Betta Disease Guide

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I know it can be frustrating to have an injured or sick betta fish and have to sift through many articles trying to figure out a correct diagnosis. I have made this organized, easy-to-read chart so you can quickly diagnose and treat your betta splenden.

All ailments are linked up with a more detailed article so you can know exactly what is going on. The in-depth guides also contain useful tips on preventing each disease or ailment. The only one without a page at the moment is injured betta. The call-to-action on this page is insightful enough to make it unnecessary to fill a whole separate page.


         To be sure you are always prepared, click here:  Betta First Aid Kit

Clamped fins, lethargic, weight loss, rubbing against objects, small white specks that look like grains of salt.Ichthyophthirius (Ich or “Ick”) Increase water temperature, add small amounts of aquarium salt.
Clamped fins, lethargic, weight loss, rubbing against objects, gold dusting or film on body. Oodinium (Velvet Disease) Increase water temperature, turn off lights and avoid light, add small amounts of aquarium salt.
Clamped fins, lethargic, white milky mucus build up, rapid gill movement caused by labored breathing. Costia, Chilodonella, Trichodina, Epistylus Medications that contain Formalin and Malachite Green.
Appetite loss, red worms protruding from anus, bloating Camallanus Medication containing a de-wormer or a general parasite cure medication. Anti-parasitic food.
Rubbing against objects, increased mucus, small dark spots on gills, labored breathing. Flukes Medication containing Formalin.
Swollen stomach, weight loss elsewhere, loss of balance. TapewormMedication containing a de-wormer or a general parasite cure medication. Anti-parasitic food.
Rubbing against objects, lethargic, white or green threads hanging from body, wounds/lesions in advanced stages. Lernaea (Anchor Worms)Click here for special instructions: Treating Anchor Worms
Small moving discs on betta’s body, hemorrhaging.Argulus (Fish Lice) Click here for special instructions: Treating Fish Lice
Pin holes in tail and fins, discoloration, fraying or breakage of fins, brown tips, translucent fins Pseudomonas (Fin Rot)Water change: Clean your Betta Bowl or Betta Aquarium. Aquarium salt, BettaFix, Stress Coat. If problem persists use Tetracycline.
Ulcers, hemorrhaging around the gills or at the base of fins, fin rot, swollen abdomen, protruding eyes and scale lossAeromonas (Body Rot)Water change: Clean your Betta Bowl or Betta Aquarium. Aquarium salt, BettaFix, Stress Coat. If problem persists use Tetracycline. NOTE: This is a secondary infection, you must also treat for other diagnosis.
stringy white growths, cotton-like patches (white, grey, or yellowish brown), mouth looks “moldy” and starts to decay, fins will erode, ulcers or lesions (advanced stage). When gills are infected: change in color(gills turn brown), gasping at surface, rapid gill movement.Columnaris (Cotton Wool Disease)Anti-biotic (gram-negative) such as Tetracycline or Kanacyn
Red streaks or spotting on body, pink or red fins, open sores, pop eye(very advanced stage in which one or both eyes protrude)Septicemia (aka Sepsis)A wide spectrum anti-biotic (treats both negative and positive-gram bacteria) or combine Maracyn and Maracyn-Two. Anti-bacterial fish food.
White clumpy growth, browning/greening of growth as it absorbs algae, open sores and injury.Saprolegnia (fungus infection)PimaFix (Indian Bay Tree) which can be combined with MelaFix(or BettaFix, the diluted version). In more advanced stages you can use a stronger medication for fungal infections.
Small white sore(s) the size of a pin head.LymphocystisThis is a reoccurring virus much like cold sores. There is no treatment, but you can learn how to prevent it: Lymphocystis
Gradual lethargy and color fading(over the course of many months, not overnight), chronic infections, sagging backAging Betta FishNot a whole lot you can do. If you'd like to try to extend your betta's life longer try to get him to exercise. If he's in a bowl try getting a filtered tank instead. Otherwise read this article and accept your betta's fate: Aging Betta Fish
Torn fins or tail, open sores or woundsInjured or wounded bettaRemove any bully tank mates and sharp decorations. Use stress coat and BettaFix(or MelaFix) so help soothe your betta and help rebuild his mucus coat to prevent secondary infections and promote healing.
Bloated belly, loss of balance, appetite loss.ConstipationRefrain from feeding your betta fish. After a few days attempt to feed cooked peas at room temperature.
Belly bloating, constipation, loss of balance, floating at the surface, swimming crookedSwim Bladder DisorderRefrain from feeding your betta fish. After a few days attempt to feed cooked peas at room temperature. Be sure to watch for signs of internal parasites when ruling out constipation.
Appetite loss, belly bloat, change in color(fading or color loss), lethargy, raised scales, “pineconing”DropsyPlease try to recall how your betta was acting before the symptoms of dropsy appeared. Dropsy is secondary to main infections.
Appetite loss, weight loss, lesions(grey or dull), red patches in belly(blood spots), raised scales, loss of scales, curved spine, loss of color, lethargy, clamped fins, frayed or deteriorating finsTuberculosisAnti-biotic(gram-negative) If you suspect Tuberculosis in your betta please read this article: Betta Tuberculosis

         To be sure you are always prepared, click here:  Betta First Aid Kit

About Angela Soup

25 Responses to “Betta Disease Guide”

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  1. My beta fish has one white eye, will 50% water changes and aquarium salts get rid of this?

    • Angelasoup says:

      Sorry for the delayed response! My computer has been having issues so I want able to get into my email. A few questions so I can help you take care of your betta effectively. How old is your betta fish? Is the eye bulging or “popping out”? Is it a white film or a fuzzy growth?

  2. Ram187 says:

    Oh my goodness! My betta has been loosing scales! Oh my gosh oh my gosh OH MY GOSH!

  3. pattygertz says:

    Hi Angela, I’m kind of desperate. I’ve been taking care of my son’s beta since late spring and had no idea of how sensitive they are. I finally realized that i was over feeding him a few months ago when he was bloated and couldn’t swim to the bottom of his 2 gallon tank but that passed and he seemed healthy and content. Then 2 weeks ago, he started showing signs of swim bladder disease. He can float or stay at the bottom of the tank with his tail floating upward but has much difficulty manuevering around to swim or to try to eat, mostly missing the food that he tries to jump for.Also, he doesn’t even try to scavange for food that has drifted to the bottom of his bowl. He has barely eaten anything or had a bowel movement in the last 2WEEKS! He is looking very fraile and is extremely
    stressed as he darts around crazily every time someone comes too close to his bowl. He doesn’t exibit any signs of the other common beta diseases I’ve researched online except for maybe a case of fin rot because even though there is no discoloration, they appear more feathery in appearance. He has only eaten BettaMin dried food since we’ve had him, so other than a bacterial infection , I can’t figure out what else could be going on. I’ve tried Bettafix.Primafix, aquariam salt and ph testing and solution. Bought a heater but not sure if it’s practical for a 2 gallon tank.

    • Angelasoup says:

      Do you still need my help? For whatever reason I was never notified for your comment! I feel horrible that I am just now seeing this. Luckily I had a new logo designed so I came to this page.

      • pattygertz says:

        Thanks. It’s okay, he actually survived! After 3 weeks of him not eating, I went to my local pet store. I upgraded to a 3 gallon tank and decided to treat him with Maracyn & Maracyn2, against the advice of the “helpful
        salesgirl” I spoke to. Although I saw no improvement during the 5 days of treatment, when I did a full water change he miraculously became energenic and stress free. His appetite returned and he has been well for the last month. I still believe he has a slight swim bladder issue so I have been trying not to overfeed him. I also put the smallest filter I could find in his tank. I would appreciate any advice you could give me about how much to feed him and what type of food is best to avoid constipation, which I believe to be an issue with my blue betta Rubin. Guess he’s mine now since my son’s away at college. LOL!

        • Angelasoup says:

          Ha! Yeah I would say Rubin is officially yours. 🙂

          Well good for you on taking such great care of him! As far as the swim bladder issue goes, does it appear as though Rubin’s belly is too swollen? Is he swimming crooked or having any issues with buoyancy? To start with constipation add a regular dose of aquarium salt to help flush out his system. For a three gallon tank that will be 3/4 of a teaspoon. Other fish have been aided by eating cooked peas. However, since bettas are carnivores I have never had success with getting a betta to eat peas. Another tip I can give you is to soak his food ahead of time. A lot of times what can happen is a betta will be fed pellets which are dense and dry. As they hydrate in their stomach the pellets expand to quite a bigger size.

          You could also consider frozen or live foods. My only beef with live food is that you have to know the source. Live foods can be carriers of disease. Here I would love it if you took my prior tips but also read this article on feeding so you can choose your own personal preference on feeding.

          I myself still use a variety of nutritional pellets, freeze-dried shrimp and freeze-dried blood worms.

          • pattygertz says:

            Thanks so much for your advice. I believe that I will stick to the freeze dried food and soak it before feeding him. I’ve heard too many sad stories resulting from feeding frozen foods. As a matter of fact, a friend of mine lost her betta to dropsy even though she only feed her betta freeze dried bloodworms! So, Im not even considering the bloodworms.
            As to my suspicion that Rubin has a constpation problem, he has no problem with boyancy and no swollen belly but whether he’s at rest on the bottom of his tank or if he is dancing around the front of his tank in anticipation of being fed, he is always a little tipped to one side. Also, since his illness (and excuse my ignorance) one small area at the end of the long thin fins that protude from his belly area appears to have a kink or knot in it. In addition one of the the extentions on his rear fin is bent to one side not inalignment with the rest of his tail. Could this be causing his slight imbalance? Sorry , one more question. Haha! I have been feeding him Aqueon pellets, which he loves, for the last week. I give him 2 pellets in the morning and 2 at night. Am I overfeeding him?

          • Angelasoup says:

            Sorry for the delayed response, I have been having issues receiving new notifications since I switched servers. As long as you skip at least one day a week of feeding you should be just fine with your current feeding regimen. The fin could be causing a little balance issues while he is swimming about. Unfortunately when fins become damaged from injury or disease the repercussions are almost always permanent. I saved a betta from Wal-mart(yeah i know) and named him DJ Sickle because he was on his death bed. He lived the rest of his life with curly, thin brown fins. He at least got to survive another three years.

  4. cheryl says:

    I changed tanks for my female Bettas, thought they would be happy with more room. It is used but I cleaned it as well as I could, put in water and everyting to get it going. Let it cycle for a few days and moved my girls in. After a few days they started to get sick, a few with ick and I took them out to treat them. Two died any way and this was not severe, just a few spots. Now I have another one that swims like it has bladder bloating and had this long redish string comming out her hind quarters, I am asuming it’s a worm. It fell off and I got it out of the tank. A few of my other girls are just huvering around the thermomator.They are not eating. I’m still wondering what killed my two beauties. They were in a seperate tank being treated with the salt. so far one is ok. You have on your site Betta deseases but one thing you do not show is the worm. I am asuming I’ll have to buy meds. Should I treat all the girls in this new tank? I’m kinda new to this and never had any problems to deal with. Please give me some advise, thank you

  5. cheryl says:

    Lost another one of my girls last night and still have one looking very sick. The three left are not active eighter but do not “look” sick. I’ve raised the temp in the water and put some meth. blue in, took out the filter. They are not eating. I’m so upset with this. I have males and wanted to start breeding them, now I’m afraid I’ll pass something on to my guys. They are doing good, all in there own bowels one living in the breeding tank. This is how soon I was going to breed. I wish some one could give me insite as to what I did wrong. I am thinking of getting a new tank and assories and starting all over again, but love my girls and am grieving for the ones I’ve lost. I have put in so much time and money into my new hobby, read many articals but nothing had prepaired me for this or no article ever said or explained if you could or could not re use tanks, how to clean them etc… I like your web site and would appreciate any more advice you could post. Thank you

    • Angelasoup says:

      What did you clean the new tank with? Did you use any new ornaments or plants? It is odd to hear someone lose so many females at once. I am so sorry for your loss. The raised temperature and salt should help a lot for the others who are still living. Was there a gradual illness or was this abrupt?

    • Angelasoup says:

      Your bettas could be refraining from eating if the water conditions of the new tank are not balanced. The red “worm” or string you saw definitely could have been parasitic. Be sure your water conditions are safe and then proceed to feed your other bettas “internal parasite food”

  6. cheryl says:

    I washed my tank with hot water and left it outside for a bout a week in the sun thinking that would kill any thing lurking about. After I put my girls in it, it took just two days for them to show signs of stress. Everything from there old tank went into this other one and the water was mixed for about a week before I put it in then cycled for a few days before I put in the girls. I had 7 now I have 2. Took one out last nite with fin rot. One of the two left had ick but she recovered. This has been a nightmare. I’m still not sure if these last two will survive. They are eating now. I hope to get some differnt food today. If this fin rot was in the tank will the others get it? also the parisites? What should I do? I still have two quarenteened but not lookin good. The males are fine but of course they are in there own tanks.
    My boyfriend seems to think we can just wash out the old filters and re use then, I say no, throw them away. As I right?

    • Angelasoup says:

      At this point there is no need to quarantine. All tanks need to be treated. When you left the tank in the sun, was it empty? I ask because many bacteria pathogens and fungi thrive in sunlight. That is why I always urge people to keep their aquariums away from the sun. This is mostly due to excess algae growth that follows sun exposure. When you put your girls back into the tank was the water at stable water conditions? Did you make sure to temperature acclimate them? Did you treat your tanks with any medications for ick? I would definitely go ahead and treat the fin rot. As far as the filtration goes, be sure to always keep the carbon filter. The replaceable filter should only be changed about once every 6 months. During this time you can rinse the filter if it has excessive build up. One huge mistake we all make when we first get in to fish keeping is being too clean. Changing the water too often and even the filter actually harms the biology of your aquarium. Fish build up a natural good bacteria which is crucial to maintain safe levels of ammonia and nitrates. Clean, fresh water is very unstable which lowers your bettas’ immunities and leaves them vulnerable to illness as well as stress.

  7. cheryl says:

    Thank you so much for all your help. I took my one dieing girl to the fish store with a water sample from the aquarium. The man said the nitrates were to high after testing and to do a half water change with more stress coat in the water that was mixed for the girls. With the help from my boyfriend we did this. We were also told to do a quarter change every other day, and run the filters. There is one underground and one small whisper. The two living girls seem to be ok, they are the smallest. I put back in the one I thought was sick, we confinde her in the corner by the top with room to move with the fish net. Now we have to wait for nature to see what happnes

    I have always thought you needed fresh filter cartrages, thanks for letting me know. I used to have fish when I was younger and had to add the charcole and put in the fiber stuff, thing sure do change. I kept the cartrages and guess I can keep them in a zip lock?
    You know everythingI’ve read on the net tells you something else, no two sites are the same. Now I have to wait for this tank to cycle, then maybe think about getting more girls, I sure do miss the ones I had, they were so beautiful. Females have bright colors too, everyone loves the males, but I like the girls too. The two that survived are one red and white and the other orange, the one we’re trying to save is dk. blue with some green.
    Again thanks for your responses

    • Angelasoup says:

      Hey no problem, that’s why I’m here 🙂
      As far as the filters go besure to not save any used cartridges or filters in a bag as they will begin to mold. Just make sure you aren’t changing them too often. Also, if the third female does not survive(though I believe she will be just fine), make sure to buy another female. I also love female bettas and the fact that they can be housed together. However, they still play dominance roles so females need to be housed in odd number groups so that one cane step up to be the leader and keep the peace in your tank. Good luck! Let me know how everything turns out.

  8. Debby says:

    My betta fish is constantly “overshooting” his pellets of food. Can he be blind ? His eyes look perfectly normal, as does his body. He always “shark attacked” when fed, but now he swims just fine, shows no other symptoms, but hits beyond the pellet of food each time, and has to back up and try again, over and over, sometimes as much as a dozen tries, just to get a single pellet of food. Sometimes, after numerous tries, he just gives up ! Although he has never eaten any pellets that were wet (just spits them out), at times I have left one for him, hoping. No go. He still does his usual “shark attack” when he is fed, but lands past the pellet each time he goes to eat one. Physically, he looks fine. Nothing other than this feeding behavior seems different. He seems to poop okay, too. I am worried that soon he will not be able to get even a single pellet to eat. Recently he seems to try less times, before giving up, and then I remove the pellet from the water, so it won’t rot or anything. This has been going on for some time, and he has not getting much to eat at all, for a month or more. What do I do when he just gives up totally ? How long can a betta survive, once he gets to the point where he eats nothing? Is there any kind of food he wouldn’t have to “catch” in his mouth, to obtain nourishment ? He is not showing any of the usual signs of swim bladder disease, or any other disease I have read about.

    • Angelasoup says:

      Hi Debby, I apologize for the late response. I have been having issues receiving notifications due to switching servers. To check for blindness a great way to start is to try the mirror effect. Put a mirror to the side of his tank to see if he becomes confrontational. Also try shining a light on him to see how he reacts. I realize he may still be experiencing partial blindness but those two tests are a great way to start. Have you tried feeding him freeze-dried blood worms? This would be the next test I would try with him because the pieces are much longer and easier to grasp. A betta who will not eat will live approximately two to three weeks, possibly more but not likely. I hope I’m not too late in responding, I would love to hear an update from you.

  9. casey says:

    My Bette fish is a female. I got her about 3 months ago, and she is super beautiful. I have one issue, though. She has before bloated. She acts fine, has great balance, isn’t pine coning, is fed 3-5 pellets every day, skipping one and having one pea day as well. She loves peas and this usually gets her right on track to poo for a few days… I treated her with this Jungle stuff for fungus and bacteria tonight after her tank cleaning… hoping for the best. He name is Sunshine. 🙂

    • Angelasoup says:

      I would cut back on feeding to about 2-3 pellets per day. Also the best way to do this to prevent bloating is to administer the pellets sporadically through out the day. Pellets are dry and expand once re-hydrated within your betta’s belly. Imagine a bowl of cereal. The cereal starts dry and when you get down to the end of the bowl the remaining pieces are soggy and twice the size they once were. So when you see Sunshine with a big tummy it’s pretty much the same thing as how you feel after over-indulging at a buffet.

  10. AlexM says:

    Hi! Hoping you can help …we have had a male betta in a 2gal tank for about six mos. he has been happy and content until last week – suddenly started sitting at the bottom of the tank, vertical most of the time. Last night I noticed a sore on his head that I thought came from hitting the rocks. Moved him to a bowl and the sore seemed better but still vertical. Thought constipation so stopped feeding but he has no swelling. Did a complete water change after coming home and finding him like this …he has had no issues with the tank setup since we have had him. Now it looks like he has dark spots appearing on his body…poor guy seems miserable and I can’t tell what is happening. Any insight would be appreciated as his symptoms do not match anything I have found.

    • Angelasoup says:

      It sounds as though he might have a bacterial infection such as body rot. What do the dark spots look like? Do they appear as though they are eating away at his body? Or do the spots look fuzzy or slimy? If you could send a picture that would be ideal. If not there is always the halo treatment which is an all-in-one medicine that is low dosed but treats a wide spectrum of diseases.

      • AlexM says:

        Actually in looking again, the spots aren’t abnormal…pretty sure they were there before but possible that they are more pronounced with his color fading. He can’t seem to get himself upright – and to me, his lower body looks swollen…it’s like he’s a helium balloon. He’s worn out and not able to get to the surface – trying to help him so he can get air, but his fins are now clamped and he is just floating and sinking 🙁 apparently this has been going on since last week.

        • Angelasoup says:

          Did you read my article on Swim Bladder disorder? The swim bladder organ is what allows buoyancy in fish so they can float sink and move around more freely. Swim bladder disorder is when constipation or even internal parasites lead to a blockage in the swim bladder organ. This will lead to bloating and a loss in balance. It important to first discover the underlying issue. Besides color fading and clamped fins are there any other symptoms such as stringy waste? Protruding eyes, rubbing against objects etc? I am hoping this is merely an issue with overfeeding. Here is the article on swim bladder disorder so you can compare your situation:

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