Bloated Betta Fish : Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

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It is not a pleasant sight if you see your Betta fish bloated when turning on the tank light. Naturally, your mind will wander off to the worst-case scenario that it is dropsy, in which the chances of survival for your Betta fish are less. But don’t lose hope, there can be several reasons for bloating in Betta fish, and this guide will help in treating most of them.

Bloating is one the most common health risks in Betta fish, but the real question is, what causes bloating in Betta fish, and will this condition kill your fish? Keep reading, as we are going to provide you with a complete guide about what is bloating Betta fish, causes of bloating in Betta fish, treatment of bloating in Betta fish, prevention of bloating in Betta fish, and symptoms of bloating in Betta fish.

What is Bloating in Betta Fish?

A bloated Betta fish will seem to have a swollen belly, and it is hard to ignore or miss when you see it. Bloating can affect one or both sides of your Betta fish, and sometimes it can appear unbalanced.

A bloated Betta fish will have trouble swimming and can be stuck on the surface or at the bottom of the tank. This situation is hazardous for Betta as they need to surface from time to time to gulp air.

It is tough to diagnose in most cases, but when your Betta is suffering from bloating, there will be some other symptoms as well. So here is the list of causes of bloating in Betta fish with the symptoms of bloating in Betta fish.

What are the Most Common Causes of Bloating in Betta Fish?

The causes that are most common for bloating in Betta fish are constipation, swim bladder, and dropsy. Each of them is followed by the other. If you see your Betta fish suffering from the first two health problems, then not worry as Betta will recover from that in no time. However, it will really be unfortunate if Betta is contracted to dropsy. Due to that, the chances of its survival will be very less


Treatments and preventions are straightforward against the Betta Fish constipation. It is one of the most shared health problems Betta goes through, and it is the reason that the chances of bloating in your fish are a lot higher because of constipation. If your fish is fighting with constipation, then there will be the following symptoms involve as well apart from the bloated belly.

Symptoms of Constipation in Betta Fish

If you think your Betta is suffering from constipation, then look for the following signs. It will be easy for you to diagnose the health problem.

Appetite Loss

Betta fish are famous for their eating habits, and they are food lovers, so you will notice quickly if your Betta is not eating. It is common for Betta not to get full even after eating and eating, and there is only one time when they feel not hungry is when they are constipated. Loss of appetite is the very first sign of constipation and bloating in Betta fish.

Betta fish Cannot Pass Stool

It is not so easy to notice as a lack of appetite, and you will have to keep an eye on your Betta with close attention, you might see that he is having a problem to pass stool and can not defecate. It is one the most significant reason for constipation in Betta, and as soon as you see the sign with the lack of appetite, then we would advise you to start treating constipation to cure bloating in Betta fish.

Causes of Constipation in Betta Fish

It is not very easy to tell what the reason behind constipation is as many reasons could be involved in this health risk. It is far better to learn the prevention of constipation in Betta fish than learning the treatment of it. Watch out for the following reasons that cause constipation in Betta fish.

Poor Diet

If you are feeding your Betta fish with some low-quality food or if you are feeding too much, it will cause constipation, which can lead to bloating in Betta fish.

At the time of feeding, make sure to use high-quality fish pellets mixed with live food. If you are unable to find live food, frozen or freeze-dried will also work. It is good to feed Betta fish over in a few meals a day rather than providing food for the whole day as one meal.

Lack of Physical Activity

It is very easy to overlook, but if your Betta fish is living inside a small aquarium tank, then he might not be exercising as much as he needs to be fit and healthy. Toys and decorations are the best way to keep your Betta active and healthy. If your Betta is exercising less, then this can lead to several health problems such as constipation, boredom, and stress, or even leave them to a depressing state.

Treatment of Constipation in Betta Fish?

Luckily, it is easy to treat constipation in Bettas and does not require a lot of effort from your side. In general, you should make your Betta fast for 2 to 3 days. It will help in better bowel performance.

Most importantly, after the fasting is finished, you can get some daphnia, mosquito larvae and brine shrimp to feed your Betta fish. This food will bring more fiber in the body of Betta, which is really useful in constipation.

Epsom salt baths and feeding peas to your Betta are helpful when the above treatment does not work.

Swim Bladder in Betta Fish

If the bloating in Betta fish is not caused by constipation, then your next bet should be on swim bladder disease. However, constipation can be caused by swim bladder diseases and vice versa. It is all very confusing because we can say that swim bladder cannot be categorized as an actual disease. It is the name of a group of multiple symptoms that can cause health problems of bloating in the Betta fish.

Symptoms of Swim Bladder Disease

A number of symptoms are attached to the swim bladder disease. Fortunately, they are very easy to notice, and you can start treatment of swim bladder disease as soon as you see symptoms in Betta fish.

Trouble Swimming

The first thing you can notice in your Betta fish’s bloated belly and trouble due to it in swimming. Swim bladder disease is to blame for this condition. The symptoms can include buoyancy issues; your fish may also sink to the bottom, staying trapped at the top, lopsided swimming, and being powerless to move anywhere else.

Trouble swimming is the easiest thing to notice, and it might not be a pleasant sight to look at, luckily it is curable, and your fish can make a speedy recovery.

Appetite Loss

Similar to constipation, swim bladder disease can cause a Betta fish to lose its appetite. Not eating correctly or refusing to eat at all is another sign of swim bladder disease in Betta fish.

Curved Back

In extreme situations, your Betta fish could also have a curved back. It is a horrible sign to look at, and surely it is not a comfortable situation for Betta. As soon as you notice this sign, you should act immediately to put things back on track.


The last sign of swim bladder disease is that your Betta stays in one place and does not move around as it should. This happens when they are in too much pain and suffering from swim bladder disease.

Causes of Swim Bladder Disease

It is not so easy to discover the real cause of swim bladder disease as there is no single particular reason involved with this health issue. You need to find the exact cause of the swim bladder disease before you take any step for treatment; otherwise, you will be wasting your time, and the condition of fish can get worse. Here is the list of some common cause of swim bladder disease in Betta fish.


Bloating is one of the causes of swim bladder disease in Betta fish and vice versa. So if your Betta is suffering from this disease, then constipation cannot be ruled out.


An injury might be another reason for swim bladder in your Betta fish. This injury can cause by many reasons such as by other fish that may cause any harm towards Betta or by Betta getting injured while playing. One of the common causes of swim bladder disease is when your Betta gets out of the tank, landing on something and hurting itself.

Bacterial Infections and Parasites

It is rare for bacterial infections and parasites to cause swim bladder disease in Betta fish, but you still cannot ignore it. Along with some symptoms, you might notice the change in stool color. It might become white instead of brown if a bacterial infection is involved.


There are a number of reasons that may shock your Betta. Even a change in temperature is enough for your Betta to be in shock. It may include pH changes and constant changes in lighting. Considering if a shock is a reason behind swim bladder disease, then you should try to solve the mentioned issues to treat the fish.

Treatment of Swim Bladder Disease in Betta Fish

The treatment of swim bladder is comfortable by using so many ways. In certain conditions, no work is required from your side. Just like constipation, you can treat swim bladder by fasting it for 2 to 3 days if you have been feeding it too much. Use Epsom bath salts if the fish is constipated and try to leave it on its own for some time if the fish is in shock.


If the symptoms do not match either constipation or swim bladder disease, then be ready for the worst-case scenario. It is a possibility that your Betta is suffering from dropsy, and if it is true, then chances of survival for Betta are quite slim. Euthanasia might be the option you have to go for, and there are some cases where Betta has recovered from dropsy, but this number is quite low.

Symptoms of Dropsy in Betta Fish

If your fish is suffering from dropsy, then lookout for the following signs and symptoms.

Pinecone Scales

Seeing the scales of Bettas that are pointing out the wrong way, making it look like a pinecone, is a sign of dropsy. If this is the case with your Betta, we have some bad news to share, the chances of surviving are very low for Betta fish. The swelling starts in the organs of betta fish, consequently putting your Betta to bloating state and pushing the scales in the wrong direction; this all happens when the organs are damaged severely.

Successfully fixing the problem of pinecone scales doesn’t guarantee the survival of Betta, the chances are that organs are poorly damaged, and recovery might not be possible.

Curved Spine

As the swelling causes more damage, you might notice that the spine of your Betta is curving outwards. If your Betta’s spine is bending vertically, then it is the sign of tuberculosis. Make sure not to confuse these two diseases with each other to treat your Betta correctly.

Causes of Dropsy in Betta Fish

There is a wide range of causes involved in dropsy, and we can’t judge it on the basis of just one cause. Commonly, stress is the reason for that. The following are some reasons for dropsy in Betta fish.

Poor Diet or Water Quality

Dropsy and some other dangerous diseases can affect your Betta fish if the water quality in the tank is poor or if you are not feeding the fish properly. Dirty water and low-quality food will keep putting stress on the fish, which will lead to weakness and damage to the immune system. In the end, Betta might not be able to fight with any disease coming its way.

Internal Damage

When you bring Betta to your home, watch them adjusting to the new environment critically. Any object in the tank may damage them internally, which you cannot see from the outside the tank. Serious injury makes the organs swell, and if not healed properly, then this whole process does not work, and there is a high chance of your Betta fish contracting to dropsy.

Illness Condition and Diseases

Betta fish’s immune system is not so strong, and we can’t imagine it fighting with many diseases at one time. And therefore, you need to pay close attention to every disease at its earliest to protect it from escalating to something uncontrollable at a later stage.

Treatment of Dropsy in Betta Fish

The treatment that most people use for dropsy is frequent water change, and remember it is a very long shot you are taking, and the chances of this treatment to be successful are minimum. You can get antibiotic treatment for your Betta if you’re sure that the root cause of bloating is or dropsy is a bacterial infection. Trying some methylene blue dips on Betta fish may also work, but remember, the chances of surviving for your fish are very slim, and in most cases, nothing works on dropsy.

Malawi Bloat

Malawi Bloat is very rare in Betta fish. It is one of the rarest diseases your Betta could suffer from. However, Betta can have a Malawi boat, and the worst thing is when you start to notice the symptoms of this disease, the chances of survival for your Betta are already low.

Symptoms of Malawi Bloat in Betta Fish

In addition to bloating in Betta fish, you will notice the following signs or symptoms when your fish is suffering from Malawi bloat.

Trouble Breathing

The first thing you will notice is your Betta has a problem breathing, and it is coming to the surface most of the time to get air easily. However, this sign could represent some other diseases as well, such as ammonia poising or temperature shock. Make sure the supply of oxygen is well in the tank.

Appetite Loss

This symptom can be linked with many diseases such as constipation and swim bladder disease. Rarely, lack of appetite can also make your Betta vulnerable to Malawi Bloat.

Causes of Malawi Bloat in Betta Fish

Many people think that Malawi bloat’s cause is bacteria or parasites present in the water tank, but nobody knows if it is true or not.  We can reduce the development of Malawi bloat by changing the water in the tank frequently with keeping the hygiene and condition of water in good condition. In addition to that, try to feed your Betta with high-quality food from a reputable source.

Treatment of Malawi Bloat in Betta Fish

When you see Malawi Bloat in Betta Fish, it is already too late to save your Betta fish, and we are sorry to break it you, this is going to be deadly in most of the cases, and a fish specialist is the only person who can treat Malawi bloat in the Betta fish.


Bloated belly in Betta fish can be because of tumors in rare cases. While it is rare to have a bloated stomach in Betta fish caused by a tumor, but once you have discovered it, there is nothing else you can do other than euthanasia.

Luckily it is not common for a tumor to develop in Betta fish, and you can take all the precautions and preventions. If it is going to happen, it will happen, so do not take stress about it too much because there is nothing left to do.

Betta Fish is Producing Eggs

When females are contracted to bloating, then the reason could be that she is about to produce eggs. Luckily, we can look at some other signs to know that Betta is full of eggs, so you can not confuse it with some disease.

You can identify this state of Betta with the help of few signs that include straight-up white stripes running across her physique as well as a white spot or tube on her belly where the eggs are going to originate from.

What to do When You See Bloating in Betta Fish?

It is vital that you act quickly when you notice bloating in the Betta fish. The following are some of the things you can do in this situation.

Diagnosis of Symptoms

It is the fundamental step to deal with the problem. If you do not know what the cause of bloating In Betta fish is, then all of your efforts can go in vain. Try to find out the root cause so you can act accordingly. If the cause of bloating in betta fish is constipation, then you can keep him in the same tank. Otherwise, you might need to move the fish in a quarantine tank.

Move the Betta Fish to Quarantine Tank

If your Betta has a bloated belly and living in other fish, then immediately transfer the fish into a quarantine tank. As mentioned earlier, if constipation is behind bloating, then there is no need to relocate.

Transferring the fish will make the treatment more manageable, and the affected Betta can not make other fishes ill once she is out of the tank. If your fish is injured and contracted to swim bladder disease, it will be easier for the Betta to rest.

Start Treatment

Now you can begin the treatment of bloating in Betta fish, but make sure you know the cause of bloating in betta fish, so the procedure is correct. You must keep the Betta fish in the quarantine tank for some time even the fish looks fine, it is to see that the Betta has recovered fully.

Keep an Eye on Symptoms

Keep an eye on the symptoms of your Betta fish. If it possible, check after time to time to make sure everything is alright and the condition of fish is not getting poorer.

Prevention of Bloating in Betta Fish

You might have heard the famous saying that prevention is better than cure. It is far easier to prevent bloating in Betta fish the treating it. Fortunately, the prevention of bloating in betta fish is quite simple and easy to do. The following are a few things that can help you in the prevention of bloating in Betta fish.

Keeping the Water Clean

You can eliminate so many diseases and causes of illness by merely keeping the good water quality in the tank. Change the water in one or two weeks, depending on the size of the tank. This will help in removing the build-up of ammonia and wasteful materials from the tank. This process helps you to remove any bacteria or parasite present in the water, which can seriously affect your Betta fish.

Feed High-Quality Food to Your Betta Fish

Make sure that your fish is getting a balanced diet consist of only high-quality food. While the fish pellets can be used for feeding, it is good to remember that live, frozen, or dried foods are equally crucial for the excellent health of your Betta fish.

Mosquito larvae and brine shrimp are good for Betta, and Daphnia is the best when it comes to feeding your fish. Blood worms are good food as well but you shouldn’t use them all the time and not as regular meals.

Avoid Aggressive Mates and Sharp Toys or Decorations

Aggressive fishes and piercing objects are likely to cause an injury to Betta fish. Even when the damage is not in the stomach, stress and other situations can help develop some dangerous diseases in the Betta fish. It is not so hard to keep your Betta safe as there are many fish and toys/decorations available that are totally safe and will not hurt your fish in any way.

Use Adequate Size Tank

You might have heard somewhere that 2.5-gallon tank is suitable for Betta fish, it is entirely wrong. Betta fish happiness depends on the tank size, and this is why you should never choose a tank below 5-gallon capacity. It reduces the water fluctuations that can put stress on Betta, which is lethal for its health.

Final Words

Bloating in Betta fish is relatively common, and in most cases, you can treat bloating in Betta fish quickly. The chances of recovery are high unless Betta is suffering from Dropsy or Malawi bloat.

You can prevent bloating in Betta fish by providing it a safe environment and a clean water tank with suitable space. Feed your Betta with high-quality food. Divide the food into several meals over the day rather than one meal per day. Keep an eye on the causes and symptoms of bloating in Betta fish to be on the safe side.

Treatment of bloating in Betta fish should only begin once you have found out the root cause. Remember, the prevention of bloating in Betta fish is far better than treating the bloating in Betta fish. So make it easy for yourself and your fish by taking all the necessary steps to ensure good health for Betta fish.

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