Sick Betta Fish: Inflamed Gills & Heavy Breathing – What is the Treatment?

Question :

I went out of town for 18 days and asked my trusty (or not so trusty) landlord to take care of my betta fish while I was gone. Apparently, the water was not changed the entire time. When I got back, the normally purple betta was a dull gray color, and was much less active than normal.

I changed the water, but after about a week I noticed that one of its eyes was swelling. I looked online at several disease definitions and diagnosed him with “pop eye” from this page: (scroll down). I treated him with Ampicillan for about 2 weeks as the treatment suggested and the eye recovered. Much of the color also came back, but not all of it.

However, it looks like the damage was more extensive than that. Now the betta fish has swollen gills, lies on the bottom of the tank, and is breathing very heavy. The gills actually protrude about 1/16″ outside of the gill openings when he breathes and his whole head looks swollen as a result. The gills are a reddish brown color. The fish is more active than before – he will dart up to the top of the tank occasionally, but always returns to the bottom and lies sideways with its dorsal fin to one side on the rocks.

I have looked around online, but can’t seem to find any diseases with these exact symptoms. Oddly, on the link I provided there is a disease called “Inflamed Gills”, however the treatment is Ampicillan…which is what I already treated this fish with. While it might be that I didn’t treat it long enough with Ampicillan, I am guessing that there is another treatment to fix this that I didn’t do.

The question is, what is the treatment?

More Info:

1.) I have no idea what the Ph of the water is.
2.) I use Nestle drinking water whenever I change the fish (as instructed to by my ex girlfriend who is the one who brought it home). The tap water here in Thailand is not drinkable by humans and I have my doubts about whether a betta could survive in it.
3.) I have taken some pictures of the fish. Email me if you want to take a look at this condition.
Well, I am sorry to report this, but only about 12 hours after posting this, the fish was lying lifeless in the bottom of the tank.

The fish is now cured, just not the way I had hoped. RIP


Best answer:

Seems like the water may be the issue. Regarding the tap water issue, here’s how the system works. In most countries, tap water is drinkable. To make water drinkable it is treated with chlorine, etc. in factories before sent to our pipelines. Therefore, fish cannot be put in such water and it has to be treated with a water conditioner which will remove Chlorine, Chloramines, Ammonia, and which will also detoxify heavy metals.

If your normal tap water is not drinkable by humans, I would assume it’s actually not treated much, and therefore is better for the Betta when compared to the treated bottled water!

I don’t know much about the illness but my friend’s Betta did develop such symptoms with prolonged bottled water use, and then died. I can’t be sure though, there are just so many illnesses out there.