Betta fish, also known as, the Siamese fighting fish, is a popular fish in the aquarium trade. It has a life span of approximately three to five years.
The Betta fish is very territorial and it can live alone comfortably however, it does not mind living with other tank mates. Most people keep betta fish in a small container such as bowls and nano tanks, for display in the house or office.
Betta fish are known to be quite intelligent and can be trained to recognize their owners and do tricks. Betta fish are sensitive to vibrations in the water that result from sound such as human voice. Therefore, when someone talks close to the fish tank, the betta fish is able to pick their vibrations.
This makes most people to believe that betta fish can recognize their names. Like any other animal, betta fish are prone to fall ill due to unfavorable conditions or external factors that can lead to death. There are common reasons that will cause a betta fish to die.
1. Poor Water Quality
Clean water is a must for any fish to remain healthy, especially a betta fish. Bettas are freshwater fish. They live in shallow, slow-moving streams, ponds, swamps and rice paddies in their natural habitat. Before putting a betta in an aquarium, you need to test the acidity, PH, density and acidity level of the water.
There are different types of water that are right for a betta fish. One of them is tap water that is treated and de-chlorinated, bottled water, however, ensure you test the PH level of the water, and water from a pet store. The PH level of the water for your aquarium should be around 7. Water that will definitely kill your betta fish and you should avoid is distilled water. Distilled water has no minerals that a betta fish requires for their essential health.
In addition, you should equip the fish tank with a filter to keep the water from becoming toxic for the betta fish. The water should be changed regularly to ensure the toxic waste that is not cleared by the filter is washed out. A 10-30% weekly water change should be enough to sustain a clean and healthy environment for your betta fish.
2. Inadequate Water Temperature
The day you bring a betta fish into your home or office, you should also bring a thermometer and heater. Betta fish should remain in their optimal temperature which is between 78℉ and 80℉, which is 25 °C and 27 °C.
Keeping a betta fish below or above the optimal temperature for long periods of time can cause the fish to die. Very high or lower temperatures affect the immune system of the betta fish making them prone to many diseases such as the fatal fur coat syndrome’ bacteria.
Overfeeding is the most common cause of death for a betta fish. Betta fish are carnivores and they have a very small appetite. Since feeding a fish is the main way we interact with them, it is very easy to overfeed them as we frequently sprinkle food particles to them each time we approach the aquarium.
However, remember overfeeding your betta fish has serious consequences that can lead to its death. Unlike the popular belief that a betta fish that dies from overfeeding is due to gastrointestinal problems, the major issue is not related to over ingestion.
The food particles that remain uneaten accumulates as waste in the aquarium. Over time, the food decomposes contributing to poor water quality. Common signs of overfeeding for a betta fish in a fish tank include, clogged filters, mold or fungi, cloudy water and algae growth.
To prevent overfeeding for your betta fish, introduce feeding schedule, feed the fish enough portions, feed only high-quality food and clean the fish tank frequently to remove excess food particles.
4. Bad Tank Mates
Betta fish are friendly and they can live with other tank mates such as snails, shrimp, kuhli loaches, catfish and many others. However, it is important to note that both male and female betta fish are highly territorial towards any fish that they think is invading their territory.
Although they are territorial and carnivorous, they can attack other fish and make food out of them, they are also timid and vulnerable, which means they are easily stressed out. Bad tank mates for your betta fish include other bettas, such as two females or two males, most schooling fish, ghost shrimp, goldfish, African dwarf frogs and gourami, just to mention a few.
Putting your betta with these type of fish in the same tank can lead to stress and aggression which may result in death.
However, different fish have different personalities, therefore it is important to study a fish before you introduce it as a tank mate for your betta. Watch out for tank mates that nip and tear the betta fins.
Just like a human being, a betta fish can release cortisol, a hormone that causes stress. There are two different types of stress for a better fish. The first is low long term stress that is minimal but occurs constantly. In this type of environment, a betta fish will try to adapt which leads to weakening of its immune system that leads to health deterioration and ultimately death.
Low long term stress is caused by overcrowding in the tank, a tank that is too small, poor or incorrect conditions, such as temperature and lack of a hiding place where the betta can relax. The second type of stress is short high term stress.
This type of stress will quickly lead to health deterioration of the betta or sudden death. Short high term stress is caused by aggressive tank mates, sudden changes to water conditions and illness. You should keenly observe your betta to determine if it is stressed out. A stressed out betta has low appetite, prone to diseases, skittish swimming behavior, changes into a duller color and always hiding.
6. Illness or Genetics
Just like any other freshwater fish, betta fish are also susceptible to suffer from parasitic, bacterial and fungal diseases. Identifying the disease early and administering treatment will minimize the chances of the betta dying and get your colorful fish swimming joyfully again.
The common symptoms of a sick betta include; lethargy, poor or no appetite, faded colors, damaged fins, clamped fins and labored breathing. If you identify any of these symptoms, your betta is either sick or stressed and needs medication attention. The most common betta fish diseases include fin and tail rot, popeye, hole in head, tumor, swim bladder disorder and columnaris.
It is your responsibility to ensure your betta is living in a healthy environment to avoid chances of falling ill. However, you should also note there are other hereditary issues that are beyond your control that can lead to death a betta fish.
Will my betta fish die from tap water?
Many people assume tap water is good enough for a betta fish but it is not. Tap water has chemical additives such as chlorine to sterilize the water. These chemicals are not favorable for a betta fish and can lead to its death. If you want to use tap water for your aquarium, ensure it is well treated to remove chemicals such as chlorine.
How can I keep my betta fish healthy?
A healthy betta fish is colorful, has a high appetite, active and aggressive. To keep your betta fish healthy, ensure the water is clean, adequate, no chemical additives, the PH level is stable and the water is free from impurities such as food remains or decaying plants. The temperature level should also remain at an optimum level for a betta fish to remain healthy.
Nutritional benefits that affect the immune system of the betta fish should be adequately provided through the food fed to the betta fish. The food should be balanced diet and no food particles should be left in the fish tank.
Bad tank mates will lead to stress for your betta affecting its health so ensure there are no bullies in the tank. It is your responsibility to keep the betta healthy, so ensure you always observe it for changes in behavior and color.
Can you save a dying betta fish?
If you find your betta fish gasping at the top or sitting at the bottom of the tank, has a limp tail fin, is pale in color, unresponsive eyes and fanning gills, then it is in a critical condition. There are a few things you can do to save the dying betta, however there is no guarantee for success.
The first step is to check and correct defects in the water. Check the water temperature, PH level or impurities and ensure the water is clean for the betta. The second step is to identify the symptoms and medicate. Before administering medication, remember illnesses can occur due to other factors such as genetic illness and behavioral issue, for instance, old age, fin biting and tank conditions.
Thirdly, you can contact a fish certifies vet to perform tests and offer medication. However, prevention is better than cure. Ensure your betta fish is in favorable conditions to avoid chances of falling ill.
Betta fish are beautiful, elegant aquatic creatures that most people keep as pets in the house. However, they can run into health problems resulting from unclean tanks, water conditions and overfeeding that can lead to death. To minimize chances of the fish falling ill, ensure the tank is clean all the time and the temperatures are okay.