Why Is My Betta Fish Turning White or Losing Color?

Betta Fish Losing Color

Bettas attract and fascinate hobbyists of all ages simply because of their jewel-tone colors and long, delicate fins.

However, sometimes unusual can happen, and your betta fish will become to lose their color. The most common change in color is turning white or having dulled coloration.

Today we’re going to talk about the causes of why my betta fish is turning white or losing color and what you can do about it.

Let’s jump in!

How Do Betta fish Get Their Color?

White Bettas

To figure out the reason why your betta is turning white, why don’t we understand why betta fish get their beautiful colors in the first place?

First, let’s start with the fact that the skin of most fish is usually white or even transparent. The actual color we perceive is due to the presence of pigment-bearing cells called chromatophores in the dermis of the fish’s skin.

More than six types of chromatophores [1] that are filled with different pigments have been described in fish, including:

  • Black or brown Melanophores
  • Blue Cyanophores
  • Yellow Xanthophores
  • Red Erythrophores
  • White leucophores
  • Iridescent, metallic Iridophores (or guanophores)

Mature chromatophores are grouped into clusters based on the type of pigments they contain, which lead to various shapes or structures. The colors we see on betta fish are a combination of these groups. 

Studies [2] have shown that the more red erythrophores (containing reddish pigments) betta fish have, the stronger their immune systems will be. Furthermore, the number of Red erythrophores has been linked to reproductive success (RPS) as dark red males are considered more attractive than light red ones to females.

Another interesting fact is that the majority of iridescent or metallic colors on your betta’s skin come from iridophores’ location (layer) within the fish’s skin.

Chromophores are principally determined by genetics, but many factors can play a role in the color of skin in bettas.

Additional factors may include:

Natural source of the pigment: Since fish can’t synthesize their own color pigment, they must absorb them from their diet, which means bettas need to consume amounts of the right type of biochromes (biological pigments) to maintain vibrant colors, especially the melanin and carotenoids. 

Hormones: In response to a change in environment, like temperature, lighting, water quality, or aquarium background, betta fish and other teleosts can directly control the pigment inside their chromatophores through the nervous and hormonal system, resulting in an apparent color change. 

Social Interactions: Similarly, social interactions with other betta fish can also cause rapid changes in colors. This is why they are sometimes called “aggressive colors” because the betta shows its color as a warning sign to potential rivals or predators.

Paint or Dye: You may have heard of or seen “painted fish” or “dyed fish” sold at the local aquarium store. As the name implies, these betta fish are painted or dyed by unscrupulous dealers with synthetic pigments or hormones to make them look unique and attractive.

Unlike biological pigments from living plants or animals that can be absorbed as part of a betta’s diet, the synthetic pigments used to dye or paint fish are injected under their skin and cannot be broken down by their digestive system. As a result, the colors will eventually fade, and your betta fish will resume their natural color.

Why Is My Betta Fish Losing Color or Turning White?

Your-Betta-is-Turning-Black

This isn’t a question with an easy answer after reading through the list above. I’ll say in some cases, the loss or changing of colors is more common than you’d think.

Along with many “natural” causes, there are other factors that increase the likelihood of color loss or turning white.

Natural Causes

Let’s face it: At the end of the day, bettas are living creatures and age like any other organism. As they get older, their colors may start to fade or change. When this happens, you won’t need to worry about it too much.

Genetics

As mentioned above, genetics determine the color of the skin. With a certain genetic background, your betta may turn white or lose its color over time simply due to natural biological processes. You can’t do much about this, unfortunately. Only buying well-maintained fish from a reputable source or breeding your betta fish yourself is a good practice.

Reproduction

It is not uncommon for bettas to change color when they enter breeding mode. As part of this process, males become more colorful for the purpose of attracting female bettas. 

Old Age

Unfortunately, your betta’s colors will start fading when they enter into their twilight years due to the chromatophores becoming less dense. Normally, a betta lives for a maximum of five years. It might start to lose some of its colorings and begin to fade, usually around three years old. 

A Marble Betta

Marble Bettas are known to change colors at times. As long as you have ruled out any of the above causes for the color change, you shouldn’t need to worry. 

Causes Related to the Environment

betta fish tank

Your betta will lose its color from time to time when it lacks essential pigments, inhibits chromatophores development, or is due to a variety of environmental issues.

Stress

Just like humans, fish can be negatively impacted by stress. Stress can come from poor water quality, overcrowding, injuries, handling and shipping, and improper water chemistry. Stress for fish is a serious problem that can lead to illnesses, loss of color, and, eventually, death.

Diet

The most common cause of color loss in betta fish is a poor diet. Many aquarists are unaware of the importance of monitoring their fish’s betta diet – often feeding expired or low-quality feed with inadequate pigments. 

Ensure you provide your betta with a balanced, varied diet high in protein and color-enhancing nutrients like carotenes, xanthophylls, and chlorophylls.

Type of Substrate and Background

Bettas tend to adjust skin colors to camouflage with the environment. That’s why they may be seen turning white in a pale environment. A better idea would be to have dark gravel and black background in the tank, which will help your betta maintain its vibrant colors.

Need for Privacy

The betta fish may compete for territory when you have a “sorority” or “harem” female community tank. They will need their own hiding place to feel safe and secure. If your betta doesn’t have a suitable hideout, it can cause stress and lead to color loss or fading. 

Temperature & pH Fluctuations

Is your betta fish losing color overnight? This could be due to temperature and pH fluctuations in the water. Ensure your tank is heated to an appropriate temperature and maintains a steady pH level for optimal health. 

Betta Diseases That Can Cause Loss of Color or Turning White

There is a wide range of betta fish diseases that can cause color loss or turning white. Some can be more serious than others. For treatment to be successful, a visit to an aquatic veterinarian is a good idea.

Parasites

The dulled coloration or discoloration might be the symptoms of protozoa or flukes’ infestations. Most parasites invade the betta fish’s cells when new arrivals are introduced to the aquarium, including fish, snails, shrimps, or decorations.

Here are common parasites that can cause betta fish to become pale or discolored.

Ich (White Spot Disease)

ich in betta fish

Ich, or white spot disease, is the most common protozoal infestation in aquariums and ponds. It’s caused by a large, ciliated protozoan named Ichthyophthirius multifiliis in freshwater fish.

Because of its complex life cycle and rapid reproduction, this disease is highly contagious, and treatment must be provided immediately. This disease may result in a 100% mortality rate when left untreated.

You might be interested to know: What Else Causes White Spots on Fish Other Than Ich? (11 Causes with Pics!)

CausesSymptoms Treatment
Stressed environment
Failure to quarantine your new betta
Using infected equipment or décor
Ich tomonts attached to a fish bag
White spots that resemble grains of salt visible on skin or fins
Clamped fins
Fish scratching against rocks, décor, or gravel 
Missing scales
Fish appearing lethargic
Rapid respiration
Gasping at the water’s surface
Multiple fish died suddenly
Click here

Velvet (Dust Disease)

velvet on betta fish

Velvet, also known as “rust” or “gold dust” disease, is caused by either Piscinoodinium pilularis or Piscinoodinium limneticum in freshwater fish.

This dinoflagellate has a similar lifecycle of ich and attacks the gills and skin of betta fish, causing fine yellowish or pale powder on the skin, hence the names.

CausesSymptoms Treatment
Failure to quarantine
Stressed environment
Using infected equipment or décor
Ich tomonts attached to a fish bag, plants
Gold or rust-colored and velvety film on gills and body
Color loss
Heavy mucous secretion
Gasping at the water’s surface
Clamped fins
Loss of appetite
Labored breathing
Click here

Flukes

Gyrodactylids in betta fish
Gyrodactylus in Betta fish

Flukes are a group of monogenean trematodes that invade the betta’s skin and gills by using a set of hooks. These microscopic parasites often cause serious damage and can lead to secondary bacterial infections.

Flukes are divided into two groups: Dactylogyrus and Gyrodactylus. The former is often present in the gills, while the latter infects the skin.

CausesSymptoms Treatment
Skipping proper quarantine
Stressed by incompatible species
Poor water quality
Improper diet
Crowding
Missing scales and red spots on the skin
Loss of color
Excess mucus secretion on gills or body
Scratching against objects by the affected betta fish
Gills moving rapidly
Flashing behavior
Lethargy
Decreased appetite
Praziquantel

Ichthyobodo

Costia necatrix

Ichthyobodo necator, previously known as Costia necatrix or simply Costia, is a flagellate protozoal parasite responsible for this disease in freshwater fish.

This parasite feeds on the skin and gills of the fish, producing an excess of mucus in blue or grey colors that gives the fish a steel-grey look.

CausesSymptoms Treatment
Skipping proper quarantine
Poor water quality
Stress
Overfeeding
Crowding
Steel-grey look
Excess mucus in blue or grey on gills or body
Rubbing against decorations
Gasping for air
Flashing behavior
Lethargy
Decreased appetite
Copper sulfate,
formalin, or salt

Chilodonella

Similar to Costia, Chilodonella is another single-celled, microscopic protozoan. Two species among this genus, C. piscicolaand C. hexasticha, are known to be deadly to freshwater fish.

The clinical presentation of Chilodonella is that your betta fish appears to be covered in a gray, mottled layer on the skin.

CausesSymptoms Treatment
Skipping proper quarantine
Poor water quality
Stress
Overfeeding
Crowding
Grey, mottled appearance on the skin
Rubbing the body against decorations
Increased respiration
Loss of appetite
Lethargy
Copper sulfate,
formalin, or salt

Bacterial Infection

From a 10-gallon male betta aquarium to a 30-gallon sorority female bettas tank, no matter your betta aquarium, there are many opportunistic bacteria that live in, on, or around your fish. 

Most of the time, these bacteria are harmless until the immunity system of the betta fish is compromised, and then the bacterial infection will arise.

Like parasite infestations, several bacterial infections cause white, cloudy-looking skin on fish.

Aeromonas spp.

Aeromonas species are recognized to cause a variety of common and troublesome diseases in freshwater aquariums and ponds. All Aeromonas members are gram-negative bacteria. Among them, Aeromonas hydrophila has been considered to be the most harmful to aquatic creatures.

Often Aeromonas infections are found in warm water fish, and they mostly take advantage of fish fry or stressed fish with a compromised immune system. 

Bettas infected with Aeromonas may be easily confused with other diseases and may have many different symptoms. Therefore, a diagnosis based only upon clinical signs is highly unreliable. Visit an aquatic veterinarian is strongly recommended.

Flavobacterium columnare (Columnaris)

Columnaris disease, often referred to as Cotton wool disease, Saddleback Disease, and Cotton Mouth Disease, are named for their classic clinical sign — the white cotton-like spots or patches that develops on the betta’s head, fins, or gills.

This disease is caused by warm water, gram-negative, and strictly aerobic bacterium, Flavobacterium columnare, which is often mistaken for a fungus, given its white or grey mycelial patches.

Fungal Infections (Saprolegnia spp.)

Saprolegnia is a genus of water mold that infects a broad range of fish host species. Some species of Saprolegnia are known as water mold or cotton mold for good reasons – they resemble tufts of cotton.

These fungi are well-known among fish keepers, as they cause white cotton-like lesions on the betta’s body. The infected area will appear to be fuzzy and can spread over the entire body of the betta if not treated right away.

They are often incorrectly treated as Columnaris. So, a proper diagnosis is essential for successful treatment. Saprolegnia is an opportunistic organism, meaning when the root cause (water temperature or quality) has been remedied, and any bacterial infections are treated, it will often self-heal.

Conclusion

Thankfully, your betta fish turning white or losing color does not always mean there is a larger problem. Sometimes it’s just a normal color change.

If you rule out natural causes, then it’s most likely due to a bacterial infection or parasites. You will need to diagnose the underlying issue and treat it accordingly. 

It’s always best to consult with an aquatic veterinarian before you start treatment. The sooner you can identify the problem and treat it correctly, the better chances your betta will have for a quick recovery.

Have you ever experienced this situation with your bettas? Share your experience with us in the comments below. 

Good luck, and take care of your fish!

Article Sources:

  1. How Ornamental Fishes Get Their Color [University of Florida]
  2. Female Mating Preferences As A Result of Coloration And Movement In Betta splendens [Lake Forest College]

Betta Cloudy Eye 101(Symptoms Pictures & Proven Treatment)

Betta Cloudy Eye

Cloudy eye in betta fish is quite common. Luckily, it is easily prevented and treatable with broad spectrum antibiotics and good supportive care.

However, this condition requires immediate attention. When left untreated, your betta fish will lose its eyesight or possibly die.

Like other common eye disorders in fish, the cloudy eye has several potential causes; some are more deadly and contagious than others.

This article deals with the most common causes, symptoms, and treatment options of betta cloudy eye.

What is Betta Fish Cloudy Eye?

why is my bettas eye cloudy

Fish cloudy eye, or corneal opacity, is a condition in which the cornea becomes irritated or inflamed. It may result in an excessive fluid buildup (edema) in one eye or both eyes, causing it to look whitish or slightly opaque

Affected betta fish may exhibit one or more clinical signs of other eye disorders, like popped out, hemorrhages in or around the eye, swelling, and ulcerations.

Several different conditions can contribute to the betta cloudy eye, including ammonia burn, bacterial infection, internal parasites, cataracts, or injury. Correctly diagnosing this disease is important to ensure the best possible treatment.

The Symptoms of Cloudy Eye in Bettas

The most notable symptom of the betta fish’s cloudy eye is the one that has given it its name – an opaque whitish film that covers your betta’s eye. 

Depending on the underlying cause of infections, injury and/or eye malfunction, the betta fish may show other physical symptoms as well.

CausesSymptoms
TraumaFrayed fins
Clamped fin
Missing scales
Damaged eyes
Hiding more than usual
Loss of appetite
Ammonia BurnGasp for breath at the top of the water surface
Purple or red gills
Rapid gill movement
Cloudy eyes
Red streaks on the body and fins
Lethargic and loss of appetite
Laying on the tank bottom
Bacterial InfectionPop-eye
Cloudy eye
Hemorrhages in or around the eye
Milky or shedding slime
Abnormal swimming behavior
Increased respiratory effort
Discoloration
‘Fungus’ on the gill plate, base of the fins occasionally
CataractsIntraoribital condition occurs within the orbit of the eye
The lens becomes opaque (often gray)
The lens doesn’t transmit light efficiently

Internal Parasites

Internal flagellates, especially Spironucleus spp., are most likely to infect young betta fish or fry. Once infested, your betta fish may display the following symptoms:

Disease Symptoms
Hole In The Head Disease Moldy lesions on the head and lateral line (HITH or HLLE)
Cloudy eye
White, stringy feces
Subdued coloration
Loss of appetite
Body and Gill FlukesMissing scales and red spots on the skin
Loss of color
Cloudy eye
Excess mucus secretion on gills or body
Scratching against objects by the affected betta fish
Gills moving rapidly
Flashing behavior
Lethargy
Decreased appetite

Causes of Betta Cloudy Eye

As you see, there are various reasons why a cloudy eye(s) can form, and sometimes the true underlying cause can be hard to determine.

Common causes of betta cloudy eye are ammonia burns, bacterial infections, internal parasites, and injury. Poor water quality is often the root cause of betta cloudy eye.

Often, if only one eye is affected, it is most likely that the betta fish experienced some sort of bacterial eye infection caused by trauma or injury. In bettas, this can be caused by anything from rubbing against abrasive aquarium décor or fighting with another betta.

When both eyes are affected in a well-seasoned or cycled tank, a more serious bacterial infection or parasites are responsible in most cases.

Ammonia poisoning or burns typically happen when setting up a new tank. Elevated unionized ammonia (NH3) level is no joke and will kill your fish fast if not addressed promptly. Further Reading: Betta Ammonia Poisoning: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Treatment

Your betta fish has a better chance of a full recovery if the underlying cause is correctly identified, and the treatment is performed in a timely manner.

Cataracts

Cataracts in fish

Less common in fish, but cataracts can cause betta fish cloudy eye. It’s more commonly seen in older bettas with many factors, including genetics and diet.

Cataracts occur when the lens becomes opaque (often gray) and does not transmit light efficiently, causing vision impairment. There’s no treatment for cataracts in betta fish.

Ammonia Poisoning

ammonia poisoning symptoms

Bettas are among the popular beginner fish; New aquarium keepers may feel eager to add fish, but unfortunately the failure to cycle a new tank properly is a common mistake that can lead to betta ammonia poisoning.

Other Potential Causes Include Combinations Of:

  • Bacteria buildup
  • Chlorinated water
  • The decomposition of organic matter
  • Overpopulation (Fish or/and shrimps, snails)
  • Overfeed

Treatment

  • Use an ammonia test kit to test the ammonia level in your tank;
  • If it’s above 0.1 ppm, perform a 25% to 50% water change over a few days, and make sure the water added is at the same temperature as the aquarium.
  • Ammonia-lowering chemicals can be added to the tank in severe cases.
  • Increase aeration and filtration with a good filter and air stone.
  • Reducing feeding will help by lowering the amount of waste.

Internal parasites

Parasites that affect the eyes of both freshwater and marine fishes are quite common. There are many different types of parasites, but the cloudy eye in fish is often associated with internal parasites.

Spironucleus spp. (Hexamita)

Hexamita in betta fish

Spironucleus spp. (Hexamita), also known as hole-in-the-head disease, are flagellated protistan parasites that most frequently occur in the intestinal tract of fish [1].

Once infested, your betta fish may produce white stringy poop, and the fish may lose their appetite and become more subdued than normal. Their white, stringy feces can be confused for parasitic flatworms. The lesions are seen on the betta fish’s head or flanks. 

Trematodes (Flukes)

Gyrodactylids in betta fish
Gyrodactylids in betta fish

You may have heard of something called Flukes in fish. They are actually referred to many species of trematodes that only live internally in their host.

Gyrodactylids and ancyrocephalids are the two most common monogeneans in freshwater fish. The former gives birth to live young and is usually found on the skin and eyes, while the latter lays eggs and infects the gills.

Treatment 

Metronidazole has been found to be an effective treatment for internal, single-cell parasites, but it should be given through medicated fish food. If your betta fish is refusing to eat, Metronidazole can also be administered as a bath. 

Sale
Seachem Metronidazole, 5 g(0.18 oz)
  • Treats bacterial infections
  • For marine and freshwater use
  • Easy to dose, easy to use. For ornamental fish only.

Author notes: Metronidazole is most effective when combined with Praziquantel in medicated fish food.

Bacterial Infection

As we mentioned in this article, the majority of bacteria that cause disease in betta fish are gram-negative, but contrary to popular belief, most disorders of the eye in fish are gram-positive.

These infections are generally caused by Streptococcus and several other closely related groups, including Lactococcus, Enterococcus, and Vagococcus [2]. Understanding this fact is crucial when choosing the appropriate treatment.

Treatment

Erythromycin, an effective anti-Gram-positive antibiotic for streptococcus infections, has proven to be quite effective when used in a medicated food mix. Be aware erythromycin can permanently wipe out your tank’s nitrifying bacteria in the biofilter, so having a spare sponge filter to replace during the treatment is very important.

Recommended product: API® E.M. Erythromycin

How to Prevent Cloudy Eye in Betta Fish?

Marble betta

One of the main ways to prevent cloudy eye disorder is maintaining the water quality and ensuring it remains healthy and stable. When the water quality is kept at the proper levels, 0 ppm for nitrite and ammonia, and 20 ppm for nitrates, your betta will be safe from the cloudy eye. To ensure this happens, follow the steps below.

A Regular Water Change

Regularly changing your tank’s water will keep the water quality at healthy levels. For smaller tanks, the water changes need to be larger and more frequent. Whereas, for larger tanks, you will only need to perform a 25% water change each week. 

Clean It Up

Maintain a clean tank. If you have a substrate, you should vacuum it regularly to remove feces and leftover food. Routinely clean the tank’s ornaments, including any silk plants.

Betta Fish Filter

A proper filtration system is a must for betta fish tanks. A betta filter should be able to process the water in your tank with adequate filtration rate and circulation. Change out the filter cartridges as needed.

Do not overstock your tank.

Overstocking betta fish tanks can lead to waste accumulation, eventually leading to poor water quality. 

Tanks smaller than 15 gallons will compromise your betta’s health. They can survive in the smaller tanks but will not remain healthy.

Quarantine All New Additions

Placing new fish or other tank additions, including plants and ornaments, into a separate quarantine tank for two weeks is essential to ensure there are no diseases or parasites the betta can be infected with.

Is Betta Fish Cloudy Eye Contagious?

Depending on the cause of the cloudy eye, betta cloudy eye can be contagious to other bettas. If parasites or bacterial infections cause betta cloudy eye, then it is contagious as long as the life cycle of the parasite or bacteria is not broken.

Is Cloudy Eye Fatal to Bettas?

Any illness that goes untreated in your betta fish can potentially prove to be fatal, although the cloudy eye is least likely to cause death. Your Betta will quickly recover as long as you adjust the water’s quality levels and treat your Betta fish. 

However, if the symptoms worsen or additional symptoms occur, there may not be a cloudy eye, and you will need to start investigating further. You can get a diagnosis if necessary, from your local aquatic center if this is the case. 

Summary

With rapid detection and action, cloudy eye betta is easily treated and should not prove fatal. Regular tank maintenance is a must for keeping the water quality at a healthy and safe level. 

Keep in mind that prevention is better than a cure. Be sure to quarantine any new betta or tank additions and regularly test your tank’s water to ensure it remains healthy. 

Good luck!

Article Sources:

  1. Parasitic Diseases of Fish [MerckvVetManual]
  2. Streptococcus, Eye Infections in Fish [Aquarium Pond Answers]

Betta Ammonia Poisoning: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Betta Fish Ammonia Poisoning

Ammonia poisoning is a silent and deadly disease that can affect your bettas, and if not caught in time, it can kill them. Typically, ammonia poisoning happens when you are setting up a new (non-established) tank. But it can also occur in established aquariums that have had their nitrogen cycling process interrupted.

Just like humans, excessive ammonia causes serious burns on a betta’s skin, eyes, fins, and gills.

No need to panic! With quick treatment, your betta fish usually recover well from this condition within a week.

Keep reading as we explain the nitrogen cycle, several different causes of betta ammonia poisoning, and the signs you need to look out for to keep your fish healthy and safe in this guide.

The Nitrogen Cycle Explained

The nitrogen cycle

In order to prevent and fight betta ammonia poisoning, you will need to understand more about the nitrogen cycle in an aquarium.

Simply put, the aquarium nitrogen cycle describes how toxic nitrogen compounds like fish waste and other decomposing organic matter in the water get degraded from ammonia to nitrites to nitrates.

The final nitrates are then either converted to free nitrogen gas and removed by way of regular water changes or taken up by aquarium plants and microorganisms (also known as beneficial bacteria).

Unlike the natural nitrogen cycle that occurs in large bodies of water, closed aquariums require their own nitrogen cycle, which must be carefully established and fostered.

What is a Safe Ammonia Level for Betta Fish?

What is a Safe Ammonia Level for Betta Fish

Ideally, the ammonia level in any aquarium should always be 0 ppm. In reality, it isn’t always practical because of the decomposition of biological waste, elevated ph levels, bacterial colonies dying, etc.

So, aside from saying 0 is the ideal number, what is practically safe?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t crystal clear. While some aquarists say it depends on what test kit you use. 

The readily available API Ammonia Test Kit, for example, shows a safe ammonia range for fish that falls between 0 ppm and 0.25 ppm. Another popular Ammonia Test Kit from Seachem, who has a reputation for being the most knowledgeable manufacturer on the market, has the next level of awareness from 0 to 0.05 ppm.

You may wonder why the Seachem Ammonia Alert requires action at such a lower ammonia level. Although there is no easy answer to this question, one thing is certain: knowing the toxicity of ammonia can help you understand the actual ammonia level in your tank.

What is Ammonia Poisoning (Toxicity) in Fish?

In a typical aquarium, the majority of ammonia is excreted by fish as a byproduct of protein metabolism, mainly through the gills and in small amounts in their urine or across other tissues. It can also be produced naturally from the breakdown of organic matter (OM) and uneaten food.

Ammonia exists in water in two chemical forms: un-ionized ammonia (NH3 or UIA) and ionized ammonia (NH4+). In most tests for ammonia, both forms are measured together, referred to as total ammonia nitrogen (TAN).

Since the ionized NH4+ doesn’t easily cross fish gills and has poor bioavailability, it’s basically harmless to fish or other aquatic organisms, whereas un-ionized NH3 can cross the gill membranes very easily and shift to ionized form (NH4+), causing cellular damage and death. 

So, the “free” or gaseous NH3 is the highly toxic form we worry about. The presence of as low as 0.02 – 0.05 ppm [1] of NH3 can be deadly to fish. 

Effects of pH and Temperature on Ammonia Toxicity
Photo: Virbac

Generally, these two ammonia forms exist at an equilibrium point that is influenced largely by water pH and temperature. As pH or temperature increases, the ratio of NH3 to NH4 + increases, meaning that ammonia becomes more toxic.

Several studies have found that the proportion of NH3 to NH4+ (or ammonia toxicity) is also in relation to the salinity of the water [2]. In some cases, making the water harder can reduce ammonia toxicity. That’s why saltwater fish are slightly more sensitive to ammonia toxicity than freshwater species. 

Back to the above question, you probably already know why the Seachem test kit warns at ammonia levels of 0.05ppm and less because unlike API Ammonia Test Kit tests the total ammonia nitrogen (TAN), it only measures the gaseous, un-ionized ammonia (NH3 or UIA).

Getting Accurate Ammonia Level Test Results

Although the Seachem is the only gas sensor test kit on the market that gives you an accurate reading of free ammonia (NH3 or UIA), it’s not exactly easy to use.

Author notes: It comes with a reagent that allows you to perform a total ammonia nitrogen (TAN) test, but it can be quite tedious and time-consuming.

Personally, I use the API ammonia liquid test kit, as it’s much easier and faster. But to get the most accurate ammonia level readings, I followed a step-by-step guide and Ammonia Toxicity Table developed by the University of Florida [3], which gives me peace of mind when I’ve gotten too busy to test.

Here is a step-by-step guide and an example of calculating un-ionized ammonia with the API ammonia test kit or other test kits that measure total ammonia nitrogen (TAN).

Temperature
pH 42.0(°F) 46.4 50.0 53.6 57.2 60.8 64.4 68.0 71.6 75.2 78.8 82.4 86.0 89.6
6(°C) 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32
7.0 .0013 .0016 .0018 .0022 .0025 .0029 .0034 .0039 .0046 .0052 .0060 .0069 .0080 .0093
7.2 .0021 .0025 .0029 .0034 .0040 .0046 .0054 .0062 .0072 .0083 .0096 .0110 .0126 .0150
7.4 .0034 .0040 .0046 .0054 .0063 .0073 .0085 .0098 .0114 .0131 .0150 .0173 .0198 .0236
7.6 .0053 .0063 .0073 .0086 .0100 .0116 .0134 .0155 .0179 .0206 .0236 .0271 .0310 .0369
7.8 .0084 .0099 .0116 .0135 .0157 .0182 .0211 .0244 .0281 .0322 .0370 .0423 .0482 .0572
8.0 .0133 .0156 .0182 .0212 .0247 .0286 .0330 .0381 .0438 .0502 .0574 .0654 .0743 .0877
8.2 .0210 .0245 .0286 .0332 .0385 .0445 .0514 .0590 .0676 .0772 .0880 .0998 .1129 .1322
8.4 .0328 .0383 .0445 .0517 .0597 .0688 .0790 .0904 .1031 .1171 .1326 .1495 .1678 .1948
8.6 .0510 .0593 .0688 .0795 .0914 .1048 .1197 .1361 .1541 .1737 .1950 .2178 .2422 .2768
8.8 .0785 .0909 .1048 .1204 .1376 .1566 .1773 .1998 .2241 .2500 .2774 .3062 .3362 .3776
9.0 .1190 .1368 .1565 .1782 .2018 .2273 .2546 .2836 .3140 .3456 .3783 .4116 .4453 .4902
9.2 .1763 .2008 .2273 .2558 .2861 .3180 .3512 .3855 .4204 .4557 .4909 .5258 .5599 .6038
9.4 .2533 .2847 .3180 .3526 .3884 .4249 .4618 .4985 .5348 .5702 .6045 .6373 .6685 .7072
9.6 .3496 .3868 .4249 .4633 .5016 .5394 .5762 .6117 .6456 .6777 .7078 .7358 .7617 .7929
9.8 .4600 .5000 .5394 .5778 .6147 .6499 .6831 .7140 .7428 .7692 .7933 .8153 .8351 .8585
10.0 .5745 .6131 .6498 .6844 .7166 .7463 .7735 .7983 .8207 .8408 .8588 .8749 .8892 .9058
10.2 .6815 .7152 .7463 .7746 .8003 .8234 .8441 .8625 .8788 .8933 .9060 .9173 .9271 .9389

Ammonia poisoning testing involves a little bit of science, but the greatest accuracy ensures the ammonia levels will not hurt your betta fish.

Betta Fish Ammonia Poisoning Symptoms

First things first, once your betta fish starts showing behaviors and symptoms of ammonia poisoning, the damaging process has begun already, which should be addressed as soon as possible.

Here is the list of symptoms:

Rapid Gill Movement

The most obvious sign of ammonia poisoning betta is rapid respiration (often near the surface). This effort is evident in the gill movement.

Purple or Red Gills

As mentioned, ammonia is primarily excreted across the gill membranes. Elevated ammonia will damage the very fine gill. As a result, the gills will turn purple or red in color, and they may begin to look inflamed and flared.

Red Streaks on Body and Fins

If the ammonia poisoning is not treated right away, fish start to concentrate ammonia in the blood, causing red streaks on betta’s fins and body.

betta ammonia poisoning vs VHSV

This can be mistaken for the bacterial disease VHSV [4] (short for Viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus), given the similar clinical signs. But they are quite different in color, with red or bleeding on ammonia poisoning betta, while in VHSV the color is more of a rusty brown. 

Lethargic and Loss of Appetite

As the betta’s gills are not functioning properly, it begins to lose its appetite and feel lethargic. Although, loss of appetite can result from various betta diseases.

Laying on the Tank Bottom

As ammonia poisoning progresses, the betta will start to lie on the bottom of the tank and look very weak.

What Causes Betta Ammonia Poisoning

what causes betta ammonia poisoning

Several factors can contribute to ammonia poisoning in your fish tank. Learning about these factors will help you practice preventative maintenance to keep your water conditions healthy.

A New Tank That Hasn’t Cycled Properly

Your fish tank is an ecosystem. When you first set up the aquarium, the ecosystem is rather sensitive. The essential bacteria needed to help break down the ammonia in your tank into less harmful compounds have not yet become fully established.

The tank’s cycling takes approximately 6 to 8 weeks for the bacteria to establish itself. During this cycle, you will most likely see ammonia spikes in the water until the bacteria have become established.

Build Up of Decaying Matter

By doing regular inspections of your tank, you will be able to spot any decaying matter that has the potential to cause ammonia poisoning. Things such as feces, rotten food, dead plants, and biological waste will cause the ammonia levels in your tank to rise, which can result in ammonia poisoning.

If your betta is part of a community tank, then while doing your tank inspection, be sure to look for sick or dead fish. Dead fish will produce high levels of ammonia when they begin to decay.

Overfeeding

Excess food will decompose in the tank, leading to ammonia levels rising quickly. It is best to feed your betta fish small amounts of food at a time.

Water Changed Infrequently

Regularly changing the water in your tank will dilute the ammonia buildup by replacing the unclean water with fresh, clean water. Smaller tanks will need to have the water changed out more often than larger tanks. 

To keep your fish healthy, your betta needs a filter in its tank, regardless of popular belief. The filter will help you regulate the ammonia levels.

Bacteria Colonies Die

Every tank should have a healthy bacteria colony. This colony helps to neutralize the ammonia buildup in your tank. However, if your filter stops working properly, that bacteria colony may start dying.

Treating your tank with bacteria-killing medications will also eliminate the good bacteria colony. When the bacteria colony in your tank starts dying off, the ammonia levels will increase, and ammonia poisoning will occur.

How To Treat Betta Ammonia Poisoning

treat ammonia poisoning in betta
Photo: edear10/Reddit

Once a high ammonia concentration has been detected, treatment of ammonia poisoning in betta must be done right away.

Water Changes

Firstly, you should go ahead and perform a 50% water change to lower the pH in the tank. Make sure the new water added is at the same temperature. 

To avoid harming your betta with temperature shock while performing the water change, you should ensure that the new water’s temperature matches that of the water to be replaced.

Ammonia Detoxifier

Adding an ammonia detoxifier to treat your tank is the quickest solution to getting your tank back to normal. It works as a natural ammonia filter that uses an enzyme reaction to convert NH3 to NH4+.

Ammonia detoxifiers reduce the harmful levels of ammonia in your tank rather than getting rid of them altogether. The detoxifiers will reduce the negative effect of the ammonia and bring the levels down to a normal, healthy level, which will benefit the good bacteria in your tank. 

Using an ammonia remover is especially helpful when used with a new tank. We recommend the API brand from Amazon. It’s less than $10 for the bottle and will last you a long time.

How To Prevent Ammonia Poisoning in Betta Fish

betta fish

Preventative maintenance is always better than reactive maintenance. Meaning, you should do whatever you can to prevent ammonia poisoning before it happens rather than needing to treat it after it happens. Here are suggestions for the best preventative maintenance.

Frequent Water Changes: One of the most practical tasks you can perform for your fish tank is frequent water changes. Not only will it help to keep ammonia levels low, but it will also keep the water clean and safe for your fish. 

Add Nitrifying Bacteria: The most important aspect of the nitrogen cycle in an aquarium is nitrifying bacteria. These bacteria help to convert NH3 or NH4+ into nitrite (NO2-) and then into nitrate (NO3-). API has a Quick Start Nitrifying Bacteria that is highly effective and only costs $15.

Add Ammonia Removal Inserts to Your Filter: One thing you can do to help prevent the buildup of harmful levels of ammonia in your tank is to add ammonia removal inserts to your current filter. As the water is filtered, the inserts will remove any traces of ammonia in the water. 

We recommend the AquaClear Ammonia Removal Inserts from Amazon. They are inexpensive, coming in at less than $10 for a three-pack.

Water Filters: Bettas may be a tough breed, but they have basic everyday requirements that need to be met, just like any other fish. Some of those needs are a heater and water filter in their tank. 

Don’t believe the myth that bettas can live in a fishbowl. They need at least a 15-gallon tank with a heater and a water filter. The filter will clean your betta’s tank while removing the ammonia buildup.

Frequent Tank Cleaning: Ammonia can be produced by decaying matter in your fish tanks, such as rotten food, fish waste, or plants. Regular tank cleaning and vacuuming of the substrate should eliminate any remaining debris from your tank.

Adding an Air stone: Air stones will help pump oxygen through your tank by creating flows of tiny bubbles that are then transported all over the tank oxygenating the water, which helps to disperse the ammonia that has begun to build up in your tank.

Air stones are not a necessary addition to your tank, but they are inexpensive to help keep your tank healthy. However, some bettas don’t particularly like them. You will need to test one in your tank to see if your bettas react positively to it. 

Do Not Overfeed Your Betta: Not only will there be leftover food, but the more your betta eats, the more waste it will produce, which adds to the ammonia buildup. 

Only feed your betta enough that they can eat all of it in less than two minutes. Any leftovers should be removed from the tank.

Buy a Reliable Test Kit: Once again, preventative maintenance can save you headaches later, as well as keep your fish healthy and safe. 

An ammonia test kit is a great way to keep track of the level of ammonia in your tank. With regular testing, you’ll know right away if the ammonia levels have begun to rise, and you can act accordingly to reduce the levels safely. 

Summary

Preventative maintenance is key in keeping your Bettas safe and healthy. Make sure you are doing your part by maintaining the tank, keeping it clean, and performing regular water testing and changes. 

We hope this article has given you everything you need to keep your bettas safe from ammonia poisoning.

Article Sources:

  1. Aquarium Water Quality: Nitrogen Cycle [Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services]
  2. Literature Review of Effects of Ammonia on Fish [Nature]
  3. Ammonia in Aquatic Systems [University of Florida]
  4. Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia [Lowa State University]

Anchor Worms in Betta Fish (Will They Kill My Fish?)

anchorworms on betta fish

Anchor worms in betta fish are less common than other parasites like Ich (aka white spot disease) and Velvet. They primarily affect goldfish and koi but can infect any freshwater fish or amphibians, like pet frogs and turtles, that don’t have proper quarantine protocols.

If you spot these macroscopic parasites on your betta fish, action must be taken immediately. The more time that passes without treatment, the harder it will be to remove them.

Keep reading as we talk about what is anchor worm and a few methods of removing them without harming your delicate finned friend.

What is Anchor Worm in Betta Fish?

anchor worm in betta fish

Anchor worms, scientifically known as Lernaea spp., are not actually worms but a group of parasitic copepod crustaceans that primarily infect a wide range of freshwater fish (100+ species), especially wild-caught and pond fish.

Because of its wide global distribution [1], more than a hundred Lernaea and Lernaea-like species have been identified. One of the most recognized Lernaea species, both in the aquarium hobby and in aquaculture, is L. cyprinacea, which is considered as a serious pest around the world.

anchorworm life cycle
Lernaea (anchorworm) life cycle. The entire life cycle may take from 18–25 days at approximately 25°C–30°C.
Credit: UF/IFAS Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory

As its relatives of crustaceans, such as crabs, lobsters, crayfish, krill, and shrimp, Lernaea species have a complex and multi-stage life cycle that can take up to 28 days to complete in tropical water. In code water, it could take up to a year. They don’t need an intermediary host, meaning they are able to swim from one fish to another.

Adult L. cyprinacea mate during the free-swimming stage (around 0.35″ in length [2]). After mating, the male dies, and the fertilized female burrows into the fish’s tissue through the scales, eventually using hook-like appendages to embed itself into the skin and muscle of the fish.

The long and slender “worm-like” growth that extends from the fish’s skin is actually the female’s egg sacs, hence its name.

Can Anchor Worms Kill my Betta Fish?

Anchor worms usually live on the skin, fins, gills, and oral cavity of the betta fish. They will enter the internal tissues after eating away fins and scales.

Although a small number of Lernaea isn’t deadly to betta fish, they might cause irritation to the betta fish, leading to inflammation and hemorrhage, ulceration, damaged fins, and severe secondary bacterial and fungal infections. These secondary infections can increase mortality rates in fish.

When larger numbers of Lernaea are present on the gill, they can interfere with the fish’s breathing, further increasing its mortality.

Symptoms of Anchor Worms in Betta Fish

symptoms of anchor worms in betta fish

In the copepodid stages of Lernaea, they are visible to the naked eye appearing as whitish-green, small, thin threads. The following symptoms and signs are typically seen:

  • Small, thin thread can be seen with the naked eye
  • Fish rubbing or scratching against substrate or tank decor
  • Localized red and skin irritations on the body
  • Ragged and inflamed fins
  • Tiny worms located in wounds
  • Lethargy, lack of movement

Causes of Anchor Worms in Betta Fish

The most common reason for anchor worms is not quarantining new fish before adding them to the aquarium.

The female is quite prolific, producing 250 juveniles (nauplii) every two weeks for up to 16 weeks [3] in warm water above 77° F (25°C).

When you add a new betta fish carrying one or more juveniles or even eggs to an aquarium, they will hatch and spread rapidly. All new additions to your aquarium, including fish, shrimps, snails, and plants, should be quarantined for four to six weeks to ensure they are parasite-free.

We should also mention that anchor worms can also be transferred from fish to fish with netting, filter media, etc., so it’s important to sterilize nets and other equipment after use on infected fish.

Diagnosing Anchor Worms in Betta Fish

Anchor Worms in Betta

You will generally be able to diagnose this condition visually because these external parasites will be attached themselves to your betta fish. 

If you are uncertain, take some clear pictures of the affected area and show them to your local aquatic veterinarian for a more accurate diagnosis under a microscope.

As mentioned, a betta fish with anchor worms will have one or more whitish-green threads measuring 0.4″-0.8″ and hanging from various parts of its body. These can be confused with algae, given their similar appearance. To diagnose this issue correctly, use a magnifying glass and shine a flashlight on the affected area.

Treatment

Since it can be relatively easy to identify this ailment yourself, the chances of recovery are high. However, varying suggestions are available on how to treat a betta fish that has been infested with anchor worms.

Regardless of which following method you choose; the best practice is to set up a hospital aquarium where you can treat them with chemical medications. More importantly, quarantining fish for more than seven days will break the life cycle of the anchor worm in the tank because larval stages cannot survive without a host for that amount of time.

Using Tweezers

Individual anchor worms can be removed by pulling them out from the fish using a clean pair of tweezers. However, you must carefully pull the entire parasite out, as they sometimes break off and leave the embedded head behind.

Once the anchor worm is out, antibiotics must be used on the infected area to prevent secondary bacterial infections. 

Manual removal is impractical on some sensitive areas such as gills and mouth. In addition, if the parasite has burrowed deeply into tissue, attempting to remove it may cause more trauma than leaving it in. In these cases, other treatments should be sought.

Salt Dip

Aquarium salt (NaCl) – definitely not table salt or Epsom salt, is a cheap, effective, and widely available treatment known to work well against bacteria, fungus, and external parasites. Please keep in mind that MUCH more salt is not safe for plants, snails, and catfish – another reason you should treat anchor worms in a hospital tank.

Also, salt is NOT meant to be a long-term treatment option, but rather it should only be used for the duration of time it takes to cure the infection.

It’s most commonly used in a 30-minute bath, starting with the lowest level (1 tsp per 5 gals) and gradually increasing the concentration if the anchor worms persist.

Sale
API AQUARIUM SALT Freshwater Aquarium Salt...
  • Contains one (1) API AQUARIUM SALT Freshwater Aquarium Salt 67-Ounce Box
  • Promotes fish health and disease recovery with increased electrolytes
  • Improves respiration for fish in freshwater aquariums
  • Made from evaporated sea water for all-natural results
  • Use when changing water, when setting up a new freshwater aquarium and when treating fish disease

Chemical Treatments

Because the females are more tolerant of salt, chemical treatments are more effective in breaking the life cycle in some cases. Popular options include:

Potassium permanganate

Potassium permanganate (PP) is a strong oxidizing agent with some anti-parasitic properties. A 30-minute dip in potassium permanganate at a concentration of 2 mg/L will kill larvae or eggs, but adults may survive.

Diflubenzuron or Dimilin

Diflubenzuron, also known as dimilin, is a chiton inhibitor that can kill larvae and molting adults. Usually available in liquid form, Diflubenzuron should be administered at a concentration of 0.066 mg/L.

SOBAKEN Dimilin-X Koi & Goldfish Treatmen 1/2...
  • Dimilin -X Koi & Goldfish Treatment 1/2 gallon Anchor Worm Fish Lice Flukes diflubenzuron

Author notes: Do NOT use household insecticides as they have a special chemical class of active ingredients, pyrethroids, which are toxic to fish.

Copper

If you have treated Velvet or ich before, you may have copper medication lying around. Copper sulfate is an alternative anchor worm treatment, but it’s unsafe when your GH is lower than 6, as with many betta tanks.

It’s best to raise the GH to 6 or above by adding Tums tablets and then target anchor worms with the copper sulfate.

When treating anchor worms with a salt or chemical dip, observe the betta fish closely; if there are any signs of distress, immediately remove it from the dip. An air stone should be used to increase the oxygen levels during the dip.

Always put these chemicals away from your pets (and kids!), and wear gloves when handling them.

Afterward, the main aquarium should be sanitized, and all decorations should be disinfected in an effort to remove any remaining eggs or larvae before returning the betta fish back.

How to Prevent Ich Anchor Worms in Betta Fish

Anchor worm is an opportunistic parasite that can make its way into the betta fish tank through water changes, plants, or décor. If you detect the parasite early, you’re more likely to experience a successful outcome. 

The best way to prevent anchor worms is to quarantine any new additions to your aquarium for 30 to 60 days [x].

Closing Thoughts

Fortunately, anchor worm infection is one of the relatively easy betta fish diseases to treat. Although anchor worms are often quite visible, it’s best to get a proper diagnosis before treating the condition using any of the above methods.

Be passionate about quarantining new arrivals, no matter where you get them from.

Good luck, and stay vigilant for anchor worms! A clean tank is a happy tank. 🙂

Article Sources:

  1. Lernaea cyprinacea, Anchor-worm copepod parasite [Marine Invasions Research]
  2. Lernaea cyprinacea [University of Michigan]
  3. Lernaea (Anchorworm) Infestations in Fish [University of Florida]
  4. Anchor Worms [Aquarium Science]
  5. Fish Baths, Dips, Swabs; Including Coral; For Disease, Ammonia, Treatment [Aquarium Answers, Pond]

Columnaris in Betta Fish (Symptoms, Causes & Treatment)

Columnaris Betta

Known by a number of names, columnaris is unfortunately very common among many different types of fish. If you own one or several betta fish, you will want to keep in mind the prevalence of this disease among them. This is one disease that can be absolutely devastating to them on a variety of levels.

At the same time, treating columnaris betta is not impossible by any means. If you understand the symptoms and the different treatment options available, columnaris in Bettas can often be stopped before it causes too much damage. There are also preventative measures that can dramatically decrease the likelihood of columnaris ever occurring.

What Is Columnaris in Betta Fish?

Photo: Egggamethrowaway/Reddit

As mentioned before, columnaris is known by several different names. Some refer to it as the cotton wool disease. Others call it saddleback disease. It is also sometimes known as mouth rot or mouth fungus. However, it is NOT a fungal infection. It is, in fact, a bacterial infection that can be external or internal. It can also be either chronic or acute.

Why is it mistaken for a fungal infection? This is likely due to the presence of fungus-like lesions which can appear on your betta fish.

Some even refer to the infection as guppy disease (Tetrahymena spp.), given its white spots or patches on the head, fins, or gills seen in infected guppies.

However, columnaris is not just limited to these two species; it’s ubiquitous in most freshwater, both in aquariums and in the wild, particularly livebearers and catfish.

Regardless of the descriptive names, Flavobacterium columnare (formerly Flexibacter columnare ) is the causative agent responsible for Columnaris disease in betta fish, as well as other aquarium inhabitants.

This aerobic, opportunistic, Gram-negative bacterium can have a very high mortality rate, between 60 to 90% [1], especially in your young fish.

Like many other bacterial infections in bettas, Columnaris is highly contagious [2] that can be spread from fish to fish, infected equipment and water, and even food.

Research shows that columnaris can persist in water for long periods of time, up to 32 days [3], depending on the water conditions. High levels of hardness and dissolved organic compounds can increase the survival rate of columnaris.

Causes of Columnaris in Betta

Believe it or not, many diseases causing bacteria and parasites exist in virtually every aquarium, but they remain low in numbers and often don’t cause any harm. These become troublesome when the environment changes or your betta fish’s immune systems are not functioning properly.

The name of the game with all betta fish diseases ultimately comes down to stress. There are other ways that betta fish can catch this infection. However, you will still notice stress is a consistent factor among many of the most common columnaris bacteria causes:

  • Injuries
  • Poor water quality
  • Poor diet
  • Low dissolved oxygen
  • High ammonia
  • Inadequate filtration
  • Overcrowding in a female betta sorority tank
  • Too much light

Symptoms Of Columnaris in Bettas

As we mentioned earlier in this article, the presence of fluffy white spots or grayish spots or skin patches is the most visibly distinctive symptom of columnaris. If your betta fish has bright, beautiful colors, as is commonly the case, you should pay attention to areas that are paler in appearance. As time goes on, these spots can be yellow or brown.

Beyond this, there are a few more symptoms you are going to want to look out for:

Infected Gills

Gilllesions in a shubunkin (Carassius auratus) (operculum removed) caused by F. columnare
Gilllesions in a shubunkin (Carassius auratus) (operculum removed) caused by F. columnare. [Credit: BMC]

Often, Columnaris can attack your betta’s gill, resulting in the disintegration and discoloration of your betta’s gills. The gills can become light or dark brown as time passes.

When the Columnaris disease spreads quickly throughout the gill lamellae, your betta fish may die without any moldy or cottony lesions.

Labored Breathing

When the grill is damaged, it can cause a lack of oxygen. So, you will likely notice your betta breathing more rapidly than usual, and the fish might also gasp for breath at the water’s surface.

Skin Lesions & Ulcerations

Skin ulcerationin a minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus) caused by F. columnare
Skin ulcerationin a minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus) caused by F. columnare (Credit: BMC)

Look for lesions that go all the way down the sides (near the dorsal fin) of your betta that resemble a white or grey “saddleback,” where the name saddleback disease comes from.

Quite often, these skin lesions may also be tinged red around the edgesWhen left untreated, your fish are likely to develop ulcers. Deeper ulcers are no joke — they can quickly result in major tissue loss and threaten the life of the betta.

Necrosis 

As the infection worsens, the fish’s fins and gills can exhibit necrosis of cells and living tissue, which in turn will give the typical fin rot symptoms. Cottony-looking accumulations of bacteria usually accompany the frayed fins.

Cotton Mouth

Cotton Mouth in betta

“Cotton mouth” is an indicator of columnaris occasionally, but it’s more likely associated with a fungal infection (Saprolegnia). In this instance, you will notice that your betta is displaying white cotton-like growth on the mouth.

Loss of Appetite

It is also very possible that if your betta has discomfort/infection around its mouth area, it isn’t going to be eating. A diminished appetite is definitely something to look for. Fish may also become stressed and lethargic.

Diagnosing

The first step in treating columnaris in betta fish is differentiating Columnaris disease from other infections, fungus in particular. To do so, you may take your sick betta to the veterinarian for a correct diagnosis, as it’s hard to tell columnaris from fungus without a microscope.

If you don’t have access to a veterinarian specializing in fish, you can use a magnifying glass instead.

Columnaris Vs. Fungus in Betta Fish

Saprolegnia (fungus)

Upon closer inspection, you might notice the thin, hair-like structures on fish with Saprolegnia (referred to as fungus). These look similar to wood-decaying fungi in forests as well as wood in buildings. However, these structures are absent with Columnaris.

Another way to tell Fungus (Saprolegnia) and Columnaris apart is that the former usually grows on dead tissue. On the other hand, Columnaris requires living tissue to living and prosper. 

You may need to be a bit of a detective. Treating Columnaris as fungus may have negative consequences, including death.

Treatment

Before we learn more about columnaris treatment, we should emphasize the morphological and biochemical characteristics of F. columnare.

CharacteristicDescription
Growth conditionStrictly aerobic
Gram-stainGram-negative
MorphologyLong, slender gliding rods
CapsuleDescribed to be absent or present depending on the adopted strain
H2S-productionPresent
Degradation of crystalline celluloseAbsent
Table: BMC

Unlike many other facultative anaerobes like Saprolegnia (water mold), Aeromonas, Vibrio, and Edwardsiella, which can be controlled by giving additional oxygen support, Flavobacterium columnare is a strictly aerobic bacteria that requires oxygen to survive.

F. columnare (Columnaris) is also a nonhalophilic bacterium, meaning it can’t live in saltwater conditions. Therefore, salt is a 100% bulletproof solution.

Another quite important biochemical characteristic of F. columnare is its Gram-negative bacteria (GNB). That’s why Gram-positive antibiotics like API Melafix, Maracyn (Erythromycin), or Tetracycline are generally ineffective against a true Columnaris infection.

Lastly, this is an opportunistic warm water pathogen. According to AAP [4], Columnaris is most virulent between 85 F to 90 F. Therefore, raising your water temperature – a practical method to treat parasites – won’t affect columnaris in any way.

Now we have a much better understanding of columnaris, let’s move on to the treatment.

Treating bacterial infection in betta fish can be tricky, especially if you’re a first-time fish owner. Here’s a step-by-step guide with the medications and steps necessary to treat columnaris in betta fish.

Step 1: Do You Have a Quarantine Tank?

No matter your aquarium, you need a quarantine tank. But you may say, “I don’t need a separate hospital tank because there is only one fish in the aquarium, and he all look healthy.”

The reason is because most bacteria are commensal with healthy fish, meaning they live in and on the fish without causing any problems. 

However, when fish are stressed – from shipping, poor water quality, etc. – their immune system can become weakened, which allows the bacteria to cause disease. Without the proper quarantine, columnaris can enter your main tank before you can detect it. Everything in the tank can be infected.

Second, we dose the medication based on the volume of the tank, and a 10-gallon smaller, bare tank is going to require a lower dose than, say, a 20-gallon tank. Money saved!

Most new fish keepers think it’s too much of a hassle to set up a quarantine tank, but when you consider the convenience of diagnosing and treatment and the potential costs of not doing it in the long run, the decision should be a no-brainer.

Also, ensure the hospital tank is far away from your main tank and never share the same equipment between the two, such as nets, siphons, or buckets.

Author notes: If columnaris has already infected your aquarium, we recommend treating the entire tank with medication.

Step 2: Check Your Water Parameters

The obvious next step is to check the water parameters. Strictly follow the parameters below. Remember, columnaris is an opportunistic bacterium that will take advantage of any form of stress.

  • Water temperature: under 75 °F (24°C) (only during treatment)
  • pH: 6.8 – 7.5
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm 
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm 
  • Nitrate: Less than 30 ppm
  • KH: 80-120 ppm
  • GH: 50-130 ppm

Step 3: Aquarium Salt Bath

We love salt (NaCl) because it’s cheap, safe, highly effective, readily available, and never expires. Moreover, this useful remedy can be used in different concentrations depending on your needs.

Sale
API AQUARIUM SALT Freshwater Aquarium Salt...
  • Contains one (1) API AQUARIUM SALT Freshwater Aquarium Salt 67-Ounce Box
  • Promotes fish health and disease recovery with increased electrolytes
  • Improves respiration for fish in freshwater aquariums
  • Made from evaporated sea water for all-natural results
  • Use when changing water, when setting up a new freshwater aquarium and when treating fish disease

To fight a mild columnaris infection, dissolve 1 teaspoon of aquarium salt per 5 gallons of water in a cup and use it to fill your quarantine tank. Then add your betta fish and let your betta soak in this solution for 15-20 minutes a day.

Repeat this process for 4-5 days. Try increasing the concentration to 1 teaspoon salt per 3 gallons (or higher) of water if there’s no improvement.

CAUTION: if your betta is already weak and stressed, the salt may be too much for him to handle. Make sure you watch him carefully during treatment. Salt can kill your betta fish by dehydration.

Step 4: Treat with Antibiotics

When salt baths have no effect, it’s time to bring out the big gun- a strong Methylene Blue & Potassium Permanganate bath.

When the Columnaris enter the bloodstream through the abraded skin or gills, they will cause deadly systemic infections faster without few other symptoms than if they were present externally on the skin.

In these cases, Methylene Blue (methylthioninium chloride) or Potassium Permanganate bath is an effective solution. 

DO NOT use Potassium Permanganate (PP) if your betta fish has ulcerations. Also, DO NOT confuse Methylene Blue with Malachite Green. 

Methylene Blue comes in both liquid and powder form, Kordon Methylene Blue is one of the most popular medications, and it is available in most pet stores. 

To use Methylene Blue, follow these steps:

  1. Clean the hospital tank and remove any chemical filtration and UV sterilizers.
  2. Do 50% water changes and replace the filter carbon before each treatment.
  3. Dose 1 teaspoon (2.303% solution) per 5 gallons (double dose).
  4. Place the fish in this solution for 30 minutes (It’s important to keep the water in a warm area, sudden temperature changes can stress the fish.)
  5. Treatment should continue every other day for 10 days.

Methylene Blue can be used with salts to make a more effective columnaris betta treatment. Personally, I would use 1/4 teaspoon of salts per gallon.

How to Prevent Columnaris in Betta fish?

Going through some of the worst offenders for betta fish diseases columnaris, we can see that many of them are preventable on your end.

This extends to ensuring your tank is cleaned and well-maintained at all times. Giving your betta a good diet is also a sure way to keep them from fostering favorable infection conditions.

Checking on their stress levels and ensuring new fish are always quarantined after being brought home are great ways to lower the possibility of ever having to worry about any of this.

Final Thoughts

Cotton wool disease or columnaris disease is a serious and contagious bacterial infection that can occur in betta fish. If left untreated, columnaris can be fatal, but it is treatable if you catch it early enough. 

At the end of the day, your best bet for dealing with Columnaris outbreaks is to prevent them entirely. Pay attention to your aquarium conditions and the overall health of your betta fish.

If columnaris does occur, treat it swiftly and with the correct medication before it becomes fatal. Good luck!

Article Sources:

  1. Columnaris Disease [University of Arkansas]
  2. Flavobacterium columnare/Myxobolus tilapiae Concurrent Infection in the Earthen Pond Reared Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) during the Early Summer [Interdisciplinary Bio Central]
  3. Columnaris [Wikipedia]
  4. FISH COLUMNARIS | Fungus & Saprolegnia | Treatment & Prevention [AAP]

Velvet In Bettas 101 (Symptoms, Cause & Treatment)

Velvet In Bettas

Velvet disease is a very common disease that aquarium fishes suffer from. As such, all aquarium owners should know how to treat it.

Often referred to as gold-dust disease or rust disease, it is caused by a group of microscopic parasitic dinoflagellates that are present in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. In this article, we will be taking a closer look at what betta velvet disease really is and what you can do to treat it. 

So, without further chit-chat, let’s get straight to the good stuff.  

What Is Velvet Disease in Betta Fish?

velvet on betta fish

Velvet disease is caused by Piscinoodinium spp. in freshwater fish and Amyloodinium ocellatum in marine fish.

The genus Piscinoodinium, formerly known as Oödinium [Westerfield, 1995], is a tiny, single-celled organism that can move around by whip-like flagella on its well-developed undulating membrane. The two species of Piscinoodinium that impact betta fish are P. limneticum and P. pillulare; the former was identified from a North American aquarium fish and the latter from a European aquarium fish [1].

Both “ich” (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis) and Velvet disease (Piscinoodinium spp.) are protozoan parasites; however, the difference between them is that Piscinoodinium has chloroplasts to produce nutrients. Thus, they are sometimes classified as algae.

While they have a similar life cycle that can be divided into three major stages including:

  1. Feeding stage (on-fish): The trophont grows root-like structures called rhizoids into the betta fish’s skin, burrows under the epithelium, and absorbs nutrients, resulting in your fish’s skin or gill peeling. This stage usually lasts around 6 days at tropical temperatures.
  2. Reproducing stage: When the trophont matures, it stops feeding, drops off the fish skin, and becomes a tomont. Meanwhile, it secretes a jelly-like cyst that allows it to stick to any surface in the aquarium. Then it begins to reproduce, dividing into as many as 256 [2] free-living tomites within a single cyst in a day. 
  3. Free-swimming stage: Tomites swim around in search of a fish host, using the energy they’ve gathered from photosynthesis to survive in the water. Once an adolescent tomite finds a host fish, it attaches itself, consuming the fish’s cells until it reaches maturity (with only 3 days) and detaches to become a free-swimming theront with the tomont cyst once more. A tomite must attach to a host within 24–48 hours or die at warmer water temperatures.

Learning about the life cycle of Velvet disease is key to understanding how to treat it, including the treatment duration and repetition. We’ll get into that in a bit.

Life cycle of Ich
Credit: UF/IFAS

Like the well-known parasite, ich, the fairly complex life cycle [3] of Piscinoodinium makes Velvet disease difficult to treat. If not diagnosed and treated correctly and quickly, it can very quickly kill your betta fish.

However, there is nothing to panic about, as this illness can be treated if it’s caught early. Therefore, we suggest reading the next following sections carefully. 

As previously mentioned, it is caused by a parasite called Oodinium, which latches onto the fins, gill, or the body of bettas and feeds on the nutrients present inside them. This causes the Bettas to lose their majestic color, and they are further dulled by a gold-like coating all over their bodies. 

Velvet affects all kinds of fishes, but bettas are usually more susceptible to it. Certain conditions may put your bettas at a higher risk of catching velvet, including sudden shifts in water temperature, poor water quality, and a dirty tank. 

However, there is nothing to panic about as this illness can be treated if it’s caught early. Therefore, we suggest reading the next following sections carefully. 

Signs and Symptoms of Velvet in Betta Fish

Symptoms Of Velvet In Bettas

As the name suggests, the most obvious physical sign of gold-dust disease is a “rust” or “gold dust” coating all over the body of your betta fish. That’s the good news because there are rarely other infections that cause such a distinctive sign.

Depending on which stage of the Velvet disease life cycle your betta fish is in, you may also experience other symptoms.

Symptoms During Early Stages of Velvet Disease

During the feeding stages, one of the earliest symptoms you’ll notice in your bettas is that they will start behaving differently.

They will often scratch their bodies against the objects in the tank because the velvet-causing parasite irritates their skinThis behavior is commonly referred to as “fish flashing.”

The feeding stage of Velvet disease is visible to the naked eye as the yellow or golden colored spots or film on the betta fish’s body, gills, and fins, which are caused by the photosynthetic pigments inside the Piscinoodinium.

Symptoms During Advanced Stages of Velvet Disease

Both tomont and tomites can’t be seen with the naked eye during reproducing and free swimming stages, but the respiratory clinical signs may be observed.

At this stage, Velvet disease will become more serious if left untreated as the parasite begins to damage your betta fish’s skin and gills, resulting in clamped fins and labored breathing. The lack of oxygen may also lead to lethargy

In some unfortunate cases, your betta’s skin may peel off or suddenly die.

Diagnosis of Velvet in Bettas 

Velvet In Bettas

During the early stage, these whitish or yellow pustules are much finer than the white spots seen in Ich, which can sometimes be difficult to notice.

When you find your betta fish “flashing,” as part of your fish’s exam, I recommend shining a flashlight on the fish in a dark room so that you can observe traces of Velvet disease in greater detail.

Causes of Velvet in Bettas

Virtually any parasite infestation can be traced to an incomplete quarantine protocol, which should always be done before introducing any new fish into your aquarium. Even if you purchased a betta from the store, it is best to keep it in quarantine for at least 4-6 weeks, just to be sure.

Other potential causes may include:

  • Using infected aquarium equipment between tanks
  • Using infected filter media or décor between tanks
  • A fish bag may have tomonts attached to them

Treatment of Velvet in Betta Fish

Velvet Disease in Betta Fish

Fortunately, Betta Velvet is not always fatal if you catch your little guy in the right stage of Velvet disease.

Many fish owners think that Velvet disease is much easier to treat during the feeding stage because it is visible, but the truth is, only the free-swimming stage can be treated with medication.

Initially, the trophont is protected by the epithelial tissue and mucus of its host. During the tomont (reproducing) stage, the gelatinous coating of the tomont is impermeable to medications. However, the free-swimming stage has no such protection and is highly susceptible to chemical treatment.

On the other hand, water temperature greatly impacts its life cycle, where it will speed up the Velvet life cycle in warmer water and slow it down in colder water.

Once other diseases are ruled out, and Velvet is positively identified, take the following treatments:

Increase Water Temperature

If you catch your bettas with velvet disease in the early stages, we recommend slowly raising the temperature of the aquarium to 82°F to quicken the Velvet life cycle. Be aware that this method is not practical for other fish in your betta tank as it can cause stress.

Controlling Light Can Help

Since Piscinoodinium can use its chloroplasts to photosynthesize, controlling the amount of light can help reduce the growth of Piscinoodinium.

Copper Sulfate for Betta Velvet Disease

Copper sulfate (CuSO4) is the most effective chemical medication used in the treatment of parasitic infections like Ich and Velvet.

However, maintaining the optimal level of copper sulfate in the aquarium can be a little tough as it dissolves quickly. It’s also toxic to invertebrates and can be difficult to purge from the tank, so it’s best to move the affected betta to a separate quarantine tank.

copper test kit is essential for anyone using copper for treatment. Also, follow the instructions on the label carefully and monitor your betta’s behavior every day.

Malachite Green For Velvet in Bettas

In severe cases, you might have to use malachite green to treat velvet in your bettas. 

Malachite green has been used as an anti-parasitic and anti-fungal agent to treat external parasites and egg fungus, particularly when concentrated and combined with formaldehyde.

Like copper sulfate, it’s toxic to invertebrates, so be sure to remove any live plants or snails before treatment. This chemistry is significantly stronger and must be used with caution.

Add Aquarium Salt

Lastly, if you catch your bettas with velvet disease, add salt to the aquarium. Again, don’t add it too quickly. Instead, take some water out of the aquarium, add the salt, and then pour the water back in. 

Ideally, you should add one teaspoon of salt for every gallon of water in your aquarium. To avoid accidentally killing your fish through shock, make sure you add the salt over 4 hours.  

If you’ve tried the above measures and they don’t work. Furthermore, your little guy is showing the severe-phase symptoms of velvet; you may need to use stronger medication. The main two are copper sulfate and malachite green. A quarantine tank is a must for anyone who plans on using these methods.

Prevention & Quarantine

The best method of treating Velvet disease is to prevent it from happening in the first place. This is why betta owners should always quarantine new fish, invertebrates, decorations, and plants for at least a month before introducing them into the main aquarium. 

By quarantining, you can ensure that any Velvet or other parasites your new fish may have doesn’t spread to the rest of your tank. During this period, keep a close eye on your new fish and check them for any disease.

Beyond that, be sure to maintain a healthy aquarium. Perform regular water changes, feed an appropriate diet, and check in your betta fish tank on a regular basis.

Final Thoughts

So, that was pretty much everything you needed to know about the velvet disease in bettas. 

We hope you now have a good idea about the entire process of treating this disease. Set up a separate quarantine tank when using copper and malachite green. Don’t risk the lives of your invertebrates and plants.

Remember, prevention is better than cure; it is critical to quarantine new arrivals and keep your aquarium water healthy. Velvet diseases can be a nasty thing to deal with, but with the right knowledge, you can keep it at bay. 

On that note, let’s call it a day. Until next time, see you soon with another interesting guide!

Article Sources:

  1. Levy MG, Litaker RW, Goldstein RJ, Dykstra MJ, Vandersea MW, Noga EJ. Piscinoodinium, a fish-ectoparasitic dinoflagellate. J Parasitol. 2007 Oct;
  2. Dinospore: Parasitic Protozoa (Second Edition) [ScienceDirect]
  3. Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (White Spot) Infections in Fish [University of Florida]
  4. FRESHWATER VELVET – (Piscinoodinium pillulare) & COSTIA (Ichtyobodo Necatrix) [Aquarium Pond Answers]

Clamped Fins on Betta (Symptoms, Causes & Treatments)

Clamped Fins in Bettas

A stressed pet may cause even more stress to its owner.

After all, your pets cannot express how they are feeling and what is bothering them. However, many pet owners, including fish keepers, develop strong bonds with their precious companions and can often tell if they are under stress.

At the same time, there are a few sure signs that indicate your betta fish needs extra care and attention — and clamped fins are one of them. So, if your betta has clamped fins in your aquarium, it is perhaps time to read this guide and find out what is bothering them.

What Do Clamped Fins on a Betta look like?

Clamped Fins on Betta

Strictly speaking, clamped fins on a betta are a symptom of underlying diseases or poor tank conditions. When this happens, the mesmerizing, fluttering fins that make a betta fish so attractive clamp up and may curl towards its body without fanning them out. 

One aquarist puts it interestingly, pointing out how clamped fins may look like they have been dipped in oil and made to stick together.

Symptoms of Clamped Fins on Betta Fish

Clamped fins is associated with various forms of underlying health issue like bacterial infection, parasite infestation, or poor water quality.

Depending on the specific cause of clamped fins on a betta fish, you may also see a variety of other physical signs of illness.

CausesSigns & Symptoms
Ammonia PoisoningGasping at the top of the water
Laying at the bottom with clamped fins
Reddened small patches on the body
Poor appetite
Increased mucus production
Inflamed gills (red or purple)
Lethargy
Popeye DiseaseLarge protruding eyes (one or both)
Stretching of the eye socket
Red spot in the eyeball
Rupture of the eyeball
Cloudy eyes
Swollen body
Behavior Changes
Clamped fins
Ich (White Spot Disease)Small white spots on the skin or fins
Scratching against objects due to irritated skin (fish flashing)
Scale loss
Rapid respiration
Gasping at the water’s surface
Clamped fins
Lethargy
One or more fish die suddenly
Velvet DiseaseA velvety film with small yellowish or pale spots on the body.
Scratching against objects due to irritated skin
Clamped fins
Rapid respiration & labored breath
Lethargy
Loss of appetite
The skin may start to peel off during the advanced stages

Causes & Treatments of Clamped Fins on Betta

Clamped fins on betta fish may be caused by one or more of the following:

Ammonia Poisoning

Ammonia Poisoning

Ammonia (NH3) is a highly toxic nitrogenous waste in a betta fish tank, which commonly occurs in a newly set up aquarium that doesn’t have enough beneficial bacteria to remove the ammonia immediately.

In a “mature” aquarium, the ammonia level should always be at 0 ppm. When ammonia levels rise, ammonia burn can appear, which causes damage to the nervous system and the organs of a betta fish and will eventually kill your fish if left untreated.

Causes

There are many factors that can result in elevated ammonia in an aquarium, including:

  • Using untreated tap water
  • Decaying organic matter
  • Bacteria biomass production
  • Overfeeding
  • Dead fish

Treatment

High ammonia levels (> 1 ppm) with a high pH (> 7) are no joke; you must act immediately to save your betta fish’s life!

The first step is to perform a large water change of about 50%. Make sure the new water has the same temperature as the aquarium. In some cases, you may need Ammonia Detoxifier to neutralize the ammonia.

Popeye Disease (Exophthalmia)

Popeye Disease (Exophthalmia)

Although not technically a disease, popeye disease (scientific name: exophthalmia) is a condition where the betta’s eye(s) swells up or protrudes from the socket. The fish’s eyes may also appear cloudy in some cases.

Be aware that some varieties naturally have bulging eyes; Make sure to research the kind of betta you have to make a correct diagnosis.

Causes

This disease is easy to prevent but difficult to treat. It is commonly caused by a bacterial infection behind the eye; other issues like poor water quality or injury can be the root cause as well.

  • Injury: The most common cause of pop eye in betta fish is an injury, especially if only a single eye is affected. This is particularly true when you have two male bettas in the same tank.
  • An infection: This is often seen in bilateral popeye. Infection can have many sources, such as bacteria, fungi, or parasites. Kidney disease or failure can also lead to popeye.
  • Poor water quality: Popeye can also be the result of poor water quality.

Treatment

Determining the underlying cause is the most important step for treatment to be successful.

Unilateral popeye that is caused by injury will go away as it heals. But you must keep a close watch on your fish during this time, as secondary infection can occur and lead to blindness in the affected eye.

If the cause is an infection, broad-spectrum antibiotics can help treat the condition. Moving the affected fish to a separate quarantine tank with a higher water temperature is also recommended.

Ich (White Spot Disease)

Ich (White Spot Disease)

Ich, also known as white spot disease, is one of the most common aquarium parasites. The nasty Ichthyopthirius multifiliis appears as small white capsules on the body, fins, and gills of the betta, and it can become fatal if left untreated.

Cases

  • Failure to quarantine new fish
  • Using infected aquarium equipment or décor
  • Ich tomonts attached to a fish bag and live plants

Treatment

Once a correct diagnosis is made, you can start the treatment. Many medications are available for treating Ich, but based on my experience, the safest and most effective medication is Hikari Ich-X. I never had problems using it with catfish (even scaleless ones), shrimp, snails, and live plants. Additionally, using an airstone can also help speed up the recovery.

Velvet Disease

Velvet Disease

Velvet disease (Piscinoodinium pillulare) is another parasite infection that betta fish are prone to, which appears as golden or yellowish-brown dust on the body and fins of the fish. This dinoflagellate parasite can kill your fish very quickly when left untreated.

Causes

Similarly, failure to quarantine new fish and using infected aquarium equipment and decor are the most common causes of velvet disease.

Treatment

Salt baths and copper sulfate (CuSO4) are the most effective velvet treatments but must be taken with extreme caution. Increasing the water temperature can shorten the parasite’s life cycle and helps cure the fish faster. Additionally, lowering the lights will help reduce the growth of Piscinoodinium as it can photosynthesize, like plankton.

Genetics And Old Age

Generally, when betta fish get older, their appearance deteriorates as they lose their sheen and their fins curl up. Considering how betta fish have a life expectancy of about two to four years, it is normal for their fins to twist or fray around the ends as they approach this age. 

Curled fins may also be a result of a genetic anomaly. And just as you cannot undo the wear of old age, betta fish that are genetically predisposed to curled fins cannot be cured, nor can you reverse these genetic conditions. 

How to Prevent Clamped Fins on Betta?

As with most better fish diseases, the best method of treating clamped fins is to keep any injuries or infections out of your aquarium in the first place.

Stress

Any aquarist knows that stress cuts short the lifespan of a fish. And although Betta fish are generally considered low-maintenance, they may get stressed out for a host of reasons, not limited to small tanks and incompatible tank mates. 

Poor Water Quality

Pristine waters and proper tank parameters are essential to ensure that your betta fish lives a long and healthy life. Apart from a broken filtration system and inappropriate water temperatures, irregular water changes may result in poor water quality, which may leave the fish stressed. 

Testing The Water Parameters

Maintaining suitable tank conditions and frequently testing the water may help avoid any instances of clamped or curled fins. 

The best way to keep your Betta fish safe from these toxic compounds is by changing the water regularly and avoiding overfeeding. Additionally, you should introduce a biofilter to the tank and test the water weekly to ensure that these water parameters are at optimal levels. 

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Calm Down a Stressed Betta Fish 

Betta fish are an aggressive species that will readily attack one of their own if kept in the same tank. At the same time, they are bad swimmers that cannot outrun their bullies. As a result, you may want to research extensively before introducing a new tankmate. 

Anyhow, Betta fish are unlikely to get lonely and may live by themselves — provided that they have enough space to swim around and explore. That said, you should ideally put a single fish in a 15-gallon tank with plenty of room to swim and accessories to hide behind. 

Final Thoughts 

As they say, “prevention is better than cure,” — and this definitely holds water for a fish like a betta that is prone to curled fins when put under stressful situations.

In fact, many beginner fish owners have the misconception that betta fish can live happily in small tanks. And so, they force the fish to live in closed, ammonia-filled dirty surroundings — which can stress out anyone, not just your fish.

That said, clamped fins are not a problem by themselves. On the flipside, they may be a sign of an underlying problem that you have to find out with a little bit of empathy and a lot of research!

18 Betta Fish Diseases and Disorders (With Pictures): Prevention and Treatment

betta fish diseases

Bettas are one of the most popular freshwater fish and are beloved by many aquarium hobbyists, especially novice fish owners.

Unfortunately, they don’t seem to live very long and are also prone to various diseases and disorders that can significantly reduce their expected lifespan.

The problem is that it’s not easy to catch and treat a sick betta fish if you’re new to aquariums or have never seen the illness before.

Not sure what to look out for? Read on and learn about common disorders and diseases in betta fish. We’ll help you spot the symptoms of different infections and suggest treatments to help your fishy friend stay healthy and happy.

Parasites

Nothing is more exciting than bringing your betta fish from the pet store. However, it’s the highest risk time at this point, as most parasites can travel and enter the aquarium from many outside sources.

Just like humans, a low level of parasites can be present in healthy bettas at all times, but their immune systems can keep them in check.

When a fish experience stress from various sources, including capture, shipping, poor water quality, injuries, or poor diet, the immune system becomes compromised, and parasites can quickly overpopulate in the fish’s body.

There are many different parasites that can affect your betta fish:

Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, aka White Spots on Betta Fish

Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, aka White Spots on Betta Fish

Ich or white spot is caused by a large, ciliated protozoan, Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, which can cause the characteristic white spots on your betta’s gills, skin, and fins.

This external parasite has a fairly short but complex life cycle [1], making it highly contagious and difficult to treat. If left untreated, this disease may be fatal.

Cause

  • Stressed environment
  • Failure to quarantine your new betta
  • Using infected equipment or décor
  • Ich tomonts attached to a fish bag and live plants

Physical/Behavioral Symptoms

  • White spots that resemble grains of salt visible on skin or fins
  • Clamped fins
  • Fish scratching against rocks, décor, or gravel 
  • Missing scales
  • Fish appearing lethargic
  • Rapid respiration
  • Gasping at the water’s surface
  • Multiple fish died suddenly

Treatment

Since there are other causes of white spots on betta fish, it’s important to properly diagnose the disease before administering treatment. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the best course of action will be to use a commercial medication specifically designed for Ich. Hikari Ich-XKordon Rid Ich Plus, and Mardel Quick-Cure are all good products available on the market.

Piscinoodinium spp, aka Velvet on Betta Fish

Piscinoodinium spp, aka Velvet on Betta Fish

Velvet disease in betta fish is caused by the Piscinoodinium spp., a group of external dinoflagellate parasites. It is commonly called Gold-dust or Rust disease; the name is given to the symptoms of this parasitic infection – a gold or rust-colored and velvety film that appears on the betta’s gills and skin.

Cause

  • Failure to quarantine
  • Stressed environment
  • Using infected equipment or décor
  • Ich tomonts attached to a fish bag, plants

Physical/Behavioral Symptoms

  • Gold or rust-colored and velvety film on gills and body
  • Color loss
  • Heavy mucous secretion
  • Gasping at the water’s surface
  • Clamped fins
  • Loss of appetite
  • Labored breathing

Treatment

Two treatment options are available for Velvet in betta fish: salt baths and copper sulfate. 

Salt baths are an effective and safe method, but it might take several days to complete the treatment. 

Copper sulfate (CuSO4) has been used as a parasiticide for years, but it can affect the water chemistry and kill invertebrates, so follow the instructions carefully.

Lernaea spp, aka Anchor Worms on Betta Fish

anchorworms in betta fish

Contrary to its name, anchor worms are not true worms but rather a type of crustacean parasite of aquarium and pond fish. Anchor worms or Lernaea species are external copepods that burrow into your betta’s body, gills, or mouth and anchor in the muscle tissue cavities using hook-like appendages.

A small number of anchor worms isn’t fatal, but heavy infestations can result in intense inflammation, leading to a secondary bacterial and fungal infection.

Cause

  • Failure to quarantine new bettas
  • Using infected equipment, live plants or décor

Physical/Behavioral Symptoms

  • Visible white or yellow thread-like worms protruding from the skin, gills, fins, and oral cavity
  • Oral cavity problems
  • Skin patches and red lesions
  • Scratching against objects in the tank

Treatment

Anchor worms can be physically moved using tweezers but be aware they may break off and leave the head in your fish. Ensure the wound must be treated with antibiotics to prevent further infestations. For more treatments on using salt or chemicals to treat anchor worms, read our blog post here: Anchor Worms in Betta Fish

Body and Gill Flukes on Betta Fish

Gyrodactylids in betta fish
Gyrodactylids in betta fish

Unlike velvet or Ich, Flukes are microscopic, parasitic flatworms and are not visible to the naked eye. These parasites get the name “flukes” from their flattened body shape as flounder fish, and “fluke” is a well-known Old Saxon name for flounder.

Interestingly, flukes seen in betta fish are similar but not the same — they belong to two genera: Dactylogyridae and Gyrodactylidae. The former, Gill flukes, are found on fish’s gills, while the latter, known as body flukes, mostly infects the betta fish’s body.

Causes

  • Skipping proper quarantine
  • Stressed by incompatible species
  • Poor water quality
  • Improper diet
  • Crowding

Physical/Behavioral Symptoms

  • Missing scales and red spots on the skin
  • Loss of color
  • Excess mucus secretion on gills or body
  • Scratching against objects by the affected betta fish
  • Gills moving rapidly
  • Flashing behavior
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite

Treatment

In most cases, you may want a veterinarian to diagnose this disease. One of the safest, most effective treatments for fish flukes is Praziquantel. There are many Praziquantel products, such as Hikari PraziPro or Thomas Labs Fish Tapes.

Betta with Hole in the Head (HITH)

Hexamita in betta fish

Also known as head and lateral line erosion (HLLE), this disease is most commonly seen among discus, Oscar, and other South American cichlids but also infects bettas. 

Many aquarists believe that the protozoan Hexamita spp. is responsible for this disease, but others argue that fish with HITH is a result of multiple factors or from a combination of the following problems:

Causes

  • Poor water quality
  • Inadequate biofiltration
  • A fish infected with Mycobacterium spp. aka Fish Tuberculosis (Fish TB)
  • A fish infected with Hexamita spp.
  • A fish infected with Aeromonas spp.
  • A fish may have a secondary bacterial infection
  • Improper diet

Physical/Behavioral Symptoms

  • Small pits on the head
  • White, stringy feces
  • Decreased appetite (Spitting food back out)
  • Bloated belly

Treatment

There is no effective method to make a correct diagnosis. Making medicated diets by adding Metronidazole to fish food has been used with some success. If the betta fish has stopped eating, Metronidazole can be added directly to the aquarium.

Lice in Betta Fish aka Argulus spp.

Quite often, infections with these macroscopic parasites are found in pond fishes, particularly goldfish, koi, and other carp or minnow families. Still, Argulus spp. can occur in a betta fish tank.

The Argulus species are crustaceans with a flat shell, two compound eyes, and four free swimming legs, so they do not require a microscope to be seen. They pierce the betta’s body with a thin, needle-like stylet, leaving a wet mount of the affected tissue, which leads to severe secondary infection.

Causes

  • Failure to quarantine a new fish
  • Poor water quality
  • Stressful conditions

Physical/Behavioral Symptoms

  • Moving dots on fish
  • Scratching against objects in the aquarium
  • Lethargy
  • Abnormal behavior

Treatment

Adult argulus can be manually removed using a hemostat. Medication, like Dimilin, is known to treat fish lice. Also, the aquarium water must be medicated to kill any eggs and to prevent further infestations.

Bacterial Infections

A bacterial infection often observed with betta fish afflicted with external parasites, physical injuries, or can also be brought on by chronic stress.

Several bacterial pathogens can infect betta fish, including Aeromonas spp.,Edwardsiella spp., Flavobacterium spp., Pseudomonas spp., and Vibrio spp. Treating bacterial infections can be tricky and will likely become more challenging in the future because:

  • Without an incubator or pathological knowledge of betta fish, it is nearly impossible to identify which specific bacteria is causing the infection, as the symptoms of these bacterial infections can be similar.
  • Some antibiotics can kill beneficial bacteria and disrupt your aquarium’s biological filter.
  • Due to years of misuse, several bacteria have developed antibiotic-resistant strains.
  • With most bacterial infections, your entire aquarium must be treated. Obviously, this would not be a problem with a small betta tank, but it could be challenging in larger female betta sorority aquariums.

Dropsy in Betta Fish

Sometimes referred to as “bloat,” dropsy is not a specific disease but a sign of a deteriorated health condition. It can be caused by a bacterial infection, parasitic infestation, or fatty liver disease.

With dropsy, the betta fish will have a swelling abdomen or pinecone-like appearance due to a buildup of fluids, giving rise to the name “pinecone disease.” Dropsy is considered one of the most severe betta fish illnesses, and in advanced stages, it is fatal.

Physical/Behavioral Symptoms

  • Swollen abdomen
  • Protruding scales around the swollen area
  • Redness of the skin or fins
  • Inflamed gills 
  • Bulging eyes
  • Lose their appetite
  • Lethargic
  • Gasping at the water’s surface
  • Rapid respiration

Treatment

The sooner you diagnose and treat dropsy, the better the chance of a successful recovery. Depending on the underlying cause, you may use some wide-spectrum antibiotics like Kanamycin Sulfate or Maracyn II for bacterial infections.

Betta Fish Fin and Tail Rot

Virtually all aquarium fish are susceptible to fin and tail rot, which is caused by either a gram-negative bacterial infection or fungal infection; however, fish like bettas and goldfish with long, flowing fins are more prone to this type of infection.

As the name suggests, the main clinical sign of this infection is ragged edges on the betta’s fins and tail. The edges may also appear dark or discolored as the infection spreads.

Physical/Behavioral Symptoms

  • Edge of fins or tails become discolored or ragged
  • Segments of fins or tails have rotted away
  • Black, white, or brown spots on the fins, tail, and body.
  • Reddened skin at the base of fins and tail
  • Complete loss of the infected fins and/or tail
  • Lethargy

Treatment

  • Test your aquarium water, and look out for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH.
  • Perform partial water changes of up to 30 percent. Fin or/and tail rot infections resolve on their own over time once the root cause of the stress is addressed.
  • When antibiotics or medications are required, it is best to make your medicated fish food by mixing a combination of medicines to simultaneously treat bacterial and fungal infections.

Columnaris in Betta Fish

If a betta fish appears with mold-like lesions on the body, fins, or gills, it is most likely infected with the columnaris bacteria (Flavobacterium columnare [2])one of the oldest known Gram-negative aquatic bacteria.

This highly contagious disease is commonly mistaken for a TRUE fungal infection because of the similar white or grey growth in and on the skin, mouth, or fins. 

Poor water quality is the #1 cause of columnaris in betta fish. Improper environments and inadequate diet can contribute to chronic stress on their way to your aquarium. 

Physical/Behavioral Symptoms

  • Grey/White fuzzy patches on the skin
  • Cottony-looking lesions on the mouth
  • Progressive deterioration of the back
  • Fin rot

Treatment

Infected betta fish can sometimes be treated successfully with Terramycin, either as a bath or directly dosed into fish food.

Betta Fish Popeye

True to its name, the pop eye disorder in betta fish is characterized by the protrusion or bulging out of one or both of the betta’s eyes. 

Scientifically known as exophthalmia, popeye is usually a symptom of a disease that is caused by a bacterial or parasite infection, fish tuberculosis, injury, or gas bubble disease.

Speaking of bacterial infection, a gram-positive diplobacillus bacterium, Renibacterium (Corynebacterium) salmoninarum [3], is the main cause of popeye in betta fish.

Physical/Behavioral Symptoms

  • Bulging eyes (one or both)
  • Stretching in the eye socket
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Redness eyes
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Loss of appetite
  • Ruptured eyeball
  • Clamped fins
  • Swollen body

Treatment

Luckily, betta fish with popeye, in most cases, will survive if appropriate treatment is given fast. The most important thing to do first is to treat the underlying cause.

Tuberculosis

Although most fish diseases cannot be passed to humans, one notable exception is fish tuberculosis, which is caused by Mycobacterium spp. These Gram-positive bacteria can be transmitted to humans in contact with infected fish or water through open wounds. Tuberculosis is a chronic disease since Mycobacteria may take years to fully develop [4]

Physical/Behavioral Symptoms

  • Bent or curved spine
  • Fin and scale loss
  • Bulging eyes (exophthalmia)
  • Skin lesions
  • Bloating
  • Lethargy

Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no cure for fish tuberculosis.

Swim Bladder Disorder

The swim bladder of a fish, aka air bladder or gas bladder, is a gas-filled organ that helps it maintain buoyancy and stability in the water. Disorders of this organ can lead to buoyancy issues, causing the fish to either float at the surface or sink to the bottom.

Swim bladder disorder (SBD) is commonly associated with poor water quality and an underlying bacterial or fungal infection, but it could also be due to kidney or digestive issues.

Physical/Behavioral Symptoms

  • Swimming sideways or upside-down
  • Sinking to the bottom of the tank
  • Floating to the top of the tank
  • Swelling belly
  • Bent or curved spine
  • Loss of appetite

Treatment

If you believe your betta fish has a buoyancy disorder, start by fasting it for a couple of days and examining its living conditions. Meanwhile, raise the temperature of the water to about 80°F (26.7°C) and leave it there during treatment.

After that, feed your betta with green peas, which are known to help flush out the contents in the stomach. If this doesn’t work, you might need a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

Fungal Diseases

Fungal infections refer to diseases caused by a group of fungi that require living or dead tissue for growth and reproduction. Saprolegnia spp. and Ichthyophonus hoferi are the main species of fungus known to infect aquariums or pond fish.

These fungal infections typically manifest as white cotton or furry growth on the betta’s body, mouth, fins, or gills but can also be internal. Betta fish suffering from fungal infections exhibit a variety of clinical signs, including:

Physical/Behavioral Symptoms

  • At the earliest stage, you will notice light gray or white growths in/on the betta’s skin, mouth, fins, or gills.
  • If left untreated, the fungus can also spread and resemble a cotton-like growth.
  • The fungus will keep eating the fish’s body until the fish eventually dies.

Treatment

Unlike parasites or bacteria, fungal infections are not highly contagious. But infected fish should be treated immediately with an anti-fungal medication in a quarantine Tank, like Methylene BlueHikari Ich-X, and API Fungus Care.

Viral Diseases of Betta Fish

Though not as common as parasites, bacteria, or fungi, viruses still infect all types of aquarium fish. These tiny organisms invade the cells of the fish, grow and reproduce rapidly. This process leads to the destruction of host cells, resulting in various similar clinical signs and symptoms as other diseases.

There are two well-known viral diseases in fish: Lymphocystis Disease Virus (LCDV) and Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS).

Lymphocystis Disease Virus (LCDV)

Lymphocystis disease virus in fish is small wart-like nodules on the fins, skin, or gills. As a member of the family Iridoviridae, LCDV is much less pathogenic and rarely leads to death.

So far, this disease has been found in 125 different marine (oceanic) and freshwater fish species [5], the majority of which are bony fishes that have evolved, such as cichlids, gouramies, or killifishes.

Physical/Behavioral Symptoms

  • Small to moderate-sized wart-like growths on the fins, skin, or gills
  • These bumps are usually white or gray but can also be other colors if they appear under pigmented areas.
  • Pop-eye (exophthalmia)
  • Abnormal swimming behavior and labored breathing in the late stage of the disease,

Treatment

Since the virus does not respond to antibiotics, there’s no cure for lymphocystis disease.

Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS)

Viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) is a serious, highly contagious, and fatal disease of fish. It can affect over 50 [6] species of freshwater and marine fish. Unlike LCDV, VHS is a highly contagious, often fatal disease.

Physical/Behavioral Symptoms

  • Blood red blotches on the fins or skin
  • Bulging eyes (“pop-eye”)
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Abnormal swimming behavior
  • Hemorrhages in the muscle and organ tissues

Treatment

There is no treatment for viral infections like this, so most people opt to isolate the infected fish and let the virus take its natural course.

Gas Bubble Disease (GBD)

Gas bubble disease often presents as very small bubbles inside the betta’s skin, fins and eyes. Left untreated, it may cause tissue degeneration inside the fish, leading to death. 

This disease commonly manifests when your tank is filled with tiny microbubbles that are usually produced by drastic water temperature changes, oxygen supersaturation (DO level >115%), or malfunctioning filters.

Physical/Behavioral Symptoms

  • Visible bubbles inside the eyes
  • Blindness
  • Eye bulging
  • Eye inflammation
  • Cataract formation
  • External lumps

Treatment

The first step is to determine the source of the air bubbles and immediately remove it. For more severe cases, veterinarians may choose to lance bubbles and treat the betta with antibiotics to protect the fish from further infection. 

Tumors And Cancers in Betta Fish

Bettas can sometimes develop tumors or cancers, although this is very rare. These growths are usually caused by genetic mutations and appear as small, hard bumps on the betta’s body.

Be aware that some viruses can cause abnormal growths that may resemble tumors and should be taken into consideration.

Just like other living animals, some tumors are treatable, and some are not. If you notice bumps on your fish, bring it to a vet for a closer examination. There may be other parasites at play.

Wrapping Up

If you notice your betta fish acting strangely, I hope you will be able to identify the symptoms of an ill fish and treat them effectively after reading this article.

Always, prevention and proper quarantine practices are the best ways to protect your betta fish from any type of illness and disease. Regularly test your tank parameters, keep it clean, and act quickly and contact a veterinarian if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

Let’s all do our best to keep our little friends safe and healthy! 

Article Sources:

  1. Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (White Spot) Infections in Fish [University of Florida]
  2. Flavobacterium Columnare [ScienceDirect]
  3. Renibacterium (Corynebacterium) salmoninarum Sanders and Fryer, 1980 [U.S. Department of the Interior]
  4. Mycobacterial Infections of Fish [Southern Regional Aquaculture Center (SRAC)]
  5. Lymphocystis Disease in Fish [University of Florida]
  6. Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia [Lowa State University]

Cory Catfish and Betta: Do They Get Along Well?

Cory Catfish and Betta

Bettas are notorious for their aggressive behavior, but this doesn’t mean that they should always be isolated.

This is good news for first-time fishkeepers, who may want to breed multiple species in one tank. And one such variety that complements bettas is corydoras catfish. However, there are some things you should know before starting out.

That’s why we are here to tell you how cory catfish and betta can peacefully coexist.

Things You Need to Know about Corydoras

Corydoras-Paleatus

They are Active Schooling Fish

Corydoras are among the most active schooling varieties, whether in the wild or in an aquarium.

In fact, it’s not unusual to spot them swimming synchronized in large groups in the wild, ranging from 20 to even 100. Not only that, but they may also collaborate with other schools (primarily of tetra fish) within their region.

That’s why it’s always recommended to keep at least 3 corys in an aquarium, with 6 being the preferred number. A lone cory will either try to blend with the other fish in the aquarium or do away with any activity whatsoever.

Lots Of Species

Corydoras species are primarily native to South America and are by far the largest genus of Neotropical fishes in the world. Currently, there are close to 170 identified species, with about 100 more yet to be classified or categorized but kept by aquarists. 

Most of them grow between 1 and 3 inches long in aquariums and prefer temperatures between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

For instance, the peppered cory and julii cory varieties thrive in colder temperatures, while the sterbai cory catfish love warmer regions.

Min Tank Size for Corydoras

The dwarf cory species may be bred in a 10-gallon tank, but a 20-gallon aquarium is recommended for a majority of the other species. Besides, almost all of them are peace-loving bottom dwellers, so it’s safe to say that they can coexist with other community fish varieties as long as they aren’t attacked.

Can Cory Catfish Live with Bettas?

The short answer would be yes, cory catfish and bettas can live with each other in the tank. Most corys aren’t too brightly colored and don’t have any long fins either, meaning they are less likely to intimidate the bettas. 

Besides, they usually occupy the bottom of the tank, whereas bettas like staying on the top. The former also have different diet preferences, meaning you shouldn’t have to worry about “food fights.”

That said, these situations are largely applicable to bigger tanks, like the 20-gallon ones. As you may be aware, bettas don’t like crowded aquariums. So, too many fishes in a small tank (less than 10-gallon) can get them agitated and they may start fighting with their “neighbors” to free themselves.

Tricks To Help Your Cory Catfish And Betta To Get Along

Consider The Betta’s Temperament

Whether or not you can successfully add corydoras to a betta tank will depend on the betta’s temperament. So, keep a close eye on the betta after the entry of the cory school. If you see that it’s chasing or trying to harm the corydoras, separate them immediately.

Tank size

Since corys like staying in groups of 5 or 6, they need adequate water to swim around the tank. And bettas usually thrive in at least 10-gallon tank, so the minimum tank size requirement for keeping them together is 20 gallons. But if you have the space and budget, you can even opt for a larger tank.

Type Of Corydoras

Although you may want to go with physically attractive species like albino cory or spotted cory, pygmy corydoras are considered the most suitable companions for bettas.

This is because they grow to a size of less than 1-inch, making them almost invisible to the bettas, especially in smaller tanks ranging from 10 to 15 gallons. Besides, they are extremely easy to care for.

Lots of Places To Hide

Both bettas and corys like having plenty of hiding spots in their habit. So, ensure that you decorate the aquarium with enough plants, caves, and driftwood to prevent them from any stress.

How to Introduce Corydoras to an Established Betta Tank?

The best way to introduce corydoras to your bettas is to shift them to another tank or bowl for some time and slightly change the decoration in the aquarium. This will disrupt their existing territory, meaning they will be less likely to fight for space with the new occupants.

Then, add the corydoras and let them get used to the setup for a couple of hours to get accustomed to the environment. Once they settle behind their hiding spots, put back the bettas and observe for some time to see any aggressive behavior.

Add Indian Almond Leaves in the Tank

Indian almond leaves may help create an environment that mimics the natural habitat of bettas, making them more comfortable in the tank. Plus, their antibacterial and antifungal properties may prevent infections and diseases.

FAQs

Can Cory Catfish Eat Betta Food?

Corys are practically scavengers and often referred to as bottom-cleaners, so they will eat pretty much everything in the tank, including betta food. However, they also need a balanced diet containing the right amounts of animal protein and vegetation like algae.

Do Cory Catfish Eat Betta Poop?

No, corys don’t eat betta poop. Since they often dig through the substrate to find food, they end up burying the poop, which may give an illusion that they have consumed it.

Final Thoughts

We hope that we could help you understand if you can keep corydoras catfish together.

Female bettas are said to be less aggressive than males, so you may want to consider them for your bettas. But even then, make sure that you observe their temperament and provide the required space and nutrition for both.

We will see you next time. Goodbye!

Best Betta Fish Treats (Enhancing Color and Maximizing Growth)

bettafishtreats

Do your betta fish look sluggish and are unable to display their bright colors? 

Maybe it’s time to change their diet and add a healthy mixture of proteins, nutrients, and minerals. The best way to do this is to give them treats from time to time so that they are happy. 

These treats could be live food or even homemade recipes provided that you add the correct ingredients. So, today we will discuss betta fish treats to help you chart a proper diet. 

Do Betta Fish Need Treat? 

Betta fish do need treats if you want to keep them healthy and happy. It’s important to remember that they never lose their wild traits completely and normally feed on the surface of the water, scooping up live food. 

By mimicking their natural habits and adding treats to the water, you can ensure that they get regular exercise. 

What Are The Best Treats (Or Snacks) For Betta Fish?

Frozen Brine Shrimp And Bloodworms 

When charting out your betta fish’s diet, you must include foods that are rich in proteins. While most fish owners might be skeptical about feeding them frozen food, freeze-dried brine shrimp are extremely nutritious. 

Similarly, bloodworms are a rich food source that the betta fish may enjoy. Moreover, bloodworms and frozen brine shrimp contain essential minerals like iron which many live foods lack. 

So, remember to include tiny portions of these treats as part of their main diet, and the fish should be fine. 

Live Food 

In the wild, betta eats mostly live prey. There are tons of live food options out there but not all will get you that perfect glowing color. I have listed some great choices below. 

Blackworms 

Coming to live foods, betta fish love to eat blackworms, although it may not be the first choice for aquarists. But you might want to reconsider your options, given that they are rich in nutrients and crucial for a healthy diet. 

Moving on, thanks to the nutrients found in blackworms, feeding them may improve the betta’s color and growth. That said, betta fish can eat a lot if you give them the opportunity, so make sure you don’t include blackworms for every meal. 

Daphnia

Live Daphnia as Betta fish treat
Live Daphnia as Betta fish treat

Daphnia is perfect if you are looking to add protein and fiber to the betta fish’s diet. What’s more, people who feed their fish pellets and flakes will benefit from this live food as it may clear their digestive system. 

In short, it may keep the fish healthy but what’s even better is that it’s a readily available food source found in most LFS in your area.

Buy from Amazon: 500+ Live Daphnia Magna

Live Mysis Shrimp 

Compared to frozen brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp are full of fiber which may improve the betta fish’s digestion. The fascinating thing is that even fussy betta fish that are hard to feed usually love eating these shrimp. 

Other than that, Mysis shrimp don’t have a lot of fat and are suitable as a source of roughage. 

Things To Remember When Feeding Your Betta Live Food

Even though feeding betta fish live food is healthy, there are certain things that you need to be aware of. 

For instance, where you buy live food is crucial because they often contain bacteria and parasites. If the fish consume these, it may get sick, so you need to find a reputable seller. 

Also, make sure that the live food doesn’t contain chemicals like pesticides as it could poison betta fish. That’s why most people grow or breed their own food to be absolutely sure that it’s free of impurities. 

Homemade Betta Fish Treats Recipe 

In case you can’t trust the quality of the live food, it would be best to make any of the following homemade recipes: 

Meat-Free Food 

For a meat-free diet, you need to mix ingredients like ground corn, ground soybeans, and whole wheat flour. Then, add some garlic powder, four eggs, azomite, and half a cup of dehydrated milk before mixing the paste thoroughly. 

Proceed to place the mixture in an oven at 180 degrees Fahrenheit; after 2.5 hours, it will crumble into little pieces – ready for use. 

Seafood 

It’s natural for fish to like seafood, so you will have to collect cod, muscles, raw shrimp, tuna, clams, and scallops. You can even include some Mysis shrimp and nori before cutting up all the ingredients into little chunks. 

Add the small chunks, some broccoli stock, unsweetened gelatin, and 3/4ths of Kent marine garlic in a blender to create a paste. Finally, place the mixture in an ice cube tray and use the cubes for feeding the fish. 

Nutrient Burst 

This recipe consists primarily of vegetables and fruits, such as oranges, broccoli, carrots, apples, and lettuce. Along with that, you can add shrimp, crab legs, and yams before using the blender to turn the ingredients into a paste. 

If the mixture is too thick, you may add some water to the pan, following which pour some gelatine into it. You can either pour the resultant slushy liquid into an ice cube tray or place the pan into the freezer. 

Once the solution sets, break up the ice cubes and drop little bits into the tank for the fish. 

How Often Should You Feed Betta Fish Treats? 

The worst thing you can do is overfeed betta fish; that’s why you should give them treats only once or twice a week. Remember that this is not their primary diet and is good in small quantities to improve their health. 

Final Thoughts 

That’s about it when it comes to giving your betta fish treats; hopefully, our guide was able to clear your queries. 

If you can’t breed live food, contact reliable sources to purchase premium-quality worms, shrimps, or plants. This will help your betta live longer and display gorgeous colors to brighten up the aquarium. 

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below, and keep an eye out for more interesting articles. See you!