Friday, September 21, 2012

Betta Fish Disease and Illness: Preventions, Causes, and Cures (Article)


Although most people do not think of disease and illness when it comes to aquatic life, Betta fish are no more immune to harm than other animals. There are many health-oriented issues that can ail Betta fish and most are preventable. However, sometimes fish do fall sick and it is important not to panic and rush to buy medicine to put in a tank. Diseases and illnesses can be identified, which makes figuring out treatment a more manageable task.

Bacterial Diseases


Bacterial diseases are diseases that are caused either internally or externally by bacteria. These diseases are common among aquarium fish predisposition to them include factors such as poor water quality conditions, stressful living conditions, hypoxia (when a whole body or part of a body is denied a proper supply of oxygen, temperature changes, and the handling and transport of fish. High amounts of bacteria, both good and bad, are normally found in aquariums. A lack of proper nutrition and traumatic injuries can also make it easier for an otherwise healthy fish to fall ill due to bacterial diseases.

 Columnaris

The bacteria usually enter through an open wound, mouth, or gills. Commonly happens in stressful living conditions such as a high bioload, not enough oxygen, and over-crowding. The bacteria can live in the water for up to 32 when water hardiness if at 50 ppm or more.

Symptoms: Ragged and frayed fins, usually followed by skin ulcers within 24 to 48 hours. Identified by cotton-like fungus covering wounds. Gills may change color, becoming light or dark brown, and fish will breath rapidly as a result of gill damage.

Columnaris in a goldfish. Photo by BlueRidgeKoi.com

Cause: Bacterial infection.
Fatality: Infected fish will die between 48 to 72 hours if no effort is made to cure. This is a rapidly moving disease.
Cure: If the fish is still willing to eat, feed with food containing oxytetracycline. If unable to eat, treat with antibiotics. Medications such as Tetracycline are recommended as well as those including drug combinations of TMP Sulfa, Sulfa 4 TMP, and triple sulfa.  Increase aeration in order to help fish not suffer from gill damage. Also treat secondary fungal infections.

Dropsy

This deadly ailment is not a disease itself but rather a symptom of a disease. It is usually the result of kidney problems and appears to be contagious because fish in the same tank will share the same living conditions but most cases are non-contagious. Dropsy can be the result of viral, parasitic, and nutritional problems, especially vitamin deficiencies.

Symptoms: High swelling of abdomen, due to large amounts of internal fluid. Scales appear to stick outwards, like a pine-cone. Sunken eyes and a tendency to stay at the top of the aquarium are also common but less definite symptoms of dropsy.

A betta with pine coning scales, a symptom of dropsy. Photo by NippyFish.net

Cause: Bacterial infection of the kidneys and viral, parasitical, and nutritional deficiencies also cause dropsy.
Fatality: Very High. Most fish that show signs of dropsy do not survive.
Cure: Can try medications aimed at dropsy or kidney failure, however, there is no known cure. Euthanizing fish to prevent suffering is common.

 Enteric Redmouth (hemorrhagic disease)

This disease, more commonly known just as redmouth disease, is a bacterial infection that can occur in both freshwater and saltwater fish. Symptoms: Serious bleeding (hemorrhaging) from broken blood vessels inside a fish’s mouth, body, fins and eyes. Can be clearly seen as bloodshot appearance on fins.

Cause: Bacterial infection from the bacteria Yersinia ruckeri.
Fatalitiy: Low. Very treatable.  
Cure: Antibiotics such as ampicillin.

 Eyecloud (cloudy cornea)

Symptoms: White, hazy, film on eyes.
Cause: Bacterial infection commonly caused by bad water quality.
Fatality: None. Can harshly impair vision.
Cure: Antibiotics such as Fungus Clear and Metafix. Also, be sure to clean and improve water conditions.

Fin and Tail Rot

Not to be confused with tail biting. This disease will slowly eat away at the fin and tail of a Betta fish and if it reaches the base, the fin and/or tail will not be able to grow back. It may also attack the fish’s body if left to worsen at this point. 

Symptoms: A ragged rotting of the fin or tail. Infected areas appear to be melting away.

A male halfmoon betta with fin rot. Photo by Google Image 

Cause: Bacterial or fungal infection, sometimes with both together.
Fatality: Medium, depending on effectiveness of treatment.
Cure: Antibiotics specifically labeled for fin/tail rot, such as Tetracycline.

Furunculosis

Symptoms: Open red sores, skin abscesses, and ulcers around sores.
Cause: Bacterial infection due to poor water conditions.
Fatality: Medium to high.
Cure: Antibiotics such as Fungus Clear.

 Mouth Fungus

This disease appears to be fungal disease but is actually bacterial.

Symptoms: Grey or white line around lips, later as fungus-like short clumps around mouth.
Causes: Bacterial infection.
Fatality: Medium to high. Fatality occurs if not treated in early stages.
Cure: Antibiotics such as amoxicillin.

A betta with mouth fungus. Photo by FlippersAndFins.net
 Pop Eye

 This is another disease that is actually a symptom of a disease. The real cause is difficult to determine but can be generally guessed.

Symptoms: Swelling or bumps on one or both eyes. Eye may pop out of socket.

A male betta with popeye. Photo by FlippersAndFins.net
Causes: Could be viral, a tumor, parasitic, or tuberculosis infection.
Fatality: None to Low
Cure: Antibiotics such as Tetracycline

Fungal Diseases

Fungal diseases are usually secondary diseases that are the result of a previous health problem. However, such is not always the case. There are many fungus treatments that cover a wide variety or symptoms and disease, so treatment is not difficult. It is important to keep fish separated when fungal diseases are present, so a quarantine tank is recommended.

 Fin and Tail Rot

Not to be confused with tail biting. This disease will slowly eat away at the fin and tail of a Betta fish and if it reaches the base, the fin and/or tail will not be able to grow back. It may also attack the fish’s body if left to worsen at this point.

Symptoms: A ragged rotting of the fin or tail. Infected areas appear to be melting away.
Cause: Fungal or bacterial infection, sometimes with both together.
Fatality: Medium, depending on effectiveness of treatment.
Cure: Antibiotics specifically labeled for fin/tail rot, such as Tetracycline.

Fish Fungus

Fish fungus is almost always a secondary infection, meaning that it commonly follows other infections such as an injury or bacterial infection. It often appears as white strings from external injuries. Eggs infected with fungus can infect other eggs with this disease.

Symptoms: Clumps of dirty, white, cotton-like growth on skin or fins.

A male veiltail betta with fish fungus. Photo by BettaInfo.com

Cause: Secondary infection.
Fatality: Low to Medium. Fatal if not treated relatively early.
Cure: Antibiotics such as Fungus Clear and Methylene Blue.

Parasitic Diseases

Parasites are one of the most common and problematic diseases for freshwater fish, especially betta fish. They are, as the name suggests, caused by parasites that can enter the water through the introduction of a new fish (which is why it is important to quarantine new fish before placing into community tank), contaminated water, and other ailments. They are treatable, like most diseases, and medication can be used but is only recommended if the problem is properly identified. Like with all diseases, try asking on an online community before treatment and care suggestions.

 Anchor Worms

Anchor worms are commonly found in aquarium fish. While more common in cold-water fish such as goldfish and koi, it may infect other fish species such as Betta splendens as well.

Symptoms: Commonly attach to base of tail and/or fin as a worm-like extension. May also appear anywhere else on body. Swelling and redness may appear at site of extension.

A male veiltail with anchor worms protruding from his body. Photo by BettaTalk.com

Cause: Parasite infection. Can spread to other fish if new infected fish is introduced into tank.
Fatality: Medium
Cure: Antibiotics such as Parasite Clear and Methylene Blue.

Hole in the Head Disease

Symptoms: Fish will develop small pinhole-like abrasions at first. As disease progresses it will travel down the lateral line. May appear, as the name implies, like the fish has holes in its head.
Cause: Parasites. However, causes are sometimes debated.
Fatality: Medium to High Cure: Antibiotics such as Parasite Clear. Removing carbon from filter may also help improve condition.

 Ich (Ick or White Spot)

This is one of the most common Betta fish diseases. The best prevention is clean, regularly changed, water kept at a steady tropical temperature as needed by this species. Although there are preventative medications specifically for ich and often pushed by stores onto consumers, this disease is highly preventable with proper care.

Symptoms: white spots appear on body of fish, generally with even distribution. Spots usually look like a grain of salt.

A male betta with very visible ich spots. Photo by BettaTalk.com

Causes: Parasitic infection.
Fatality: Low to High, depending on when treatment begins. Usually it is very easy to deal with. Cure: Antibiotics. Many exist specifically for ich but some recommended ones include Malachite Green and Fish-zole. Sometimes salt baths are also used in treatment.

 Velvet

Symptoms: appears to be gold or rust colored dust sprinkled on fish.
Causes: Poor water conditions, cold water, and stress leave fish susceptible to parasite
Fatality: Low to Medium. Very treatable.
Cure: First isolate fish, as velvet is very contagious. Parasite lives in dirty places, like gravel, so a 100% water change is a must. Clean tank thoroughly. Medicate fish and keep water conditions without fluctuation.

Other

Some Betta fish healthcare issues are not diseases or illnesses. Here are some common problems Betta fish keepers face with their pets:

 Lethargy (lack of energy):  Can be symptom of most diseases but may also be due to cold water. Make sure water temperature is between 72 to 85 degrees, preferably ranging from 78 to 85 degrees.

Not Eating: Most common with new fish, often Betta fish will not eat when introduced into a new living environment. They do this because they are adjusting to their new home and may be stressed. Behaviour usually lasts anywhere from a few days to a week. If the problem persists, try soaking food pellets in garlic water. Do not begin to feed bloodworms, as they are like junk food for betta fish and have almost no nutritional value while causing health problem if primarily fed. Some fish are very picky and will only eat flakes, in which case the best to get are ones easy to measure in size and leave the least mess so ammonia does not spike. Betta fish that are otherwise situated in an environment and stop eating may be exhibiting a symptom of a disease but it is important to determine what could be the cause as it is a common behaviour for multiple problems.  

Tail Biting: See article here. 



References

 Budiardja, Ray. "Fish Disease - Fish Medication." Fish Supplies. Web. 6 May 2012.

 F., Christie. "Velvet Disease." Nippy Fish. Web. 08 May 2012. Merck. "Merck Veterinary Manual."

Merck Veterinary Manual. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Web. 06 May 2012. Merck. "Furunculosis - The Disease." Merck Animal Health. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. Web. 06 May 2012.

18 comments:

  1. Your articles are very Interesting!

    I would point out that Columnaris is a gram negative disease and is best treated with medications that are meant for gram negative infections such as Kanamycin.
    I would also strongly suggest a Fish Bath as part of treatment and examine water parameters since these are often incorrect when this opportunistic infection strikes

    Reference:
    http://www.americanaquariumproducts.com/Columnaris.html
    http://www.americanaquariumproducts.com/Aquarium_Medication.html

    Steven

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is an informative post review. I am so pleased to get this post article. I was looking forward to get such a post which is very helpful to us. Keep it up. . I know something information, to know you can click here
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  3. My betta seems to have what appears to be feces building up on his cloaca. It never drops it just stays there attached to his underside it looks like a big brown bubble at the base of pelvic fins

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  4. Hello,

    my problem with my Beta is that it is not eating and it is swimming 'horizontally'.However,that happened after changing its water,I have put it in a cup of water and after putting it back to its tank,it jumped off the cup and felt onto the basin.It was not at a big height and not hardly but I have noticed this change of behavior since then.It is not eating a single pellet of its food and it is remain floating at the surface and swimming at a horizontal level .I fear that something really serious may happen to it.so,can someone help me to make my Betta well?

    Thanks

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    Replies
    1. Hello,

      It sounds as though your fish has suffered from contamination from the surface he landed on. Sinks are full of germs, bacteria, and chemicals. Soap residue, seen or unseen, can have particularly damaging effects on these fish. Providing your boy with clean water, through extra water changes, and warm water should be a start at helping him. His tank should be heated and a comfortable 78 degrees (F) to 80 degrees (F) should do it. There are a few other things to consider here as well. His slime coat may have been effected from his fall as well. There could be contamination in the tank now, as well.

      This is a strong reminder as to why Betta fish NEED lids on their enclosures-- even if for a minute's time. They are jumpers, regardless of whether or not they have tried jumping before. Unfortunately, this is a learning mistake many people make. But its okay to make mistakes and learn from them! Everyone has been in that position before and so long as you are willing to correct yourself there is no need to stress about caring for your fish or putting yourself down.

      I hope your fish is well.

      Delete
  5. I acquired a betta that had a growth from the beginning, about five months ago. I've treated with bacterial and fungal, but nothing seems to work. It appears to be a tumor, a lumpy growth under his eye going down to his fin. I would really just like someone to take a look and tell me what they think. I took a pic that really shows it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hello,

    It is about seven months that I have my Betta, and he used to be active and healthy. It is almost a week that he has stopped eating even when he tried to eat he kind of throw out the food, he is inactive staying at the bottom of tank motionless, breathing with difficulty. He had a fairly large white spot on his head, and when I look at him closely I can see his gill is red and some parts of his body are red too. His fins are clumpy and he is having difficulty swimming. It seems he can not move upward and when he is swimming he is making crazy moves. I transferred him to small tank and I am changing his water every day now, and started treating him with aquarium salt and BettaFix (the only medication like thing that I could find in pet store). I really do not know what to do, his symptoms are ongoing and I can not identify his disease. Please, help me with this, I am really desperate and want to see him healthy once again.

    Thanks a lot!

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  7. I got a betta for cristmas and a few days ago I noticed a large white spot on his head and the scales behind the spot are grey. What is this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello! How is your fish doing now? Any changes?

      Delete
  8. My betta has had what seems to be a parasite for months now an nowhere can I find info on it. I have no idea how to treat it. I tried ich treatment because at first that's what it looked like with the white spots.. But then the spots grew and now my fish is not eating and the spots seemed to have caved in and it looks like it is bleeding.. Please help

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  9. Hello,

    I've been very concerned these past 5 days. Here is some Info 1st off: I have a male Betta fish, Rocky who is 1 and 1/2 years of age. He lives in a 10 Gallon tank, with various natural plants, a nice large piece of Wood, substrate is ‘Eco complete’ and my filter is the “zoomed nano 510”. Rocky shares this tank with an Otto and two Amano shrimp. Water temperature stays between 76 and 78. The Ammonia levels are 0. There are no nitrates found. PH is usually at about 7.4 on average.
    He's always been a hungry little guy that used to enjoy Betta Pellets, Freeze-dried Bloodworms, Freeze-dried Bribe Shrimp and various other Betta Foods, as well as pees. I feed him once in the morning Weekdays at 7:00AM, Weekends at 10:30AM and once night between 10:00PM and 11:00PM. I try to vary his foods frequently.
    Here is my Concern: Since 5 days now Rocky refuses to eat even when directed to the food with my finger or even when directly held in front of him. He swims away from it. He also mainly spends his time at the bottom of the tank now.
    He does not display any physical signs of illnesses or disease. No clamped fins, his color, a pale pink, is glowing, no injuries or any cottony growths. There is no bulging of caving of the belly. His belly is a good, normal size. Nothing has changed in his environment recently. He has a great air supply in the water to do a spray bar, one of the best filters. Frequent water changes.
    Rocky simply stopped eating 5 days ago for no apparent reason. Sometimes I see him opening his mouth very widely, and then he simply swims to another location and sinks back to the bottom. He has done this once before, but only for 3 days. As this behavior came on it went away.. But not this time.
    Another sign that I thought to be a good sign is that he still will occasionally flare at the Otto. He still seems interested in things, but he's just not moving much and not eating.
    I’ve tried various things to see if it would help: I did a large water change (even though water perimeters were very good), tried to feed him various different foods each day, re-arranged to piece of wood as to create more caves to explore, in case of boredom.. but nothing helped.
    I've tried researching this issue without avail. Any help with this issue would be greatly appreciated, as Rocky is part of the family and we are so worried about him.

    Thanks in advance to anyone that could help. I'm worried sick :/

    ReplyDelete
  10. About a week ago I purchased a betta with a fungal infection, popped him in a divided tank with a betta with fin rot, and used Fungal cure by Jungle. The fungal infection killed my fish, so I removed him. After 4 days, I took everything out, washed it all with hot water, and put it back together. Purified water, water conditioner ( it has slime coat in it ) and some aquarium salt. The betta with fin rot is developing what I think is a fungal infection, and his fin rot is not gone. He is sharing a divided tank with a healthy betta. Is my other one going to get the infection, and can I use my Jungle product safely with the healthy betta in the tank?

    ReplyDelete
  11. My poor beta has popeye in his left eye. I clean his tank regularly so not exactly sure what the cause is from and I feel horrible for him. Is it painful to them? He seems happy - still is eating and is busy making bubble nests.
    What is the best approach to resolve? I have cleaned his tank - threw away his plants and rocks and replaced with all new. I have also started to add 1 tsp of aquarium salt to his tank. Will the aquarium salt fix him? If so, how long should I expect before I start seeing results?
    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great article. I read this article properly. This is one of the best posts. Thanks sharing this article
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    ReplyDelete
  13. I think my fish has hole in the head disease😢

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hello,
    I really need help, reply ASAP please. I bought Comet in august and got him a 5 gallon tank with a light and filter but no heater. 2-3 weeks ago, I noticed he seemed to be smaller and his fins look raggedy at the ends. I don't remember his dorsal fin to be that small. He also seemed to be losing color. I quarantined him with 3 tsp (for a 2 gallon tank) of aquarium salt for 10 days. I was able to get a heater in the middle of his treatment and I keep it on 78. On the 10th day and I was going to put him back in his 5 gallon tank and stop using the aquarium salt (I'm still using a stress coat) but he does not seem to look any better. He swims around just fine and gets excited to eat and eats everything. He'll sleep in the corner of the tank near the top at night but I figured its because he doesn't have any hiding places in his quarantine tank. I have always noticed one side of his head seemed to be slightly bigger. Since I was doing research I decided to shine a light to look for velvet and noticed his "lopsided head" is a swollen, red, gill. He does seem to have gold dust on his lower half and fins. This past Thursday (4 days ago) I started treating him with Coppersafe for the velvet and Maracyn 2 for the gill. I did a 100% water change on the second and fourth day (which is today), cleaned his tank with boiling water, kept the water temp at 83 and turned on his light during the day to advance the life cycle of the parasites so the medicine will kill them. Yesterday I noticed the water was cloudy even though I just changed the water the day before. I checked the ammonia with a test kit and the water seemed to be fine. this morning I went to turn on his light and when he moved he had a stringy slime coat around him that fell off. He has a hard time swimming and he stays with his head to the corner of the tank at the top but he still eats. Im beginning to question if I am treating him or poisoning him with the coppersafe. So confused on what his sickness is and how to treat him properly. Help!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hello
    My red veiltail betta fish has a bent top lip and one of his scales if pointing out and what I think he has on his lip is a small tumor it's not really big, or bumpy , but I think it's a very small tumor growing on his bumpy top lip. He may have drowsy as well, and I don't know how to help/care for him much. I need help or someone who is a fish doctor to come at my house to help him. He needs help. He's had a bent lip for a while, and I don't like it.I live at summer's rd 360 , exit 107, if anyone is a fish doctor plz come. Mailbox number is 360.

    ReplyDelete