Hey! Everybody poops (or so the famous children’s book tells us), including your Betta fish.
However, if you are new to the Betta world, or are just curious about fish excrement, then we have a whole lot of “poopy” answers and facts for you!
Let’s delve into this topic to answer the question of ‘do Betta fish poop?’
Yes! Betta Fish Poop and What You Need to Know
Unlike our Goldfish friends that have no problem trailing a long string of doodie behind them as they swim along (a sign of being overfed), Bettas are more “secretive” when it comes to bowel elimination.
In fact, like us, your Betta will most often use the same spot to relieve themselves. This could be a nice planted area in the corner, or behind their favorite decorations. So if you have been thinking that your Betta is settled in for a rest or some alone time on the bottom of the tank, what he may actually be doing is pooping.
However, not all Bettas are shy-poopers. Some males of this species will “let loose” when they are flaring or showing off for other Bettas (hmmm…they might want to use a fin-man instead when trying to impress the ladies).
Where does the poop come from?
There’s a small hole in front of the Betta’s anal fin that serves this purpose. Generally, Betta’s excrement is very tiny, so you most likely won’t catch him pooping, but rather see a buildup of it in his “toilet” area.
What Does Betta Poop Look Like?
Is that poop or pellets?
If you have a Betta in a community tank (or you just don’t know what your scaly friend’s poop looks like) then you may think you have been over-feeding him and those extra pellets are sinking to the bottom of the tank.
Those tiny, round, reddish-brown, or tan “pellets” might be Betta turds.
A healthy Betta fish will poop between five and six times a day.
Betta poop tends to sink to the bottom of the tank rather than float along until the filter sucks it up, so you may have to really look to distinguish poo from pellets.
Bad Tummy? Bad Poop!
Can you tell if something is wrong with your Betta from their poop?
We highly recommend monitoring your Bettas “output” for changes in color, shape, and frequency of eliminations. Here’s what to take note of:
Long stringy brown poo hanging from the back of your Betta could be a sign of swim bladder disease or even constipation. White stringy poop is a sign that your Betta is not eating.
Large Globby Poop
Is your Betta’s feces larger than normal? This could be an indication of overfeeding and dehydration. Even though your fish is surrounded by (and living in) water, inferior food that lacks fiber and moisture may lead to dehydration that can clog up your pet’s system.
Albeit, rare, Betta can get parasites that may turn its poop white or light in color. This could happen if you have introduced new plants or fish into the aquarium. Some medications can eliminate parasites, just be sure it is indeed a parasitic infection and not white poop from not eating before you treat the tank.
Brown Watery Poop
Is your Betta producing brown watery poo? This is a sign of diarrhea. Although, this can be difficult to determine as the type of excrement dissipates quite quickly in their watery world. However, if you haven’t seen any poo-pellets in your Betta’s toilet area, he may be experiencing diarrhea.
Betta Poop & Common Betta Illnesses
Your Betta’s poop can be an indicator of poor health. Here are some common illnesses that may affect your Betta’s excrement.
If you notice your Betta’s poop is long, brown, and stringy, or he isn’t pooping at all, then he may be constipated.
Constipation is usually caused by overfeeding or by using flaked or inferior foods that do not have enough fiber and moisture in them.
To help relieve your fishy friend, be sure your aquarium temperature is set between 76 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit (colder water slows down the metabolism of tropical fish).
If your temperature is optimal, then put your Betta on a 2 to 3 day fast. This break from food may be enough to get Betta “going” again. Once the fast is finished, feed your fish some high-fiber foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, or mosquito larvae.
Green peas are also an excellent choice and easy to feed. Simply cook the pea, remove the skin, mash it up, and sprinkle bits of it into the tank. Peas can be used every 7 to 10 days to help prevent constipation and to encourage good bowel health.
Does your Betta have white stringy poop or is not pooping at all? He could be stressed. Other signs of a stressed Betta include:
- Lack of appetite
- Skittish or erratic swimming
- Changes in color
To help de-stress your Betta, you will have to determine what is causing it, then rectify the situation.
Swim Bladder Disease
Swim bladder disease and constipation are very similar. Both of these conditions will manifest themselves with a lack of pooping, or with long stringy white poop. However, swim bladder disease will also present itself with the following symptoms;
- Bloated belly
- Difficulty swimming
- Lack of appetite
- Curved back
The most common way to treat swim bladder disease is to put your Betta on a fast to help clear out its system.
Although internal parasites are rare in Bettas, they can still infect this species. Other than having white poop (an indication that the parasites are leaching the nutrients from your Betta’s food), your fish will also be thin (but still eating normally), lethargic, and may exhibit changes in its normal behavior.
Diagnosing parasites may be difficult, but there are treatments available.
Diarrhea in a Betta can be a sign of a bad diet or an infection.
So how do you know which one it is?
Let’s start with the simplest.
Change your Betta’s food to higher quality and cut down on the number of treats you are feeding him. If this is the cause, you should notice your Betta’s poop goes back to the normal pellet form in a day or two.
A bacterial infection is a lot more serious and will present itself with additional symptoms;
- Torn or frayed fins
- Ulcers on scales
- Slimy patches
Some treatments can be administered to the aquarium. Check with your pet retailer or a veterinarian that has experience with fish for an exact diagnosis.
Feeding Your Betta
Since what goes in must come out, what you feed your Betta will directly affect its poop.
We recommend feeding your Betta a high protein diet (they are carnivores, after all).
Fish food manufacturers have made this task simple by providing a pellet suitable for the Betta species. Of course, there will be many choices, but it’s always best to use the highest quality product. These will contain the correct level of nutrients and will be portioned for easy feeding to protect your Betta from both over and under-eating.
How much is enough?
Two to four pellets once or twice a day (remember, pellets expand in the stomach).
Variety is the spice of life and the same adage can be applied to the Betta.
We recommend supplementing your Betta with freeze-dried and/or frozen foods such as bloodworms and brine shrimp about once a week. And, as we mentioned earlier, a cooked pea is great for keeping your Betta regular.
Exercising Your Betta
We may think that we don’t have to exercise our Betta fish, but that simply is not true. Bettas kept in small containers can suffer from stress and boredom that may lead to constipation.
To help give your Betta the exercise it needs to stay regular, give it a larger habitat to explore and patrol. Add in plenty of live plants and a decoration (or two or three, depending on the tank size) for variety.
Other ways to stimulate your Betta are;
- Add floating toys like a ping pong ball
- Use a mirror to get him to flare
- Place a floating Betta log for surface exercise
- Try moving colored pieces of paper or stick Post-its to the side of the tank
- Place items beside the tank for your Betta to explore
These are fun ways to get Betta moving, but also be sure not to overdo it. Some Bettas can get stressed by prolonged stimulus, so know when to call it a day.
Final Thoughts on Poop
We have definitely answered the question of ‘do Betta fish poop?’
We have also learned that your Betta’s poop is a good indicator of its health. Knowing what is normal and abnormal will allow you to catch ailments and issues before they become detrimental to your pet.
In addition, be sure to feed your Betta a high-quality, protein-loaded diet in a suitable tank with plenty of stimuli. All these things combined will leave your Betta happy and healthy for years to come.