Knowing when your betta fish are sick can be somewhat challenging since they can’t really communicate with you any symptoms that they might be experiencing. As fish owners we have the responsibility of caring for our bettas and a large part of this is being aware of any changes that occur in their physique and behavior that may be an indication of disease. One disease that is very common is Betta Fish Velvet. Here we will have a look at the signs, symptoms and treatments for Velvet in betta fish.
What is Betta Fish Velvet?
Velvet, commonly referred to as Gold Dust or Rust, is on the list of common betta fish diseases. It is caused by a parasite called Piscinoodinium. Velvet is very contagious and can be spread to fish in other tanks that share the use of the same aquarium net. This disease is also totally treatable and with the right medications it can be completely eliminated.
Velvet is usually transmitted by an unquarantined fish and gives the fish a dusty, slimy look. Oodinum, another word for the parasite that causes velvet, is a single-celled dinoflagellate organism with a pear-shaped golden brown cell. The parasite has a lifecycle that can be divided into four stages. The parasite completes its life cycle in 10-14 days at 73-77 Fahrenheit but may be longer in lower temperatures. In the first stage, oodinum attaches itself to fish, becomes a cyst, penetrates the skin, blood, and soft tissues of the gills. The cyst starts attacking the cells to feed on the nutrients inside, growing beneath the skin until it exits the host.
One of the main difference between Velvet and Ick is that the former infects the gills. The second stage begins when it leaves the host into the water. This period causes the fish a lot of stress and exposes it to secondary infections. The third stage is the reproductive stage when the parasite divides into 34-64 new cells and bursts to let out the cells. Thus begins the fourth stage. The free-swimming cells are called dinospores and must find a host within 24 hours or perish. Once a dinospore locates a host, it digs into the epithelial layer of the fins and skin, and the cycle begins afresh.
Betta Fish Velvet Symptoms
Velvet can be difficult to see in your betta fish. It manifests as a thin veil of mist over the body of bettas and it typically has a rusty or golden color. To check if your bettas have Velvet you have to look closely at each fish. To help you see better you can shine a bright light on your bettas to see if a rusty or golden mist is present. Bettas who have Velvet also tend to clinch their fins close to their body and they normally lose color as well. Scratching against the gravel in the tank and a loss of appetite are other symptoms of Velvet in bettas. Unfortunately, I cannot provide you with an image of what Velvet looks like because it is extremely hard to capture using a camera.
Another way of identifying Velvet is to check if the fish’s breathing is heavier than usual. This is because the parasite attacks the gills. The fish may also glance off objects to get rid of the parasites.Healthy fish can usually resist the Oodinum attacks. But the ability of the fish to fight off parasite attacks is impaired by the stress of shipping, cool temperatures, and poor water quality. It is also a major problem for young fish because their gills are not well developed and they depend on their skin for oxygenation of blood, but the parasites destroy the epithelial layer of the skin, making it harder for them to fight off.
How To Treat Betta Fish Velvet
Bettas are prone to Velvet so you should always keep an eye out for signs of it. Early detection and treatment is important since if it is diagnosed too late you may not be able to save your bettas. BettaZing and CopperSafe are medications that are very effective at curing Velvet in betta fish. Velvet is very contagious so you should administer treatment to all your bettas to ensure complete elimination. One other way to kill the parasite is to raise the temperature. But just make sure not to prolong the treatment time as you might end up poisoning the fish with chemicals. Follow the instructions and you’ll be fine.
You should consider treating your bettas in a ‘hospital’ tank as some of the medications used to treat Velvet can be harmful to other plants and invertebrates that you may also have in your tank. Not only is a quarantine tank useful for treating bettas, it is also a great way to isolate and monitor a new fish before introducing them to your regular fish tank.
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I personally use a 10-gallon tank as a quarantine tank, but you can go larger if you want. You also need standard fluorescent lighting, a heater, and plastic plants or PVC tubes to provide the fish some cover. A sponge filter is an excellent filtration system for a quarantine tank, and you can place nitrifying bacteria in the sump of the dry filter to colonize the system. When you are done with the quarantine tank, make sure to disinfect and rinse it. To disinfect your quarantine tank, add a mild bleach solution, but be sure to remove every trace of the bleach before reusing the tank. Fish should be quarantined for 2-4 weeks.
As usual, it is strongly advised that you clean your fish tanks regularly and change the water about once every 3 days to prevent the occurrence of Velvet and other diseases.
Have any of your bettas had Betta Fish Velvet before? Do you have any advice that you would like to share? Please post your experiences and comments below! If you happen to be looking for a new aquarium, consider reading our Fluval Chi Review. Until next time.
Additional Betta Fish Resources
Other Betta Fish Diseases
Betta First Aid Kit
Betta Fish Anatomy