By Rachel Hunt (Mushi)
Velvet Information and
A Betta with Velvet, Image © Lois
Velvet is probably the second most common Betta
ailment next to fin
rot. Velvet is generally caused by unstable temperatures, or
temperatures that are too cool for the betta to comfortably deal with
(generally anything that falls below 72 degrees for long periods of time).
Poor water quality can also increase a Betta's chances of contracting
velvet. Velvet is the number one killer of very young Betta fry, so if you
are a breeder, familiarize yourself with this disease so that you can
diagnose it before it gets out of control in your fry tanks.
is a parasitic infection which attacks the Betta's slime coat. It
generally infects the head and gill area first, so that by the time it is
noticeable, the infection is pretty well established. The main indicator
that your Betta has Velvet is a copper or rust colored dusting over the
betta's body, normally beginning at the head, but it will very quickly
spread over the entire body if not treated. Bettas that have Velvet will
usually be very lethargic, have clamped fins, and may not be interested in
eating. It is very important to treat Velvet as soon as it becomes
If your Betta shows signs
of Velvet, it is best to isolate him for treatment. If you are dealing
with a Velvet outbreak in a fry tank, it is best to treat the entire tank.
Do a complete water change if your betta is in his own container, and a
30-40% water change if it is in a community/fry tank and you must treat in
the tank. Adding aquarium or rock salt (dissolve before introducing to the
tank) will help until stronger medications can be purchased, and can be
used in conjunction with medication. Many of the same medications that are
useful in the treatment of Ick are also good Velvet
treatments. Aquarisol is my personal favorite medication for Velvet, but
Maracide, Malachite Green, and Coppersafe (as well as other copper-based
medications) can be used. Be aware that stong copper-based medications can
eventually lead to poisoning, so water should be changed frequently after
treatment to remove the medications, unless you are treating in a
container that gets 100% water changes. Also be aware that some of these
medications are harmful to plants and invertibrates, so do your homework
before treating in tanks containing plants and invertibrates.
medications have been added, if at all possible, increase the tank
temperature to 82-84 degrees F. This will speed the life cycle of Velvet
and allow the medications to kill it faster. If your treatment container
is too small to heat, allow the medications to work at their own rate but
try to place the container in a warm area of the house. Keeping the tank
dark will also help to destroy Velvet, as Velvet is actually a parasitic
algae and requires a bit of light to survive. Keep an eye out for
secondary opporunistic infections, as fish that contract Velvet are
already in a weakened, vulnerable state.
Stable (warm) temperatures and clean water are the
two major things you can do to prevent Velvet in adult Bettas. In Betta
fry tanks, or with adult Bettas that seem especially prone to Velvet
infections, adding about 1 teaspoon per gallon of dissolved aquarium/rock
salt can help prevent Velvet from setting in (when used in conjunction
with stable temperatures and regular water changes). Aquarisol can also be
used according to the directions on the bottle as a preventative, which I
especially recommend for Betta fry tanks in which the fry are under one
month of age.
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