Q: My fish has fin rot and I bought Tetracyline tablets for it. The box says to give 1 tablet for every 10 gallon but I also read
1 Gallon Dosage: Dissolve 1 tablet in 10 tsp of water. Add 1 tsp of concentrate daily.  I have a 1 gal. tank so I wasn't sure how much I was really to give and I am worried about over medicating.

Question submitted by Brittany - College Park, Maryland

A: Well Brittany, this is a good question because it brings up the issue of evaluating the proper dosage of medication in a betta bowl situation. I will be happy to give you my two cents on this.

First I need to say that your choice of medication for fin rot may not be the best. There used to be a time when I used tetracycline for everything and anything, but now a day I hardly ever touch the box. I believe you will have better results by following my fin rot remedy recipe which you can find here. Look under "fin rot". Although tetracycline is a good medication, it is also an old medication which has been used and abused for a long time resulting in many of the bacteria strands building resistance to it. It is now far less effective than it used to be. Hence my choice of other antibiotics to get the job done.

Now let's talk about how much to put in your betta bowl. Medications comes in one of several format: tablets, capsules, liquid form and crystals.

  • tablets. I personally do not like tablets and never use them. Tablets may be fine for a 10 gal tank (one where you could just toss the entire tablet and let it dissolve at will) but for smaller tanks/bowls, a tablet would be 10 times too much, so it becomes necessary to cut it, which is very hard to do. In short if a medication comes in tablets, I don't use it. Some of you at this point might think: "why not crush it?". I have found that crushing those things is also very difficult.
    To dose for a 1 gal betta tank: Each tablet usually treats 10 gal. You would have to divide the tablet in a 10th of tablet (good luck!). And watch out your fingers with that sharp knife!! Tablets are almost as hard as diamonds.. (And NO tablets are NOT a girl's best friend!).
  • capsules. Now we're talking! Capsules are cool because inside the capsule (which is just a 'carrying case' if I may say) is the medication which is already in a fine powder format (convenience galore!). Fine powder I like to work with. No finger amputation or smashing involved LOL. It dissolves promptly and is easy to divide into smaller portions. 
    To dose for a 1 gal betta tank: Each capsule usually treats 10 gal. What I do is I open carefully the capsule, tilt it and tap on it gently (or also sometimes squeeze it between my two fingers) to release a bit of powder. I do not "measure" it, I "eye ball" it. Granted I probably give a bit more or a bit less but guess what? It has never ever killed a betta of mine yet. If you are especially clumsy (duh!) then maybe empty the capsule out and divide it into 10 equal smaller portions with the help of a razor blade. Hope to God your mother doesn't walk on you at that moment, she might get the wrong idea!! LOL. Warning: Snorting betta medication may cause you to grow gills, a useful, but unsightly device. (yuk) Just kidding you guys!
  • liquid. Liquid is the easiest format when it comes to bowls. Many of the liquid medication end up working well at 1 drop per 12 gal or even 1/2 gal bowl. This includes maroxy, maracyde, methylene blue. Do read the manufacturer's instructions as some liquid medication may require 4 drops per gallon and some less than 1 drop per gallon. I use one drop per jar even if the jars are quarts (in essence it would then be at 4 times the recommended usage). Never have lots a fish that way. 
  • crystal. One of my fave medication is fungus eliminator by jungle which I get in crystal form. What is crystal form? It looks like rock salt. Here again I eyeball it and just put a pinch in there. How much? Just enough to tint the water some, I go by color, so once again it is just an 'eyeballing' technique and not "La science de l'exactitude" (exact science).

Well I guess if I had extra eyeballs to sell I would make a fortune LOL. I can see it from here: "FAITH EYEBALL" a simple but effective way to measure your betta's medication. Will not rust, will not stain, organic and environmentally friendly. Bio degradable. Warning: May smell after a few days. LOL

OK, I think I really lost it this time and would better shut down this computer and go back to my fishroom now. I am in the midst of a big Fall cleaning and tore everything down today, bleaching spawning tanks, vacuuming behind my gorilla racks, scrubbing, organizing, sorting, tossing, swearing and everything else that goes along with cleaning fishtanks and fishrooms LOL. All my bettas are looking at me with puzzled eyes "What the heck is she up to?". They all look so cute with all their little faces pressed against the tank, following my every move... I sure love them little fishies... :))


P.S (published a few days later)

 I wanted to share a little interesting anecdote with you all. It has to do with our last column, which covered medicating bettas and assessing the proper quantities of medication in a jar application.

And this goes to show that when you give, it shall be given back. I helped you and unbeknownst to you, you helped me back. Confused? I'll explain: See over the week end I was cleaning my fishroom (MAJOR fall cleaning, and I mean MAJOR). In the process I was putting away some bottles and Maracide was one of them. I remembered we had just talked about maracide. 

Now let me open a parenthesis here. I have been using (and swearing by) Maracide for over 6 years now. For 6 years I have purchased and used this product with great results. This summer, I ran out of my last bottle (I usually stock up on stuff I like) (too bad there is only one Mr.181, otherwise I wouldn't mind keeping a few extra ones in the closet LOL) (I can't believe I just typed this LOLOL). Hum, anyways, back to bettas now, as I was saying I had just ran out of the last Maracide bottle. Went to my supplier, he was out. (??). He was out for a while, about 6 weeks or so. Annoying as it was to come back empty handed each trip, I was not under any kind of big hurry because none of my bettas had velvet or ich. Finally, I find the beloved product again. But it had changed "looks". The cylinder shaped brownish bottle with white cap had been replaced with a flat bottle of white color with navy blue cap (like you care). Otherwise, same name, same brand. OK, 'whatever' I thought, and took the maracide home. Subsequently I got a fish from an affiliated breeder which arrived with velvet. I was grateful that my ever so sharp eye immediately detected the problem. I figured, since I caught it early and have the maracide she will recover within a week. Cause usually that's how it goes. But not this time. A week went by without any sign of improvement. Then two, soon three... A month later I was about to give up. This female would never recover I thought. I was puzzled. Why would a product that had always worked so well suddenly let me down? Was I dealing with a rare, stubborn form of velvet???? Since I couldn't write Faith at bettatalk to ask her to help me (she usually ignores me LOL), I concluded that answers shall not be found in this life time and that this would remain another betta mystery to be solved in the next one LOL.

That's when you guys step in. By asking your question about dosage, you somehow stimulated some brain cells that must have been collecting dust in there for a while, and finally (it took a while though) it went ZAP! I saw the light (at the end of the velvet tunnel)

So now let me bring you back to the beginning, with me, standing in my fishroom with the (new) bottle of Maracide in my hand. And that's when it hit me. Could those guys not only have changed the "look" of their medication but also changed the CONCENTRATION??. It became obvious after reading the fine print on the back that the old "one drop per gallon" rule no longer applied and after a quick recalculation I found that the new dosage was now about 6 drops per quart !!! Geese, no wonder my female wouldn't get better!! I had put one drop per quart jar, thinking I was already pushing the envelope (overdosing). I immediately did a water change and added 8 drops to her quart jar. Came back 2 days later and to find the velvet was GONE. hehehehehehehehe... 

So my question is: if a manufacturer changes an already established product's concentration, should they not indicate it it big bright letters on the front of the package? How are we, old timers who use their products for years, to know that all of a sudden, we are to put 24 times more of that medication in the jar? Do we read minds? No.. Granted some of you might mumble "yes, but we can read labels". Should one re-read the label of each refill he/she buys? Even when it is the EXACT same medication from the EXACT same manufacturer? I guess the answer is yes. Or at least glance every now and then, especially if the medication has a "new look" and is not giving the proper results LOL. Who would have known? I shared this finding with another fish expert and she was like "THANK YOU for letting me know. I had NO IDEA". She too, would have continued using that product according to the usual prescribed dosage of 1 drop per gallon.

So there you go. Live and learn. You get a prettier bottle but you get a watered down potion and subsequently less for your money. having said that Maracide remains the BEST medication for velvet in my opinion and I still swear by it. So I don't mind paying the same price for a bit less cause it is still a great deal. I just wish they had told me, that's all.