Betta Fish Diseases: Quickly spot and cure them

Betta is a small colorful perch-like, freshwater fish which is also known as Siamese fighting fish. It is native to Thailand and Cambodia. It is found in small ponds, rivers and other small water places. It grows up to 7 cm in length and can live about 2-4 years in captive condition. They have upturned mouths and they are primarily carnivorous surface feeders.

In the wild condition, their diet consists of zooplankton, crustaceans and the larvae of mosquitoes and other water-bound insects.  It prefers warmer water climate (25-30°C) and it can survive in a low-oxygen level of water. Poor water quality makes this fish more susceptible to diseases. Beta fish health is closely related with habitat environment. In order to keep these fish healthy, habitat water should be checked routinely and cleaned. Intensive care must be provided.

They are attacked by different types of diseases due to less than ideal environmental conditions. The causes of these diseases are fungus, bacteria, Protozoa, Helminthes, Crustaceans, Virus and many environmental factors. Physical symptoms and abnormal behavior indicate that the fish is infected with one or more diseases. (Please note that some of the products offered below, work great and are affiliate links that help sustain this website)

Characteristics of a healthy Betta fish

  • Healthy ones show always  bright consistent color;
  • Healthy ones swim spontaneously;
  • Their eyes are always shiny and clear;
  • Their body has shine and clean scales;
  • Their fins position is always upright;
  • A healthy fish eats very quickly and at a regular basis;
  • Gills are normal;
  • Belly looks normal;

Healthy Betta fish – Image Courtesy of Krista76


Symptoms of a sick Betta fish

Below you can read some of the symptoms, that when you see them, you should take immediate action. It is recommended to always contact the veterinarian.

  • Diseased fish breaths rapidly;
  • Diseased fish may be lying on the tank’s bottom and occasionally only come to the surface for some air.
  • It looks paler, color is dull, may turn gray;
  • Red bleeding spot is seen on the body;
  • Some small white cottony patches or lumps occur on the body;
  • They do not feed or lack of appetite;
  • Raising of scales occurs;
  • Inflammation occurs in the body;
  • Gills become reddish;
  • Diseased fish tends to hide under any substances;
  • White spot is found on gill covers;
  • Black streaks are seen on fins;
  • Protrusion of the anal port occurs;
  • Reddishness appears at the base of pectoral fins;
  • Eyes stand out from sockets;
  • White film appears on the eye;
  • Their fins or tail might be scratched, bleeding, falling apart or otherwise damaged


red betta fish

A red recovered Betta fish – Image courtesy of Eric Rice 


Reasons for Betta fish infection/diseases 

These are some of the common reasons that can make your Betta fish ill:

  • Poor water quality due to high ammonia, nitrites and habitat with lots of decaying material;
  • Fluctuation of temperature;
  • Improper feeding;
  • stress through extreme or toxic condition;
  • Over fluctuation of pH;
  • Lack of vitamins in the diet;
  • Wounds due to poor handling;
  • Overcrowding;
  • Low oxygen level;
  • Rough or sharp objects in the pond/aquarium that fish can rub against;
  • Decreased Immunity due to poor living conditions;


Prophylaxis/ treatment:

  • Improve water conditions;
  • Clean tank thoroughly;
  • Treat promptly with an anti-parasite medication. In this case Malachite Green and Fish Zole are recommended. Sometimes salt baths are very effective.
  • Potassium Permanganate is also used for treating parasitic disease.
  • Avoid overcrowding;
  • Avoid stressful conditions;
  • Treat with standard anti-fungal medications such as Mehtylene Blue. It is usually very effective against fungal infection or bacterial infections and nitrite or cyanide poisoning. It is also considered to be an alternative to Malachite Green for the treatment of fungus and external protozoa in sensitive fish, eggs and fry.
  • Proper management system;
  • Frequent water change;
  • Treat with anti-bacterial treatment; Medications such as BettaFix Remedy will heal your Betta fish of columnaris disease, tail and fin rot, pop eye etc.
  • For hemorrhagic diseases Antibiotics such as ampicillin is very effective.
  • For mouth fungus, Antibiotics such as amoxicillin is recommended.
  • Avoid rough handling;
  • Injured or affected fish must be removed from the tank.


Diseases are a prime factor that causes fish mortality. There are hundreds of factors that can affect the health of a fish. The most common problems usually arise when there are present either bacterial or parasitic in origin. Fungal infections are also sometimes seen. Proper diagnosis and medications are recommended to treat the affected Betta.

About Alex

Alex is fascinated by rare, exotic and tropical fish not only living in aquariums, but also their natural habitat and their breeding. Loves to write about them and offers information on how to take care of your beloved fish.

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