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Old 03-19-2020, 06:44 PM   #1
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Betta fins curling pretty badly

Hi,
Less than a week ago I adopted a male betta (either delta or super delta, it's kind of hard to tell) - he's smaller than the ones I've kept in the past (under 2 inches including the tail), so I'm assuming he's still pretty young. I have no idea what conditions he was kept in by his previous owner, but for some reason over the past few days his fins (especially the ventrals, anal and dorsal fin) have started curling at the ends, and it seems to have gotten worse over the past few days. The rate of progression worries me, because I've only had him for like 5 days. Right now his anal fin is curled completely upwards, and the little bones in it look as though they might pierce the tissue any minute. Some of the rays are also sticking out at weird angles in the fin, almost as if the fin is too delicate to be supported by them. The edges of his fin look crumpled, curled, almost broken, and it's getting worse quicker than I could've expected. I've also noticed 2 small round holes in his tail - not sure if they're mechanical tears or something else.

Fin rot seems unlikely (I've dealt with it before and this looks different), as he's not showing any other symptoms - no discolouration along the edges, no weird growth on the fins etc. He's active and eating well, his movement doesn't seem hampered by the curling. I noticed him flashing a few times over the past few days, but he seems to have stopped for the time being. Unfortunately I don't have any test kits at hand, so I don't know the water parametres - but he shares the tank with a group of amano shrimp (which are supposedly more sensitive to things like ammonia and nitrates than fish), and the fish that used to live in this tank before him didn't have this issue. It's the first time I'm encountering something like this, and I've had this tank for almost 3 years. Just in case I ordered a few Catappa leaves to soften the water a bit, as I've heard curling may occur due to hard water, which - judging by the lime deposits under the cover - I might have (again, not sure). I'm worried that if this progresses any further he'll end up with seriously damaged fins or broken rays, not really sure what to expect at this point.

The tank is about 10-11gal (45l), temperature is 77 degrees, I do weekly water changes of about 22%. The tank is heavily planted and of course filtered. Apart from the shrimp he's the only fish in there.

Any ideas as to what more I can do, or what could be causing this would be greatly appreciated
I'm attaching some pictures of him - excuse the quality, my phone can't do any better and he's a pretty active little fish
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Old 03-19-2020, 08:05 PM   #2
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Try looking into fin melt.
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Old 03-20-2020, 03:29 AM   #3
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I did, and I SO hope that's not what this is...Any idea how to treat it, or if it is even treatable? I've read some nasty stories about fin melt :/
Edit: On second thoughts I'm not 100% sure that's what it is. Some other sources I looked into claim that fin melt is supposed to look like very bad clamping, or melted plastic with the fins narrowing towards the tips. I found a few pictures and videos online of this, and it looks nothing like what my little guy has. His fins look crumpled and torn in places, and a bit clamped, but they don't seem to be receding and I haven't observed any narrowing. They just look deformed.
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Old 03-20-2020, 06:15 AM   #4
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Perhaps it's a birth defect or he was kept in something way too small for him.

I had a rescue betta that had fin melt. He was kept in a tiny vase for 2 years before I got him. Unfortunately I could never quite cure the melt because it was so bad.

Just make sure your water is pristine either way. 1 feeding a day and weekly 50% water changes.
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Old 03-20-2020, 10:19 AM   #5
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Quote:
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Perhaps it's a birth defect or he was kept in something way too small for him.

I had a rescue betta that had fin melt. He was kept in a tiny vase for 2 years before I got him. Unfortunately I could never quite cure the melt because it was so bad.

Just make sure your water is pristine either way. 1 feeding a day and weekly 50% water changes.
Thanks. I'll do that and keep an eye on him for the time being, if it gets any worse (or better) I'll post an update.
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:01 PM   #6
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Well... He no longer seems able to flare. I put a mirror next to his tank just for a moment, to see if he could straighten his fins, and he barely reacted - only his beard flared up, the fins stayed clamped and crumpled. He's still active and eating, but the issue is getting worse each day. Just 5 days ago he didn't have the curled edges and was able to flare up fully. I don't get it... I did a 20% water change today (after which I saw him rubbing against objects in the tank, which is weird... the water was conditioned, as always!) - I'm planning on doing more water changes tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, to bump the total up to 50% (didn't want to do it all at once, to avoid shock). Should I start some kind of antibacterial treatment (I'm assuming it's bacterial)? Or is there a chance it may be due to hard water, like I've read on a few other forums, and dropping the pH a little might help?
I might have to get my hands on some tests, although for some reason none of my lfs seem to carry the ones for ammonia & nitri/ates. Might have to order online.
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:16 PM   #7
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Doing a 50% water change at once won't shock your fish.
I still think it could be fin melt, it may affect different types of bettas differently.
Adding aquarium salt might help. Can your lfs not test the water for you?
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Old 03-21-2020, 12:19 AM   #8
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Adding aquarium salt might help. Can your lfs not test the water for you?
Won't the salt damage the plants? Or the shrimp, for that matter? I wouldn't want to lose either... :/ Or could I maybe give him a salt dip in a seperate container?
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Old 03-21-2020, 06:57 AM   #9
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I missed the part where you said you had shrimp, it won't hurt your plants because you wouldn't be adding much but I'm not sure about the amanos. I know they breed in brackish water but I dont think they can stay in the water for longer periods of time. A salt bath would be fine then I guess.
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Old 03-21-2020, 12:50 PM   #10
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Below is a link to a video I made of him, in case it might be helpful in diagnosing him. If I put a mirror next to him he stays exactly the same, he no longer even opens his gill covers And he's now started to rub against plants, despite the water changes...The shrimp are doing fine, as far as I can see. No signs of any spots or growths on his body, either. Just those weird crumpled, torn fins and occasional erratic behaviour.
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Old 03-21-2020, 12:58 PM   #11
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I would do the salt dip, if he isn't flaring he may have gill flukes. If he's scratching on decorations it might be internal parasites. Salt will deal with both, if you would rather use medicine make sure you pick up something shrimp safe.
Again neither of those explain the fins curling, that could be any of the reasons that I said earlier.
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Old 03-21-2020, 02:52 PM   #12
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Great. I just noticed his anal fin split along half of its length...seems like the edge was twisted/bunched up so badly that the rays were no longer able to support the fin and it split...must've happened within the last hour. I can get meds/salt/almond leaves on Monday at the earliest, but at this rate he'll be shredded by the time I get them...He's also started lying on the bottom under a piece of wood with only his gills moving, and occasionally flashing against plants, which is weird - I did about a 22% water change yesterday and then another one today (so in total almost 50% over the course of 2 days), and added Seachem Prime just in case & it's gotten worse instead of better. I would maybe suspect ammonia poisoning if it weren't for the fact that the amanos, which are supposedly more sensitive to water quality than fish, are all doing fine (and the Prime neutralizes ammonia).
My other tank has skin flukes (waiting for meds to arrive), this one has some mystery progressive disease...I can't catch a break :/
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Old 03-23-2020, 09:58 PM   #13
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With regard to the salt dip - how often should I do it? Is it just a one-off thing, or is it meant to be repeated? If so, how often - every day, every other day, once a week? I've already added Indian Almond Leaves to the tank (2 big ones per 10gal of water), I'm going to do the (first) dip today, and if the salt doesn't do the trick I'll probably have to move on to something more aggressive... His fins are deteriorating steadily (they look all twisted and bunched up, tattered and stiff, almost "starched" - for want of a better word), he has some trouble swimming because of this and he's scratching against the decor. Did a 60% water change over the course of 3 days, so I find it hard to believe the water could be that toxic, unless there's some issue with the pH that I'm not aware of (but in that case I should also be having problems with the other tank, and that one is doing fine).

Other than that he's eating well and seems fairly active. I even saw him chasing one of the shrimp. Tried the mirror again, this time he tried opening his gill covers, but he only did it for a moment and then immediately shut them. It looked as though the gill plates were sort of stuck to his body and he had trouble opening them fully. He can't flare his fins though, they mostly just trail behind him looking stiff and useless. No noticeable external parasites or abnormal growths anywhere on his body. I'm stumped. Is this some kind of atypical fin rot?
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Old 03-24-2020, 07:32 AM   #14
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Salt Baths - Betta Splendid
This article might help you out.
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Old 03-24-2020, 06:43 PM   #15
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After some more extensive research (including on foreign sites), I've started to entertain the idea that this may not even be bacterial or related to water quality, but that the fin deformities and gill problems could've been caused by osmotic shock (from too rapid acclimation - which unfortunately happened, I couldn't fasten the clip properly & instead of drip acclimation I ended up with 'waterfall' acclimation...:/) - OR it may be due to some kind of mineral deficiency/imbalance. It would certainly explain why the symptoms started to worsen rapidly right after I got him, and why the rest of the tank is doing fine. What do you reckon? Also, if it is in fact osmotic shock or mineral imbalance, how do I fix it? Some kind of water conditioner, or food supplement perhaps?
So sorry for spamming this thread so much, I'm just kind of desperate for answers.
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Old 03-24-2020, 06:54 PM   #16
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Mineral deficiency may affect your shrimp as well. If you are concerned then you should get your waters kh/gh
You can buy a test kit for that for about $15 or see if your lfs will test it for you. It could also be diet related, what are you feeding him?
If you think it is osmotic shock then you should get your ph tested to make sure it's stable and not fluctuating everywhere just to be safe, but I don't think it would last as long as it has.
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Old 03-24-2020, 07:14 PM   #17
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It could also be diet related, what are you feeding him?
I've been feeding him Hikari Betta Bio Gold pellets as a staple, plus frozen brine shrimp twice a week, with one day of fasting. I feed 2 times a day. (I bought some dried daphnia yesterday and intend to incorporate that into his diet as well). He loves the brine shrimp but is a little picky with the pellets...they may be a little large for him, as like I mentioned before he is fairly petite; but he usually manages to get 2 or 3 down each feeding.
Edit: Is it even possible to have mineral-deficient water when I use liquid fertilizers for my plants (both macro- and micronutrients)? Or does that have no effect on the animals?
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Old 03-28-2020, 10:09 PM   #18
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What do you know, I have some good news for a change! For the past 5 days or so I've been giving him daily aquarium salt dips (on average about 6 minutes) - and he's reacted really well to them! His tail is still torn and jagged, but it's no longer clamped and bunched up, and both the dorsal, anal and ventral fins seem to be unfurling gradually. He's also perked up noticeably - he's more active and the flashing has stopped (as far as I can see). Today he even flared, and he was able to open his gills and show his beard for the first time in days! I'm keeping an eye out for any secondary infections from the splits in his fins, but so far everything looks clean. I do about 33% WC every week, spread out over 3 days, and I'm hoping the giant Catappa leaf in his tank will help stop any further infections. He's definitely not out of the woods yet & I'll continue giving him the daily salt dips, but hopefully whatever this was will clear up for good and not decide to recur once I stop the treatment *yikes*. Fingers crossed!
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Old 03-29-2020, 06:22 AM   #19
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That great! I hope everything works out for you.
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Old 04-13-2020, 08:50 PM   #20
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Just a few update pics! He's looking MUCH better. The salt worked really well at first, but then the treatment seemed to crash and he had a minor relapse (not sure why, either the salt just stopped working or something else happened with the tank water), so I switched to a different product (Healthosan, by Tropical), I did a few dips (anywhere from 2 to 4 hours), and it really seemed to do wonders. He's also feeling much better, he's not shy anymore, flares at the mirror, and he's even taken to biting my hand when I put it in the tank XD You've no idea how happy this makes me :P His personality really started to come through once he was feeling better. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that he doesn't have a relapse - it's only been a few days since he started improving, so it's always a looming possibility... but here's hoping :s Anyway, just thought I'd share his improvement. Who knows, it might help someone in the future. I sincerely hope this issue clears up for good and this is going to be my last post in this thread.


By the way, I just have one - slightly unrelated - question: I recently bought some crushed lava for use as a substrate, instead of sand/gravel (mostly for the beneficial bacteria, nutrients for plants, and to make the tank more visually appealing - unfortunately I can't put it inside the filter as I only have a small internal sponge filter), and I was wondering if it was safe for bettas? It's much more porous and - by extension - rougher than your average gravel. It's chemically inert, so doesn't significantly affect water parametres. I was just wondering if it isn't going to be too sharp? Bettas aren't exactly bottom feeders like corydoras or loaches, but they do occasionally forage in the substrate, especially if they see their food fall onto it, not to mention sometimes they decide to flash against it. I wouldn't want my boy to cut or scrape himself by accident. What do you think? Should I give it a try and just watch how things develop, or ditch it and go with something more conventional?

Thanks in advance for the help (and patience, lol)
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