Betta Fish Ammonia is a popular cause of death among the betta family. Though it is treatable, it requires constant preventive measures and great care. Ammonia is a toxic gas produced by the excess decay of proteins in the fish body. The fish’s body organs absorb high amounts of ammonia, causing a failure to excrete the ammonia gas. Resultantly, the immune system of the betta gets disturbed and betta seems to gasp for air above the water.
In addition, wasted food in the tank and other organic materials also cause high levels of ammonia in the water tank. Continuous maintenance of the betta tank, less feeding, and frequent water changes can lower the ammonia levels in the water. This blog will educate aquarists about the symptoms, causes, treatment, and preventive measures of betta fish ammonia poisoning.
Preventing and Managing Ammonia Buildup in Your Betta’s Tank to Ensure a Healthy and Happy Fish
Main Symptoms of Betta Ammonia Poisoning
Aquarists should regularly check the levels of ammonia in the water tank. When your betta shows signs of poisoning, it means that the damage has been started much earlier than you expected. So, immediately consult a vet to devise the best treatment when you observe the following symptoms in your tank pet.
Usually, betta loves to explore its surrounding. A healthy betta jumps out of the water to intake fresh air, enjoys roaming about the tank, and makes the bubble nest frequently. A disturbed betta shows listless behavior. It just sits around the tank and swims slowly. Listless behavior may also show other diseases, non-optimal water temperature, or stress in the tank.
Betta gills regularly release toxic gases, ammonia, and waste products. In case of a poor nitrogen cycle in the tank, high levels of ammonia absorption can turn the gills red. In extreme cases, betta gills start bleeding due to ammonia burns. The betta gills get failed to perform a routine function.
Ammonia burn depends upon the long or short periods of high ammonia levels. It may be temporary or permanent, leading to the death of betta.
Fish color changing ability helps them to signal each other. With ammonia poisoning, fish may turn pale and stress stripes may appear on the body. You can visibly observe the red streak in the betta eyes. If high ammonia levels stay for longer, it cause ammonia burns. As a result, betta fish may develop discolored patches on the skin, and fins turn black.
Hanging near the Surface
High ammonia levels in the tank push the betta to gasp for air near the surface. Betta gills get failed to function normally under a stressful water environment. Consequently, betta feels difficulty in breathing. You can often observe the fish hanging near the surface to avoid the toxic gas. Near the surface, there is fresh oxygen that keeps the fish alive to breathe and swim.
Loss of Appetite
Betta fish love to enjoy its meal. But, when a fish suffers from diseases or a high-stress level in the tank, it stops eating. Betta fish ammonia poisoning causes a loss of appetite. Fish may eat slowly or skip food. The aquarists can observe the uneaten food parts in the tank bottom. In case of no response to food, the aquarists should check in deep to avoid complications.
You can also check Is Your Betta Fish Dying.
The main cause of Betta Ammonia Poisoning
You can observe several causes of betta fish ammonia poisoning. Determining the true causes of ammonia poisoning can help you better treat your betta, leading to quick and frequent preventive measures.
Not doing regular water Changes
One main reason for the betta poisoning might be the pending water changes in the tank. The fully cycled tank can produce high ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites due to the beneficial bacteria activity. Changing the water regularly always proves good for your betta as it provides fresh oxygen. Resultantly, the betta’s immune system can actively fight against any diseases or pollutants.
Not Having a Filtration System
A filtration system is an essential element in the care of betta. Betta tank requires frequent cleanliness of debris, pollutants, un-eaten food, and decaying plants. If you lack a filtration system, it may increase the heaps of pollutants increasing the nitrates and ammonia in the water. Moreover, if you are not having a filtration system, the betta tank is more prone to carry stagnant water.
Leftover Food Decay
Food decay is the largest source of ammonia buildup. Uneaten food should be removed from the tank immediately after the betta feeding time. Otherwise, leftover food accumulates on the tank’s gravel or other hard surfaces. In addition, the beneficial bacteria instantly start forming colonies over the organic material, leading to high amounts of ammonia released in the tank.
Too Many Fishes
Community tanks with more than one or two fishes always have high build-ups of ammonia. Each fish release ammonia in the tank that can be absorbed and treated with the cycled tank, filtration system, and other preventive measures. When you have several fishes in one place, all fishes will release more ammonia, and absorb more oxygen with more uneaten food in the tank. All these sources push the tank towards betta fish ammonia poisoning.
A hidden dead fish
When a fish is on its deathbed, it tries to hide and show listless behavior. Sometimes, aquarists even do not realize that any fish is dead in the community tank. A dead fish is a major source of protein and nitrogen. As the dead fish start decaying, it releases a high amount of ammonia. So, keep checking the levels of ammonia weekly to go deeper into the tank.
How to Treat a Betta with Ammonia Poisoning
Ammonia poisoning may cause the death of the betta when aquarists remain unaware of the ammonia levels in the tank for longer periods. Here are some simple treatments that can purify water from ammonia and pollutants.
To treat ammonia poisoning, the required supplies are:
- Ammonia detoxifier
- Ammonia removal media
- Ammonia testing kit
- Water Dechlorination
- A hospital tank
First of all use, an ammonia testing kit to assess the accurate amount of ammonia. Then, add ammonia removal media to the tank. Meanwhile, add an ammonia detoxifier also. If the ammonia detoxifier does not work, go for the water change removal method.
Ammonia Detoxifier Removal Method
Add ammonia detoxifier in the tank 5ml/10hallons. However, if your tank is large, you can double the amount according to the water gallons. Then wait for 48 hours and assess the level of ammonia with the ammonia test kit. On having higher levels, add again more ammonia detoxifier according to the water volume. The aquarists can repeat the procedure until they get desired results.
Water Change Removal Method
Before changing the water, test the ammonia level in the tank. Now, release half of the water from the tank and add chemically treated tap water. It will help to reduce the ammonia level in the tank. After 24 hours, perform the complete water change removal method. Changing the water in two halves will help to adjust the betta according to the changing climate. Otherwise, complete water change can cause stress and shock to the betta. Take care of other tank parameters like optimal temperature, nitrogen cycle, filtration, etc.
You can also check How To Clean Betta Fish Tank.
How Is Ammonia Removed From Fish Tank Water?
Ammonia can be removed using authentic water treatmnets. Initially, add an ammonia detoxifier to remove ammonia poisoning. However, ammonia detoxifier is slower and may not work in severe conditions. If the ammonia build-ups are too high to control, it is better to change the tank’s water into two halves. Moreover, you can also use ammonia-absorbing media to avoid excess ammonia from the water. After changing the water, it is advised to maintain all necessary parameters of the betta tank.
How Long Does It Take For A Betta To Recover From Ammonia Poisoning?
The recovery of betta from ammonia poisoning depends upon two factors:
- How long has the ammonia poisoning been staying in the tank?
- How severely it affected the betta?
If ammonia levels remain higher for longer, betta can take a few days to recover. Meanwhile, betta will eat less and show listless and slow behavior. On the other hand, if the ammonia level rose for a shorter period in the tank, betta can recover within a day.
How to Prevent Betta Ammonia Poisoning?
Ammonia poisoning can cause you and your betta pet in trouble. S, it is better to control it before happening. Here are some easy steps to keep the ammonia levels under control and prevent ammonia poisoning.
Ensure You Have an Established Tank
An established tank means that you have fully cycled it. Add nitrifying bacteria in the tank to run an environment-friendly nitrogen cycle. Nitrifying bacteria play a vital role in absorbing ammonia from the water. Without nitrifying bacteria, ammonia cannot be removed from the tank leading to drastic levels of poison.
When you establish a tank, with filter, heater, lighting, gravel, and nitrifying bacteria are also necessary to make the tank fully cycled.
Perform Regular Water Changes
Regular water changes are necessary to keep betta happier and healthier. Always perform the water changes in two halves; if you have a larger tank, it can be done in three halves. Water changes immediately remove ammonia and disease-causing bacteria from the tank. However, frequent water changes can cause severe stress to the betta. Though, it is necessary to perform water changes periodically, make it scheduled at least fortnightly.
Quickly Remove Any Uneaten Food
As an aquarist, you must know when to feed. When betta is not eating, it is better to remove uneaten food before it gets spoiled, spoiled food is the largest source of ammonia poisoning. It is good to change a small portion of the water to remove leftover food from the tank. Moreover, you can also use a Siphon hose to extract water replacing it with warm tap water.
Another work-worthy way is to use scavengers and other fish in the tank. Only male betta are territorial and do not bear any specie nearby. However, a betta is a friendly fish and can live happily with a school of fish. Snails also perform the best job by collecting pellets, flakes, and uneaten food from the cracks, and hard hidden places.
Add Live Plants
Add live plants to the tank to avoid ammonia accumulation. Ammonia is one of the nurturing elements that plants require to grow. So, a small amount of ammonia that plants use to grow, remains harmless to the betta. Plants also release higher amounts of oxygen, giving coverage to betta against ammonia.
Use fast-growing plants like Duckweed, Elodea, Red Root floater, Banana lily, and Hornwort. However, always remove dead plants and leaves from the tank immediately. Otherwise, it will start releasing ammonia after decaying. Keep trimming the plants making the tank more visible and spacious.
Can Ammonia Poisoning Spread To Other Fish?
Yes, ammonia poisoning can affect all fish in the aquarium. When the ammonia level is higher in the tank, it affects all fish. Moreover, betta fish resist higher ammonia than other fishes. Other fish species and invertebrates like snails, shrimps, and clams can die when you find betta in good condition despite of high ammonia level.
Can Ammonia Poisoning Kill A Betta Fish?
Yes, ammonia poisoning can prove deadly for betta when ammonia build-ups stay in the tank for days. Luckily, there are several treatments to reduce the ammonia level in the tank. After starting treatment, betta can recover faster. You can get recovery within 1 day after treatment started. So, quick and careful treatment methods can help the betta to recover within a few days.
This article has equipped you with complete information about betta ammonia poisoning. Instead of turning the situation into treatment, establish your tank with ammonia poisoning preventive measures. Check all essential parameters that can keep the ammonia build-up low to zero.
When you establish a new tank, the ammonia nitrifier is the basic need of the tank to avoid poisonous water. Though betta is considered a harder fish against ammonia build-ups, it suffers greatly. Even its gills are affected and cannot function normally when ammonia poisoning starts. So, it is wiser to adopt prevention before it is too late.