As a new betta owner, you may not yet be familiar with your fish and how it should look or behave. Since many new betta owners are honestly not aware that their fish may be sick or injured, here are common signs of both healthy and unhealthy fish to be aware of:
If your fish is seen sitting on the bottom of the tank a lot, its an indicator that something is wrong, especially if it is gasping as well. A betta may constantly try to hide if it feels it is too exposed (lack of plants or decorations) or is being harassed by more aggressive tank mates (such as some varieties of tetras).
If a fish cant stay afloat and is often resting on the bottom, it may be shocked, sick, injured, or having swim bladder issues. When a fish exhibits jerking motions (known as flashing), it may be going into shock or fighting off parasites. When fighting off parasites, an infected fish may jerk and rub against the walls of the tank and the decor within.
A lot of people mistakenly believe that building bubble nests is a sign that a betta is happy and healthy . Whether they are healthy or unhealthy, some male (and even female) bettas make bubble nests all the time while others rarely do (or never will). Be aware that if you see horizontal stripes along a bettas body (and passing through its eyes), they indicate stress.
Its also important to note that most fish display stress stripes when introduced to a new home and should go away in a few days if everything is in order. Fish may also show stress stripes and pale colours if a light is suddenly turned on (blinding them) or during water changes. However, if everythings ideal, the fish should be back to its normal colour in a short amount of time.
If a fish looks like its holding its fins close to the body or like theyre stuck together, its a sign of discomfort or illness. Fortunately, as long as you keep up with your water changes and general care regime, you can potentially prevent infection. When you see a betta with curled fins, it means that theyve been exposed to hard water (high pH).
Other causes for tail-biting commonly discussed by fishkeepers include stress and boredom, although some believe that genetics may play a part as well. A betta with cloudy and/or swollen eyes likely suffered physical damage, has cataracts, or is battling a bacterial infection known as popeye. Healthy bettas draw oxygen from the surface as well as needed, especially when worked up while patrolling or flaring.
Healthy fish have streamline bodies with no signs of infections, defects, or hitchhikers. Curved spine (possible injury, birth defect, swim bladder problem, or tuberculosis). Gold dust all over the body that is only visible under direct light (possible velvet, a parasitic disease).
Skinniness – a fish that, when viewed from above, looks like a ball (the head) on a stick (the body), is likely dangerously malnourished (whether through underfeeding or internal bacterial or parasitic infection). Such defects may include hunched backs, spoon heads, short bodies (predominantly in doubletail varieties), and curved spines. They may still otherwise be healthy fish, but be aware that such body postures may cause problems later in a bettas life.
However, most bettas dont start to show more obvious signs of aging until they are over 2 years old. Older bettas also typically experience more illnesses, especially chronic fin rot, and may go blind or develop tumours. However, this guide is meant to serve as a starting point to learn the basics of what to look for in healthy and unhealthy fish.
By knowing what is healthy and what isnt, you can better determine if further research and action is required on your part to improve the quality of life for your pet.
What does a betta fish look like when it's dying?
Other signs that offer a clue to knowing when a betta fish is about to die include discoloration along the fish’s body, such as white or brown spots. Strange swimming movements or a shortening / eating away of the fins can also point to severe illnesses.
What is the healthiest betta fish?
Veil tails do not appear to seem more prone to any particular disease, aside from fin rot and tail biting, which afflicts all long-tailed bettas. If this is your favorite type of betta, by all means, go buy them! They are one of the healthiest strains and come in essentially every color and pattern.
Betta fish are some of the most popular pet fish for beginning and experienced fish keepers alike. Since they’re often kept alone in a tank, owners may think their betta may be unhappy and lonely. However, there are obvious ways to tell if your betta is a happy fish.
Every male betta will create bubble nests on their own individual frequency, which could be as much as every day or every six months. If a betta only stays in one place, especially at the bottom of the tank, and ignores his environment, this is a sign he may be unhealthy .
If you have trouble finding your betta in the tank because he is hiding all the time, this is a sign of a stressed or possibly ill fish.
Sick betta fish can be cured, much of the time, if you can figure out what is ailing your betta. Tiny white speckles, like sugar granules are probably a sign of Ich parasites while swollen body with puffed out scales is likely a signal your betta has Dropsy. Fins melting away? Fin rot is probably to blame but what if these obvious symptoms of disease arent present? What if your betta is showing more general signs of illness? The following is a list of common symptoms displayed by sick betta fish.
Signs of a Happy Betta Fish
Bettas are beautiful fish that are usually kept alone in tanks because the males can be aggressive toward other fish. They can, however, have other tank mates if you choose other compatible fish species. Whether you keep your betta with other fish or alone, you can tell they’re thriving and happy by observing their behavior and tank environment. It’s important to take time to watch your betta fish every day to look for signs of normal, healthy behavior or indications that they may be bored or unhealthy.
Betta Bubble Nests
One of the most obvious signs of a happy betta fish is when they build a “bubble nest.” Look for a collection of bubbles on the surface of the tank, or you may actually see your betta blowing the nest. Male bettas make bubble nests when they are ready to mate, and a fish would only express this instinctual behavior if they felt safe and comfortable. If you don’t see bubble nests in your tank, this doesn’t mean you have an unhappy betta. Every male betta will create bubble nests on their own individual frequency, which could be as much as every day or every six months. Some female bettas may also create bubble nests, though it’s generally a male behavior.
Bettas are intelligent fish and can actually be trained to do tricks like swimming through hoops. One sign of their intelligence is recognizing when it’s feeding time. A happy, well-adjusted betta will begin to swim over when you come to the tank to feed it, especially if you feed in the same place. They will also eagerly move toward the food and eat when you add it to the tank.
A betta that is doing well in his environment will interact with his surroundings regularly. This means swimming around ornaments you have in the tank and plants. If a betta only stays in one place, especially at the bottom of the tank, and ignores his environment, this is a sign he may be unhealthy. This is not the same as sleeping, which bettas will do and is perfectly normal.
Another sign of a happy betta fish is one that is out and about in his tank and easily found from day to day. If you have trouble finding your betta in the tank because he is hiding all the time, this is a sign of a stressed or possibly ill fish. While bettas do enjoy spending time in ornaments that have hiding spots, they shouldn’t be in them all of the time and ignoring the rest of the tank.
A happy betta will swim around their tank daily. Sometimes they will move almost lazily about, and other times they’ll flit from side to side quickly. If the betta appears to have no trouble swimming and isn’t leaning to the side or struggling, your betta is healthy and happy. A betta that is not doing well may seem to have trouble swimming and appear uncoordinated. They may also stay near the bottom of the tank and show signs of struggling to swim away from the bottom.
Getting Along With Tank Mates
If you keep your betta with other compatible fish, seeing him interact with them in a non-aggressive way is a good sign. This means he may swim around them or past them without appearing stressed or chasing after them. If your betta is flaring his fins at the other fish, chasing them, and even nipping at them, this is a sign he’s unhappy and you may need to remove the other fish from his tank.
A betta that isn’t stressed and is physically healthy will display vibrant colors and flowing fins. This is a clear difference from a sick betta that will have color that appears dull and faded with fins that may look clumped, ragged or droopy. Another sign of a stressed betta are “stress stripes” that will appear horizontally on their body.
Loss of color
General body color begins to dull or fade. Darker fish loose their vibrancy and turn a more muted version of their usual shade or begin to turn a muddy brown or gray color. This could signify any number of things from poor water quality to an internal bacterial or parasitic infection. If the body becomes splotchy or one confined area becomes dull or gray you may have a bacterial or external fungal infection. Keep in mind that it is normal for a betta’s color to change slowly as it ages and older bettas will often get a “beard” or an area under the mouth that becomes dull or gray in color. Again, this happens slowly as bettas mature. Rapid color loss may signal illness or a visual sign that the water is inadequate. Test your aquarium’s water.
What are clamped fins anyway? Clamped fins are when a betta holds his dorsal and anal fins close to his body and keeps his caudal fin closed tight rather than displayed open like a fan. Bettas don’t typically swim around in full display all the time but will often spread their fins wide from time to time, especially when another betta is in sight or when they can see their reflection. Bettas who rarely open their fins up wide may be telling you that they are unhappy with the state of their water or are feeling unwell.Again this is one small piece of the puzzle. There is no medicine for clamped fins. If you find your betta is keeping his fins clamped, start by checking that your water is warm enough and is free from toxins like ammonia, nitrite and high nitrates. Rapid changes in pH may also cause this reaction. If you notice clamped fins over a long period of time (say, several days) watch closely for other signs of illness and keep testing that water!
Lethargy or Sluggishness
For me this is the tell-tale sign of a problem. It won’t take but a few days for you to get to know your betta and his normal activity level once you bring him home. If you notice a sudden loss in energy, don’t ignore it. Bettas typically explore all day and sleep soundly (hardly moving) at night. A betta that lies on a plant or at the bottom of the tank all day is not a healthy betta.Sluggishness can signal virtually any illness but it also signifies that the water may not be optimal for good health. (Test that water – are you seeing a pattern in my answers here?) Lethargy may even be a sign that he isn’t eating a balanced and nutritious diet. If your boisterous betta suddenly becomes a couch potato, you’ll need to review all aspects of your care regimen.