Updated on October 8, 2015
Betta Fish Internal Parasites
Parasites in either fresh- or saltwater fish tanks are terrible. They are vicious, dangerous and very harmful. They are also hard to get rid of but it is possible!
This article could be referenced for probably many types of fish but I’m referring to a betta fish since that is what I have experience with. Betta fish are also known as siamese fighter fish.
If you suspect that something is wrong with your betta fish and you think it might be sick with internal parasites, have a read.
Symptoms of Internal Parasites
There are several symptoms that could indicate internal parasites:
1. Lethargic and Lazy
Is your betta lethargic and laying on the bottom of the tank on the gravel? Is your fish also dropping down onto the gravel/marble? This could indicate that your fish is sick. You’ll notice immediately when the fish is passive and the movements are lethargic.
2. Worm Hanging from Anus
Do you notice a string like object hanging from the anus of the betta fish that looks like feces but stays there? This string could possibly be a female parasitic worm hanging from the fish’s anus to lay eggs in the tank to reproduce, that’s part of their life cycle after all.
3. Sporadic Swimming and Movements
You may notice that your betta fish is swimming sporadically with sudden, abrupt movements and evening bumping into the sides of the tank or objects inside it. Fish are very agile and usually wouldn’t hurt themselves so these sporadic movements, especially bumping into other fish or objects indicate that something is seriously wrong. The fish may actually feel irritated by an internal parasite and make these movements to try and “shake” it off.
Healing Betta Fish with Internal Parasites
Most of these are applicable to external parasites as well such as ich (white spot) and velvet.
Unfortunately none of these solutions are guaranteed since you’re mainly going to depend on the health and immune system of your fish to fight the parasite and get rid of it. There are a few things you can try to assist and provide your fish with the best possible environment so that it can battle the parasite:
1. Make Sure Your Fish Eats
If your betta fish is still eating, that is a great sign. Your fish needs it’s food to give it energy and boost it’s immune system to fight off the parasite.
In case your fish is not eating, try different types of food to ensure the fish gets something to eat. Many fish keepers recommend garlic based foods or flakes/pellets that are soaked in aquarium safe garlic. The garlic shouldn’t really do anything to the parasite itself but rather the garlic will entice the fish and increase it’s appetite so that it eats in order to boost the immune system.
2. Turn Up the Temperature
Set the temperature to 26 – 28 degrees celcius. That is roughly 80 degrees fahrenheit.
A higher temperature will relax your fish, preventing it from being stressed out. It is also said that the higher temperature will increase the immune system of your fish but at the same time speeds up the lifecycle of the parasite as well.
3. Use Medicine
Buy medicine from your local fish store which will aid in fighting the parasites directly as well as boost your fish’s immune system. There are many types available but most of them contain similar chemicals. Use the dosage that is recommended on the bottle.
Note that you may want to remove certain filter media such as carbon and also a UV filter/light if you have one as it will render the medicine obsolete.
If you’re reading this and you are a reefer, you would probably know that medicine shouldn’t be used in a marine tank. Just saying.
4. Improve Water Parameters
Ultimately, you want to give your betta fish the best possible environment to be in. Check your water parameters:
- Check the pH level. Alkalinity and Acid
- Ensure the temperature is consistent and constant
- Test for nitrates and phosphates
- Do regular water changes to reduce toxins
Giving your fish optimal water parameters is one of the best and most natural ways of helping them heal and fight parasites.