Betta Fish Forum banner

Sudden Clamped Fins

413 Views 5 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  SwiftDenmaark
Hey everyone!

So I got Darwin about three months ago very suddenly. Aside from a tank and gravel, he came only with a pump, food, and purifier. Since then, I've gotten him a box filter and a gravel vac and I'm working on scrounging up some cash to get him a heater and a 3g tank.

Since I've been heaterless, he's been living this time in less than ideal temperatures, that which I have no way of monitoring(no thermometer or parameter testing gear). However, up until recently, he has appeared completely unfazed by the colder temperatures.

He eats regularly, but hides behind his filter close to the gravel, only to be seen when he comes to me for food(which he only notices when I drop near his hiding spot).

This has gone on for around three days. Today I noticed he was clamped up, and I took the filter out because I heard somewhere that charcoal shouldn't be around bettas clamped fins. Once I took away his only hiding spot(again, lack of funds/resources- though I'm working on putting in bamboo) he sped around, stopped to lay on the gravel, and is doing this now and again.

Problem is, I don't know why he's clamped up! I have water purifying right now so I can do 25% change tomorrow.

Any advice? ;-;
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Sounds like he's stressed he doesn't have too many hiding spots. Betta's are top-dwellers and so you need tall silk plants that bend over the top for him to be happy in that sense at least.

Can you fill this out? I know you'll be repeating some info but it's easier on us to decipher what might be wrong:

Can you get photos of his full tank and of the fish as well? That would be very helpful!
I'll bet it's the lack of spaces to hide. I knew I should've put something in there, but with the filter there wasn't enough space for the coffee mug. I put the coffee mug in around ten minutes ago after feeding him, and he's hidden in there.
I'm not sure but there may be something on his head? My phone is very bad at taking pictures, so you can't see anything on his head, but its probably just bubbles or something.

How many gallons is your tank? Around one gallons
Does it have a filter? Yes, but it isn't active
Does it have a heater? No
What temperature is your tank? Unsure. If it helps. the room he's kept in is about 70 degrees
Does your tank have an air stone or other type of aeration? No
Does your Betta have tank mates? What kind? No tank mates

What food brand do you use? Unsure. Betta shaped container.
Do you feed flakes or pellets? pellets
Freeze-dried? No
How often do you feed your Betta? How much? Twice a day, when I wake( 7:30-8:30am on weekdays, 10:00-11:30am on weekends) and at dinner time(6:00-7:00pm) daily. Four to five pellets, depending on when I wake.

Before your Betta became ill how often did you perform a water change? A week in advance to becoming ill.
What percentage of water did you change? 80-90%
What is the source of your water? Tap water, either left to evaporate for 24/hrs or purified with conditioner
Do you vacuum the substrate or just dip out water? Unsure of meaning
What additives do you use? What brand of conditioner? Tetra AquaSafe Plus

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: Unsure
Nitrite: Unsure
Nitrate: Unsure
pH: Unsure
Hardness (GH): Unsure
Alkalinity (KH): Unsure(No testing strips))

Symptoms and Treatment:
When did you first notice the symptoms? Three days prior to making this thread.
How has your Betta’s appearance changed? Fins clamped up hours before making this thread.
How has your Betta’s behavior changed? Less active, hides more often.
Is your Betta still eating? Yes. Eating habits have not changed.
Have you started treating your Betta? If so, how? Removed filter as it contains charcoal, placed makeshift hiding place(thoroughly rinsed coffee mug) in tank.
Does your Betta have any history of being ill? Not during his time with me. Before that, unsure.
How long have you owned your Betta? Three months.
Was he or she ill or suffering some sort of damage when purchased? Unsure. Was seemingly healthy when came into my possession.


See less See more
I've put him in a much smaller tank, in the shape of a cube. He has fresh water mixed with the original tank water, and a little cup to hide in. I'm hoping the colour of the cup won't bother him, as it's a bright orange colour. He seems to be fine with it, though.
Charcoal has nothing to do with clamped fins or anything. It won't harm your fish. Charcoal/activated carbon only lasts for a few days anyway so at this point, unless you just put it in a few days ago, it's already expired. It typically only lasts about 3 days to about a week or maybe 2 weeks if your tank is very clean. So don't worry too much about that, it's not important or necessary. It will only remove meds if it's fresh/new.

Was his tank bare before like that? No plants or anything? If so, you definitely need to invest in plants of some kind. They don't have to be live, but any silk or fabric will do. I like the packs from PetCo if you've got one near you. Those will help out. Basically, Betta's are top dwelling species, their territories are at the top of the water primarily and if they have nothing to hide in, they can get stressed out pretty badly as you see in your fish here. Tall plants are ideal, small ones or hides aren't as effective. Of course, as you noticed, he will use the hides if that is all he has. I definitely recommend getting some sort of plant, ideally the tank should be filled with plants so he can swim in and out of them. That's the funny thing about fish and animals in general; the more hides and plants you give to them, the safer they feel which means he'll be out and about more often!

The second thing is that Betta's are tropical and they do need heat. Ideally somewhere between 76-82 is ideal. 78-80 is the target zone. So getting a small pre-set heater or getting a Hydor Theo 25 Watt (perfectly safe for a 1 gallon) from is the best way to go. Don't get a heater in a store if possible, they're terribly overpriced. Even the addition of shipping, it's cheaper on drs foster and smith :) You can however get a cheap glass thermometer from Wal-mart for about 2 bucks. This way you can at least know the temp of the tank.

Water will either stay cooler or warmer than the air temp depending on the size/body of water. Usually these small tanks, if they start off cooler they're going to stay cooler. So even though your place is around 70, this likely means that his tank is more like 66-68. That's much too cold. What happens is their metabolisms slow down and they don't eat as much, they can get stressed and sick. They can live longer in these conditions which is why you may hear of Betta's living 5 plus years in a non-heated bowl with no water changes. Yeah, they live longer but is the fish really living? Are you getting the full experience? I understand that some people don't understand why you'd want to "experience" a fish, but when they're active and happiest, they act just like water puppies. :) So when you can, definitely look into a heater and a thermometer!

Sounds like you're feeding Hikari betta pellets. Not super terrible but not good either. If you have the resources to, I would upgrade to NorthFin Betta bites, they're only found online as they're a Canadian food that just made it's way into the US (exciting!!). It's the best out there, a smaller container than New Life Spectrum; the second best out there, and it's a bit cheaper than NLS IIRC which is good for you! Good nutrition is the next step after getting a heater ideally. Without it, the fish can lack some serious nutrition that is necessary to keep the fish healthy. Most of the "lesser" foods contain a lot of fillers that you have to watch out for; corn, soybean, and wheat. Wheat is used as a binding agent so it's not as bad but you definitely don't want to see the first two in the first few ingredients ideally.

So, you've never done a water change on him except for the week before be became ill, is that correct? Also, even if you leave out the water to gas-off, you should still condition it with your water conditioner. There might be something else in your water that is harmful. Also, if you're on city water then the chlorine isn't the problem any more, it's the choramine which sticks around much longer and doesn't gas off quick at all. So definitely use that conditioner. You can still set it out to let it match temperature though. That's a big thing, you don't want to shock him too much by doing too big of a change all at once or using different temperature water going in ideally. Some degree change is going to happen, but you don't want to have the water at 68 and then add in 50 degree water of course lol.

The gravel vacuum is a siphon hose that you can use to do water changes. This way you can leave your fish in the tank and suck out the nasty stuff in the gravel. A lot of uneaten food and waste gets trapped down there and if you don't clean that out, the ammonia stays in there and can harm your fish. The Dip out method is simply stirring up and poking at the gravel to get the nasty stuff up, then you use a cup to dip in and capture that waste and water in the cup and remove. Taking out as much water as you need for the change. That's all that means. So if you take your fish out and dump out the water and clean the gravel, you're doing neither of those things which is fine. It's just less stressful to leave him in there and use a gravel vacuum for a water change.

But overall, it seems to me like he's just stressed out. He needs more places to hide, some heat, and a few more small water changes so you don't shock him :) I know it can be a lot to comprehend so please do ask questions if you've got them! All of this has a huge learning curve to it, so don't beat yourself up if something doesn't click right away! It takes time!
See less See more
Thanks for responding! Water changes were an occurrence before he got sick, though less frequently than needed. I have a gravel vac that requires constant movement to siphon, and so I take Darwin out of his tank when I change the water, and I actually know what his issue is now(though I will follow your advice and get him plants and everything else he needs!).

He has velvet, so I've covered up his tank with some dark cloth, and I'm going to buy some medicine for him in a few hours. :)
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.