TOPIC: bloated betta

Q: my siamese fighting fish has suddenly become bloated. Can you tell me a reason for this and what is the cure?

above question submitted by sue, cairns - queensland

Well, well, well... Looks like today we are going to talk about bloat. Hope you all brought a cloth pin with you hehehehehehe... This is a question that would be best answered by Berlin, our Rottie. Berlin has been a biohazard for several years now. Depending on what kind of doggie canned food Mr.181 grabs on his way home, Berlin will turn into either a A)- Small balloon B)- Hot air Balloon (sits 4) C)- Large German dirigible (fire optional). LOL The only common thread to all these options is that they all offer a complete lack of options for us: Anyway we look at it, she is going to FART LOLOL. Something to be said about a nice romantic evening at home, with Mr.181 and myself lounging on our purple velvet couch, with the fire crackling in our fireplace and the musical PROOOOOTS coming out of Berlin's equally musical rear end :P... I always fear an explosion, especially if she lays near the fire. Even bought a large fire extinguisher (just in case she ever decided to pull a little Hindenburg on us  ;) )... LOL

So now bettas. Do bettas get bloated as in prooooot prooot gassy bloated? And could all the bubbles they try to pass as a bubble nest not be, after all, a bubble nest at ALL? ;P... Another weird thought to ponder while I sit by the fire tonight... (although my pondering might be rudely interrupted by a "OH NOOOO, THERE SHE GOES AGAIN... RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!" shouted by Mr.181 as he ziiiiiiiiips by me, doing the 50 yard dash to the nearest exit) :))

OK, enough rambling and crazy stuff (but oh, true stuff if I may add), let's answer your question and talk about betta bloat. There are many reasons why a betta's belly might appear "bloated", let us get a closer (but not too close, cause we never know and the betta might... Well... you know...) look:

  • betta is overfed: Bettas belly tends to greatly expend when they are greatly fed ;). And I mean EXPEEEEEND. So your betta might look really "bloated" if you just fed it a huge meal. That kind of bloat is not harmful (but overfeeding may end up causing swimbladder disorder over time, so avoid it!) and the bloat should then come down within 24 hours or so. 

  • female betta is full of eggs (or egg bound). Usually females may look a bit more round if they are full of eggs and have not yet released their eggs, or if they just released all their eggs and ate them all ;). In this case, you will find a white poop the next day and that is a clear indication that the mysterious bloat was from an over consumption of yummy eggs. On rare occasions a female may be unable to release her eggs and may become "egg bound": She will then look very bloated and uncomfortable and may lay at the bottom. If this condition does not pass, and the eggs are not released, the female may die. But this is a very rare occurrence (only happened to me once) (mmmm... Wait. That sounded kinda "funny", so let me rephrase this: only happened to one of my female bettas once ;).

  • betta is constipated: This is also very rare, but could happen if say, you are feeding a lot of overly dry foods. In all honesty, I doubt that this is what is ailing your fish, but I thought I'd mention it as a remote possibility. (just as remote as the hope that Berlin might, one day, let us enjoy our fire without prootprooting all over it). LOL

  • betta has dropsy: This is usually the most common cause for bloat. Although dropsy is not the same type of bloat. It is not bloat caused by food in the stomach or intestines, nor is it bloat caused by eggs, nor is it bloat caused by gas (not even sure fish can get gas... But Rotties, on the other hand!!!! LOLOLOL). Dropsy is a bloat caused by the retaining of fluids in the betta's tissues. This usually comes from kidney failure. And the kidney failure comes from disease. There are many bacteria that will attack the fish's organs and cause the kidneys to eventually fail. Then the water builds up, and the fish start looking like a pine cone cross with a balloon. Death usually follows, sometimes promptly (3 to 4 days) or more slowly (up to 3 weeks in some cases). Either way death is as sure as Berlin's proot proots. :((

So what to do next? You need to try to assess which of the bloats above your betta has: If he is a male, then of course the egg bound scenario does not apply. If you are not feeding it much, the overfeeding scenario does not apply as well. We are left with 2 options then. The easier one to diagnosize is dropsy, so let's start there. I want you to look at your fish from the TOP and see if his scales are raised (even if slightly). It will then look kinda like this:

click on photo to see dropsy raised scales

If your betta does not look at all like this, and his scales are nice and super flat and smooth, then you may have a constipated betta, and if so, you may want to vary his diet more and feed better foods. I recommend frozen bloodworms and frozen brine shrimp (San Francisco Bay brand). If your betta turns out to have dropsy after all, then please read my disease page for more info on this terrible disease.

Good luck to you.

PS: any of you know of a good antigas for Rotties???? :)