Betta Fish Care

Betta Fish Bloated

A bloated Betta fish is not a beautiful or pleasant sight. If you are familiar with the most common diseases Bettas suffer from – you know that bloating is mostly a sign of a disease called “dropsy”. 

Bloating looks scary; as if a Betta fish is choking or something too big stuck in his throat. This condition can inflate both or just one side of a Betta fish body, and often looks like your Betta is pregnant. But, if your Betta is not a female, and there are no males in the aquarium, that is not possible. 

Unfortunately, the bloating of Betta fish is mostly a sign of a more serious health problem. So, when you notice this problem in Betta fish, do not ignore it!

The bloated Betta fish suffers without doubt. The fish is often tilted to only one side which makes swimming difficult. Betta can sink to the bottom of the aquarium, without the strength to swim or to eat which further leads to literal starvation.

To prevent bloating or to cure it successfully – it is important to react in time. Sometimes it is not easy to conclude why our Betta fish is bloated, so below we will explain in detail why this happens.

Is It Dangerous?

Bloating is not a disease in itself, but a symptom. It is a sign of some kind of disorder in Betta fish’s organism. Mostly it is an alarm sign for high levels of stress or disease. 

Fish as pets are specific because some symptoms are not easy to diagnose. You cannot take them for an X-ray or similar medical treatment available for land pets. Bloating can be dangerous, but it also can be treated. However, you need to be sure why your Betta is bloated. 

Admittedly, it’s not always easy. If you know a veterinarian who is an expert on Betta fish, before you start treating your Betta based on your conclusions – consult him.

Digestive Problems

If Betta fish is bloated, eats less than usual, and refuses food – it is likely to have problems with digestion, i.e. constipation.

The fish’s digestive system is sensitive and any excessive and monotonous feeding will cause constipation. Betta fish are voracious and will eat as much as they can and more than they really need and can take. So you need to carefully measure portions and schedule meals. If Betta fish eat more than they throw out – they swell up.

A monotonous diet also contributes to digestive problems. Feed them a variety, not just abundantly. In addition to fish pellets, you can also feed them with specialized frozen and dried food, which contains more of the nutrients needed by Betta fish. 

Veterinarians also recommend not to feed your Betta fish one day a week. Thus, your Betta fish digestive system will rest and any excess food that is stuck somewhere in the digestive system will be successfully digested. 

In order to prevent these problems, Betta fish must have enough space to be on the move, i.e. to swim. If Betta is in a small aquarium, cup, or bowl, this will certainly not be possible. That is why it is important that the size of the aquarium is at least 5 gallons.

If your Betta fish is bloated due to digestive problems – try not to feed him for two to three days. During this time, the digestive system should be able to relax and to poop out the excess food.

After that, include frozen mosquito larvae, daphnia, and shrimp in meals. Such a diet should contribute to the faster metabolism of Betta fish. Also, avoid over-feed. One or two times a day will be enough.

Swim Bladder Problems

Bloating can be a symptom, but also a cause of a condition called “swim bladder” disease. It is common in most fish and is not a disease in the literal sense. In addition to bloating, you will notice that Betta swims hard, i.e. struggling with buoyancy. Sometimes they can’t swim at all and spend days at the bottom of the aquarium or somewhere where they are stuck. 

Betta Fish

In extreme cases, the body of Betta fish will be distorted and deformed.

There are many causes for this condition. It is often a consequence of a more complicated disease, but also of the already mentioned problems with digestion and constipation.

If the Betta is too aggressive, it is possible that the swim bladder is a sign of physical and untreated injury. Especially if you have more fish in the aquarium, there is a high chance that Betta fish will attack at some point. Betta can be easily injured if there are plants with sharp and rough leaves in the aquarium, as well as rough shells and gravel.

A swim bladder is also an indicator of poor aquarium and water maintenance. It can occur as a bacterial infection or by a parasite attack.

Remember to always keep the water temperature at an optimal level, as well as to regularly check the level of ammonia and nitrate. All of this can weaken the Betta fish immunity and induct swim bladder disease.

Since Betta fish are easily shaken, any unusual situation can cause shock. They can even die of fear, but they can also get sick.

You can try to cure Betta by fasting for two days. If you notice that the bladder is shrinking or has completely disappeared carefully continue with a diet containing frozen and live food.

Malawi Bloat

Malawi Bloat is a disease that is not typical of Betta fish but can occur. Mostly, it depends on the breeding and conditions in the aquarium. Malawian bloating is one of the so-called Protozoan diseases, which, in addition to bloating, is also characterized by difficulty breathing. 

This is one of the more serious diseases and requires an individual approach of specialists. If not treated in time and accurately – the Betta fish will die. The treatment process involves isolating the use of drugs based on trichlorfon and a bath in Epsom salt.


Dropsy is one of the more complicated diseases that are characteristic of Betta fish. Unfortunately, it mostly ends in Betta fish death because it is very difficult to treat.

Bloating is the result of swelling and damage of the internal organs. As the disease progresses, the Betta fish will take on the appearance of the so-called “Pinecone”, i.e. constant bloating, will deform the appearance of the scales and Betta fish will look like a pinecone. 

When this happens, you can be sure that your Betta fish is suffering from Dropsy disease. Unfortunately, due to the pressure of the inflated organs – the spine of the Betta fish will be completely deformed, which will cause a lot of suffering to the Betta fish.

There is no single and precise cause of this disease. Most likely, this disease is a result of several causes. If the Betta is kept in poor conditions, in cups and fed synthetic food, has been constantly exposed to stress – chances are high that will get dropsy. 

Since Betta fish are highly sensitive – even the drive from the pet store to your house can cause stress and injury to the internal organs.

Fights with other fish, a small aquarium, as well as a group of decorations – all this can cause an injury that, if not noticed in time, grows into dropsy.

It is very difficult to successfully treat dropsy. Very few Betta fish have been cured of this disease. You can, however, try to alleviate her pain, with specialized antibiotics.

How To Prevent Betta Fish Bloating?

What every Betta fish owner can do is provide the Betta fish with the best possible conditions in the aquarium. This primarily means a sufficiently large aquarium and appropriate water conditions. 

Always, but always take care of the water temperature and that the filters and heaters work properly. Feed Betta by the rules and don’t treat her to excess food. 

When you notice that the Betta fish is bloated, it is best to isolate it in a separate, quarantine aquarium. Never leave bloated Betta in the company of other fish. Try with fasting, for two to three days and if that fails, consult a veterinarian.

There are many medications and treatments on the market adapted to Betta fish. Some unfortunately will fail to help. If you, as the owner, did your best to cure Betta fish and if you took care of the aquarium – there is no need to feel guilty. You never know exactly where some Betta fish came from and how they were bred.