Keeping your fish healthy and happy is the key to good aquarium husbandry. Betta fish are hardy, freshwater fish that can develop a wide range of diseases or stress-related behaviors. It is important to monitor your betta’s behavior regularly so that you can easily determine if they are stressed which will allow for prompt treatment.
There are many ways to keep your betta fish happy if you provide their essential requirements. Every betta will experience stress a few times in their lifetime; however, it can be mitigated and kept under control. Let’s take a look at at the causes, symptoms, and treatments of stress!
Understanding Stress in Betta Fish
Stress is present in all fish species. There are many reasons for your betta fish to become stressed. It is caused by a stressor factor present in the environment. This can be a lot of different things and you must try to keep these stressors minimal in their environment and encourage mental enrichment to keep them satisfied.
Stress in bettas can be compared to the stress of humans and other animals, when we have constant negative stressors, then we get to the point of depression and lethargy.
Depression is common in fish too! This may be surprising to many new hobbyists. Fish are portrayed as easy to care for and many new aquarists may neglect the basic care essentials in the beginning. Bettas react to the conditions of their environment. If they’re not cared for, they’ll look like it.
Every betta fish keeper should realize the importance of a pro-active approach to the general well-being of their betta fish’s welfare. There can be emotional, physical, and environmental stressors in bettas.
When your betta fish is constantly dealing with stressful instances in their life, they can show the symptoms both emotionally and physically. Stressful bettas will not behave like they normally do, and they will display symptoms that can make them seem generally unwell or even ill.
Unfortunately, betta fish are very misunderstood fish which makes them susceptible to being unintentionally mistreated. The most essential part of keeping betta fish is minimizing stressors and always providing them with the utmost best conditions.
Bettas are highly intelligent fish which also allows them to easily become stressed. Once they become stressed, their immune system is compromised, and they are at risk of several different diseases.
Signs of an Unhealthy Betta Fish
These curious fish are very happy when they are kept correctly. They have many ways of showing signs of happiness and general good health. It is common for your new betta fish to be stressed when you first bring them home. Remember that they are unfamiliar with their new environment and need a few days to settle in. Moving your betta fish or changing the tank layout can also cause stress for a few days in your betta fish.
The Main Causes of Stress in Betta Fish
There are quite a few causes as to why your betta fish may be experiencing high levels of stress. It is common for new betta owners to make some understandable mistakes regarding caring for your betta fish properly.
The best option is to learn how to prevent these causes and conduct research on how to properly house, feed, and enrich your betta fish.
- It is common practice for new hobbyists to place their betta fish in a bowl, vase, bio-orb, and other unsuitable aquaria. Spherical objects are not good for fish as it is too small, and the rounded sides distort their view.
- Depriving your betta fish of a filter and heater will cause major issues. Bettas are tropical fish that require a filter to help aid in keeping the water clean and hosting the colony of beneficial bacteria that will help convert your fish waste into nitrates.
- An uncycled tank is a silent killer in the aquarium hobby. Every tank must be cycled for 6 to 8 weeks before placing a betta fish inside. After the cycle is complete, harmful ammonia and nitrite will be kept under control.
- Water quality plays a major role in the health and vitality of your betta fish. Bettas need dechlorinated water as the chlorine found in tap water burns their body and causes major stress.
- Incompatible tank mates can easily cause a betta fish to become stressed. Male bettas should never be housed with other males. They will and do fight till death or serious injury. Avoid housing bettas with fin nippers, territorial, and aggressive fish.
- If your betta does not have a wide variety of hiding places in the tank, they will feel unsafe and become stressed.
- Lack of oxygen in the water will contribute to stress. There is a belief that bettas do not need much oxygen because of their origins in stagnant, poorly oxygenated waters. Keep in mind betta in captivity have evolved completely and are not adapted to live in such poor conditions. Bettas need an aeration system in the tank.
- Freezing temperatures or even fluctuating temperatures are a common cause of stress. Bettas require a heater and will do very poorly without one.
Preventing Stress In Betta Fish
Once you notice that your betta fish is stressed, then you need to set up a treatment plan to get them on the path to healing. Treating your betta fish is simple once you have determined the main source of stress.
Treating a Stressed Betta Fish
Sometimes your betta fish can become so stressed that they need to be medically treated. Treatment should be thought out considering what type of physical symptom is being shown.
Here is a basic treatment plan for sick betta fish. These gentle medications can be helpful to target specific symptoms and prevent them in the future.
These medications are not safe for the main tank, and you will need to move your betta into a 5-gallon bucket or tank with an air stone when administrating these medications because they can kill off beneficial bacteria and break the tank’s cycle. Stress can cause a variety of diseases that need prompt treatment.
Minimizing and preventing stress in bettas is the best way to keep them in good health. If you notice your betta is displaying stressed or abnormal behavior, treat them right away! Bettas can easily overcome stress and will be content in a large and suitable tank with all the necessary equipment and peaceful tank mates.
We hope that this article has helped you determine if your betta fish is stressed and how to deal with it.