Betta Fish Diseases: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are popular aquarium pets that require proper care and attention. Unfortunately, these beautiful creatures are susceptible to various diseases that can be fatal if left untreated. Identifying the signs and symptoms of betta fish diseases is crucial for timely treatment and preventing further damage.

Bacterial, fungal, or viral infections, poor water quality, and stress can cause betta fish diseases. Symptoms include abnormal swimming, loss of appetite, body discoloration, and fin rot. Treatments like medication, water changes, and improving the fish’s environment can help defeat diseases.

Here, I will discuss some of the common betta fish diseases, their causes, symptoms, and treatments to help you keep your fish healthy and happy. Enjoy reading!

Common Betta Fish Diseases

Betta fish can fall ill for various reasons, and detecting and treating the diseases early on is essential. Your betta fish can live a long and healthy life with proper care. Here are some of the most common betta fish diseases, their causes, and how to identify symptoms and treat them.

Fin Rot

Fin rot is one of the most common diseases that affect betta fish. It’s caused by bacteria that enter through open cuts, bite marks, or damaged fins. The bacteria then attack the fins, leading to tissue damage and fin loss.

  • Symptoms: ragged or frayed fins, white edges on fins, reddening at the base of the fins, loss of appetite, lethargy, and clamped fins.
  • Treatment: clean the tank water frequently, remove any sharp objects from the tank, add aquarium salt to the water, and use antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian if the case is severe.


Ich, also known as white spot disease, is a highly contagious disease that can impact betta fish health. It’s caused by the ichthyophthirius multifiliis parasite that feeds on the fish skin. The parasite looks like white dots on the fish’s body.

  • Symptoms: tiny white dots on the body and fins, rubbing against tank objects, gill movement, and loss of appetite.
  • Treatment: maintain the tank temperature at around 86°f, add aquarium salt to the water, and use medication containing methylene blue or formalin in severe cases.


Dropsy is a severe disease that causes the accumulation of fluids inside the fish’s body. It can also cause organ failure, leading to the fish’s death.

  • Symptoms: bloated stomach, scales sticking out from the body, lethargy, clamped fins, and loss of appetite.
  • Treatment: isolate the infected fish from other fish, change the water frequently, add aquarium salt and BETTAFIX to the water, and use antibiotics prescribed by a veterinarian.

Velvet Disease

Velvet disease is caused by a parasitic infection that affects the fish’s gills and skin. It is highly contagious and can spread to other fish in the tank.

  • Symptoms: a velvet-like coating on the fish’s body, loss of appetite, irritability, and respiratory issues in severe cases.
  • Treatment: raise the tank temperature to 86°f, add aquarium salt to the water, and use medication containing copper sulfate or malachite green as prescribed by a veterinarian.

What are the Causes of Betta Fish Diseases?

There are several causes of diseases in betta fish. Here are some common factors that can contribute to betta fish diseases:

Poor Water Quality

The most common cause of betta fish diseases is poor water quality. Ammonia and nitrite spikes, high nitrate levels, and imbalanced pH can stress the fish, weaken their immune system, and make them more susceptible to diseases.

Incorrect Water Temperature

Betta fish are tropical fish and require a consistent water temperature. Exposure to extreme temperatures or frequent fluctuations can stress the fish and compromise their immune system, making them more prone to infections and diseases.


Keeping betta fish in a tank that is too small or overcrowded can lead to stress, poor water quality, and increased transmission of diseases. Bettas are solitary fish and should be housed alone or in suitable tankmates in adequately sized tanks.

Poor Nutrition

Inadequate or improper feeding can weaken the betta’s immune system, making them more susceptible to diseases. A balanced diet with high-quality betta-specific food is essential for their overall health and disease prevention.

Stressful Environment

Stressful conditions, such as inadequate hiding places, excessive noise or vibrations, bright or fluctuating lighting, or improper tank setup, can contribute to betta fish diseases. Stress weakens their immune system, making them more vulnerable to infections.

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Introduction of Infected Fish or Contaminated Equipment

Bringing new fish into the tank without proper quarantine or introducing contaminated equipment, plants, or water from other sources can introduce pathogens or parasites into the betta’s environment, leading to diseases.

Poor Tank Maintenance

Inconsistent or inadequate tank maintenance practices, such as infrequent water changes, insufficient filtration, or neglecting to clean the tank and decorations, can result in deteriorating water quality and increased disease risks.

Genetic Predisposition

Some betta fish may be genetically predisposed to certain diseases or health issues. These conditions can manifest even with optimal care and environmental conditions.

Diagnosing Betta Fish Diseases

Betta fish are loved pets that are unique in their nature and behavior. Having a sick betta fish can be a sad and distressing experience for any pet owner. To ensure that your betta fish lead a healthy and happy life, it is crucial to diagnose any illness at an early stage.

Remember, early detection can always help cure any disease. So, keep an eye on your betta fish and take necessary actions at the earliest signs of any disease. Here are some ways to diagnose if your betta fish is suffering from any disease.

Observing Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms should be one of the first things you consider when diagnosing a sick betta fish.

  • Loss of color or a change in fin color or texture.
  • Sluggish or lethargic behavior.
  • Redness, swelling, or wounds around the gills.
  • Abnormal swimming, such as floating on the surface or swimming sideways.
  • Noticeable growths, spots, or marks on the body or fins.

Performing Water Tests

Maintaining a healthy environment for your betta fish is essential. A serene and well-kept aquarium is crucial for your fish to lead a happy and healthy life. Testing the water for harmful chemicals or imbalances is crucial in identifying any disease.

  • Ph levels: ensure that the ph of the tank is between 6.5 and 7. 5.
  • Nitrite: a healthy fish tank should not have any nitrite in the water. Perform a nitrite test to check the levels.
  • Ammonia: ammonia is harmful to fish. Perform a water test to ensure the ammonia level is minimal or non-existent.

Consulting with a Veterinarian

It is always best to seek professional help if you suspect your betta fish is ill. A veterinarian with experience in fish medicine can help identify any unknown illness and prescribe the appropriate treatment.

  • Take pictures and videos of your betta fish exhibiting the symptoms.
  • Make a note of the symptoms and any other unusual behavior or appearance.
  • Keep the water quality in check and perform a water test before visiting the veterinarian.

Treatment Associated with Betta Fish Diseases

Betta fish diseases are a common problem for fish keepers, and as a responsible owner, you must know how to care for your fish if they get sick. Treating betta fish diseases involves a range of strategies, including medication, adjusting the water temperature and ph levels, and isolating sick fish from healthy fish. Let’s explore each of these methods in detail.

Using Medication

Medication is a frequently used strategy to cure betta fish diseases.

  • Identify the disease before selecting a medication, as different medications target different illnesses.
  • Always follow the instructions on the medication package to ensure the proper dosage and use.
  • Use medication as a last resort, as improper use may lead to adverse side effects.
  • Consult with a veterinarian or experienced fish keeper in your network if you are unsure about using medication.

Adjusting Water Temperature and Ph Levels

Water temperature and ph levels significantly affect a fish’s health and well-being.

  • Use a thermometer to check the water temperature regularly. Betta fish prefer water temperatures between 76℉ to 86℉ (24. 4℃ to 30℃).
  • The ph level of the water should be between 6.5 to 7.5.
  • Experiment with small water changes to adjust the ph levels, if needed.
  • Avoid drastic changes in water temperature and ph levels as it may stress your fish further.

Isolating Sick Fish from Healthy Fish

When a fish is diagnosed with a disease, isolation is a crucial method to prevent the spread of the disease to the other fish.

  • Monitor your fish carefully for any signs of illness, including loss of appetite, discolored skin lesions, torn fins, and labored breathing.
  • When a fish is showing signs of illness, move them to a separate tank or container.
  • If multiple fish are sick, isolate them in separate containers according to their illnesses.
  • Clean the container regularly and maintain a good water flow system to reduce the risk of infection.
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You can effectively treat betta fish diseases by using the medication, adjusting the water temperature and ph levels, and isolating sick fish from healthy fish. Remember to seek advice and follow expert recommendations while treating your fish to avoid any serious issues.

What Are the Common Causes of Betta Fish Diseases?

Betta inflamed gills symptoms and prevention are crucial aspects to consider when it comes to betta fish diseases. Common causes include poor water quality, overcrowding, inadequate nutrition, and stress. Keeping their habitat clean, providing a balanced diet, ensuring proper tank size, and minimizing stress can help prevent such symptoms and maintain the overall health of betta fish.

How Can You Prevent Betta Fish Diseases

Betta fish diseases can be prevented by taking proper care of them. Preventing betta fish diseases can be achieved by following some simple steps, including maintaining water quality, feeding them well, providing adequate living space, and quarantining new fish.

Maintaining Water Quality

Water is the most important element in keeping betta fish healthy. Make sure to invest in a good quality water filter and perform regular water changes at least once a week. Keep the water temperature stable and within the 76-86 degrees Fahrenheit range.

Test the water regularly to ensure that the ph is between 6. 5 and 7. 5, and keep the ammonia and nitrate levels low.

Here are some additional tips for maintaining water quality:

  • Clean filters and remove uneaten food and waste daily
  • Avoid overcrowding the tank
  • Keep the tank away from direct sunlight and drafts

Proper Feeding Habits

Feeding betta fish a balanced diet is important to keep them healthy and disease-free. Feed them small, frequent meals instead of one big meal a day, and make sure to feed them only what they can eat in under 2 minutes.

Betta fish are carnivorous and prefer a diet rich in protein, such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and high-quality pellets.

Here are some additional tips for proper feeding habits:

  • Avoid overfeeding and food with excessive fillers
  • Provide a balanced diet with a variety of food types
  • Do not feed live food that could carry diseases

Providing Adequate Living Space

Betta fish are solitary creatures and should be kept alone in their own tank. Opt for a tank that is at least 2.5 gallons in size, and decorate it with plants and ornaments that provide hiding spots and entertainment.

Keep the tank clean and well-maintained, and make sure to provide adequate lighting.

Here are some additional tips for providing adequate living space:

  • Avoid small bowls or vases that don’t provide enough space
  • Don’t place the tank near noisy or high-traffic areas
  • Keep the tank covered to prevent jumping

Quarantine New Fish

Before introducing new fish to the tank, make sure to quarantine them first. This will help prevent the spread of diseases and parasites. Keep the new fish in a separate tank for at least two weeks and monitor them for any signs of illness. Only introduce them to the main tank once they are completely healthy.

Here are some additional tips for quarantining new fish:

  • Observe the new fish for signs of illness or abnormal behavior
  • Test the water quality of the quarantine tank
  • Use a separate net and equipment for the quarantine tank.


Taking good care of your betta fish is essential to keep them healthy and disease-free. Regular cleaning of the tanks and maintaining a balanced diet can go a long way in preventing diseases. However, if your beloved fish falls sick, you must identify the symptoms and treat them as soon as possible.

Always choose the right medication and follow the instructions carefully to ensure the best possible outcome for your betta fish. Remember, prevention is always better than cure, so it pays to keep an eye on your fish and monitor any changes in their behavior or physical appearance.

With proper care and attention, your betta fish can live a happy and healthy life for many years to come.

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