I have had this betta for about two years now, since he was a baby. A couple of months ago he started having trouble swimming. He would swim upwards, but could not stay there - instead, he would sink back down - tail first.

Water tests were normal - I only use the API liquid chemical tests, not the strips.

Our first impression was SBD. We control feeding pretty well (not the only betta I have), but I figured each fish is different, so put him on a pea/fasting diet. This did not help. Next, we tried some medicines, but that did not help either.

At this point, I just think this fish just might be disabled, but I feel a little sad watching him struggle to stay afloat.

Any ideas on what it could be - other than SBD, or what else I could try?

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  • What parameters exactly were tested? Did you notice any correlation between water changes and this, or not?
    – lila
    Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 19:42
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    Standard: nitrites, nitrates, ammonia, ph (normal and high). All were normal. No difference with water changes.
    – Sagar
    Commented Oct 4, 2020 at 21:22
  • Are the scales laying OK on him? Or are they away from the body? Also, a picture is 1000 words, you know.
    – virolino
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 6:14
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    And what is SBD? A search on the net was very rich in results, but none of them fits.
    – virolino
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 6:16
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    Odd question, how deep is his tank? And have you moved him to a deeper tank recently? New goldies in my ~50cm deep tank always seemed to struggle (sinking) for the first couple of days. I’ve also had a "disabled" fish: used to flip upside down and swim about seemingly happily (also didn’t grow and had deformed fins, I guess the swim bladder was badly formed, too).
    – Pam
    Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 19:24

1 Answer 1


While I cannot ask as a comment, and you mentioned trying everything, have you tried Erythromycin yet?

In the photo, I noticed the fins seemed ragged and translucent in places, typical of either fin damage (sharp objects/other fish biting) or Fin Rot, a bacterial infection.

Erythromycin treats bacterial infections, including Fin Rot.

Other remedies like salting the water (1 tbsp/gallon, remove snails and plants) for one week and maintaining clean water are recommended for Fin Rot (and many other diseases).

Another possible solution is an anti-parasitic medication. API makes a product called General Cure that works well to flush out internal parasites. If you've ever seen a fish with long stringy poo trailing with them, you've seen a fish when parasites.

Obviously, I'm no vet, so take anything I say with a grain (or tablespoon) of salt. Dose any medications according to package instructions.

Sources: My experience fighting Fin Rot with a sassy betta, Aquarium Co-op's great youtube channel, way too much web searching for my own sick fish.

  • Not erythromycin, but did try some others. Will give it a show. At this point, anything may help
    – Sagar
    Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 19:06

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