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Hi there i bought a crowntail from a pet store today - he didn't move at all in the container he was in just sat near the surface the whole time i was in there. I decided to take him on cause he looked to have no life left in him, he didn't even flare or take any notice of the other male bettas around him.
The tank i put him in is a 10L tank (just over 2.5 gallons i think) which has been cycled maybe 4 months and has had a betta in it before. Before i put him in I cleaned the gravel with a siphon and did about 3 50% water changes.
The tank has a heater, a light and a filter with activated carbon. There is a plant which has been in the tank for about a month and some floaty weed stuff (not sure what it is - came with him) that they apparently use to make their bubblenests).

(As i understand it such big water changes will stop the ammonia cycle however i read somewhere that with such a small tank it's really impossible for the ammonia cycle to get going as the ammonia gets too high too fast and so it's better just to do large water changes consistently to "manually" keep the ammonia down - will someone please help me with this as i'm unsure myself)

Now the crowntail i have now has absolutely no signs of fin rot/ammonia burns on his fins - his gills however are black (are they just coloured black?) and inflamed. He has difficulty breathing and swimming - he lays on the gravel and appears to be trying to swim forward but doesn't - in saying this he can swim up top if he makes a big effort. He is extremely lethargic. Twice tonight i would have considered him dead but he came upright and moved his fins a bit after a minute or so.
I also noticed when he was travelling home from the pet store in the bag i also noticed his face and body was covered in what looked like fuzzy dirt - could this just be from his old container he was living in at the pet store?

Please help me i'm really concerned he won't make it through the night - i'm no expert but i've been reading these forums since i got my first betta.


Sorry about such a long post - just want to help this little guy out
 

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If he's having trouble getting to the top for air, lowering the water level will help him. A picture of him and the stuff you said you see on him would help as well.

Can you fill this out?

Housing
What size is your tank?
What temperature is your tank?
Does your tank have a filter?
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration?
Is your tank heated?
What tank mates does your betta fish live with?

Food
What type of food do you feed your betta fish?
How often do you feed your betta fish?

Maintenance
How often do you perform a water change?
What percentage of the water do you change when you perform a water change?
What type of additives do you add to the water when you perform a water change?

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

Ammonia:
Nitrite:
Nitrate:
pH:
Hardness:
Alkalinity:

Symptoms and Treatment
How has your betta fish's appearance changed?
How has your betta fish's behavior changed?
When did you start noticing the symptoms?
Have you started treating your fish? If so, how?
Does your fish have any history of being ill?
How old is your fish (approximately)?
 
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