Betta Velvet Disease: Causes, Prevention, Treatment

Diseases are one of the most concerning aspects for every betta fish owner. Although betta fish are considered sturdy fish, they are more vulnerable to different sorts of diseases. In this article, I am going to discuss one of the most common diseases that infect betta more often.

The discussion will be broadly based on the disease named “velvet disease” and I am going to elaborately explain the causes, prevention and treatment of this disease.

Betta velvet disease can be fatal to bettas. The causes can vary from environmental to nutritional factors. The cures can be of different types including copper treatment, green malachite treatment etc. But the best way is to prevent it by not adding unnecessary new fish or decorations in the tank. 

It is recommended by the experts that you should follow the way of preventing the velvet disease rather than curing it. Because the parasites that cause the velvet disease might still reside on the body of the fish after treating it.

Therefore, below I have elaborately described all the topics regarding velvet disease and the best ways to prevent it. Read through the last word of this article in order to know your answer.

What Exactly Is Betta Fish Velvet Disease?

A parasitic condition that infects betta fish is called velvet sickness. It might be fatal. There are various names for it, such as coral blight, gold dust illness, rust illness, etc. Velvet illness is caused by a variety of parasites, all of which are members of the Piscinoodinium family. These dinoflagellates, which are ectoparasitic, consume the skins and gills of betta fish.

Because of the Piscinoodinium’s high chlorophyll concentration, the area in which the parasites penetrate your fish’s flesh turns orange or rusty in appearance. Some individuals categorise Piscinoodinium as parasitic, whereas others see it as algae since it is a dinoflagellate with protozoan and photosynthesis features. However, since I am discussing the effects of velvet illness on betta fish, I will relate to it as a parasite.

What Kind Of Parasite Develops The Velvet Disease Of Betta?

The illness can be transmitted by two species of algae (dinoflagellates). Brackish or saltwater environments are ideal for Amyloodinium ocellatum growth. Oödinium is the source of Betta Velvet. A three-stage lifetime is possessed by the single-celled parasite that produces Betta fish Velvet:

  • Tomont
  • Juvenile
  • Adolescent

The early phase of the Oödinium parasite’s existence originates as a single-celled organism sitting on ornaments or the bottom of the tank of your Betta fish. Through mitosis, it divides into identical cells to replicate. The ability of each cell to split into more than 250 distinct Oödinium tomites explains how swiftly the algae develops. Each creature develops into a motile teenager as it gets older.

They are able to migrate from the tank’s bottom up into the surrounding water because of their autonomous mobility. When the parasites adhere to Betta with Velvet, they become a host.

The sticky layer of a Betta fish can be accessed by young parasites that find a host. The covering serves as a barrier, so when it is broken, your betta fish is exposed to the parasite’s cell-eating abilities which are known as Gold Dust disease.

4 Growth Cycle Of The Parasite Causing Velvet Disease

In order to treat the velvet disease of betta you will need to have a clear idea about the growth cycle of the parasite named Oödonium. Because this is one of the most common parasites that cause the velvet disease in most bettas. The proper description of the growth cycle of Oödonium is explained down below:

Phase 1: Trophonts

The life cycle of O. ocellatum begins when a planktonic (free-swimming) stage of the parasite, called a dinospore, is introduced to a betta fish’s environment. The dinospore attaches itself to the fish’s skin or fins, where it begins to multiply. This stage of the parasite is called a trophont.

As the trophonts continue to multiply, they form a characteristic golden or rust-coloured coating on the fish’s body, which gives the disease its name. The trophonts continue to feed on the fish’s blood and body fluids, causing irritation and stress to the fish.

Phase 2: Tomonts

After several days, the trophonts will begin to detach from the fish’s body and transform into another planktonic stage called a tomont. The tomonts are oval-shaped and will divide multiple times to form hundreds of dinospores.

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These dinospores will then settle on the bottom of the tank and continue to multiply, forming new trophonts. This cycle continues, with new generations of trophonts infecting the fish, until the fish is treated or the parasite is removed from the environment.

Stage 3: Juvenile

In search of its fish host, the young Oödinium wanders about in the surrounding water after leaving the protection of the ground or your betta’s tank decorations. When they touch the skin of your betta fish, they will immediately grab hold of it.

You can medicate your betta fish for velvet illness at this time if you want to. Because they will perish if they don’t discover a host in less than 3 days, the Oödinium are most vulnerable at this period.

Stage 4: Teenage

Your betta’s slimy coating, which is essential for its survival, starts to get eaten through by developing teenage parasites. Your betta’s color will shift to orange or rusty as the parasite consumes the cells in its body.

In addressing Betta Velvet Disease, it’s crucial to focus on prevention through water quality, as advised by Mary McCauley of Mary’s Magic Bettas.

She recommends regular parameter checks using the API Master Test Kit to ensure optimal conditions – ammonia and nitrites at 0, pH between 6.4 and 8, and nitrates under 20 ppm.

Enhancing water quality through increased water changes and the addition of tannins from Indian Almond leaves or Alder Cones is also essential.

Mary also suggests considering fasting and Epsom salt baths for certain issues, highlighting the need for professional medical intervention in severe cases.

What Does Velvet Look Like On A Betta?

Your betta fish losing some of its natural color and developing an orange or rust coating are two of the earliest symptoms of velvet sickness. It is often simpler to detect velvet illness in a preliminary phase in male betta fish because they have a uniform, radiant glow than females.

Having said that, velvet illness might be more difficult to detect if your betta has a lot of orange coloring, irrespective of gender.

What Are The Symptoms Of Betta Having Velvet Disease?

There are two different stages of symptoms of velvet disease. The stages can be called “preliminary” and “post” stages. I have explained both of the stages elaborately down below:

Preliminary Stage Symptoms

  • Your betta’s behaviour changing is among the first symptoms you’ll start to notice. When this happens, they frequently start twitching and scratching their bodies against objects in the tank. This is due to the parasite causing them irritation. They are attempting to remove the parasite if they brush their bodies against objects.
  • And after the aforementioned indication, the “golden rusting” also appears in the early phases of velvet. Keep in mind that your fish does not actually have the sickness that gives it the appearance of being coated in gold dust. Instead, it’s the disease’s impact on your fish.
  • Other indications are signs of lethargy and a decreased appetite. Your fish will weaken as their illness worsens. They will get sluggish and lose their energy if they are weak.

Post Stage Symptoms

  • The presence of a bunch of germs in your aquarium might frequently cause your eyes to mist up. Many additional factors might also contribute to blurry eyes. However, if you just have this sign and not any of the others, it might be hazy eyes.
  • However, velvet may not be the sole factor of your betta’s tendency to pull his fins near to his body, since it’s frequently a symptom of a variety of illnesses. You should start addressing your betta for velvet if you observe it together with some of the other problems outlined, though.
  • You’ll see the skin starting to peel off or skin disease as your betta’s infection worsens. There are two possible causes for this. Because your betta is continually grinding up to places, the parasite may be chewing away at your betta more frequently.
  • The eyes of your betta can also start to enlarge. This occurs when liquid begins to seep into the space behind the eye, causing the eye to protrude. But this shouldn’t be confused with Popeye, a different illness.

These are the symptoms that can prevail on bettas if it gets affected by velvet disease. However, it is suggested by the experts that, if your betta is in the preliminary stage then there is less chance the disease will worsen if you start treatment the right way. But if your betta is showing post-stage symptoms then there is a high chance that the disease can affect your betta in negative ways. 

What Are The Factors That causes These Symptoms On Bettas?

Velvet disease is a common ailment that affects betta fish and other tropical fish. It is caused by a parasitic dinoflagellate called Oodinium pilularis, which attaches itself to the fish’s skin and fins, causing them to become discolored and covered in a fine, powdery gold or rust-coloured film.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to the development of velvet disease in betta fish, including:

  • Introducing New Fishes: If you have recently introduced fish to your aquarium without first isolating them, they may be carrying the Oödinium parasite. This is among the explanations for why it’s crucial to isolate fish for four weeks before putting them in your main tank.
  • Introducing New Plants: The parasite can occasionally be introduced by introducing additional plants. The plants should be cleaned and disinfected if you intend to introduce fresh ones.
  • Regular Water Change: Water that is more than a decade old has had more chances to reproduce and disseminate Oödinium. Increasing the likelihood that your betta may become ill. Your water should be changed on a regular basis. It may be every 3-4 days or once a week, based on the capacity of your aquarium. Also, don’t forget to add a filter.
  • A Sharp Drop In Temperature:  A drop in temperature will have an impact on your betta’s immunity mechanism as well as its ability to eradicate parasites. High water temperatures can cause an increase in the growth of the parasites that cause velvet disease.
  • Stress: Stress can cause the fish’s immune system to weaken, making them more susceptible to disease. Stress can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor water quality, overcrowding, and aggression from other fish. Last but not least, your betta is more prone to develop velvet if they are worn out, sad, or agitated. because a weakened immune system will result.
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3 Steps That You Can Take To Treat Velvet Bettas?

The alteration in coloring in velvet sickness isn’t always noticeable in all fish, making it more difficult to detect and cure effectively than with Ich, another prevalent betta parasite.

Nevertheless, velvet sickness must be treated quickly after being discovered since Oödinium is a dangerous parasite. The actions we advise you should follow to aid your betta in overcoming velvet illness are listed below.

1. The Three Key Factors

When treating velvet in your betta, there are 3 things you should do right away which are to increase the darkness, generate more warmth, and add more salt. The parasite that generates velvet will perish if it is deprived of lighting and is placed in a warmer, higher salinity habitat than it is accustomed to.

Fortunately, the illness can only persist without the need for a host for a few days until it also perishes. So, to cure velvet, take the following actions:

The temperature needs to be increased initially. While you are treating your betta, raise the temperature to between 81 and 84°F since the parasite that creates velvet will perish at higher temperatures. Be cautious not to increase the temperature too rapidly or you run the danger of shocking your betta to death. Replace it with a gradual increase of 1°F every day.

While you are treating your betta, you should also reduce the lighting in your aquarium. In order to utilise photosynthesis, the parasite that induces velvet contains chlorophyll in its cells as well.

The tank’s final step is to fill it with aquarium salt. Salt is again added gradually. Remove some water from your tank, mix the salt in it, and then pour the water back. When filling your fish tank with water, add one tablespoon of salt. To avoid shocking your fish, add the salt slowly over the course of three to four hours.

2. Using Copper To Treat Velvet

You should adhere to the directions provided with the medication for optimal effects. There are several points to keep in mind, though.

You have the option of employing carboxylate copper or copper sulfate. Although copper sulfate is more efficient, it might be challenging to maintain the proper concentration in the tank since it evaporates so fast. While chelated copper is far more durable, some individuals feel that it isn’t as useful. Personally, I would recommend using copper sulfate, but if you can’t handle the additional danger, continue with chelated copper.

Important to keep in mind is that if the pH of your aquarium is too lower, you shouldn’t be using copper. Although this value can fluctuate, bettas generally like a pH of approximately 6.9. It is exceedingly risky to use copper if the pH has fallen below 6.3. 

The only living objects in your aquarium, like plants and other animals, should not be treated with copper. It is crucial to transfer your betta to an isolation tank because of this. Invertebrates are highly harmful to copper.

3. Using Malachite Green To Treat Velvet

You may also think about adding malachite green in addition to copper. Likewise, the guidelines you should heed will vary depending on the malachite green maker. Malachite green should only be used in isolated aquariums since it stains other items in your tank as well.

Also, keep in mind that you should continue treating your fish for the required amount of days despite the velvet appearing to be clearing up. In view of the possibility that Oödinium is still alive in the fish or the water.

How Can You Treat Velvet Betta With Salt?

As with medicine, applying salt to your tank may be a fantastic technique to get eliminate velvet. However, caution should always be exercised while using this strategy. The dosing recommendations may be printed on the medication container or packaging, based on where you get the treatment salt.

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Salt encourages the growth of the fish slime that shields your pets from the sickness known as Gold Dust. Fish that are not showing symptoms can be helped by adding about two to three tablespoons of aqua salt per water gallon. Fish that are affected with Velvet disease, can also aid in the recovery process following conventional treatments.

What Are The Preventive Measures For Preventing Velvet?

Lessening the causes as much as you can is the key to preventing velvet. Since you are aware of the primary causes, it is your responsibility to maintain discipline so that your betta remains robust and thriving. There are a few options available to you.

1. Avoid Unnecessary Additions

Avoid putting anything in your betta’s tank that was originally intended for another fish is the greatest method to avoid velvet sickness. In other words, adding additional fish, keeping living plants, and adding items you took from a nearby tank are all bad ideas. Although there may be times when you’d want to offer your betta a fish companion or you may enjoy the idea of giving them new greenery to hide in.

2. Isolation Is The Key

Isolate any fresh fish, plants, or anything that was ever in a fish aquarium for a minimum of 2 weeks before putting them in your betta’s tank. It is vital that you keep an eye on any fish that could be under quarantine during that period. You will be capable of treating them before they encounter your betta if they exhibit velvet disease signs. 

The velvet disease parasite can’t survive for more than a few days without a host, so plants and displays aren’t in as much danger as they formerly were.

3. Water Replacement Is The Most Important Factor

A significant water replacement will remove the majority of the parasites floating in the surrounding water. Before a parasite infects your Betta fish, it is targeted by the procedure when it is in its toddler and juvenile phases. 

Additionally, it gets rid of the contaminants that weaken your pet’s defences against Betta Velvet. Maintaining a plan for performing partial water changes, regularly evaluating the water’s conditions, and avoiding overcrowding the tank are other measures to prevent velvet disease.

4. Nutrition Plays The Key Role

A significant water replacement will remove the majority of the parasites floating in the surrounding water. Before a parasite infects your Betta fish, it is targeted by the procedure when it is in its toddler and adolescent phases. Additionally, it gets rid of the contaminants that weaken your pet’s defences against Betta Velvet.

Can Velvet Disease Be Cured?

Velvet disease can be cured by taking some precautionary measures as well as with the right medications. Because of this, it’s critical to check your betta fish’s body for indications of an orange or red hue, particularly if you’ve just added a new fish or item to the aquarium.

Despite having a fatal prognosis, velvet sickness is not always fatal. The liability is on you, the owner, to take prompt action to separate your betta and aid in their recovery by sedating their water.

In addition, you have to make sure that the temperature of the water remains stable and also the fish is getting proper nutrients. Because these factors play an important role in preventing the velvet disease.

How Contaminating Is Velvet?

Velvet spreads like wildfire. To halt the transmission of the disease, you must evacuate your betta as soon as possible if your aquarium contains other fish. What’s even worse is that the parasites won’t be seen in the tank when they’re searching for a new victim to infect. As a result, you won’t notice that they are there.

Can Betta Fish Die From Velvet?

Betta fish won’t die from velvet disease but if the disease lives on the fish’s body for a long period of time then there is a high chance that your betta will die. Therefore, proper therapy will be required in order to treat velvet disease.

Depending on how severe the illness is, treating velvet in betta fish might take a while. However, in the majority of instances, therapy for the parasites lasts for nearly 2 weeks. In fact, it may take less time or more, so it’s crucial to monitor your fish and get medical advice from your veterinarian or a fish expert if the symptoms continue.

Wrapping Up

Velvet disease can be fatal to any fish if they are not cured properly. However, most fish won’t be able to survive if they are in the ultimate stage of velvet disease. Therefore, it is recommended by experts that you should follow the way of prevention rather than following the way of cure.

One of the most important steps in preventing the velvet disease is maintaining the quality of water. Therefore, it is suggested to read my next article in order to know more about which water you should use for your betta tank. What Kind Of Water To Use For Betta Fish? Let’s Find Out

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Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.


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