The Top 10 Things You Should Know About Constipated Bettas

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Seems many betta fish owners are blissfully unaware of an all too common problem that is easily avoided.

Seems all too often the nearly criminally ignorant feeder is contributing to the problems of the fed.

Which results in their HM male swimming funny at best. Suddenly dead at worst. Yes, it can be that serious if left untreated.

Yet we are suckers for our pet’s puppy dog eyes. But know this. Those eyes that work you and try to convince you starvation is at hand even when they just ate LIE!

Betta’s can go days, if not weeks, without eating and show no ill effects.

The bigger problem comes from OVERFEEDING. Or feeding the wrong things.

This is why constipation that results in lethargy in an otherwise flamboyant male betta fish is such a common problem. And trust me a constipated betta is an unhappy betta. It’s just like what TV commercials talk about in humans only worse. Because their stomach, when it gets stopped up, bumps up against the swim bladder as it swells. This causes problems keeping the ship upright. Which is why you may see them swimming on their side at the surface of their tank. And seeing that can be distressing.

So let’s go ahead and take a quick look at some of the other things you should know about constipation and Siamese fighting fish.

First you should know that causes vary.

  • In some it’s caused by a lack of variety in their diet.
  • In others it’s from over feeding.
  • In others the culprit is eating the wrong things.

The end result is the same in each case however. Unable to move the waste along, the stomach swells. Buoyancy problems set in as the digestive tract presses on the swim bladder which makes it harder to swim right. Which at times can leave your guy flopped to one side unable to dive much below the surface.

Then while on the topic of problematic grub freeze dried foods are notorious for triggering constipation. They tend to too quickly suck moisture from their gut as they expand. Flake foods are not much better. Dry and airy anyway, they too can swell up inside your betta’s stomach. For that reason some suggest presoaking them. Problem is unless done just right, you’ll leach the soluble nutrients right out of them. Which is why pellets are the preferred betta food anyway.

Third, you can just about bet that a constant bloodworm diet is going to result in that bloated feeling sooner or later as well. Not to mention a steady diet of them just isn’t very nutritious diet. They should be used as a treat not the main course.

Fourth, you should also know the symptoms.

  • One symptom is not eating.
  • Another is spitting out food.
  • A third is problem swimming like a fish with SBD (Swim Bladder Disease).

The fifth thing to know is that visually your fish will look bloated. It’s belly will be bulging and appear much bigger than normal.

One solution is to let your stopped up guy take a frozen pea break. Thawed first, please. In tank water is best too. Most bettas love them. Especially if they haven’t eaten in a few days. Just be sure to chop it up into enough tiny pieces first.

The goal here is to get something into their tummy to push things along. Peas can help cure what ails them by doing just that – moving things along. While adding them as a regular part of their diet can help prevent the problem in the first place. Not necessarily a bad idea since any high-protein diet lacks the fiber needed to keep things moving along if you know what I mean.

Another preventative to get daphnia on the menu occasionally. Not only are they nutritious and fun to eat, these tiny crustaceans are a bit of a natural laxative. Making them equally as effective as peas. And being a live food perhaps more suited for a carnivores diet.

Expanding on a point made earlier, the eighth tact is taking this pea thing one step further. Some savvy betta keepers follow a regular feeding routine designed to avoid constipation in the first place. Or what you might call the “And On The Seventh Day Your Digestive Tract Shall Rest” plan. That’s right, their glorious crown tail is not fed one day a week to give their system a chance to clear out naturally. And the first feeding the day after is bits of a thawed frozen pea to make sure their digestive tract is clean as a whistle. With a couple of pellets being offered later in the day.

The final thing to know is that for more stubborn cases, some suggest putting a bit of Epsom salt in the water as this can act as a mild laxative. But it would be best if you address this problem first via peas, and fasting, and raising the water temperature to induce more physical activity.

Anyway while it can be distressing to see your fish acting weird, this common problem can usually be easily cured. Luckily most fighting fish see peas as a tasty treat. So they’ll readily take their medicine. Once resolved the focus should then be on prevention. Following some of the points made earlier should give you a lively and healthy betta. Who is constipation free and regular in everything he does.

About Lucas
Putting a name with a face I'm Lucas Smatana. Like you I'm passionate about betta fish and hope to share my enthusiasm. The idea here is to make sure you get helpful info and useful ideas on betta fish care that really work. To insure your betta keeping experience is a good one both for you and your fish. So that you and your pet enjoy a long, happy and healthy relationship.

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2 Responses to “The Top 10 Things You Should Know About Constipated Bettas”

  1. betta mommy says:

    my bettas tank is at 78°f is that a good temperature to be at i think i might have over feed him yesterday im an awful mommy and now hes at the bottom of his tank bobing face down in the tank i was wondering if i should fast him for a couple of days and see were that goes please get back to me thanks…

  2. Ali Rose says:

    Hi Lucas,

    I just found your article, I have been searching for days and your info seems to be more helpful than any other info I have read thus far.

    I believe my betta has SBD and I had not fed him for 4 days and then I tried a pea(s) but he wont eat them. Also about a week ago I put a little epsom salt in the water and I also purchased, per the recommendation of my local pet store some powder packets of 250mg Metronidazole and 75mg Praziquantel. I followed the directions. And last night 6 days later I did a 30% water clean.

    My little male betta is now gasping for air on top of leaves or the heater.

    What else can I do? Please advise asap and thank you for any additional input. It was all my fault I fed him too many pellets for about 2 months. He is 11 months old, so not a guppy.

    Thank you again,

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