperature at 78*. I have removed the carbon from the filter, but because the Fluval III still has the foamy insert, the filter is running.

On closer inspection, in slightly better light today, the pale spots have slightly spiky looking scales that are colorless. One was in the process of falling off, which I noticed but couldn't identify yesterday.

For a sick fishie, Doktor Mabuse is behaving fairly normally... He is back to swimming around, hanging out in his favorite spots, and coming to the front and surface when I get close to the tank.

The good(-ish?) news is, he seems no worse today than last night. I need to leave for work in about half an hour, but here are some pictures that I managed to take just now (for the record, the stuff floating at the top of the tank is the uneaten breakfast I'm about to remove, and my wall color makes the water color look too gross):


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So I would like to thank everyone who has tried to help me, but the Doktor is beyond being healed. He is no longer sick; he is dying.
I only wish I knew what it was that I did so wrong. I'm attaching the photos I just took, so maybe someone can tell me. I don't want to keep another Betta again, though.


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There is severe SBD in those pictures as well as bloating and fin tattering...I would put my money on a bacterial infection. Either one not covered by the treatments used or a resistant strain that are unfortunately beginning to pop up.

I am very sorry you both had to undergo this, my heart goes out for you and all the hard work you went through to help him. If you wish to try one last treatment I would put my money on tetracycline or kanaplex, but at this stage even a successful treatment may be too much for his body to take.

I always hate to type this, but if you wish to send him on painlessly it is possible to euthanise. By placing them in the fridge or freezer their body temperature will lower until they simply go to sleep and you can either let this continue painfully or you can add clove oil to the water which will make the ending quick.
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I am thinking of you - it is so very very hard to have to go through this.
Thanks for all of the help and support. I do appreciate it.

Last night, shortly after those photos were taken, the good Doktor Mabuse bobbed at the surface to say hi one last time, and then sank to the bottom of the tank. Fortunately, he was not subjected to suffering from this for too long.

I really loved my Herr Doktor, and even with a cat and the three cherry shrimp, my apartment feels so lonely. Doktor was once beautiful, and a very curious guy! He greeted me when I came to his tank. I think the most fun he ever has, though, was right after I added the cherry shrimp. He chased after what I'm sure he thought were some tasty food treats!

I don't think I will get another Betta fish again. This is too similar to what my last Betta suffered, and ultimately died from. But I loved having them both! Whoever thinks fish are too stupid to be fun hasn't spent any time with a Betta. Both of mine had unique personalities, behaviors, and styles.

Hopefully Doktor and Teddy Salad are somehow befriending each other across the rainbow bridge, and living in the home of their dreams.
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