Betta Fish Bloated – Causes & Treatments

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Realizing that your Betta fish is bloated is never easy. Knowing how sensitive these tropical fish are, this can often be a sign of an illness. However, some of these illnesses are more while others are less serious.

As you may already know, spotting the issue at the earliest stage possible is usually what makes the difference between life and death. That is why knowing to recognize the most common causes for bloated Betta fish and turning out to immediate treatments is essential.

Causes of Bloat in Bettas

Below you can read about the most common causes of bloat in betta fish:

– Dropsy

Dropsy is, sadly, one of the most life-threatening conditions in which a Betta can find itself in. It is basically a state which causes the accumulation of fluids across the soft tissue, and it is usually caused by overly stressing situations.

Dropsy manifests in Bettas which have a weakened immune system and which are forced to live in poor or dirty water conditions, but also to feed on improper meals or even to share their tank with unsuitable roommates.

Whatever the reason for dropsy occurring is, it is vitally important to spot it at its earliest stage. Otherwise, chances of survival are slim to none. A Betta that suffers from dropsy will usually avoid food and other fish and will stick to one spot in the tank instead of swimming around.

If you suspect of your Betta suffering from dropsy while noticing these early symptoms, please do not hesitate to ask your vet for confirmation. If not intervened during this stage, clear signs will start showcasing, but it then may just be too late.

When a Betta enters a more advanced stage of dropsy, it will have an extremely bloated belly and visible pinecone scales. This means that the scales around its body will start sticking out, as if they are growing in the opposite direction.

– Constipation

Luckily, the most common reason for domestic Bettas being bloated is also the less dangerous one- constipation. This simply means that your Betta has either been overfed or fed with improper meals.

Constipation is also quite easy to detect as there are visible signs such as refusing to eat. And, if you own a Betta, you certainly know how rare this happens. Other than that, constipated fish will not be able of defecating.

– Swim Bladder Disorder

If constipation is not treated for days, it may sometimes lead to a swim bladder disorder evolving. However, such sometimes painful state can also be caused by some injury or bacterial infection, as well as by extreme shocks or parasites.

The swim bladder disorder is typically easy to spot as it involves Bettas having less ability to swim normally.

Along with having a bloated belly, Bettas will stick either to the top or to the bottom of the tank and will feature visible signs of swimming distress. Additionally, they will refuse to eat and they will usually start acting lethargic.

If not spotted on time, swim bladder may even cause a curved back in the fish, which means that it is unfortunately gone into a more advanced stage. Often, with slimmer chances for a full recovery.

– Pregnancy / Eggs

Finally, a completely safe reason for featuring a bloated stomach. Female Bettas can either get pregnant or simply produce “empty” eggs during their life. Such a phenomenon is completely natural, normal and safe, and there is no need to intervene here.

The easiest way to confirm if your female Betta is carrying eggs is by looking out for vertical white stripes across the length of her body. Additionally, there may be some white spots on her belly.

– Bacterial Infection

If there are no explainable signs for any of the above, the reason hiding behind a bloated stomach may be a hidden bacterial infection. This is usually related to poor and dirty water conditions, but there can sometimes be other reasons.

What happens during such infections is that they usually affect the Betta’s kidneys, making them unable to regulate body fluids and therefore leading to bloat.

A Betta which is infected will often be lethargic and can sometimes even feature an abscess, so it is really important to react promptly.

– Tumor

Lastly, a Betta with a bloated stomach may simply have a tumor. Such cases are quite rare but they are reported to happen, so it is good to know they exist.

Some Bettas, just as some people, can develop a tumor during their life, and there is sadly nothing to do for avoiding that.

If you suspect your Betta may have a tumor, seeing a bloated belly is often a bad sign and will require euthanasia.

Treating Bloated Betta Fish

Any bloated Betta fish will require some sort of treatment, so the first and basic step is to quickly diagnose the issue.

Depending on the cause, you may also need to quarantine your fish for a bit, to make sure that eventual illnesses or bacteria do not affect other fish as well.

– Dropsy

Frequent water changes are often helpful during a super-early stage. However, if the dropsy has already gone into an advanced stage, antibiotics will be necessary. Please consult your vet.

– Constipation

If your Betta is not too full, simple fasting for 2 or 3 days is often enough to make its bowel work normally again. However, if that does not work, fibers are necessary. A great trick for ensuring healthy fibers to your fish is offering peas.

One previously cooked and peeled grain is too much, but if you cut it into quarters or thirds and offer a single part to your fish, it can bring to amazing results. On the other side, if your fish refuses to eat, you may want to give it a salt bath.

– Swim Bladder Disorder

How to treat swim bladder depends a lot on what has caused it in the first place, so it is hard to suggest a universal treatment. However, sometimes some fasting days or salt baths can help. But the best is to consult your vet.

– Pregnancy/Eggs

There is no treatment needed here, but there is a trick to speed up the egg dropping process. Simply place a male (if you have one) into the female tank, with the help of a divider between them.

– Bacterial Infection

Bacterial infections can only be treated with antibiotics, so please ask your vet for the most suitable one.

– Tumor

Kidney tumors can sadly not be treated among Bettas, so the best option here is to help your Betta not suffer by euthanizing it.

How to Prevent Bloat in Bettas?

Preventing your Betta from getting bloated is super simple and is basically the same as ensuring it a safe and healthy environment.

Providing a decent size tank with constant and clean water is the best way to start, along with feeding your fish with a nutritive meal plan and always monitoring it for any behavioral changes.

Wrapping Up

Bloated stomachs in fish can often be a sign to worry about, but this is not always the case. That is why knowing the most common causes is essential, as well as how to recognize them.

But obviously, the absolute best way to keep your fish healthy is to provide great and clean conditions, so please always try properly taking care of your sensitive Betta. It will be grateful.

avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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