Sick (or old?) betta

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Registered Member
Mar 25, 2024
Shish is a single male betta, approximately 2.5 years old, kept in a 3.5 gallon tank. Parameters are all good at every weekly test/25% change.

He suffered (I think) a case of popeye maybe two months ago, which was treated with Melafix; his eye is still cloudy but the swelling has gone down, so I think he may have injured it. The past few weeks or so, he has seemed like he's slowing down.

- He's lethargic. Spending a lot of time on the bottom of the tank, and a lot of that is split between hiding in his gem and hanging out right below his favorite spot at the front of the tank, where he can be nosy and look out at everyone always.
- He seems to be having trouble getting around. When it's feeding time, he swims as quickly as he can to the top of the tank but seems to struggle a bit, eats his food, and then slowly drifts back down.
- Every so often, he can remain neutrallly buoyant for a few minutes at a time.
- Any time he is not actively swimming, he slowly drifts down.

I've been leaning toward SBD, maybe dropsy...but he is not lacking for appetite, he's not on his side or upside down, and he's got zero bloating.

I just want to know what's wrong with our boy and was hoping y'all have some input.


AC Members
Jun 28, 2006
SF Bay area, CA
Welcome to AC

At 2.5 years he's getting on in betta years. They are not as long lived as some fish we keep.

It doesn't sound like "dropsy" to me. Fish with it often have a "pinecone" look (scales sticking out but not like "dragon scales").

Does he seem to poop normally? You might not see him poo but maybe notice when vacuuming. What foods do you feed him? It's good he eats well. At what temperature do you keep him? Too cold can make fish sluggish. ~ 80F is good.

You might try for 2 or even 3 25% water changes/week & see if that helps with either his activity or his cloudy eye. But really, I think he's just old & having aging problems. I often see slightly frayed fins &/or a slightly bent spine on very old fish.
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Global Moderator
Staff member
Jan 11, 2013
West Falls NY
Real Name
You've done great.

Kept in the most ideal conditions and setups, I've never gotten more than about a year out of any male or female betta I've kept.

I've always loved their personalities.