How To Treat Swim Bladder Disease In Betta Fish

Betta fish, famous for their stunning colors and elegant fins, have become beloved pets for fish enthusiasts globally. Yet, just like any living being, they too can encounter health issues, and one of these is swim bladder disease

In this article, I will dive deep into understanding this condition, covering its origins, signs, how to treat swim bladder disease in betta fish, and ways to prevent it. But before we plunge into the main topic, let’s first get acquainted with the basics of swim bladder disease.

What Is Swim Bladder Disease?

Swim bladder disease is a problem that affects a betta fish’s internal organ responsible for helping it stay balanced in the water. 

When this organ doesn’t work correctly, bettas have a tough time staying in the water position they want, and that makes swimming difficult for them. 

It’s like if you suddenly couldn’t control whether you stood up or sat down; it would be challenging for you to move around comfortably.

Which Fish Are More Likely To Develop Swim Bladder Disease?

  • Goldfish: Goldfish are particularly prone to swim bladder issues, possibly due to their unique body shape and genetic factors. Fancy goldfish varieties, with their elongated bodies and round shapes, are especially susceptible.
  • Angelfish: These tropical freshwater fish can be susceptible to swim bladder issues, which can be triggered by factors like overeating or sudden temperature changes.
  • Guppies: Guppies are popular aquarium fish, but they can develop swim bladder problems if they are overfed or if the water conditions in their tank deteriorate.
  • Mollies: Mollies, another common freshwater aquarium fish, may experience swim bladder issues if they are subjected to poor water quality or an inappropriate diet.
  • Fancy Gouramis: These fish, like the Pearl Gourami and the Dwarf Gourami, can develop swim bladder issues, often due to poor water quality or overfeeding.

What Are The Causes Of Swim Bladder Disease?

1. Overfeeding: When you feed your betta fish too much food, it’s similar to us eating way too much in one sitting. Just like we can feel uncomfortably full, betta fish can also become overly full. 

This can put pressure on their swim bladder, which is like a little balloon inside their body that helps them stay buoyant in the water. When their swim bladder is squished because they’re too full, it can stop working the way it should. 

So, it’s important not to overfeed your betta to keep their swim bladder and overall health in good shape.

2. Poor Diet: If your betta fish consistently eats the same type of food that isn’t very nutritious or healthy, they might not get all the essential nutrients they need. This can have an impact on their overall health, including their swim bladder. 

Just like we need a variety of foods to stay healthy, betta fish also require a diverse and balanced diet to ensure their swim bladder and their entire body function properly. So, it’s crucial to provide them with a mix of high-quality foods to maintain their well-being.

3. Water Quality: Your fish tank is like your betta fish’s home. If the tank isn’t clean or the water isn’t fresh, it can make them stressed. Fish can become sick if their tank is not clean. This can contribute to swim bladder disease. 

So, it’s essential to regularly clean the tank and keep the water clean to help your betta fish stay healthy and prevent swim bladder issues.

4. Genetics: Sometimes, betta fish can inherit swim bladder problems from their parents, just like how people might inherit certain traits from their family, like the colour of their eyes or hair. 

If a betta’s family has a history of swim bladder issues, there’s a higher chance that they might have it too. So, genetics can play a role in whether a betta fish is more likely to develop swim bladder disease. 

It’s something they get from their fishy family tree, and it’s important to be aware of this possibility when caring for them.

5. Bacterial Or Parasitic Infections: Sometimes, betta fish can get sick because of harmful bacteria or tiny parasites. These things can make them unwell and affect different parts of their body, including the swim bladder. 

These infections can enter the fish’s body through dirty water or from being around other fish that are already sick. So, keeping their water clean and making sure new fish are healthy can help prevent these infections and swim bladder problems.

6. Constipation: Betta fish can also experience constipation, just like people do. When they have a hard time getting rid of waste, it can cause problems with their swim bladder. Constipation can occur when they are fed too much food or when their diet doesn’t have enough fibre to help with digestion.

7. Injury: Sometimes, betta fish can get hurt. This can happen if they are handled roughly or if accidents occur inside their tank.

When they get injured, it can harm their swim bladder or other nearby parts of their body, which can lead to swim bladder issues. So, handle your betta fish gently and make sure their tank is safe to prevent injuries.

Symptoms Of Swim Bladder Disease

It’s important to know when your betta fish might have swim bladder disease so you can help them early. Here are some common signs:

  • Difficulty Swimming: Bettas with swim bladder disease might find it hard to swim properly. They might tilt to one side, float upside down, or even sink to the bottom of the tank. It’s like if you suddenly couldn’t stand or walk straight.
  • Loss of Appetite: If your fish has swim bladder disease, they might not want to eat because they’re feeling uncomfortable. Just like when you’re not feeling well and don’t have an appetite, the same can happen to them.
  • Erratic Swimming Patterns: Betta fish with this condition often move strangely. They might swim in jerky, zigzag patterns or spiral around. It’s not their usual smooth swimming.
  • Balance Issues: Bettas with swim bladder disease often have trouble maintaining their balance. They might struggle to stay upright in the water or have a wobbly swimming posture.
  • Buoyancy Problems: Swim bladder disease can affect a betta’s ability to control their buoyancy. They may have difficulty staying at their desired depth in the tank, either floating on the surface or sinking to the bottom when they don’t want to.
  • Lethargy: Afflicted fish may become less active and spend more time resting at the bottom of the tank or near the surface. They may seem less interested in exploring or interacting with their environment.
  • Bloating: Some bettas with swim bladder issues can develop a swollen or bloated appearance, especially around their belly area.
  • Erratic Behavior: Bettas with swim bladder problems may display unusual behavior, such as spinning in circles or repeatedly trying to swim to the surface and then sinking back down.

How To Treat Swim Bladder Disease In Betta Fish?

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When your betta fish has swim bladder disease, it’s important to take action quickly. Here are some ways to help them feel better.

1. Fasting: To give your betta’s tummy a rest, you can stop feeding them for 24-48 hours. It’s like when you’re not feeling well, and you might skip a meal to help your stomach settle.

2. Dietary Adjustments: After the fasting period, offer your betta fish easy-to-digest foods like daphnia or brine shrimp. These are gentle on their stomach and can help with their recovery.

3. Improved Water Quality: Keeping their home clean is crucial. Regularly change the water in their tank and make sure you have a good filter to keep the water fresh and healthy. 

4. Isolation: If you have other fish in the same tank as the affected betta, it may be a good idea to temporarily isolate the sick fish. This can help reduce stress and competition for food, giving the betta a better chance to recover.

5. Temperature Control: Maintaining a stable and appropriate water temperature can be beneficial for the betta’s overall health. Betta fish are tropical, so ensuring their tank is consistently warm within the recommended temperature range can aid in recovery.

6. Floating Plants or Resting Spots: Adding floating plants or resting spots near the water’s surface can assist bettas with swim bladder issues. These provide support, allowing them to rest and reach the water’s surface more easily.

7. Consultation: If the swim bladder disease doesn’t improve with basic treatments, it’s advisable to consult a veterinarian with expertise in fish health. They can provide more specific guidance and recommend suitable medications if necessary.

8. Medications: Sometimes, you might have to use special medicines that are safe for fish, like Epsom salt or specific treatments made for swim bladder problems. 

It’s a good idea to ask a vet who knows about fish or someone experienced with aquariums for advice on which medicine to use and how much to give. Here are some names of these medicines.

Medicine names:

  • Melafix: This medication can be used to treat bacterial infections.
  • Betamax: This medication can be used to treat parasitic infections.
  • Maracyn II: This is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that can be used to treat a variety of infections.

Remember, every betta fish is unique, and the effectiveness of treatments can vary. It’s crucial to monitor your betta’s condition closely and adjust treatment as needed to ensure their well-being.

Methods to Prevent Swim Bladder Disease

Preventing swim bladder disease is often easier than dealing with it once it occurs. Here are some ways to help keep your betta fish healthy:

  • Balanced Diet: Make sure to feed your betta fish a well-rounded diet. Give them high-quality pellets as their main food. Occasionally, you can treat them with things like bloodworms or brine shrimp. Just like you need a balanced diet for good health, betta fish do too.
  • Proper Water Conditions: Keep their home clean and comfortable. Make sure the water in their tank is clean, with the right temperature and pH levels. Use a good filter to keep the water fresh. Think of it like having a clean and cozy house to live in.
  • Avoid Overfeeding: Stick to a feeding schedule for your betta and don’t give them too much food. Overfeeding can lead to bloating, which can affect their swim bladder. It’s like not eating too much junk food to avoid feeling unwell.
  • Quarantine New Fish: If you’re adding new fish to your tank, it’s a good idea to put them in a separate quarantine tank first. This helps make sure they’re healthy and won’t bring any diseases into the tank that could affect your betta. It’s like checking if a new friend is well before inviting them over.
  • Aquatic Decorations: Add appropriate decorations and hiding spots to the tank. Bettas appreciate places to rest and hide, which can reduce stress and make them feel more secure.
  • Monitor Tank Mates: If you have other fish in the tank with your betta, choose tank mates that are compatible and won’t stress out your betta. Aggressive or fin-nipping fish can cause stress, which may lead to swim bladder problems.

By following these steps, you can create a healthier and happier environment for your betta fish and reduce the chances of them developing swim bladder disease.

Can Swim Bladder Disease be Transmitted to Other Fish?

No, swim bladder disease itself cannot spread from one fish to another like a cold or flu can in humans. It’s not a contagious illness that fish can pass to each other just by being in the same tank. 

However, here’s the thing: if the water in the tank isn’t clean or healthy, it can make any fish living there more likely to get sick, including swim bladder disease. 

So, while the disease itself doesn’t spread between fish, poor tank conditions can make all the fish in the tank more vulnerable to various health problems, including swim bladder issues. To keep all your fish healthy, it’s essential to maintain a clean and suitable environment in their tank.

Can Swim Bladder Disease be Fatal?

Swim bladder disease can indeed range from being a minor issue to a severe and potentially fatal condition for your betta fish. The outcome depends on several factors:

  • The severity of the Disease: The seriousness of swim bladder disease varies. In milder cases, it might cause some inconvenience but not pose a significant threat to your fish’s life. However, in severe cases, it can become life-threatening.
  • Timely Intervention: Early detection and intervention are crucial. If you notice the symptoms of swim bladder disease and take action promptly, you can significantly increase the chances of your betta’s recovery. Swift measures can prevent the condition from worsening.
  • Underlying Causes: Understanding and addressing the underlying causes of swim bladder disease plays a critical role. If it’s due to dietary issues, water quality problems, or stress, resolving these factors can improve your betta’s overall health and recovery prospects.
  • Appropriate Treatment: Depending on the severity and root causes, treatment options may vary. In some cases, simple adjustments to diet and water conditions can help, while more severe cases may require medications or other interventions.
  • Individual Health: Your betta’s general health and immune system strength also influence their ability to recover from swim bladder disease. A healthier fish may have a better chance of overcoming the condition.


To sum it up, dealing with swim bladder disease in your betta fish can be tricky, but with the right care, a good diet, and a clean tank, you can keep your betta happy and healthy. 

If you’re ever unsure about your fish’s health, it’s smart to talk to a vet or someone who knows a lot about fish. I hope this guide has been helpful to you. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Thanks for reading.


1. What is the fastest way to cure swim bladder? 

The quickest way to help a fish with swim bladder issues is to adjust their diet and make sure they have clean water. Sometimes, just giving them the right food and a clean tank can help them recover faster.

2. Does warm water help with the swim bladder? 

Yes, betta fish prefer warm water. Keeping their tank at the right temperature can help their swim bladder work better and may improve their condition. Make sure it’s within the recommended range.

3. Can I feed my betta a pea to help with my swim bladder? 

Feeding your betta fish a tiny bit of cooked and skinned pea can sometimes help with constipation-related swim bladder issues. But not all bettas like peas, so it’s not a guaranteed fix.

4. Will aquarium salt help with swim bladder?

Adding a little aquarium salt to the tank can sometimes help, but it’s not a cure-all. It’s best to consult with a fish expert or veterinarian before using any treatments to make sure it’s suitable for your betta’s specific condition.

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