With betta fish becoming increasingly popular with the species currently being the second most popular freshwater fish second only to goldfish, we see a wide range of different questions from the betta fish keeping community relating to the health of their betta fish. These questions are usually spread over a range of common problems but more recently, there has been a large number of people reaching out and asking questions about treating a betta fish prolapse so we wanted to put our own article online to try and help.
A betta fish prolapse can be difficult to treat, especially if the condition has been present in the fish for more than a couple of days. One of the easiest ways to treat a betta fish prolapse is to give the betta fish an epsom salt bath for five to fifteen minutes per day over the course of a week but this will be effective against advanced cases of a prolapse.
You should always check that your epsom salt is aquarium safe too as some products have various additives in them if they are designed for use with humans making them unsuitable for treating your betta fish. You may find that it is better to book a video call with a vet to have them assess your betta fish via the camera on your smartphone to give their opinion on the condition of the fish and how to treat it.
What Is A Betta Fish Prolapse?
A prolapse in a betta fish is a condition where the anus of the fish starts to poke its way out of the body and hang freely outside of the fish. The condition can be lethal if not treat quickly and some betta fish can be more prone to having problems with prolapses than other fish meaning you will have to treat the condition regularly.
An early phase and easy-to-treat prolapse in your betta fish will usually only protrude a couple of millimeters out of the fish. The more developed the condition becomes, the longer the prolapse will be making it increasingly difficult to treat moving forward.
There are a couple of other conditions that can affect your pet betta fish that can look like a prolapse but are actually something else, usually problems with parasites as we will cover below. Still, even if your betta fish is having issues that look like a prolapse but are actually due to something else, they still need to be treat as quickly as possible so it is good that you have identified the condition early.
Is It A Prolapse Or Internal Parasites?
It is very common for people to misdiagnose a prolapse in their betta fish with internal parasites with camallanus worms being the most common culprit. It can be easy to mistake the two but they both require very different treatments so it is important that you do try to correctly diagnose exactly what is wrong with your betta fish.
You can usually identify camallanus worms in your fish by looking closely to see if they move independently of the fish. They can also change color depending on how recently they have fed with the worm changing from a pale color to a dark red color after it has fed on the blood of your betta fish.
Thankfully, camallanus worms tend to be much easier to treat than a prolapse in your betta fish provided that you are able to get the correct anthelmintic medication to treat the parasites. The more common options are fenbendazole, levamisole, and praziquantel but depending on your location, you may only be able to purchase them directly from a veterinarian’s office.
Why Do Prolapses Happen In Betta Fish?
The most common reason that your betta fish can prolapse is due to constipation after being fed an unsuitable food. Slightly less common causes of a betta fish prolapse include infections, passing eggs, and internal parasites in the fish causing undue pressure to the digestive tract.
It is very common for people who are new to keeping betta fish to offer their fish an unsuitable food that has been specifically designed for omnivorous fish species. Betta fish are carnivores and prefer an insectivore diet so should always be fed a suitable food for betta fish that is free from plant based foods as they can cause issues with digestion that result in prolapse.
You can usually see the signs of infection in most betta fish easily helping you to identify that as the cause of the prolapse but if you do suspect that your betta fish has prolapsed due to an infection then remember that you will also have to treat the infection in the fish as well as the prolapse. Passing eggs is specific to female betta fish and usually accompanied by spawning behavior making it easy to identify if this is the reason that your fish has had problems or not.
How Do You Fix A Betta Fish Prolapse?
The most common way to fix a prolapse in a betta fish is to give the betta fish an epsom salt bath that lasts for five to fifteen minutes per day for around a week. This can be effective for new prolapses that have not developed much and can commonly be enough to treat the issue fully within four to seven days getting your betta fish back to full health.
As we mentioned earlier in the article though, epsom salt is easy to purchase but it can be difficult to find one that is safe for use in an aquarium. This may be due to the sale having additives to it that can cause problems with your fish when using the salt for an epsom salt bath.
If you do want specific advice or your betta fish has an advanced prolapse where the protrusion is greater than two millimeters then we would recommend you book a video call with a veterinarian to get professional advice for your situation. Some people will also fast their fish and either not feed it at all or underfeed it while treating a prolapse but this can deliver mixed results.
Is A Betta Fish Prolapse A Serious Problem?
If left untreated, a betta fish prolapse can prove lethal and the longer the prolapse is left to develop, the higher the chances of serious health injuries developing become while also making the condition more difficult to treat. Unfortunately, the fatality rate for betta fish with a developed prolapse is high but if you catch the condition early, you have a good chance of being able to save your betta fish.
This is why it is so important for you to act as quickly as possible and start to treat a suspected prolapse in your betta fish as soon as you notice the condition developing. We would highly recommend that you spend some time confirming that the condition is actually a prolapse too and not an infection of camallanus worms or flukes as they require different treatments but still need treating quickly.
That brings our article going over treating a betta fish prolapse to an end. We hope that we have been able to help you but treating some prolapse conditions in betta fish can be difficult so it can be a real problem to have. Some vets can offer specialist treatments for the condition that do have a slightly higher success rate than epsom salt too but not all vets will stock them.