Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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geekchicklet 07-26-2008 10:17 AM

Betta Fin Rot: Help Needed

I am in great need of help. It's like my bettas fins are deteriorating before my eyes.

A couple of months ago, I noticed one of his fins was 'curling.' I made sure to keep his water clean and hoped for the best (as I read not too medicate too quickly).

Things were looking up.

One day, I woke up and fed him and he jerked his body. Pieces of fin fell off.

I changed his whole setup to a larger bowl with fresh plants. (I had considered an Eclipse 3, but my betta does NOT like water movement at ALL.) He seemed better for a while.

Then, clear signs of fin rot started showing.

I tried a medication they are supposed to eat. He won't eat it.

I tried Betta Fix -- No improvement.

I changed everything in his bowl and tried Melafix -- No improvement.

I changed everything and tried Maracyn -- There was improvement for about 2 1/2 days. Then, a big chunk of tail flaked off.

I changed everything, removed plants and tried Fungus Clear. Within 24 hours, I noticed major improvements. This only lasted about 2 1/2 days, as well. Again, chunks of tail started coming off and a hole appeared.

Yesterday evening, I put him in a (filterless) 5.5 gallon aquarium. I got him right into it, because I felt is was important to give him even more water to 'heal' in. Conditions in the tank were the same as conditions in his bowl. All he has is a mini heater and round stones. I put in a fresh dose of Fungus Clear. I also added 1 T of Aquarium Salt (after calling Jungle Labs to make sure this could be used in combination with Fungus Clear).

Some things to note:

- This is my first fish.
- I have caught him turning and nipping his own tail.
- I give him complete water changes at least once per week.
- I give him a partial change at least once per week.
- I test his water with strips and tubes. One day, during all of this (but several weeks ago) his nitrates/nitrites shot up. He got an immediate water change and I bought the ammonia test. Since that day, all tests show normal levels. I have no ammonia, no nitrates, no nitrites. His pH always seems slightly acidic at first and is normal after a day or so. It does remain in the normal levels for bettas. The water is murky today (from the salt, maybe? cycling?) but all levels look good. If needed, I will report exact levels after today's tube tests.
- I use Jungle's 'Tank Buddies' Water conditioner in filtered or spring water and test before putting him in.
- I have not been able to maintain steady water temps. They fluctuate between about 76 and 82, but closer to 76-78 most of the time.
- Some of his top fins are curled. His bottom fins are half perfect and half clumped and curled (but these are still quite long). It seems the bad half of his bottom fins are showing regrowth. There are some translucent, but slightly coloured patches where there were some fragile fins and tears before. Some damaged areas now have semi-translucent but semi-coloured bottoms. His back fins/tail are a MESS. The top half is showing a lot of shredding and within the past few hours I have noticed white ends. I can't tell if this is a secondary fungal infection or regrowth.
- His behaviour has seemed okay until these last few days. Now, he is showing discomfort, when he swims. (As the back fin gets shorter, it's seemingly more difficult for him to push himself along.) He's also been taking longer rests, near the bottom.
- He gets 5-6 Hikari Gold tiny pellets, per day...divided into 3 feedings.
- He does not get natural sunlight. I have tried using over-aquarium lights but, currently (and for the past few weeks), I have only used a small lamp next to him.

I took photos but can't find my USB cable.

I did buy that Eclipse 3, hoping I could nurse him back to health in the 5.5 gallon without a filter and move him to it afterward. I also purchased tetracycline (in case I needed it) and ordered Fungus Eliminator and Methylene Blue. No one here sells it and I won't get this for DAYS.

I hope that's more than enough information, but I will try to answer any other questions. I want to help him, but I don't know what else to do.

Thanks for your time.

geekchicklet 07-26-2008 11:37 AM

I just tested the water with the tubes.

Ammonia: 0ppm
Nitrate: 0ppm
Nitrite: 0ppm

I have a very hard time distinguishing between some of the colours on the chart for pH. It looks to be either 6.6, 6.8 or somewhere in between. I think it's closer to 6.6.

Cornelius is swimming around like nothing's wrong. The white tips on the shredded fins are no longer there. The back fins still look shredded but some of the breakage looks 'cleaner' now and the holes are closed.

That said, I'm still worried. I love him and want to be able to make him (dare I say it) betta! haha... :D

geekchicklet 07-26-2008 03:18 PM

It's looking bad again. The fins are shorter and more frayed.

I'm wondering if I should let this Fungus Clear work...take him out and put him in fresh conditioned water with TC Tetracycline (API) or wait for the fungus Eliminator (which could take a week to get here!)

I don't want this to get to his body. :(

Kim 07-26-2008 06:05 PM

This seems like the same thing that happened to me, except I think the fungus clear did the trick. (Still can't quite tell, but I'm almose sure.) What do the edges of his fins look like. You said you have seen him biting them. Maybe he is biting his fins then does it again as they begin to heal. The clear tips on the other fins are a sign of healing, and it sounded like the other fin was beginning to heal in one of your other posts. Can you post your pictures now? I can't really tell you about the medications without seeing what we are dealing with, as this is a tricky case. I can tell you though, that I think melafix is junk, and bettafix is just a less concentrated form of melafix. I have yet to see any of these work. As for the maracyn, I believe that it is maracyn II that you would have wanted to use as the former treats gram positive infections and the latter treats gram negative infections (fin rot). I tried tetracycline as well, and it did not work for me. Not saying it will not work for you though. I wouldn't switch medications though, until you get a true diagnosis, as too much medications can do more harm than good. Maybe if you post the pictures more people will be able to help.

You said that your pH is slightly acidic at first, and becomes neutral after a day or two. My water changes also, so I age it in a 5 gallon bucket with a cover for a day or two to avoid pH swings after water changes.

Good luck with your betta, and keep us posted. There are many experienced people who are happy to help you. I know it is often stated on the internet that fin rot is common and easy to cure, but don't feel bad, it is much more complicated than it may seem. Just look at all of the fin rot posts here!

geekchicklet 07-26-2008 06:43 PM

Thank you, so much.

I am still unable to post pictures but, as soon as I find the cable, I will. If I can't find it, I will have to buy another because I really want to make sure I am doing everything I can.

I was so confused with Maracyn vs. Maracyn II -- Both said they treated fin rot, but Maracyn mentioned greyish colour and he was greyish around his "cheeks." (He didn't have any fuzziness or external matter. His colour was dull.)

The murky water is kind of scary, but the levels are normal. I do usually try to let his water sit, for a day, next to his bowl (before I switch).

He's more energetic, now. I wish he had stuff to swim around and occupy him, in there. He seems so small and lonely in this big empty aquarium!

The edges of fins do look frayed and I believe he is biting them as they are healing, causing a never-ending case of fin rot. I caught him doing it again and tapped on the glass to get him to stop "chasing his tail."

Kim 07-26-2008 07:06 PM


Originally Posted by geekchicklet

I was so confused with Maracyn vs. Maracyn II -- Both said they treated fin rot, but Maracyn mentioned greyish colour and he was greyish around his "cheeks." (He didn't have any fuzziness or external matter. His colour was dull.)

Well, he may have greyed around his face because of the fin rot and stress. It is common for betta fish to loose color when they are ill. If indeed he is biting his tail, and the edges of his fins just look frayed and not blackish or a fuzzy white (not to be confused with fin regrowth) you may have treated the fin rot. In this case keeping his water clean and the right temp. may be all that you can do. I know it is hard, but I would try to differentiate between what he has done to his fins, and if there actually is an infection making it worse. It may be that he will eventually get bored with tail biting and his fins will grow back.

As for your water. Some medications turn the water certain colors. Carbon will remove this, as will water changes. Could you put a small filter (azoo makes a nice little one that I have on my 5.5 gallon) on your tank to get the water moving and running through a little carbon? Even if you can't have a filter, I would try doing a water change every few days jsut to see if it clears up. I can't think of anything else that would cause this if your ammonia and nitrite are 0. Do you have any decorations that could cause this. Driftwood may cause the water to appear tea colored. Hope this helps. Keep us posted.

geekchicklet 07-26-2008 07:21 PM

Healthy Cornelius:

Sick Cornelius:

He has had fake plants (plastic, soft) and just a few real plants. He has also lived with lucky bamboo and no other plants. I removed everything but his clear round stones (no sharp edges) and his mini heater. (There is one layer of stones.)

I am moving him to an Eclipse 3 with a filter, just as soon as I figure out how to prepare it for him. I am going to add the water, asap. I just want to make the little guy happy.

geekchicklet 07-26-2008 10:34 PM

Another Update
Okay -- I have further confirmation Cornelius may be doing this to himself!

I'm lying here working and hear water splashing. I get freaked out and go to his tank. He looks all weird and I'm petrified. I get closer and his head looks HUGE. Oh no! So I approach...

The fishie has the curl on his top fin IN HIS MOUTH. :shock: At least, I think it was in his mouth. At first, I thought it was stuck. It was stretched down over his head, between his eyes! I went to get something to help him and in a few seconds, when I return, he's swimming along like nothing's up and his curl is gone (and a little frayed fin is in its place).

*** Follow-Up Image -- Better View ***

Do they have behaviour classes for betta fishies?

Maybe he's just bored. I should get him that fish training course!

Has anyone ever had an issue like this? I'm going to do some reading and see what might make him bite himself. Perhpas he doesn't like the weird shapes on the newly growing fins and is trying to groom himself...heh. This is so weird!

Kim 07-27-2008 08:04 AM

I'm guessing that it is not fin rot at this point if you have seen him tail biting so many times. Hmm...maybe he is bored. When you move him to the 3 gallon, maybe you could add a few shrimp as well. He might spend more time watching them and less time biting his tail. Did you cycle the 3 gallon? Good luck.

okiemavis 07-27-2008 09:49 AM

It's definitely heard of for bettas to bite their tails. It can also be tricky to figure out why, and try to stop him. Here's a helpful link:

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