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Severe fin rot on Betta - new hobbyist needs help


VioletT
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The story:

I got my Betta on the 5th of January and already the scales on his mouth and face were gone and his tail was discolored green. I did not know this was a bad sign already when I got him and for the next three days he seemed fine. I think I noticed his fins fraying after I moved his tank from one house to another on the 8th. On the 9th I gave him some liquid bacterial infection remedy and did research on in fish cycling (as I failed to cycle beforehand). On the 10th I got him some prime conditioner and gel ball. On the 11th noticed low pH and added pH up and proper pH. On the 12th I added more remedy and aq salt and turned the filter off. On the 13th I noticed the water was cold and the heater had died. I got another tank with filter and heater and filled it with conditioned water to sit over night. On the 14th his dorsal fin was half falling off and I put him in the fresh tank and added more remedy and stress coat. At this point I am almost convinced that my fish is going to die and I contacted the breeder. The breeder said to put him in a gallon of conditioned water, add salt and almond leaves and let him recover on his own with 10 to 20% water changes. I followed those instructions but I don't have leaves and had to order some online. They should arrive the 16th. It is now the 15th and my fish is sluggish and not interested in flaring for the natural immune boost. Breeder recommended blue methylene but there is nearly none of that that I can get readily available. The options are Betta revive and maracyn. I feel like I'm racing against the clock and that this is my fault. I might have freaked out and over medicated him trying to solve this issue. I would love some help. Photos coming soon.

Tl;Dr

I've medicated the water, I've done water changes, I've done stress coat, and aq salt. I am not seeing progress and his dorsal fin is nearly gone. I am told to try blue methylene but there is none I can get soon enough to treat in a reasonable time. Options are Betta revive and maracyn.

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Tank parameters:

5 gal tank, carbon filter, 75w heater, and small air stone

Hospital tank: 3 gal tank, 50w heater and unknown filter. It is long green sponges I think

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Have you tested for ammonia and what's the temperature of your tank what's the active ingredient in the liquid bacterial remedy you treated with I wouldn't use pH up messing with pH can be stressful I would add some crushed coral to the substrate in his tank that will help to increase your KH and GH to help prevent swing in your pH @VioletT

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I've added eggshells to help pH. My dial for ammonia says that it's low. I used the imagtiarium bacterial infection remedy. Photo provided.

Temperature is sitting at 77 degrees F 

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Edited by VioletT
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On 1/15/2024 at 9:38 PM, VioletT said:

I've added eggshells to help pH. My dial for ammonia says that it's low. I used the imagtiarium bacterial infection remedy. Photo provided.

Temperature is sitting at 77 degrees F 

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Betta do best with temperature of 80-82°f Herbal treatments act as a mild antiseptic treatment not effective at treating more serious bacterial infections I would do a course of maracyn active ingredient is erythromycin as you have it to hand  and give an update after 7 days if your seeing no improvement i wouldn't use methylene blue in your main tank that will kill  your benefial bacteria leading to ammonia and nitrite spikes I would only use methylene blue in a bath I would test more often during treatment 

Edited by Colu
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On 1/15/2024 at 12:33 PM, VioletT said:

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I see a few things here that I wanted to mention for the sake of helping you off on the right foot with your start in the hobby.  A lot of plastic plants can be pretty sharp.  Just based on this photo and not really understanding the full setup, I would try to remove a good amount of those plants so that the fish has more swimming room.  They have large, broad leaved plants that they sell as "betta hammocks" that might be good to help give the fish a place to rest.  There are silk plants that can be a lot softer on delicate fish as well.  There is also a plant called anubias that would be a good one to try as well.  It's very easy to care for and would also give the fish some place to rest/cover.

Essentially, the friction/rubbing on those plants can lead towards something like an abrasion and the betta fins could get irritated, torn, or damaged which would lead to open woulds or infection setting in.  A far too high amount of bettas sold in the stores have fin rot issues from the start and so it's probably a good idea to treat for it regardless whenever you do purchase one.

For fin rot you want to have 2-3 things on hand:  Aquarium salt, botanicals (like indian almond leaves or catappa leaves), as well as a med for gram negative bacterial issues.  This could be either maracyn 2 or kanaplex.  Either one of those in addition to the salt would be the treatment materials.  I mention them now for the sake of, if you need to order something in, you can.

(regarding water tests) Your results look like my tap water as well.  KH and GH are right there.  As mentioned, raise temp just a little bit and keep up with water changes to keep the tank parameters stable.

Welcome to the forums.  I am very sorry for the initial struggles you're having.

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On 1/15/2024 at 9:49 PM, nabokovfan87 said:

I see a few things here that I wanted to mention for the sake of helping you off on the right foot with your start in the hobby.  A lot of plastic plants can be pretty sharp.  Just based on this photo and not really understanding the full setup, I would try to remove a good amount of those plants so that the fish has more swimming room.  They have large, broad leaved plants that they sell as "betta hammocks" that might be good to help give the fish a place to rest.  There are silk plants that can be a lot softer on delicate fish as well.  There is also a plant called anubias that would be a good one to try as well.  It's very easy to care for and would also give the fish some place to rest/cover.

Essentially, the friction/rubbing on those plants can lead towards something like an abrasion and the betta fins could get irritated, torn, or damaged which would lead to open woulds or infection setting in.  A far too high amount of bettas sold in the stores have fin rot issues from the start and so it's probably a good idea to treat for it regardless whenever you do purchase one.

For fin rot you want to have 2-3 things on hand:  Aquarium salt, botanicals (like indian almond leaves or catappa leaves), as well as a med for gram negative bacterial issues.  This could be either maracyn 2 or kanaplex.  Either one of those in addition to the salt would be the treatment materials.  I mention them now for the sake of, if you need to order something in, you can.

(regarding water tests) Your results look like my tap water as well.  KH and GH are right there.  As mentioned, raise temp just a little bit and keep up with water changes to keep the tank parameters stable.

Welcome to the forums.  I am very sorry for the initial struggles you're having.

Good to know thank you

 

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The 16th of January, I think he is finally improving. I hope it's not just my mind looking for false hope. But his dorsal fins have lost their black bits and it looks like it has stopped. He is also swimming about quite a bit already this morning. 

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Edited by VioletT
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On 1/16/2024 at 11:23 AM, VioletT said:

The 16th of January, I think he is finally improving. I hope it's not just my mind looking for false hope. But his dorsal fins have lost their black bits and it looks like it has stopped. He is also swimming about quite a bit already this morning. 

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I have had this experience I mean the SAME because I didn’t do the cycle. First fish died within a month(betta fish) second betta had fin rot as well and I did bettafix and I did fin and body cure.I have personally figured out that liquid treatments don’t help to much as when I used bettafix it didnt do anything. But u definitely did this right and saved your bettas fins! Nice job! It looks very good now! Happy fishkeeping from now on!

I would maybe keep doing often water changes though

And feed him healthy foods!

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If it was me, I’d start him on the Maracyn or any erythromycin, Maracyn 2 would be better, but harder to get. Bettas are tough and can live in an uncycled tank for a short while. The key now is to stop the bacterial infection. If you got your betta from a big box pet store. You didn’t cause any of this. But you’re going to have to act quickly to help him. Follow the directions to the letter on the meds. Water change first thing. Then meds as instructed. 1 betta won’t build up a lot of nitrogen waste. So most important thing is to get infection under control. All the tank additives are great, but timing wise, you need meds first. Keep him warm 78-82.. that will make him comfortable. Try one round of erythromycin. While trying to find kanaplex or Maracyn 2 if initial round doesn’t work. 
 

bettas from big box stores are tricky.  I currently have 7 in different tanks. Mostly in communities. Mostly from big box stores. They can come in with a whole range of issues, or none at all. Depending on the level of care they receive. Bettas in those stores only get water changes, no cycling . So it’s very possible to raise them in uncycled tanks. Just a lot more work. Cycling is healthier. With much fewer water changes.
 

trying to cycle a tank while doing meds is probably not going to work. Cycle the tank after treating. Anything that kills the infection is probably going to kill cycling bacteria on a new colony. Then after treatment, work on cycling tank. Test for ammonia daily. If you see any do a water change. The cycling bacteria live on tank and substrate surfaces. So water changes won’t hurt your cycling

Bettas can actually breathe air. So they can survive an uncycled tank easier than most fish. 

Just remember, this is not your fault. And he’s going to do better with you than where he was. If he had fin rot there. He wasn’t going to make it. You can give him a chance 

Edited by Tony s
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Looking closely at him. Not sure if he’s not missing a bunch of side scales or not. Was going to buy another one Sunday. Looked very closely. What I thought was mottling, was actually missing scales. So I passed on him, I didn’t think I could help him in a community tank. Got 4 very small females instead, for an attempt at a sorority within the community 

Edited by Tony s
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On 1/16/2024 at 8:23 AM, VioletT said:

 

 

Ignore the empty quote, I'm still getting used to the forum. 

Fish is still active but I've noticed that the infection seems to have slowed instead of stopping. I am going to do a 30% water change, replace the salt in the change. I have kanaplex arriving Tuesday but I'll see about getting my hands on erythromycin if possible. I am going to remove the sunken leaf to try to keep the decay in the tank down. Tank is sitting at 79 degrees.

Would adding stress coat be a bad idea?

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On 1/18/2024 at 10:36 AM, VioletT said:

Ignore the empty quote, I'm still getting used to the forum. 

Fish is still active but I've noticed that the infection seems to have slowed instead of stopping. I am going to do a 30% water change, replace the salt in the change. I have kanaplex arriving Tuesday but I'll see about getting my hands on erythromycin if possible. I am going to remove the sunken leaf to try to keep the decay in the tank down. Tank is sitting at 79 degrees.

Would adding stress coat be a bad idea?

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No stress coat is definitely a good idea. U can double the dosage on bottle for it to replace slime coat on your betta. It says this on the bottle. More water changes and continued treatment is all u can do. He prob will heal with time. What is your water parameters?

Do u have any aquarium salt? That definitely helped my sick betta.

I recommend fritz aquarium salt if u don’t have any and if u do have some aquarium salt definitely use it!

Also what was his original colors when u bought him?

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Have never used it, so don’t know. Erythromycin is available from both big box stores. In the US, anyways. E.M. Erythromycin is what I. I’m currently using in another tank for a white spot on a cory.

And don’t get me wrong, big box stores are great for getting people into this hobby. But they have a very high employee turnover rate. So keeping up with good care doesn’t always happen. And for getting emergency supplies, they can’t be beat. Just use caution when buying animals there. 

On 1/18/2024 at 10:36 AM, VioletT said:

Ignore the empty quote, I'm still getting used to the forum. 

Fish is still active but I've noticed that the infection seems to have slowed instead of stopping. I am going to do a 30% water change, replace the salt in the change. I have kanaplex arriving Tuesday but I'll see about getting my hands on erythromycin if possible. I am going to remove the sunken leaf to try to keep the decay in the tank down. Tank is sitting at 79 degrees.

Would adding stress coat be a bad idea?

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He’s going to be stunning when this is over 

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On 1/18/2024 at 7:52 AM, Colten OSteen said:

No stress coat is definitely a good idea. U can double the dosage on bottle for it to replace slime coat on your betta. It says this on the bottle. More water changes and continued treatment is all u can do. He prob will heal with time. What is your water parameters?

Do u have any aquarium salt? That definitely helped my sick betta.

I recommend fritz aquarium salt if u don’t have any and if u do have some aquarium salt definitely use it!

Also what was his original colors when u bought him?

I have aquarium salt and have been using it in his tank. Right now he is at 2tablespoon in his gallon and a half tank.

I got him from a breeder who Shipped him from California. I'll send an image.

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Yeah, very nice. He could get back there. It will take a while. Curing the rot, then learning the cycle, that’s priority for now. Everything everyone has said about salt and botanicals is very true. But you have an active infection to cure first. If you go get some erythromycin, I would invest in some sort of water testing kit. I have both the API Master Test kit and coop test strips. I prefer api. 

go to YouTube and search aquarium cycle. Co-op has a good video. As well as girl talks fish. Kgtropicals as well. My favorite is from prime time aquatics. They have a whole series on water parameters. Jason is a microbiology professor, so gets deeper than a lot of other videos. 
 

They also have good videos on betta care

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On 1/18/2024 at 8:15 AM, Tony s said:

Yeah, very nice. He could get back there. It will take a while. Curing the rot, then learning the cycle, that’s priority for now.

go to YouTube and search aquarium cycle. Co-op has a good video. As well as girl talks fish. Kgtropicals as well. My favorite is from prime time aquatics. They have a whole series on water parameters. Jason is a microbiology professor, so gets deeper than a lot of other videos. 

Interesting. Thank you for the resources

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On 1/18/2024 at 11:02 AM, VioletT said:

I have aquarium salt and have been using it in his tank. Right now he is at 2tablespoon in his gallon and a half tank.

I got him from a breeder who Shipped him from California. I'll send an image.

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 It appears that his scales was originally like that…but u said he was loosing his scales…He should get better but be patient it can take some time. I definitely know from experience 

On 1/18/2024 at 11:15 AM, Tony s said:

Yeah, very nice. He could get back there. It will take a while. Curing the rot, then learning the cycle, that’s priority for now. Everything everyone has said about salt and botanicals is very true. But you have an active infection to cure first. If you go get some erythromycin, I would invest in some sort of water testing kit. I have both the API Master Test kit and coop test strips. I prefer api. 

go to YouTube and search aquarium cycle. Co-op has a good video. As well as girl talks fish. Kgtropicals as well. My favorite is from prime time aquatics. They have a whole series on water parameters. Jason is a microbiology professor, so gets deeper than a lot of other videos. 
 

They also have good videos on betta care

I agree…you can get some quick start which can help with the cycle but u should just do a fish in cycle

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Update: 

Kanaplex is arriving tuesday. Tank temp is sitting at 79-80. 

The infection has slowed but not stopped...

This morning was water changing after two does of E.M. Instead of taking water out, I added fresh conditioned water to the tank raising to now 2 gallons. I added salt and tested the water. my kh and ph are low even though I have coral in the sub straight. He still has an apatite but is a little less active. He is uninterested in flaring. and I noticed during trying to get him to flare this morning that his left side of his face is swelling? I can't tell if it is a swell or a bump. From what I read online, kanaplex should fix it so I hope that he stays okay until is arrives. my ammonia strips are hard for me to read because the instructions say that after 60 seconds after the dip to compare, after 60 seconds i compared my strip and got a reading of like 0.01 ammonia but after letting it sit for 5 minutes is darkened quite a bit. which reading do I use? is that normal? 

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On 1/20/2024 at 9:40 AM, VioletT said:

my ammonia strips are hard for me to read because the instructions say that after 60 seconds after the dip to compare, after 60 seconds i compared my strip and got a reading of like 0.01 ammonia but after letting it sit for 5 minutes is darkened quite a bit. which reading do I use? is that normal? 

You want to read the ammonia test, any strip test, based on the directions on the package.  Normally you read them immediately for accurate results.  Any sort of discoloration from 0 ammonia would be of concern.

Essentially there's two or three things you want to avoid here....

1.  Don't jump from med to med to med chasing a disease.  We know what the issue is, we know how to treat it, so we just want to focus on proper method.  Mainly what I am saying here, you need to always follow the directions on the package.  Given that it's fin rot, salt is highly advised in addition to the meds.

2.  You don't want to crash the filter, causing more issues via ammonia or nitrite.  Daily testing, sometimes twice daily testing can be mandatory in a situation like this.  If you see ammonia or nitrite then your focus would be to have daily 50% water changes, dosing dechlorinator, and then proceeding to continue testing the water parameters.  At that point, you also verify your filtration is adequate, oxygenation is adequate, and/or consider something like a bacterial additive such as seachem stability or fritz zyme 7.

3.  You don't want to overstress the fish to the point where it cannot recover.  If you need to stop treatment to fix #2, then that might be the correct thing to do.  It's a call you have to make.  With temps up high, meds in the water, adding an airstone is helpful.  The viscosity of the water changes and it's more difficult for the fish to respire and intake oxygen.  The signs of stress your seeing is basically akin to feeling sick and having the infection and the fish's immune system fight off the disease.  We don't want to do too much or miss something to help keep the fish headed towards recovery.

 

 

On 1/20/2024 at 9:40 AM, VioletT said:

He still has an apatite but is a little less active. He is uninterested in flaring. and I noticed during trying to get him to flare this morning that his left side of his face is swelling? I can't tell if it is a swell or a bump. From what I read online, kanaplex should fix it so I hope that he stays okay until is arrives.

It may or may not fix the swelling.  As far as the disinterest in flaring, see above.  It's pretty normal given the situation.  Reduce lighting, reduce stress as much as possible, and make sure that the fish has good water parameters, oxygenation, and filtration right now.  As for feeding, reducing feeding may help keep water parameters in check and reduce any discomfort from the treatment.  If the fish is eating, it's a good sign.

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1. I am half way through the first round of E.M. I think I am following the directions correctly. I'm trying to anyway.

2. I think the best course given this advise to do add more fresh water to the tank and see if I can start the filter again (It wasn't on because I was advised to keep him in a gallon of water with salt). I'll add more salt to the fresh water and do a gravel vac.

3. I have an airstone running just enough to not be disruptive.

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On 1/20/2024 at 4:30 PM, VioletT said:

2. I think the best course given this advise to do add more fresh water to the tank and see if I can start the filter again (It wasn't on because I was advised to keep him in a gallon of water with salt). I'll add more salt to the fresh water and do a gravel vac.

you should always have the filter running, especially when treating with meds. The only thing you'd do is remove carbon (or the cartridge) inside the filter.  Preferably there is sponge in there and some biological media.  If the filter is off, that explains the issue of water parameters.

On 1/20/2024 at 4:30 PM, VioletT said:

3. I have an airstone running just enough to not be disruptive.

Awesome.
 

On 1/20/2024 at 4:30 PM, VioletT said:

1. I am half way through the first round of E.M. I think I am following the directions correctly. I'm trying to anyway.

The directions say to dose daily, basically you have to build up the levels of the meds in the water over a week.  I don't know if doing a water change messes that up.

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On 1/20/2024 at 10:43 PM, nabokovfan87 said:

you should always have the filter running, especially when treating with meds. The only thing you'd do is remove carbon (or the cartridge) inside the filter.  Preferably there is sponge in there and some biological media.  If the filter is off, that explains the issue of water parameters.

Awesome.
 

The directions say to dose daily, basically you have to build up the levels of the meds in the water over a week.  I don't know if doing a water change messes that up.

the box says to do a 25% water change after 2 doses. I think in my need to raise water and try to reduce potential ammonia, I may have changed too much of the water so i'll have to do another round but this time with the filter running.

Edited by VioletT
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