Ich on Betta Fish: What It Is, Symptoms, and Treatment

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By Linh Nguyen Updated on 02 Feb 2023

Many people enjoy keeping betta fish as pets. These colorful fish are interesting to watch and can be easy to care for. However, one common problem that betta owners may encounter is the development of white spots on the fish's body. These are the signs of ich.

Ich is a common and potentially deadly disease that can affect betta fish. It is caused by a parasite and can lead to loss of appetite, skin lesions, and even death if left untreated. Luckily, there are many ways to treat ich, and most cases can be successfully cured if caught early. In this post, we'll take a closer look at what ich is, the symptoms to watch for, and how to cure it. So keep reading for information you need to know about ich on betta fish!

A betta fish infected with Ich

A betta fish infected with Ich

1. What is ich on betta fish?

Ich, more formally known as Ichthyophthirius Multifiliis, is a parasitic infection that commonly affects betta fish. This disease is also known by many different names such as white spot disease or ick.

The parasite attaches itself to the fish's skin and feeds on its blood, causing irritation and itchiness. In severe cases, the parasites can cause ulceration and open wounds on the fish's skin. Ich can be deadly if left untreated, but fortunately, it is relatively easy to treat with medication.

2. Causes

There are a few different things that can cause ich in betta fish, but the most common is usually a water quality issue. If the water in your betta's tank is not clean and filtered properly, it can lead to a build-up of harmful bacteria and viruses. This can then cause your fish to become sick with ich. Another common cause of ich is stress. If your betta is stressed out due to poor water conditions or being harassed by other fish, this can also lead to them developing ich. Finally, sometimes ich can be caused by a change in temperature. If the temperature of your betta's tank suddenly drops, this can shock their system and lead to them getting ich.

Besides, there are some other causes of fish diseases such as:

  • Overcrowding
  • High levels of ammonia or nitrites
  • Lack of food or poor diet
  • Parasitic infection from outside - from new fish, new plants, or untreated gravel
  • Fungi or bacteria
A dirty water tank

A dirty water tank

3. The life cycle of ich

The life cycle of the ich parasite includes several stages, which can last for two to three weeks.

In the first stage, the parasites attach themselves to the fish and begin feeding on their blood. This can cause the fish to become lethargic and stop eating.

The second stage begins when the parasites start reproducing inside the fish's body. This can cause the fish's stomach to swell and its skin to turn white.

In the third stage, the parasites detach themselves from the fish and fall to the bottom of the aquarium, where they continue to reproduce.

4. Betta fish ich symptoms

With prompt treatment, most betta fish will make a full recovery from ich within a few weeks. However, the disease can be fatal if it's left untreated, so it's important that you recognize ich in its early stages and act as soon as you notice any symptoms.

The early stages of ich disease in bettas can be detected by some of the following symptoms:

  • White spots on the head, skin, or fins
  • Increased scratching or rubbing against objects in the tank
  • Cloudy eyes and faster breathing than usual
  • Clamped fins
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy or listlessness

If you notice any of these symptoms in your betta fish, take action immediately. This disease can be treated with a variety of medications, but it is important to catch it early. If it is left untreated, it can cause serious health problems for betta fish and even lead to death. Besides, ich is a highly contagious disease that can quickly spread through an entire aquarium.

However, this disease can be easily confused with fungal infections or lymphocystis virus infections. The way to distinguish this disease is that your fish will have only white spots on the head, body, fins, and gills. Both fungal and viral infections will appear as additional gray and white patches on the skin and gills.

To learn more, read the article: White spot on betta fish — what is it?

A betta fish infected with Ich

A betta fish infected with Ich

5. Betta ich treatment

There are a few different ways you can treat ich in your betta. The method you choose depends on the severity of the ich.

If your betta has a mild case of ich, you can increase the temperature of their water. This will speed up the ich life cycle and cause the parasites to die off more quickly.

If your betta has a severe case of ich, you can treat their water with an anti-parasitic medication. 

Here are detailed instructions:

5.1. Isolate sick fish

If you notice that your betta fish is acting sick, the first step is to isolate them from the rest of the fish in your tank. This is important because ich is highly contagious and can quickly spread to other fish. 

To isolate your betta, you can either put them in a separate tank by themselves or use a hospital tank. A hospital tank is a small, simple tank that is used for treating sick fish. It should have no gravel or decorations and the water should be clean and filtered. 

Once your betta is isolated, you will need to treat them with one or a combination of the methods below. Follow the instructions and continue to monitor your betta closely. If you see any improvement, continue treatment for the recommended amount of time period. If there is no improvement, or if the condition worsens, change to another treatment.

5.2. Use aquarium salt and increase the water temperature

The first step in treating ich is to raise the water temperature of your aquarium to 86°F (30°C). This increased temperature will help to speed up the life cycle of the ich parasites, allowing them to mature and reproduce more quickly. In addition, higher water temperatures will also make your betta fish less stressed and more resistant to ich.

Once the water temperature has been increased, you will need to add salt to the aquarium. The amount of salt you add will depend on the size of your aquarium, but as a general rule, you should add 1 teaspoon of salt per gallon (3.8 L) of water. The salt will help to kill the ich parasites, and it will also provide some relief for your betta fish if they are feeling stressed or uncomfortable.

After adding salt and raising the water temperature, you should see a noticeable reduction in ich within a week or two. However, it is important to continue treating for at least two weeks after all signs of ich have disappeared to ensure that all of the parasites have been destroyed. Once your betta fish are ich-free, you can slowly begin to lower the water temperature and remove the salt from the aquarium.

With a little bit of care and attention, treating ich in betta fish is relatively easy and straightforward. By following these simple steps, you can help your betta fish recover quickly and get back to their happy and healthy selves in no time!

Aquarium Salt

Aquarium Salt

5.3. Using drugs to treat ich

If the method of using aquarium salt does not work, you can use specialized drugs to treat ich. The most commonly used medication is chloroquine phosphate, which is available in both liquid and tablet form. Chloroquine phosphate works by disrupting the life cycle of the parasites, causing them to eventually die off. There are also other medications that may be used, such as those containing formalin or copper. 

In order to treat ich with chloroquine phosphate, you will need to first purchase a product that contains the active ingredient. There are a number of different brands available, so be sure to read the labels carefully to ensure you are getting the right product. Once you have the medication, follow the instructions on the label carefully. It is important to note that chloroquine phosphate is poisonous to humans, so take care to avoid contact with your skin or eyes.

These medications will usually need to be administered for about two weeks in order to be effective. In some cases, the ich may come back after treatment is finished, so it is important to monitor your fish closely. If you see any signs of ich, you should start treatment again immediately.

Instructions for treating Ich disease on fish

6. Prevent ich

A clean aquarium is critical to preventing ich outbreaks. The parasite is difficult to eradicate once it has infected an aquarium, and it can quickly spread to other fish in the tank. If you do find that your fish are infected with ich, there are a few things you can do to clean your aquarium and prevent the parasite from spreading. 

  1. Thoroughly clean the tank, getting rid of all algae and debris.
  2. Clean all decorations, rocks, and plants.
  3. Clean the filter and replace the filter media.
  4. Increase the aeration in the tank.
  5. Perform a water change, using fresh, treated water.
  6. Do daily water changes of 25%.
  7. Rinse the tank well and let it dry completely before adding any new fish or decorations.
  8. Treat all fish in the tank, even if they don’t show signs of illness.
  9. Keep a close eye on your fish and look for early signs of disease.

By following these steps, you can successfully clean your aquarium after an ich outbreak and prevent the parasite from spreading to your other fish.

Besides, you can also refer to the article: detailed instructions to prevent ich disease in betta fish for more detailed instructions.


Ich, or white spot disease, is a highly contagious and common parasitic infection of freshwater fish. If left untreated, ich can kill your betta fish. However, with early diagnosis and proper treatment, most cases of ich can be cured. In this post, we’ve discussed all you need to know about ich – from what it is and how it affects your fish, to how to treat it and prevent it from coming back. If you have any questions about ich or any other freshwater fish diseases, let me know in the comments below. I’ll be happy to help.

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