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Can Betta Fish Have Seizures? 3 Common Causes

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By Lindsey Stanton

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Many people don’t know if betta fish suffer from seizures. Like human beings, betta fish have seizures, and the most unfortunate thing is that many don’t survive after experiencing seizures. This means that even if your betta fish recover from seizure, he doesn’t live much longer as it dies in the next few days.

It is a terrifying thing to observe since your betta fish shakes uncontrollably. Here we will look at the various causes of fish seizures and how you can prevent your fish from seizure. You should note that all fish species can have seizures, and the treatment is the same.

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Signs of Seizures in Betta Fish

Even if seizures are not common, they do occur from one time to another. Other than the fish nervous systems suffering a seizure, fish also experience strokes, heart attacks, and traumas. Even if it’s hard to notice, sometimes your fish may genetically have seizures or epileptic.

The big question is, “how can you know that your betta fish have a seizure? There are several ways of knowing if your fish has a seizure. First, if you see your fish moving rapidly with breathing difficulties, then there is a high possibility that your fish is having a seizure.

Other seizures symptoms include stomach cramps, excessive swimming, itchy head, diarrhea, circling, and loss of appetite. When you notice any of these signs, it’s advisable to isolate your betta and immediately seek his treatment.

red betta fish in aquarium
Image Credit: 13683717, Pixabay

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The 3 Common Causes of Seizures in Betta Fish

Before you start any treatment for your betta fish, you must understand the cause and why the seizure occurred. However, you should understand that erratic movements don’t necessarily mean that your fish have seizures since they can be mating behavior or dominance signs. Therefore, you should not confuse them with seizures though these movements are temporary.

The following are the common causes of seizures:

1. Outside Noises or Bright Light

Fish don’t like bright light, and they try to avoid it as much as possible. This means that your betta fish won’t do well when you expose them to sudden light flashes from the tank or when you place them under bright lights.

Exposing your betta fish to bright light for an extended period interferes with their natural sleeping cycle and body’s electrolyte balance.

To ensure your fish get the appropriate amount of light, buy an aquarium light with adjustable brightness. Your fish will perceive various colored lights such as red, green, and blue differently, and they will help lessen the intensity.

Image Credit: gogorilla, Shutterstock

You should place numerous live plants and hides in the aquarium to provide your fish with a hiding spot, if need be, more so when escaping from the light. Besides, loud noise negatively affects your fish. This is the reason why you see notices at the pet stores, “don’t tap the glass,” to prevent any interruption to the fish.

The fish’s lateral line that runs down the body’s sides helps the fish detect any change in external vibrations, pressure gradients, among other movements. Sound transmission is faster in water than in any pressure or temperature. Therefore, when you touch the aquarium glass, water carries these vibrations directly into the fish’s lateral line. This can scare your fish or cause internal injury.

If you want to protect your betta fish from loud noises and bright lights, ensure you place your aquarium in an ideal area where many people cannot easily access.

2. Viral, Fungal, or Bacterial Infections

Another major cause of betta fish seizure is a bacterial infection, viral infection, or fungal disease. Also, some parasites are known to disrupt the fish nervous system, which results in uncontrollable movements and, finally, seizures. Seizures may also come due to stress and other injuries.

You should also note that your fish may have a seizure when you overdose on him. This is likely to be a result of chemicals in medications or lower oxygen levels in the water. Ensure you strictly follow the given prescription for the safest recovery of your betta.

sick betta in aquarium
Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

3. Temperature Shock

Your betta fish may have seizures if water parameters change. This mainly occurs when you want to transfer your bettas from one tank to another, which takes minutes. When doing so, ensure you use the proper acclimation to bring home a new betta.

If you want to help your fish adapt to the new water conditions, drip acclimate your betta for about 20-30 minutes. This will help to lessen the physical stress, giving your fish a sense of security.

You need to ensure that water parameters and temperatures between the current water tank and the new water tank perfectly match when changing the water. You should also note that large amounts of nitrite, ammonia, and nitrate can harm your fish.

In case your fish is not given enough time to acclimate to the new parameters, he could die or have a seizure due to temperature shock. If your betta starts behaving strangely, you need to instantly treat the aquarium by bringing the temperatures up or down.

blue betta fish in aquarium
Image By: Lapis2380, Shutterstock


How to Calm Down Your Betta Fish from a Seizure

Even though it is very little you can do when your betta fish have a seizure, there are several things you can do to fix the origin of the problem and ensure your betta is comfortable. Some of the things include:

  • First, switch off the lights or cover your fish aquarium with a translucent cloth if your betta starts to convulse, reducing stress on your fish. You can also add medication or natural alternatives such as tannins to start treating your tank.
  • Test the parameters of water, look for any infection or disease and check for contamination signs. If you find any of these issues in your aquarium, take the necessary steps to treat your tank to prevent stressing your fish further.
  • Ensure the water temperatures are as stable as possible for optimal fish comfort. This will help to prevent bettas’ shock, which can trigger a seizure. Also, do regular tank maintenance to make sure the aquarium is always in the right conditions.
  • Don’t tap the tank walls. Try to avoid tapping the tank if you can since this can scare your betta.

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Betta fish can have seizures, and it’s not a good experience at all. In most cases, there are minimal chances of your survival. However, it’s always better to prevent than to cure. Ensure the water parameters are stable and don’t make rapid changes.

Changes in water temperature are the major cause of betta fish shock, but you can easily regulate it using a thermometer, aquarium filter, or ideal acclimation techniques.

Featured Image Credit: Grigorii Pisotsckii, Shutterstock

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