Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are elegant and beautiful aquatic creatures that can live up to six years. Female fish usually live longer than males. These fish are hardy pets, but can encounter health problems often caused by unclean aquariums, water conditions, and overfeeding.
Method 1 of 6: Prepare for Illness
Step 1. Save the first aid kit
Pet stores often don't stock betta cures, which means you'll need to buy them online. If you buy it after the fish is sick, it will likely be too late.
Complete first aid kits are available on the internet. However, you can save money by ordering medication supplies separately. Base medications include Bettazing or Bettamax, Kanamycin, Tetracycline, Ampicillin, Jungle Fungus Eliminator, Maracin 1, and Maracyn 2
Step 2. Prevent disease
Most betta fish diseases are caused by improper hygiene and feeding. This will be described in more detail later. However, some things to keep in mind include:
- Clean the aquarium regularly. To keep it clean, don't overfill fish, add fish salt to the water, and disinfect the aquarium.
- To limit the spread of disease from one fish to another, remove dead fish as soon as possible, quarantine new fish for two weeks before introducing them into the tank, and wash your hands after handling fish.
- Don't overfeed the fish or let food rot in the tank.
Step 3. Know how to recognize the early signs of illness
The most obvious way to tell if a fish is sick is to observe the fish's appetite. If the fish refuses to eat or looks uninspired when they see food, the fish may be sick. Other signs of the disease include a discolored or odd discoloration.
Other signs your betta is sick include rubbing against objects in the tank as if scratching; bulging and swollen eyes; bulging scales that protrude toward you; and withered fins instead of outstretched
Method 2 of 6: Cure Certain Diseases
Step 1. Start with water and feed
Most fish diseases can be treated by cleaning and disinfecting the aquarium. In all of the following situations, try this method first, then use the medication if you don't see any improvement.
- Watch for symptoms in case you need to consult an aquatic veterinarian for treating fish.
- Remove sick fish from the aquarium as soon as possible.
Step 2. Treat the yeast infection
Fish infected with a fungal infection will be paler than usual, inactive, and have drooping shriveled fins. The most visible symptom is a white cotton-like patch on the fish's body.
- Eliminate fungal infections by cleaning the tank and maintaining new water with a mildew remover. Repeat every three days until any visible signs of mold have disappeared. Perform maintenance on the water with BettaZing or Bettamax to melt the remaining mold.
- Fungal infections in particular are the result of an aquarium that is not properly treated with salt and Aquarisol.
- Fungal infections are so contagious that these disorders must be treated as soon as possible. Quarantine infected fish.
Step 3. Treat fin or tail rot
In this case, the betta's fins and/or tail will turn black or red along the edges. The fins will look porous and get shorter. You may also see holes or tears in the fins.
- Clean the aquarium every three days. Add Ampicillin or Tetracycline to the water to treat. Repeat until the fish fins stop showing signs of tissue loss. Add mildew remover to the water for easy recovery.
- The tail will grow on its own over time, but may not regain its original shine.
- If not treated, this condition can continue to spread to the body of the fish. In the end, this situation will kill the fish.
Step 4. Treat bladder disorders
If the fish's belly is enlarged, the fish may have a problem that needs fixing. You may notice that there is no fish droppings in the aquarium. Fish may have difficulty swimming straight, and instead swim sideways or upside down.
This is a sign of overfeeding. This situation can be easily corrected by reducing the amount of betta fish feed
Step 5. Treat ich
The fish will have white spots all over its body and lose its appetite. Fish will also scratch their bodies against other objects in the tank. This disease is highly contagious and is a major cause of fish mortality.
To treat ich, you will need to increase the temperature of the tank to between 25 and 27 degrees Celsius for more than 48 hours. Add formalin or green malachite to the water
Step 6. Treat Velvet
Fish infected with Velvet will hold their fins against their bodies, fade their color, refuse to eat, and scratch their bodies against objects in the tank. This disease is treatable, but difficult to see. To confirm that your fish has Velvet, shine a flashlight on the fish and check for any rust or gold coating on the skin.
- Treat Velvet by cleaning the tank and maintaining the new water with Bettazing.
- Velvet should not appear if you do proper aquarium maintenance using salt and a water conditioner. If your fish have Velvet, you should reconsider how you care for your aquarium.
Step 7. Treat pop-eye (exophthalmia)
If one of your fish sticks out, it means the fish has pop-eye. Unfortunately, pop-eye is not caused by one factor alone. Sometimes pop-eye can be treated, sometimes it's not.
- If some of the fish show signs of pop-eye, it is likely that the fault is in the water conditions. Test the water and change 30% of the water daily for 4 to 5 days.
- If one of your fish has pop-eye, it may be a bacterial infection. Transfer the fish to a separate tank and treat with Maracyn or Maracyn II until the fish show progress.
- Sometimes pop-eye is the result of a more severe medical condition that cannot be treated. If your fish doesn't react to the medication, there's probably nothing you can do about it.
Step 8. Watch for dropsy (basal)
In the case of dropsy, the fish's belly will start to swell. When this occurs, the swelling will cause the scales to bulge like a pine cone. This is not a specific disease but rather a sign that the fish can no longer regulate fluids. This condition will turn off.
- The best treatment for dropsy is to remove the fish from the tank and euthanize as gently as possible.
- Dropsy is not contagious, but it can be a sign that your water parameters are wrong. Have it checked and consider changing the water.
Step 9. Consult an aquatic veterinarian
Aquatic veterinarians are veterinarians who specialize in treating fish. These veterinarians are not as common as veterinarians who treat cats, dogs and other pets. If you're in America, use this database to find out if there's an aquatic vet near you.
Method 3 of 6: Changing the State of the Aquarium
Step 1. Buy a bigger aquarium
An aquarium of at least 9.5 liters is recommended for one betta. If you have more than one fish, buy a larger tank to accommodate all of the fish.
If you have a larger tank, you may not need to change the water as often. Toxins build up faster and in higher concentrations in a smaller tank
Step 2. Test the aquarium water
A good pH balance will help limit ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, which will keep your betta healthy. The ideal pH level is 7.
- Perform water conservancy by dechlorinating. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for adding dechlorinators to the water.
- Test ammonia in water with a test kit. You can use a dip test or collect a water sample to perform the test. The ammonia level should be at 0 because you just used a dechlorinator. Measure the ammonia level once a day until you get an ammonia level result. This will give you a clue how long before you need to change the water.
Step 3. Change and condition the water
Twice a week, you will need to change the water in the tank to ensure there is no dangerous build-up of ammonia, nitrate and nitrite. You can use tap water, bottled water, or distilled water. However, each type of water needs to be treated before entering the aquarium to restore the proper balance of nutrients in the water.
- Change 25%-50% of the water in the tank twice a week. This means adding 25% new water and retaining 75% old water (or 50% new water and 50% old water).
- Use an aquatic water conditioner, available at pet stores for IDR 120,000, 00-Rp 200,000, 00, to adjust the pH level in the water. Use according to manufacturer's instructions.
- Add 1 tablespoon of fish salt and 1 drop of a mildew inhibitor such as Aquarisol for every 4 liters of water. Do not use table salt as a substitute for fish salt. Table salt can contain additives such as iodine and calcium silicate which are harmful to fish.
Step 4. Circulate the aquarium
Circulating the aquarium means collecting good bacteria in the tank so that the fish can thrive. These bacteria will help keep ammonia levels low by breaking down fish waste into nitrites and then into nitrates. Start with a fresh aquarium with no fish in it to circulate the aquarium.
- Add a source of ammonia to start the process of producing good bacteria on the nitrates. You can add fish feed or liquid ammonia to the tank. Use the test kit to test the levels of nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia in the water. The ammonia level will initially be 0.
- Test the water daily and the ammonia level will start to show the amount remaining. The ammonia level will then decrease as the nitrite level increases. Then the nitrite level will decrease and the nitrate level level will increase.
- Add a little bit of fish food flakes every day to keep the ammonia level in check, which will result in nitrite and nitrate levels in time.
- Be patient. Properly recirculating the aquarium can take up to 4-6 weeks to provide the tank with proper levels. Improved water quality will keep the fish healthy and prolong the life of the fish.
Step 5. Adjust the temperature of the aquarium water
The aquarium temperature should be between 23.9 and 26.1 degrees Celsius. Use a 25 watt heater to maintain a constant temperature. These heaters are available at pet stores or on the internet for IDR 130,000, 00-Rp 200,000, 00.
- Keep a thermometer in the tank and check it regularly to make sure the temperature is constant.
- Place the aquarium in a warm area of the room. The temperature of the aquarium should always be constant. Placing the aquarium near a window risks exposure to cold temperatures which can injure your betta.
Step 6. Use the filter in the aquarium
Place a filter in the aquarium to help clear the water of impurities. The filter should not cause the water to move too much, as betta fish don't like turbulent water. Filters are available at pet stores for IDR 35,000, 00-Rp 2,000,000, 00, depending on the size of your aquarium.
- Use an aeration stone connected to a small pump if you don't want to buy a filter. Aeration stones are available at pet stores for IDR 2,500, 00-Rp 130,000, 00.
- Buy a filter that is the right size for your aquarium.
Step 7. Add fish salt to the aquarium
Fish salt is derived from evaporated seawater and can be used in fish aquariums to reduce nitrite in the water and promote healthy gill function. Fish salt also helps increase electrolytes, which improves the overall health of the fish.
- Add 1 tablespoon fish salt for every 19 liters of water.
- Add fish salt to a new tank, when you change the water and when looking for health problems in your fish.
- Do not use table salt as a substitute for fish salt. Table salt has additives such as iodine and calcium silicate which can be harmful to fish.
Method 4 of 6: Disinfecting the Aquarium
Step 1. Empty the aquarium
If the fish need to be separated, you will also need to disinfect the aquarium to prevent the transfer of health problems to other fish. You will also need to disinfect the tank before reintroducing the fish. Drain all water and remove all objects from the tank.
Step 2. Remove all live plants
This plant cannot be disinfected. Therefore, it is better to start with new plants if you are using live plants, or use plastic plants from the store.
Step 3. Remove the gravel
If you have natural gravel at the bottom of the tank, remove it all and bake it on parchment paper at 230 degrees Celsius for an hour. Cool the gravel completely. Do not bake gravel if it is coated with other ingredients, as it will melt. In this case, you should throw it away and use new gravel.
Step 4. Make a solution of bleach and water
Use a 1:9 ratio of bleach to fresh tap water and put it in a clean spray bottle. Use ordinary household bleach without added detergent. Be careful not to add bleach when the fish are in the tank as it can kill the fish.
Spray the bleach solution into the interior of the aquarium. Leave it for 10-15 minutes
Step 5. Rinse the aquarium many times
You need to make sure the bleach residue is gone from the tank so it doesn't contaminate the water after you put the fish back in. Rinse repeatedly, then rinse again as a precaution. Dry the aquarium with tissue paper.
Step 6. Put in aquarium items (filters, plastic plants, etc
) into the bleach solution in a bucket or bowl. Soak for 10 minutes, then rinse repeatedly before putting it back in the tank.
Method 5 of 6: Changing Feeding Habits
Step 1. Give your betta a suitable diet
Purchase pellets made from fish or shrimp food. Occasionally add a piece of mashed nuts once a week or a winged fruit fly.
Step 2. Don't overfeed your betta
The belly of a betta fish is about the same size as its eyeballs, so feed it twice a day. That is, approximately 2 to 3 pellets at a time to feed.
- Let the pellets soak in water for 10 minutes before feeding. This will prevent it from growing inside the fish's stomach.
- If your fish has a round belly, you may be overfeeding. If it looks sunken, you may be feeding too little.
Step 3. Remove any leftover food from the aquarium
Uneaten food becomes toxic in the water, aiding bacterial growth and ammonia levels. The bacteria in the tank will attack your fish instead.
Step 4. Make your fish fast once a week
If your fish seems to be having trouble digesting food or seems constipated, you can give him a break by not feeding him once a week. This will not harm the fish and will allow the fish to digest some of the food already in its digestive system.
Method 6 of 6: Cure Betta Fish with Medicine
Step 1. Separate the fish
If your fish has an infectious condition, it will need to be removed from the tank so that any disease doesn't infect other fish. Prepare an aquarium for fish by adding fresh, conditioned water. Remove the fish from their original tank and place them in a new one.
If your fish is under stress due to a new fish or a change in the environment in the tank, you may notice that the fish feel better after being separated
Step 2. Disinfect after handling fish
Most disorders that fish have can be highly contagious. Anything that touches the fish or water, including your hands, nets, spoons, etc. need to be disinfected before coming into contact with other fish. Use antibacterial soap to wash your hands.
Disinfect other objects that come into contact with fish or water in the aquarium using a 1:9 bleach solution. Soak items for 10 minutes in the bleach solution and rinse very thoroughly. Rinse again for precaution. Never add bleach to an aquarium if there are fish in it as it can kill the fish
Step 3. Give medicine to the fish
After positively identifying the disease in your fish, you can administer common fish medicine to your fish. Give the drug specifically for the disease and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
- Make sure you give the entire serving of the drug the drug manufacturer recommends.
- Use good judgment when administering medication to fish. Don't try multiple drugs to guess the right drug. If you are unsure, consider consulting an aquatic veterinarian.