Betta constipation is typically the result of poor feeding habits. There’s a good chance that your betta has been overfed. It can be difficult to know how much to feed to your betta fish. One main issue is the rumor floating around that a beta should be allowed to eat as much as he/she can in two to four minutes. Bettas think in terms of eating when they can and as much as possible. This is the result of the evolved natural instincts they have acquired. In their natural habitat they go many days without finding food. So naturally when they see food they try to not let anything go to waste.
Along with overeating, the type of food fed to your betta can also be a contributing factor. Dry food such as freeze-dried blood worms and pellets become re-hydrated after consumption. It then expands within the stomach.
Constipation in fish? Should I be worried?
Not at all. Betta constipation is very common and is fortunately very easy to recover from. First be sure your betta is not experiencing something more serious.
A betta fish with constipation will have a bloated belly and most-likely a loss of balance. Swim bladder disorder and dropsy can show the same signs but are noticeably more serious. A betta with constipation will still be active and eating as normal. If you see signs of “pineconing” (scales standing up) you may be dealing with Dropsy. If you see your betta fish floating or swimming sideways you could be seeing the early signs of Swim Bladder Disorder. Both are very serious conditions but if your betta seems to be acting normal it is probably just having a problem relieving itself.
How to bring relief to your betta fish…
You can wait and see if it passes while refraining from feeding your fish. However I recommend you try feeding your betta or other fish with peas. You can boil the peas or even cook them in the microwave in a bowl with water. Once the peas have reached room temperature remove the skin from the peas. Break off small parts and drop them into the tank. The beta may not seem interested at first because they are a carnivorous species of fish. If your betta fish refuses to eat, remove the peas from the tank and try again in about two days. By then your fish may be back to normal. If not, the affected betta will be more willing to eat the peas.
Preventing betta constipation…
To lower the risk of constipation, lower the amount of food your betta is fed. I also suggest you switch to frozen or live food. Both of which can still be purchased from your local pet shop. When feeding live or frozen foods you will not need to feed your betta fish every day. This makes up for the higher prices of these foods. Also remember that the new food will be more dense and higher in nutrients.
If choosing to continue the use of freeze-dried or dehydrated foods try re-hydrating the food in water 10 minutes before feeding time to prevent betta constipation.
For more information on the proper betta fish diet and feeding habits, click here.