Betta fish is native to far-off lands around the East and among the most preferred freshwater tropical species in the world of aquariums. It’s charming, mysterious with beautiful flowing fins and bold colors.
Like any creature, betta fish can fall ill and die because of external factors or unfavorable conditions.
When a healthy fish suddenly dies, it’ll be a pain for the keeper. Most aquarists encountering this problem might ask, ‘why did my betta fish die?’ or ‘did I make a terrible mistake?’
There are seven major reasons for the death of your betta fish:
- Poor environmental conditions
- Diseases & genetics
- Bad tank mates
You’ll get to know how these factors damage your fish’s health and what is the best practice to prevent them right in the below sections of GA Pet Sitters.
Do Betta Fish Die Easily?
The answer is no. Betta fish don’t pass away easily, yet they require proper water conditions and diet to stay strong and healthy and thrive to the fullest.
The average lifespan of these hardy fish should be between three and five years with proper maintenance and care.
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There’s always a clear explanation for the death of your fishy friend. You should be well aware of and eliminate the harms soon before they kill your animal.
Water Condition Issues
When you find betta fish are not in perfect health, the first cause that comes to mind is poor environmental conditions. A misconception is that bettas can live in very cramped, small containers and don’t require extra care.
It’s true betta fish are pretty easy to look after, but the lack of personal space and clean water could pose death.
Dead betta fish can be because you’ve changed the entire aquarium water or a considerable proportion. It seems like you’re providing your creatures with clean water, but this act can incidentally be counterproductive.
A total water change would knock the tank water conditions off and shock the fish. Also, it eliminates all beneficial bacteria in the water, leading to an increase in toxic ammonia.
This practice also triggers sudden changes in temperature or pH, hence dead betta fish.
If you discover a dead fish unexpectedly, the sheer chance is the tank water temperatures might not be optimal.
For instance, bettas live best in the warm water of 76-82 degrees F. Sudden changes in temperature or too low water temperatures will result in betta fish falling ill.
Betta fish’s bodies also release cortisol, a hormone causing stress, just like human beings!
Without proper care, this tropical species can suffer from two kinds of stress. The first type is low long-term stress, which is minor but happens constantly.
The leading cause of this kind of stress is overstocking – a small tank with a vast population, incorrect conditions, and no hiding place or relaxing space.
In such an environment, betta fish would struggle to adapt. Forcing themselves in an overcrowded tank for a long time can weaken their immune systems, thus deteriorating health and eventually death.
The latter kind of stress that betta fish may have is short high-term stress. It will rapidly result in health deterioration or even immediate death. The leading cause is sudden changes in water parameters and illness.
Overfeeding is surprisingly the top cause of dying betta fish in your aquarium. Please remember, bettas are carnivores; therefore, they have an interest in food.
Meanwhile, feeding is not only to provide nutrients but also a way to communicate with your fish.
Sometimes, we can’t help sprinkling food particles into the tank while talking with them, so it’s pretty easy to accidentally overfeed the fish.
Nonetheless, feeding them excessive nutrients may lead to severe consequences, even their deaths.
Unlike the widely known misbelief that bettas dying from overfeeding are owing to gastrointestinal issues, the major problem doesn’t relate to over ingestion.
It is the uneaten food particles that accumulate waste over time in the tank. Until a certain point, this food decomposing causes lousy water quality, killing your fish slowly.
If you notice clogged filters, fungi or mold, algae growth, or milky water in your aquarium, it may suggest that you overfed the animals.
Illness or Genetics
Betta fish are generally prone to parasitic, fungal, and bacterial diseases. Discovering the disorder early and applying proper treatment will save your creatures from dying and breathe it back to life joyfully again.
Some of the most typical diseases that a betta can have are tail and fin rot, tumor, holes in the head, columnar, and swim bladder disease.
Importantly, your betta friend’s death might also be owing to some unexpected injuries, like harassment by tank mates.
Note that even though bettas are carnivorous and territorial, they’re also vulnerable, timid, and easy to stress out in some ways.
If you keep them together with aggressive tank mates, such as other bettas, schooling fish, goldfish, ghost shrimp, gourami, or African dwarf frogs, intense aggression and stress in the tank can lead to death.
Besides, make sure there’s no rough or sharp objects in the aquarium that can hurt or brush against the fish.
Issues Beyond Your Control
While your responsibility is to ensure a healthy living environment for your animals and protect them from falling ill, there are some hereditary issues beyond your knowledge and control.
In this case, you can do nothing but seek help from a more experienced or professional breeder.
How To Tell If Your Betta Is Dying?
You can identify sick bettas by considering the common signs, including lethargy, low appetite or quit eating, clamped fins, damaged fins, labored breathing, and faded colors.
You should also frequently keep an eye on your bettas to determine their stress levels. A stressful fish shows no interest in food, vulnerability to disease, strange swimming behavior, color change (duller), and always hides.
Once you find the fish’s growth rate is abnormal, it’s a sign of excessive nutrients.
If one of these symptoms appears, your fishy friends are either stressed or sick and could do with medical treatment.
Do Betta Float or Sink When They Die?
Most bettas sink at the tank’s bottom when they die instead of floating. If you find your fish lying and staying still on the tank’s ground, find ways to save it instantly because it’s possibly sad news.
Unnaturally floating bettas at the water’s surface might not pass away. However, that’s also a sign of something abnormal occurring to its health, particularly swim bladder disorder.
How Can You Prevent Your Betta Fish From Dying?
Usually, a healthy, joyful betta is colorful, active, and shows a positive appetite. There are loads of ways to save your creatures from dying and improve their life quality.
The key thing is to maintain a fresh, clean habitat where the fish are living. Check the aquarium water regularly and always ensure it stays between 76 and 82 degrees F.
Plus, it’s advisable to draw up a rigid routine to feed your bettas so that you can avoid both overfeeding and undereating. Please notice the adequate amount and scoop the uneaten food from the water’s top when feeding them.
Scooping the remaining pellets not only prevents overeating and decomposing waste in the water but also helps you measure the right amount of nutrients they’ve consumed.
This way, you know if your little friends are in high appetite and healthy or not.
It’s hard to completely eliminate stressful factors from the aquarium, but it would help if you meet the fish’s requirements.
You can research many compatible species with the bettas and plants that are beneficial for them.
Also, minimize stress by engaging your fish in fav activities and putting them into a nurturing and comfortable environment.
Can You Save A Dying Betta Fish?
Yes, in most cases, you can heal a fish and save it from injuries and illnesses, so don’t give up too soon if you see the betta friends aren’t thriving well.
For instance, you can treat swim bladder disorders by stopping to provide food for 2-3 days, then adding some nutrients, like defrosted pes pieces until the bettas recover. Infections or other fin and scale diseases can get better with proper medications.
Weekly care should include a minimal change of 10-20% in the aquarium water to retain tip-top water conditions for your fish.
Also, you need to clean the tank, vacuum the bottom of the tank, and scrub away algae to remove any waste.
Just to re-emphasize, you should not overfeed your bettas, pay close attention to the nutrient amount, and keep an eye on their sizes to prevent them from serious consequences.
Enthusiast aquarists know that losing a betta is such a heartbreaking and frustrating experience that they never want it the second time in life.
The thing is, a great betta keeper may make a mistake, but he’ll do his best to learn from that mistake and never to question ‘why did my betta fish die?’ again.
We hope our helpful info will help you be more knowledgeable about what causes the betta friends to die and how to cover them from harmful factors.
Don’t forget to administer favorable treatment so that your ‘swimmers’ can live with you for longer.