Spotting and Treating Common Betta Diseases


How to Identify and Treat Dropsy, Fin Rot, Velvet and More

by Natalie Cooper

Betta fish are easy to care for, but they do sometimes get sick - and the quicker the disease is diagnosed and treated, the more likely the fish will survive.

Sometimes bettas come down with symptoms that mystify even the experts, but the most common betta ailments are pretty easy to spot. Here are 6 of the usual betta diseases along with their symptoms and suggested treatments.

Fin Rot

Stress or injury from a bullying fish can make the betta's fins and tail more susceptible to the bacteria that are always present in the water. Fin rot usually starts with a brown spot on the fins or tail and leads to deterioration and ragged fins - and in severe cases, results in bits of fins floating in the water. Treatment: medications that are commonly recommended for fin rot include a salt bath or treatment with Melafix or Maracyn medications.


If the betta's body has swelled so that the scales are sticking out like the sides of a pine cone, that's a sign of dropsy. Dropsy can result from tumors, internal parasites, a bacterial infection, tuberculosis or other causes; it can be acute dropsy, in which the swelling comes on suddenly, or chronic dropsy that develops more slowly.

Pictures from:

Whatever the cause, dropsy is frequently fatal - and by the time the scales start to protrude, it's sometimes too late. Treatment: Try salt baths to draw out extra fluid and medications for internal bacterial infections - treatments for external bacterial infections won't help with dropsy.

Bacterial Infections in Bettas

Symptoms of a bacterial infection commonly include sluggishness, loss of appetite, possibly ulcers and lesions on the body and sometimes red streaks on the body or fins. It's important to note that bacteria can be either gram-positive or gram-negative (though most bacteria that infect fish are gram-negative), and for that reason, different antibiotics are more or less effective against different bacteria.

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2 Betta Lovers to “Spotting and Treating Common Betta Diseases”

  • 25 August, 2009
    Darkmoon says:

    that yellow betta has ICH, not Dropsy! My betta Firestorm has the black stuff, you know, and it scared me! I thought my poor little fishie would die! *hmph*!

  • 25 August, 2009
    Niezam says:

    yes it is inch .. i used the pictures for illustration purpose only and have nothing to do with dropsy. I will remove the pictures as it only lead for misunderstanding. Sorry for inconvenience caused and thanks for your comment. :)