How to Tell If Your Betta Fish is Dying

Betta fish make great pets. They’re beautiful to look at – they can be so brightly colored, elegant, and graceful. They’re excellent to keep in your home because they are also relatively cheap to keep – and also decently low maintenance, too. Some people can even get so enamored with betta fish that it turns from just a hobby straight into an obsession! Sometimes, however, betta fish can get sick too. And when that happens, you need to realize it quick, before they die! But, do you know how to tell if your betta fish is dying?

A lot of people might look at their betta fish and wonder why they don’t look the same. Well, there are a number of illnesses that can afflict betta fish, and some of these illnesses can actually be rather fatal. If you are curious and wondering why your betta fish is not doing as well as you want, then it might be rather important to learn more about what sort of illnesses could be afflicting it. Also, it’s always good to learn how to tell if your betta fish is dying – that way, you can do everything in your power to try and remedy the situation. Betta fish can’t always be saved, but it’s always better to find out earlier either way.

If you want to learn more about betta fish and what can ail them, don’t worry because we’ll help you. Today, we are here to discuss everything there is to know about typical betta fish illnesses, as well as how to tell if your betta fish is dying.

What Are The Common Betta Fish Sicknesses?how to tell if your betta fish is dying

There are a number of different conditions that can affect a betta fish. Today, we will be discussing some of them, so that you at least have an idea of what to look out for if your betta fish looks rather… off. This will hopefully help when it comes to learning how to tell if your betta fish is dying as well.

Fin Rot

This particular illness is relatively easy to diagnose. It is often characterized by your pet’s fin looking as though it is shortening, falling apart, or even dissolving. The fish’s fins may also appear like they are clumping and changing in color.

Often, the cause for fin rot is dirty water. It could be because the filter you are using simply isn’t proper for your pet’s tank. It could also be because you aren’t changing the water frequently enough.

Fortunately, fin rot is a condition that is not considered fatal. Aside from the change in appearance, your betta actually won’t be acting any different. Your pet will still eat, and they should still appear active. This doesn’t mean that you don’t need to address fin rot, however. This is because your betta’s tail or fins might not grow back as long or as beautifully as before.

Fin Rot Treatment

If your betta is a rare one with a particularly beautiful tail and fins that you want to preserve, then you definitely need to cure fin rot FAST. Quick treatment ensures full recovery. However, if you start treatment late, your pet will likely still be okay. Their fins and tails will regrow, but again, the risk is that they won’t be as pretty as they used to be. Treatment involves a full water change (100% replacement), along with medications such as MELAFIX, Ampicillin, as well as tetracycline. Treatment period can altogether last 4 weeks, so you must stay the course or else you’ll end up lengthening this treatment period further.

Advanced Body & Fin Rothow to tell if your betta fish is dying

If you look at your betta and you see the fins and tail practically fully disintegrating away, then you also notice their body beginning to rot – you have a big problem. You might even see that their bones are beginning to stick out!

Advanced body & fin rot is caused by not treating fin rot. It can result in your fish completely losing their tail, and then slowly disintegrating away. Yes, this is indeed fatal. Advanced rot is much, much more difficult to cure, and can kill your Betta fast if you don’t act quickly.

Advanced Body & Fin Rot Treatment

To cure advanced body & fin rot, you need a new tank and a FULL water change. You will also need 2x the dose of tetracycline and also ampicillin. Normally you don’t want to overmedicate, but this is actually one rare occasion where it might help. The healing process is long and difficult, so you need to be persistent.


Ick is a funny name for a fish illness, but this disease is characterized by some white dots (on the body, on the head, or on the eyes). The betta can also be more lethargic, and stop eating. They can also scratch up against the tank, plants, or gravel.

Ick is incredibly contagious, and it is caused by infected live food (hence why you should only purchase from reliable and trustworthy sources). It’s a parasite, but it can also be fatal if not treated!

Ick Treatment

To treat ick, you can add aquarium salt (1 tsp) per 2.5 gallons of water. You can also use this aquarium salt to regularly condition tank water. You can also purchase an ick cure from a pet shop. Furthermore, you can choose to simply cure ick with heat as well (it dies at 29.4C or 85F), using a tank heater – however, never use a heater in a tank <2 gallons because it can boil your fish to death! Curing ick only should take a few days.


The symptoms of Velvet are a bit harder to see with just the naked eye. However, if you use a flashlight, you should be able to see some rust or gold mist. Your betta will also have fins that appear clamped. Like ick, betta afflicted with velvet will also scratch themselves against objects. Furthermore, your betta might lose their appetite or their color. If you see any of these signs, ACT FAST. Velvet is a parasite that is also one of the biggest killers of betta.

Velvet Treatment

You can treat velvet similarly to ick by using aquarium salt. However, you will also need to use a specific velvet treatment like Bettafix. If your fish is sharing their tank with others, make sure that you isolate it because velvet is extremely contagious and the treatment for it is also rather strong. If you use fishnets to catch your betta, sanitize them too because the reinfection risk is high.


We know, the names for these illnesses are rather interesting and may be even a little funny! Still, it is very important to be informed of them so that you can more easily learn how to tell if your betta fish is dying.

The symptoms for Popeye are basically bulging eyes that may also look white. If not treated quickly, your betta can lose their eyesight – or even their eyes! A scary prospect, for sure. However, as long as you act fast, 100% recovery is definitely possible. The main cause for this illness is – as you may have guessed it – dirty water. Most noteworthy, however, is that popeye can also be a symptom of other diseases and curing it is not possible if this is the case (unless you address the main condition).

Popeye Treatment

To treat this you immediately should do a water change – a full 100% change that is. Then, over the next few days, you need to change 25-50% of the water daily. Ampicillin or erythromycin can be used as well as minocycline, sulfadimidine, and trimethoprim. Epsom salts may also help.

How to Tell if Your Betta Fish is Dyingbetta fish

We’ve come to the point where we will now discuss learning how to tell if your betta fish is dying. Remember that if you see any of these things occurring, it’s best to start treatment right away without delay. You may even want to consult a veterinarian if you’re extra worried or unsure about something. In any case, here are the signs:

Your Betta Fish Changes Color

If you notice that your betta fish looks like it is changing in color, be vigilant. Their color might be duller, or they could’ve lost it altogether. A change in color is often one of the first and most obvious signs of sickness. If you notice this, it’s an easy way to tell that there may be something wrong with them internally, or even externally.

Your Betta’s Fins Aren’t The Same

It can be somewhat difficult to use betta fins as a way to tell if they are sick or dying. These fish have rather delicate fins, and even just mishandling them can cause rips and tears. However, if you notice that the fins are clamped against their body and they aren’t swimming properly, it’s a good way to tell that they might be sick.

Your Betta Fish is Lethargic or Doesn’t Move

We always advice you to get bigger tanks for your betta fish, simply because it is so much harder to check if they are lethargic otherwise. Betta fish require more than 1.5 gallon tanks, so don’t hesitate to give them larger ones.

A betta fish that is lethargic, slow, and often stays at the bottom of their tank can be ill. It can also mean that their tank’s temperature is too hot or too cold. Check the temperature and ensure it’s within the range bettas should be in. If it’s not, then see whether your fish is displaying any other symptoms so you can tell if your betta fish is dying or not.

Your Betta Fish Won’t Eat

Similarly to all animals (and even humans), betta fish will often stop eating if they get sick. If you notice that your pet doesn’t have the same appetite they used to, you should observe them vigilantly for any other signs.

Your Betta Fish Shows Signs of Velvet or Ick

If you see that your pet has white spots or is constantly scratching up against objects in their tank, start treating for velvet or ick immediately. The fact is, these conditions can be fatal and should be treated ideally as soon as possible.

Your Betta Fish is Having Trouble Breathing

Often, a sign of how to tell if your betta fish is dying is the fact that they aren’t breathing normally. A sign of this is if your fish is frequently surfacing for additional air. If you notice this, check and make sure that your fish has a proper filter and a bubbler/aerator that can help infuse the water with oxygen. It’s important to make sure that your betta’s tank is fitted properly so they have an environment that will properly sustain them. Imagine not being able to breathe constantly – do you want that for your pet?

Your Betta Fish Has a Swelling Abdomen and Raised Scales

If you see that your pet’s stomach is swelling, this is often a sign that they are constipated. It may seem like not a big deal. After all, everyone gets constipated once in a while. However, this is actually rather fatal for bettas. Make sure that you aren’t overfeeding your pet and you usually won’t have any problems. To address this, you can give your betta some cooked peas.

Raised scales, on the other hand, is a good way to tell that there is swelling underneath. It could mean something as simple as constipation, but it could also mean they are afflicted with DROPSY. Dropsy is incurable, and as a result your fish will ultimately pass on.


Betta fish are beautiful creatures that are beloved by many. If you’re new to owning a betta fish and they aren’t acting normally, educate yourself on how to tell if your betta fish is dying. In doing so, you can seek immediate treatment in order to hopefully prevent their untimely death. However, in some cases, the diseases may be incurable and if so, the most you can do is make them comfortable.

Regardless, it’s always important to ensure that your betta has an adequately sized tank with clean, regularly maintained (and treated) water. Ensure that you buy their food from reliable and trustworthy sources as well.

Doing all of this will make it possible for your fish to live a long and healthy life!