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Sick Betta Fish

Bhakti Satalkar Mar 21, 2020
A sick pet is always a heart-wrenching sight. Sometimes, it is also very difficult to understand what is troubling poor betta fishes. However, you will have to clearly look for the symptoms to know what is giving a harrowing time to the fish...
Betta fish, or Siamese fighting fish, are beautiful fish with vibrant colors, long and flowing tails. Betta fish are probably the second most popular fish kept as pets, second only to goldfish. They are a favorite due to their beauty, long fins, and also because they are easy to care for. However, diagnosing a sick betta fish is not as simple as it seems

Sick Betta Fish Symptoms

It is important to know that most of the common sicknesses in betta fish can often be traced back to poor water quality.
  • If the betta fish is suffering from a fungal infection, the fish will have white cotton-like patches on its body or head. It may be less active and may stop eating, its fins may clump, and its color will also turn pale.
  • If you have been overfeeding the fish and it suffers from constipation, you will notice a bloated stomach and loss of appetite.
  • When the fins or the tail rots, the affected part will have a ragged look. The fin and tail may look as though something has taken a bite out of it.
  • If you notice white dots all over the body and head, similar to table salt being sprinkled on the fish, it may be suffering from ick. 
The fish may become less active, its appetite will reduce drastically to the extent that it may stop eating altogether, and its fins may be clumped. It may also start darting and scratching against rocks, aquarium plants, etc.
  • Sometimes the fish may be affected with gill parasites. In such a case, you will notice that the fish is scratching itself against aquarium objects, it will have strange swimming patterns and may also have breathing problems.
  • A betta fish may also suffer from eye problems. You will notice that one or both of the eyes will start bulging out. On some days, the eye might look very ugly and scary. Some fish may also suffer from dropsy. 
  • The common symptoms are that the fish will have an abnormally bloated belly. If you observe the fish from the top, you will see that the scales are raised. The scales will look as though they were an open pine cone.
  • Betta fish can suffer from swim bladder disease as well. The fish will float in an abnormal way. The fish may uncontrollably swim to the top, swim sideways, or may have difficulty in swimming, and will swim in an awkward angle.
  • Fish may also suffer from tuberculosis, which can be transferred from humans. If the fish is suffering from tuberculosis, the fish will experience loss of appetite, cloudy eyes, faded colors, rapid breathing, etc.
  • Like humans, betta fish may also suffer from depression. A depressed betta fish will lie at the bottom of the aquarium, will barely eat, if at all, will not flare its fins or build bubble nests, and will be generally passive.


Once you have understood that your pet fish is sick, how to treat it is the next question. You will have to observe the fish and find out what is wrong with it. Since you have seen it during its healthy days, you should be able to see the difference.
Isolate the sick fish from the others. You can use a separate bowl or jar, however, use the same water as in the main tank, to avoid shocking the fish with an abrupt change in water temperature. Since most diseases are caused by poor water conditions, you will have to ensure the fish bowl is clean and there is no bacterial culture in the water. There are antibiotics for the fish, available at pet shops, but ensure you give them in the right dosage. Your vet must be consulted.
You can use a turkey baster to remove any food particles that may have settled at the bottom. Always make sure the tank is clean, and free from stray food particles. At the same time, avoid overfeeding the fish. It is necessary that you do not over-medicate sick betta fish, as there are other complications that can arise out of over-medication.