betta fish life

Common Betta Fish Diseases

Like other species of fish, betta fish also suffer from a multitude of diseases. However, most of these conditions are easily identifiable and can be treated if detected early. It is important to note that most of these illnesses arise from inadequate care and contaminated water. Common diseases can include:


Dropsy is a rare but deadly disease that often causes kidney failure in betta fish. Fish that have this disease exhibit bloating of the abdomen due to fluid retention. Other symptoms include protruding scales, pale feces, and sunken eyes. The disease is contagious, and it is therefore important to isolate fish that exhibit early signs and symptoms.

Common causes of the disease include stress, a dip in water temperature as well as dirty aquarium water. Unfortunately, there is no known treatment for dropsy. It is therefore advisable to have your betta fish euthanized to ensure other fish don’t contract the disease.

Pop Eye

Pop Eye is a common bacterial infection which is characterized by swelling and protrusion of one or both eyes. The good news is that the condition is treatable and fish can fully recover if treatment is administered early. Pop Eye can be prevented by frequently changing the water in your aquarium. If that does not work, you may have to purchase antibiotics such as Tetracycline to suppress the symptoms.

Fin and tail rot

Fin and tail rot is a condition that is caused by bacterial or fungi infection. The disease usually starts at the fins and tail end of the fish after which it slowly progresses to other body parts. The condition can arise due to injury or stress when betta fish fight. A dirty or overcrowded aquarium also increases the chances of fish contracting this disease. With the right treatment, fish have a high probability of making a full recovery; however, the fins and tails may not be as colorful as they were before.

Eye Cloud

Also known as ‘cloudy cornea’, this condition is characterized by white films forming in the eyes. Though not fatal, if left untreated it can lead to loss of sight. Eye Cloud occurs when the water in your aquarium is dirty. You can prevent this disease by conditioning the water in your aquarium. If that doesn’t work, you can look to antibiotics such as Fungus clear and Metafix.

Fungal infection

Fungal infection is one of the most common ailments in betta fish. It occurs when previous infections damage the mucus or slime coating in the fish. Fish that contract this disease will exhibit cotton-like growths on the fins and skin. They will also be pale in color and exhibit disinterest in food. This infection is highly contagious and can be fatal if left untreated. Fungus clear and Mercurochrome are some of the antibiotics used to treat this sickness.


Columnaris is a condition that causes the discoloration of the gills, scales, and fins as well as whitish spots on the mouth. The condition is highly contagious hence the need to isolate infected fish. The disease can be prevented by regularly cleaning your betta fish tank and by not overcrowding the fish.

How to tell if your betta fish is dying?

Discoloration of fins, tail, and scales

An unhealthy betta fish will often exhibit discoloration in the fins, scales and other body parts.


If your betta fish exhibits signs of a protruding or swollen belly, constipation could be the culprit. To avoid fatality, you should cease feeding the fish for a few days.


When betta fish fall ill, activity levels usually go down. If your fish is unusually inactive and is hiding out at the bottom of the water tank, then there is a problem. If you spot any of these habits, then it is time to take drastic action if you are to save the life of your fish.

Breathing problems.

A healthy betta will occasionally come up to gulp air from the surface of your tank aquarium. However, if the fish spends too much time at the top of the aquarium, then it’s a sign that something is not right.

Abnormal eating habits

When fish fall victim to illness their eating habits may change suddenly. If your betta fish seems disinterest in food or even stops eating altogether, you should act quickly to salvage the situation.

Damage to the fins and tail

If your betta’s fins have holes, are not fanning correctly or appear to be clamped, then it’s time to call in a specialist. Torn and shredded fins are another sign your fish could be stressed or unhealthy.

Spots in the head, mouth or body

Illnesses such as Ich and fungal infection can lead to the formation of white spots around the betta’s mouth and head. If you spot these symptoms, then your betta could be in trouble.