Usually, when we look at the aquarium, we always think of how peaceful life is inside there. However, just like humans, fish get stressed.
Stress is inevitable in a betta fish lifetime, but it’s your duty to keep it under control.
Needless to say, keeping your betta fish happy and healthy is the key to their husbandry. As such, you need to regularly keep an eye on them to monitor stress and carry out treatment promptly.
Read on to learn how to calm a stressed betta fish.
Understanding Betta Fish Stress
What is Betta Fish Stress?
Betta fish stress is similar to human stress. Various circumstances cause it, and as a result, the fish body releases cortisol (stress hormone).
Further, the body also releases adrenalin hormone into the system.
As a result of stress, the fish’s immune system is compromised, making it prone to diseases and infections.
Levels of Betta Fish Stress
If you regularly interact with your fish, you will be able to note before and after stressed betta reactions.
Take a look at different stress levels;
1. Low-Long Term Stress
You will notice the stress is minimal but consistent. The immune system weakens if the fish tries to adapt to it for an extended period.
Causes of Low-Long Term Stress
- Small Tank
A tank with a volume below 5 gallons can cause stress to your betta fish. Water becomes dirty in a short duration, and as a result, the fish are exposed to constant stress.
You will notice the fish are bored and depressed. This is one of the ways on how to tell if betta is stressed.
- Lack of Resting Places
Betta fish love hiding places to relax. If your aquarium has no rocks, live plants, or gravel for the fish to hide, they get stressed.
Surprisingly, bettas tend to think they are exposed to predators if they don’t rest in a secure place.
- Poor Diet
A poor diet will weaken betta fish’s immune system and cause diseases. As a result, the fish will get stressed.
- Unbalanced Water Conditions
Incorrect water PH will cause stress in betta fish. Secondly, the fluctuating temperature will cause the same too.
Moreover, unstable water conditions allow parasites, bacteria, and algae to thrive in the water.
- Overcrowded Tank
Allowing too many fish in one tank makes the conditions poor. That’s because the water will quickly get dirty and cause discomfort.
2. High-Short-Term Stress
High stress occurs rapidly, but it’s not constant. As such, it can last for hours or a few days. Unfortunately, the fish may die if repeatedly exposed to these conditions.
Cause of High-Short Term Stress
- Violent Tankmates
Some tankmates bite betta fish fins and cause fin rot. The situation worsens because your betta fish cannot swim away like the free wild species.
- Sudden Change in Water Conditions
Sudden changes occur if you add a chemical to the water, heater failure, or high currents from the filter outlet nozzle.
Parasite, fungal, and bacterial infections cause high short-term stress. And if it goes untreated, it can result to even death.
- Moving to a new environment
If you notice betta fish stressed after water change or moving to a new tank, they aren’t comfortable with the changes.
Symptoms of Stress in Betta Fish
If you suspect something is not right, observe the following betta fish stress symptoms.
- Loss of appetite
- Prone to many diseases
- Strange swimming habit
- Hiding most of the time
- Slow growth
- Colour change
- Clamped fins
How to Calm a Stressed Betta Fish
How to treat stressed fish is easier if you have interacted with them for an extended duration.
However, even as a newbie in fish keeping, you can learn various tips on how to make betta fish happy. Read on!
1. Regular Water Change
Ideally, do a regular water change once a week or two. However, if you need a suitable environment for your betta, examine the tank and how it’s populated.
If the tank has more fish, you need to adjust to changing the water after shorter durations.
2. Check Your Filter
The filter keeps the water clean by cycling it. If your filter is clogged or low-rated, change it.
Set the outlet nozzle to reduce the water currents because high current stresses betta fish.
3. Check the Heater
Ensure your tank heater is in good condition. Fluctuating water temperatures cause shock and later death.
4. Transfer Aggressive Betta Tank Mates
Even if your betta fish are fighting back, they will get stressed. To calm them, transfer the aggressive species to a separate tank.
5. Create Some Hiding Places
Introduce live plants, gravel, and rocks in the aquarium to create some resting places for the betta.
6. Feed them High-Quality Food
Low-quality food will lower betta fish immunity. Feed them a mixture of pellets, live and frozen food to strengthen their immune system.
Have a decent feeding schedule and ensure the fish don’t compete for food to avoid stress. Ideally, feed them twice or thrice a day.
7. Invest in a Bigger Tank
A tank with a volume of five-gallon and above is recommendable for betta fish. If the tank is small, waste will accumulate quickly and cause stress.
8. Treat Signs of Infections
If you notice signs of disease or infection, treat them immediately for your fish to remain healthy.
9. Fish Compatibility
Some fish species may not be compatible with betta fish. Note that sharing the same temperature and food does not mean they are compatible.
As that’s the case, consult a specialist before keeping them in the same aquarium.
10. Avoid Overcrowding
Overcrowded fish release a lot of waste, and the water turns dirty quickly. This results in stress.
11. Turn Light Off During the Night
Betta fish need enough sleep during the night. To avoid disturbances, turn the lights off during the night.
FAQs on Calming a Stressed Betta Fish
How Do You Cheer up a Betta Fish?
Feed your betta with high-quality food to strengthen their immune system.
How Do You Help a Stressed Fish?
Clean their tank and change the water. Then, feed them with quality food and treat infections.
University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine: Bettas Need More Than Bowls
Ghent University, Department of Animal Nutrition, Genetics, Production and Ethology: Potential welfare issues of the Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens) at the retailer and in the hobbyist aquarium