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Betta Fish Diseases, Parasites & Remedies

There are numerous health conditions you should be aware of as a Betta Fish keeper. Of course, none of them will affect your fish if all the conditions are met for them to live a healthy life.

If the water parameters are right, your fish are fed properly and they have enough space to swim, then you are not going to worry about any of this.

Not only that these infections can be prevented but most of them can also be treated easily. This is what our guide is going to be about. We are going to show you how each disease or parasite manifests itself and what to do in certain situations.

It is going to be all about diagnosis and treatment. Useful information that you can put into effect at any time as a Betta Fish keeper. First off, let’s see which are the main factors that can get your precious Bettas sick.

Stress and How it Affects the Health of Betta Fish

Pretty much every change you make in the tank will affect your Betta Fish. Whenever you change the water parameters, the environment around them or the water gets contaminated, it will make them stressful.

Since stress weakens their immune system, they can potentially become ill if they get too stressed. Also, if your Betta is already sick, then exposing them to these stressful factors will only hinder the healing process.

If your Betta Fish doesn’t feel well, it might even be a good idea to put it into a separate tank. It makes a much calmer environment if the sick Betta doesn’t have to interact with other fish. In the end, we can conclude that stress is definitely a factor when it comes to diseases.

This works the same way as with us humans. If we are too stressed, we get sick more easily. Stress causes fish to release a hormone called cortisol and also adrenaline. These are both harmful, especially if they accumulate in the Betta’s body over time.

If you want your Bettas to stay healthy, then it is important to reduce stressors in their environment as much as you can.

Most Common Betta Diseases and Illnesses – Symptoms, Causes and Remedies

We can put all the different Betta Fish illnesses and diseases into three different categories. These are parasitic, fungal or bacterial. What you need to know about parasitic ailments is they are the most likely to spread to other fish in the tank.

Either your Betta gets them from another species or it is going to spread them and eventually infect the whole aquarium. They can also get fungal infections that are results of previous, untreated health conditions. This is why prevention is so important.

If your Bettas swim in contaminated water for a long enough time, there is a high chance they are going to get some bacterial disease. This happens when the water is not cleaned or the tank is too small, thus the contaminants skyrocket quite rapidly.

In order to cure your Betta Fish, you need to get medication. It is highly important to buy the right medication at the store. In fact, that is why you should read more about each disease here. If you can diagnose your fish, then it will become straightforward to get the right medication.

Once you are at the fish store, you can even explain the situation to the seller. They are not only there to sell but also to provide valuable information. Once you have the medication, make sure to follow the instructions provided on the box or the paper that comes with it.

White Spots – Itch, Ick

Betta Fish White Spots / Ich
Betta Fish White Spots / Ich (sourceCC BY-SA 4.0)

Some call it white spot, some call it itch while others mention it as ick. All of them are talking about the same parasitic disease. When you notice white rings or dots on your precious Betta Fish, then it is most likely going to be this disease.

These marks can appear on the tail, belly, gills, fins and other parts of your fish. It can appear pretty much anywhere on its skin. When it infects your Bettas, then it’s an indicator that there is a problem with the water quality.

What you should do is to change the water more regularly in your fish tank and make sure it is clean. This can be a heaven and earth difference. Furthermore, make sure that all the water parameters are set correctly.

The earlier you notice it, the better because it will be easier to treat the disease. There are numerous remedies for it that you can buy at the fish store.

Velvet (Oodinium)

Betta Fish Velvet Disease
Betta Fish Velvet Disease (sourceCC BY-SA 4.0)

The Velvet is the type of disease that you can easily notice. It is also a parasitic one and causes the Betta’s skin to be sort of rusty and covered with black spots. This one is a result of poor water quality and stress.

Once you see this, you should immediately change the water and check water parameters. Also be quick to figure out how you can make the environment less stressful for your Bettas. The worst thing about the Velvet disease is that it’s contagious.

It can quickly spread to your other fish if you are not careful. It is best to go to the store and buy the remedy they recommend for it. With the medication in your hand, it is really not going to be a big deal. If you do it quick, then it’s going to be easy for sure.

But some fish keepers notice it too late or are simply not informed enough. We are here to inform you that if you don’t give your Bettas the medication in time, they are going to die in a few days.

Fin and Tail Rot

Betta Fish Fin Rot
Betta Fish Fin Rot (source)

This disease got an on-point name that instantly explains the visible effects. The reason why this happens is because the Betta Fish gets infected by bacteria or fungi. This basically causes the tail and fins of the fish to rot away.

The disease can cause serious damage and should be cured as soon as possible. As many other diseases, this one is also caused by contaminated water. We are discussing the third one on the list and it’s already obvious that keeping the water clean can prevent many of these problems.

Keep a close eye on your fish and if you notice something like this, don’t hesitate and go buy the appropriate antibiotics for it. It is going to be a life saver for your Betta Fish. Just make sure to follow the instructions as some of these medications can potentially kill your fish.

Columnaris

Betta Fish Columnaris
Betta Fish Columnaris (sourceCC BY-SA 4.0)

Columnaris falls into the bacterial disease category. It can do quite a lot of damage if you don’t take action in time. What’s going to happen is that the fins of the Betta Fish will start to fray and rag.

But that’s not all, as it also comes with growth around the mouth and other parts, lesions, white spots and ulcers.

As you can see, these bacteria are not to be taken lightly. This can be treated easily. You just need to take into account that the bacteria develop after the fish gets wounded or infected by fungi.

Then, if you don’t treat these wounds, things get more complicated and suddenly you are dealing with Columnaris.

This is why you should take it seriously whenever a little thing happens to your Bettas. It can potentially develop into something more serious.

There are also certain factors that make these bacteria multiply, including overcrowding, lack of oxygen in the tank or if the water hardness goes over the roof.

Although it can be treated by antibiotics, keep in mind that you should take action within 72 hours. Otherwise, your Betta Fish might die.

Dropsy

Betta Fish Dropsy
Betta Fish Dropsy (source)

If your Betta Fish gets sick and you know it is Dropsy, then you should take it very seriously. This is one of the deadliest diseases your fish can get. It all happens internally, as this ailment attacks the kidneys. You can notice it by taking a look at the abdomen of your Betta.

If it’s swollen, then you can already suspect that the fish is infected by Dropsy. Because it damages the kidneys, they will start to accumulate internal fluid. Your Betta Fish will feel so bad that its eyes will become sunken and its scales will stick out.

Again, keep your fish tank clean so that these bacteria can’t proliferate in it. On the other hand, you have to feed your fish with foods that are full of vitamins every now and then. It strengthens their immune system, thus they won’t be exposed to diseases like Dropsy.

This is the type of ailment that you better prevent from happening because once your fish gets infected, it will probably not survive. There are medications that can help but none of them fully solve the problem.

Swim Bladder Disorder

People either call it as Swim Bladder Disorder or as Flipower, which pretty much describes what will happen to your Betta. It is going to have the hardest time swimming around in the tank because of this disorder. You are mostly going to see your Betta Fish swimming either upside down or sideways.

This is pretty much a digestive problem and the most obvious reason behind it is overfeeding. However, bad water quality, parasites and bacteria can also contribute to it. Either way, you can easily prevent it by maintaining good water quality and not overfeeding your Betta Fish.

If your fish is already suffering from Swim Bladder Disorder, there is no need to worry. You can treat it by raising the water temperature a bit and not giving them any food for a couple of days. After some fasting, make sure to only feed your Bettas with cooked and mashed peas.

It is important to mention that fresh and fiber-rich foods have to be included in the diet of this species. Those will keep them healthy in the long run.

Popped Eyes

Betta Fish Popped Eyes
Betta Fish Popped Eyes (sourceCC BY-SA 4.0)

If you notice that the eyes of your Betta Fish are swelling, then it is most likely suffering from Popped Eye. This is not something to be taken lightly, as it has to be treated with antibiotics as soon as possible. Pop Eye is a lethal disorder and it either manifests itself as a tumor or a viral infection.

Either way, keep an eye out for this and if it happens, don’t hesitate to visit the fish store for some antibiotics. Most fish can survive it but definitely not all of them. You will be able to notice it right away because one or both eyes will bulge out significantly.

If the water quality is bad in your aquarium, then it is only a matter of time until your Bettas get infected by Popped Eyes. We already said it and here we remind you again that clean water with the right parameters can solve a lot of problems.

Unfortunately, sometimes popped eye is a sign of Tuberculosis. In that case, there is no way to save your Betta Fish.

Anchor Worms

The parasitic disease called Anchor Worms damages the fins and tail of the Betta Fish. These worms are actually noticeable as they protrude in the damaged areas. The mentioned areas are also going to swell and turn into red. It is just as painful for the Betta as it seems like but it’s completely curable.

If the water is clean, then there is almost no chance this will happen. If you notice Anchor Worms, then your Betta certainly needs immediate treatment. Fortunately, there are antibiotics you can buy right away that will cure the disease.

The faster you can give the antibiotics to your fish, the better because this is something that can become fatal rather quickly.

Gill Flukes / Gill Worms

Gill Flukes are parasitic worms that hide behind the gills of your Betta Fish. They can live comfortably there, growing and breeding while the fish struggles. Once there is too many of them to live there, they start to spread across the skin.

The flukes are so small that you won’t be able to see them. Flukes love poor tank conditions and that’s when their numbers rise. Not to mention that your Betta’s immune system is also going to be weaker, which is a great opportunity for the flukes to take action.

Any new fish or plant you buy has a chance of having flukes on them. This is how fish keepers usually fall into the mistake of carrying them to their clean tank. Since these parasites attack the gills, your Betta Fish is going to find it hard to breathe. As a result, it will swim all the way up and try to gasp for air.

First off, make sure to separate your Betta in another tank. When the fish is alone without any other fish and plants in the tank, then you can add the anti-fluke medication.

Camallanus Worms

Betta Fish Camallanus Worms
Betta Fish Camallanus Worms

Camallanus Worms are highly contagious and parasitic red worms that protrude the anus or cloaca of your Betta Fish. This is something you should act on quickly. It takes time until they become big enough to be noticed. Unfortunately, this also means that the worms have released larvae into the aquarium.

The fact that you can spot them also means that they have entered their reproductive stage. What you will notice is a thin red projection coming out from the anus of the Betta that looks like a thread. If you notice this, then put your fish into quarantine before it infects the other fish.

There are formulas you can buy at the fish store that can solve this problem. However, you can’t always save your fish from Camallanus. Sometimes the red worms do so much damage that they can’t survive after the medication.

Hole in the Head (Hexamitiasis)

This is one of the diseases that your Betta Fish can get if you keep it in an unclean habitat for a long enough time. Besides unclean water, bad quality food can also cause Hole in the Head. Small dents and sores can eventually appear on their head, sometimes near their eyes.

It doesn’t stop there. If you don’t treat this in time, the dents will grow, turning into larger lesions. Hexamitiasis has to be stopped before it does serious damage to your fish. Since it is easy to spot these sores, you will be most likely able to take action before it is too late.

The larger the lesions, the higher the chance that the Betta Fish will end up dying. The first thing you need to do is to reduce the carbon concentration in the water. Then, buy the antibiotic that cures this parasitic infection and follow the instructions. It will take a few days until Hexamitiasis kills your Betta if untreated.

Scoliosis (Bent Spine)

Scoliosis or Bent Spine is a result of nitrite poisoning. It means that you don’t change the water in your aquarium frequently enough so that it doesn’t get contaminated with nitrite. Start to change the water more frequently and your Betta Fish will slowly get better.

Until the fish gets better, it is important to keep the water flow rate as low as possible by adjusting your filter. Fish with Scoliosis find it harder to swim and it is going to be even harder for them if there is water flow. The spine of your Betta can be bent as much as 90 degrees and you will be still able to make it straight again.

Despite the Bent Spine, the fish usually acts completely normal and has a good appetite. Another factor besides the water quality is diet. You should give healthy, high-quality food to your Bettas. It is the best way to deliver them the vitamins that strengthen their body, especially their immune system.

Betta Fish Tuberculosis

This is something that can infect your fish without any particular reason. Tuberculosis is extremely rare and it can quickly kill your Betta Fish. You are probably won’t even be able to notice there is a problem. People usually find out their fish had Tuberculosis when it already passed away.

This disease comes with numerous abnormalities. Your Betta will suddenly have a bent spine, its fins will start to rot rapidly and open wounds will develop on its body. The worst part is that not only your fish can get this disease but you can get it from them too.

As we said, there is no way to stop it. It has no cure and it’s highly contagious. You have to get rid of everything your Betta has touched in the aquarium while being sick. By doing this, you can prevent your other fish and yourself from getting it.

How to Prevent Diseases in Betta Fish?

Feeding your Betta Fish, a healthy diet and keeping the aquarium clean is the rule of thumb if you want to prevent diseases. You need to put in that little effort day by day to make sure they are feeling great. This requires little research and certainly pays out in the long term.

As long as you prevent the contaminants in the water from accumulating and don’t over- or underfeed them, they are going to be fine. Furthermore, you should avoid putting them together with tank mates that stress them on a regular basis.

Instead, keep them together with species they can peacefully live together with. It is important not to change their environment and the water parameters too much. As we mentioned before, even the smallest changes can cause stress in these small animals.

Once you have put together an aquarium they can comfortably live in, just leave it like that. From then on, all you need to do is to change the water from time to time and make sure they are living in a clean environment. If you follow the rules, then your Bettas will never get sick.

It usually happens when you forget to take proper care of them. This problem can be solved by making it a habit to check on them at least a couple of times a day.

Conclusion

By reading this article, now you are prepared to identify any disease and illness that infects your Betta Fish. We also shared plenty of information on what causes them and how to treat them. If you follow our tips, you are going to be highly effective in keeping your fish healthy.

The best way to go about it is always to prevent these diseases from happening. For this, you need to put in that minimal effort and take proper care of your Bettas day by day. In case they get sick anyway, then there are plenty of remedies to go for.

It is typically nothing to worry about. You just need to give them proper medication and then be patient until they fully heal. Sometimes when your Bettas start to feel bad, changing the water and cleaning up the aquarium can solve the whole problem.

Updated: January 23, 2020

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