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My betta fish is very sick, I've had him for a little over a year and he has been very healthy until about 2 months ago. He started to dart around his tank impulsively (usually happened at night.) As time went on he grew more and more sick. The darting behavior kept getting worse and he was damaging his fins constantly, but he was still full of energy and excited to eat and interact. He has been getting more and more sick and growing extremely lethargic. He won't come up for food and is basically always laying on his side breathing extremely labored. When he does come out of this position, he starts to frantically dark around his tank until he has tired himself out and lays on the substrate. It's heartbreaking.

I have done everything I know to do. I have kept up with water changes and treated for swim bladder (by feeding him a pea.) I haven't seen any really obvious signs of ich or velvet, but I did try to treat him with Seachem's Metro-plex. But when I added the medicine to the tank in the prescribed amount he immediately became stressed and had worse behavior so I quickly diluted the water with 50% water change. So I did not use the medication totally correctly, but I was scared for my fish and he did not have white dots (Ich) or gold dust (velvet) and I didn't want to treat him with toxic medicine if he didn't need it. However when he darts he does seem to scratch up against things in the tank, because of this my original thought was that it might be some sort of parasite.

I have a 5 gallon tank heated to 78 degrees. It does not have a filter, but I do try to keep up with regular water changes ( usually about 25% every 2-3 days) and try everything I can to not stress the little guy out.

I'm pretty sure he is going to die soon, his quality of life is horrible, I've even thought about euthanizing the poor fellow (which is my LAST resort!) But if anyone else has any recommendations I could try.

Please let me know if you have any input,
Thankyou.

Tank

What is the water volume of the tank? 5 gallons
How long has the tank been running? 8 months
Does it have a filter? no
Does it have a heater? Yes
What is the water temperature? 78 degrees
What is the entire stocking of this tank? (Please list all fish and inverts.) One betta fish. Did once have a nitrate snail but he died shortly after being purchased

Maintenance
How often do you change the water? 1-2 times per week
How much of the water do you change? 25-50%
What do you use to treat your water? Ocean Nutrition Betta Spa water conditioner
Do you vacuum the substrate or just the water? Just the water

*Parameters - Very Important
Did you cycle your tank before adding fish? No
What do you use to test the water? API Freshwater Master Test Kit
What are your parameters? We need to know the exact numbers, not just “fine” or “safe”.

Ammonia: ~0.15ppm
Nitrite: 0.0ppm
Nitrate: Maybe slightly above zero (1ppm or 2ppm)
pH: 7.8-8.0

Feeding
How often do you feed your fish? I used to feed him 2-3 times per day, but lately more like once a day if not less.
How much do you feed your fish? I used to feed him way to much (Like 6-8 pellets a day.) But learned your supposed to feed them less and feed him about 3 pellets. But as of lately I'm lucky if he will eat one.
What brand of food do you feed your fish? Cobalt aquarium Ultra Pellet Betta (1.3mm pellets), Omega One Freeze dried Blood worms, and Omega one Freeze dried mysis shrimp. I usually feed him pellets.
Do you feed frozen or freeze-dried foods? freeze dried

Illness & Symptoms
How long have you had this fish? 1 Year
How long ago did you first notice these symptoms? Mid December
In a few words, can you explain the symptoms? Erratic darting, lethargic, labored breather, clamped fins
Have you started any treatment for the illness? I tried more frequent water changes. Treatment for a parasite with Seachem Metro-plex. And currently trying to treat with a pea for swim bladder.
Was your fish physically ill or injured upon purchase? No
How has its behavior and appearance changed, if at all? Clamped and very damaged fins.

Explain your emergency situation in detail. (Please give a clear explanation of what is going on, include details from the beginning of the illness leading up to now)
Again, he darts around frequently and aggressively often scratching up onto rocks, glass, gravel, and plants. He is extremely lethargic, has labored breathing, clamped fins, and only gets up when he rises to the surface and gasps for some air.
 

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The only thing that jumps out at me is the Ammonia reading, I would like it at 0.
Does the water conditioner bind ammonia? Or is it just de-chlorination?
 

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I would try setting up a hospital tank with new water so that you can be sure it isn't because of the water also I would recommend getting a filter

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