What is Septicemia?


Septicemia, also known as Sepsis, is a bacterial infection in the bloodstream. This can occur in betta fish through the consumption of tainted food but more commonly by a wound becoming infected due to poor water quality. Be sure to always keep up with water changes to keep water free of bacterial pathogens and other toxins. Perform regular water tests to make sure the habitat is stable and safe for your betta fish.

Note: It is important to know that Septicemia is very serious. Though it is a curable disease, it will lead death if left untreated. Be sure to know the signs and medicate your betta fish and any other tank mates as soon as you are aware of infection.


Pay attention for prevention

When you have an injured fish remember that they are absorbing the water they live in just as we are absorbing airborne pathogens.  Injuries should be aided with an aloe vera fish treatment as well as aquarium salt. When not from injury make note of where you have purchased your betta food and the brand. Frozen foods are more likely to cause problems if not kept well. Think of it in terms of the meat we eat and food poisoning. It can become tainted if left out too long or if it becomes expired. If you use frozen food, do not refreeze after thawing. If you prefer using live food you should consider growing your own cultures.



Signs to look for when diagnosing Septicemia


betta fish septicemia

The first obvious Septicemia symptom will be red or bloody streaks in the fins or body.

Typical symptoms that can be associated will almost all fish disease will be apparent such as appetite loss, color loss or fading, clamped fins, and lethargy.

There is a main symptom that makes this disease stand out and easier to diagnose. If your betta fish is suffering from Septicemia, you will notice obvious red spotting or streaking. The picture above shows a betta with red streaks on the body. It will appear as though you can see your betta‘s veins. The betta pictured on the right shows red streaking in the fins giving off the appearance of pink or bloody fins.

When Septicemia has not been treated and advances further, open sores will begin to appear. The final stages of Septicemia will cause pop eye. As you can see from the image below, infection has become so severe that one eye of the betta fish has literally bulged or “popped” out. If your fish has gotten to the point of pop eye, be sure to treat the tank immediately. There is still hope, but there could be permanent damage to your fish. The sooner you can catch and treat Septicemia, the better chance your betta has at surviving the infection.


Treating Septicemia


betta fish popeye

This betta already has popeye and may be too far along to be saved.

Start with an antibiotic. It is true that like humans, bettas can also build a resistance to antibiotics. You usually need to stay away from them in case they are seriously needed when it’s life or death. Septicemia is that time for your betta. Septicemia is an internal infection so you should really purchase an anti-bacterial medicated fish food. If your betta fish already shows signs of appetite loss you’ll need to treat the water with an antibiotic.

It is hard to decipher what strand of bacteria you are being confronted with due to the infection being internal. So to treat the water you’ll need to purchase a wide spectrum medication that treats both positive and negative gram bacteria. If you are having a hard time finding a wide spectrum medication you can combine the use of Maracyn and Maracyn-Two. Follow the appropriate dosing directions according to the packaging of the antibiotic you purchase.

Septicemia is very serious, especially when it gets to the point of pop eye. But with proper treatment and care you should be able to save your betta.

About Angela Soup

6 Responses to “Septicemia”

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  1. sena says:

    Oh. my. gosh. My yellow male looks EXACTLY the same as that one. Even has the same signs… good thing I started treatment 🙂 thanks for the info too

  2. Mr. Memobetta says:

    Your awesome Angela….thanks for the info! I just got a Betta Fish so I Will be looking for your help when in doubt. I’m researching now so thanks again.

  3. Cathy Camden says:

    Hi, A– Fish is in Maracyn-2, but barely hanging on, trouble breathing. Does permanent brain damage happen? What’s the kindest way to let a fish go?

    • Angelasoup says:

      Brain damage is possible in all fish, but is typically not permanent. Rarely, severe brain damage can occur but will lead to death. Many are opposed to euthanizing fish but I find it very humane, especially in your case. I will email you step-by-step details on how to euthanize your betta in a very painless and humane way.

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