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Betta Addiction - Betta Fish Diseases


All About Betta Diseases

Inever took this subject seriously until two of my beloved bettas acquired some of the diseases themselves. In fact, I never imagined I'm going to write something about betta diseases since there are tons of information out there on the subject. I've read a number of sites that talk about betta diseases and how to treat them but I never thought my own bettas would be plagued with diseases caused by bacteria and parasites. Anyway, what's happened has happened and I don't think there's one betta enthusiast that's exempted from such experience. Fortunately, my bettas are recovering well now and I'm putting up this lens as a way of sharing my own experience with betta diseases and how I dealt with them.

All About Betta Diseases

Whether you like it or not, your pet betta will get sick at some point of its life, so it would be best if you are prepared. I’m just lucky enough to have read some betta sites in the past and get help from some of betta enthusiast myself, because if not, all my pets would have been in betta heaven now (If there’s such a place). And you as the reader are luckier because you get to read this lens that will help you prepare so that in case one of your bettas get sick in the future, you will know just what to do to help it.

There are several causes of betta diseases, but mostly, the diseases come from unclean water. Stress is also a huge factor that contribute to betta disease so if you don’t want your betta to get sick at all, you have to learn how to keep it happy. It’s easy to find out whether your betta is sick or not. A simple visual inspection is all you need to monitor your betta’s health. Every day during feeding time, take a few minutes to examine your betta very closely and look for visible signs of parasites or for a change in his behavior. If he’s not acting normally than usual, chances are, he’s either depressed (which can be a good thing when compared to having disease) or is afflicted with some kind of disease.

Here is a list of the signs and symptoms of a sick betta:

1. Refuses to eat.

2. Stays at the bottom of the tank and is not active as usual.

3. Darts and jerks every time he swims as if he’s having an itch.

4. Looks paler than usual.

5. Fins are clamped or closed tightly.

6. Looks bloated.

7. One or both eyes are swollen.

8. Body is covered with white spots.

9. Scales are raised.

If you notice any of these signs in your betta, then he’s one hundred percent sick.



Ick is a very common disease among freshwater fish. It is characterized by white dots all over the body of your betta. If your betta has ick, he’ll probably stop eating and his fins will look clamped. Ick is caused by a parasite and can be very itchy so don’t be surprised if you see your betta darting around and trying to scratch its body against any object inside his tank.



Just like Ick, velvet is also caused by a parasite. To find out whether your betta has velvet or not, turn off the lights and direct a flashlight into his body. If he is covered without gold-like mist, then he has velvet. He’ll also probably going to dart around and try to scratch his body against objects inside the tank. He may stop eating and will have clamped fins.

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It’s easy to spot fin rot because it slowly eats away your bettas fins so that it becomes shorter and uglier. Fin rot is caused mainly by dirty water. Sometimes, fin rot can be so severe that it also affects the body of the fish, eat it until it dies. If you treat your betta immediately, he’ll have a hundred percent chance to grow his fins back but they won’t be as good as before.

(On the right is a photo of my betta, Squidoo, a week after he acquired fin rot. If you notice, 4 of the rays of the lower part of his caudal fins have broken off. That's the result of fin rot. Thankfully, the tissues are starting to grow back now.)



Anchor worms are external parasites that attach themselves to the betta's body. They're transparent so the only way to see them is by looking very closely. A betta with anchor worm may not lose its appetite but it will surely try to scratch itself against anything just to get rid of the itch caused by the parasite. I will discuss how to treat bettas with anchor worm below in detail.



A betta with swim bladder disorder will have a difficult time swimming properly. Most of the time, he'll be laying at the bottom of the tank. You'll know that your betta has swim bladder disorder because his stomach will look like he swallowed a marble. I read somewhere that a good treatment for bettas with this disease is feeding them with boiled peas. I haven't tried this method yet so I can't say for sure. What I do with my bettas with swim bladder disorder, though, is simply change their water regularly and feed them less. Normally, they would just recover on their own after a few days.



The disease is so-called because it causes either of the eyes of your betta to pop. Pop eye is caused by bacterial infection due to dirty water. If your betta has popeye, there’s a huge possibility that he’ll lose an eye or both but there’s also a chance for him to recover from it completely.



This is a very ugly disease because bacteria can eat either the skin of the fish or its internal organs. This is caused by dirty water and is very contagious. If your betta acquires it, you will notice some visible changes in him like red patches, open sores, and even holes in the body especially when the infection is in the advanced stage.



This is considered a cancer disease among bettas. You'll easily diagnose a betta with dropsy because its scales are raised when you look at him from the top. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for dropsy.

What To Do If Your Betta Catches Any Of The Diseases

Most of the diseases that afflict bettas are a result of poor water condition. Bacteria, fungi, and parasites can easily multiply if you don’t perform regular water changes and keep your betta tank clean. Therefore, the first step into treating a betta with disease is to remove it from its tank and transfer it to a hospital tank if you have one. If you don’t have a hospital tank for your bettas, simply perform a full water change, remove all the accessories, and treat him accordingly.

I found a cool site that discusses betta diseases and how to treat them in detail. It’s not my site and I’m not promoting it but I recommend it to you because it’s actually the site that inspired me to keep bettas as pets. As for this lens, I’m only going to share in detail how I treated my betta that acquired fin rot and some anchor worms.

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How I Treated My Betta With Fin Rot And Anchor Worms

When I found out that my new Crowntail Betta named Squidoo acquired fin rot, I panicked. He was okay in the morning but when I checked him in the afternoon, I noticed some moss-like object hanging in his caudal fin. When I looked closely, I realized it was fin rot! I quickly scooped him out of his tank using a plastic airplane cup and added one drop of methylene blue into his water – in the cup. I took his old fish tank and cleaned it thoroughly, removing the pebbles and the live plant. In short, I left his tank bare. This way I can observe him better for the next few days. He acquired the fin rot from the 5 gallon planted tank I placed him just 2 days earlier so I decided to move him into a smaller tank where I can observe him properly. The tank is quite small, about 1 gallon. I made sure the tank was clean before I filled it with water. I added ½ tablespoon of rock salt into the water and 1 drop of methylene blue. I then gently poured him into the tank didn’t feed him anything. For the following days, I performed FULL water changes every 2-3 days, and fed him once a day to keep the ammonia buildup to a minimum.

At first, I thought his only problem was fin rot, but when I noticed that he kept on jerking and darting around when he swims, I figured out he has some sort of external parasite. I was right because when I looked closely, I saw an anchor worm sticking on his left pectoral fin. Treating anchor worms is kind of tricky, because if you really want to get rid of the parasite quickly, you have to perform some kind of a “betta surgery”. Anchor worms stick their heads deep into the scales of the betta so when you remove them, they’ll leave a tiny wound in the betta’s skin. To begin the operation, I scooped my betta Squidoo from the tank and poured some of the water so that he’ll have very little room to move and make things easier for me. Luckily enough, he didn’t move much when I was attempting to pull the anchor worm from his skin, as if he knew I was trying to cure him. It didn’t take me more than five minutes to remove the parasite. It left a spot of wound in my betta but since I treated his tank with salt and methylene blue, he recovered from it almost instantly.

He seemed to be okay for the next few days; his fins were starting to grow again and he’s still active as usual. However, when I looked at him again one night, I noticed another anchor worm sticking from his caudal fin. I performed the operation again and got rid of the parasite but that wasn’t the end of it because 3 days later, a found another one, this time on his anal fin. The third operation was the most difficult because he kept on struggling, and when I finally got rid of the problem and released him back to his tank, he won’t flare anymore and looked like he was in shock. Luckily enough, he snapped out of it a few hours later and now I don’t see any sign of the anchor worms anymore. He’s still in his hospital tank because I plan on keeping him there for two more weeks before putting him back to his larger tank.

If you notice, I didn’t use any medicine except for methylene blue and rock salt. That’s because I believe that the key to treating betta diseases is CLEAN WATER. If you want faster results, go ahead and use betta medicine. But in case you are not prepared (like me!), performing water changes regularly and adding rock salt and methylene blue might just do the trick.

The Tools I Used For My "Betta Surgery"


I used a a pair of sanitized tweezer to pull the anchor worm from my betta's skin while he's inside the plastic airplane cup.

Drop Your Comments Here - What Do You Think About This Lens?

New to Fish on March 21, 2016:

Ahhh!!! I hate these sites(no offense) but I always ALWAYS click on them! I feel like I just have to know if there is something wrong with my beloved pet, and every time I read one of these sites, I feel certain that my pet has one of these diseases. After careful examination, I conclude that my pets don't have any of these, but I still worry. I'm sorry if I offended you, you did a great job with your fish in a crisis. I'm sure Squidoo thanks you.

Alice on September 26, 2015:

I notice my betta has been less active than usual and is usual laying on his side a lot. Is this normal? He's still blowing bubbles and such but im wondering if he's lonely

betta addict (author) on April 05, 2013:

@anonymous: That betta is already dead. If your betta has clamped fins, he's probably under the weather. Check the temperature and the water parameters. If you need to change the water and adjust the temperature, do so. Add a little rock salt to his water as well. In my case, if my betta has clamped fins, I usually put dry Indian Almond leaves in his water. good luck!

betta addict (author) on April 05, 2013:

@anonymous: Hi BettaMan. Thanks for visiting my lens. I didn't mention it in this page because I already mentioned it in one of my lenses. If you're familiar with Squidoo, a lens is equivalent to a page. However, I have to take that particular page down as it needs more work. The medications here are not unnecessary and not harmful if you know how to use them. Thanks, for dropping by, anyway. Have a good day!

anonymous on April 04, 2013:

Thank you for posting this thread and I know you had good intentions, but I would like to correct and add some things that you are incorrect about. I am the owner of over a dozen betta fish, a breeder, and a hobbyist, so I have a lot of experience in this field.

First of all, nowhere in this article does it mention that bettas are tropical fish and need a heater to keep their water between 76 and 86 degrees. You correctly identified that clean water is a must, but in my experience, heat is definitely next. If you have them in the proper temperature range, their immune systems will function properly and they are unlikely to get sick in the first place.

Second of all, the medications you recommended are harsh and unnecessary. Fin rot will rarly need true medications, and is preventable by keeping the water CLEAN and WARM. Salt is fine (use at 1tsp/g for no more then 10 days), but clean, warm water will usually heal it on its own. If you are going to use salt use aquarium salt, not rock salt.

anonymous on November 03, 2012:

About a week ago I noticed on both right and left fins the ones he swims with looks like two little grains of sand on each side, they have not spread However my betta has been rubbing against the plastic water run off part of the filter, I assumed it was early stages of ich

I decided to place that green powder stuff in the tank am I doing this right? I mean they have been there for a week nothing has spread, not sure if they are just a deformed part of his body or if its Ich however he has been rubbing against that water runn off the plastic part so much so that he scratched his head and now there is clear mark from that on his head.

let me know if I am doing this correct and if there is anything else I should do

thank you

betta addict (author) on October 25, 2012:

@anonymous: Clamped fins are usually a sign that your betta is sick. Most of the time, it's a result of dirty water or stress due to sudden changes in water temperature. While you can treat your betta, there's no way the clamped fins would return to normal. The best thing you can do right now is maintain the cleanliness of the water as well as the water temp. Good luck!

anonymous on October 24, 2012:

Sorry if I have posted this twice but what disease does the betta in your first image have? The blue one with clamped fins and cloudy eyes? My betta looks like that at the moment, he is active and still eating but I have no idea what is wrong and I need to find out how to fix it. Please help!

betta addict (author) on July 16, 2012:

@anonymous: Please use English, sir Nicolas. Thanks!

anonymous on July 16, 2012:

algunas personas dicen que la exoftamia no tiene cura, pues yo si. la tetracicina en un antibiotico y dura en curar al betta una semana mas o menos. recomiendo esto por experiencia propia. he sanado 3 o 4 peces con la situacion

betta addict (author) on April 17, 2012:

@Ryukia: Hi there! I know this is kind of late, but for the sake of other readers I would still want to answer your question. Fin rot can affect any fin on your betta, so it's possible that what caused the fin to grow smaller is fin rot. This disease is usually caused by dirty water. If you scroll up, you'll find out how to treat this kind of disease. It's also possible that it only got torn out of your betta's being hyperactive. This is especially true if there are any sharp objects inside the tank. Good luck!

betta addict (author) on April 17, 2012:

@Ryukia: Hi there! I know this is kind of late, but for the sake of other readers I would still want to answer your question. Fin rot can affect any fin on your betta, so it's possible that what caused the fin to grow smaller is fin rot. This disease is usually caused by dirty water. If you scroll up, you'll find out how to treat this kind of disease. It's also possible that it only got torn out of your betta's being hyperactive. This is especially true if there are any sharp objects inside the tank. Good luck!

Ryukia on January 11, 2012:

i have noticed that the dorsle fin (the one on top of my betta) is smaller than it was yesterday... i don't think its fin rot because its only affecting that fin and it looks like a cresent wear the fin ends... any advice

betta addict (author) on September 18, 2011:

@pawpaw911: thanks pawpaw911...bettas are indeed very interesting fish =)

pawpaw911 on September 18, 2011:

Very well done lens. I used to own Bettas. They are very cool fish.

betta addict (author) on September 03, 2011:

@spiritualll: Hey! Thanks for the squidlike..really appreciate's nice to know that people find my lenses helpful and informative :)

spiritualll on September 02, 2011:

I saw your lenses now! They are really nice.

I didn't hesitate to squidlike some of them!

I was think to show them to others.

Good luck on Squidoo & may you earn much


anonymous on June 25, 2011:

I love how you did learned out of necessity and shared out of generosity.

betta addict (author) on April 06, 2011:

@Tilly4Family: Hi there! I'm glad you liked the lens...Feel free to get some tips here anytime. =)

Tilly4Family on April 06, 2011:

thanks for your site on Bettas! We have 4 of them in our family! Great site I can send my kids to if their Bettas get ill! Thanks!

betta addict (author) on April 05, 2011:

@I-sparkle: thanks! bettas are very interesting pets because each possesses a unique personality... =)

I-sparkle on April 05, 2011:

This lens was great. I didn't know anything about beta fish, or that treatment was available for them if they became ill. You did a great job. The information was both interesting and informative.

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