Constipation in Betta Fish – Signs, Causes, and Treatment!

Before we discuss constipation in detail Betta owners must know how they excrete out feces.

A Betta fish has a fully developed digestive system like most living organisms. However, their stomach is quite small in size.

They do not eat a lot, and in turn, don’t produce a lot of fecal matter. Instead, feces are excreted out via a small opening right at the front of the anal fins.

It is hard to notice the fecal material in the tank initially.

For this reason, it can be a little difficult to keep track of how often your Betta fish passes the feces.

However, you will be able to identify the pattern with close monitoring.

It is important to know when and how often your Betta fish pass out fecal matter so you can notice when your fish is constipated.

Common Signs of Constipation in Betta Fish

Constipation is one of the most common ailments your Betta could suffer from.

There are several signs and symptoms which can point towards constipation.

This is why it’s imperative to diagnose and treat constipation right away to avoid further risks.

Here are some early signs and symptoms you should watch out for:

Your Betta Will Stop Eating

If your Betta fish has suddenly stopped eating, it may be because of constipation. Typically, Bettas are very keen on eating, especially if it’s their favorite.

In most cases, Betta will continue to eat even if they are full.

If you notice any unusual behavior in your Betta’s eating pattern, it indicates that something is wrong.

Note that this symptom alone is not enough to deduce that your Betta has constipation.

Your Betta might stop eating if they have another ailment or are simply upset.

Therefore, you need to watch out for other signs and symptoms to confirm that your Betta may be constipated.

Your Betta Will Be Lethargic

Betta fish are known to be notorious and playful.

So, if you notice that your Betta has stopped being playful and is staying or hiding around one spot, it could be because of constipation.

When Bettas are sick with any disease, the first sign you will notice is them being extremely lethargic.

However, this is a common symptom for diseases other than constipation too, which means that you need to look for more specific signs to diagnose if your Betta is constipated or not correctly.

Changes in Fecal Color

One sure-shot way of confirming if your Betta has constipation or not is by observing their fecal pattern.

If you notice any slight change in your Betta’s feces, such as a lighter or pale color, your Betta could be constipated.

Changes in Fecal Consistency

Just like color, if you notice any change in the consistency of your Betta’s feces, it may be because of constipation.

Under normal circumstances, their feces sink to the bottom of the fish tank.

However, if your Betta is constipated, their feces will be in the form of a string that will not break apart easily.

You may also notice this string of feces following your Betta as she swims across.

This is because her stomach is full of fecal matter, and they cannot digest more food anymore.

Bloated stomach

When your Betta is constipated, the fecal matter will keep piling up inside their small stomach.

As a result, you may notice that your Betta has a bloated stomach, which is a common sign of constipation.

Swim Bladder Disease- Complication of Untreated Constipation

Bettas are amongst those species of fish that have swim bladders.

The swim bladder is an outpouching of a digestive tract or gut tube. This pouch gets filled with air.

This air-filled sac is responsible for providing buoyancy to Bettas. This means Bettas can float at any water level without putting in extra effort in swimming.

If this swim bladder does not function normally due to swim bladder disease, a Betta will swim erratically (upside down or sideways).

They will also not be able to swim up to the surface of the water to fill up their swim bladder.

This is a very serious complication of untreated constipation.

The accumulation of fecal matter in the stomach because of constipation presses on the swim bladder.

This does not allow it to expand and function normally.

What are the Causes of Constipation in Betta?

Untreated or chronic constipation can lead to several complications. Timely diagnosis is of cardinal importance.

This gives us more time to get to the root cause of constipation and choose the most appropriate treatment option.

There are several reasons your Betta gets constipated so let’s look at some of these in detail.

This will help us learn whether the treatment of the underlying disease or issues causing constipation is working.

Your Betta is Overeating

One of the primary reasons why Bettas get constipated is because of overeating.

Betta fish is generally greedy, and they have low self-control when it comes to eating.

This means that even if their stomach is full, they will continue to eat if you serve them with food.

As a result, their stomach is unable to digest all the food, which causes constipation.

Your Betta’s Feed Lacks Fiber

Like human beings, Bettas also need their fair share of fiber consumption to have a healthy digestive system.

If you have been feeding them dry food only and not adding the live feed to their diet, it could be why your Betta is constipated.

Live feed like worms and larvae are essential to provide your Betta with their required dose of fiber.

Dry food alone cannot fulfill this.

Your Betta Is Unable to Digest Dry Feed

Typically, most pet owners give dry feed to their Bettas daily.

Therefore, most of their diet comprises dry food only.

The problem with dry food is that you need to soften it with water before your Betta eats it.

But sometimes, Bettas are so greedy that they consume the feed-in dry form, which results in indigestion.

Your Betta Is Not Comfortable in Their Environment

To ensure that your Betta can enjoy being active and playful, you first need to ensure they feel at home in their environment.

If you have kept your Betta fish in a smaller tank or if the tank is not decorated properly, your Betta may be less active.

This could eventually slow down their metabolism and cause digestion problems.

Treatment of Constipation

After you have accurately diagnosed that your Betta is constipated, it’s time to begin the treatment right away.

The good news is that you can treat mild or early-stage constipation at home.

However, if things do not seem to improve, you should take your Betta to the vet to avoid risks of swim bladder disease.

Here are a few treatment options you should try if your Betta is constipated:

Feeding Peas to Your Betta

This method works perfectly for the initial stages of constipation. What you need to do is boil peas for a minute or two until they soften up.

Then run it under cold water to peel the skin off easily.

Feed half of this boiled and peeled pea to your Betta. Make sure that your Betta is on a 24 hour fast before you try this method.

The pea will help digest all the food inside the Betta’s stomach and help get rid of constipation.

Wait a couple of hours for the pea to do its magic. If you do not see any positive results, repeat the process for another day.

If the pea method is still unable to fix your Betta’s constipation after two days, you may try the Epsom salt method.

Epsom Salt Treatment

For this method, you need to keep your Betta fish in a separate tank.

First, you need to dissolve one teaspoon of Epsom salt for every five gallons of water.

Ensure that the Epsom salt has thoroughly dissolved in the tank water before adding your Betta fish to it.

Your Betta fish needs to stay in this saltwater tank for at least 7 to 9 days to get rid of constipation. 

How to Prevent Constipation in Bettas

With that said, it is even better if you take active measures to prevent Betta from getting constipated in the first place then treat it.

Prevention is very simple.

Do Not Overfeed Your Betta

Overfeeding your Betta is not good for their health or even their mood.

Since Bettas have no control over their eating habits, the responsibility falls upon the pet owner.

All Betta fish owners need to ensure they only give a specific amount of food to their Bettas to avoid any chances of constipation.

Make Your Betta Fast

Just like humans, making your Betta fast every once in a while is good for their health and digestive system. Every once in a while, don’t feed them anything for 24-36 hours.

And don’t worry, your betta fish can easily survive this fasting (in fact its highly recommended you do this).

As Bettas tend to overeat quite easily, making them starve can help prevent constipation.

Feed a Balanced Meal

As mentioned earlier, dry feed alone is not enough for your Betta’s health and active digestive system.

You need to feed them a balanced diet, including dry feed and live feed (worms, larvae).

This will ensure they get their required dose of nutrients and fiber.

With these changes in their eating habits, you will be able to keep your Betta’s gut healthy and prevent constipation.

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