Betta losing scales

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Aquarium Advice Activist
Jan 7, 2007
Up until yesterday morning my betta has been fine. I noticed however that it has been hanging at the bottom of the tank, slightly on it's side. He's gotten progressively worse. Before he would swim vertically, now, when he does decide to move, he darts around the tank. Here is a very crappy cellphone picture because my wife has my camera and she's out of town.

What I can see is at the base of his tail on the side pictured above he is missing his scales. Completely gone. I can see his pink skin. On the other side he seems to be fine, only a slight beginning of the same thing. I suspected he hurt himself in the plastic plants so I removed all of them from the tank.
So ... What the heck am I looking at? What's wrong with him? Body rot?
The tank has been completely untouched. It is a 5 and half gallon tank with a Tetra Whisper biofilter. I did a partial [1 gallon] water change 5 days ago and that's about it. I don't get it, what could it be and where did it show up from?
I started 1 treatment yesterday with Pimafix and I will go get some Melafix as well. Tank temp is 70, I will raise it to 78 by getting a better thermometer. Anything else I should do?
The instructions on Pimafix say I should treat for 7 days and then do a 25% water change. Should I not really be doing daily water changes?
If he hurt himself on the plastic plants - and that's a good possibility - then a few water changes will help. Good, clean water can help the scratches heal on their own. If they start to look bad, red, or maybe slimy, then use Jungle Fungus Eliminator - it has an anti-fungal med plus an antibiotic for any secondary infections that may show up. I've used this medicine on bettas with good results.

Be careful with Melafix/Pimafix on bettas. The active ingredient may irritate the labyrinth organ. If the betta appears stressed, do a water change. One of my bettas fell like a rock to the bottom of the tank when I added Melafix. It seems to be a fine medicine for other fish, but use caution for bettas.

You do need a heater for this tank - a thermometer just measures your water temperature and doesn't add heat. I use a 25 watt heater on my 5 gallon tanks. The water temperature needs to be at 80 degrees for bettas.
Ok, I went out and bought Melafix and have added it today along with Pimafix. I'm not sure if the disease has stopped at this point from spreading, but he did lose more scales. Basically I can see his white, uncovered skin. Poor guy, I had to empty out half of the tank because he can barely move and he was having a hard time reaching the surface for air.
What the heck kind of disease is this? Is it body rot? I hate the fact that I don't have a camera but I may be able to get a better picture tomorrow. So again, he's losing scales starting from his tail up, mostly on one side and not the other.

What I fear most right now is that I'm not using the right stuff to treat this.
As An t-iasg mentioned melafix and pimafix can cause problems with bettas. I would try treating with Maracyn myself personally. Keep doing water changes even though it will affect the medication levels. Probably every 2-3 days would be good for him. Good water will go a long way in helping the poor guy.
Well, I'm home and it's not looking good. The disease hasn't progressed over his body but it seems it has progressed inwards. I can see some of his bones at the base of his tail. Speaking of tail, it's in shreds and it's almost gone. I watched him to see how he swims to the surface for air and I'm surprised he's able to at all. I'm starting to give up but I'll keep going until the end, he's fighting for his life and so will I.
Also, today I had a car accident. Bad enough that my side airbags deployed and the car is in the shop.
It's days like this one when you wonder what's the point to all this.
Sorry to hear about your car accident. Unfortunately I don't think your betta will make it. I would do a water change to get rid of the melafix and pimafix and try treating with Maracyn. You may have to decide whether or not to euthanize the betta. If you do decide to euthanize there is a sticky on humane euthanizing of fish in this forum. I am truly sorry.
I did a full water change this morning and that's when I started with maracyn 1 and 2.
When would I know there is no turning back? 20% of his body is still white, the disease damage has not regressed as of yet.
I would deal with it on a day to day basis. If he seems to be improving keep it up. No one can decide besides you when it is too late. You will feel it is right if it is right. I sincerely hope you can turn things around for him. You are doing everything you can for him and should be proud of the effort you are making. There are several people that would go so far.
Well, exactly 35 minutes ago poor Rudi has been euthanized at exactly 10:30PM Central time. Looking critically at the situation it has become clear to me that the road to recovery was much too long and he was not going to make it. His tail was completely gone except for it's skeleton, 20 percent of his body was eaten away so severely that I could see his tiny bones. Up to 30 percent of his scales were gone. Breathing has become heavy and slowed. Thus it was best for him to go to betta heaven rather than suffer needlesly. I used blunt force to swiftly put an end to his misery and burned the body.
I will not be getting any betta or fish for that matter for a while. This has been the second betta I bought my wife and the second one to die in a matter of 2 months. I am just thankful that she did not see him as he was now, last she has seen him he was alive and healthy and greeted her happily as she said bye to him when she left town this past Friday.

How should I best handle all the stuff that has been in direct contact with the tank and the water? Is winter cold sufficient to kill off anything that might linger on? I think I will keep the plants.
I have another brackishwater tank with a red clawed crab for which unfortunately I have to use the same bucket, vacuum and so forth to do my daily water changes. What are the chances of the bacteria spreading?
I am so sorry for your loss. You did everything you could. I hope you will consider trying different fish one day. I would bleach the bucket and rinse and dechlorinate the bucket well. All should be fine then, bleach will kill any bacteria. But do rinse it well and then dechlorinate it. If they are plastic plants they can be bleached in a 10% bleach solution then rinsed and dechlorinated as well.

On a side note, did you get both bettas from the same lfs? If so it may be the lfs that is the problem.

Once again, I'm sorry for your loss.
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