Betta Velvet Disease – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Disclosure: I may earn a commission when you purchase through my affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. – read more

Photo by Mydigitalife CC BY-SA 4.0

Betta fish are certainly among the most favorite tropical fish pets these days. They can be quite hardy once the ideal environmental conditions are obtained across their tanks.

However, they can also be extremely delicate to water parameters changing, as well as to any potential parasite or bacteria. Indeed, these colorful creatures are prone to various diseases, so it is vitally important for their humans to be able of recognizing such unhealthy situations at their earliest stages.

One of such diseases is the velvet disease. To help you diagnosing it early and curing your pet efficiently, here comes all you need to know about its causes, symptoms and treatments.

Velvet disease in betta fish and many other common diseases such as white spots, fin rot or flukes can be cured with the Seachem Paraguard medication, specially made for aquarium fish.

Causes of Velvet Disease

Velvet disease is primarily caused by an external parasite, called Oödinium. Such a parasite is also classified as an alga because it contains traces of chlorophyll, but it certainly is not one of those algae which one wishes to have around the aquarium. It mostly affects freshwater tanks.

Oödinium is frequently imported to aquariums from the outside, usually through new fish or even new aquatic plants. If you decide to adopt a new fish without quarantining it first for a while, you are risking of bringing Oödinium to your established betta home.

And same goes for plants. Whenever you wish to plant some greenery inside your betta tank, it is necessary to disinfect it first.

Adding to that, such unwanted parasites can sometimes develop successfully for other reasons as well. These include dirty water conditions or even a drastic oscillation in water temperature. Therefore, keeping your water parameters stable and conducting regular water changes is crucial.

Once these parasites begin to evolve, they can eventually find their way into the slime coat of your betta fish, making it extremely vulnerable. Once inside, they will basically start eating the healthy cells out.

The immune system of your pet will try defending itself by producing excessive mucus, leaving a somewhat goldish-colored coat on the surface. That is why the velvet disease is also called as the gold or even rust disease.

Symptoms of Velvet Disease

The first symptoms to appear are indeed those related to the golden or rust coat on the surface of your betta body. Your pet may also rub itself among various tank surfaces and decorations, trying to get these parasites off.

Such disease is extremely itchy and irritating to bettas, so they will certainly start acting differently than usual. Furthermore, your pet may refuse to eat because of extreme weakness but may also become lethargic.

Sadly, if you fail to notice these common early symptoms, the following stage of the velvet disease will start occurring, with less and less chances of a successful recovery.

Symptoms during a later stage include more serious skin damages, such as ulcers or even visible detaching of the betta skin. As the parasites begin to grow and to eat more cells, they will consequentially cause deeper wounds across the entire body.

Additionally, your fish may be suffering from irritation more and more by each day, making it brush its body against different surfaces with more strength.

If the Oödinium is caused by dirty water, your betta could also have cloudy eyes, caused by the additional bacteria present across the tank water. On top of that, accumulated fluids behind its eyes may make these protrude.

Treating Velvet Disease

The appropriate treatment depends entirely on the advanced stage of the rust disease. However, the common step for any treatment is to first isolate your affected betta fish from the healthy ones.

Next, if your pet is still in the early stage of the disease, treatment is pretty simple yet effective. Indeed, these nasty parasites are not able of surviving without appropriate water temperature or light, so the main thing to do is to deprive them of such ideal conditions.

To obtain that, you need to gradually increase the water temperature, ideally to 82- or 85-degrees Fahrenheit. This should be followed by light dimming and by the addition of a teaspoon of aquarium salt to the tank.

Please be extremely careful to gradually both add salt and to increase water temperature, or you may otherwise be risking of getting your betta into a state of shock.

Oödinium parasites should die off soon enough under such conditions, mostly in a week of time.

If the stage of the gold disease is more advanced, you will have to turn to stronger measures. Both malachite green and copper seem to be quite efficient in fighting these unwanted parasites off.

These are strong medication treatments, so please make sure to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and dosage recommendations.


Preventing the rust disease is much easier than it is to treat it, with the keynotes being as it follows:

  • Quarantine your new fish before placing them into the already established aquarium.
  • Disinfect all live plants before planting them inside your established tank.
  • Feed your betta fish with high-quality food to ensure it is getting the best base for developing a strong immune system.
  • Perform regular partial water changes to your betta tank.
  • Test your water parameters constantly and intervene whenever these get out of the normal values.

Can Betta Fish Die from Velvet?

Velvet disease is usually not life-threatening if treated during an early stage. However, if you fail to diagnose it before it affects the gills of your fish, it may become fatal soon enough.

Please always monitor the wellbeing of your betta fish and react whenever something seems to be wrong.

Wrapping Up

Although these parasites bring a majestic golden color on the surface of your betta fish body, it is certainly something to worry about and to treat as soon as possible.

Velvet disease can literally eat the healthy cells of your pet, making it extremely vulnerable and suffering from seriously dangerous wounds. Therefore, spotting it during its earliest stage is vitally important. If you manage to do so, your betta pet has huge chances of a full recovery.

Nonetheless, prevention is always the best thing you can provide your pet with.

Author Image Fabian
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.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *