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Betta Fish Diseases and possible cures

Updated on January 6, 2015

Betta fish Diseases

Betta fish (or betta) is a miniature fish type of the gourami family. These colorful creatures are also known as Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens, or fighter. There are about 63 scientifically known species of these fish.

Bettas live in freshwater. Although these creatures are small, taking care after them is not as easy as one may imagine. If proper conditions of water and food are not provided they may easily become ill and die. The article provides the most important information on Betta fish diseases, their symptoms and the required emergency action to help you save your beautiful fish.

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Have you ever had betta fish?

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The Root of all Evil: Causes of Disease

Generally betta fish diseases are triggered either by bacteria, parasites, or environment. However a sterile tank will do no good to the fish as various bacteria should naturally live there. The fish may be affected by the bacteria only when betta’s immune system is low or the fish is stressed. Like other diseases this may easily bring the fish to fatal outcome.

Parasites live by means of feeding on other living organisms. Thus some of the parasites (including Oödinium) that are stuck to the fish may one day infect them.

This is why proper maintenance of the tank and keeping fish healthy is so important—when it comes to fish, preventative is the best medicine.


Common Betta Diseases and Treatments

Unionized Ammonia (NH3)

Unionized Ammonia is an environmental condition. This disease occurs when the fish is put in the new aquarium, many new fish are added to the tank, failed filter, etc. Symptoms: betta becomes lethargic, tends for bottom or gasps to the water surface for breath, gills and fins become reddish.

Action: decrease the water pH below 7.0, replace up to half of water in the tank with the aged one, add neutralizing ammonia chemical (for example AmQuel), feed little.

Nitrite Poisoning

Nitrate poisoning is another environmental condition that can strike your fish. It occurs usually as nitrite contamination after ammonia disease. Symptoms may include the fish striving for more air (oxygen), gills moving fast and may turn slightly brownish.

Action: change water, add chlorine salt, increase water saturation, feed little, test the amount of nitrite regularly till it is back to normal.

Flexibacter columnaris

Also known as cotton-wool, cotton-mouth and mouth fungus, this disease is a bacterial disease. It occurs during shipping, when the fish’s diet is not diversified, when poor water quality is present or whenever the fish is in stress general stress he is susceptible. Symptoms include the fins, scales, and mouth edges having white spots. The fins become corroded inward, and fungus appear on skin.

Action: change water, add gravel and special salt, quit carbon filtration, Terramycin might be needed.


I think we can all sympathize with this terrible condition—believe it or not, fish can get it too. In bettas, it can be fatal if not treated. Generally constipation is due to poor quality foods, overfeeding, tank temperature being too low, or some fish might just have a sensitive stomach. Sometimes, bacteria or parasites might be the culprit. The constipation can make the fish look bloated and have trouble making bowel movements, it can also press on the swim bladder causing it to swim strangely.

To cure or prevent it prepare a special meal for your bettas. Recipe: cook peas till they become soft and squishy. Then peel and split it into tiny portions and give it to the betas 3 times a day. Then, let them starve for the next 1 – 2 days and let the fiber go to work. It has helped many fish.

What do you say? Poll!

If you have bettas, have they ever had any of these conditions?

See results

Pet Fish & Aquarium Care Tips : How to Treat a Sick Betta Fish

Before Buying your Bettas

Before buying bettas for yourself or your kids you should read about the fish specifics, tastes, diet, etc. You should know how to feed them. Betta fish requires little but diversified food and usually once in 1 – 2 days. Excessive food may kill them.

The clean aquarium and water are the principal conditions for your bettas to lead a healthy and happy life. No food leftovers or fish spits should be left without your taking immediate action against them. Clean it at once. This fish have fragile organism and easily may become ill. Once the fish is ill they may easily die unless you make right emergency actions and save them.

Sometimes disease has no signs and only when it is too late you may find out that the bettas are ill. Nevertheless the right strategy would be to practice preventive measures against Betta fish diseases, so your fish will keep healthy and swim strong.


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      betta 7 years ago

      very useful info. great job!