Please help my pet fish!


Occasionally at BC CAHS, we get questions from the general public on how to help their pet fish that may be ill.  Fortunately, we have several fish health experts on staff that are able to offer advice.

Below is a call for help that we received recently, and the response that was given.


I’m looking for any vet or person who might be able to help me. I have a betta fish who’s turned sick yesterday. I’m hoping for some help or guidance.  It’s very similar to swim bladder but different.  He has a shiny white – yellow patch on his stomach close to his head and he’s leaning on plants at the top of his tank and not moving, just getting air every now and then. His gills almost look like he’s panting and he’s not eating.  His tank is a 20 gallon with heater and filter, water checks show no ammonia or anything like that.”

Our own Dr. Jim Powell, was able to respond.

“Hi Jasmine,

I’m sorry to hear of your sick betta.  It’s close to home as our goldfish of 10 years, Butch, succumbed to age this last Sunday.

For external signs of disease aquarium salt is your best bet as an initial try.  Follow the instructions on the package, or use 10g for every 1L of water (10 parts per thousand).

This will give the fish a ‘boost’ for maintaining stress response and help to combat the infection if it is on the surface and bacterial. Also check your pH; salt will help with this too.

If the infection is internal it may take an immersion in antibiotic solution and that would require the advice of a veterinarian to access and use a broad-spectrum antibiotic.  Some pet stores are permitted to sell topical drugs over the counter and you could check with them.

You can scour the many websites and blogs for bettas for more information. Of course, any action you take may not present a positive outcome. I hope that’s not the case.

I hope this helps and we’ll hold out good thoughts for your betta.




871A Island Hwy
Campbell River, BC
V9W 2C2