8 Ways to Save a Dying Betta Fish (and How to Prevent It) - Betta Care Fish Guide (2023)

As a Betta owner, there's nothing worse than seeing your fish struggle or suffer and wondering what you can do to help. Sadly, all of our fish will eventually meet their end, but sometimes they just need a little help to get back on the road to recovery.

To save a dying Betta fish, treatment includes moving them to a quarantine tank, keeping the tank's water quality high, and adding medication if necessary. In addition, you also need to eliminate the cause of the disease.

This article takes a detailed look at the various things you can do to prevent your Betta from getting sick ordying, and what you can do to save them if they start to suffer.

Table of contents

How to Prevent a Betta Fish from Dying

The most important thing you can do is to ensure that the care you provide for your Betta keeps them healthy and safe. You want to prevent problems instead of reacting to problems when they arise.

Get the right size tank

One of the most common reasons Bettas become unhealthy and unhappy is because they live in a tank that is too small for their needs. Bettas may not be very large fish, but they need plenty of room to move around so they stay fit and active.

A single Betta should have a tank that is at least 1 gallon in size, but a community tank should be at least 10 gallons, and if you keep a fraternity of female Bettas, their tank should be at least 15 gallons.

Choose Tank Mates carefully

We all know that Bettas can be quite feisty, which is why they are also known as Siamese Fighting Fish.Make sure you don't house Betta males with other Bettas or other fish they can become aggressive towards.Bettas will often fight with fish such astiger barbs, gouramis or beautiful guppies.

Fighting injuries are a common cause of death among Bettas, so they should be kept in a calm and safe tank.

Keep their water at the right temperature

If the water in their tank is the wrong temperature, it can quickly prove fatal to your fish, especially if it's too cold.Bettas need their water to be kept at about 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit.You will have to usea tank heaterto keep the temperature constant.

8 Ways to Save a Dying Betta Fish (and How to Prevent It) - Betta Care Fish Guide (1)

Keep their water clean

Contaminated or otherwise polluted water is a fast track to an unhealthy fish.Bettas can be quite hardyanimals, but an unfiltered tank will still kill.Use awater Filterto add oxygen to the water, keep the tank clean and remove dangerous bacteria.

Even with a filter, you still need to keep an eye on the cleanliness of the tank and remove any contaminants, such as leftover food.

Check their water regularly

To make sure it stays clean and warm, check the filter and temperature in your Betta's tank every day. You should also test the water quality weekly and regularly replace the water and/or filter cartridge.

Have a healthy diet

Like any other animal, Bettas must eat a healthy diet to survive. An important thing to remember is that Betta fish are carnivores, so they cannot survive on plant foods.They should be fed a variety of live foods and freeze-dried foods, as well as protein-rich flakes and/or pellets.

Provide easy access to the surface

One of the fascinating things aboutBetta fish is their ability to breathe oxygen directly from the airusing a specialized labyrinth organ. However, this isn't just an interesting talent - it's vital to your Betta's survival.

Betta fish should be able to easily reach the surface and swallow air to replenish the oxygen they get from the water.

Can you save a Betta fish from dying?

If you notice that your Betta fish isn't looking well or seems to be dying, there are often some simple things you can do to bring them back to full health.The first step to take if you think your Betta is seriously unwell is to contact a vet as soon as possible.

Before you can help, you'll need to determine what's causing your fish to be bad, which may require the help of a vet. Then you can start addressing this problem.

Unfortunately, our fish's lives eventually come to an end and sometimes all you can do is make them feel comfortable.

How do you know if your betta is dying?

To determine whether or not your Betta fish is suffering from a problem that could be fatal, you need to be able to identify the symptoms you should be concerned about. Your fish may be seriously unwell, or they may just be a bit sluggish that day, so you need to know what to look for.

Loss of appetite or lethargy

One of the first signs that something is wrong with your Betta fish is when they are not as active as usual or are not interested in their food. This can be a symptom of many different problems, so it's hard to pinpoint exactly what's wrong.

The most common reason for your Betta to lose their appetite or become lethargic is that the aquarium conditions are not right.

Frayed or damaged fins

If you notice unnatural fraying on thefins of your Betta, or they appear to be falling apart, they may be suffering from fin or tail rot.You may also notice that the base of the fin becomes more red or black. Fin rot can quickly become fatal and must be addressed.

Cloudy or puffy eyes

A change around your Betta's eyes is often a sign of an infectionthat can be seriously harmful. Cloudy or swollen eyes usually indicate a bacterial infection or a problem with the quality of their water.

Open wounds or red skin

If your Betta's skin begins to turn red, or you notice any open wounds on their body, this could also be a sign that they are suffering from a bacterial infection. Most bacterial infections can be treated, but they are very dangerous for your fish.

White spots on fin or body

If you see small white spots appearing on your Betta's fins or their body, they may have Ich.Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (Ich) is a common parasite that can cause death if left untreated. Other ich symptoms include difficulty breathing and your fish rubbing against hard objects.

Drifting sideways or difficulty swimming

If your Betta is having a hard time staying upright, it may be having problems with its swim bladder.The swim bladder helps your fish maintain their buoyancy, and if it's compromised, your Betta won't be able to swim properly or hold itself upright.

Swim bladder disease is often accompanied by constipation and swelling.

Cottony white growths

If you see cottony patches on your Betta's body and/or on their gills, they may be suffering from a fungal infection, such as Cottonmouth(also known as Columnaris). Other symptoms of fungal infections include clumped or frayed fins and browning around the gills.


Significant swelling in your Betta can be a symptom of many problems, including overfeeding and swim bladder disease, but it can also be a sign of dropsy. Dropsy is caused by a bacterial infection and the swelling can be so bad that the scales stick out. You may also notice pallor around the gills and decreased appetite.

Discoloration and rubbing

If your Betta has a golden yellow discoloration and rubs against objects or scratches on the gravel, it may have velvet.Velvet is a relatively common parasitic infestation that can be deadly if left untreated.

How to Save a Dying Betta Fish

To save a dying Betta fish, you need to know what problem you are trying to treat. For some problems, you may just need to make simple changes to their environment, while serious infections or injuries may require urgent medical treatment.

You should always check with your vet first for professional advice and access to any medications you may need.

Have a first aid kit ready

If you need to use medicine for your Betta fish quickly, you should have a small kit handy. You can order full first aid kits online or purchase them from some pet stores, and they often contain a variety of basic medications. You should still consult a vet before giving your fish any medication.

Fin or tail rot

If your fish are suffering from fin or tail rot, you should improve the quality of their water as soon as possible. Adding aquarium salt to the tank will also help. You may be recommended antibiotics if the rot is jagged or antifungal medication if the problem is more prevalent.

Bacterial infections

For a bacterial infection, make sure that the water in the tank is thoroughly cleaned. You should also give your fish antibiotics such as kanamycin, ampicillin or tetracycline, which you should use as directed by a veterinarian.

cotton mouth

Fungal infections can spread quickly, so you should immediately quarantine your fish if you notice they have cottony growths.Cleaning the tank and improving the water quality will help, and it may be necessary to lower the water temperature by a few degrees.

You will need to give your fish antibiotics and apply chemicals to the water to treat it and eliminate the fungus.


You should immediately quarantine your Betta if you see any signs of ichand start treatment as soon as possible. The water should be treated to remove the presence of the bacteria and you can apply one of the many commercial Ich remedies available.

You should also slowly increase the temperature of the water in the tank to about 82 degrees Fahrenheit.


Aquarium salt and basic medications can treat dropsy if caught early, but since it is a symptom rather than a disease itself, you need to know exactly what medication to give.You should quarantine your fish and consult a vet to make sure you are giving your fish the right treatment.

Swim bladder disease

If you notice that your fish have problems with their swim bladder, you will need to adjust their diet. Swim bladder problems are usually a sign of overfeeding, so you should reduce the amount of food they consume. A vet may also recommend the use of antibiotics in more severe cases.


Velvet is another infection that requires quarantine and thorough cleaning of the water in the tank.You must apply a treatment and also add aquarium salt. Raising the temperature of the water to 82 degrees Fahrenheit and turning off lights will also slow growth.

Summary: How to save a dying Betta fish

To save a dying Betta fish, you need to be able to identify when something is wrong and what might be the cause before you can begin treating the problem. Signs of illness or injury include lethargy, loss of appetite, scratching, swelling, frayed fins, discoloration, disordered swimming, spots, and lesions.

Always consult a vet if you are concerned about the health of your fish.Once the problem has been identified, you can begin treatment. This often includes improving water quality, ensuring a healthy diet and applying appropriate medications such as antibiotics or antifungals.

As a Betta owner, you should always make sure that their needs are met, in terms of their environment and their diet, to avoid illness and injury.

Sometimes you can't save your fish, but being as prepared, informed and responsible as possible will give them every chance of survival.


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