betta diseases

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a close up look at Mr. Betta's foes  

 

Many of you have emailed me over the years with many questions about sick bettas. So I decided I would put together the most comprehensive listing of betta diseases and ailments, how to diagnose a sick betta, treat it, and hopefully save it. I also added a page on how to sanitize/sterilize jars and tanks that contained sick contagious bettas. If you have a sick betta, please read this page thoroughly. If you don’t have a sick betta, read it too, because you will get a sick betta sooner or later (probably sooner :)) ).  Thank you for caring for your sick betta with love and compassion. And remember, if you are not sure, or if you cannot find the answer on this page, don't take chances. I am only a phone call away. To receive personal attention and a betta health consultation, click here.

 

STEP ONE: be prepared, be very prepared!

I think the biggest problem people have when they have a sick fish is that they are not prepared. Oftentimes when a betta gets sick, people waste a lot of time. Because a)- they don't catch it early enough,  b)- they don't know how to diagnosis the sick fish and last but NOT LEAST,  c)- because they don't have the proper meds on hand!! 

Oh, I know what you are thinking. Heck you are thinking it sooo loud I can hear it all the way down here in Los Angeles LOL. And it sounds something like this:  "Well, if my betta EVER gets sick, I'll just run to the store and buy what I need then. Why worry about it now? Let's worry about it when we cross that bridge..."

Well, if you think you can just run to your local pet store and buy the medicine your betta will need, think again! Most effective betta medications cannot be found at pet stores, and many of you live in areas where even your fish store will not carry them. heck, some of you don't even have a fish store in your town! Ordering them online will take time (several days) before the meds reach you. By then Mr.Betta may be loooong gone. Hence, if you care about Mr. Betta at all, you should create a basic (but effective) 'Betta First Aid Kit" :). No, I'm not kidding. You will only need but a few meds in there to be ready to battles most of Mr. Betta's foes. And cause so many of you can't find all these meds at your local store, I have decided to step in to help out and now sell the  Betta First Aid Kit right here  :). And remember, when the going gets tough, the prepared get going. :)

medication  best used for where you can find it
BettaZing 
(a great substitute to bettamax - anti parasitic, anti protozoan & anti fungal)
Great all around preventative. Very effective against velvet & clamped fins. Use anytime you add new fish or acclimate.

only sold on bettatalk

tetracyclin
(antibiotic)
Good for bacterial infections good fish stores & 
right here on bettatalk! 
(see our Betta First Aid Kit)
kanamycin
(antibiotic)
Good for serious bacterial infection top fish stores, few online stores 
Ampicillin
(antibiotic)
Great for pop-eye and gram positive serious infections also effective on some gram negative bacteria some online stores and 
occasionally, good fish stores
maracin 1 & maracin 2
(anti fungal and antibiotic)
OK for mild infections such as slight fin rots, but not very effective for serious stuff. most pet stores

(note: these are hard tablets and can be  harder to administer in bowl applications)

jungle fungus eliminator
(anti fungal)
Great for fungus infections a few fish stores, some online stores & right here on bettatalk! 
(see our Betta First Aid Kit)

 

 

STEP TWO: recognizing the early signs of a sickness

Everyday, when you feed your bettas you should examine them. Over time your eyes will become trained and you will be able to immediately detect the slightest change in your bettas appearance or body language. How can you tell if your betta is "under the weather"? Just compare the two columns in the chart below (note that having one or more of the red column apply to your fish probably means he is in deed sickly).

 

 HEALTHY BETTA

SICK BETTA

Eats like a little pig Does not eat at all or eats reluctantly and may spit out his food.
Swims around and is active Is not active. May lay at the bottom and come up only for air, or may stay at the surface in a corner.
Acts normal May darts and purposely runs into anything he can (gravel, rocks, etc) in an effort to scratch itself.
Is colorful and vibrant Looks paler, color is dull, may turn gray
Fins and tail are spread out like fans Tail and sometimes fins are clumped, closed, stiff looking or falling apart
Body looks slick and clean Body may have: open sores, white cottony patches, red spots, lumps or white spots.
Eyes are normal One or both eyes are protruding and swollen
Gills are normal One or both gills do not close all the way and stay half open (swollen/inflamed). They may look red.
Scales are smooth Scales are raised (like a pine cone)
Belly looks normal Belly looks too hollow or on the contrary is abnormally swollen and big.

 

 STEP THREE: Isolating the unhealthy betta
 

If your betta exhibits one or more of the above right column symptoms then it is sick. It must immediately be removed from any community or shared tank and isolated in a bowl/jar. I recommend using a one gallon bowl for sick fish, both to insure the water quality remains better between water changes and to make it simpler to administer the proper dose of medication.

Use the same tank water to avoid an abrupt change of water condition when you first jar the sick betta. before you do your next water change, you should acclimate the betta slowly to the water you will be using for the water change. I recommend that you remove 75% of the water and gradually add a bit of water every hour until the bowl is full. This will ensure the betta acclimate smoothly from the previous tank water to tap water or whatever other clean water you are going to add. Remember that tank water may be different in quality because of plants, rocks, heaters and filters you are using in there. Whereas a bare bowl adds nothing to the water. And that is why you should acclimate the betta when you do the first water change. After that you will not need to worry about doing a normal 100% water change.

Now if the sick betta was in a jar to begin with, then simply do a full water change to provide a clean environment for treatment. I recommend putting him in a new, sanitized jar. This way you will get rid of some of the koodies. :) Jar should be kept in a warmer room. 

Important: Be sure to wash your hands with a good antibacterial soap after handling your sick fish to not spread diseases to your healthy ones. Anything that comes in contact with the sick fish (fish net, fingers, spoon, jar, etc) will have to be disinfected prior to being used for other fish. Click here to learn how to disinfect/sanitize.

 

 STEP FOUR: Diagnosis and suggested treatment

Next you must try to make an accurate diagnosis of your betta‘s disease (goodluck!). Once you know what disease you are dealing with (hopefully), then you can pick the best course of treatment for it.

Below, I have listed the most common betta diseases, their individual symptoms, and listed the medications I have used in the past to try to fight each disease off. Please go down the list and see which symptoms/disease seem to qualify. Please note that I do not guaranty that the treatment I recommend will work and cannot predict what effect it will have on your specific betta. Therefore you use this chart and info AT YOUR OWN RISK.

 

DISEASE: FUNGAL INFECTION

uGENERAL INFO: 

If you always add aquarium salt to your betta’s water (1 teaspoon of aquarium salt per 2 1/2 Gal of water) and one drop of Aquarisol per gal, your betta will probably never get fungus. It is contagious, but bettas will more than likely recover if treated promptly.

uSYMPTOMS: 

Betta has white cottony like patches on its body or head. He may be less active, may have stopped eating, fins may be clumped, color may be pale.

uTREATMENT: 

Do a full jar water change. Add “Fungus Eliminator” by Jungle (included in our Betta First Aid Kit). These are crystals are dosage should be about 30-40 grains per 1/2 gal. Water should have a nice gold color, not too dark. Do not overmedicate! Change water every third day and add a new dose of same medication. Continue until all fungus has disappeared. Then switch to BettaZing (8 drops per gallon) to clean any other bacteria/fungus that may still be present.  

for very stubborn or very fast invasive fungus use: Fungus Eliminator AND Bettazing TOGETHER, both at full dosage. (included in our Betta First Aid Kit) - Not very many fungus can survive this powerful duo!

 

DISEASE: TAIL ROT OR FIN ROT (OR BOTH!)

                      

uGENERAL INFO:

This disease comes mainly from dirty water. If you keep his water VERY clean Mr. Betta will never get tail/fin rot. It is not overly contagious, and bettas will more than likely recover if treated promptly. Fins/tail will grow back, though may not have same color or may not look as good or be as long.

 

frayed fins and a darker edge are clear signs of fin rot

uSYMPTOMS: 

Betta’s fins and/or tail seem to be getting shorter and shorter. Or they seem to be falling apart and dissolving. There may be a darker color (or a reddish one) to the edge of the betta’s fins/tail. He may be still active and eating normally, or may have stopped eating, fins may be clumped, color may be pale.
uTREATMENT: 

Do a full jar water change. Use tetracycline or Ampicillin (included in our Betta First Aid Kit) combined with Fungus Eliminator (included in our Betta First Aid Kit). Change water every third day and add a new dose of same medication. Continue until fins/tail stop receding and start showing some new growth. This may take up to 4 weeks, so don’t give up. Once rot stops and fins start growing back you can stop treatment, but not before then.  

Note: If the rot is very slight or mild, you could use Maracyn I and Maracyn II (together at half the dose each) by Mardel. These med can help but are not very powerful. They come in hard tablet which is a real pain to administer. You'll have to crush them into a powder before you can administer to a betta in a bowl. A tablet treats 10 gal of water, so you do the math. Do not overmedicate! If you are caught by surprise and do not have a First Aid Betta Kit (naughty naughty), then you can run to a local Petco or something and probably find the Maracyn I & II and at least try that. My advice though? Be ready! Get your Betta First Aid Kit now so you have the real powerful stuff at hand and are ready when the you-know-what hits the fan! (or life will get real messy LOL). 

 

DISEASE: ADVANCED FIN AND BODY ROT 

                      

uGENERAL INFO: 

This disease starts as a regular fin rot, but the rot progresses quite rapidly and is harder to stop. Soon no fins are left as all tissues have been eaten away. Then the rot proceeds to attack the body. Not a pretty picture.



close up of a tail and fins that are being eaten away by the advanced rot, you can see the top dorsal is almost all gone and the bacteria is getting ready to attack the body now.

uSYMPTOMS:  

Fins and or tail start rotting away, usually starting from the edge, but sometimes it starts at the base of the fin (especially dorsal) and attacks the body directly. Diseases progresses rapidly and as the tissues are being eaten away, you might see the fins bones stick out (yuk). Once fins have been consumed, rot will proceed onto the body. At this stage the disease is hard to reverse although the betta might continue to live for months if treated properly. If not treated, it will die promptly (and probably suffers quite a bit :(( ).

uTREATMENT:  

Do a full jar water change. Preferably provide a new jar. You must combine several medications to have a chance to stop this thing. Use Ampicillin and double the dose if needed, and use at the same time tetracycline (included in our Betta First Aid Kit). These medications usually come in capsules. A full capsule usually treats 10 gal of water. So for a 1/2 gallon of water, open the capsule and take the right proportion of powder and sprinkle on jar water. You may steer gently with a disposable plastic spoon. Tetracycline might turn the color of the water to a dark yellow or red. Overmedicating a little might help! Change water every third day and add a new dose of same medication. Continue until fins/tail stop receding and start showing some new growth. It may take up to 4 weeks to work, so don’t give up. Once healing starts you should treat for one more week to be sure. Then you can ease up on the heavy medication and switch to BettaZing (included in our Betta First Aid Kit), which will prevent the bacteria from multiplying again. Change jar and sanitize old jar every week until healed. 

 

 

DISEASE: ICK


 

uGENERAL INFO:  

Ick is a pesky little parasite. If you always add aquarium salt to your betta’s water (1 teaspoon of aquarium salt per 2 1/2 Gal of water) and one drop of Aquarisol per gal, your betta will never get ick. It is very contagious, but bettas will fully recover if treated promptly. Frozen live food may carry ich.

tiny white dots on body, head and fins, typical of ich

uSYMPTOMS:  

Betta has white dots (looks like he was sprinkled with salt) all over his body and head, even eyes. He may be less active, may have stopped eating, fins may be clumped. he may also be darting and scratching against rocks, plants and whatever else he can find.

uTREATMENT: 

Ick is a parasite. Because ick is contagious, it is preferable to treat the whole tank when one fish is found to have it. Ick is temperature sensitive: Leave your betta in the community tank and raise temperature to 85 F and add one drop of Aquarisol per gal every day until cured. It will only take a few days to get rid of the pesky little parasites. If your betta lives in a jar/bowl, then you cannot raise the temperature. Do not attempt to put a heater in a tank smaller than 5 gal. You cannot control temperature fluctuation in a small tank/bowl and will probably end up boiling your betta!!! Do a full water change and add one drop of Aquarisol and salt (per above proportions) to the water. If you have empty tank and heater, then move betta to it and raise temperature of water to 85 F as per above. The reason is that the parasites are sensitive to the heat and at 85F they become free swimming (detach themselves from betta’s skin and go for a swim in the water which contains the Aquarisol. Aquarisol then kills them). Guess their mothers never told them to never go for a swim right after dinner!! :)))). Note, BettaZing (included in our Betta First Aid Kit) can also do the job, in case you do not have aquarisol on hand. if you have both, go with the old fashion Aquarisol recipe, it works great.

 

DISEASE: VELVET

 

uGENERAL INFO:  

Velvet is another pesky little parasite. If you always add aquarium salt to your betta’s water (1 teaspoon of aquarium salt per 2 1/2 Gal of water) and one drop of Aquarisol per gal, your betta will probably never get velvet. It is very contagious, but bettas will fully recover if treated promptly. Velvet is the number one killer of small betta fries. :((

uSYMPTOMS:  

Velvet is hard to spot, but can be best spotted with a flashlight. Shine the light on the betta’s body: if it looks like it is covered with a fine gold or rust mist, then it has velvet. A betta with velvet will act sick, so look for clamped fins, scratching against rocks/gravel/tank, loss of appetite, loss of color etc...

uTREATMENT: Velvet is a parasite. Because velvet is very VERY contagious, it is preferable to treat the whole tank when one fish is found to have it. BettaZing (included in our Betta First Aid Kit) contains two agents that are proven velvet killers, so it is EXTREMELY effective against this disease :). So far it is the meanest velvet killer I have ever found :). Use Bettazing at a 12 drop per gallon concentration (yes, it is OK to do so you have my blessings).  Isolate any individual with velvet, treat the whole tank even if other fish look OK and remember WASH YOUR HANDS!!! Sanitize fish nets! Keep bowl or tank in a darker place, velvet will be easier to kill if it is not getting any light.

 

DISEASE: POPEYE


this betta's eye has more than doubled in size

uGENERAL INFO:  

If you always keep your betta’s water very clean, he is not very likely to get Popeye. Popeye is a bacterial infection usually caused by poor water condition (in other words filthy water because you were too darn lazy to get off the couch and attend to your betta!!!). but popeye can also be the tip of the iceberg, the external sign that something inside Mr. Betta is going very wrong. For example, tuberculosis will sometimes result in popeye. In that case, the popeye may not be curable or even if it gets better the fish will die (because tuberculosis is not curable and always kills its host). In short the fish will have died, not of the popeye itself, but because of the more serious disease that triggered it.

uSYMPTOMS:  

One or both of Mr. Betta’s eyes start bulging out. In about 2 to 7 days the eye might look so grotesque you will be afraid to look at your betta. Casimodo on a bad day will look more attractive then your betta at that point!! Please do not destroy your betta! In many cases, the bettas make a full recovery from it and look normal again, as if nothing had happened. Only some of the popeye cases are caused by the terminal diseases mentioned above and will result in your betta dying. The rest will heal nicely if caught early and treated aggressively (see below). During outbreak, betta may be less active, may stop eating.

uTREATMENT: 

As I said, popeye is usually not fatal and Mr. Betta will often fully recover. On occasion he may lose an eye. But if you catch it right away, he should be fine. Immediately do a full water change. Keep his water very clean, changing it every third day. After putting him in clean water, add the antibiotic Ampicillin (included in our Betta First Aid Kit) to his water. This medication usually comes in capsules. A full capsule usually treats 10 gal of water. So for a 1/2 gallon of water, open the capsule and take the right proportion of powder and sprinkle on jar water. You may steer gently with a disposable plastic spoon. This is a white powder and will not affect the color of the water. Do not overmedicate! Once Betta’s eyes are back to normal, keep treating for one more week (just to be sure) and then stop the medication. And keep his water clean from now on darn it!!

 

DISEASE: DROPSY

                      
     bloated belly and raised scale = dropsy                                          close up of raised scales

 

uGENERAL INFO:  

This is a most common and most fatal betta disease. oftentimes linked to the feeding of live foods, especially black worms. Very little is know about it, but what causes the raised scales is fluid building up under the skin, inside the betta's tissue. Usually what causes fluid to build up is simple kidney failure. And as you know, once the kidneys fail, the body dies. I think that is why we have had so little luck (mmmmm... Let me rephrase, NO LUCK AT ALL) in treating successfully bettas with dropsy. Although dropsy (the symptom) itself is not contagious, BACTERIA THAT CAUSE THE KIDNEY FAILURE in the first place usually are very very contagious. Since I stopped feeding live worms to my bettas I have not seen one single case of dropsy in my fishroom :). Thank God!

uSYMPTOMS:  

It is easy to diagnose a betta with Dropsy: Look for two signs: an abnormally big (bloated) belly and if you look at betta from the top, raised scales. Scales will look like an open pine cone. If you see this, you are out of luck, and so is Betta. He will soon go to betta heaven :((…

uTREATMENT: 

No known cure. Keep water clean, keep him AWAY from any other bettas etc… On occasion, in the case of a very mild raised scales, I have seen bettas recover on their own. But I suspect that this is because those cases are NOT real dropsy. Real dropsy always kill. So I guess you have to wait and see what happens. Treating is pretty useless. It may take up to 15 days for betta to die, though usually about 5 days. Any betta with dropsy should be immediately ISOLATED!!!! Prayer may not hurt.

 

DISEASE: SWIM BLADDER DISORDER

uGENERAL INFO:  

This is also a common betta problem. It is not contagious. It comes from overfeeding. It is especially common in very young bettas (30 to 60 days old) and can affect some Double Tail bettas when overfed or stressed..

uSYMPTOMS:  

Bettas with a swim bladder disorder will have difficulty swimming, because their swim bladder (located alongside the spine between the belly and the tail) is either too short (causing them to not be able to swim horizontally) or it is swollen (causing them to float on one side). Double Tail bettas, because they have a shorter body, are especially prone to the “floaters” problem. In the case of a short swim bladder, the bettas will not be able to maneuver and swimming becomes so difficult, they prefer to just lay at the bottom, sliding on their bellies, which is why they are called “belly sliders”. And they do look like a pathetic bunch, at that point. :)

uTREATMENT: 

Bettas may recover on their own, but since overfeeding induces swimbladder disorders in most cases, the first thing to do is feed a lot less. Brine shrimp and too much of it is the biggest culprit, so if your bettas are bellysliding, stop the brine shrimp for a while and thereafter learn to have a more balanced diet, alternating brine shrimp with microworms or worms (depending on how old your bettas are). Do not kill a betta with a swimbladder disorder. It may recover on its own at any time, and is not suffering. Further more, the ailment is NOT contagious. To help the fish if it cannot eat, lower the water level. Adding some BettaZing to the water for a few weeks may not hurt either ;).

 

DISEASE: EXTERNAL PARASITES

click on image to see some external parasites (I circled them in yellow)

uGENERAL INFO:  

If you do not add some aquarium salt (1 teaspoon per 5 gal) to your betta’s water to prevent parasites, your betta may get some parasites, but I cannot say it is common as I, personally have never seen the little pests in my fishroom (hehehehehe...). A reader sent me a photo showing his pet store betta with anchor worms near the gills and fins. It might give you a reference point. but note that each parasite has its own shape. The use of a magnifying glass will be helpful to help SEE them on your fish's skin.

uSYMPTOMS:  

It is easy to diagnose a betta with external parasites: It will dart and scratch itself against anything it can find, such as gravel, rocks, heaters, tank walls, etc… You may or may not actually be able to see the parasites themselves. Look instead for a behavioral change in your betta. If it looks like it is on speed or acid, then it has parasites!! :))))

uTREATMENT: 

Do a full water change for jars or a 70% water change for tanks. (To get rid of some of the parasites and their eggs, etc..). Add BettaZing (included in our Betta First Aid Kit) at the rate of 3 drops per quart (or if you prefer 12 drops per gallon).

 

DISEASE: INTERNAL PARASITES

uGENERAL INFO: 

If you feed live brown worms, you can easily give your bettas some internal parasites. Those are a real pest because you can’t see them, the bettas behavior does not change, except they start looking skinny despite the fact they are eating normally. This is a somewhat rare disease, meaning you may or may not have to ever deal with it.

uSYMPTOMS:  

Bettas are losing weight despite their eating normally. WARNING: there are other serious diseases that mimic internal parasites because the fish start looking emaciated (fish tuberculosis). So it is easy to confuse the two.

uTREATMENT: 

Do a full water change for jars or a 70% water change for tanks. (To get rid of some of the parasites and their eggs, etc..). In the past many serious hobbyists have used the same meds the vets give to dogs Metronidazole, with fairly good rate of success :). Aquatronics used to have Hex-A-Mint (same ingredient) but since they went out of business, we have to look elsewhere :). You can also try "Clout", but it is not as effective for internal parasites, although works good for ich and other external pests. You can also try BettaZing, as it contains an ingredient that has sometimes been effective against internal parasites.

 

DISEASE: BACTERIAL INFECTION

 
   red body sores typical of advanced bacterial infections

uGENERAL INFO:  

If the betta‘s water becomes fouled with uneaten food and fish waste, if it is not well filtered or if the jars are not kept sparkling clean, bacterial bloom will promptly occur and infect your fish. Sometimes you keep the water clean and the fish still gets a bacterial infection!! >8[. Why? because bacteria is resident in your tap water, in the air, on your hands etc... Usually healthy bettas have their immune system to protect them against these attacks. But bettas with a deficient immune system (when a betta is stressed, because it was scared, or moved or shipped, its immune system will become deficient) will catch whatever is lurking in the water, including the bacteria. They will have a “bacterial infection”. VERY CONTAGIOUS!!

uSYMPTOMS:  

Betta may have clamped fins, lay at bottom or at surface, not eat, lose its color, turn gray, barely swim around. In more advanced cases, its body may start developing red patches, open sores and all kinds of nasty looking stuff. (Even holes in its head!! YIKES!!) Different bacteria affect fish differently. Some will attack the internal organs while others prefer to munch on the skin.

uTREATMENT: 

Do a full water change for jars or a 70% water change for tanks. (To get rid of some of the bacteria present). Clean filter, change filtering system, remove any uneaten food rotting, or any dead fish!!!  Isolate any bettas with symptoms if in a community tank.

You should also treat the whole tank. There is a wide variety of antibiotics available for fish. REMEMBER: Remove carbon from your filters before you add the meds!! The carbon would otherwise absorb all the medication and you would be flushing your money down the tube. Oh, and did I mention money?? Yes, brace yourself, cause your little fishies are gonna cost you a bundle, fish antibiotics can get pretty darn expensive - just as people's antibiotics are, as you well know!!

If the sick bettas are small fries, I truly recommend using Tetracycline or Ampicillin (included in our Betta First Aid Kit) combined with Fungus Eliminator (included in our Betta First Aid Kit), or whatever you find at your store (look for “broad spectrum” antibiotics, though a good one is Kanamycin if you can find some). Follow manufacturer’s instructions and don’t stop the treatment until your bettas are well again. If betta is jarred, then as usual, figure out how much water your jar contains and divide the quantity of medication accordingly. Capsules are easier then tablets, because one can open a capsule and just sprinkle a tiny itsy bit of powder in jar. Tables, you will have to first crush, then divide. Well, have a blast!!! 

 

DISEASE: TUBERCULOSIS

uGENERAL INFO:  

This is probably the deadliest of fish diseases, yet most people have never heard of it or know little to nothing about it. It can mimic a large variety of other diseases, making it hard to diagnosis. Only an autopsy can confirm mycobacteriosis. This is a slow blooming disease that may take up to 6 months to affect fish. Ultimately, the bacteria will attack the internal organs, especially liver and kidneys and cause organ failure (followed by sudden death). This is the only fish disease known to be contagious to man. The good news is, unless you have a very infected tank and stick your hands in there and have a big cut or a weak immune system, you will probably never catch it from sick fish. And even if you did, it will not kill you, mostly give you a nasty skin infection which may take a long time to heal. The bug does not like people much (it is a temperature thing), and seems to remain on the skin surface only. Also, just so you don't become all paranoid now, I must add that there has been VERY FEW documented cases of fish TB infecting people. And in most cases, as I said, the people either had a deep cut or immune system deficiency. The only reason I am mentioning all this is so you are aware of it. Don't worry, Mr. Betta is not out to get ya! LOL. Fish tuberculosis can be resident in water but has also been linked to live foods (researchers found cases of live foods infected by tuberculosis etc...), and is mainly passed by injection (eating contaminated live food, or eating a dead fish that was a carrier, etc...) Now you can understand the importance of staying away from fish stores where you can see a lot of dead fish! Pick your fish suppliers very carefully and favor a store or breeder that has high hygiene standards in their fish rooms or stores.  As for me, as an added precaution, I have decided to not feed any live foods to my bettas (live worms etc), just to be on the safe side. ( However, microworms, vinegar eel as well as any home hatched brine shrimp are 100% safe and mycobacteriosis free :))  ).

uSYMPTOMS:  

Affected fish will start deteriorating for no apparent reasons, losing weight (or not), showing deformities (or not), having raised scales (or not), fin and body rot (or not), gray lesions (or not), red patches inside the belly (or not). Sometimes they will seem fine one day and be oh so very DEAD the next. The one thing all the bettas affected by this terrible diseases have in common is that they will all (as in every single last one of them) die. So if you suddenly find a large number of dead fish in your tanks, and more die each day, there is a strong possibility you might be at war with fish tuberculosis (careful though, other bacterial infections can also have similar dramatic death rates).

uTREATMENT: 

I am sorry to break the news to you but you will NOT win that war because there is NO cure. Furthermore you will probably have to throw away all bowl, tank and fish gear because regular bleach does not kill this nasty bug. My advice? Stay away from live food and from sickly looking pet store bettas and as I said select your fish suppliers carefully. Oh, and do a lot of praying ;).

 

 

DISEASE: UNKNOWN – POSSIBLE DEPRESSION

uGENERAL INFO:  

Sometimes a betta will act sick but not exhibits any symptoms. He could either have internal parasites, or some mild bacterial infection, or simply be depressed. Bettas often become depressed when they are first jarred as young fries, and get separated from their siblings. Also, males often become depressed after spawning. A depressed betta will stop eating and swimming around and may let himself starve to death. This is not as unusual as one may think!

uSYMPTOMS:  

Bettas may or may not have slightly clamped fins, lay at bottom or at surface, not eat, barely swim around. They will not flare or build bubble nests.

uTREATMENT: 

Do a full water change for jars or a 70% water change for tanks. Isolate any suspected sick betta. Add two drop of BettaZing (included in our Betta First Aid Kit) to each quart of water (so 8 drops per gallon). If the betta was just spawned or just jarred, and it is likely to simply have depression: In the case of a newly jarred young betta, float his jar inside the tank where his siblings still are. This should help him cope with the isolation. In the case of a male who has just been spawned, try floating him inside a tank containing lots of other bettas, females preferably. It has always worked for me. When floating a jar in a larger tank, be careful: if you have a power filter or canister filter the water flow created will slowly but surely pull in the floating jar and once the jar is under the water flow, it will fill up with water and sink, releasing the betta into the tank!! Therefore, make sure the jar is secured somehow and cannot drift.

 

DISEASE: INFLAMED GILLS

uGENERAL INFO: 

The gill or gills of a betta may become inflamed, because of nitrate poisoning, and possibly bacterial infections, or even a defective gill (if it was born that way).

uSYMPTOMS: 

One or both gills will not close all the way (look at betta from the top it is easier to see it then), gills may look red on the inside (inflamed) or not, in the last stages, the betta may be gasping for air, unable to breath and ultimately die.

uTREATMENT:  

Isolate sick betta. Do a full jar water change every third day. Every time you change water, add  Ampicillin (included in our Betta First Aid Kit)  to the water. In the case of nitrate poisoning, simply add one drop of methylene blue in betta’s jar.

 

 REMEMBER! Better prevent than try to cure!

Here are a few extra pointers to help you prevent your betta from getting sick in the first place :).

 

1- Always QUARANTINE new bettas your are bringing home

2- Always keep your betta’s water clean.

3- Avoid abrupt changes of water conditions. Replace old jar water with newly prepared water with same provenance, temperature, ph, etc...

4- Always add aquarium salt to your water.

5- Don’t overcrowd your bettas

6- Don’t overfeed and especially don’t let uneaten food rot in his tank/jar.

7- Any dead fish should be immediately removed.

8- Any sick fish should be immediately isolated and treated.

9- Wash your hands!! Don’t spread infections around!!

10- Disinfect sick betta’s jars, tanks, filters, fish nets etc… (see below)

11- Don’t play God and terminate sick bettas, they often recover!! How would you have felt if your mother had shot you in the head the first time you had the flue? Yop, a little compassion has never killed anyone! Bettas are living beings and they should be treated with the utmost respect. 

12- Last but not least, have a
Betta First Aid Kit ready at all time!

 

I hope this page and the incredible amount of info, photos and advice will help you save your next sick fish!