With betta fish being the fastest growing species of fish by popularity within the fish keeping hobby on both the freshwater and saltwater sides of the hobby, there are a huge number of people adding their very first betta to their tanks right now.
With there being so many people new to keeping betta fish out there, we have noticed more and more people asking a wide range of questions about caring for bettas recently.
One thing that many people seem to have problems with is betta fish internal parasites and these are far more common than most people initially realize.
If your betta fish does have internal parasites then please don’t worry, it doesn’t mean that you are a bad fish keeper or that you have done anything wrong and in most cases, your betta will make a full recovery.
Thankfully, there are usually a large number of cheap, effective, and easy to use treatments available at most local pet stores that can treat internal parasites in betta fish too.
Is It Normal For Betta Fish To Have Internal Parasites?
Although internal parasites are common in betta fish, they are not considered normal.
If your betta fish is healthy and has been well cared for then they will usually not have any parasites living inside of them.
That said, with planted tanks becoming increasingly popular and many people adding live plants to their tanks right now, internal parasites are only becoming increasingly popular.
This is largely due to the parasites being in the substrate that comes with the live plants making it more and more common for bettas to have issues with various parasites.
How Do Betta Fish Get Internal Parasites?
The most common cause of internal parasites in betta fish is due to parasites accidentally being added to the tank when adding live plants.
Depending on the specific parasite, they may be on the actual leaves of the plant or they may be in the substrate that the plant comes with.
Other common causes of internal parasites in betta fish include:-
- Infected Live Food.
- Contaminated Rocks.
- Contaminated Substrate.
- New Fish With Internal Parasites.
- Water Changes From A Tank With Parasites.
Each of these can pose a risk when added to the tank that your betta fish lives in.
There are some less common causes of internal parasites and in some cases, you may actually purchase your betta fish with internal parasites already but this is very rare.
How Can I Tell if My Betta Fish Has Internal Parasites?
The most common sign of a betta with internal parasites is bloating.
The bloating will usually be centralized to the belly of the betta fish as this is where the parasites will usually live.
Other cases of bloating in betta fish such as dropsy and swim bladder disease will usually bloat the full body of the fish rather than just the belly.
That said, a constipated betta fish can also have issues with bloating in its belly too with the bloating caused by constipation looking very similar to the bloating of internal parasites.
Here are some additional signs of a betta fish suffering from internal parasites that you can look out for:-
- Your Betta Fish Will Be Lethargic!
- Your Betta Fish May Have Something Hanging From Its Stomach!
- Your Betta Fish May Be Twitching!
- Your Betta Fish May Prolapse!
- Your Bettas Poop May Be Unusual!
Depending on the specific parasite that is infecting your betta fish, you may have all of these symptoms at the same time where as other types of parasites may only cause one or two of these symptoms.
One thing that all internal parasites have in common when infecting a betta fish is that they will cause bloating in the fish though.
Bloating should be the main thing that you look for in the fish if you do think that your betta has internal parasites.
How Can I Quickly Treat Betta Fish Internal Parasites?
If you believe that your betta fish may have internal parasites then the best course of action is to take them to see a vet who will be able to confirm if they do indeed have parasites and also prescribe the correct treatment.
In most cases, the parasite infestation will not be severe enough to warrant a trip to the vet and there are some things that you can do at home to treat the issue.
One of the most popular and effective treatments for internal parasites in betta fish is Praziquantel.
This treatment will not kill the parasite but it will cause them to detach themselves from your betta fish’s intestines which will then be passed out in their poop.
If you do want to try Praziquantel then PraziPro is probably the best product and most local fish stores will stock it as standard.
Please note that there are much stronger Praziquantel products on the market intended for use for cats or dogs and these should never be used for treating internal parasites in bettas.
This may sound like common sense but we have seen people do it.
There are plenty of Praziquantel treatments intended for use with fish available so they should be easy to find in most cases.
Bettafix is one of the best products on the market and in our opinion, all betta fish keepers should stock it as standard in their fish keeping supplies.
Not only is it extremely cheap and safe for betta fish but it also treats a wide range of different problems that your betta fish may suffer from.
As we covered in our article on using Melafix for betta fish, Bettafix is essentially a diluted version of Melafix that offers many of the same benefits without the downsides that Melafix can cause in betta fish.
How Long Does It Take For A Betta Fish To Get Better After Having Internal Parasites?
The length of time it takes for a betta fish to recover from an internal parasite infection will depend on how severe the infection is.
If the parasites are not causing any noticeable symptoms then in some cases, they may go away on their own without any treatment.
In most cases though, it will take around 2 weeks of treatment with Praziquantel or Bettafix for the parasites to be completely removed from your betta fish.
After this, you should see a noticeable improvement in your bettas health and energy levels with them returning to their normal selves.
How Can I Prevent My Betta Fish From Getting Internal Parasites In The Future?
The best way to prevent your betta fish from getting internal parasites is to quarantine all new fish, substrate, rocks, and plants that you introduce to your tank.
You can use a bucket for this if you don’t have a spare quarantine tank available and in most cases, you will just add the potential new addition to a suitable sized container and add a little anti-parasitic treatment dose to it.
Leave the tank as it is for a day or two and then look for signs of parasites.
The majority of people will probably not have issues with new additions to their tank but it is always better to be safe than sorry.
How Long Can A Betta Fish Live With Internal Parasites?
The majority of betta fish can live with some internal parasites for months with minimal issues where as other internal parasites can be fatal within weeks.
We would never recommend that you take the risk though and if you do notice your betta fish having issues with internal parasites then you should be doing your best to treat the problem as soon as possible.