Does my betta have fin rot or something else?
My daughter has a beautiful betta who is not doing so well. She got him in March and he lives in a 5 gallon tank with a heater. We were using a filter, but since he has been sick, the person we spoke with at the pet store told us not to use a filter, that bettas don't like movement. We have clear and blue colored smooth crystal things for the bottom of the tank. No gravel, nothing sharp. We have 2 large plastic plants, again nothing sharp. We did have a large shell in there also that he loved, but I was afraid there was sharp edges or something inside, although I check every single that I put in there to make sure. I have done a 20% water change every week, vacuuming every week, rinsing the plants and cleaning the tank every single week. We had no problem until we went on vacation and took him with us. He was in a 2 gallon tank for a week, with a filter and clean water. This is when things went bad (maybe from stress?) we noticed his gorgeous fins were ragged and torn and looked like they were bleeding. I was told by a pet store to put in some aquarium salt, which I did, but that did not help. When we got him home, I changed the water in his tank and we keep the temp around 80-82 degrees. His condition went from bad to worse. He stopped eating, he would only lay on the bottom of the tank and it looked like his back fins were unable to move at all.
I went to the pet store and was told to clean the tank, shut off the filter, keep using the aquarium salt and treat him with maracyn two. I did this and the fish responded, he began eating, swimming and his fins looked less ragged and the red spots were going away. As soon as I stopped the treatment, he got bad again. The directions said to repeat one time if necessary, which I did. He is doing a lot better, but his fins are not good. He has new red patches on the tips and although he is swimming around and eating, his fins aren't moving like they did.
Does this sound like fin rot? Does he now have septicemia? What am I doing wrong? What should I do? I feel so terrible and I do not want this fish to be sick, suffering, or worse. Can a betta get fin rot from stress? His tank is always very clean, the water is clear and sparkly, he's not being overfed, I am constantly checking his temp to make sure it's ok. I just don't get it. Please help! My daughter loves this fish and we just want him to be happy and healthy again. :(
What are your numbers for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate? Poor water quality is a factor in many illnesses, fin rot included. It compromises the fish's immune system, making them more susceptible to illness. I'm worried that you've removed too much beneficial bacteria from the tank. If you're *really* thoroughly cleaning the gravel and even the decorations every week, you're probably not allowing bacteria to grow in those places. So, most of your bacteria would be concentrated in your filter, which it seems you've removed. Usually it's necessary to remove any activated carbon from your filter while you're using medicine, but not to remove the entire filter.
If you've completely removed the filter, it's unlikely that it's housing any beneficial bacteria after being off of the tank for any extended period of time. I would continue the treatment. Adding the filter back probably isn't going to be very helpful because of the absence of bacteria in it and because the current might be slightly stressful, but as soon as the treatment is over it's important to add it back. Also, unless they have tons of algae growth or something, it's not necessary to remove and clean the decorations in the tank.
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