8 Ways To Save A Dying Betta Fish (& How To Prevent It)

As a Betta owner, there’s nothing worse than seeing your fish struggling or suffering and wondering what you can do to help. Unfortunately, all of our fish will meet their end eventually, but sometimes they just need a bit of help to get back on the road to recovery.

To save a dying Betta fish, you need to get in touch with a vet and identify what is wrong. They may be sick and need medication, they may have suffered an injury, their tank environment may not be suitable, or they may have issues with their diet. It is always best to try and prevent sickness and injury by providing your Betta with the right care.

This article will go into detail about the different things that you can do to prevent your Betta from becoming ill or dying, as well as what you can do to save them if they do start to suffer.

How To Prevent A Betta Fish From Dying

The most important thing that you can do is make sure that the care that you are providing for your Betta is keeping them healthy and safe. You want to prevent any issues from occurring rather than reacting to problems when they occur.

Get The Right Size Tank

One of the most common reasons that Bettas become unhealthy and unhappy is because they are living in a tank that is too small for their needs. Bettas may not be very large fish, but they need a good amount of space to move around so that they stay fit and active.

A single Betta should have a tank that is at least 1 gallon in size, but a community tank should be at least 10 gallons, and if you are keeping a sorority of female Bettas, their tank should be at least 15 gallons.

Choose Tank Mates Carefully

We all know that Bettas can be pretty feisty, which is why they are also known as Siamese Fighting Fish. Make sure that you don’t house Betta males with other Bettas or any fish that they may become aggressive towards. Bettas will often fight with fish like tiger barbs, gouramis, or fancy guppies.

Injuries from fighting are a common cause of death among Bettas, so they need to be kept in a calm and safe tank.

Keep Their Water at The Right Temperature

If the water in their tank is the wrong temperature, it can quickly become fatal for your fish, particularly if it is too cold. Bettas need their water to be kept at around 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. You will need to use a tank heater to keep the temperature consistent.

The Betta Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens Pla-kad ( biting fish ) Thai. (Halfmoon fancy white red betta ) in motion on fresh water weeds background

Keep Their Water Clean

Contaminated or otherwise dirty water is a fast track to an unhealthy fish. Bettas may be pretty hardy animals, but an unfiltered tank will still be deadly. Use a water filter to add oxygen to the water, keep the tank clean, and remove dangerous bacteria.

Even with a filter, you will still need to keep an eye on the cleanliness of the tank and remove any contaminants, like leftover food.

Routinely Check Their Water

To make sure that it stays clean and warm, you need to check the filter and temperature in your Betta’s tank every day. You should also test the water quality every week and change the water and/or filter cartridge regularly.

 Provide a Healthy Diet

Just like any other animal, Bettas need to eat healthily in order to survive. A key thing to remember is that Betta fish are carnivorous, so they cannot survive on plant-based foods. They should be getting a variety of live foods and freeze-dried foods, as well as protein-rich flakes and/or pellets.

Ensure Easy Access to The Surface

One of the fascinating things about Betta fish is their ability to breathe oxygen directly from the air using a specialized labyrinth organ. This isn’t just an interesting talent, though – it is essential for your Betta’s survival.

Betta fish need to be able to reach the surface easily and gulp air to supplement the oxygen they extract from the water.

Can You Save a Betta Fish From Dying?

If you do notice that your Betta fish is looking unwell or appears to be dying, there are often some simple things that you can do to get them back up to full health. The first step that you need to take if you think your Betta is seriously unwell is to get in touch with a vet as soon as possible.

Before you can help, you need to identify what is causing your fish to be poorly, which may require the assistance of a vet. Then, you can start to address this problem.

Unfortunately, the lives of our fish do come to an end eventually and sometimes, all you can do is make sure that they are comfortable.

How To Tell If Your Betta is Dying

To identify whether or not your Betta fish is suffering from an issue that could be fatal, you need to be able to recognize any of the symptoms that you should be worried about. Your fish may be seriously unwell, or they may just be a bit slow that day, so you need to know what to look out for.

Loss of Appetite or Lethargy

One of the first symptoms that something is wrong with your Betta fish is when they are not as active as usual or not interested in their food. This can be a symptom of many different issues, so it is hard to identify exactly what is wrong.

The most common reason for your Betta to lose their appetite or become lethargic is that the conditions are not right in the tank.

Frayed or Damaged Fins

If you notice unnatural fraying on the fins of your Betta, or they appear to be disintegrating, then they may be suffering from fin or tail rot. You might also notice the base of the fin becoming more of red or black color. Fin rot can quickly become fatal, and it needs to be addressed.

Cloudy or Swollen Eyes

A change around your Betta’s eyes is often a sign of an infection that could be seriously harmful. Cloudy or swollen eyes usually indicate a bacterial infection or an issue with the quality of their water.

Open Sores or Red Skin

If your Betta’s skin starts to turn red, or you notice open sores on their body, this can also be a sign that they are suffering from a bacterial infection. Most bacterial infections can be treated, but they are highly dangerous for your fish.

White Spots on Fin or Body

If you see little white spots appear on your Betta’s fins or their body then they may be suffering from Ich. Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (Ich) is a common parasite that can result in death if it is left untreated. Other symptoms of Ich include difficulty breathing and your fish rubbing themselves against hard objects.

Floating Sideways or Difficulty Swimming

If your Betta is finding it hard to stay upright, then they may be having problems with their swim bladder. The swim bladder allows your fish to maintain its buoyancy, and if it is compromised then your Betta won’t be able to swim properly or keep themselves the right way up.

Swim bladder disorder is often accompanied by constipation and swelling.

Cottony White Growths

If you see cotton-like patches on the body of your Betta and/or on their gills, then they may be suffering from a fungal infection, like Cottonmouth (also known as Columnaris). Other symptoms of fungal infections include clumped or frayed fins and browning around the gills.


Significant swelling on your Betta can be a symptom of many issues, including overfeeding and swim bladder disorder, but it may also be a sign of dropsy. Dropsy is caused by a bacterial infection, and the swelling can be bad enough that it causes the scales to protrude. You might also notice a paleness around the gills and a loss of appetite.

Discoloration and Rubbing

If your Betta has a gold/yellow discoloration and is rubbing themselves against objects or scratching on the gravel, they may have Velvet. Velvet is a relatively common parasitic infestation that can be deadly if it is not addressed.

How To Save A Dying Betta Fish

To save a dying Betta fish, you need to know the problem that you are trying to treat. For some issues, you may just need to make simple changes to their environment, whereas serious infections or injuries can require urgent medical treatment.

You should always contact your vet first to get professional advice and access to any medication that you may need.

Have a First Aid Kit Ready

In case you need to apply medications quickly for your Betta fish, you should have a small kit ready. You can order full first aid kits online or purchase them from some pet stores, and they often include a variety of basic medications. You should still consult with a vet before medicating your fish.

Fin or Tail Rot

If your fish is suffering from fin or tail rot, then you should improve the quality of their water as soon as possible. Adding aquarium salt to the tank will also help. You may be recommended antibiotics if the rotting is jagged or antifungal medication if the issue is more widespread.

Bacterial Infections

For a bacterial infection, you will need to ensure that the water in the tank is thoroughly cleaned. You will also need to give your fish antibiotics, like Kanamycin, Ampicillin, or Tetracycline, which you should use as directed by a veterinarian.


Fungal infections can spread quickly, so you should quarantine your fish immediately if you notice that they have cottony growths. Cleaning the tank and improving the water quality will help, and you may need to reduce the water temperature by a few degrees.

You will need to give antibiotics to your fish and apply chemicals to the water to treat it and eliminate the fungus.


You should quarantine your Betta immediately if you spot signs of Ich and start treatment as soon as you can. The water should be treated to remove the presence of the bacteria, and you can apply one of the many commercial Ich remedies that are available.

You should also slowly increase the temperature of the water in the tank to around 82 degrees Fahrenheit.


Aquarium salts and basic medicines can treat dropsy if it is caught early, but as it is a symptom rather than a disease itself, you need to know exactly the right medicine to give. You must quarantine your fish and consult a vet to make sure that you give your fish the right treatment.

Swim Bladder Disorder

When you notice that your fish has problems with their swim bladder, you will need to adjust their diet. Swim bladder problems are usually a sign of overfeeding, so you should reduce the amount of food that they are consuming. A vet may also recommend the use of antibiotics in more serious cases.


Velvet is another infection that requires quarantining and a thorough clean of the water in the tank. You will need to apply treatment and add aquarium salt as well. Increasing the temperature of the water to 82 degrees Fahrenheit and turning off any lighting will also slow the growth.

Check Out The E-Books!

For a limited time, only you can get both The Complete Guide On Caring For Betta Fish & The Ultimate Betta Tank Mate Guide for just $14.99!

Find Out More Here!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Bundle-2-e1661845950782-1024x720.png

Recap: How to Save A Dying Betta Fish

To save a dying Betta fish, you need to be able to identify when something is wrong and what the cause might be before you can start treating the problem. Signs of illness or injury include lethargy, loss of appetite, scratching, swelling, frayed fins, discoloration, disordered swimming, spots, and lesions.

You should always consult a vet if you are worried about the health of your fish. Once the problem has been identified, then you can start treatment. This often entails improving the quality of the water, ensuring a healthy diet, and applying appropriate medications like antibiotics or antifungals.

As a Betta owner, you should always ensure that their needs are being met, in terms of their environment and their diet, to prevent illnesses and injury from occurring.

Sometimes you won’t be able to save your fish, but being as prepared, knowledgeable, and responsible as possible will give them every chance of survival.