14 Signs Of A Healthy And Unhealthy Betta Fish

Betta fish are an active, friendly, and colorful species. Most of the time, their social behavior helps you tell if a betta fish is healthy by observing its activity level. The appearance and color of the betta fish are also a major indicator of healthy vs. unhealthy betta fish since many aquatic illness symptoms are visible.

Recognizing the signs of an unhealthy betta will help you treat your fish quicker. Prompt treatment prevents the spread of contagious illnesses and can save your betta from a fatal disease.

The remainder of this article will discuss healthy betta fish versus unhealthy betta fish. The signs to look for and how to keep your betta fish healthy.

Is My Betta Healthy?

It is typically easy to tell whether your betta fish is healthy by judging their activity level and overall appearance. A healthy Betta fish will be active and responsive to your movements. They often greet their owners upon returning from work, school, or other places.

Healthy betta fish are very colorful, with fully-developed fins that show no signs of tearing. Their bellies, gills, and scales are evenly colored and show no signs of fraying or unnatural discoloration.

Signs of A Healthy Betta

There are many signs of a healthy betta, which you can determine by observing them.

Most positive indicators of a healthy betta can be seen by their behavior. The appearance of a betta, including color, gills, fins, and scales, are also major indicators of a betta’s health. 

A healthy betta fish is active and visibly full of life. Everything from their fins to their gills is lively and vibrant.


The betta is one of the most active fish when their human companions are around. They will follow your finger around their tank, learn tricks, and spend a lot of their time outside of their hideouts when the light is on. This eager fish loves feeding time and even jumps out of the water for its food.


Healthy betta fish are vibrantly colored, with many beautiful shades like blue, purple, red, and more. The color should be vibrant and cover most of their body, including their fins from base to tip. 

Fin Movement 

A healthy betta has great fin movement while swimming. They will fully expand their fins and let them flow in the water as they move in a swaying motion. The fin movement is elegant, and one of the reasons males attract females.

Good Appetite

A strong appetite is a sign of a healthy betta. Your betta fish should eat between two to four pellets at least once per day. Betta fish typically eat their food quickly before leaving. That is a good sign and means they are satisfied.

Natural Aging

Many betta fish go through natural fading in their old age, which causes slight discoloration. A betta that is losing its vibrance from natural fading will not lose its color. However, it may lose the initial vibrancy it once had.

Signs Of Unhealthy Betta

Looking for the signs of an unhealthy betta can assist you in determining whether you should intervene in your betta’s daily routine. Some of the most common signs of an unhealthy betta are a lack of appetite or inactivity.

Betta fish may also become discolored, lethargic, and standoffish when they develop health issues. 

The appearance and attitude of the betta is the most common sign of deteriorating or poor health. A betta fish in bad health will typically show physical signs, making it easy to confirm that your fish is not in a good place healthwise. 


Bettas are highly active fish who love to interact with their owners. If your betta is suddenly inactive or irresponsive to you, that is a clear sign that they are experiencing an issue. Sick bettas typically become inactive with their owners because they do not feel good enough to exert the additional energy to play. 


When a betta fish does not feel good, they might become lethargic. Your betta fish may stay in their cave and ignore you when you turn the lights on, which is one of the most common ways to signal your betta out of their hiding place. A lethargic betta may swim slowly in an unenthusiastic manner.

Lack of Appetite

A lack of appetite is one of the biggest indicators that your betta fish is unhealthy. If they are not participatory during feeding, there is an excess of food leftover after feeding, or they are actively refusing to eat. These are clear signs that they lack appetite.

Changing Color 

The unnatural changing of colors is a very clear sign something is desperately wrong with your betta fish. Some color changes are normal for the betta fish, especially in old age. However, unnatural discoloration such as stress stripes, spots, reddening of the belly, and yellowing are different examples of an unhealthy betta.

Stress Stripes

Stress stripes are a major indicator that your fish’s health could be deteriorating. The most common sign of stress is when your betta’s color begins to disappear, and stripes appear on your betta’s body. Many things can cause your betta fish to feel stressed. In addition to stress stripes, stressed fish may also dart quickly around the tank.

Torn Fins 

Torn fins mean your fish is likely infected with a disease called fin rot. Fin rot occurs when you keep your fish in a tank with poor water quality. Bacteria living in the tank eat at the tips of your betta’s tail, which is highly painful, and you cannot reverse it.


Scratching is a symptom of several aquatic illnesses. Your betta may scratch its scales along the side of the tank or your tank decorations. If you notice this, you should remove your fish and the decorations. Perform a deep clean and provide the proper treatment for your fish’s illness.

Surface Breathing

Unhealthy bettas who do not have enough aeration (or filtration) in their tank will go to the surface to get air. If your betta is gasping at the surface for air, it is a sign there is a lack of breathable air in the water.

Murky Tank

Your betta might seem fine, but a murky tank is a clear sign that their health is in major jeopardy. The symptoms may not be visible, but your betta fish is suffering the effects of a dirty tank by swimming in their bacteria.

How To Keep Your Betta Healthy

The most important part of keeping your betta healthy is being proactive in their health and safety. Maintaining proper tank conditions and taking preventative measures are key to keeping your betta fish healthy. 

If you want to keep your fish healthy, you must become actively involved in cleaning your tank, observing their daily food intake, and raising them as a member of your family.

Treating fish sick in a timely matter is important because it can be the difference in saving their life. Observing your betta each day for signs of good health is critical for treating sickness.

If you need proper guidance on taking care of your Betta fish, click here to read a comprehensive article on betta fish care! 

Water Quality

Fish are members of your family, so you must care about the condition of their tank. Measure the quality of their water daily to ensure that you are keeping their tank clean. The water should satisfy the betta’s ideal water conditions, which means it should not be cloudy, there should never be food residue at the top of the tank, and you should invest in a filter.

Use Filters

Using a filter circulates stagnant water. These filters keep your water clean and free of harmful bacteria that will form and cause damage to your fish. You should clean the filter frequently because of the amount of food residue and other items they collect.

Be Proactive With Treatment

Be proactive with treatment, so you do not face devastating results. If you believe your fish is sick, find the appropriate treatment and begin immediately. It is also important that you treat your other fish and clean your tank. That way, the disease does not spread to other fish species in your tank (if applicable).

Observe Food Intake 

Unlike healthy betta fish, an unhealthy betta fish does not have a large appetite. They will eat slowly and may spit their food out. Observe food at the end of the day in addition to after eating.

Entertain Your Fish

Betta fish require a lot of entertainment. A lack of entertainment can lead to boredom, which will eventually lead to stress. To entertain your betta, you can teach them water tricks, interact with them from outside of the tank by leading them with your finger, and give them interactive toys inside their tank.

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Healthy betta fish are colorful, lively, and entertaining. Since the betta is so interactive, the difference in the behavior of a healthy betta fish versus an unhealthy betta is typically very noticeable.

Prevention is key when it comes to keeping your fish healthy. That means you must clean your tank, use filters, maintain proper water conditions, and pay attention to the health of your fish.

Learn the differences between a healthy vs. unhealthy betta fish so you can tell when you have a reason to intervene. If you believe there might be an outbreak in your tank, immediately mitigate the problem before it can spread to other fish.