Betta Care, Blog

Betta Illness, Cures and tips to keeping your Betta healthy

DO NOT PANIC!

betta, splendens, aquarium

We all have had those days when we get really excited awaiting the arrival of our new betta. But there times when we are unprepared or didn’t cycle the system or something else happens that results in a betta becoming sick or stressed out. In the following sections you will see basic betta housing requirements, illnesses and cures using products that have worked for me in the fish room. It may vary with every situation but you can use it as a guideline to get your betta back on the road to recovery.

Essential items required for setting up a betta home:

  1. Tank (1OL minimum) – for just a betta
  2. Heater (26- 28°C)
  3. Filter and/or an air pump if running a sponge filter
  4. Water conditioner
  5. Thermometer
  6. Fish food
  7. Water test strips/ kit

Optional items if you want to create the perfect betta home can include:

  1. Ornaments
  2. Aquatic plants
  3. Gravel/ Aquasoil

Once you have the above set up, leave the aquarium to run with the filter on for a minimum of 2 weeks before adding your betta. This process is called cycling the aquarium and allows time for beneficial bacteria to grow and inhabit the aquarium creating the optimal environment for your betta. However, the cycle will only start when live plants and fish have been added to the aquarium. It can be done the long route by adding live plants and dropping in some fish food to get the process started or by the quick fix method which are to get hold of a bottle of beneficial bacteria or use a sponge filter from an already cycled aquarium which will help kick start the cycling process. Read more about THE NITROGEN CYCLE here: https://www.docdroid.net/sKpV1FF/the-nitrogen-cycle-for-beginners-pdf. (Compiled By Sarah Tetlow)

So now that your betta has been added to his/her new home and your betta gets sick?

Firstly do not panic! I have been in this situation numerous times and it still happens to this day. Take a minute to try to diagnose whats wrong with him/ her before carrying out any treatment.

Illness & Cures

Illness
Illustration
Cure

Ich (White Spot)

External parasite that looks like small white spots attached to the fish. Causes irritation and itchiness. Parasite stays on the fish for up to a week, falls off, reproduces and latches on to the fish again. Contagious to other inhabitants. Also make sure to treat nets and other equipment that have been used in the aquarium.

Difficulty to treat: Easy to treat if caught early. Can be fatal if left untreated.

Symptoms: Loss of appetite, lethargy, rubbing against objects or surfaces and clamped fins.

  1. Ich is sensitive to higher temperatures so raise the temperature to 30°C. Do it in increments of 2 degrees every hour.
  2. Add salt. I use 1 tbsp/ 5L water

Recommended medication:

Waterlife – White spot & fungus

Seachem – Cupramine

Seachem – Paraguard

Always read dosing instructions on the bottle before use.

Velvet (Gold dust disease)

External parasite that looks like tiny sprinkles of gold or yellow dust. Can be hitch-hiked on a fish carrying velvet, plants or ornaments, shrimp and snails. Contagious to other inhabitants. Also make sure to treat nets and other equipment that have been used in the aquarium.

Difficulty to treat: Easy if caught early. Fatal if left untreated.

Symptoms: Loss of appetite, lethargy, rubbing against objects or surfaces and clamped fins.

  1. Velvet is also is sensitive to higher temperatures so raise the temperature to 30°C. Do it in increments of 2 degrees every hour.
  2. Add salt. 1 tbsp/ 5L water

Recommended medication:

Seachem – Cupramine

Seachem – Paraguard

Always read dosing instructions on the bottle before use.

Fin Rot

All healthy aquariums have bacteria in it. Betta fish develop fin rot when water changes have not been performed frequently. This dirty water brings about a rise in ammonia levels and causes burns on bettas finnage which stresses the fish and compromises the immune system allowing bacteria to infect the weakened fish.

If your fish has been injured in some way (torn fin from deco), this will make him/her susceptible to a bacterial infection/ fin rot.

Difficulty to treat: Easy. If left untreated can cause body rot.

Symptoms: clamped fins, holes appearing in fins, frayed edges, fins falling apart and edge of fins changing color,

Quarantine your betta in a smaller tank until he/she is healed.

  1. Decrease the temperature to 24°C.  This will slow down the growth of bacteria.
  2. Add salt, 1tbsp/ 5L water.
  3. Optional: add rooibos tea (unflavored)/ indian almond leaf . These can be soaked in boiled water, cooled and added to the quarantine tank.
  4. Perform daily water changes – 100 %

Recommended medication:

Waterlife – Fin rot & ulcers

Always read dosing instructions on the bottle before use.

Fungal & Columnaris

White blotchy patches on the head, fins or body of the betta. Poor water quality, stressed or an injured fish can lead to a fungal infection. Fungi will grow and eat away at the skin, fins and body.

Difficulty to treat: Easy if spotted early. If left untreated can cause death.

Symptoms: white, wooly or blotchy patches, rubbing itself on objects or surfaces, loss of appetite, clamped fins, loss of color.

Columnaris and fungal infections look very similar, however, comlumaris is a bacterial infection and often looks like wooly fluff. Can be treated just the same as fungal infections.

Quarantine your betta in a smaller tank until he/she is healed.

  1. Decrease the temperature to 24°C.
  2. Add salt, 1tbsp/ 5L water.
  3. Optional: add rooibos tea (unflavored)/ indian almond leaf . These can be soaked in boiled water, cooled and added to the quarantine tank.
  4. Perform daily water changes – 90 %

Recommended medication:

Seachem – Paraguard

Seachem – Neoplex (antibiotic)

Seachem – Cupramine for Columnaris

Always read dosing instructions on the bottle before use. (usually goes away within 24hrs if caught early)

Popeye

Is a bacterial infection of the eye. If kept in clean water it is unlikely that your betta will get popeye. It can also be an indication of a serious internal infection and if so maybe hard to cure.

Symptoms: swollen eye that can sometimes appear white or cloudy, loss of appetite, lethargy

Quarantine your betta in a smaller tank until healed.

  1. Perform 100 % water changes daily.
  2. Rooibos/ IAL can also be added.
  3. Ampicillin/kanaplex antibiotic can be used. Be sure to dissolve completely in water before adding to the quarantine tank. Antibiotic needs to be added for every water change. Discontinue if no improvement is seen after 7 days.

Always read and follow dosing instructions on the bottle before use.

Swim Bladder Disorder (SBD)

SBD is when your bettas swim bladder is disrupted.

This is often due to overfeeding or can occur in young fish when the swim bladder has not fully developed, usually goes away by itself and is not contagious.

SBD can also be a sign of a serious underlying condition.

  1. Isolate your betta if kept in a community tank.
  2. Lower the water level (8 – 10 cm) will help make it easier for your betta to reach the surface for air.
  3. Fasting can be done for 2 to 3 days if caused from overfeeding.
  4. Perform daily water changes
  5. Indian almond leaf / rooibos can also be used.
  6. In my experience feeding peas has never worked. Rather stick to a healthy and balanced diet.

Dropsy

Dropsy refers to the build up of fluids inside the betta and is usually related to organ failure.

At this point it is usually too late to help the betta recover.

Poor water quality and excessive feeding of foods such as frozen bloodworms and brine shrimp have been found to cause dropsy. There isn’t enough evidence or research done that explains the exact cause.

When the fluid builds up it causes the scales to lift giving the betta a pinecone appearance. Easier to identify if looking at the betta from top view.

Symptoms: raised/ lifted scales, bloated, lethargy, loss of appetite.

Move your betta to a quarantine tank.

  1. Prepare the water as normal and perform 100 % daily water changes.
  2. Rooibos/ IAL can also be added to help ease the betta.
  • I have tried kanaplex and epsom salt with no joy when it comes to dropsy.

*These treatments are specific for bettas. Other inhabitants and plants could be sensitive to salt and medication. Always research more about other inhabitants before using any treatment for community tanks.

For ease of treating your betta it is always advisable to move him/her to a smaller tank where water changes will be easier to perform in smaller volumes. This also saves when medicating is involved as it requires a smaller amount.

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