When you suspect you've got a sick Betta fish on your hands and you're a new owner at a loss as to how to make him better, it can be nervewracking. Trust me, I've been there. While some Betta fish diseases can be deadly, many are easily curable if you can both detect them early and administer a proper treatment. Seeing as you're reading this page, you've likely noticed some odd behavior or symptoms, so the logical first step is to diagnose your fish. Below, you'll find an alphabetical listing of individual diseases; clicking the name of a disease will jump to a paragraph with details about symptoms and treatment.
Note: If you are unsure of what is making your Betta fish sick, read through the symptoms listed for each disease below and match your own Betta fish's symptoms to these, then following the appropriate treatment.
Symptoms: Clamped fins, laying at the bottom or surface of water without moving, refusing to eat, losing its color/turning gray, and, in rare cases, the development of red patches or sores on body.
Treatment: Curing a bacterial infection is a two-step process. First, do a water change of 70% or greater to get rid of any bulk amounts of bacteria that may be present. Clean your tank's filter and remove any uneaten foor or visible waste you can see. Second, add in a Betta fish antibiotic (a general aquarium or fish antibiotic will do, it does not need to be specific to Betta fish). There a wide variety of brands available, just be sure to follow the instructions on the container! It may take a week or two to see visible changes, and you may need to repeat the process after that much time.
Symptoms: Diagnosing a sick Betta fish with Dropsy is a matter of looking for the distinctive body bloating and raising scales that are associated with the disease. The protruding scales will make your Betta's sides look like a pine cone.
Treatment: Unfortunately, dropsy is almost always fatal. It is a failure of the kidneys and as such there is nothing antibiotics or water treatments can do. If you do have a fish with dropsy, you should first isolate him from other fish (if he is in a community tank) and then try to make his last days comfortable. For future prevention, it may be a good idea to minimize the amount of love-foods you feed your fish, as the bacteria that cause dropsy can sometimes live in live worms and other Betta snacks.
Symptoms: When diagnosing external parasites (meaning those that are living outside of your Betta on its skin), think Chicken Pox. That is to say, your fish will likely be trying to dart around and itch/scratch itself on everything it can find: decorations, plants, the sides of the tank, etc. Most of the time the parasites themselves will be difficult to see, so rely on your Betta's behavior for diagnosing.
Treatment: Grab some BettaRevive, a copper-based cure-all treatment for Betta fish, at PetCo or a local pet store. Follow the instructions on the bottle and, prior to adding it, do a high percentage water change (70-80%). Usually these are non-deadly if caught early, so just start treatment as soon as you can.
Symptoms: As the name suggestes, Bettas afflicted by fin rot will appear to have their rotting or dissolving away. In some cases, you may also notice your Betta getting paler or acting lethargic.
Treatment: Water changes. A lot of them. Basically, every third day or so you'll want to be doing a full or near full water change, and after each change you should be adding in some 'Jungle Fungus Eliminator' (sometimes called Fungus Clear as well) and/or tetracycline, both available at many pet or aquarium stores. After 2-4 weeks of this regimen, you should notice the rot stopping and, hopefully, new growth. Congratulations! You've beaten fin rot and can stop changing your tank every few days like a crazy person.
Symptoms: The symptoms for a fungal infection usually include tiny white balls or patches on your Betta fish's body and/or head. They may resemble little cotton pieces. As with many Betta fish diseases, he may also be moving more slowly than usual, and losing color.
Treatment: Treating fungal infection is extremely similar to curing fin rot and has a very high recovery rate. Simply complete water changes every 2-3 days and add in "Fungus Clear" or "Fungus Eliminator," these are made by Jungle and available at pet/aquarium stores, and on amazon.com
Ick/Ich/White Spot Disease
Symtoms: I'll give you three guesses as to the symptoms of White Spot Disease. Stumped? Alright. The main symptom is white, er, spots. Basically, white spots (that look a lot like salt grains) will be covering your finned friend's body, and he may be moving slow or clamping his fins to his side. Alternatively, he could be darting around trying to rub against objects in his tank. Either way, there will be spots, and they will be white. :P
Treatment: At 85 degrees fahrenheit, the parasites that cause Ick find the water a more attractive home than your Betta fish itself, so the first step is to heat your tank water to 85 or 86 degrees by carefully monitoring your aquarium heater. Next, to make the water deadly for parasites, add in some Aquarisol from a pet store (or, again, an online retailer like amazon). The whole ordeal should be over in a few days, but just to be safe run treatment for about 5 days before bringing your temperature back down.
Symptoms: The main sign of internal parasites is a fish that rapidly loses weight even though it appears to be eating normally. If a fish is also refusing to eat at the same time, the emaciation can be quick and deadly.
Treatment: Your best bet is to begin drasticdaily water tanks and then ask your local aquarium store for a water treatment for internal parasites. They are not necessairily easy to find, and brands vary so you may have to do some digging.
Symptoms: Contrary to popular belief, Popeye is not a sailor. Lucky for you, however, it IS one of the most recognizable and fixable Betta diseases. Basically you'll notice that one of your pet's eyes is getting big, really big. It won't be pretty, but you can help him be back to prince charming in no time.
Treatment: Change your Betta's water every third day (keep it very clean), and use an aquarium antibiotic to kill the bacteria infecting your fish's eye. As for prevention, this disease is caused by poor water conditions, so keeping the tank clean will ensure you never have to deal with this ailment again.
Swim Bladder Disease
Symptoms: Swim bladder symptoms may be one of the most easy to identify disorders, as a sick Betta will swim on its side or have trouble swimming normally. This is most often due to over-feeding and, while not deadly if treated, should signal you to feed your Betta less and, if you're feeding a lot of live foods and treats, balance out your diet a bit more.
Treatment: Basically, don't feed your fish so darn much food. For another look at eating related issues, visit our Betta fish won't eat page for a neat trick you can use to help a Betta with a blockage move along smoothly.
Symptoms: While the actual parasites causing velvet are very hard to spot, you should look for regular "sick Betta fish" symptoms like lethargy (laziness), clamped fins, a refusal to eat, etc. There is a fine layer or film over your Betta's scales, this the name, when it is afflicted with velvet, though this can be hard to spot without a flashlight.
Treatment: Treatment of velvet involves a familiar regimen: Add Betta revive as instructed and wait. To accelerate the removal of velvet, keep your tank in a low-light environment for a few days while treating.
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