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Velvet disease can be a serious illness afflicting our beloved pets — but if you know how to treat velvet in betta fish, you can avert a disaster from befalling your betta. Fortunately, it’s easy to learn how.
This parasitic disease can be cured with multiple things, such as 100% water changes, increasing temperature, aquarium salt, malachite green, and more.
There are multiple ways that you can cure velvet in betta fish, and it’s important that you know each one. Read the article to find out!
What Is Velvet Disease?
Velvet disease is a parasitic infection that affects the Betta fish’s skin, gills, and fins. It got its name from the appearance of the parasites when seen under the microscope. They look like tiny spheres with cilia all around them, giving them a velvety appearance.
In the olden days, velvet disease was called “oodiniasis” by aquatic veterinarians. That’s because the parasites that cause the disease were discovered to be a type of protozoan, a single-celled organism belonging to the Oodinium genus.
Later on, scientists managed to pin down the exact species that velvet-causing organisms belong to. The most common of them is the Piscinoodinium pillulare, also known as Oodinium pillularis. Still, there are also others that are known to spread velvet, such as the Crepidoodinium and the Amyloodinium. The latter two, however, are only prominent in brackish and saltwater fish.
The life cycle of the Piscinoodinium parasites has three stages, the trophont stage, the tomont stage, and the domites stage.
In the early stages, which last around six days, all they do is eat and feed. This is the stage that we see when they attach themselves to our fish.
Afterward, they enter their free swimming stage. With their remaining 48 hours of life, their main goal becomes to spread around and reproduce before either passing away or finding another host to extend their lifespan.
Due to this, velvet disease is very contagious, and it can easily spread through a tank or aquarium.
Common Symptoms Of Velvet In Betta Fish
Velvet is dangerous because it can quickly kill your betta fish if left untreated. It is important to be able to identify the symptoms so you can take action as soon as you see them.
Some of the most common symptoms of velvet in betta fish include:
Velvet is an extremely itchy disease. If you see your Betta fish incessantly scratching themselves against objects in the tank or aquarium, it’s a likely sign that they’re infected.
One of the most noticeable symptoms of Betta velvet disease is cloudy eyes. This is a result of the parasites infecting the surface of the eye, causing it to appear milky or opaque.
Peeling Or Velvet-Like Growths
The tell-tale sign of a velvet disease in Betta fish is skin that seems to have a velvet-like growth on it. The color can range from gold to gold rust, earning velvet the nicknames “gold dust disease,” “coral disease,” and “rust disease.”
Seeing this on your Betta fish is extremely concerning. Gold coating occurs because your fish’s body is already trying to excrete extra mucus to protect its broken skin.
Any damage to their protective skin can cause them to have a weaker immune system and develop secondary infections. It also leaves them unable to properly balance the amount of salt and water in their body, leading to something called osmotic stress.
In advanced stages or severe cases, the Betta may develop skin ulcers. As the disease progresses, this skin will eventually peel off.
Redness Or Inflammation Of The Skin
In the later stages of Betta velvet disease, you might notice redness or inflammation of the skin. This is usually a result of secondary infections setting in, as the damaged skin provides an entry point for bacteria and other pathogens.
Another symptom of velvet disease in aquarium fish is clamped fins. This is when the fins of a fish fold inwards, making them look shorter and tighter than usual. This is often a result of the incessant scratching, as well as the irritation caused by the parasites.
Fast Breathing Or Gasping
Velvet can also cause fast breathing, gasping, or even labored breathing in sick fish. This is usually a result of the osmotic stress caused by the disease, as the fish’s body tries to rid itself of the excess salt.
A Betta fish afflicted with velvet will usually appear tired and lethargic. Aside from scratching, which usually occurs in the later stages of the disease, they might not be as active as they normally are and might even stop eating.
Loss Of Appetite
As mentioned, velvet can cause a loss of appetite in betta fish. If you notice your Betta fish isn’t eating as much as usual or not eating at all, it’s time to take a closer look for other symptoms of velvet disease.
Fading Or Darkening Colors
In some cases, velvet can cause the colors of a betta fish to fade or darken. This is usually a result of the parasites feeding on the blood of the fish, causing anemia.
These are just some of the most common symptoms of velvet disease in betta fish. If you notice any of these symptoms in your fish, it’s important to take action immediately and start treating the disease.
What Causes Velvet In Bettas?
One thing to remember about velvet disease is that it’s not exclusive to bettas. As mentioned above, this parasitic infection can affect any freshwater and saltwater fish species out there.
The primary mode of transmission for this disease is through infected fish. The parasites can also be transmitted in live food, such as brine shrimp and daphnia. Once the parasites enter the system of a contaminated fish, they will start to multiply and spread throughout the body.
The other way velvet can be transmitted is through contaminated water. The parasites can survive in water for a period of time, and if the water in your tank or aquarium is contaminated, it can infect your fish.
It’s also worth noting that velvet disease is more common in overcrowded tanks and aquariums. Remember, velvet is highly contagious. When there are too many fish in a fish tank, the parasites can easily spread throughout the entire aquarium.
How To Treat Velvet In Betta Fish
Although velvet is a scary, highly contagious disease, it’s actually completely treatable, especially in the earlier stages of the disease.
Think your beloved pet fish has velvet disease? Here’s how to treat Betta velvet disease.
Step 1: Quarantine
If you think one of your aquarium pets may be infected with velvet disease, the first thing you need to do is put all your fish in a quarantine tank. This is to prevent the parasites from infecting the rest of the main tank.
Step 2: Treatment
Once they’re in quarantine, you can start treating them with a velvet-specific medication. There are a few different medications out there that are effective against velvet, so talk to your vet or a fish specialist to see which one would be best for your fish.
Some of the most common treatments for velvet disease include:
It’s important to follow the instructions on the medication carefully, as velvet is a very resilient parasite, and it can take more than one treatment to get rid of it completely.
Additionally, you should know that the velvet parasites can only be killed when they’re in their free swimming stage, also known as Domites. You have to target this stage so that you can get rid of it once and forever.
Step 3: Tank Cleaning
In addition to medication, you also need to take steps to improve the water quality in your tank or aquarium. This is because velvet disease can be transmitted through contaminated water.
Do a partial water change and clean the filter to get rid of any parasites that might be in the water. Make sure that you use dechlorinated water to rinse the filter, though, as chlorine can kill the good bacteria from your cycle that is already growing in your filter.
You should also remove any decorations or rocks from the tank, as they might be harboring the parasites.
Step 4: Maintenance
Once you’ve treated your fish and cleaned the tank thoroughly, you can put your Betta fish back in. Be sure to keep a close eye on them, as velvet disease can come back even after it’s been treated.
How Long Does It Take To Treat Velvet In Betta Fish?
The length of time it takes to treat velvet in betta fish varies depending on the severity of the infection.
In most cases, though, it takes about two weeks of treatment to completely get rid of the parasites. Of course, it can take shorter or longer, so it’s important to keep an eye on your fish and consult with your vet or a fish specialist if the symptoms persist.
How Long Do Betta Fish Live With Velvet?
If velvet disease is caught early and treated properly, your Betta fish should make a full recovery and live a long, healthy life. However, if the disease is left untreated, it can be fatal.
This is why it’s so important to take action as soon as you notice any of the symptoms of velvet disease in your fish. The sooner you start the treatments, the better the chances are that your fish will make a full recovery.
How To Prevent Velvet From Occurring In Bettas
Now that you know how to treat velvet in betta fish, it’s time to focus on prevention. The best way to prevent velvet from occurring in the first place is to practice good tank maintenance and implement quarantine practices.
Quarantine Anything New
And by this, we mean literally anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new fish or a new plant — you should still quarantine it before putting it in your tank to prevent possible outbreaks.
For fish, the best way to do this is to set up a small hospital tank. A small container of 2-3 gallons with a working filter and an airstone can do for small fish like Bettas. Fill it up with water, add a few drops of Seachem Prime, and wait for at least 30 minutes before adding your medication of choice.
Some of the common medications used for quarantine are methylene blue and malachite green, which you can get in pet stores or online. You can also just get Seachem ParaGuard. Keep the fish there for 7-10 days before adding it to your tank.
For plants, you can use a hydrogen peroxide wash. Simply soak the plants in a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution for 30 minutes, then rinse them off with clean water. This will kill any parasites or pathogens that might be on the plants.
Invertebrates like snails, shrimp, or dwarf crayfish don’t need medications. Still, it’s best to keep them in a hospital tank before adding them to the tank to see if they’re ill or carrying anything. 2 weeks is enough for snails, while four weeks is standard for shrimps and dwarf crayfish.
Regular Tank Maintenance
Another way to prevent velvet from occurring is to practice regular tank maintenance. This includes doing things like regular water changes, cleaning the filter, and vacuuming the gravel.
Water changes are important because they remove any toxins or debris that might be in the water. Aim to do a water change of at least 20-25% once a week.
Cleaning the filter is also important, as it removes any build-up of waste or debris that might be in the filter. As mentioned above, always clean your filter in the same water that you took out during your water change. This will ensure that you don’t kill the good bacteria from your nitrogen cycle.
And finally, vacuuming the gravel helps to remove any uneaten food or waste that might be in the gravel. It’s best to do this once a week, along with a water change.
By practicing regular tank maintenance, you can help to prevent velvet from occurring in your betta fish.
Keep Your Aquarium Lights On A Schedule
Last but not least, another way to prevent velvet from occurring is to keep your aquarium lights on a schedule.
This is because the parasites that cause velvet disease use photosynthesis to produce energy. The nutrition they get from the water, as well as their host fish is not enough, so they need to be able to photosynthesize in order to survive.
As such, keeping your aquarium lights on a schedule can help prevent velvet from occurring because it will reduce the time the parasites have to photosynthesize.
A schedule for aquarium lights is typically 8 hours on and 16 hours off. So, for example, if you turn your lights on at 8 AM, you would have to turn them off by 4 PM. A good way to do this is to use an automatic timer like the TP-Link Tapo Smart Plug that can turn your lights on and off without your input.
What To Do If Velvet Comes Back
What if you’ve already done everything and the velvet disease still comes back?
Unfortunately, velvet is a very resilient disease, and it can be difficult to get rid of once it’s established itself in your tank.
That being said, there are still a few things you can do to try and get rid of it.
- Do more water changes. The first thing you can do is to increase the frequency of your water changes. Remember, water changes are important because they remove toxins and debris from the water. By increasing the frequency of your water changes, you can help to remove velvet from your tank.
- Add an air stone. Another thing you can do is to increase the amount of aeration in your tank. This can be done by adding an air stone or bubbler to your tank. The increased aeration will help to increase the dissolved oxygen levels in the water, which can help to kill velvet.
- Use a UV sterilizer. You can also try using a UV sterilizer like the Fluval in Line UVC Clarifier. This is a device that emits UV light, which can help to kill velvet. Keep in mind that UV sterilizers may be harmful to fish, so it’s important to use one that is specifically designed for aquariums.
- Implement chemical solutions. Finally, you can try using chemicals to kill velvet. The most common chemical used for this purpose is copper sulfate, like the one found in Mardel Coppersafe. Copper sulfate can be very harmful to fish, so it’s important to use it carefully and only as a last resort. If you do decide to use copper sulfate, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and remove it from the tank as soon as the velvet parasites have been killed.
Velvet disease is a serious condition that can be fatal if left untreated. However, by taking action as soon as you notice the symptoms, you can treat the velvet and help your fish make a full recovery.
The key to preventing velvet from occurring in the first place is to practice good tank maintenance. This includes regular water changes, vacuuming the gravel, and keeping your aquarium lights on a schedule.
Above everything else, don’t panic. As long as you keep a level head, there are several things you can do to kill off the disease and get your fish back to full health, as you’ve seen from this article. Now, all you need to worry about is proper execution, and your fish will be safe and healthy!
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