I came home from vacation and found its top fin pretty much gone, and theres a large spot in its place. Betta fish. I

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Customer: I came home from vacation and found its top fin pretty much gone, and theres a large white spot in its place
JA: What type of animal are we talking about?
Customer: Betta fish
JA: I'll do all I can to help. Can you tell me a little more about the betta fish's situation? How long has this been a concern?
Customer: I just got home yesterday after being gone a week and found it
JA: When was the betta fish last seen by a vet?
Customer: It never has been in person. But I've contacted someone before to ask how to help with fin rot. It just seems like it's more advanced or something entirely different
JA: And what's the betta fish's name and age?
Customer: Bubbles and about 2 to 3
JA: Is there anything else the Vet should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: No
Answered by Dr. Caryn – Vet in 16 hours 1 year ago
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Dr. Caryn – Vet
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2,216 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Dog Veterinary, Cat Veterinary, Bird Veterinary, Reptile Veterinary, Exotic Animal Veterinary

Hello and thanks for posting your question on JustAnswer.com. My name is***** and I have been a veterinarian for over 21 years, specializing in aquatics, reptiles, amphibians and other exotic species. You may already be aware, but on this platform, veterinarians can provide insight and advice, but as this is not considered a legal client-patient relationship, we are unable to prescribe medications, provide medical records or sign documents for your specific pet. For that you would need to make an in person visit with a local veterinarian. I am happy to chat with you via text but if you are interested in a phone call instead that is an option you can choose for an additional charge. In the meantime, I am putting together some questions and suggestions that should help with what’s going on with your fish.

I am sorry to hear that your betta fish Bubbles has lost her dorsal fin. What you describe sounds like an advanced case of fin rot. If you are able to upload a photo using the upload attachment icon (paperclip) that would be helpful for me to have a look.

Fin rot is often predisposed by water quality issues, so you should start by testing the water quality for ammonia and nitrites (and nitrates and pH as well if you are able). If the ammonia or nitrite measure 0.25ppm or above there is an issue and you should perform a 30% water change using water that's been treated with a water conditioner that removes chlorine and chloramine.

Fin rot is the loss of fin tissue, usually due to an infection. The most common cause is a bacterial infection though there are some types of protozoal infections that can cause it as well. Fins can become frayed from tankmates (biting), or abrasion against tank surfaces or from poor water quality. Fraying will result is a mildly ragged appearance to the edges of the fins, but won’t cause loss of a lot of the tissue as occurs in fin rot. As mentioned above, fin rot is typically secondary to tank environment, such as poor water quality (high levels of waste or organic debris that break down into ammonia or nitrite), that promotes high bacterial loads in the tank. The bacteria that cause fin rot are normally found in the tank environment but when conditions are right, they can overwhelm the fish’ natural defenses and cause fin rot or systemic disease. Fin rot can progress rapidly.

A first step would be to perform water quality testing with a testing kit, including ammonia and nitrite as a minimum, but also pH and nitrates, to make sure the tank conditions are good for your fish. Ammonia and nitrate should be zero (0 ppm) and pH should be fairly neutral (6.8-7.5). If you are unable to test the water at this time, then I recommend performing a water change (30%) using water treated with a water conditioner that removes both chlorine and chloramines.

Treatment depends upon the cause, that's why a photo would be helpful. But if the area is not visible fuzzy, then it is more likely bacterial than fungal.

Fin rot from bacteria can be treated with tank treatments such as API Triple Sulfa, API Furan-2, or Seachem Sulfaplex perhaps combined with salt therapy to help aid in healing of damaged tissues. I can provide more detailed information as to how to perform these therapies once we touch base. Treatment is added to the water typically for 10-14 days, though might need to be extended if the infection is bad. Sometimes concurrent therapy with low dose salt (1 Tablespoon sea salt or aquarium salt dosed for every 5 gallons of tank water) can help with the healing process, minimize fluid loss across the damaged tissue and help prevent some secondary infections, such as fungus.

But looking for and correcting the underlying cause is also important, e.g. infrequent water changes, overfeeding, organic debris buildup in filter or gravel, decaying plant material, etc. Just keep in mind that your tank needs good bacterial biofilms to stay healthy and to break down waste, so if you are going to clean the tank, stagger the cleaning, e.g. don't change the filter and siphon all of the gravel at the same time as this will negatively impact the biological filtration. Change the filter one week, siphon part of the gravel another week and the rest another week.

I will be notified if/when you respond with additional information but in the meantime, I hope this general information is helpful and I look forward to further connecting with you about your pet. I sincerely ***** ***** the best with your fish. Thanks again for posting your question to JustAnswer.com.

Customer
My picture I got isn't great, but it helps. It is definitely advanced, and it's more than the fin now I think, but his appetite is still good. I usually clean his tank about once every 3 to 4 weeks due to it seeming to get dirty quickly. How would I go about testing for the water? He has a 2.5 gallon tank for himself, and I wasnt sure if his plastic plants play a part in the rot as well though I've changed and cleaned them
Customer
I previously was recommended kanaplex which helped, but it never seemed to go away and heal completely. And now I'm just worried because I don't want him to suffer
Customer
Thank you in advance for your help!

Thanks for the additional info. Could you perhaps take a closer photo? Thanks.

From what I can see from the photo this is quite a large wound. If it did respond previously to kanamycin but recurred this might be because the infection was not completely cured when the treatment ended or there was a residual pocket of infection.

Fin rot can, unfortunately, progress rapidly. A first step would be to perform water quality testing with a testing kit, including ammonia and nitrite as a minimum, but also pH and nitrates, to make sure the tank conditions are good for your fish. Ammonia and nitrate should be zero (0 ppm) and pH should be fairly neutral (6.8-7.5). If you are unable to test the water at this time, then I recommend performing a water change (30%) using water treated with a water conditioner that removes both chlorine and chloramines.

I have had good success treating fin rot from bacteria with sulfa based antibiotics. Tank treatments with commercial formulations such as API Triple Sulfa, API Furan-2, or Seachem Sulfaplex, perhaps combined with salt therapy to help aid in healing of damaged tissues.

Salt therapy (using sea salt or aquarium salt, NOT iodized table salt) can help support your fish to heal and fight infection and can help them with osmoregulation (movement of fluid across body membranes). This would be especially helpful given the large wound your fish has where the dorsal fin has eroded away from the body.

Recommended amount of salt is:

-Aquaria: 1 level Tablespoon of aquarium or sea salt for every 5 gallons of water

Mix salt well outside of the tank in some tank water and after it is fully dissolved, add the salt water mix back into the tank. If you have a sump or external filter these are nice places to add the salt as it will help distribute the salt evenly in the tank. If not, you can sprinkle the saltwater over the top of the tank and then gently mix with a net at the surface. No need to vigorously mix as this may disturb your fish. Salt therapy is typically used for 10-14 days. If the fish has completely improved by the end of the salt therapy, go ahead and do a 25% water change. Subsequent weekly water changes will continue to decrease the amount of salt in the tank over time. It is recommended that you increase frequency of water quality testing (especially ammonia and nitrite) to daily while the tank has a treatment in it. If you need to do a water change during salt therapy, please remember to add salt back in with the added water as you have taken some salt out with the discarded water. You should add 0.5 teaspoon of salt per gallon of replaced water.

A few other thoughts/suggestions:

1) Makes sure to remove carbon/activated charcoal or filtration resin from the filter and the tank while antibiotic treatment is in the tank. These remove/adsorb the antibiotics, reducing effectiveness. (Salt is to impacted by chemical filtration).

2) Turn off UV or ozone filtration, if you have it, during antibiotic therapy in the tank. (Salt is not affected by them.)

3) Antibiotic treatment should be at least 10-14 days. If you see not additional progression of the lesion and some signs of healing after 10-14 days, then the antibiotics can be discontinued. If there is mild improvement but the wound is still open, treatment can be extended to 14-21 days. If there is no improvement after 5-6 days then I would recommend changing the therapy. I recommend continuing salt therapy until the skin is completely healed.

We've gone over a lot. If you have any other questions or concerns or want specific advice on dosing /treating when you get one of the recommended antibiotics or would like me to calculate the salt dose based on your tank size, please let me know and I'd be happy to help.

I will be notified if/when you respond with additional information but in the meantime, I hope this information has been helpful. I sincerely ***** ***** the best with your betta fish Bubbles. Thanks again for posting your question to JustAnswer.com. Sincerely, ***** *****

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Dr. Caryn – Vet
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