Betta fish are no more immune to disease and illness than other animals. Although most of these health-oriented issues affecting betta fish are preventable, there is a need for you to be able to identify specific symptoms that may indicate disease, and know how to treat and manage the health problem.
Here are some of the most common health problems affecting Betta fish, including the cause, predisposing factors, common symptoms, prevention and treatment.
1. Disease or Condition: ICK
Cause or Predisposing Factors: Caused by a parasite. An important predisposing factor is feeding live fish.
Symptoms: Presence of tiny white dots on the body, head and fins.
Prevention and Treatment: Since it is highly contagious, treating the whole tank is recommended even if only one fish has the disease. Raise the tank’s temperature to 85F since Ick is heat-sensitive. If your betta lives in a bowl or tank smaller than 5 gallons, NEVER attempt to increase temperature by putting in a heater. It is best to do a full-water change and add aquarium salt.
Prevention and Treatment: Prevention involves adding 1 teaspoon aquarium salt per 2.5 gallons of water.
2. Disease or Condition: FIN ROT
Cause or Predisposing Factors: Important predisposing factors include dirty tank water and torn or damage fins that are susceptible to entry of bacteria.
Symptoms: Tail appears torn or has bits missing. Edges may have a white or black lining
Prevention and Treatment: Fin Rot is contagious so infected bettas must be quarantined away from healthy bettas. If you have a divided tank where the bettas share the same water, you have to treat all of them. Broadspectrum antibiotics formulated for fish can treat Fin Rot. Adding aquarium salt and Indian Almond Leaves are also recommended for their anti-bacterial properties.
3. Disease or Condition: VELVET
Cause or Predisposing Factors: Caused by a parasite. Considered to be the number 1 killer of small betta fries.
Symptoms: Since signs can often be hard to spot, you need to shine a flashlight on your betta to spot the fine gold or rusty dust that covers the betta’s body.
Prevention and Treatment: Keep the affected betta in the dark by throwing a towel over the tank and raising the temperature a bit. Light is required by the parasite to complete their life cycle. Cutting out the light prevents growth. Adding aquarium salt and Indian Almond Leaves are also recommended for their anti-bacterial properties.
4. Disease or Condition: SWIM BLADDER DISEASE
Cause or Predisposing Factors: Important predisposing factors include overfeeding and rough handling. Double Tail Bettas are more prone to Swim Bladder Disease since they have shorter bodies than single-tailed bettas.
Symptoms: Affected fish may either float vertically or lie on the bottom of the tank.
Prevention and Treatment: The condition is self-limiting and will eventually go away with time. Put your betta in a tank that is longer than it is deep, or you can lower the water level to help them reach the surface. Another way to address the problem is to fast your betta for 24-48 hours and offer a pea on the day after fasting.
5. Disease or Condition: DROPSY
Cause or Predisposing Factors: Caused by a bacteria. Predisposing factors include poor water quality (high nitrate and dirty water) or feeding live food. Most fatal disease of Betta fish.
Symptoms: Abnormally big or bloated belly. Raised scales which are most pronounced when viewing the affected betta from the top. With scales raised, the fish may appear like an open pine cone. The symptoms are associated with kidney problems that results in buildup of fluid inside the tissues of the betta’s body.
Prevention and Treatment: There is no effective treatment for Dropsy. Infected fish usually die within 1-2 weeks. Affected betta should be made comfortable by lowering the tank’s water level to give easy air access. Adding aquarium salt will also help ease discomfort and fluid pressure.
About the Author:
Peter Hartono is the founder and CEO of Just Aquatic– a proud Australian company that offers homegrown aquatic plants and aquarium supplies carrying top of the line brands including API, biOrb and Exo Terra. To find out more of our exciting offers and promotions check out our Facebook Page and follow us on Twitter at @justaquatic.