Everyone has seen the brightly colored fish in dishes sitting on the shelves of grocery stores like Walmart. A fish that’s commonly used is the Siamese fighting fish, or the betta, because they’re so beautifully colored. Most bettas live for two or three years, but given the right environment, they can live until they’re teenagers. Unfortunately for one sad betta at Walmart, it looked like his days were almost done.
One day, Victoria Schild was picking up a few things at Walmart and had no clue that she would soon experience something unbelievable. It wasn’t long before Victoria saw something that broke her heart – a sad fish locked inside a very small cup of lukewarm water. The fish was actually shoved behind the more beautiful betta fish. The poor fish was turning a pale color and was literally rotting away. Things weren’t looking so good for the fish.
When Victoria picked up the cup, pieces of the fish’s tail started to float to the top. Victoria could literally watch the fish’s body just waste away. If you were Victoria, what would you do? After all, Victoria didn’t go to the grocery store to find a new pet, and this definitely wasn’t the type of roommate she was looking for. Victoria could’ve walked away and never thought about the fish again, but she chose another option.
Victoria knew that she needed to do something, and considering that the fish looked like he didn’t have too much longer, she needed to get it done fast. “I felt incredibly sad for the little guy and decided that I didn’t want him to die in there, just rotting away. I was 95 percent sure he was going to die that night,” Victoria told The Dodo. Even if it died during the night, at least he lived the rest of his time somewhere other than a cup on a shelf in Walmart.
Victoria looked for a large tank for her new friend, and brought it home with her. She knew that no matter what happened to the fish, at least she tried. Things remained touch-and-go for awhile, but Victoria refused to give up. “When I got home, I started researching everything that I possibly could to help him recover, and probably within a week of clean warm water, medicine and basic care he started getting better!” said Victoria.
It only took a week of recovery for the fish to show drastic improvement. His tail began to grow back, and he started to swim around his new aquarium. He must have been so grateful for his new chance at life. It was only a week ago that he was rotting away on the shelf in Walmart. Now, thanks to a much bigger space, the fish was able to thrive! And it was only the beginning.
What was once an incredibly sick-looking fish, is almost completely unrecognizable now. And it only took about four weeks. “I was really surprised. I knew that, underneath it all, there was a beautiful little fish. But what won me over was his will to live and his spunk,” said Victoria. Victoria realized that this special fish needed a very special name. She decided to name him Argo – a tribute to his sail-like fins. Victoria still can’t believe it.
“Now he’s an amazing little fish. I love watching him swim around, leap for food, follow my shadow and just be a cool little guy,” said Victoria. Their story just proves that every life, no matter how small, truly has value and matters. “It’s unfortunate that people dismiss bettas. With just basic care and a proper setup, they are great little pets to have. I hope Argo’s story can bring awareness to the plight of bettas and other fish in pet stores. We need to be their voices,” explained Victoria. The most beautiful part in this is that Victoria isn’t the only one who has done this.
A Reddit user, named Astilaroth, had a similar experience with a near-dead betta fish, but it was at a pet store. Just like Argo, this fish looked horrible. It was lying motionless at the bottom of the tank. She didn’t want to “reward” the pet store for the fish being in such horrible conditions, so she offered to take the fish off their hands for free. The fish was going to die anyways, so there was no harm in asking.
“The poor beasty is in horrible shape. It was kept in a large community tank without any cover, with bright lights and many other species. Not cool for a territorial fish which has vulnerable fins that easily get nipped by curious species,” wrote Astilaroth. Unfortunately, the fish was also suffering from fish rot, a bacterial infection that’s typically caused from poor conditions in their habitat. What are the symptoms of fin rot?
During the early stages of fin rot, the edges of the fish’s fin will discolor, appearing almost milky along the edges. While the infection spreads, tiny pieces of the fin begin to die and eventually fall off, leaving the edge ragged. As time passes, the dead flesh continues to slough off at the fin, causing it to shorten. The infected area can become inflamed and red. Bloody patches begin to show up as more of the tissue gets eaten away. In other words, its future is not looking good.
Astilaroth knew that she needed to put the fish in a quarantined tank full of salt solution if she wanted him to get better. “This little tank would be his home for the next couple of week. I floated it in my larger heated (shrimp) tank for warmth. I dosed this 2 liter tank with 6 grams of salt and eSHa2000 (an all-round medication for fish, which I don’t think helped a lot. The salt is key though!). Did a 100% water swap with a new dosage of salt every 1 – 1.5 days,” she explained. But did it work?
The betta didn’t improve too much at all in the beginning. His fins were actually falling off, and he didn’t eat anything until after a week and a half of being brought home. Everything that rotted, eventually fell off. “This is as bad as it got. At this point I put him on an ultimatum and started looking into humane options to end it. Not much fish left,” she wrote. The fish was pale, he wasn’t eating, and his fins were literally rotting away. You can’t really blame her for thinking his end was close.
After two weeks of being rescued, something suddenly changed. The tiny fish started to liven up and began eating! “Since the rotting had stopped and I could stop with the salt, I decided it was time for a better home. I filled a 15 gal (60 liter) tank halfway, and added plants and leaves and hiding places,” wrote Astilaroth. It looked like he was making progress, but could he survive against all odds?
It worked! The fish’s fins began to grow back! One month after he was rescued, the fish began to get back some of his beautiful color instead of looking sick all of the time. Some of his fins even started growing back! Now this beautiful fish is doing great! And just like Argo’s story, we’re reminded that just because fish are small, it doesn’t mean that they’re less important than any other animal!