Swim Bladder Disease in Betta: Symptoms and Treatment

Swim bladder disease in betta fish can be a scary experience for any aquarium owner. However, there’s no need to panic! 

It’s not actually a disease, but a term used to describe any ailment that causes your betta’s swim bladder to stop working properly. 

Swim bladder disease can be caused by a variety of factors; and luckily, with the right care, most bettas will recover.

In this article, you’ll learn about the symptoms, underlying causes, and treatment options for swim bladder disease in betta fish.

We’ll also provide you with practical tips on how to prevent this condition from occurring in the first place.

What Is Swim Bladder Disease?

Swim bladder disease is a common issue affecting betta fish. But don’t worry, it’s treatable! 

This “disease” is actually a collection of symptoms caused by various factors, such as incorrect feeding, parasites, or bacterial infections.

Your betta’s swim bladder is a gas-filled organ that helps maintain buoyancy. 

When it’s not working properly, your betta might have trouble swimming and maintaining their position in the water.

To keep your betta healthy, pay attention to water conditions and diet, which are key in preventing swim bladder issues. 

Remember: a happy betta is a healthy betta!

What Causes Swim Bladder Disease in Bettas?

What Causes Swim Bladder Disease in Bettas

Betta fish can experience swim bladder disease due to various factors. 

Let’s explore some common causes and their effects on your betta fish.

Digestive Problems

Overfeeding and constipation can lead to digestive issues, affecting your betta’s swim bladder. 

When your fish eats too much, its swollen belly can press against the swim bladder, preventing it from inflating properly. 

Constipation, on the other hand, results when there’s a blockage in your betta’s bowel, which also presses against the swim bladder, reducing its inflation capacity.


While parasitic infections rarely cause swim bladder disease in bettas, they can still occur. 

Kidney cysts, fatty deposits, or tumors caused by parasites can affect your betta’s swim bladder and impair its buoyancy control.


A sudden temperature drop in your fish tank or any physical injury to your betta may lead to shock. This can cause your fish to exhibit symptoms of swim bladder disease, impacting its overall well-being.

Low Water Temperature

Maintaining an optimal water temperature is crucial for your betta’s health. 

Low water temperatures can cause your fish to become lethargic, affecting its swim bladder function and buoyancy.

Bacterial Infection

Bacteria can occasionally contribute to swim bladder disease. 

Infections might cause inflammation which can impact the swim bladder and make it hard for your betta to control its buoyancy.

Physical Trauma

Injuries or physical trauma can also lead to swim bladder disorders in betta fish. 

Your betta fish may become injured due to aggressive tank mates or sharp objects present in the tank.

Poor Water Conditions

Poor water conditions, such as high ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels, can cause stress and illness for your betta, potentially leading to swim bladder disease. 

Maintaining proper water quality is essential in ensuring your fish stays healthy.

Symptoms of Swim Bladder Disease in Betta Fish

Symptoms of Swim Bladder Disease in Betta Fish

Swim bladder disease in bettas is a common issue affecting buoyancy. It occurs when their swim bladder isn’t functioning properly. 

Here are the symptoms to look out for:

  • Buoyancy issues: Your betta may struggle to maintain its position in the water, either floating higher or lower than usual, or even swimming on its side.
  • Swollen belly: A telltale sign of swim bladder disease is a swollen abdomen, which can result from digestive issues pressing against the swim bladder.
  • S-shaped curved spine: Observe your betta’s posture, as a curved spine can be a visual indicator of swim bladder disease.
  • Loss of appetite: Your betta may stop eating as a result of the discomfort, also leading to a lack of poop.
  • Swimming in circles: If your betta swims in circles, it can indicate that it’s having trouble maintaining its balance.

Other symptoms of infection include:

  • Inability to maintain an upright position
  • Stuck at the surface or sinking to the bottom
  • Difficulty reaching the top or bottom of the tank.

Keep in mind that swim bladder disease can be caused by various factors, including bacterial infections, parasites, or other underlying health issues. 

Early detection and appropriate treatment are crucial for a favorable outcome, so ensure you monitor your betta’s behavior closely.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Swim bladder disease is a common ailment that can affect betta fish, causing difficulty swimming, floating to the surface or sinking to the bottom of the tank and loss of appetite. 

In order to properly diagnose and treat swim bladder disease in betta fish, it’s important to understand its underlying causes and the various treatment options available.

Gastrointestinal Problems

If your betta fish exhibits symptoms such as difficulty maintaining buoyancy, floating or sinking abnormally, one possible cause could be gastrointestinal issues. 

In this case, the first step is to withhold food for 24 to 48 hours, allowing the fish’s digestive system to clear. 

Next, try feeding your betta a small piece of cooked, skinless pea, which can help alleviate constipation.

Parasitic and Bacterial Infections

Parasitic and bacterial infections are another potential cause of swim bladder disease in betta fish. 

In such cases, identifying the specific pathogen is necessary to administer the appropriate antibiotics or medication. 

Maintain good water quality in your aquarium and follow the prescribed treatment plan to cure your betta fish.

Supportive Therapy

When treating your betta fish for swim bladder disease, you can provide support by minimizing stress and ensuring optimal tank conditions. 

Consider moving your betta to a hospital tank with consistent water temperature and reduced water levels to make it easier for your fish to reach the surface.

Additionally, consider using aquarium salt to aid with osmoregulation and reduce stress. This aquarium salt is highly recommended and available on Amazon. 

Make sure to dose the salt according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, as excessive salt can harm the fish.

How to Prevent Swim Bladder Disease in Betta Fish

Maintaining your betta fish’s health is vital, and one way to do so is by preventing swim bladder disease. 

Start by providing a high-quality diet, such as pellets or flakes, like these ones, and avoid overfeeding. 

Remember to hydrate dried foods before giving them to your fish; this reduces the risk of bloating.

Ensure proper water conditions by checking the pH, temperature, and water quality regularly. Clean and clear water helps minimize the chances of your fish developing swim bladder issues due to poor water quality. 

Avoid temperature fluctuations, since low water temperature can also contribute to swim bladder problems.

Fasting your betta fish once a week will help prevent digestive issues and alleviate gastrointestinal tract pressure. Thus reducing the chances of swim bladder disease. 

Lastly, be watchful for signs of injury to your betta fish, as it can affect its swim bladder function. 

By following these steps, you’ll help keep your betta fish happy and healthy!

FAQs About Swim Bladder Disease in Betta Fish

Is Swim Bladder Disease Fatal?

Swim bladder disease in betta fish can be fatal if left untreated or if the underlying cause is not addressed. 

The condition can cause the fish to have difficulty swimming, which can lead to stress, exhaustion, and loss of appetite. This can weaken the fish’s immune system and make them more susceptible to other health issues. 

However, with proper care and treatment, many betta fish can recover from swim bladder disease and return to their normal swimming habits. 

Is Swim Bladder Disease Contagious?

Swim bladder disease in betta fish is not contagious. It is typically caused by a variety of factors, including poor water quality, overfeeding, and bacterial infections, rather than by a contagious agent. 

However, it’s important to maintain good hygiene practices when caring for your betta fish, such as washing your hands before and after handling them and cleaning the aquarium regularly. 

This can help prevent the spread of any potential infections and ensure the continued health and well-being of your betta fish.

How Do You Fix Swim Bladder in a Betta Fish?

The treatment for swim bladder disease in betta fish depends on the underlying cause. If the condition is caused by poor water quality, it’s important to improve the water conditions in the aquarium. 

Overfeeding can also contribute to swim bladder disease, so reducing the amount of food given to betta fish can help. If bacterial infection is the cause, antibiotics may be necessary. 

Additionally, some betta fish may benefit from a specialized diet or aquarium modifications to help alleviate the symptoms of swim bladder disease.

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