FAQs on Betta Diseases: Diagnosis 4
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Environmental (By far the largest cat.),
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FAQs on Betta Medicines:
Betta Medicines period,
Anti-Protozoals (Metronidazole, eSHa...),
All Other Betta Med.s,
Doing what it takes to keep Bettas healthy long-term
by Robert (Bob) Fenner
Questions for 2 Bettas
Hey WWM, I am a super long time reader of 10 years. I love reading thru your
site and have learned a lot since I first came across your site. I have a hobby
of buying sick betta fish on occasion and helping them recover. I have a pretty
good success rate and have helped about 10 recover, but I have 2 I have been
working on who aren't getting better.
My first fellow is a double tail I got 2 weeks ago w/ swim bladder issues.
He is constipated and has only pooped a few meager bits since I've had him.
He spends his time floating at the surface, sometimes on his side, and hiding
behind the filter. He does eat and has a normal betta appetite. He isn't really
bloated much. I have fasted him, I have fed him daphnia (which in the past makes
my Bettas poop when they can't go), I have done Epsom salt baths. He gets a
water change every other day due to the tank size.
Nothing is helping. I have only done Epsom salt baths twice. Going thru WWM I
see you suggest instead to add directly to the tank, which I have been hesitant
about because I have seen people warn against that. He is in a 2.5 gal hospital
tank right now. Do you think this would be more beneficial than baths, and how
much should I add, and for how long? Or should I try something else?
<If it were me, mine, I would go ahead w/ the direct addition of Epsom Salt here
(half a tsp. replaced when you change out water), and likely dose w/
Metronidazole and likely Praziquantel... to cover all microbial, parasitic, worm
My next fish is a Petco-version of a black orchid betta that I got at the end of
the October. He had been there for a while with some nasty fin rot.
In the past I have been able to treat aggressive fin rot with Maracyn and
Maracyn 2. This rot will not go away no matter what I do. I have tried Maracyn,
Kanaplex, daily water changes, Microbe Lift Artemiss, and Methylene blue baths
and swabbing the blue directly on his fins. He hasn't had any antibiotics since
November. The next thing I am trying is Doxycycline from Thomas Labs. Initially
the rot stopped after 2 rounds of Maracyn, but since came back and has only
either slowed, or stopped for a bit and returned. This fish hasn't had any
regrowth. The tail is almost gone and I fear body rot and death. My next step
would be to take him to an actual fish vet, however I can't find one near me who
won't charge over
$200 for the initial visit. He is in a cycled 3 gallon. I do believe the doxy is
going to kill the beneficial bacteria, right?
<Might set nitrifiers back, yes>
Anything else I can do to save him should doxy fail?
<Yes; I would add a good deal (like a couple teaspoons of aquarium salt
(artificial SeaSalt would be better/best) and a pro-rated dose of Metronidazole
Also neither fish has any tank mates. The only other living things in their
tanks is some Marimo moss balls from Aquatic Arts.
<These I'd remove; the salt may work the moss woe>
Thank you for your time and advice!
<Thank you for your efforts. Bob Fenner>
Re: Questions for 2 Bettas
Thank you so much, Bob. I'm going to put some Epsom salt in my constipated boy's
tank today and then look into the other medications. I'm concerned for my boy
with fin rot because yesterday I noticed some fungus or what I think is fungus
on his fins but I tried to stay positive and ignored it and gave him his water
change as usual.
<Aye; w/o sampling (and often culture) it is near impossible to guess what
group of organisms are/may be involved here. And hence effective treatments>
But this morning it has returned and it's probably going to get worse... I'm
really worried that he's not going to make it with the way this fungus is
<The salt use should help; at least forestall worsening>
His Doxycycline from Thomas Labs should arrive in the mail today so he will be
started on it when I get home. He does still eat and greets me but spends most
of his time resting on leaves.
<Eating is a very good sign>
I attached a bad pic of him from yesterday where you can see a dot of white
'fungus' on the tiny strand of tail fin in the middle (the tank is acrylic and
water spots won't go away so please ignore that). That little piece of his tail
has since shriveled away. Again thanks for any help!!
<Yeah; the "fungus" could be many things... even just body mucus from...
Do stay positive and keep us in the loop. BobF>
Re: Questions for 2 Bettas 12/27/19
One last question (or a few) before I play the waiting game with these boys and
their treatments. Thanks for reading thru it all as I like to be very thorough.
How long should I leave the Epsom salt in the aquarium? I do every other day
water changes for him so I should be re-adding whatever amount of salt may be
lost with those changes? I mix the salt in the new water and dissolve before
adding. I usually do a half gallon change since he is in a 2.5 gal.
It has nothing in it aside from a HOB filter, a floating leaf and floating log.
Removed the moss balls since I added the Epsom salt.
<I'd put half a tsp. in this system and replace the percentage removed when you
do water changes>
For the metro and Prazi, I have PraziPro recommended to me a lot and Metroplex
is probably the easiest to get when it comes to that med. Do y'all recommend
both of these?
<Do search/read on WWM re both... these are good, useful medications, but not
items that should be used casually, continuously>
I talk mainly to other aquarists on Facebook and I feel people religiously flock
to Seachem there so I try to remain skeptic with everything.
<Skepticism, even a bit of cynicism I find healthy. Seachem as a co. is "the
real thing". Real products, real science>
For Mr Fin Rot I'm debating removing his current filter when I start the doxy
treatment and keep running it in a small tank and feeding it ammonia so I don't
lose my good bacteria OR putting the media in another aquarium for the moment.
Would the latter be a bad move if the fin rot is contagious?
<I wouldn't feed the system ammonia. The fish will provide plenty. In fact, I
would monitor ammonia and possibly place or filter through Zeolite to remove it>
I have 8 other betta tanks and a cichlid tank going right now.
I can always steal seeded media later too. Thomas Labs recommends a water change
before adding each new treatment of doxy (which would be daily) so I am ok
leaving his tank temporarily without the cycled media that is probably going die
<I do agree w/ this regimen. I'd likely treat every three days and do the water
change outs right before then>
Thanks for the help, I really do appreciate it. WWM has been very inspiring and
a tremendous source of info for me all these years.
<Am very glad for this. You and other petfish friends are what we endeavor for.
Re: Questions for 2 bettas 1/9/20
Good evening, here is an update for you. My fin rot betta finished his
doxycycline treatment. He is acting a little more normal and swimming up to
the edge of the tank to meet me and beg for food. Hopefully the rot is done
for. He seems all right, and he is at least feeling more peppy. I am not too
worried about him right now.
<Good. With improved water quality, better nutrition, time going by alone
should see this Betta improving>
My betta with suspected constipation and/or swim bladder issues I am more
concerned about. It has been a few days since I weaned him off epsom salt in
the tank (should I keep him on epsom salt?),
<Not indefinitely, no. I would limit such exposure to no more than a couple
and we finished a round of prazipro. While he did have some more regular
poops with epsom salt in his
tank, he remains floating on his side. There is no improvement on swimming
ability. He still spends his day floating and hiding.
<From whatever cause/s (genetic, trauma, pathogenic), he may have suffered
long/er term gas bladder damage>
Recently he has been less reactive to stimulus- an example would be he is
facing a corner and it is feeding time. I nudge him so he knows to move and
he just sits there without moving. He will remain in one spot when other
fish would flee or move. He only eats sometimes. It is probably hard for him
to know it is there, yet even when it is right in front of his face he
ignores it. Other times he goes right for it (he can't exactly swim to his
food- he really just jerks his body a few times and hopes he gets to where
he wants to be).
I make sure to take the time to push the food in front of his face so he can
eat it and remove any he may ignore or sinks to the bottom.
<I'd leave off w/ further chemical treatments here>
I really want to help him but despite all the typical things one would do
for constipation or SBD, he hasn't recovered a bit. I am considering
euthanasia if he doesn't show signs of recovery in a month or so. Surely, a
humane death is better than spending his life floating and hiding and not
being able to live a normal betta life.
<IF it's your perception that this fish/animal in your care is suffering:
Is there something else that could be wrong? Maybe something happened at the
store, at the fish farm, during shipping, etc to cause this.
<Yes; many possible inputs>
When I bought him, he was floating just as he is now. Thanks for all your
<Thank you for your caring, sharing. Bob Fenner>
911 Betta Help 12/11/19
Hello WWM Crew,
20 gallon tall tank
<Mmm; Betta's are better kept in shallower/less deep systems... it's a haul to
make it to the surface to grab gulps of air>
Filtered and heated
CO2 day —airstone at night
Stock: albino bristle nosed Pleco, 2 adfs, 1 mystery snail, 1 Amano shrimp, half
moon dragon scale betta, sword tail
My betta has always had fin rot ever since I got him almost a year ago.
<? Unusual... are you sure this appearance is not some type of coloration of the
I have been able to keep it under control and keep it from progressing and had
it come and go. Never had regrowth I think but never done any treatments. Only
water changes every week and prime.
<This sounds like (it should be) a fine set up, maintenance program>
Last week I got my tank back in order after letting it go for two weeks where I
didn’t do water changes and run my CO2. I had my parameters fail and an algae
outbreak. Now that is cleaned up and my parameters are stable
again. I fed everything but did not really pay attention to how everything
looked. After I realized my Bettas fins were destroyed and he had a white spot
on his fins.
<"A" as in a single spot I take it>
I quarantined him in a one gallon and did daily 50% water changes for a week
<Not a fan of this API product, nor Melaleuca for medicine period>
Things are not looking better and the white spot has grown. It’s not fuzzy just
white. His right eye is bulging and when taking pics I noticed his scales are a
golden shiny color. It’s not dusted but solid except for on his lower fin below
his body where it is dusted looking. His fins are shredded and crumpled down.
<... could this fish, system be infested w/ Velvet, Amyloodinium?>
After noticing this I couldn’t tell if it was velvet so I looked at the
swordtail which I added two months ago. He didn’t look like this when I got him
but is now covered in a dusting of gold shiny metallic. It was really hard to
get a picture of as he is constantly moving and the flash light has to reflect
on it just right. He is black with a blue hue in the right light and a metallic
silver eye normally. But now there is gold all over him in the right light you
<I would treat for Velvet>
First I want to address the betta. I think he has multiple problems, I’m not
sure what, I don’t know what to use to treat them, or in what order. It could be
bacterial, fungal, Velvet. He has the white spot, bulging right eye, and
shredded fins. He wants to live I can tell and is trying to hang in there. He is
eating again but wasn’t for the first few days of quarantine. He needs to be
medicated at this point and I think I need to make it the right moves or it will
progress to far before I can get to it.
<I would return this fish to the 20 (more stable) and treat all for (just)
Velvet for now... there are a few approaches; from depriving light to less-than
discriminate dyes and metal solutions. You may well have to remove the snails,
frogs to elsewhere, perhaps your plants (and run them through a dip/bath to
remove the Dinoflagellates on returning)>
Please give me your insight with what you think all he has and what medicine as
well as brand names to use.
<I'd have you search, read re "Velvet" (for freshwater) of WWM, esp. reviewing
this list of medications by Neale Monks:
AND carefully pre- and re-reading the manufacturers information on use>
Pics below include:
<Both? You mention one, and a bowl for treatment. You provide an image of the
tank... am not a fan of round/smooth pebbles as substrate... Is the filter here
keeping ammonia, nitrite at 0.0 ppm? Nitrate under 20 ppm?>
Betta a month ago at his maintained fin rot state
<I see this>
Betta now with gold coloring on scales and dusting in lower fin
<Can't make out the gold dusting>
White spot on tail fin 7 days ago when moved into quarantine And it now Bulging
Sword tail gold dusting
<Again, not discernible (by me). Am going to ask Neale here to review all,
present his own response. Bob Fenner>
911 Betta Help /Neale
<<It is not obvious to me that the Swordtail is sick at all. Velvet is
usually quite obvious (think: icing sugar) and infected fish almost always
'flash' (move rapidly) against rocks as if trying to scratch themselves.
Heavy ventilation of the gill covers is usually obvious too, because Velvet
infects the gills almost before anything else. Swordtails are moderately
demanding by community tank standards: they are active swimmers, so a tank
at least 2.5 ft, and ideally 3+ feet in length is surely essential. They despise
high temperatures, so best kept around 22-25 C (72-77 F) but no higher. Hard,
alkaline water is essential. Like other livebearers, they're sensitive to 'old'
water and prone to mysterious ailments, such as wasting away, in stuffy or
overstocked tanks. Your Betta just looks like a specimen with indifferent
genetics. Colouration is normal enough, just not uniform, and the raggedy edges
seem to be genetic, rather than the result of Finrot (which would tend to expose
fin rays that look like fine bones, as well as patches of white dead tissue and
pinkish, inflamed areas). I don't see obvious eye bulging, but if it's just the
one eye, that's most likely caused by an injury, and should go down by itself.
The use of Epsom Salt
can help to reduce swelling. A dose of 1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons/20 litres
will do the trick. Note that Epsom Salt isn't the same thing as tonic, table,
sea or cooking salt. It can be purchased inexpensively online or via drugstores.
As for treating Velvet, commercial medications such as eSHa EXIT will do the
trick, but with livebearers, if they're all you're keeping, adding salt at a
dose of 2-5 gram/litre will do the job with less risk of stress. Indeed, marine
salt mix added to livebearer tanks has a mild tonic effect on these fish, even
the true freshwater ones like Swordtails, and can be used for some weeks without
risk. Cheers, Neale.>>
Unidentified "bug" on Betta Fish - Ich/velvet/???
Hello gang. Friend of Bob F here
Long time SW keeper, first time FW fish lol. Well the second Betta I've owned.
I will start off with the shock factor: My Betta “Ting” has had this bug for
He is VERY active, eating like a horse, chases a laser pointer, loves hand fed
swatted mosquitoes and overall acts like a perfectly healthy Betta. No
scratching or scraping.
4gal planted bowl. Heater but no filter. Has been set up for 3.5 years with a 4
month break after I lost my three year old Betta last December.
Ammonia - 0 (always)
NO2/3 = 0
PH 7.6 using high range test - although I have added Indian almond leaves so it
may be lower. Will have it re-tested tomorrow.
Gets 5 stage RO water from the 5 gallon refill station at grocery store. I have
never add water conditioned until two weeks ago thinking maybe the filters in
the unit aren’t being maintained and
<Interesting... that these plants are growing in... straight RO? They and the
Betta do need mineral content... is this coming simply from the substrate,
I went on a vacation in May for three weeks and had a house sitter. The heater
in his bowl stopped working and when I got back he was lethargic and had a loss
of color. I added a new heater and after a couple days, he perked right up.
I noticed at this time that he had what looked like very tiny ich. I started
feeding him a little more - cheap pellets all we have here - and got some freeze
dried bloodworms which I soak in water + minced garlic. I saw very little
results so I upped the temperature of the tank to 86-87 for a week.
<Good. This IS the very treatment that I would suggest...>
This did nothing. I avoided adding salt to the tank but I did give him a salt
bath 1tsp per gallon and then a second half saline second bath. He was visually
stressed during this, breathing at the surface mostly so I only did one of these
About three weeks ago I was able to get some good photos and post them on a
Betta group. Several people have said this looks like velvet not ich based on
size. It’s nearly impossible to see with your naked eye unless you have very
good vision and only when the fish is head on can you see it on the sides of him
- pic below. You can see it behind the eyes mostly, if you look VERY closely.
The size said velvet BUT its NOT gold. At all.
<Don't think this is Velvet... small/er size than Ich, but usually very
virulent; killing fish hosts w/in days>
Next I added Indian almond leaves. They grow where I live so I added a couple
after cleaning and soaking. Temp still at 84
My LFS is VERY limited in supplies. I live in St. Thomas USVI
<Yes; have visited w/ you and Hakko there>
I was able to find Betta revive locally.
Ingredients. Water, neomycin sulfate (<10%), Methylene blue (<0.5%), proprietary
polymer mixture, buffers, EDTA, malachite green chloride (<0.01%),
cyanocobalamin and electrolytes.
<Worth the risk... if it were me, I would treat w/ this product, though... your
plants are likely to show it>
I was able to order Ich-X
I added a full dose about two weeks ago. I didn’t realize there was carbon
running in a tiny Betta filter that I had added (and since removed), so I had to
do a large 90% WC (down to the sand) and re-dose. I do a 30%-50% WC every day
re-dosing the new water appropriately. This is on the bottle of instructions.
While I am doing the water change he is getting a 15-20 min bath in two drops of
Betta revive in a 12oz solo cup floated for temp stability.
<I want to be reincarnated as your Betta>
My thoughts is too small for ich and too hardy for ich. So many people have said
he would be dead if it was velvet.
<Yes; there are other protozoan external parasites; and this could "still" be
Ichthyophthirius... the spots (white dots) are reaction to the actual
ciliates... can be small depending on the nature... of the disease, conditions.
As we e-chatted on FB, really need to sample, look at under a low power 'scope.
Procedure is posted on WWM>
So maybe its an unknown. I don't really have the ability to use a microscope. I
probably could but I do not feel comfortable doing a scraping.
<Ahh, I see>
He is not a calm Betta, always moving and as he gets better he is even more
active, rocketing to the front as soon as he sees movement.
<Good signs. Does appear healthy otherwise to me>
I am attaching as many images as I can, and hopefully you have some advice. I
would rather not QT him and I would rather not lose all my plants as they're
very expensive here. My course of treatment IS working but its very slow and I
worry about more stress and chemicals counteracting the treatment. I have
ordered some better foods, bug bites and tomorrow I plan on leaving out some
pitchers of water for mosquito larva.
<Mmm; well my choice in treatment is either Metronidazole/Flagyl and/or a
Quinine compound... Either or both should knock this out if it's a Protozoan.
Will likely have to be ordered/shipped to you.
Please keep me/us informed as to your actions, observations. Bob Fenner>
Re: Unidentified "bug" on Betta Fish - Ich/velvet/???
Looking MUCH better today! I can only see a couple VERY tiny spots with the
naked eye. Unfortunately a new problem is that he is biting his tail! Major
damage done to it today. Likely stress.
I am looking at using my cistern water. I have PRIME to treat it however I can
not have it tested for minerals unless I send it off island. 2-4 weeks and $120
<If you drink it; it is very likely fine to use>
They test basically for coliform on island and send everything else off. The
cistern is rain water filtered off of the roof (very clean and coated a year ago
with plasticize). I also have access to SPRING water - the only spring on STT.
The problem with that is that we are told not to drink it because sometimes
septic tanks can leak and we are down stream of the spring, I also am concerned
about pesticides. I am at a loss on what to do.
<Use whatever you utilize as potable; plus the Prime>
I can not buy individual gallon jugs of spring water, that's not financially
possible. So I am struggling - cistern water or spring water treated with PRIME
and doing 5% Was over the course of a few weeks and see how things go. He is
totally stressed out already but I do think the water is the problem.
I did take a photo of the water machine that states:
Multi Media post carbon filtration
<Should be fine. BobF>
Re: Unidentified "bug" on Betta Fish - Ich/velvet/???
We only drink the RO. Never have drank the cistern.
<Yikes; well, don't use the RO on the Betta and aquatic plants. Would one
gallon every few weeks be too much money to spend on the bottled (non-RO,
DI) there? BobF>
Re: Unidentified "bug" on Betta Fish - Ich/velvet/???
Wanted to send an update:
<Thank you for this>
After testing ALL my available island water sources, I am back original the RO.
The spring water stressed him out so much he bit parts of his tail off even with
only 10% WC and a drip over 5 hours.
<Yikes; my usual admonitions re using "bottled/spring... water"... A highly
variable product around the world, w/in a country at times>
It’s been a week back on old RO and he is doing better. Most of the ich s now
gone too. I ordered Equilibrium and will be adding that to his RO from now on.
Right now all the water tests great - adding Indian almond leaves from our tree
sporadically also. So far other than the hiccup when I changed the water he’s
doing great. Still eats like a horse.
<Great as well>
I’ve been doing 30-50% WCs re-dosing Ich-X in new water
20 min baths in Betta revive while I do the WC
Temp at 82-84
<All sounds/reads as good Ad. BobF>