I have a betta fish that I believe is sick. He is laying on the floor of the tank and eats very little only one or two pellets. What could be wrong with my fish?
A: Sluggishness and appetite loss can be a sign of many things ranging from something simple like water that is too cool to something more complex like a bacterial infection or parasites. Without more information, it’s really difficult to say. I would start by looking at his water parameters to determine if anything is off kilter. The tank should be warm and stable somewhere between 76*F [24.4*C] – 82*F [27.7*C] with very little temperature change throughout the day and night. A simple $1 aquarium thermometer will help you to keep an eye on the temperature if you don’t already have one. Testing the water for toxins will be helpful too. Ammonia and nitrite caused by fish waste seem to cause more betta illnesses then anything else. You can either buy these test kits at your local fish store, or bring in a cup full of your tank water and have them test it for you. Most fish stores will test your water for free if you ask. Just give them a call beforehand to check. A simple pH test isn’t a bad idea either. Very low or high, or a fluctuating pH can cause a range of problems and high pH (also called Basic) will make even small amounts of ammonia quite toxic. If you find that ammonia or nitrite is present in your aquarium then more frequent water changes will be necessary. Also, keep an eye out for other signs of disease like fuzzy white or gray patches, red streaks under the scales or open wounds, tiny white spots or rust colored patches, bloating throughout the body including the abdomen or protruding scales or eyes. These are all additional signs of disease and may help to narrow down what is wrong with your betta.
Feel free to email me back with additional information about your fish and tank set up. Knowing more will help to make a diagnosis. Here’s a list of questions that will help a lot.
1. How long have you had your betta?
2. What is the water volume or tank size?
3. Is this a betta bowl or an aquarium with a filter?
4. Have you tested for Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate? What were the results?
5. Have you tested for pH, kh and gh? What were the results?
6. What is the water temperature?
7. How often do you change your tank water? How much water do you replace at a time?
8. Are there other fish in the tank with your betta? Which species and how many? When were they added?
9. How often do you feed your betta? What types of food are you using? How much are you feeding each time?
10. What water additives and medications are you using? Remember to include water conditioners or salt if you’re using them.
I know it seems like a lot of questions but Bettas can encounter a range of injuries and diseases so the more we know the easier it will be to identify the problem.
Best of luck and I hope he feels better soon.