Why do Betta Fish Puff Up?

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: July 24, 2017
Why do Betta Fish Puff Up?

The beauty and bright colors of Betta fish have made them the protagonists of many aquariums. Despite their personality, Betta fish species tend to be beautiful specimens that we will surely enjoy taking care of.

If you have a Betta fish and have noticed how it sometimes get especially "puffed out", keep reading this AnimalWised article and discover the main reasons why Betta fish puff up.

You may also be interested in: Why Do My Aquarium Fish Keep Dying?

Dropsy in Betta fish

Dropsy is an infection of the internal organs which can be caused by various factors including viruses, bacteria or intestinal parasites. It is most commonly caused by the presence of the Aeromonas punctata bacteria in the aquarium. It attacks weaker or more delicate fish, and it can be fatal.

Symptoms of dropsy in Betta fish:

  • Bloated body
  • Raised scales
  • Exophthalmos (bulging eyes)
  • Discoloration
  • White feces

The swelling of the fish' body is because of the build up of intraperitoneal fluid. Betta fish are prone to these infections, which is why it is fundamental to clean their tank. Maintaining good hygiene and regularly changing the water in the aquarium will protect your fish from these infections.

How to treat dropsy in Betta fish

Since there are various possible causes for the infection, it's difficult to work out the appropriate treatment. Dropsy is a common cause of death among Betta fish, which is why it's advisable to act quickly if you suspect one of your specimens might be ill.

You should isolate the affected fish from the rest, and then change the aquarium water. You should also clean the ornaments, artificial plants and other objects found inside.

It's recommended that you know how to deal with this problem in advance, since your Betta fish can die in a couple of days. If you know what to treat it with, you can proceed as soon as you notice an inflated stomach and raised scales. Go to your vet for advice on the most appropriate treatment. Dropsy is usually treated with antibacterials, broad-spectrum anti-parasitics and anti-inflammatories.

After treatment, when the fish starts to get recover, you should start gradually changing the aquarium water. Anti-inflammatories contain steroids, and abruptly eliminating their presence in the water can be counterproductive. Change the water over the course of 3 or 4 days until the medications have disappeared.

Why do Betta Fish Puff Up? - How to treat dropsy in Betta fish

Indigestion in Betta fish

Dropsy can be confused with indigestion; your Betta fish might be puffing up from eating too much. Fish eat dehydrated food, sometimes in large quantities. Then, it hydrates and consequently swells up in their stomach. This brings intestinal obstructions which cause the fish to stop eating.

Symptoms of indigestion in Betta fish:

  • Swollen abdomen
  • Un-raised scales

The main difference with respect to dropsy is the position of the scales. When your Betta fish eats too much, its abdomen puffs out but its scales do not stand up. Raised scales are an indication of dropsy.

To prevent your fish from puffing up, you should give it the correct amount of food. Dehydrated food can cause problems, so one option is to moisten it minutes before feeding. Doing so will make the food increase in size before being eaten.

Leaving the fish without food for a couple of days should be enough for it to get better. If this doesn't work, you can give it can give a boiled, skinless pea.

Why does my Betta fish have a swollen abdomen?

As you've seen, your Betta fish's puffiness can be caused by two reasons:

  • Too much food can cause indigestion. This is a problem for the animal because it makes it stop eating, but a few days of fasting is usually enough for it to get better.
  • Dropsy is a more severe problem, since many Betta fish die from it if it's not acted upon correctly. You must be able to recognize the symptoms and act when you notice them.

Remember, if the scales are raised it is dropsy. Good aquarium hygiene will prevent these types of infections.

Why do Betta Fish Puff Up? - Why does my Betta fish have a swollen abdomen?

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Why do Betta Fish Puff Up?, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

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