Help! I Have Constipated Beta! What Do I Do?!

The pooping habits of Betta probably isn’t first and foremost on your mind. You may not even be sure if betta fish poop to begin with. Nonetheless, if you are planning to own these stunning, endlessly fascinating fish, you’ll want to know what to do in the event of constipation.

Yes, unfortunately, bettas can indeed get constipated. Thankfully, you aren’t without options for dealing with this. We’re going to take a closer look at not only how bettas can get constipated, but solutions to help them feel better in no time at all.

Constipation In Betta Fish
Makayla Maxheimer

The Basics Of Bettas And Constipation

Two things about constipation in betta fish:

  • It’s fairly common. So, if you find that your betta meets the symptoms of constipation, don’t panic.
  • It’s more complex a subject than you might think. One of the problems with constipation, especially in something like betta fish is how many different culprits are out there. You may have to rule certain things out.

One thing is for certain: Despite being a common enough ailment, your betta still isn’t happy when they’re constipated. You should take steps to remedy their discomfort at once.

Let’s start by breaking down everything you need to know about bettas and pooping in general.

The Essentials Of Betta Fish And Pooping

Betta fish do indeed poop. Like virtually all living beings, they excrete material that some might mistake for an untouched pellet of food. Bettas love to eat, so that’s probably not the case!

With poops that often feature a rounded, clumpy look and texture, you will eventually start to notice these accumulating along the bottom of the cage. Obviously, you want to be sure you’re cleaning out the tank on a regular basis. If you have a 15-liter tank, using a filter, you should only need to have the tank cleaned every six to eight months or so. If you don’t have a filter, you’re going to be cleaning every four or five weeks.

Also, the rules are slightly different for larger tanks.

As is the case with most animals, bettas will prefer to poop in the same general area. This makes cleanup fairly simple. Betta fish by and large prefer to poop in the same quiet area. However, the poop can accumulate very quickly indeed. Keep in mind how often we mentioned cleaning out the tank, with or without a filter.

Bettas poop the same way we all do, which is to say whenever they need to. If you feed them consistently, they will probably poop consistently.

Should they suddenly stop eating, there are a few different possibilities you can point to.

Does Not Eating Mean My Betta Is Constipated?

If this is the case, there are three possibilities. They might just be refusing to eat. This could be due to anything from stress, to changing their food. On the other hand, your betta could also be sick. This could be due to any number of things.

Finally, your betta might simply be uncomfortable. Figuring out which one applies to your situation is going to come down to filling in some blanks.

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Signs Of Betta Constipation And Other Issues

The entire process of how betta consume and excrete is essentially the same as ours. They mash up and devour food. Everything is broken down through the processes inherent in digestion. Whatever is left comes out through the anus, which you will find in front of its anal fin, and behind its ventral fins.

We’ve already covered what normal betta poop looks like. With that in mind, it won’t be hard to notice when something is amiss. One of the first noticeable examples of this thought is the presence of poop that’s stringy, or even hanging from the anus. Your betta isn’t happy about it either. If you also notice the presence of bloating, which will indeed reflect in how the betta looks, then you’re definitely dealing with constipation.

What we need to do next is pay attention to the color. If the color of the poop is white, then you’re unfortunately not just dealing with constipation. It is almost a certainty that you are dealing with parasites. Also known as Ick, these parasites can be dealt with easily enough, but you’ll have to go on a different path, than if you were simply dealing with constipation.

How Do You Know It’s Just Constipation?

If the poop is stringy, hanging from the fish, but is still the same color it would normally be, then you’re not dealing with parasites.

At this point, it is fairly safe to suspect that you are dealing with constipation specifically. The next challenge then will be to figure out the source of the issue. There are a handful of possibilities which you are going to want to eliminate.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common causes of constipation in betta fish.

Specific Causes Of Constipation In Betta Fish

Now that you know for certain that it’s constipation, you can start to look at the best options for treatment. However, this doesn’t mean you should rush out and buy the first product you find, or try the first idea that someone suggests to you.

The first step in the treatment stage is in knowing exactly where the constipation is coming from. The answer to this question can go a long way towards informing the specific care you give them. If the treatment method isn’t the right one, you’re going to find yourself treating it repeatedly. We want a long-term solution, as opposed to a short one.

Here are some of the most common causes of constipation among betta fish:

Checking On Their Diets

This is one of the first possibilities you will want to explore. We know that betta fish are carnivores. What some fail to appreciate is that even though this is true, you still need to make sure they are getting the right amount of fiber.

This is again something we share with betta. Most animals, without necessary fiber intake, will become bloated and constipated. Betta fish are generally up to eat anything you give them, as long as it comes with meat. That doesn’t mean it’s the only thing you should be feeding them.

What Sort Of Food Are You Feeding Your Bettas?

Products made up of flakes, or freeze-dried food, should not be the only thing you’re feeding your bettas. This is true for most fish, but it is particularly so for the betta fish.

Why? Partially because the dryness of these products means they’re going to expand dramatically, when they come into contact with the water. Bettas will likely eat them before they have fully expanded. If you’re going to feed your betta freeze-dried or flakey foods, make sure these products are soaked before feeding.

Betta Fish And Pellets

Compared to flakes/freeze-dried options, pellets are generally considered a much better option for happy bettas that don’t have to worry about constipation. Pellets also provide a much better degree of essential nutrition, although they are not the only thing you should be feeding them either.

However, if you do only feed them pellets, the odds of constipation are relatively low.

Betta Fish And Live Food

When we say that even with the best betta pellet foods on the market, your bettas may need more, this is what we’re talking about.

Remember what we said earlier about fiber? This is where the pellets are unfortunately going to fail you. This is true of even the top pellet products for bettas. While they will provide your bettas with a plethora of crucial nutrients, they aren’t going to give them everything. For that, you’re going to need live food in the diet. A diet with this attention to balance all but guarantees you won’t have to worry about constipation.

Remember, we are indeed talking about carnivores.

Bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia are three of the best live food for betta fish options out there. The presence of chitin in the skeletons of these creatures is one of the reasons why all of them are ideal for a betta diet. This is a material that is highly rich in fiber. This is combined with whatever makes up the contents of the stomachs of these creatures.

Some also like mosquito larvae.

However, with all of these options, it is important to avoid overfeeding. This is one of the most common causes of constipation in betta fish.

More On Overfeeding Betta Fish

More On Overfeeding Betta Fish

Bloodworms in particular can make for a nice treat for betta. The key word here is “treat.” These things should not be given to your bettas every day. They are best administered as a treat. Bloodworms are too rich in certain ingredients, which can create issues over time.

If you’re looking for a better live animal to add to their diet, we would suggest looking for daphnia. This can also potentially be a treatment option for betta constipation, as daphnia can function as a mild laxative.

Betta fish like to eat. They tend to eat quickly, and they tend to eat with a great deal of enthusiasm. This is fun to watch, but it also means knowing bettas are going to eat until they feel full. As you know from your own stomach, feeling full can be starkly different from actually being full.

Because of this, and because of the various problems that can arise from feeding your betta too much, we would advise keeping a close eye on how much you feed them every day. Balance is important, and part of that means only feeding them what they absolutely need.

Swim Bladder Disease And Betta Fish

One of the most common consequences of overfeeding betta fish is a condition known as swim bladder disease. As the name implies, this occurs when something has disrupted the swim bladders of your betta. It can also occur with younger bettas, whose swim bladders generally take some time to fully form.

The problem with swim bladder disease is that it can be difficult to deal with. For example, it could be causing your betta’s constipation, just as easily as the constipation could be the main culprit behind the appearance of swim bladder disease in your betta. Infections and injuries can also lead to constipation. This in turn can lead to swim bladder disease.

Shock, parasites, overfeeding, constipation, bacterial infections, or even a tank where the temperature is too low are all possible causes of swim bladder disease.

Symptoms Of Swim Bladder Disease And/Or Constipation

In terms of symptoms, you’re going to want to look for, if we’re specifically talking about swim bladder disease and the relationship to constipation.

If your betta experiences any difficulties while swimming. You should also look to see if they struggle with remaining buoyant for a prolonged period of time. They will be swimming in a lopsided fashion, while constantly fighting to keep their positioning as normal as possible. Look for a curved backside or swollen belly, as well.

A general feeling of lethargy, combined with a noticeably different appetite, will show you in no uncertain terms that you are probably dealing with swim bladder disease. Barring that, your betta is probably very constipated. You will want to take steps to correct their pain and discomfort as quickly as possible.

Another frustrating aspect of this? The fact that you also have different cures to try. We’ve already discussed daphnia as a minor laxative. Let’s examine all of the different ways you can get your betta back to its balanced, contented self.

A Word On The Value Of A Large Tank For Bettas

To reiterate: You should figure out a constipation treatment for betta in your tank as soon as possible. This is something that can jump from bad to grave in hardly any time at all.

If none of the above for swim bladder disease applies to you, the problem with your betta might just be a lack of exercise. The value of exercise for bettas isn’t always something that occurs to people. This is why we always tell people to get a tank large enough for everyone in it to be happy. Not only do betta like to have space to eat, rest, and even hide, but they also like to have space to move around. If the tank is too small, they can’t do that.

Small, cramped surroundings can also prove to be highly stressful for bettas, which can influence diet, and lead to constipation.

Your tank should be five gallons at the very least. We would suggest something larger.

What Are The Best Treatment Options For Bettas With Constipation?

Lets’ wrap things up with a look at some of the best treatments for constipation in betta fish. We’ve touched on most of these ideas, but each one still deserves a closer look on your part:

  • Water temperature: Beyond the importance of a tank with plenty of space, and making sure the tank is cleaned out regularly, you can ensure comfort and avoid constipation by keeping the temperature in the tank at an ideal level. By this, we mean somewhere in the neighborhood of seventy-six to eighty-one degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Fasting: This is one where you are obviously going to want to be careful. You don’t want to starve them to death. At the same time, they can go a reasonable period without food, and not suffer any problems. In fact, where it concerns constipation, fasting for one to three days can clear their system out nicely. If the constipation is more severe (look for that bloating in particular), the fast can last as long as seven days. At that point, you will naturally want to keep a very close eye on the betta.
  • Flaring: This would be the practice of a betta making itself seem bigger. It is often used as an intimidation measure, but it is actually quite beneficial for a betta to do it for at least a minute or so a day. Flaring often makes them poop, as well. Setting up a mirror near the tank can cause your betta to flare. This is not a treatment you want to repeat often, as too much flaring can cause them to become significantly stressed out.
  • Peas: If nothing else we’ve discussed works, a small fast can be combined with feeding them a pea. Yes, you read that correctly. Peas can be a whirlwind at clearing out a blocked-up betta fish. After fasting them for a whole, single day, put one frozen pea in half of a cup of water. Microwaving for ten seconds, the single pea will then be submerged in cold water for a few moments. Remove the skin, and then chop up and feed your betta one half. Give them the other half, if they seem to want more. You should not need more than this.

Curing Betta Constipation

With these options, you should be able to get rid of your betta’s constipation issues.

Gabriel R

Gabriel R

Welcome to Aquarium Fish City(AFC). I’m Gabriel and I have been keeping fish for almost fifteen years. My father was a huge fan of tropical fish and our childhood home had a huge aquarium which he tended and kept hundreds of species of fish over the years. I was always fascinated by our fish tank and would spend hours staring at the fish. They seemed to all have different personalities and would interact differently with one another. Here, you can find out everything you need to know about keeping fish and aquarium maintenance.

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