Medication overview: When dealing with fish diseases, first you have to identify what you’re treating and why you had to treat. There is no medication that is effective against everything. Few fish medications are even good at treating a couple different pathogens. Get a good book on fish diseases and study it and after you read it, read it again. Even then, you will most often have to make your best guess as to what fish medication to use. Also realize that it is more common than not, that you will be dealing with multiple disease problems. Most diseased betta fish are so weak that their immune system will not prevent attack from other opportunistic pathogens. So you should also read up on how to care for your betta.
How to prepare: Before deciding to treat your betta, first check the basic water parameters like temperature, pH, hardness, ammonia and nitrite levels. You don’t want to stress betta fish with a medicine if the problem is something other than a pathogen. Also check to see that the filter is not clogged or in need of cleaning. Be sure there is good slow gentle water circulation which is necessary for optimum oxygen levels. Look for fish that are bullying the betta. There may also be an plastic ornament or colored gravel that is leaching a toxin. Make sure they’re aquarium safe. Before treating, do a water change. This is often the most effective treatment and sometimes the problem goes away with increased water changes alone. So, learn – think – research – clean and last resort is to use “The Correct Medication”
Deciding what Medication to buy: After you have a problem with your betta is never the best time. Quick action is almost always very important in betta treatments, therefore, have some medications always on hand and have a system set up so you can implement the course of action quickly. First, have a hospital tank (or two) ready with a biologically active filter. Use this specifically for treating new or sick fish and nothing else. Use the smallest tank appropriate for the fish you’re treating. It will save on medication, make the frequent water changes easier and is less of a pain to set up and take down. Several medications will stain the silicone, so there is no sense using show tanks to medicate a betta fish in. Malachite green, methylene blue and copper sulfate are some of the worst at leaving stains. Many medications will also kill plants and invertebrates like snails. A hospital tank will treat only be used to treat the betta fish. The hospital tank should have in-direct low intensity full spectrum light near it. This keeps the fish more calm but, bacteria grow faster under bright light and you need to keep that in mind. Light will also degrade some medications. When you are done with the betta treatment, sterilize the tank and filter for the next time you need it. After sterilization, the filter can be added to a healthy tank to re-seed the bacteria for the next use.
Many medications will harm the nitrifying bacteria in your filter, so have an extra filter in healthy tank, ready to be put into the hospital tank if needed. Nitrifying bacteria are gram positive aerobic bacteria, so if you use a medication like erythromycin, the filter will be killed. Some broad spectrum antibiotics like Kanamycin Sulfate are more effective against gram negative bacteria, but will kill some gram positive aerobic bacteria, like nitrifying bacteria, when used heavily.
Medicated foods will protect your filter, but when using a medicated food, it is critical that the betta fish are accustomed to eating this same exact food without the medications. Medicated food only works 50% of the time if the betta fish consumes a particular amount of food. In general the medicated foods are formulated for a fish that is eating 2-3% of it’s body weight in food each day. Betta fish do not eat enough food to use this method efficiently as the only treatment method!
In today’s world the use of blended medications is really the way to go and you should research this for sure as it can save fish you would otherwise need to cull.
Treatment Guidelines: If you suspect an internal parasite – high heat is very beneficial for bettas. The parasites don’t like it and some are actually killed by it. In addition, the betta fish’s immune system is boosted at higher temps. 84-89 F is the most effective heat range. Most tropical fish can easily handle this and most people do not understand if the tank is well aerated and the temperature is raised gradually over a 24 hr period it works very well. If you are in doubt, simply carefully monitor them while raising the temperature.
If you think it’s a bacterial problem, high temperature is harmful or fatal. Bacterial infections thrive in the 80’s and 90’s, so it’s best to treat in the low 70’s this includes the symptoms of dropsy. At this temperature, they won’t eat much, so feed very lightly. In fact, if you suspect an internal bacterial problem, food is not going to help. Unless it’s an antibiotic food, the fish are better off not eating. If fish do not respond to the antibiotic within 4 days, discontinue it and try another. If they respond, do not stop treatment. The full course must be given or they will be re-infected and become worse than before. Be aware – many manufacturers recommend a dose that is inadequate for a cure of betta fish and many also have “cut” formulas that have a bulk inert ingredient added, which further dilutes the effectiveness of the betta medication. Pay attention to the purity of the medication.
Always choose a medicated food as it is a prety sure bet it will work for an internal problem if you can find one with the proper medication and the betta fish is eating well. It is more effective, less harmful to the environment, saves the bio filter and is a less expensive way to treat. You can make your own medicated foods by combining the food and medication with gelatin to hold it together. Just soaking a dry food in medication is not very effective. The medication dissolves or disappears into the tanks water within seconds and the dose cannot be controlled.
Expired medications: Most medications will retain over 90% of their effectiveness well past their expiration date. The dates mandated by the government are more than just a little conservative and are borderline crazy. There are a couple, like Trichlorfon (dylox) and Oxytetracycline Hydrochloride that can become toxic when they get too old, but even they are probably good for well over a year past the expiration date. Keep them cool and dry for maximum shelf life and effectiveness. Do not freeze.
Overview of common betta bacterial types:
- Mycobacterium (TB)
- Streptococcus – aerobic
- Pseudonocardio – anaerobic
- Staphylococcus – aerobic
- Cynobacteria – (blue/green algae) phototrophic
- Nitrifying – aerobic
- Aeronomas – anaerobic
- Furunculosis – anaerobic
- Vibro – anaerobic
- Columnaris – aerobic
- Pseudomonas – aerobic
- Salmonella – aerobic
*** UPDATE: Fish Tuberculosis is generally caused by Mycobacterium marinum, a bacterium closely related to the human TB (Tuberculosis) bacteria, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, although incidents of Mycobacterium triplex have also been reported with Bettas from Aisa.
Despite some internet claims and Facebook sites saying dropsy can be treated with salt or simple meds (dropsy is a symptom not disease), based on my many years of “school in aquaculture” and other professional aquarium breeding maintenance work it has shown Fish “TB” to be relatively common in Asia and Europe breeding and shows with the exception of a few cases where the bacteria has been passed around and the fish’ immune system has been compromised, this is especially the case with recently confirmed Mycobacterium triplex is most likely going to be lost cause in the long term no mater how you treat. At this point you should cull the fish.
This seems to be more common disease now days among breeding and showing circles/clubs where water and equipment cross contamination is common during shows or exhibits.
Chart 1 simple
HEALTHY BETTA 🙂
SICK BETTA 🙁
Eats like a little pig
Does not eat at all or eats reluctantly and may spit out his food.
Swims around and is active
Is not active. May lay at the bottom and come up only for air, or may stay at the surface in a corner.
May darts and purposely runs into anything he can (gravel, rocks, etc) in an effort to scratch itself.
Is colorful and vibrant
Looks paler, color is dull, may turn gray
Fins and tail are spread out like fans
Tail and sometimes fins are clumped, closed, stiff looking or falling apart
Body looks slick and clean
Body may have: open sores, white cottony patches, red spots, lumps or white spots.
Eyes are normal
One or both eyes are protruding and swollen
Gills are normal
One or both gills do not close all the way and stay half open (swollen/inflamed). They may look red.
Scales are smooth
Scales are raised (like a pine cone)
Belly looks normal
Belly looks too hollow or on the contrary is abnormally swollen and big.
|Symptoms of Fish Disease|
|Symptom||Definite Symptom Of Disease||Possible Symptom Of Disease|
|Fish gasping. Rapid gill movement. Fish hanging near surface.||Bacterial gill disease. Poisoning/Water quality||White Spot. Velvet. Slime Disease. Higher form parasite|
|Flicking & Rubbing||White Spot. Velvet. Slime Disease. Higher form Parasite.||Poisoning/Water Quality|
|Peppering of Gold Spots||Velvet|
|Patches of Slime||Slime Disease. Poisoning/Water Quality|
|White Spots (sugar grain)||White Spot|
|Disc or Worm-like attachments on body/gills||Higher form Parasite|
|Gills pale/eroded||Higher form parasite. Bacterial gill disease||White Spot. Velvet. Slime Disease|
|Cloudy Eyes||Slime disease. Poisoning/Water quality|
|Cotton wool Growths||Mouth Rot. Fungus|
|Fins eroded/opaque||Fin Rot||Internal Bacterial Infection|
|Mouth/Head Erosion||Mouth Rot|
|Eyes Swollen (Pop-eye)||Internal Bacterial Infection|
|Distended/Hollow Stomach||Internal Bacterial Infection|
|Holes/Ulcers||Internal Bacterial Infection|
|Fish Color Darkens||Poisoning/Water Quality||Internal Bacterial Infection|
|Unexplained Deaths||Internal Bacterial Infection|
|Darting Around||Poisoning/Water Quality|
|Unable to maintain Balance||Swim Bladder problems. Poisoning/Water Quality||Internal Bacterial Infection|
Parasite and Fungal control for betta Fish
>When dealing with bacterial diseases, Seachem makes two of the most effective medications on the market. Kanaplex and Metroplex are both powdered antibiotics which should be your go-to medications when you think your fish has a bacterial disease such as columaris, tuberculosis, popeye, fin rot, dropsy, etc. It’s easy to use, highly effective and in my opinion safer than alternatives like API Furan-2. I’ve found that Furan-2 kills off beneficial bacteria quicker than Seachem’s products and Furan-2 can be easily overdosed. Kanaplex and Metroplex are also more versatile in the respect that it can be fed directly to your fish so you don’t have to treat an entire tank if you don’t want to.
Because many people misdiagnose their fish I strongly recommend using Kanaplex and Metroplex in combination with another when treating for a suspected bacterial infection. This is not only safe but in my experiences have made the medications more effective.
For some cases of stubborn infections, like columnaris or symptoms of dropsy, you must combine these two medications because it’s the only way in-which they are effective and can bond together forming a super medication which is also a reason that I recommend using both. So, if you see a issue and are not sure what it is use the above combo and it will cure 90% of the bettas infection issues most of the time. If you have a pretty good idea of what your betta has then you can use a more targeted type of medication. Targeting is always best!
Formalin and malachite green – combination at the same time in recommend dose by mfg. One of the best combinations to eliminate external parasites, such as ich, uronmena, gill and skin worms. It is also effective on fungus. 5 ml of each (1 tsp) per 20 gal. repeat every other day for 3 treatments. Do a 25% water change between treatments. Caution: malachite green will stain clear silicone caulk, so it’s best to treat fish in a hospital tank where staining doesn’t matter.
Aquatic B Plus – For Fungus and Columnaris treatment
For treating fungus in betta fish, damaged betta tail fin, bloody skin, dropsy, bacterial infection from water temperature change or contamination from host fish.
Symptom: wounds in body, scale losing, fin rot, laziness, air bladder disease. Treatment: 1 drop/20 liters of water for 2-3 consecutive days (based on symptom level) For fish pond, use 4 c.c/ 1 ton of water Prevention: use every 15 days.
Aquatic C Plus – eliminate Lerneosis, flukes, Argulus, worm, sliminess disease, which suck fish’s blood and irritate fish resulting in swimming suffering Usage: 1 drop/20 liters of water for 2-3 consecutive days to get rid of worms For aquarium fish only Suitable for fresh and salt water Remark: keep out of reach of children Treatment: 1 drop/20 liters of water for 2-3 consecutive days (based on symptom level) For fish pond, use 4 c.c/ 1 ton of water Prevention: use every 15 days.
Blue Copper – is a concentrated, chelated copper solution. Eliminates external parasites such as ich and velvet. Can also be used for unwanted aquarium pests like hydra, planarian, snails and algae. Dose: 1 ml per 10 gal. Repeat in 2 days with a 25% water change in between treatments.
Praziquantel 100% – This is an anthelmintic (dewormer used in dogs) effective in the treatment of flatworms (tapeworm)and internal cestodes (flukes). Dose at 1/4 tsp per 25 gallons. Repeat every 7 days for 3 total treatments. Perform a 25% water change in between treatments.
Levamisol HCL 100% – This is an anti-nematodic(dewormer) effective in the treatment of both larval and adult forms of nematodes, such as Camallanus and Capillaria. It does not kill the eggs of the parasite. Also effective for some gill nematodes. It paralyzes the parasite which is then passed through the digestive system. Daily vacuuming of the tank bottom after each day of the treatment is recommended. It will not affect plants or invertebrates. It does not harm nitrifying bacteria. Dose at 1/4 tsp per 100 gallons. After 48 hours, do a 50% water change and repeat treatment in 7 days. To treat smaller tanks, add the 1/4 tsp to a given amount of water and then give 1/10 of the solution for each 10 gallons of tank water.
Malachite Green 100%: – This is effective against fungus of both fish and fish eggs. If used on eggs, only use for the first 24 hrs, then change water. It is also useful against parasites, such as gill flukes, ich and trichodina. It can be harsh on some sensitive fish like certain catfish. Use a lower dose on those. It combines well with formalin to make an even more effective medication. It does not affect nitrifying bacteria to any great amount. It is more harsh in low pH and low hardness. Best used with a GH of 100 or higher and in lower temperatures (70s).Dose: To make stock solution, combine 15 grams of powder with one gallon of distilled water. Then use 1/4 tsp of stock solution to each 10 gallons of tank water. Use about half that on sensitive fish. Treat every other day for up to 10 days. Add the 15 grams to a gallon of 37% formaldehyde and you have your own concentrated stock solution of this very effective combination.
Acriflavin 100%: This product has a wide variety of uses. Commonly used against bacteria, both external and systemic types. It is very good when used against fungus and is also used for many protozoans, especially odinium (velvet). It is frequently used as a quarantine bath for newly acquired fish. We find this a very good alternative to methylene blue for hatching fish eggs. Caution: It will kill plants, so it is advisable to use a separate treatment tank.
Natural Betta Treatments:
Blackwater Extracts – ‘Blackwater’ is the term used to describe the kind of water found in the natural habitat of some acidic water fishes such as bettas, gouramies, killifish and arowanas.
In the wild, if your fish comes from a habitats where leaves and other plant debris regularly fall into the water and decompose, your fish will be more happy in that environment so trying to mimic it in your aquariums is strongly recommended. Leaves that fall into the water release many different compounds, from dyes to trace minerals, and animals living in the water adapt to having all those different compounds readily available. If your fish comes from the type of environment described above, Indian Almond leaf blackwater extract is one way of simulating black water condition which is the natural environment for most tropical fish.
Commercial blackwater extracts can work out to be very expensive, but not if you brew your own. WorldBetta Indian Almond Leaf and Banana Blackwater Extract Mix is made up of what we call low grade leaves, these leaves have either been damaged durning the cleaning process or have more holes and tears than our Premium Indian Almond Leaves and Banana Leaves. The leaves are cleaned and then they are ground and bagged into plastic bags ready for shipping.
Making your own Indian Almond Leaf and Banana blackwater extract is pretty much straight forward :
1st you need a bag of WorldBetta Blackwater Extract Mix or WorldBetta Low Grade Indian Almond Leaves.
Next you need a pot big enough to hold at least 1 gallon of water, but the bigger the pot the more extract you will produce.
Put 100g of WorldBetta Indian Almond Leaf and Banana blackwater extract or roughly 50 our our low grade Indian Almond leaves for each gallon of water inside the pot. ( we have found with the blackwater mix it is best to use an old pair of tights or a thin sock..just simply empty mix into tights or sock and place in water ).
Fill the pot with clean water.
Let the leaves or blackwater mix soak in the water for 24 hours. It’s best to put some type of weight on top of the mix or leaves to stop them floating.
The following day boil the pot of leaves or blackwater mix for 15 – 20 minutes.
Put to outside and let it cool and stew for another 24 hours.
The next day boil the pot again for 10 – 15 minutes.
Once the water as cooled you will notice that the water is black with a very strong fragrance.
Filter the indian almond leaf blackwater extract through a coffee paper filter or again an old pair of tights. This is to stop any undesirable matter getting into the blackwater extract.
The indian Almond Leaf blackwater extract can now be pored in to plastic or glass bottles, sealed and stored in fridge or somewhere dark and cool.
Recommended Dosage : 1 ounce for 1 gallon of water.
Our Indian Almond leaf and Banana blackwater extract mix is ideal for bettas, discus, gouramis, killiefish, tetras, arowana’s, angelfish, South American dwarf cichlids, corys, plecos, some rasboras some cat-fishes and crustaceans.
Sun Dried Thai Banana Leaf – successfully used in Asia for many years by tropical betta fish breeders, in the same way as Indian Almond Leaves ( Terminilia Cattapa )
The leaves of the Thai banana tree (Musa sp. var. sapientum) have long been used in the same way as indian almond leaves (Terminalia Catappa) to prevent and treat diseases in bettas such as :
head and lateral line erosion in cichlids
damage to mucous membranes
The coloration of the betta fish is greatly improved and the leafs have a very positive effect on the betta fishes’ readiness to spawn (especially in Betta Splendens).
We have several hundred trees that grow around our breeding farm and we regularly put the old banana trees in the grow out tanks. Our banana leaves are harvested and treated just as carefully as our indian almond leaves and are free of pesticides and harmful bacteria.
Indian Almond – (also known as Ketapang or Tropical Almond or Sea Almond or Seemandelbaumblatter or Terminalia Catappa) leaves are becoming very popular among fish keepers/breeders with bettas, not just in South-East Asia but around the world, as a natural medicine and water conditioner for aquarium use, nothing is better.
We have always used Indian Almond Leaves for conditioning and care of our Bettas here at WorldBetta. They are believed to aid the fish in a number of ways, they increase fertility, health, and vigor. Reduce Ph in water, aid in the recovery of diseased/damaged fish and the tannin quickly colors the water to help relax the betta fish and simulate the natural conditions of the wild bettas.
Aquaculture professionals also use Indian Almond Leaves to mimic the natural conditions of their native betta fish in their Aquarium. Simply adding Indian Almond Leaves ( IAL ) to your aquarium will release compounds by the leaves which alter the chemistry of the water, making the aquarium more similar to the habitat from which the betta fish hails.
As well as bettas, these leaves are also ideal for Discus, gouramis, killiefish, tetras, arrowana’s, angelfish, South American dwarf cichlids, corys, plecos, some rasboras some cat-fishes and crustaceans, shrimps just love to chew on them.
Catechu Bark another alternative to Indian Almond Bark
As with Indian Almond bark, if your Betta fish comes from a habitat where leaves and other plant debris regularly falls into the water and decompose, your fish will be more happy in that environment so trying to mimic it in your aquariums is strongly recommended. Catechu leaves and bark that fall into the water release many different compounds, from dyes to trace minerals, and Betta’s living in the water adapt to having all those different compounds readily available. If your fish comes from the type of environment described above, Catechu Bark is one way of simulating black water condition which is the natural environment for most Betta fish.
Like Indian Almond bark, Catechu bark is high in natural tannin’s which accounts for its astringent effect and has been proved to harden the scales of Betta as well has sharpening their teeth.. Acacia Catechu is also known as cachou, cutch, cashoo, Terra Japonica, khoyer or Japan earth). Catechu is used in here Thailand and around the world by Betta breeders/keepers that like to fight their fish.
Making your own Catechu Bark extract is pretty much straight forward :
- 1st you need a bag of WorldBetta Indian Catechu Bark.
- Next you need a pot big enough to hold at least 1 gallon of water, but the bigger the pot the more extract you will produce.
- Put 25g – 75g of WorldBetta Catechu Bark for each gallon of water inside the pot.
- Fill the pot with clean water.
- Let the Catechu Bark soak in the water for 24 hours. It’s best to put some type of weight on top of the bark to stop it floating.
- The following day boil the pot of Catechu Bark for 15 – 20 minutes.
- Put to one side and let it cool and stew for another 24 hours.
- The next day boil the pot again for 10 – 15 minutes.
- Once the water as cooled you will notice that the water is brown with a very strong fragrance.
- Filter the Catechu bark extract through a coffee paper filter or again an old pair of tights. This is to stop any undesirable matter getting into the Catechu extract.
- The Catechu Bark extract can now be poured in to plastic or glass bottles, sealed and stored in fridge or somewhere dark and cool.
Recommended Dosage : 1 ounce for 1 gallon of water.
We have had a lot of questions recently by WorldBetta customers where they expressed concerns that our disease free betta fish would have no immunity to the diseases in their tanks and would get sick more readily than fish that had been previously exposed to these pathogens. We certainly haven’t made the huge effort required to have disease free fish just to have them do poorly in other’s tanks. So, let’s look at this a little more closely.
There are no scientific studies to look at this. Heck, there may not be another disease-free hatchery in this country(Thailand), so it’s not something that would even be a concern until just recently. However, let’s be clear. The reason people wonder about this subject is not because people are experiencing sick fish from our hatchery. It’s just a concern based on suppositions and false ideas from uninformed people.
We need to point out that people who received our fish are given no guarantees to not have a problem with a betta fish. No matter how disease-free they may be when we ship them, they can easily becomes sick and die when exposed to virulent pathogens or poor betta care. There are opportunistic bacteria everywhere waiting to pounce on a stressed fish. These are not virulent pathogens, but quite capable of overcoming a fish that has a compromised immune system from too much stress or bad fish keeping skills.
The big question is, does exposure to virulent pathogens and opportunistic parasites give some degree of immunity to fish down the road? With some pathogens, like viruses, there is no question. Yes, immunity will develop. But with any virulent viruses, the goal is to never expose them to the virus. Viruses have no cure and exposure at any point is very undesirable. Even if they survive the virus, they are of little value after exposure. With every other common pathogen that we can think of, either that pathogen is not designed to kill the fish or it is no advantage to having the fish get sick at an early age. In fact, getting sick when young and in the highest growth stage is about the worst thing we can think of. We’d much rather have them grow up in the best pathogen-free certified conditions and be strong fish with capable immune systems able to better handle any pathogens in the future.
What we have experienced: Our shipped fish have a very high survival rate and above 94%. With no pathogens in the body to attack the stressed fish, they go through shipping like a walk in the park. When they arrive, within hours they are ready to explore, eat and some (mature fish) are even ready to spawn . We’ve had a lower than normal number of people call with problems and most problems crop up much later down the road from the persons lack of skills on fish keeping and use of medications to treat sub-par imported fish . Fewer people have complained about fish getting sick and dying (at any point). With out a doubt they are being exposed to pathogens in customer tanks. It is the rare customer who quarantines correctly in a manner above where our fish are never exposed to a pathogen, yet we’ve experienced greater customer satisfaction than ever before. While this is not a scientific conclusion, it is a sound conclusion based on actual outcomes. We can say with confidence that pathogen-free fish are not more susceptible to getting sick when exposed to them at a later time in life. We believe it is an advantage to stay disease-free as long as possible before exposure to any problems. Most breeders should stop and think and treat all fish and then start their breeding program after every tank is cleaned and every fish is treated 1 good time.
Todd and Onuma
P.S. My wife asked me to talk a little about common betta disease and symptoms, so here you go..
Some Common Help on General Info and Symptoms:
DISEASE: FUNGAL INFECTION
If you always add aquarium salt to your betta’s water (1 teaspoon of aquarium salt per 2 1/2 Gal of water) and one drop of Betta B+ per directions , your betta will probably never get fungus. It is contagious, but bettas will more than likely recover if treated promptly.
Betta has white cottony like patches on its body or head. He may be less active, may have stopped eating, fins may be clumped, color may be pale.
DISEASE: INTERNAL PARASITES
If you feed live red or black worms, you can easily give your bettas some internal parasites. Those are a real pest because you can’t see them, the bettas behavior does not change, except they start looking skinny despite the fact they are eating normally. This is a somewhat common disease in Asia, meaning you just got that nice looking import betta at the local pet store. You may or may not have to ever deal with it.
Bettas are losing weight despite their eating normally.
WARNING: there are other serious diseases that mimic internal parasites because the fish start looking emaciated (fish tuberculosis). So it is easy to confuse the two.
DISEASE: EXTERNAL PARASITES
If you do not add some aquarium salt (1 teaspoon per 5 gal) to your betta’s water to prevent parasites, your betta may get some parasites, but I cannot say it is common as I, personally have never seen the little pests at my farm..). People send me a photo’s showing store bettas with anchor worms near the gills and fins. It might give you a reference point. but note that each parasite has its own shape. The use of a magnifying glass or friends with better eyes will be helpful to help SEE them on your fish’s skin or under the gills.
It is easy to diagnose a betta with external parasites: It will dart and scratch itself against anything it can find, such as gravel, rocks, heaters, tank walls, etc… You may or may not actually be able to see the parasites themselves. Look instead for a behavioral change in your betta. if it is darting all over to look for a place to scratch, then it has parasites!
DISEASE: BACTERIAL INFECTION
If the betta‘s water becomes fouled with uneaten food and fish waste, if it is not well filtered or if the jars are not kept sparkling clean, bacterial bloom will promptly occur and infect your fish. Sometimes you keep the water clean and the fish still gets a bacterial infection!! >8(. Why? because bacteria is resident in your tap water, in the air, on your hands etc… Usually healthy bettas have their immune system to protect them against these attacks. But bettas with a deficient immune system (when a betta is stressed, because it was scared, or moved or shipped, its immune system will become deficient) will catch whatever is lurking in the water, including the bacteria. They will have a “bacterial infection”. VERY CONTAGIOUS!!
Betta may have clamped fins, lay at bottom or at surface, not eat, lose its color, turn gray, barely swim around. In more advanced cases, its body may start developing red patches, open sores and all kinds of nasty looking stuff. (Even holes in its head!! Not Mad Cow!!) Different bacteria affect fish differently. Some will attack the internal organs while others prefer to munch on the skin.
This is probably the deadliest of fish diseases even with new medications today, yet most people have never heard of it or know little to nothing about it. It can mimic a large variety of other diseases, making it hard to diagnosis. Only an autopsy can confirm mycobacteriosis. This is a slow blooming disease that may take up to 6 months to affect fish. Ultimately, the bacteria will attack the internal organs, especially liver and kidneys and cause organ failure (followed by sudden death). This is the only fish disease known to be contagious to man or Facebook monkey. The good news is, unless you have a very infected tank or have HIV and stick your hands in there and have a big cut or a weak immune system HIV, you will probably never catch it from sick fish. And even if you did, it will not kill you, mostly give you a nasty skin infection which may take a long time to heal. The bug does not like people or Facebook monkeys much (it is a temperature thing, although I do know some cold hearted @??????’s), and seems to remain on the skin surface only. Also, just so you don’t become all paranoid now and post to you Facebook page, I must add that there has been VERY FEW documented cases of fish TB infecting people. And in most cases, as I said, the people either had a deep cut or immune system deficiency. The only reason I am mentioning all this is so you are aware of it when showing or buying fish. Don’t worry, Mr. I’m So Cool Betta is not out to get ya! LOL. Fish tuberculosis can be resident in water at shows and events but has also been linked to a lot of live foods (researchers found cases of live foods infected by tuberculosis etc…), and is mainly passed by injection (eating contaminated live food, or eating a dead fish that was a carrier, etc…) Now you can understand the importance of staying away from fish stores where you can see a lot of dead fish or live food! Pick your fish suppliers very carefully in Asia and favor a store or breeder that has high hygiene standards and no live foods in their fish rooms or stores. As for me, as an added precaution, I have decided to not feed any live foods to my bettas (live worms etc), just to be on the safe side. ( However, microworms, vinegar eel as well as any home hatched brine shrimp are 100% safe and mycobacteriosis free :)) ).
Affected fish will start deteriorating for no apparent reasons, losing weight (or not), showing deformities (or not), having raised scales (or not), fin and body rot (or not), gray lesions (or not), red patches inside the belly (or not). Sometimes they will seem fine one day and be oh so very DEAD and doing the back stroke the next. The one thing all the bettas affected by this terrible diseases have in common is that they will all (as in every single last one of them) die no matter what your Facebook group tells you to buy. So if you suddenly find a large number of dead fish in your tanks, and more die each day, there is a strong possibility you might be at war with fish tuberculosis and a big cull is in order(careful though, other bacterial infections can also have similar dramatic death rates).
DISEASE: UNKNOWN – POSSIBLE DEPRESSION
Sometimes a betta will act sick but not exhibits any symptoms. He could either have internal parasites, or some mild bacterial infection, or simply be depressed. Bettas often become depressed when they are first jarred as young fries, and get separated from their siblings. Also, males often become depressed after spawning. A depressed betta will stop eating and swimming around and may let himself starve to death. This is not as unusual as one may think!
Bettas may or may not have slightly clamped fins, lay at bottom or at surface, not eat, barely swim around. They will not flare or build bubble nests.
DISEASE: INFLAMED GILLS
The gill or gills of a betta may become inflamed and turn white or red under the scales, because of nitrate poisoning, and possibly bacterial infections, or even a defective gills if you were feeding micro worms as first food (or if it was born that way).
One or both gills will not close all the way (look at betta from the top it is easier to see it then), gills may look red on the inside (inflamed) or not, in the last stages, the betta may be gasping for air, unable to breath and ultimately die.
DISEASE: SWIM BLADDER DISORDER
This is also a common betta problem. It is not contagious. It comes from overfeeding live or frozen foods. It is especially common in very young bettas (30 to 60 days old) and can affect some Double Tail bettas when overfed or stressed..
Bettas with a swim bladder disorder will have difficulty swimming, because their swim bladder (located alongside the spine between the belly and the tail) is either too short (causing them to not be able to swim horizontally) or it is swollen (causing them to float on one side). Double Tail bettas, because they have a shorter body, are especially prone to the “floaters” problem. In the case of a short swim bladder, the bettas will not be able to maneuver and swimming becomes so difficult, they prefer to just lay at the bottom, sliding on their bellies, which is why they are called “belly sliders”. And they do look like a pathetic bunch, at that point. 🙂
This is a most common and most fatal betta disease. oftentimes linked to the feeding of live foods or frozen foods, especially black and blood worms and now to TB is showing up also. Very little is know about dropsy by most people but what causes the raised scales is fluid building up under the skin as the liver fails, filling fluid inside the betta’s tissue. Usually what causes fluid to build up is simple kidney failure. And as you know, once the kidneys fail, the body dies and in this case the fish. I think that is why we have had so little luck at first in finding a standard cure (mmmmm… Let me rephrase, NO DAMM LUCK AT ALL TILL A FEW YEARS AGO) in treating successfully 90% of bettas with dropsy. Although dropsy (the symptom) itself is not contagious, BACTERIA THAT CAUSE THE KIDNEY FAILURE is most of the time Gram Positive in the first place usually are very very contagious. Since I stopped feeding live worms and frozen foods to my bettas I have not seen one single case of dropsy at our farm :). Thank Buddha!
It is easy to diagnose a betta with Dropsy: Look for two signs: an abnormally big (bloated) belly and if you look at betta from the top, raised scales last stage. Scales will look like an open pine cone. If you see this, you are pretty much out of luck, and so is Betta. If you see and treat for it early it can be cured but not at the last second. He will soon go to betta heaven :((… Be kind to him in his last days and cull him from his pain. The treatment is simple but not just one medication can be used. This issue in treating is that you need to treat the main infection that is gram positive and the secondary infections that are always gram negitive at the same time. Kanaplex (kanamycin sulfate (32%)) and Metroplex (metronidozole (70%)) are pretty good at treating dropsy and add to that Kanaplex is a blended kanamycin based medication which is very effective against gram negative bacterial diseases as well as some fungal infections. Metroplex treats for many protozoan and anaerobic bacterial diseases. But together they form a bond that can control both Gram+ and Gram – infections in bettas. Water changes aren’t necessary while medicating because after 48 hours these medications are no longer active in the water column and thus can’t build up to toxic levels. So, blended Kanamycin is the way to go along with Metroplex to form a symbiotic bond making the medications much more effective. Now you know that the early stage of dropsy can be cured but the later stage there is very little hope even with the best medication we have access to.
If you always keep your betta’s water very clean, he is not very likely to get Popeye. Popeye is a bacterial infection usually caused by poor water condition (in other words filthy water because you were too darn lazy to get off the couch or off your Facebook group and attend to your betta!!! Get a cat turn off your electric and stop to read this). but popeye can also be the tip of the iceberg, the external sign that something inside Mr. Betta is going very wrong. For example, tuberculosis will sometimes result in popeye. In that case, the popeye may not be curable or even if it gets better the fish will die (because tuberculosis is not curable and always kills its host). In short the fish will have died, not of the popeye itself, but because of the more serious disease that triggered it.
One or both of Mr. I’m Cool Betta’s eyes start bulging out like ET. In about 2 to 7 days the eye might look so grotesque you will be afraid to look at your betta and not know if he is looking at you. Quasimodo or mama June on a bad day will look more attractive then your betta at that point!! Please do not destroy or cull your betta! In many cases, the bettas make a full recovery from it and look normal again, as if nothing had happened. Although the way he looking will be burned in your mind for all times! Only some of the popeye cases are caused by the terminal diseases mentioned above and will result in your betta dying or a needed cull. The rest will heal nicely if caught early and treated aggressively. During outbreaks, betta may be less active, may stop eating.
Velvet is another pesky little parasite. If you always add aquarium salt to your betta’s water (1 teaspoon of aquarium salt per 2 1/2 Gal of water) and one drop of Betta B+ per 10 ltr, your betta will probably never get velvet. It is very contagious, but bettas will fully recover if treated promptly. Velvet is the number one killer of small betta fries for sure. :((
Velvet is kinda hard to spot, but can be best spotted with a flashlight. Shine the light on the betta’s body: if it looks like it is covered with a fine gold or rust mist (not a gold betta you were wishing to breed), then it has velvet. A betta with velvet will act sick, so look for clamped fins, scratching against rocks/gravel/tank, loss of appetite, loss of color etc…
Ick is a pesky little parasite. If you always add aquarium salt to your betta’s water (1 teaspoon of aquarium salt per 2 1/2 Gal of water) and one drop of Betta B+ per 10 ltr, your betta will never get ick. It is very contagious, but bettas will fully recover if treated promptly. Frozen or live food may carry ich.
Betta has white dots (looks like he was sprinkled with salt) all over his body and head, even eyes. He may be less active, may have stopped eating, fins may be clumped. he may also be darting and scratching against rocks, plants and whatever else he can find.
DISEASE: ADVANCED FIN AND BODY ROT
This disease starts as a regular fin rot, but the rot progresses quite rapidly and is harder to stop. Soon no fins are left as all tissues have been eaten away. Then the rot proceeds to attack the body. Not a pretty picture.
Fins and or tail start rotting away, usually starting from the edge, but sometimes it starts at the base of the fin (especially dorsal) and attacks the body directly. Diseases progresses rapidly and as the tissues are being eaten away, you might see the fins bones stick out (big yuk). Once fins have been consumed (like mama’s Saturday night chicken), rot will proceed onto the body. At this stage the disease is hard to reverse although the betta might continue to live for months if treated properly. If not treated, it will die promptly (and probably suffers quite a bit!
DISEASE: TAIL ROT OR FIN ROT (OR BOTH!)
This disease comes mainly from dirty water. If you keep his water VERY clean Mr. I’m Cool Betta will never get tail/fin rot. It is not overly contagious, and bettas will more than likely recover if treated promptly. Fins/tail will grow back, though may not have same color or may not look as good or be as long.
Betta’s fins and/or tail seem to be getting shorter and shorter. Or they seem to be falling apart and dissolving. There may be a darker color (or a reddish one) to the edge of the betta’s fins/tail. He may be still active and eating normally, or may have stopped eating, fins may be clumped, color may be pale.