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FAQs on Betta Medicines: Misc.

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Mel-, Pima-, Betta- Fixes are garbage; more likely to suspend bio-filtration, poison your stock

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Betta Success
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Sick Betta  12/3/08 My Crowntail Betta has white gooey stuff at the end of his tail fins and grayish-white discoloration on his chin. <Finrot and/or Fungus; requires prompt treatment, e.g., with Maracyn or eSHa 2000. Don't bother with salt, Melafix, etc... they won't work!> How often do I do water changes, <Assuming the tank is 5+ gallons in size and equipped with a filter, a 25-50% water change once per week is adequate. If you're keeping the fish in one of those dismal Betta Bowls without a filter, then daily 50-75% water changes are required.> How often do I add aquarium salt and how often/when during this cycle do I add Bettafix? <Don't use Bettafix. It's rubbish. No need to add salt to a properly maintained and filtered aquarium. Salt will not cure Fungus or Finrot either.> Is this even the right approach to take? Also, is 72 degrees too cold? Now that it is winter the heater doesn't keep him at 80 like during the summer. <Far too cold. Bettas need, at minimum, 25 degrees C (77 degrees F). When they get cold, they get sick. QED.> Thank you so much for all of this great information, I am so grateful to have the ability to give my fish, Melvyn Velvet, the best possible care I can.. <Do read about the requirements of your Betta; cute names are all very well, but what animals need is precise and correct care. A filtered aquarium 5+ gallons in size equipped with an air-powered filter and a heater of some sort is all Bettas need. Not much, and yet you'd be surprised how many people don't bother, and then wonder why their pets get sick. It'd be as if someone bought a dog, and the dog got sick, and when they went to the vet they expressed to surprise that dogs need to be fed dog food and taken for walks! Sounds silly when you say it like that, but you'd be staggered how many people make similar, basic errors with Bettas. Don't be one of those people! Cheers, Neale.>

Re: pictures of my Betta... in an unheated, unfiltered bowl... hypochondria sans knowledge 05/14/08 Thank you for the links! From your website, I've discovered that he has fin and tail rot which I'm treating him with Bettafix for. He seems to be getting some of his color back and he's spreading his fins out occasionally again. However, I'm worried about the lump under his chin. What do you think it is and what can I do for it? <Can't tell...> The fish specialist at PetSmart said it could be an internal infection or ulcer so she recommended "Anti-bacteria food by Jungle." <I would just wait...> I've been feeding him this for about 4 days now and I don't see any significant changes except that he is blowing bubbles whenever I'm near him or I try to feed him. He only eats a tiny piece of the crushed up pellet and sometimes none at all. It's almost like he's too preoccupied with blowing his bubbles to eat and I'm worried that he's dying because he's always eaten like a pig, until about a week ago when I noticed he was really sick. I would give him Maracyn because that is supposed to treat Finrot and lots of other infections, but he is in about a 2-quart, little fish bowl with no heating or filtration. <... this is the root of the trouble... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsetupindex.htm the third set down... Betta Systems... you're killing this fish> The fish specialist at PetSmart said it would be too strong for him. Would you recommend that I get a small tank with a heater and filter for him so I can give him the Maracyn, or can he be healed in the bowl with just the medicated food, a pinch of aquarium salt and Bettafix alone? <The fish will die prematurely in the present circumstances. It does not need "medicines"> I would worry about transferring him to a new tank with a new temperature in his condition. I guess what I need to know is what can I do that would be the best for him? -Erika <Keep reading, save your medicine money... Bob Fenner>
Bettafix not helping fin and tail rot  05/09/08
Hi! This question is for Bob. I have a smaller male Betta fish with quite a serious case fin and tail rot, I'm pretty sure based on what I've read on here. I have had him since last August and he has about a 2 quart bowl with no filter or heating system.
 I used tap water with Prime by Seachem brand conditioning drops that remove chlorine, Chloramine, and ammonia, and detoxifies nitrate, and nitrite, and provides a slime coat. The room temperature was always sort of on the colder side about 65-70 degrees because I was living in a college dorm with a roommate who liked the room cold. I didn't know that colder temperatures could be harmful to Bettas. I would change the water about every 2-3 weeks because it would develop a slimy-cloudy film on top. I always fed him one food pellet a day and sometimes an extra one because he always ate like a pig. Around the middle of this past April, I noticed parts of his fins starting to disappear like they were being torn off and he was not spreading them out like he used to. I immediately changed his water and didn't think that it was anything serious because he was still acting normally. Then a few days later, I brought him home with me from college for the summer. My house temperature is much warmer (about 77-79 degrees.) A few days after I was home, I noticed that he didn't seem to be feeling well and a little more of his tail and fins were missing. I went to Petco and asked the fish expert what it could be and what I should do. She gave me Bettafix medication. I changed the water to my home tap water and added the prime and Bettafix medicine as directed. I continued to add the Bettafix for 7 days without changing the water as directed. On the 8th day, I noticed he looked like he was getting worse. So I changed the water and some tiny pieces of his fin came off in the net. He also looked very pale, he's an aqua blue color, but he looked like a pale-translucent-blue-grey I went online and looked up Betta diseases and fin and tail rot seemed to match my fish's condition. I freaked out and rushed to PetCo to get a better medication. I told them the Bettafix they gave me before wasn't working and what was happening to his fins. The fish "expert" told me that he probably wouldn't make it and gave me a different type of Bettafix and aquarium salt. I changed the water, added the prime conditioner, a pinch of the salt, and the new Bettafix. This was yesterday (5-6-08.) Then I fed him and he ate like a pig as usual. This morning he looked like he was feeling better, he was vibrant aqua and his fins and tail were spread out. Then, this afternoon he started to look sick again with his fins and tail clumped together. I tried feeding him but when he tried eating the pellet, it was like he couldn't get it in his mouth. He kept missing it or he wasn't opening his mouth wide enough, or it was too big. So I cut the tiny pellet in half and he finally was able to eat 2 halves. Eating has never been a problem for him before so I'm really worried. So, I went to PetSmart and I learned that the old Bettafix I used and the new Bettafix I was using was the same thing in a different bottle. I checked both of them and they both have .2% of Melaleuca in them. I read on the internet that Bettafix is good to treat fish who have mild cases of fin and tail rot or who are recovering from it, and in secondary cases, they need something stronger. The girl at PetSmart told me that any other medication would be too strong for him because he is in such a small bowl. But if he has a serious case of fin and tail rot, then will the Bettafix be enough to stop it? I read that online that I should try Maracyn-TC by Mardel, is that a good choice? Please tell me what I can do to save him. -Erika <Erika, "Bettafix" and other tea tree oil-based products are indeed very unreliable and (in my opinion) not worth using. Maracyn would be a much better bet for fixing Finrot on a Betta. So yes, use that. Salt is neither here nor there when treating Finrot, but do remember that lowland Betta species like Betta splendens like quite warm water so certainly maintain the tank at around 25-28 degrees C. Frequent water changes and good filtration are also critical, because ultimately Finrot is caused by poor water conditions. Don't force food into the poor little chap, and if he doesn't want to eat right now, don't worry about it. When he gets better, his appetite will return. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Bettafix not helping fin and tail rot  05/14/08
Thank you so much for your quick response! I bought a 1 gallon tank with a pump and filter, <Read again... tropical fish... needs a thermostatic heater> and some new stones to go at the bottom. I also bought Maracyn two <Stop!> because the diagnosis guide said it was for sick fish who won't eat and it treats internal infections as well as the fin and tail rot. I transferred him to the new tank with the Maracyn two (I had added 1/5 of the powder in the packet because it is 1 packet per 5 gallons.) The water temperature is about 76-77 degrees F. I gave him some freeze dried mixture food that includes bloodworms, mysis shrimp, and daphnia. He ate a small piece of it. Then he just laid in the bottom of the tank, completely listless for a couple of hours. Then he went to the top and he was just floating at the top of the tank, letting the water move him. He looked like he was in a trance or on drugs or something. When I would go up to him and talk to him he would swim a little and he ate a couple more tiny pieces of food. Is this trance-like state something I should be worried about? Is he healing or is he having a bad reaction to the Maracyn? What signs can I look for that will tell me if he is recovering? Thanks for all your help! -Erika <Read, stop pouring money into medicines... the real problem here is environmental, not pathogenic. BobF>
Re: Bettafix not helping fin and tail rot -05/15/08
Hi Bob! <It's Neale today.> Thanks for your advice! In regards to the heater, I bought a thermometer that sticks on the outside of the tank and it has been reading 78-80 degrees F. Do I still need a heater? <Unless you home is heated to a constant 25 C/ 77 F, then yes, your aquarium needs a heater.> If so, I'll go out and get a 5 gallon tank because the smallest volume that the heaters at the pet store will take, but I don't want to over heat him. <Indeed not. Look at the cost difference between 5 and 8 or 10 gallon tanks; the difference in price is usually trivial, but the difference is hobby value is dramatic. With an 8 or 10 gallon tank you could add plants, snails, shrimps... generally make a nice little "underwater world" instead of a bowl.> I would have bought the 5 gallon tank to begin with, but he's just one tiny fish. Should I look into getting a tank-mate for him? <Usually not a good idea to mix fancy Bettas with other fish, and certainly never add any other kind of fish to a tank a mere 5 gallons in size.> I'm not sure how he would respond to that in is ill condition and I'm afraid even another tank change could be too stressful for him. <Moving him to a bigger, healthier tank can *only* benefit him. Remember, he's a fish, not a person. He doesn't care much about "familiar surroundings", but what does matter is clean water, the right temperature, etc.> From what I've learned from reading, I need to get a gravel vacuum and sponge filter right? <Gravel vacuum cleaners are a gimmick, and total overkill in a 5-10 gallon tank. But sponge filters are ideal for Bettas.> Also, are you sure that he doesn't need medicine to get well because if it's an infection, than doesn't he need an anti-biotic to kill it? <Antibiotics are for treating bacterial infections. If he has Finrot, then yes, antibiotics are important. But otherwise there's no need to use them.> Or do you think he has no infection? <Not obvious from these photos. Finrot is very distinctive: frayed fins, white/pink decaying tissue, often streaks of blood vessels obvious along the fins.> I'm afraid if I don't give him the medicine, he'll die. He's hanging in like a champion for all he's been through the past 4 weeks. I know he had fin and tail rot, but his fins have stopped shrinking and are strengthening. <Then he's improving. Finrot is a "symptom" of poor water quality; it's a sign the fish's immune system was overwhelmed by the normal bacteria in the water. In poor water, the immune system is stressed, so these bacteria that normally don't cause problems end up damaging the fish.> The other symptoms he had a few days ago led me to believe he had another type of disease (listlessness, not eating, black/swollen gills, loss of color, clamped fins, lump under throat.) So, the Maracyn two seemed necessary. Today is day 3 of Maracyn treatment and he appears to be doing much better. The Maracyn two seems to be helping. He is eating small, crushed pieces of food now instead of just blowing bubbles when I put the food in. I crush one pellet and sprinkle a pinch of the freeze dried melody in there once in the morning and once at night. <All sounds pretty normal. Take care not to overfeed.> I think I should lighten up a little though because he doesn't appear to be having bowl movements. He also looks a little bloated near the end of his body, he might be constipated. I was so concerned that he wasn't eating that I may have been feeding him a little too much the past 2 or 3 days. What do you think? He's also out of the trance like state he was in those 1st few hours of the Maracyn two treatment. He's constantly at the top of the tank, swimming around (he likes the bubbles from the pump.) <Fish actually *don't* like bubbles much, and fish farmers use bubbles as "walls" to block fish into particular areas. You've perhaps also seen those whales that make bubbles to corral small fish into dense schools that can be eaten easily. So when you see fish attracted to the bubbles, it's much more likely the fish isn't getting clean, well oxygenated water. The aerated water with the bubbles is the healthiest patch in the tank, so that's where the fish goes.> He also looked like he was getting some of his shiny aqua color back this morning. I think he is healing, but I could be wrong. What should I do? Should I stop giving him Maracyn two? <Always a good idea to *finish* a course of medication.> Should I get him a 5 gallon tank with a heater? <Yes, or even a bigger tank with some Cherry Shrimps or something else that will be harmless but fun to watch.> Should I keep him in the 1 gallon tank? <No. 1-gallon tanks are death traps. They're a con, and shouldn't be on the market.> I know I've spent quite a bit of money, but I'll do anything to keep him alive. <Unfortunately, ALL animals are expensive to maintain. If your retailer told you this was a "cheap" pet they were misleading you.> I appreciate all of the links, articles, and FAQ readings, I've learned a lot from them and I understand you and the crew spend tons of time telling people the same things over and over again, It must get tedious. <Only tedious to know that lots of people don't read, and treat their pets as disposable ornaments. Those who ask questions, however often, aren't tedious at all, and are welcome at WWM anytime.> However, my fish is in a very specific situation, and if you could, please tell me what I should do for him. I've attached some pictures I took just now. Thank you for helping me rescue my baby! -Erika <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Bettafix not helping fin and tail rot 5/12/08 Thank you for your advice. It's been a few days and he seems to be getting better with just using the Bettafix and an Anti-bacteria food by Jungle the pet store fish specialist recommended. <Bettafix is almost completely useless, but food with antibiotics may help, provided the fish is eating a sufficient quantity.> They advised me to stay away from the Maracyn because it is meant for larger tanks and would be way to strong for him in his little fish bowl. <Think about this for a moment, and judge for yourself. A concentration of 1 mg/l is one milligram per litre whether it's a swimming pool or a thimbleful of water. Logically, provided you dose the correct amount of medication relative to the volume of water, there's no risk of any kind whatsoever. If you overdose -- that may well be a bad thing. But that's a risk in any tank, whether a bowl or a jumbo aquarium.> Now I'm concerned about a lump under his chin or on his throat that I just noticed could be related to his eating problem. <Simply looks like a very underweight, sick Betta to me.> I brought him to PetSmart and the fish specialist said it looks like it could be an ulcer, or some type of internal infection and that's when they recommended the special food. <Hmm...> I've been crushing one anti-bacteria food pellet and sprinkling it in his water about twice a day. Sometimes he eats a tiny piece, but he doesn't seem too happy with it. <I bet.> The food bottle says "Do not use other foods during this period and use exclusively for 5-10 days. After 5 days, should I let him take a break and feed him a treat like bloodworms? (I've never fed him anything but pellets before.) <By all means let him eat something else once you've finished the treatment.> Also, what could this lump be? <No idea.> Do you think he has a more serious infection along with the Finrot? <There's *nothing* more serious than Finrot. Let's be clear about this: Finrot is a secondary infection caused (almost always) by poor water quality. It means that Aeromonas and Pseudomonas bacteria in the water, where they normally do no harm, have overwhelmed the fish's immune system. They start by damaging the fins and skin, which is Finrot, but those same bacteria work their way inwards, ultimately leading to a blood infection (septicaemia) that kills fish. You MUST treat Finrot aggressively. I'd use Maracyn in this instance REGARDLESS of any (imaginary) risk because the fish WILL die otherwise.> And can special food heal him alone? <Unlikely if he's eating so small an amount.> Are the pet store people right in saying that Maracyn is too strong (because if his fins keep healing like they are and his color keeps coming back like it is then will Bettafix be all I need? <Bettafix is Tea Tree oil. If you had a septic wound, would you ask your doctor for antibiotics or some kind of herbal remedy that hadn't been tested by doctors and hadn't been validated scientifically?> Also, one more little thing I've noticed. Whenever I'm with him or talking to him or feeding him, he goes up to the surface, takes big gulps of air and blows bubbles. <Normal behaviour; these are air-breathing fish, and every minute or so will have to gulp air.> I read online that blowing bubbles means Bettas are happy and would like to mate, but if he's sick, it doesn't make any sense. <You're thinking of bubble nest building, which is quite different.> Can you help me solve this mystery illness?-Erika <Well, I hope this helped! Cheers, Neale.>

Fungus, Betta... bowl... Need real env., not phony or real med.s    8/5/07 Dear WWM, We've been treating our Betta in a 1-gallon hospital tank with Maracyn-Two for about 7 days to rid him of bacteria. About the 3rd day in the little fella looked like a goner. We lowered the water level in the 1-gallon hospital tank to about 1/3 or less and he has responded well. We are not using any filtration and we started doing a full water change daily including the proper proportion of medicine. A couple days ago we noticed a white cottony substance on him also. We understand this to be a fungus so we have added Pimafix to his medication regimen. The white cottony stuff seems to come off and mess up the little 1/3 gallon of water we have in the tank We want to keep the water clean for him and since we are only keeping him in 1/3 gallon of water right now we need to make a full water change at least twice a day. Each time we change the water we also add the proper proportion of Maracyn-Two and Pimafix. By doing this twice daily are we double-dosing him? We didn't think so because we are keeping the medication to water ratio at proper levels but we we're not sure. Are there more effective medications (Maroxy)? Please help. Thank you very much. Jeannie & Joe <Hello Jeannie & Joe, I know I disagree with some of my colleagues here at Wet Web Media, but as far as I'm concerned Melafix and Pimafix are a waste of time. At best, they're help keep wounds clean and so promote natural healing c/o of the fish's own immune system and cellular repair mechanisms. But in a 1-gallon tank water quality isn't going to be that good (one gallon is smaller than the average bucket, let alone aquarium) so you need to break out the industrial strength medications, not these airy-fairy New Age tea-tree oil products. If you came down with pneumonia, would opt for the antibiotics or Ginseng Tea? This is sort of the choice people make here, by opting for Melafix and Pimafix instead of the traditional medications. Anyway, go visit your local retailer and buy a combination Finrot/fungus medication. This will treat both the external bacterial infections plus the fungus infection. Follow the instructions on the medication carefully -- if you do water changes before the instructions tell you to do them, you dilute the medication and reduce its efficacy. This is a very good reason why Bettas should be kept in real tanks with real filters, not Mickey Mouse "bowls" that rely on water changes daily to dilute pollutants instead of a filter. Anyway, install the Betta in a tank with a filter, add the medication at the dose and intervals prescribed, and hold off doing water changes until after the course is finished. If your Betta has any chance of surviving, this is what you need to do. Cheers, Neale>

Sick Beta... Betta  - 11/13/06 The active ingredients for the parasite killer was: sodium chloride, Metronidazole, Praziquantel, its called jungle fish health internal parasite guard. <A good product> The only things that were in the tank was gravel and a live plant, but he has been in a separate tank for a bit now with only some gravel so I don't know what kind of poisoning it could be. <Mmm, many possibilities... household cleaners, aerosols, a bug flying in...> The bad thing is that he has another symptoms: slightly raised scales just around the swollen abdomen. <Ascites... "bloat", dropsy> The question is should I euthanize him or can I treat him? <Mmm, yes> I really don't want to kill him because I know that they can get over dropsy, but probably not if I can't figure out the problem and treat it, and I do not want to make him suffer. Thanks for your quick reply. Hope I can help him. <At this juncture, a broad spectrum antibiotic... BettaMax would be my choice... You have read on WWM re Betta Disease? Bob Fenner>

Re: Treating A Betta With Metronidazole  - 5/7/2006 Dear Chuck, I just e mailed you back to ask you how much  Metronidazole to give to Sammy. He is in a tank with 2 liters of water not 1 to 2 gallons as I told you before.  Thank you again. Audrey < When you buy the medication it has directions of usually one tablet per 10 gallons. You could cut it in half and treat a 5 gallon bucket of aged water and use that water to put your Betta in.-Chuck>
Re: Treating Fish with Metronidazole  - 5/7/2006
Thank you so much for your fast response Chuck. How much of the Metronidazole should I give him?  We have some 250 mg   tablets that we used on our dog.  Is it the same thing? If you help me save him it will be a miracle.   Thank you so much    AUDREY < It should be the same stuff. Do a 50% water change, clean the filter and vacuum the gravel. Use one tablet per 10 gallons of water. Treat every other day and do a 50% water change in between treatments. When the fish starts to eat he is getting better.-Chuck>

Possible fin and tail rot? shredded tail Bob, What is the appropriate course of action to treat a Betta whose tail is fine one day and the next is shredded? <if the fish is alone (no fin nipping) then we might assume a pathogenic infection. If limited to the extremities... the fins can be swabbed with iodine or Merthiolate. Else, look for a broad spectrum antibiotic like Furan-2 or Fungus Eliminator (Jungle brand). Water changes and slightly salted water will help too. Best regards, Anthony.> Many thanks Anthea

Bad reaction to Melafix? Hi, I just recently bought a male Betta fish, Odysseus, from a local store; I've only had him for a little more than a week. He lives in a very clean, one-gallon bowl (with a constant temperature of around 70 degrees, due to a stuck college dorm radiator that turns our room tropical). <Actually... would be better if it were stuck a bit higher... the upper seventies are better for your Betta> I know that it's better for a Betta to have a bigger tank, (and he will once I save up for one) but I figured that anything would be better than the dirty little cup he was living in at the store. When I first brought him home, he was blowing bubble nests and exploring his bowl, but then I notice that his fins were getting raggy and that he was clamping and spending more time just floating around. I realized that Odysseus had fin rot, <But, from what cause?> ...so I did some research and bought MelaFix and Maracyn II. The Maracyn II seems to have worked. The rot has disappeared and my fish is looking a lot better. Then I added the Melafix to the bowl so that the fins and tail would mend faster. But Odysseus seems to clamp up when I add the Melafix. Is it possible that he's having a bad reaction to it? <Yes... know that I am NOT a fan of this and other "herbal" "remedies"> I've discontinued its use, but I hate to see him looking so ragged and unhealthy. Is there anything else that I can give my little fishy to help fix him up? Is there anything I should feed him to encourage fin re-growth? Thank you for your time. <You might add a bit of salt... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/betdisfaqs.htm  and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

New Print and eBook on Amazon

Betta Success
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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