Betta Fish Diseases: Sick Betta Fish?

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If you have a sick betta fish, you’re probably feeling a little scared, confused, and anxious about how this happened. While relatively hardy fish, betta fish can suffer from parasitic, bacterial, and fungal diseases just like any other freshwater fish.

Quick identification and treatment will minimize potential damage and get your colorful friend swimming happily again. The best way to keep your betta fish from getting sick is to keep them happy and healthy by following proper betta fish care.

It’s always better to be proactive than reactive. Just like you wouldn’t want to be freezing or living in a dirty and cramped home, your betta fish doesn’t either! That would eventually get you sick too.

Sick Betta Fish Behavior

  • Lethargic: Inactive, lazy, lacks aggression, hiding
  • Refusal to eat for extended periods of time (e.g. days)
  • Faded colors, mainly in male bettas
  • Labored breathing
  • Damaged fins
  • Clamped fins

Certain behaviors are linked to a stressed or sick betta fish and not necessarily a full-blown disease yet. Identifying these behaviors (listed above) is the easiest way to tell if your betta fish is sick. Noticing these behaviors and correcting the problems early is very important. Failure to do so could exacerbate the problem and lead to more severe complications.

Betta Fish Diseases

The most prevalent betta diseases are listed below…

DiseaseSymptom(s)Cause(s)Treatment(s)
ColumnarisCottony white growths along the body and/or gills.Stress, poor water quality.Clean water and/or Anti-fungal medication.
DropsyExtreme body swelling and pineconing of scales.Virus, bacterial infection, or parasites.Kanamycin Sulfate or
Maracyn II
Hole in HeadVisible holes above the eyes.Poor nutrition and water quality.Clean water and proper betta fish food.
Ich/IckSmall white dots on body and fins, rubbing on decor.Poor water quality, stress, or contagious companions.Clean water and
Rid Ich Plus or
Mardel Copper Safe
Fin & Tail RotBlack/Red tattered and receding fin edges.Poor water quality.Clean water and aquarium salt administration. Severe cases require Maracyn II antibiotics.
PopeyeBulging eye.Prolonged exposure to bad water quality, or Tuberculosis.Clean water and Maracyn II antibiotic.
Swim Bladder DisorderFloating on side, difficulty swimming or regulating depth.Genetics, overfeeding, or bacterial infection.Fasting 2-3 days. Maracyn II antibiotic.
TumorLump or bump.VariesOutlook is usually fatal.
VelvetGoldish-yellow rust-like dusting. Rubbing on decor.Stress, cold and poor water quality.Clean water, 76-81 degrees Fahrenheit. Mardel Copper Safe.

After diagnosis, you’ll need to follow the treatment options right away and always strictly adhere to medication directions. Never stop treatment early as this could increase a parasites immunity.

If your betta fish lives in solitude you may opt to treat them in their existing tank. If they live in a community tank, have carbon filters, or sensitive plants, you should quarantine them for disease treatment in a separate hospital tank.

Betta Disease Pictures and Synopsis

Some betta diseases can be treated easily, while others may have gloomier prognoses. Check your betta daily for anything abnormal. During feedings and tank cleanings is a great time to look for common symptoms of an ill betta.

Learn your fish’s personality too! Doing so allows you to quickly identify when they’re acting strangely.

Columnaris (Cotton Wool or Mouth Fungus)

Both beneficial and harmful (Columnaris) bacteria is present in your betta’s water. Under stressful habitat conditions (e.g. overcrowded) and unmaintained water, bacteria may enter through lacerations, the mouth or gills. Visible, sometimes stringy cottony patches on the mouth, gills, or fins along the body will be present in Columnaris. Accelerated symptoms may also include visible lesions and gill damage.

Dropsy (Pineconing)

Betta Fish Dropsy

Dropsy can be caused by numerous issues including viral disease, parasites, poor nutrition, and bacteria. It’s also common amongst keepers who feed their betta’s live food.

Dropsy is actually not a disease, but rather the symptom of what’s going on inside the betta fish’s body from other ailments. These ailments include fluid build up and the swelling of failing organs (liver and kidney). Dropsy is severe and visible from above. You’ll notice extreme swelling in the abdominal area and outward flaring scales that resemble a pine cone. This is shown in the photo above and in the full video here.

The bacteria that triggered internal issues is contagious and can harm other community tank members. Another symptom of dropsy is the tendency for betta fish to stay close to the surface to easily get oxygen. Their appetite will also be virtually non-existent.

Fin Rot and Tail Rot

Betta Fish Fin Rot

Fin rot or tail rot (melt) is probably the most common betta fish disease. It’s often confused with tail biting, resulting from boredom, and tears on sharp tank decor.

Upon inspection, the tail (caudal) or other fins will show visible signs of the disease. These signs include red or black tattered, sometimes bloody, edges along the affected areas and can lead to body rot if not treated.

Typical behavior and personality does not usually change unless the betta is suffering from other ailments too. And to answer your next question, yes their fins can grow back!

Hole in the Head

Usually caused by improper nutrition or habitat cleanliness, early signs of hole in the head disease include small sores, dents, or pin-holes on the surface of the betta’s head and above its eyes. Over time these holes become increasingly larger lesions.

These cavities are easily visible and tend to travel along the lateral line of the betta. If diagnosed early, it can be cured like most betta fish diseases, but in later stages, it becomes increasingly deadly.

Ich or Ick

Betta Fish Ich

Another one of the most common betta fish diseases is Ich, and it’s caused by parasites. Ich is characterized by small white dots that are similar in size to a granule of sugar. These spots are visible to the naked eye and appear along the body and fins of a betta fish.

It’s a very preventable and treatable disease that is, however, uncomfortable for your betta. You may notice them rubbing against objects in the tank in an attempt to get the parasites off their body.

Popeye

Betta Fish Popeye Illness

This disease affects a betta fish’s eye and will cause one or both to bulge outwards. It can be very startling seeing these symptoms, but it is treatable. The most common cause of popeye is prolonged exposure to poor water quality.

If you monitor the quality of your betta’s water and don’t feed him or her live food, you should never experience it. Popeye on its own can be cured without long-term damage or loss of sight, but sometimes it’s a sign of tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is a more serious and always fatal betta disease.

Septicemia (Red Streaks)

This rare disease affects betta fish who are stressed (e.g. continual and quick changes in water temperature) or have been wounded. Septicemia is a bacterial infection that can be caused by adding new community fish without quarantining them, or feeding infected food.

It’s not contagious and can be diagnosed by visible red streaks or bloody marks along the body. High levels of nitrites, causing nitrite poisoning, can also lead to red stripes. Rule this out first by conducting a water test.

Septicemia may also develop alongside popeye. If left untreated, this disease could lead to organ failure and dropsy. Also note that septicemia is virtually impossible to detect on red-colored betta fish.

Swim Bladder Disorder (SBD)

The swim bladder is located between the stomach and the fish’s tail. Overfeeding can lead to bloating, constipation, and swim bladder disorder from the digestive tract pressing towards the swim bladder.

This is very common among betta’s in captivity because of misinformation or lack of knowledge around how much to feed a betta fish. The instructions on the back of food containers can be misleading and usually represent an over-estimation.

SBD is not contagious and usually clears up on its own – unless it’s a birth defect. This disorder is more prevalent in young fry and select breeds like the double tail betta. Symptoms include difficulty swimming, constantly being in an “S” shape, changing depths, the inability to leave the surface of the water, laying on the bottom, and the inability to swim horizontally.

Velvet

Velvet is a parasitic betta fish disease that causes a goldish-yellow or rust-like sprinkling of color on the betta’s body, gills, fins – or all three. It’s hard to diagnose and is best identified using a light source, like a flashlight, and shining it on the betta.

Some betta fish exhibit marbling and unique coloring, so make sure you rule that out first. Betta fish are known to change colors over time as well. Bettas with velvet will dart around the tank looking for spots to rub themselves on (just like Ich) in an attempt to get the parasites off. If left untreated, Velvet can lead to death.

Velvet is highly contagious to other community fish too, especially in sororities. Treat community tanks even if the other fish appear to be healthy and without signs of the disease (better safe than sorry). Velvet is caused by ongoing stressors, poor water conditions, and prolonged exposure to colder than tropical water temperatures.

Other Betta Ailments

It’s dangerous to administer medication to an otherwise healthy betta fish. If your betta fish is exhibiting any of the symptoms below, it’s not necessarily because they are sick or have a disease.

Symptom(s)Cause(s)Treatment(s)
ConstipationOverfeeding, lack of fiber in diet.Fasting 2-3 days, feeding a pea, high-quality betta food.
LethargicCold water, high pH, nitrate, nitrite levels, stress, sickness.Tropical water temperature of 76-81 Fahrenheit, water changes, hiding spaces.
No AppetiteNot hungry, cold water, old age, stress or sickness.Proper feeding quantity and schedule. Identify potential sickness or disease.
Tail BitingBoredomEncourage flaring, add more plants or decor, and consider betta fish toys.

Prevent Betta Diseases Before They Start

This page outlines the most common betta fish diseases and sicknesses you may encounter as a hobbyist. It is not an exhaustive list of all potential diseases. The best way to deal with diseases and illnesses is to not get them in the first place. Be proactive instead of reactive.

Quick identification and treatment will ensure you’re providing the best care and chances for overcoming the problem. Healthy bettas are active, aggressive, and have big appetites. Sick betta fish are the exact opposite.

It’s your responsibility to learn how to care for and provide a suitable habitat for your betta fish. With that said, diseases amongst betta fish can and do happen somewhat frequently. As betta’s get older their immune systems weaken, making them even more susceptible to sickness and disease.

If you still have a question, please post it in the comments section below.

90 Responses

  1. Robert Riccardo

    My Crowntails fins just vanished by over half their size. It happened quick. A very slight regrowth started but a lot of the fins have clear streaks and the fins were bright orange. What can I do to remedy this?

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Hi Robert, the first thing to do is make sure the water parameters are in check: 6.5 – 7.5 pH, and around 75-80 degrees fahrenheit for temperature. Ammonia builds up in the water quickly from excess food and feces, so it’s important to keep the water clean. Try that and monitor for a couple days. Betta fish have also been known to nip at their own fins from boredom too which is possible.

      Reply
  2. Jamie

    EMERGENCY HELP!!!!?

    So new fish got sucked up by the siphon because he got curious and I wasn’t paying attention and now he’s lethargic , is he gonna die ? He was in there for like 10-15 second . I was able to unplug the tubing and had my dad blow him back out into the water ???????

    I have him in a qt tank doing a 30 min salt bath. Also added an IAl leave a few drops of stress cost and some black water extract .:( he’s in a heating 1 Gal(my qt tank) ????????so heart broken I just got him as a gift:(((((

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Yikes! I would recommend a larger tank, 1 gallon is too small for betta fish. He’s probably lethargic because of the stress that he went through, but as long as he looks okay (no visible injuries) and is still eating normal I’m sure he’s fine. You should get a filter that’s not as strong or cover the opening with something that will slow the flow down to prevent this from happening. Betta fish are not very strong swimmers and fast flowing water can also stress them out if the filter is too powerful. A salt bath wasn’t really necessary, but I hope he’s doing okay!

      Reply
  3. Saige

    Hi
    Recently, as in the past few days, I’ve noticed that my betta is floating almost directly on his side when he’s not swimming. Then he’ll swim around and float again. Is he dying? Or does he have SBD? I’ve noticed before that he sometimes swims in an ‘s’ shape.

    Reply
    • Bryan

      That does sound like SBD. Have you been overfeeding him or her? Signs are bloated belly, stringy large poop. Try fasting your betta (no food) for a couple days to see if this improves the situation.

      Reply
    • huseyin

      Hey bro, i found out that my betta fish had the SBD, so i’ve controlled his eating for one day, and today i fed him back normally. so the problem is after i fed my betta fish, it will become so hyper-active and swam so fast, it will also rub itself on the side of the aquarium. then it will be so slo and went to the bottom of the aquarium and do nothing. is it normal?

      Reply
  4. Kathleen Rivera

    Hi! I just cleaned my fish tank and noticed that my fish is not swimming right and is laying on the bottom of the tank. I put less water in his tank so I it will be easier for him to get air. What do I need to do?

    Reply
    • Bryan

      First thing is to always make sure the water temperature is in the appropriate range (roughly 76-79 degrees fahrenheit). If you added water after cleaning that was very cold and it dropped the temperature in the tank quickly, that can cause a lot of stress and potential sickness. Always re-acclimate your betta to the tank if they were removed from the tank during cleaning too. For now keep an eye on your betta in the next couple days and make sure that he or she is still eating normal as that is a good sign.

      Reply
    • Theresa

      When performing water changes, it is important to always use a digital thermometer to ensure that the new water is the same degree as what is in the tank. Even a single degree difference can shock a betta, which may result in lethargy and an almost confused state. Also, make sure to condition the new water before adding it to the tank, to be certain that he isn’t exposed to harmful chlorine or other chemicals.

      Reply
  5. tim

    My half moon betta fish has been growing a tumor on his face for about 6 weeks now. at first i thought it was fungal and did a fungal treatment and then tried bacterial treatment. neither worked. up until recently the fish has been active despite the tumor and always had a very good appetite. but increasingly he seems more tired and less energetic. i’ve searched on line for what it might be but haven’t seen anything that looks like it.

    the fish is in a 3.5 gallon tank with a carbon filter and aerator. the water is conditioned and heated. i replace 1/3 of the water on a weekly basis.

    help would be much appreciated…

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Hi Tim, I’m so sorry to hear that. It sounds like you’re taking proper care of your betta despite his illness or disease. We never fully know the history of care before we get them which presents some challenges if you’re not a breeder. If it’s indeed a tumor then there is not much a caretaker can usually do without spending a lot of money. Continue keeping the water clean and monitoring the growth for the time being. If you’d like to send detailed pictures, I can take a look too at my email bryan@bettafish.org

      Reply
  6. Chrisember J Wood

    Hi,
    I am a new Betta owner,and just had a few questions. My Betta won’t eat and I know this could be due to stress, I have aquarium salt in the water as well as dechlorinate (Prime). He gets excited and swims up to the food then spits it out and won’t eat it. I tried making it smaller and it still didn’t work. They are pellets. Also he is purple on his body but his fins are white is this normal? He has what looks like white fuzz on his head but other than that he swims constantly and is in 78f water.

    Reply
    • Bryan

      It’s typical for some betta fish not to eat for a while when first bringing them home. Some are also very, very picky when it comes to food and will eventually eat it without spitting it out. If the problem continues, you may want to try another brand of pellets. Other than that, it sounds like you’re doing a great job with the rest.

      Reply
  7. Anna

    Hi, My betta just got ich and I treated it now Im starting to see couple back and Im still treating it with the Herbtana, it made it go away before. Now it hasnt eaten in to two days and I just fed it and luckily it ate one pellet but not much. I tried feeding it blood worms and that didnt work either. My bettas head used to be all black but now its a lightish grey with some colorfull spots on it?! its stomach has also turned whitish. I am also noticing that it seems to be shedding its skin on its back?!. I have my fish in a one and a half gallon tank and i have a heater and I put aquarium salt it it! My fish is crazy, what should I do!!!

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Anna, when betta fish get sick or stressed they can lose their coloring. Just like when you or I get sick, we may eat more infrequently, less, or not at all for a while too. If your betta did eat one pellet that’s a great sign. Medication can also cause harm in some cases too. For now, I would recommend that you continue keeping the temperature high, even consider raising to 85 degrees slowly to kill off any remaining Ich parasites and then lower back down. Also keep the water very clean. Best wishes on his or her recovery.

      Reply
      • Anna

        Bryan, the ich is now fully gone and he is back to eating regularily, however there is still the (almost like dead skin) hanging off parts of him its very sheer, could be fungus? Also My betta has some bronzish coloring on his head and the beggining of its tail and its stomach. SOmeone said it might be velvet! How would I go about treating the maybe fungus, and maybe velvet! My fish still looks sick bcs its not moving much and its still staying at the top of the bowl. Also would you recomend switching to a bigger tank, mine’s at 1 gallon.

      • Bryan

        That’s good, any progress is good! It could be fungus (columnaris?), and velvet but please make certain you think it is before medicating for it. See the photos on this page and how to identify and treat it in the chart above. As for tank size, yes a minimum of 3 gallons with recommended 5 gallons is required for a healthy and happy betta fish.

  8. Anna

    Also, I am trying to use bettafix, however that is not working, and should I stop the ich tretment now that its gone?

    Reply
    • Bryan

      I would stop using the ich treatment if it’s gone because medications can be stressful. Continue trying the betta fix according to the instructions and give it a while and monitor any progress, however you may need something more aggressive if it fails to improve. Make sure the water is clean and at proper temperature too.

      Reply
  9. Anna

    would pet smart or pet co have those medacations, if not would my fish be dead by the time the meds come from online.

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Your local pet store should have them or something similar yes. Depending on how aggressive it is, it may be better to get them immediately rather than online.

      Reply
  10. Jodi L Hager

    Hello,

    I have a male about 2yrs old. For the past month he has been hanging on the bottom, has great difficulty getting up to the top. His fins are close to his body, and it does look like his scales are somewhat prickly. He does have an appetite. When I first noticed, I didn’t feed him for a week thinking the pellets might have caused it. But it didn’t make a difference. I add salt and alive drops when I change his 1/2 gal tank. Any suggestions? Is he just old?

    Thank you
    J

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Hi Jodi, that is getting towards the average life span for a betta in those conditions. A 1/2 gallon tank is far too small for a betta fish, recommended is 5 gallons. The clamping and prickly scales could be signs of stress and diseases (potentially) dropsy. If he still has an appetite that’s good, however as they age their ability to fight disease and infection decreases.

      Reply
    • Anna

      I agree with brian he is getting old and he also probably has dropsy. That is unfortunatlygoing to end in his death. You can do more research and look at articles and pictures to see if that is what you fish truly has. It may also help to get at least a two gallon tank

      Reply
  11. Anna

    Is Mardel copper safe good for bettas? I am ordering prime so it should come quickly. The velvet hasn’t gotten too bad its just on its belly and the fins aren’t clamped yet and its still swimming and hasn’t lost appetite. I am still gong to treat for the cotton fungus even tho I am pretty sure its gone, but MY BETTA SEEMS TO BE LOSING A SCALE WHAT!! IS THAT NORMAL AND I NEED TO KNOW IF IT ISN’T AND WHAT MEDS TO GET IT!?

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Yes Mardel is safe and a good option to treat Velvet in bettas. I’m glad he’s still got his appetite. As for the scale just monitor the area as you treat as it’s likely from the bacterial/fungal infection.

      Reply
  12. Anna

    do you think i need to get fungus treatment if the cotton fungus looks like it went away?

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Continue to monitor, err on the side of caution and don’t overmedicate as that can cause more stress.

      Reply
  13. Gwen Williams

    Hi! I’ve gotta a betta that I’m taking care of for my daughter while she is away at school. He is about a year old and has always been very calm but active/social when we are at the tank. He is in a two gallon tank and has always been excited when he gets fed. About two months ago we got a tetra and a snail to help keep the tank clean. Tank was cleaned two weeks ago and about a week ago he started becoming more lethargic, laying around and not being social. He eats a little but but not like he did. I don’t see any change other than his color may not be as vibrant. He is normally a dark reddish color and still is. What can I do?

    Reply
    • Bryan

      The bioload is too high for that small of a tank with 3 inhabitants. This could cause stress and increases toxins from feces and the like raising ammonia levels which can cause bettas to get sick. I would recommend at least 5 gallons, more if you have other inhabitants, especially with tetras as they are schooling fish and do best with more than just one in a tank. As for cleaning the tank, 2 weeks is far too long with that bioload, are you at least cycling the water a couple times a week? As in removing 20-30% of volume dirty water and adding back in clean water? That would be a good starting point and getting a larger ecosystem.

      Reply
  14. Libbie

    My betta fish never leaves the surface. i just up graded to a larger 4 gal tank. at first me and my mom thought it was funny that he taking advantage of the new big surface area. But then i realized that he always stays at the top 3 in. i dont know what to do! I havent seen any signs of sickness, the only thing i could think of is maybe he has a little finrot. please help!!!!!

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Your betta should be fine if he is still acting the same as before and still eating. Some betta fish tend to stay towards the surface, some like the bottom, I wouldn’t worry!

      Reply
  15. Christina

    Hi Bryan
    In last few days I’ve noticed white-ish color under my fishs’ chin along with a small white dot on the side of his face. It almost looks like mold. Then toda I noticed one part of his fin is discolored. I’m not sure what I need to do.

    Reply
    • Bryan

      The small white dot could be a few different things. Sometimes bettas can get pimple like growths that come and go. I would make sure you’re following our care guidelines on the care page and if it doesn’t clear up or gets worse you can email me a photo or visit the disease page.

      Reply
  16. Grace

    My fish is not moving from the top 3 in of her tank and she’s not eating. It also looks like she has Gold spots on her. What would you recommend I do for her?

    Reply
    • Bryan

      This could be velvet, see photo and symptoms above to help diagnose. Make sure your water is clean and your tank is at the right temperature too as a first step.

      Reply
  17. Jessica

    I’m pretty stuck on what could be wrong with my betta. He’s a beautiful dark blue half-moon with a little red in his fins, I got him about four-five months ago, and not too long after I got him he started losing colour around his belly and mouth area despite feeding him with colour-enhancing pellets and usually having a prodigious appetite (nowhere else; just really pale and grey-white around much of his face/mouth and a bit of his belly. I’ve had bettas before and while they often had pale areas around their mouths, I’ve never seen it this bad), and I’ve definitely caught him seeming to be scratching himself, but only ever in ONE spot of the tank. He has two castles and a rock, and he’ll rub up against the rock right along the bottom gravel but nowhere else. I at first thought it was a territorial behaviour or something, since the rock is right in the front of the tank and he’d be wiggling around between the tank and rock several times when he did it, and I tried moving things around and eliminating anything dangling in view of the tank, but that hasn’t helped at all. The colour loss doesn’t LOOK like it has any fuzz or raised patches to it, and I haven’t found any ich spots, but it seems to be getting worse and he’s definitely been acting more like a sick fish in the last month or so (the colour issue, the scratching, hides and lays on the bottom a lot more, doesn’t want to eat, and he used to be angrily reminding us for breakfast every morning when we’d check his tank after waking up and darting to the top as soon as the lid was opened, but now, he tends to “sleep in” most of the time). He does tend to lose his appetite when the tank needs cleaning (he lives in a five gallon tank that has an air stone and heat/light, but no filter), but it’s definitely getting abnormal. I’m not sure at this point if he could have a fungal infection or possibly ich or is just insanely sensitive to his water quality, but I’d LOVE some ideas. I already tried a thorough tank cleaning, and bettafix onfor a few weeks and it didn’t seem to do anything.

    Reply
  18. Arianna O'Maley

    Hello,
    I really need help, reply ASAP please. I bought Comet in august and got him a 5 gallon tank with a light and filter but no heater. 2-3 weeks ago, I noticed he seemed to be smaller and his fins look raggedy at the ends. I don’t remember his dorsal fin to be that small. He also seemed to be losing color. I quarantined him with 3 tsp (for a 2 gallon tank) of aquarium salt for 10 days. I was able to get a heater in the middle of his treatment and I keep it on 78. On the 10th day and I was going to put him back in his 5 gallon tank and stop using the aquarium salt (I’m still using a stress coat) but he does not seem to look any better. He swims around just fine and gets excited to eat and eats everything. He’ll sleep in the corner of the tank near the top at night but I figured its because he doesn’t have any hiding places in his quarantine tank. I have always noticed one side of his head seemed to be slightly bigger. Since I was doing research I decided to shine a light to look for velvet and noticed his “lopsided head” is a swollen, red, gill. He does seem to have gold dust on his lower half and fins. This past Thursday (4 days ago) I started treating him with Coppersafe for the velvet and Maracyn 2 for the gill. I did a 100% water change on the second and fourth day (which is today), cleaned his tank with boiling water, kept the water temp at 83 and turned on his light during the day to advance the life cycle of the parasites so the medicine will kill them. Yesterday I noticed the water was cloudy even though I just changed the water the day before. I checked the ammonia with a test kit and the water seemed to be fine. this morning I went to turn on his light and when he moved he had a stringy slime coat around him that fell off. He has a hard time swimming and he stays with his head to the corner of the tank at the top but he still eats. Im beginning to question if I am treating him or poisoning him with the coppersafe. So confused on what his sickness is and how to treat him properly. Help!

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Hi Arianna, yes I would stop medication for a few days, return him to his regular tank if he’s swimming and breathing fine, add the heater to that tank, and monitor his progress. The best sign is if he or she is eating normal and personality traits return. Sometimes overmedication can cause more harm than good. They are very hardy fish for the most part and medication should be a last resort with firm understanding on whether or not he or she actually has contracted something. As caretakers sometimes we are too cautious and all of a sudden notice things that may or may not have been there all along just now we’re paying closer attention. I wish you all the best and hope this passes.

      Reply
  19. Giovana

    Hi there!

    I have a dragon scale male betta in a 3 gallon heated and filtered tank. I do water changes 2-3 times a week (25%) and he is always happy and eating. However, I noticed a few days ago that he is losing some of his scales on his gills, and when he flares, you can really see it. Does he have a disease? If so, is it treatable? I HAVEN’T seen him rubbing back and forth across his tank, as if he was scratching, so I don’t know what to do, of if I am just overreacting. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Could you email pictures? Without seeing it sometimes it’s very hard to tell. It could be disease related.

      Reply
  20. Dakota14breyer

    Please Help!
    I bought my newest red betta near Christmas, and named him the same. He was swimming around the heated 3.5 gal tank I have him in with a few guppy fry, as they were almost grown up enough to escape adults, and he seemed to be interested in chasing them, so I figured even if he got one, it would be natural food for him. He has always been scared of my finger at the top of the tank, even when I try to feed him. So for the past week that I’ve had him, I have dropped one pellet in and a few tiny fragments of flake food for the guppy fry and Christmas, and left it at that. I do water changes once a week, and I take about a gallon out. The tank has a heater, it’s one of those preset ones. The last few days, he’s been acting weird, and clamping his fins, staying near the surface and also barely swimming. When he does swim, he isn’t straight, he is slightly diagonal if he’s swimming directly towards you. I actually saw him sitting on the bottom of the tank and he had tried to shove himself in between the java fern and the pottery cave I have in there with him. I think it may be swimming bladder disease, as I had this with a past betta, but I’m not sure. Please help! I don’t know what to do.

    Here’s some pics
    https://1drv.ms/f/s!AuJm9DFjeYtFiKx7oOURHhdA9fMJjA

    Reply
    • Bryan

      You are likely not feeding him enough. Depending on the pellets, most require 2-3 pellets 1-2 times per day. They will act lethargic (lazy) if they don’t have enough food to burn energy swimming around. It doesn’t sound like swim bladder disease, more stress-related as the pictures look fine. I would remove the fry’s as they might be stressing him out too given the size of the tank.

      Reply
  21. Bettaproblem

    Help please!

    I have a male crowntail betta. For some days now, he is not very active. He is mostly lying on leaves of my plants (turned on the side) or just lying on the sand. He still eats his food and everything else is okay. But he is also swimming in a very weird way, having his tail sagging down. I hope you understand what I am saying please help me. I don’t know what to do.

    Reply
    • Bryan

      It sounds like your crowntail is experiencing some stress, but that’s good he’s still eating. Have you made sure the water parameters are okay, and that the temperature is within the correct tropical range of 76-81 degrees Fahrenheit? I would start there, and let me know how that goes.

      Reply
  22. Jen

    We bought a betta slong with some bad advice from the local pet store. They advised us to use 1/2 g tank, no heater, distilled water. After 3 wks, fish tried to die. Lethargic with a white fuzzy latch on top lip. I bought some Tetra Lifeguard & have been treating for 1 week. Spot is smaller, but not gone. Am doing daily 1/2 water changes & using a portion of the lifeguard tablet due to small water volume. Now I realize advice was bad & will get bigger tank, but think I should wait till he is better so I don’t contaminate new tank.. Am wondering how long should treatment continue? I assume the spot should completely disappear before I consider him cured.

    Reply
  23. Ky

    My fish has been lethargic and I saw the beginning of a columaris infection and have been using Beta Fix. He’s still lethargic and doing a lot of hiding. Hopefully the treatment will work. My question is, after the beta fix course. Do I do a full water change or stick to the usual quarter change. I have a 3.5 gallon tank of that makes any difference.

    Reply
  24. Josh Privitt

    Quick question, I just got my first Betta yesterday and noticed today that there are some brown string-like stuff floating at the bottom of the tank and wasn’t sure what they were/if it’s a sign of a problem. My first guess was it’s poop, but I’m not sure. Any tips/advice on this? Thanks!

    Reply
  25. Breea

    I hate to admit this but we put some tetras (4) in our Betta tank (5 gallon). We have a filter and we changed the water(50%) 2 times a week to keep it clean. Obviously our Betta attacked the tetras a little at a time until each one of them died. He has been the lone ranger for 10 days now and suddenly today has become lethargic and has refused to eat. He tried changing the water and cleaning the tank and noticed he has a slight bulge on his left side behind his fin and also his lips look splayed out and red and swollen. When he tried to eat he couldn’t get the food in his mouth. I am feeling terrible that we subjected him to so much stress with the tetras, even though he seemed to enjoy the company, and the snacks. Please help, is there something we can do or is it a lost cause? Salt bath? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Bryan

      5 gallons is too small for a community tank with that many tetras in it and if it wasn’t heavily planted or there weren’t enough hiding spaces I’m sure it was very stressful for your betta and the tetras. If he has open wounds or infection areas that are red (that’s what it sounds like you’re describing) then you could definitely try a salt bath or bettafix to help him recover. Also as you’re already doing, make sure you keep the water clean.

      Reply
  26. Michaela

    I am at a loss as to how to help my Betta. I got him back in November from a friend who was moving states, and he was in perfect health. In January, I noticed he had a white patch in his side that looked like a gash or a cut, but the area around it had turned white. He seemed to be eating and moving around just fine, but in an effort to try and cure the patch, I turned off his filter and started administering an all in one medicine that was suppose to help cure several different issues. I noticed recently that the patch has grown bigger and seems to be flaking. He is still eating but he seems less energetic than normal. I have read about several diseases but none of them seem to match his condition. I have no idea what to do for him now, since the all in one medicine didn’t work and I can’t figure out what he has. Any ideas or help would be appreciated!!!

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Without seeing a photo, it sounds like that was a physical wound. Does he have sharp tank decorations or plants? All in one medicines are sometimes too broad, especially if it was a physical wound and not a disease. You should look into performing an epsom salt bath or dip to reduce stress and promote healthy tissue repair. If the white patch is cottony, it could also be columnaris.

      Reply
  27. Izzy

    I just recently got a new Bumble Bee male betta fish and I noticed today that one of his gills is not opening as he breaths/puffs the other open. His gill does not look inflamed or red, and there’s nothing that I can see holding it shut. He seems to be doing fine, but I just wanted to know if this was a serious thing and how to treat it if it is.
    And he seems to be ‘attacking’ his little plastic bowl. (I’m moving him to the proper tank later today, I forgot to clean it beforehand) He can see his reflection, so I think that that’s it, but I’m not sure. Help?

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Flaring and attacking the bowl is definitely a result of seeing his reflection, he’s a fighter fish and they’re territorial so that’s normal and healthy. As for the gill I’m not sure, keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn’t seem to get worse or inflamed.

      Reply
  28. Naini

    Hey. My female Bettas fins seem clamped and there’s a bump under her mouth under the scales. One of her gills doesn’t close properly. Her appetite is normal but I think it’s painful for her to eat because she develops stress lines and looses colour when eating. In general, after the bump has appeared (i think a teeny tiny one was always there but it increased in size in the last three four days) she develops stress bars to almost any change in the tank. She swims around the tank, not particularly enthusiastically but is pretty alert and curious. I don’t know what to do.

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Clamping is a sign of stress and potential disease. It could be due to the swelling in that area that the gill is not closing properly. I would start with an aquarium salt bath/dip and then monitor.

      Reply
      • Naini

        Hey. I’ve been putting aquarium salt. It’s a 2 gallon tank. So about a tablespoon. I do a partial water change every 10days. The lump under her mouth which touches the gills is bothering me… It’s about 1.5mm in height n 3mm across

  29. A

    Any idea for treating a Betta Male Turquoise & White Dragon Scale for “fungus”; (esp. around mouth) eating okay; I put a carbon filter in 3 gal. water tank; she got worse; I took carbon out; keep filter; seems to be better; question: what treatment for “fungus/brownish scale”; (I note the fungus did not go to the Fish’s Blue color); 🙂
    (been using Natural Sea Salt; Betta Fix; I added an Oak Leaf); Anne

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Hi, Anne. If aquarium salt isn’t helping you may have to use something stronger, like Maracyn II to treat the fungus.

      Reply
  30. Elton

    Hi, my betta has been healthy all the time. One day morning he is lethargic and stay in the bottom. When I come back in the evening, he is having rotten fins, and cannot swim properly already. His upper and front part of the body appears whiter with some black dots. He died early next day. This is so sudden that I have no idea what’s caused it. There are amano shrimps and nirite snails in the same tank and they are all healthy.

    Reply
  31. Katie

    So of my past two betta girls one of them passed but the last one is now developing the same problem with her scales they are tainted yellow and seem to be missing I put her in an epsom bath and her water has been treated for ick and velvet it has a heater that keeps it around 78° and there is a filter which she has never minded I really don’t want her to die because she is my favorite but I’ve noticed that whatever it is rapidly kills them. Do you have any idea what this is and how to help her?

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Can you send me a picture to bryan@bettafish.org? It sounds like one of them may have had a disease and passed it onto the others. You are doing the right thing with the Epsom salt baths for now to reduce stress and promote health though.

      Reply
  32. eileen morrison-

    Is this free or do I have to pay you to answer my question? I’ve had a male betta for almost a year. His name is Bernie Kosar. He hasn’t pooped since I got him. PetSmart says to give him a shredded pea but that didn’t work. Am I supposed to see his long string of poop? And why is his puzzle house stinky and scuzzy three days after I clean it? He’s not in an aquarium and no heater. I can’t afford an aquarium. Any help out there?

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Hi Eileen, you do not have to pay for my help or anyone else that wants to reply and help out. If your betta fish had not pooped for almost a year he’d be dead. Poop in a fish tank often falls down between gravel if you have any or it looks like uneaten food. The only time you will see stringy poop hanging from a betta fish is when they are constipated or overfed, which the pea usually helps. As for your tank, what size is it? If it’s under 2.5 gallons I don’t recommend keeping him in there, the water quality declines way too fast (that’s the smell) and it is not healthy for a betta fish to live in. They will likely get sick or contract a disease, and not live past a year or two. You will need to do constant 50-100% water changes almost every day or every other. In the future, please try to do more research on a betta before buying them if you cannot afford the proper habitat and ecosystem for them to live in – they also need a heater if your home is below 78 degrees too.

      Reply
  33. Karis

    Hey,
    I have had this betta only for a few days. The tank he was in shared water with other betta’s, and had a water current running through it, making it impossible for him to rest. He was always being pushed and pulled by the current. His fins looked ragged (especially his ventral fin) his stomach appeared to be slightly bloated. I figured he was probably constipated and had fin rot from bad water conditions. So my plan was to ensure his tank was kept very clean, to feed him pea and he would be happy and healthy once again. However…

    He has not eaten or pooped since I got him. I have not yet seen him flare out his gills or fins (though his fins are not clamped). Here are a few things I have noticed.

    His eyes have a mild cloudy glaze, a spot over each eye. It doesn’t entirely cover the eyes though. He also has a slight gold dusting the top of his eyeballs. I inspected him very carefully with a flashlight, and he does not have any gold specks on his body or fins. Nor do the specks on his eyes really show up under the beam of a flashlight.

    Also, he has a pale, whitish patch from the top of his right eye to the top of his head. He has a smaller patch by his gill on the same side. Nothing seems out of place about these patches except the colouring. He has a small white spot at the top of his left gill. He has two quite noticeable pin holes on his left cheek and head. His belly is still slightly bulging. He had two small white fuzzy clumps on his fins, but they seem to be gone this morning (I put aquarium salt in last night).

    This morning he quite frequently thrashed about, staying at the top of the water. This is the first sign of distress besides not eating or pooping. My thoughts are currently considering hole in the head disease, fungal infection, and bacteria infection as potential issues. I have not treated any of those before, so any input you have would be helpful. I have pictures, but I can’t figure out how to put them in this comment.

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Hi, Karis, it sounds like the poor guy had a rough start to life. Strong currents can definitely lead to fin damage and stress. Everything you have done so far is excellent, especially the aquarium salt addition and monitoring his behavior. You can also send me an email to bryan@bettafish.org if you’d like to send pictures that way. For fungal or bacteria, I’d suggest Maracyn II, but you should continue with the aquarium salt and keeping the water pristine if that’s helping before going the medication route.

      Reply
  34. Marian

    My daughters beta fish has a white spot on it’s body that is growing. Is there a way to post a picture of it?

    Reply
  35. Hannah

    Hi , my mom brought home a fish on a vase one day because one of her students gave it to her as a gift . We didn’t know what to do so we got it a tank, filter and etc. we have only have him for a few months and his top fin is almost gone from this white clot and seems like it is now coming out of his body. We clean his tank and have treated him for ick but nothing is working and I want to do all I can to help him

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Do you have a heater too? They need a water temperature of 76-81 degrees Fahrenheit. What you are describing does not sound like Ich which is parasitic, but more of that of a fungus or even fin rot. I would continue to keep his tank water very clean, consider adding aquarium salt and/or doing salt baths for up to 7 days, and using an anti-fungal medicine if things aren’t improving after that.

      Reply
  36. Anonymous

    Hi, I’ve had my betta for a few weeks now and he was perfectly healthy. He is a bi-color twin tail betta, blue body, blackish head and red fins. Recently I’ve begun to notice what I thought was a cut on top of his head – I figured he had bumped into something while exploring my 10 gallon tank. I used Melafix so that it wouldn’t become infected. For awhile it looked to be healing but when I looked closer his head seemed to have grayish blotches on it – kinda crusty looking. I continued to use melafix for awhile but now his head is turning a pinkish grey color and looks kinda crusty. His behavior is completely normal – eats well, not rubbing up on things, isn’t lethargic by any means. He seems completely normal despite the weird Coloration on top of his head. Any Idea what’s wrong with him?

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Feel free to send me an email with photos if possible for a better analysis, but for now, I would stop the melafix and instead add aquarium salt to reduce any stress and help scale healing.

      Reply
  37. Kristen

    Hi, I’m actually reaching out for a friend’s betta. Unfortunately, I do not know what kind he is and neither does she. Anyway, she moved him from a small fish bowl into an aquarium that is about 1.5 gallons. After a couple months he started to act lethargic and now stays at the bottom of the aquarium in one corner. He doesn’t have as big of an apetite anymore and usually ends up lying on his side. He’s about 7-8 months old now. He doesn’t have anything growing on him or anything so I’m not sure what is wrong. I’ve done a lot of research to see if I could figure it out because I love animals and don’t want to see her fish die but I can’t figure it out. Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Apologies for the delay in a response. Is the tank heated? Lethargic bettas are often cold bettas, the temperature should be within 76-81 degrees Fahrenheit.

      Reply
  38. Becka

    Hello, I’m sorry to report I just lost my 2 year old blue Crown Tail. He kept in a 5gallon ( Fluval Chi ) which I cycled for about 2 months before adding him. I wouldn’t recommend that tank to anyone. The center filter-light is hard to work around and the light can’t be turned off without turning off the filter also. So I installed a second sponge filter. I also had a heater. I did weekly 50 % water changes and vacuumed. There were live plants in a clay- like substrate ( I can’t recall the brand ). But no matter what I did I could not maintain good water parameters. I used the API test kit. They were never horrible, but they were never perfect either. Indigo always had a good appetite, but stopped swimming freely and stayed at the bottom of the tank. I thought he was probably annoyed by the strong currant of the two filters. Within the last to weeks his eyes became ” dull ” looking. Not really cloudy or popeye. Fins became clamped. I found him dead yesterday. He had I distinct curve down the middle of his spine. Could this had been TB?

    Reply
    • Bryan

      I’m sorry about losing your betta Becka. The light not being able to be turned off without the filter being turned off is definitely a problem for many reasons, including proper day/night cycles. With two filters running it’s very probable that he was stressed and that weakened his immune system leading to disease – could have been TB. Also, 50% weekly changes are more than the recommended at 15-25% in a 5 gallon but it’s hard to get perfect water parameters too.

      Reply
  39. Dora

    Hi, I am a bit concerned because my little betta boy (Toby) has a slight discoloration on his left side of the half side of his body… I had noticed it a few days ago as I had been curing him with ‘bettafix’ for his tail biting.. I wish I could post a picture for a better understanding… I am concerned about Toby.. He swims around, has an appetite… Just very concerned.. Please help!

    Reply
    • Bryan

      Feel free to send an email in from the contact page with photos, without that it’s hard to know. Tail biting is usually due to boredom, and if you’re trying to encourage new fin growth after biting, I would use aquarium salt and stay away from using Bettafix for that. Medication should be only when absolutely necessary as it can induce additional stress.

      Reply

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