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Betta Fish Bloated: Here’s Why It Happens

Renee Whitmore
Last Updated on
by Renee Whitmore

It can be a scary situation for many fish owners when you have a bloated betta fish. Thankfully, there are many reasons why your pet will swell that you can treat effectively and have them live a long and healthy life.

Although there are some instances where euthanasia is the best solution for your bloated betta fish, not all bloating is fatal. With proper care and tank maintenance, you can help keep your fish’s environment clean and keep them free from disease or any problematic side effects.

Bloated Betta Fish

Bloated Betta Fish: What Are The Symptoms?

Here are common symptoms of bloated betta fish:

  • Constipation or overfeeding
  • Dropsy
  • Egg production
  • Malawi Bloat
  • Swim Bladder disease
  • Tumor

You can remedy some of these circumstances if you catch your betta with symptoms early.

1. Constipation or Overfeeding:

One of the more common reasons you will see bloating in your fish is overfeeding or constipation. Inadequate food sources can cause constipation in your pet if they cannot digest it effectively.

Bettas will also overeat if given a chance. They will continue to consume food if it is available, which will create unhealthy bloating and constipation.

Avoid feeding your fish too much food and opt for a mixture of fresh or freeze-dried options for the best nutrients possible.

Related Article: Why is my betta fish not eating?

2. Dropsy:

This condition is usually fatal to your betta because of the time it takes to show symptoms that will characterize this problem, and it is too late to help your fish. Swelling is just one side effect of Dropsy. Other signs will be a pinecone appearance and a curvature of the spine. Because the bloat is so severe, it forces the scales out, and your betta will look like a pinecone.

A fish’s organs fill with fluid, causing the bloating symptoms you will see. It may also have skin lesions from the bacteria that infect the fish, eventually causing it to perish.

3. Egg Production:

If you have a female betta fish, it is possible that their bloating is due to egg production. However, if you are not sure this is the case, you can also look for other signs that indicate she is preparing for eggs. For example, your female betta will have a white spot or tube where the eggs will come from and white vertical stripes running across her body.

After your female expels her eggs, her belly will return to its regular size, and there is no cause for concern.

4. Malawi Bloat:

Bloated betta fish that have Malawi Bloat has a slim chance of recovery as it is typically fatal. Your fish will show signs of swelling, trouble breathing, and a lack of appetite. It is not known what exactly causes Malawi Bloat, but generally, it results from bacteria or parasites in your fish’s water. This condition is not very common, but it can be possible.

5. Swim Bladder Disease:

Swim Bladder Disease is not an actual disease but a combination of symptoms that will affect your betta’s health. Fish with this ailment will have one or more troublesome issues, including:

  • Problems swimming
  • No appetite
  • Lethargic
  • Curved back

This condition is easy to treat, and if caught in time, most fish can make a full recovery. However, bettas who have an injury, are constipated or in shock, or dealing with a bacterial or parasitic infection could possess symptoms of Swim Bladder Disease. Therefore, how you treat your fish will depend on the original cause of its symptoms.

6. Tumor:

Tumors are not a common occurrence in betta fish, but your pet could have a bloated belly if it does happen. Unfortunately, any tumor in your betta will be fatal as there is no cure for this problem. Thankfully, betta fish are not prone to developing tumors, so the chance of your pet bloating because of this is rare.

What To Do With a Bloated Betta Fish

If you notice that your pet is suddenly suffering from bloating, taking action as soon as possible helps you diagnose the reason and aid them in the recovery process. If your betta is in a tank with other fish, remove them and quarantine them until you can figure out what is causing the bloat and effectively treat them for its symptoms.

If your betta has a contagious condition causing it to swell, removing them will ensure that your other fish will not suffer any symptoms. If you have any concerns about your pet’s symptoms, talk to your local veterinarian for guidance and the proper treatment plan to help in the recovery process. 

You will want to thoroughly clean your fish’s tank and all its accessories before returning it to the tank. You do not want to treat the infected fish only to place it back into a toxic environment that will cause reinfection and persistent bloating problems.

Many veterinarians and pet stores can recommend treatments that can help with many symptoms of a bloated betta. However, talk to a professional if you are not sure what is causing the bloat to treat it effectively to make a full recovery.

Betta Fish
About Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore is an American college professor and freelance writer from North Carolina. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in English Education. When she is not driving her teenage son to wrestling practice or learning the ins and outs of Fortnite from her younger son, she is working on her first book to be published soon.
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