A virus that is very uncommon, but has a high rate of infection. It is not caused by the usual pathogens and organisms that come and go in your tank. It is introduced from an outside source. Infected fish and even infected tank decorations and gravel can cause an outbreak in your tank.
Even though Lymphocystisis very rare, you should still take high precautionary steps to prevent this virus. Once your betta becomes
infected he/she will be infected for life. The best human comparison for this virus is the herpes virus(genital or cold sores). Don’t let this scare you too much. It is contagious to other aquarium fish, but luckily Lymphocystis is not communicable to humans.
The virus infects fin and skin cells and starts to enlarge. The first visible sign of lymphocystis are small growths that start out looking like small white pin heads. This can understandably be mistaken for Ich in the beginning stages. As time goes by and the infection progresses, the sores get larger as the cells fill with fluid. After about 4 weeks, when the growth has reached a couple millimeters in diameter, the sore erupts. This causes the viral fluid to float about freely in the aquarium to find more hosts.
It is important to know that this disease is not fatal. However, it can interfere with daily life. Depending on where the growths are located, your betta might have trouble eating or breathing properly.
The only way to make sure you don’t have to deal with this gross annoyance is to prevent initial infection from ever occurring.
Preventing Betta Lymphocystis
Isolate all new fish in a separate containment tank for a few weeks. During this time, observe the skin and fins of your new fish and makes notes if you see any change. If no growths emerge, it is safe to say there is no viral threat. You can integrate the new tank mate into your aquarium when you feel it is safe.
Another important preventative is to soak all new tank items before placing them in your tank or betta bowl. Fish items can get expensive and I know it’s a great option to buy used fish decorations and gravel from local or online sources. You just need to think about what happened to the fish who used those items prior to your purchase.
Soak these items in a solution of 10% bleach and 90% very hot water. Let this soak for about ten minutes and then rinse your ornaments or fake plants very thoroughly. Do not apply this process to gravel. Gravel is one of those items that you’ll always want to buy new. If you soak gravel in bleach the gravel is going to retain some of the chemical.
Be cautious of where you purchase your live plants. It would be best if the plants were not raised in fish water. You can also try growing your own aquatic plants at home.
Lastly is a tip I always try to stress, do not feed your betta or other aquarium fish live food. Unless you grow the organisms yourself live food can pose a huge threat to your betta’s health. Live food are not treated like pets so they live in less-than-desirable conditions.