What is body rot betta fish?

In this blog, we are going to talk about body rot in betta fish. We will also discuss its reasons, symptoms and treatment.


In this blog

  • What is body rot betta fish?
  • What causes body rot in betta fish?
  • What are the symptoms of body rot in betta fish?
  • How to treat a betta body rot?
  • How to prevent body rot in betta fish?
  • Summary 
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Reference

What is body rot betta fish?

Body rot is quite common in betta fish and it is caused due to poor water conditions in betta fish tanks. Water parameters are one of the most important factors that decide your fish’s health and lifespan. 

We will discuss body rot in betta fish in a detailed manner in this blog. It is going to help all betta keepers and help them to take action quickly if their betta fish get succumbed to such infections.

Let’s dive deeper into this to know more about body rot infection in betta fish.

What causes body rot in betta fish?

Betta rots in betta fish are caused due to poor water conditions. Betta requires certain water parameters to sustain well in an artificial system. In the wild, betta fish have many ways to escape dirty water quality but in a controlled environment, it will be tough for them.

Betta fish are voracious eaters and eat like anything, but what about the uneaten food?? The uneaten food gets accumulated in the substrate, if left unattended and pollutes the water chemistry.

There are various beneficial bacteria in the substrate, which keep the nitrogen cycle in the betta fish tank going. Along with good and useful bacteria, you give rise to bad or harmful bacteria if you don’t remove the unwanted food from the betta fish tank regularly. 

If you don’t remove the leftovers from the tank, you increase the harmful bacteria in the tank and lower the numbers of beneficial bacteria, which are responsible for keeping the tank environment suitable for betta fish to thrive.

The second reason which causes body rot in betta fish is tank decorations. To keep betta fish occupied and for their mental stimulation, it is necessary to decorate their tanks with various tank accessories like live or fake plants, driftwood, rock works, caves, filters, and other tank equipment.

It is important to clean all the tank accessories once a week to avoid the growth of bad bacteria in the tank. If you don’t make a habit to clean those tank accessories and equipment, you will give chances for harmful bacterias to gain strength in the tank and increase the ammonia levels in the tank.

If such conditions prevail in betta fish aquarium they are sure to get body rot by harmful bacteria in the tank.

What are the symptoms of body rot in betta fish?

There are various symptoms of body rot in betta fish.

Betta’s beauty and massive pectoral fins will be majorly affected and will look damaged. Fins will have holes, clamped or curled up and sometimes due to excessive ammonia spikes it looks burnt too.

Due to body rot, betta fish become dull and lethargic and will stop eating too. They will start skipping meals and tend to remain hidden in their hiding spots.

Betta fish will find it difficult to swim, because their fins have lost the strength due to holes and other damages to let them drag to swim effortlessly in the tank.

Body rot symptoms in beautiful betta fish:

  • Fins will look either black or brown.
  • It will appear burnt or inflamed
  • Fins will shred
  • Some white spots on betta fish body

If you see any of these symptoms, your fish is suffering from body rot infection.

How to treat a betta body rot?

To treat a betta fish with body rot infection you need to follow the below mentioned steps:

The first and the important thing to do is, shift the infected betta fish in a separate tank also known as hospital tank. The main reason is to not harm other tank fishes if it is a community tank. Betta fish tanks also contain live plants too, so it is better to do the treatment in the hospital tank.

Since it is a bacterial infection, your vet will prescribe you some antibiotics to treat your betta fish. If your fish is at the earlier stage, it will recover soon, but if it has reached the advanced stage due to negligence, you fish can die off soon, even after giving the right treatment.

You can treat your betta fish by giving it an aquarium salt bath. It is the most common treatment advised to all betta fish keepers to cure body rot in their betta fish. 

Giving salt baths is quite easy, there are several videos available to know how to perform this on your infected betta fish.

Remove betta fish from the hospital tank and it is fully cured. To know whether they have recovered or not, check their damaged fins and their swimming patterns. 

If the fins have healed and betta fish have started swimming again, you can carefully transfer them to the main tank.

How to prevent body rot in betta fish?

There is a famous quote – ‘Prevention is better than cure, and we all have been hearing about this quote for quite a long time now. If you give the right care to your betta fish and practice tank maintenance, you will never have to face any problems in your fish tank.

We can prevent body rot in betta fish by performing simple tank maintenance practices. I will list down the important ones here:

  • Betta fish eat a lot and produce lots of biological waste in the form of ammonia. Their poop and uneaten food is the main cause of ammonia spikes in the tank. 
  • Ammonia spikes can cause gill damage and other physical abnormalities in betta fish. To avoid this, you have to religiously remove leftovers from the substrate using a gravel siphon without disturbing the beneficial bacteria.
  • Do the tank cleaning properly by removing all the tank decorations and other equipment carefully to remove the harmful bacteria from them. Tank cleaning should be done according to the requirement, but once a week is a must.
  • Water changes should be done in the tank with proper planning to remove the toxic ammonia from the tank. Avoid sudden and large water changes in the betta fish tank. It can kill them.
  • Water testing should be done every day to know the levels of ammonia and other organic pollutants in the tank. If the levels are high, take action immediately.
  • Install good quality filters in the betta fish tank, which performs both chemical and biological filtrations in the tank to remove harmful substances from the tank.
  • Add more live plants in betta fish tanks like floating plants, Indian almond leaves, driftwood, and various other betta-specific plants to keep the tank environment naturally clean and fresh.
  • Maintain water temperatures and pristine water conditions in the betta fish tank.
  • Stop overfeeding your betta fish, overfeeding is also the major reason for ammonia spikes in the tank.
  • Always quarantine new tank members in a separate tank to avoid infections.
  • Quarantine live food too to avoid infections.

If you follow the above-mentioned things properly, you will not have to face such problems. It is all about the experience too, a new fish keeper will find it tough, but with time you will learn how to care for your betta fish. 

It is therefore important to do proper research, before getting a new fish home. Fish get overwhelmed in a closed environment and depend solely on their owners for everything. 

Seeing your beautiful betta fish in such dreadful conditions can upset you, so to avoid such situations always give the right care to your fish.


If you are a betta fish owner, you will face this body rot condition in betta fish without fail. It is mainly because of poor water chemistry. 

If you are not maintaining the pristine water conditions in betta fish tanks, your fish will succumb to not just body rot but will attract many other secondary infections.

You can only avoid this by keeping the tank clean, removing the leftovers from the tank regularly, and cleaning all the decorative items weekly once to avoid the accumulation of harmful bacteria in the betta fish tank.

Frequently asked questions

Are poor water parameters responsible for body rot in betta fish?

Yes, poor water parameters are majorly responsible for body rot in betta fish.

Are tank decorations responsible for body rot in betta fish?

Yes, tank decorations are equally responsible for body rot in betta fish due to the formation of harmful bacteria on the surface of tank accessories.

Can a betta fish with body rot swim effortlessly?

No, betta fish with body rot find it difficult to swim.

Is body rot curable in betta fish?

Body rot is curable if it is in the early stage, but if it has reached an advanced stage, the chances are less.