Betta Ammonia Poisoning: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Every fish naturally produces ammonia. So the main part is controlling it. But how can I manage ammonia levels in betta? Is the ammonia that is produced really bad for my betta? Can my betta pass away? How will I know if my tank has an ammonia outburst?

You must be aware that ammonia poisoning can be lethal to betta fish before continuing. Despite having a higher resistance to it than other fish, if care is not given promptly, it could still perish.

Therefore, you’ve come to the right place if you want to avoid ammonia poisoning in your tank. I’ll walk you through each tip in this guide for how to avoid and handle it.

What is Betta Fish Ammonia Poisoning?

It’s crucial to understand exactly what ammonia toxicity in betta fish is before beginning treatment. Particularly in brand-new aquariums, it is a major fish killer. And it happens when the ammonia levels in a tank rise too high.

betta ammonia poisoning

As a result of their gills being burned by ammonia in the water, fish have trouble breathing and eventually perish. Ammonia poisoning is a primary cause of aquarium fish death and is most frequently observed in new installations that weren’t given enough time to cycle before the fish were added. When a large number of tank mates are introduced at once, the filtration system malfunctions or the helpful bacterial colonies perish due to any of these factors, the situation can also occur in an established tank.

What are the Signs of Betta Fish Ammonia Poisoning?

  • Ammonia damages fish by burning their gills, including bettas. Ammonia poisoning often causes fish to gulp near the surface of the water. A betta will occasionally breathe in some surface air, but one that is suffering from ammonia toxicity will do so more frantically. Ammonia poisoning in bettas might cause them to swim erratically as well. Any detectable level of ammonia or a closely similar nitrogen molecule called nitrite can injure bettas and cause them to exhibit these symptoms.
  • There will be red streaks on the body and fins. You might also see red streaking around your betta’s body and fins since the ammonia will gradually harm his body. It’s crucial to distinguish between these streaks and stress stripes, which might appear when your betta is under stress.
  • The sensitive regions of your betta can also start to experience ammonia effects. Specifically, his anus and eyeballs. As they get irritated and injured, they could become inflamed.
  • There’s always something wrong when your betta loses his hunger. Therefore, you should start investigating the root of any appetite reduction as soon as you discover it. Additionally, it may occasionally be ammonia toxicity.

What Causes Ammonia Poisoning?

Several avenues exist for ammonia to enter your tank:

  • You might be surprised by the initial source of ammonia. Ammonia is indeed present in chemically treated tap water. The chemical chloramine, which is used to disinfect tap water, contains ammonia. Although chloramine renders tap water safe for human consumption, it is toxic to fish and other invertebrates.
  • Ammonia levels in your betta’s tank might also increase due to leftover fish food, aquatic plants that are decomposing, and fish feces. If you overfeed your betta and ignore to properly cleaning out the tank, hazardous bacteria may begin to accumulate and produce ammonia, which contaminates the water.
  • Your tank’s bacteria colony may occasionally perish. This most frequently happens if you use a prescription to kill the microorganisms in your tank. However, it might also happen if your filter has a problem. Whatever the reason, there won’t be any bacteria left in your tank to neutralize the ammonia when the bacteria colonies die. This will cause an increase in ammonia levels and ultimately lead to ammonia poisoning.
  • By substituting clean water for unclean water during water changes, you essentially dilute the ammonia in your tank. You’ll need to change out the water more frequently if the tank is smaller. If you don’t change the water frequently enough, the ammonia levels will rise and your betta will get ammonia-exposed. If your tank doesn’t have a filter, it’s crucial that you make water changes significantly more frequently. Remember, it’s crucial that you keep a filter in your betta tank, despite what many people will tell you. If you don’t, your betta will have a variety of issues, including ammonia toxicity.

Betta Ammonia Poisoning Treatment

Ammonia poisoning in betta fish can only be treated by bringing the water’s level down to 0 ppm (parts per million).

  • The water should have a lower pH, and at least half of the tank’s water should be changed. Use a dechlorinating product that is efficient in treating water that includes chloramine neutralizers, such as an ammonia detoxifier or ammonia remover, on the fresh tap water first. These are very practical items that are designed to break down chloramine and neutralize the ammonia it binds to in order to neutralize chlorine, ammonia, and heavy metals.
  • You should also restrict how much food your betta receives. Your betta won’t eat as much while he has ammonia toxicity, anyway. Additionally, any leftover food in the tank will just contribute to an ammonia buildup. Additionally, your fish will produce more waste the more it eats. Remember that bettas are accustomed to going without food for a few days, and there are instances when this is advantageous for them.
  • Additionally, you must make sure that your biological filters are free of debris and clean so that the bacteria colonies can function properly. Clogged biological filters could hinder the bacteria colonies’ ability to conduct their jobs. The filter medium should be partially replaced if necessary.

How to Avoid Ammonia Poisoning?

The most important part related to any problem is the prevention against it. If you be careful then surely no problem comes your way. Here are some of the prevention tips that can help you prevent your betta against ammonia poisoning:

  • The addition of nitrifying bacteria is among the greatest things you can do to prevent ammonia poisoning in tanks, SPECIFICALLY NEW tanks. The bacteria known as nitrifying bacteria are responsible for decomposing ammonia and keeping your betta’s tank safe.
  • Feed your betta and his pals sparingly to prevent uneaten food from decomposing and contaminating the water.
  • Make sure to perform partial water changes weekly or at the very least every other week, and get rid of any debris like dead plants or fish excrement.
  • Adding an air stone can be appropriate depending on your betta. Pumping oxygen into your tank is a terrific way to spread some of the ammonia, which is a gas. The use of air stones is optional, and some bettas dislike them, so beware. Therefore, you’ll need to try one out first.
  • An ammonia test kit is among the greatest things you can do for ammonia. You will be able to see when the ammonia levels are too high and take appropriate action as a result. The API master test kit is fantastic. It allows you to test not only for ammonia but also for nitrites and nitrates, as well as the pH levels.


Betta fish are frequently killed by ammonia poisoning. However, this risky situation can be avoided by simply ensuring that a new tank is fully cycled before introducing fish and by maintaining a clean and healthy environment going forward. Partial water changes should be performed each week, tap water should be treated with a chemical that neutralizes chloramine, and dead plants and fish excrement should be removed from the tank at least once each week. Every week, rinse the filter media with tank water to get rid of any debris that can block it and stop the bacteria on the filter media from digesting the ammonia and nitrites in the water. Keep in mind to do two monthly water tests to ensure that you’re ammonia levels are stable.

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