Betta fish can be fantastic pets for both adults and children alike, however it can be quite upsetting to see your betta succumb to one of many betta diseases. Betta fish are naturally friendly and they love interaction. Their beautiful fins spread out with fan-like grace and make for very attractive pets. In order to ensure that your betta has a nice long life, you should know the warning signs of some of the most common betta diseases and how to treat them.
We are going to discuss some of the most popular diseases that betta fish are susceptible to, as well as the symptoms of each to help you identify when your betta is in need. The first disease we are going to talk about is called Fin Rot. Fin rot is a very common disease that usually results from injuries done by a bullying tank mate—something you should definitely look out for. If it seems one fish is biting or bumping into others, that fish should be removed to a solitary tank, as he is likely not sociable enough to be housed with other fish. Fin rot is technically a bacterial infection that can result from injuries to the scales, but it isn’t always linked to abuse from bullying fish. When the scales and fins are affected by this bacteria, they turn brown and can even result in bits of fin and scale breaking away altogether. You may notice these bits floating in the water, but you will most likely first notice the spots on your betta’s body and fins. Treatment may include a salt bath or your veterinarian may prescribe the Melafix medication.
One of the nastiest of betta diseases is called Dropsy. Dropsy can be caused by several things, such as internal parasites and tumors, however the most likely cause is a bacterial infection. The bacteria becomes lodged within the betta’s tissues which often results in kidney strain. The fish’s body starts to retain water and swells up. The most obvious symptom of dropsy is that the fish’s body swells up so much that the fins start sticking out. Many often compare the sight to a pine cone. The bacteria could be a result of poor water filtration, but this is not always the case. It’s always a good idea to keep the tank nice and clean, as well as change out the water filter often, if you have one. Treatment for dropsy must be initiated as soon as possible as this can be a fatal illness. Your veterinarian or fish specialist may recommend Tetracycline, Maracyn, or Kanacyn, as well as give you some anti-fungal treatment for the fish tank and water. Your fish will likely require a bi-daily bath in electrolyte-balancing salt water to help the fish release the excess fluid and balance his vital nutrients. The sooner this disease is treated, the more likely your chances are of saving your fish.
Nitrite poisoning is common in all sorts of fish, including bettas. Nitrite can build up in the water if the proper precautions and maintenance are not taken with your fish tank. Overfeeding or failure to remove uneaten food, failure to change the water as often as necessary, as well as improper aeration are all common causes behind nitrite poisoning. Your betta may be dealing with this illness if you notice that he spends a lot of time “gasping” for air at the top of the tank or if he spends a lot of time around the tank aerator (or other source of oxygen). His gills may move rapidly and take on a brown-ish color, and he may become less active. If this happens, you want to start changing the water out more frequently and using a water conditioning tablet to balance the pH levels. Your fish’s water may also not be getting enough oxygen. Do you have an aerator or other item that constantly pumps bubbles into the water? If not, you definitely need to consider getting one of these. Also, try feeding your fish smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. Feeding your fish a large amount of food once or twice a day will usually result in a waste of food as well as pollution of the water as the food breaks down. Try just giving a few sprinkles three or four times a day instead.
If you notice any odd behavior in your fish that simply isn’t rectified no matter what you do, then a trip to a fish specialist may be in order.