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Salt Baths
Epsom Salt Baths
Ich (White Spot)
Velvet (Oodiniasis)
Fungal Diseases
Black Spot
Fin Rot
Ammonia Poisoning
Nitrite Poisoning

A healthy male Betta should look alert. 

Frequent attacks of Ick indicate that the
water temperature is too cool.

Elevating the water temperature to 27oC
will control Ick.

"Melafix" treats wounds and abrasions 
and is a safe fungicide.

Use "Melafix" after netting fish and to clean
bowls, jars and small tanks.

shows as reddening of the gills, which may also bleed; the fish gasps at the surface of the water and darkens in colour. 

There is no cure, only good preventative measures from proper fish keeping.  Ammonia can damage the gills at a level as low as 0.25 mg/l, and such 
poisoning is frequently seen in new tanks and in Betta splendens cultured in small containers.

Properly "cycled" aquaria prevent ammonia poisoning, as do frequent water changes. For the immediate removal of ammonia, use an ammonia detoxifier such as Kordon's "Amquel".  BACK TO INDEX

NITRITE POISONING occurs at NO2 levels
as low as 2.0 mg/l.  The fish darken and sit
on the bottom of the tank or gasp at the
water surface.  Death is swift. BACK TO INDEX

Practice zero tolerance of nitrite and of ammonia/ammonium levels by having a properly functioning biological filter in place or by using frequent water changes.

Bio-additives such as Hagen's "Cycle" and "Waste Control" help prevent ammonia and nitrite poisoning.
Consult your local fish retailer for help.

Do not put medications down the drain, as they may contaminate the environment.

Products that contain mercury and antibiotics are  most unsuitable for tossing down the drain- as the  ecological effect is potentially disasterous.

Dispose of all treatment products and treated
water in environmentally safe ways.  Some
treatments will kill soil organisms and contaminate foods, water ways and crops. Seek advice from your local waste control agencies.

Many fish treatments contain hazardous substances  and should be used very carefully.

Some remedies are toxic to humans and some are also carcenogenic (cancer causing) so read the labels carefully.

Prolonged exposure to nitrate (NO3) will cause distress in most fish species and high nitrate levels may be a cause of dropsy in Goldfish.

Control nitrate levels by regular, partial water changes.  Changing 20% of the volume each fortnight is recommended. See Fish Keeping Notes or my notes of Maintenance.


Frequent, partial water changes are used to control of nitrate.  NEVER change all of the water at one time as such action will shock the fish, causing distress or death.


ICH or WHITE SPOT Disease (Ichthyophthiriasis) looks like white grains of sugar on the body and fins of the fish.  It is is caused by a micro-organism (a ciliated protozoan parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifilis or Ich - pronounced "ick" - for short) and it is present in nearly all aquarium water.  Exceptions are in those tanks filtered through an ultra-violet sterilising unit.  It is introduced into our tanks and bowls along with new fish and live plants and on nets and equipment.  Outbreaks occur when the water temperature drops below 27oC. (80oF.), so maintaining constant water temperatures at or just above 27oC. (80oF.) helps control Ich.  Elevating the water temperature assists in breaking the life cycle of the parasite but it also reduces the oxygen level in the water- and fortunately our Bettas can breathe from the air when that happens. 

Salt baths are effective against Ich.  Adding common table salt (sodium chloride) to the water can help reduce infection: add one teaspoon per gallon as a preventative measure.  More efficient control is obtained from medications containing malachite green or methylene blue, repeated at intervals of 2 days at water temp. 27oC. (80oF.) for three treatments. WaterLife's "Protozin" is one product that is very good.  It is made in the UK, and is effective against Ich, Oodinium, Costia other protozoan infections and most fungal diseases.   treatment products containing malachite green, or methylene blue are useful,against Ich. BACK TO INDEX

VELVET DISEASE (Oodiniasis) is caused by another infecting protozoan (Oodinium) like Ich and is spread in the same way.  It appears first as a yellowish, patchy, granular mark along the body of the fish.  It looks like golden pepper or sand and spreads rapidly.  The white pustules are small and Oodiniasis is a little easier to cure than Ich, since the life cycle is not so rapid. It commonly follows chilling or stress caused by transportation, water changes or poor water quality. Infected bowls should be drained, cleaned and washed in copper sulphate solution and then rinsed.  "Protozin" is also effective against Velvet  "Maracide" by Mardel Laboratories and "Super Velvet" by Aquatronics are similar US products.  Older remedies included the use of Acriflavine and Mercurichrome but these pharmaceutical dyes should not be used since they contains mercury- a toxic, heavy metal that is poisoning our planet's environment and waterways.  "Argyrol" is another US product that is used.  BACK TO INDEX

GILL FLUKES are less problematic in Bettas than fishes such as Discus.  Treatments usually contain Formalin and must be used with great care.  Waterlife's "Sterazin" is effective against all flukes (trematodes) and round worms (nematodes) and tapeworms. BACK TO INDEX

FUNGUS DISEASES usually occur when fish are damaged or if the water conditions are poor.  They appear as white fluffy growths on the fish on the mouth, eyes and fins.  They are highly contagious and can be controlled by adding common table salt (sodium chloride) to the water can help reduce infection: add one teaspoon per gallon as a treatment for prevention.  More efficient control is obtained from medications containing malachite green or methylene blue.   "Protozin" is again my favoured product for use in treating fungus.  "Melafix" is a good preventative water additive and cure for mild fungal attacks and Methylene Blue is an effective, old remedy. BACK TO INDEX

Saprolegnia is a fungus that attacks dead tissue and may infect Bettas with torn fins and tails.  Salt solutions of four tablespoons of common salt per gallon of water are recommended for use as a swab or dip bath.  Do not leave the fish in the solution for long: stop treatment if fish becomes stressed. BACK TO INDEX

DROPSY: is symptomatic of internal, bacterial infections and shows as bulging sides and protruding scales on fish.  "Malawi Bloat" in African cichlids and dropsy in Goldfish and Guppies are common examples of this symptom. The most probable causes are poor water conditions, too high a nitrate (NO3) level and over feeding. Treatment is very difficult: treat as for internal infections of the gut, using tetracycline or naladixic acid under veterinary advice. Regular, partial water changes and proper feeding prevent dropsy. BACK TO INDEX

BLACK SPOT (diplopstomiasis) occurs as small, black patches on the body.  It often follows the addition of new aquarium fish. All fish are susceptible, especially the Silver Dollar and Piranha. It is fairly easy to treat with salt baths. BACK TO NDEX

FIN ROT & BODY ROT are a severe bacterial infections that can also be sites invaded by protozoans.  Waterlife's "Myxazin" is an excellent medication for this disease and for ulceration's of the fins and body.  "Melafix" is useful on early infections, as are salt baths. BACK TO INDEX

Consult your local fish retailer for local knowledge of good disease treatments and proprietary remedies.

Clean water, quarantine procedures and good maintenance and hygiene are effective controls against fish diseases. Keep all nets and containers clean by washing in common salt (sodium chloride) solutions.

"Melafix" treats wounds and abrasions and is a safe fungicide. It is used in small quantities-follow the label.

(Does a re-tailer put tails back on fishes?) No? but DO consult your retailer if new fish show diseases.

SALT BATHS are effective old remedies for many fish diseases, including Ich.  Add one tablespoon of common salt (sodium chloride) to a gallon of water at the same temperature as the aquarium, place the affected fish in this for five minutes; remove if the fish shows stress.  Use only common salt and NOT iodised salt.

Stronger salt solutions at four tablespoons of common salt per gallon of water may be used as a swab or dip-bath.  Do not place the fish entirely in this solution strength, but rather wrap the fish in a clean, moist cloth and dab the affected areas with the solution.

Adding one teaspoon of salt to a gallon of aquarium water makes a bath in which the fish can be kept for longer periods- watch for stress and remove to fresh water of the same temperature, if stress occurs.  The addition of salt to the aquarium water at the rate of one teaspoon per gallon of water is also a useful preventative measure against Ich and Oodinium.  Even concentrations of salt as low as 500 mg/L (0.05% solution) are effective controls for Ich in circulating systems.  There is no harm to bacteria in biological filters at that low concentration of salt .

EPSOM SALTS can be used to treat constipation in fish.  From the tank, remove half the water to a clean container to which is added epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) at the rate of 1 tablespoon per gallon (this keeps water temperature constant for the initial part of the bath.  Swim the fish in this solution for 1/4 to 1/2 hour or until stress shows or faeces are released. Top the water up in the fish's usual container with dechloraminated water and return the fish to it. Change the water in about an hour to remove any faeces and residual salts. Dispose of the epsom salts solution by pouring it around your citrus trees or onto the garden beds, as it is a good for treating magnesium deficiencies in soils.

Other remedies include the use of copper sulphate and potassium permanganate are used in some remedies. They are difficult to use and are toxic so I do not recommend them.

WARNING - use safe products.

Products labelled "Mercurachrome" and "Mercurochrome" need to be researched carefully before use.  Mercurochrome was a remedy for cuts and sores and the older formulations contained contain mercury and are NOT suitable. "Mercurochrome" is a trademark (in the USA) for a preparation of merbromin (also marketed as Mercurochrome, Merbromine, Sodium mercurescein, Asceptichrome, Supercrome and Cinfacromin) and is a topical antiseptic used for minor cuts and scrapes. Merbromin is an organomercuric disodium salt compound and a fluorescein. It is no longer sold in the USA (or Australia) because of its mercury content. Merbromin is NOT the same as iodine and is not safe to use. In Australia, an iodine substitute for mercurochrome is Betadine. Betadine is the name of Purdue Pharma's brand of consumer-available povidone-iodine (PVPI) topical antiseptics. Some products may be still marketed under the old name "Mercurochrome" and must be checked on the label to see if the product contains povidone-iodine (PVPI) OR Merbromin.

Formalin and Malachite green- or preparations that include those chemicals- are also used to treat Ich and protozoan infections.  Both formalin and malachite green they are toxic and carcinogenic. I do not recommend their use. Some proprietary fish treatment remedies contain Formalin.  Formalin is a known carcinogen (causes cancer) and is toxic, especially at high water temperatures. A white precipitate occurs (paraformaldahyde) at cold temperatures below 5oC (40oF) and is highly toxic to fish on contact.

MALACHITE GREEN is commonly used to treat Ich and other protozoan infections in ornamental fishes (not in food fishes and scale less fishes) and is very effective at the application rate of 0.05 to 0.10 mg/L in an indefinite bath.  Malachite green combined with Formalin is also effective (0.2 mg/L malachite green + 15 mg/L Formalin) and is present as such in some remedies on the market.  HOWEVER, malachite green is a dangerous carcinogen and causes mutations.  Pregnant women ought not be exposed to it or handle it. Methylene Blue is safer to use and just as effective in controlling Ich

METHYLENE BLUE is a heterocyclic aromatic chemical compound that has many uses in a range of different fields, such as biology or chemistry. At room temperature it appears as a solid, odourless, dark green powder, that yields a blue solution when dissolved in water. Methylene blue is used in aquaculture and by tropical fish hobbyists as a treatment for fungal infections. It can also be effective in treating fish infected with ich, the parasitic protozoa Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. It is sold as "White Spot Cure" or "Fungus Cure".  It stains plastic and fingers blue but is safe to use if directions on the label are followed.  BACK TO INDEX


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   3.Information on this web site is subject to change without notice.

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         material, substance or product mentioned. BACK TO INDEX

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Maintenance of Bettas


Bettas: an introduction

Bettas in small containers require special attention. 

Avoid cruel practices and use as large a bowl or jar as you can.

Help stamp out Bettas and Peace Lilies", "Aqua Babies" and similarly cruel exploitation of Bettas.

Dispose of chemicals and medications in an environmentally safe manner.

Salt Baths
Epsom Salt Baths
Ich (White Spot)
Velvet (Oodiniasis)
Fungal Diseases
Black Spot
Fin Rot
Ammonia Poisoning
Nitrite Poisoning

This hatchery is now closed.

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