Has your betta been acting suspiciously odd lately? You might have noticed it skipping its meals, or even changes in the way it looked. You must be concerned about such behavioral changes in your fish obviously, but do not panic just as soon. As you don’t know what might be into your fish for such actions.
If you have been noticing a gold dust-like substance on your betta’s skin along with other factors, then this is a sign that your fish might be suffering from velvet. This is a very common disease among the betta community and also is highly contagious. So, you will have to take extra care of your fish and the rest of the community to prevent this disease from spreading to more fish.
There is nothing to be worried about, here I have laid down all the possible treatments, cures, and symptoms of the disease that I used for my betta and that you can take into practice if your fish has been affected with velvet. So, read through the text to see for yourself.
What is Velvet?
Velvet disease is also known as gold dust disease, coral disease, and rust disease. This occurs among betta due to a parasitic attack. This infection is often recognized when the fish has gold or rust-like powder all over its body. This is also one of the reasons it is called such names as it also proves to be one of the many symptoms of this infection. As we discussed above, this disease is caused by small parasites that eat the fish’s cells and cause the disease, it has been found in marine tanks as well but this disease is very common in freshwater tanks.
What Type of Parasite Causes Velvet Disease?
Betta is developed by two algae. One of them, amylodinium ocellatum, lives in seawater. And the other is Oodinium which can affect both fresh and saltwater. Now you may ask why is this parasite termed algae. Well, this is because it contains chlorophyll in it that allows the parasite to perform photosynthesis and reproduce themselves, which leads to more spread of the disease.
Now the important part here is which of the two parasites causes velvet among betta. That should be Oodinium, which is present in salt as well as freshwater. You wouldn’t want any of the algae to attack your tank. Okay, so this single-celled organism has a three-stage life cycle process that you should be aware of so that you know how it grows and you can accordingly take measures to keep your fish safe.
Here are the three stages:
In the beginning, the Oodinium parasite is found mostly on the decoration pieces or substrate as a single-celled organism in your betta’s tank. It is shaped like a pear with golden brown color. And is almost 125-130 micrometers in length. The cycle of reproduction of this parasite usually repeats in 10 to 14 days, and the parasite is given many hands in growing with the temperature of the tank, especially if it is between 73-77 degrees F. but temperature lower than this will limit the reproduction cycle as it slows it down.
This parasite reproduces itself by fission and divides itself into multiple identical cells. That explains how the algae grow as they can copy themselves into 256 individual Oodinium to mites. And then they attack their prey AKA betta.
With the period of short time each organism grows and is mature, they become juveniles that are capable of motility. Thus, they become independent and move from the bottom of the tank to the water column where they attach themselves to the betta.
Then the adolescent parasites enter into the slime coat of the betta, which acts as a protective layer for the fish but once impaled then your fish becomes more vulnerable to the gold dust infection.
Getting your fish infected with velvet is the last thing that you wish for this you should look at some other causes of this infection emerging, other than just parasitic attack.
Firstly, if you have introduced a new fish directly to the aquarium without quarantining it for four weeks then this can be an alarming situation for your oldies and the newcomer. This is because the newbie might already have parasite eggs on it that can spread to other fishes when it is acquainted with the tank.
Secondly, adding any new decorations, especially new plants can also cause this disease. Therefore, you should disinfect them before placing them inside the tank.
Thirdly, the most common cause of the spread of any disease is dirty water. If your tank is not clean and does not have fresh water then this gives life to parasites and allows them to breed and attack your betta causing velvet. Thus, you should clean your tank every two to three days or once a week, depending on its size. And also make sure to attach a filter to your tank as well.
Extreme changes in the temperature of the tank can also give life to parasites along with weakening the immune system of the betta.
And lastly, if your betta has been stressed or tired, or unhappy lately then they also become more prone to velvet as their immune system is going to be compromised.
Does this Disease Come from Bacteria or a Virus?
Not at all, velvet is neither a bacterial, nor a viral disease. As discussed above this disease is occurred through a parasitic attack in the cells of the fish. This only happens when the cells have a host that they can feed on and reproduce themselves. This is how this infection works, as without the host the algae won’t be able to grow and spread.
What are the Symptoms of Gold Dust Infection?
As a betta owner, you should be aware of all the facts that keep your fish healthy. Therefore, it is always better to know the causes and symptoms of any disease that your fish might get in contact with, in its life. So, talking of velvet/ gold dust infection, it is very hard to predict or see if your fish is suffering from the disease as the symptoms do not straight up appear. Rather sometimes it has happened that the disease is discovered when it is in its last stage. Thus, here we will list down all the common and rare early and late symptoms of velvet. So that when you see any you can start the treatment right away without delaying it, because if you do not cure your fish in time then the disease might become fatal and it may get difficult or impossible to treat.
Speaking of early velvet symptoms, the most common out of all is itching. You see, when a betta is hit with velvet its body becomes itchy and because of that, you may notice it rubbing its body against anything inside the tank. This is because it tries to get rid of the parasite that is attached to its body. However, this symptom is not only related to velvet.
And another most obvious symptom that can help you in determining the disease is the change/ loss of color. This change is more visible on the male betta as they can maintain color patterns but not as the way when it was healthy. On the other hand, a female betta is more muted in color which is why this change of color is not visible on them. Another form of this color change can come about with rust spots or films all over your fish’s body. Therefore, gold dust can not only appear as a disease but also as a symptom of this infection.
Loss of appetite and lethargy is other symptoms to spot. As your fish feels sicker the more it gets weaker and loses its appetite and becomes lethargic.
If you caught velvet in your fish in its early stages, consider it as a sign of blessing because it is treatable and there are more chances that your fish will be fine. However, if it gets late in identifying the symptoms then it may be hard to treat.
Later symptoms of velvet also bring about more changes in the physical appearance of the fish.
If your velvet has begun to advance then you might notice skin peeling off of your betta, this is a sign that your betta is very ill and may pass away any tie sooner if not cared for. And if this has happened to your fish, we suggest you consult a professional keeper or a veterinarian.
Secondly, clamped fins are also an indication of severe illness in your fish. This is easy to notice as your fish will not look as it used to before.
Lastly, your betta may also have trouble breathing. If you find your fish struggling to get air then take it as a sign of velvet.
Is Velvet Infection High in Fatality?
Velvet is an easily treatable disease if caught in its early stages and given the right treatment. However, if it moves to the later stages then there are higher chances of this disease becoming more fatal. Velvet starts from the gills of the fish before eating the cells, and if it goes on deeper, then there are likely chances that your fish will die.
Is Velvet Contagious?
Yes indeed, velvet is a highly contagious disease that can spread vastly I have not detected or taken care of it. If any of your fish is infected with velvet you should quarantine it separately from the rest of the community and monitor it closely. Not only that it is also very important to keep an eye on the other fishes as they can also be prone to the disease as well because the protozoa are present in the water and it may be searching for their new host, so you have to take care of that as well because it is very important as these parasites are not visible to the naked eye.
How to Treat Velvet?
Since now you are aware of the symptoms and causes of velvet disease in your fish, it is time to treat it. Here we have laid down different nonmedicinal treatments for your betta that you can use to cure the disease. Thankfully, velvet in betta is curable thus follow all the following details regarding its treatment and make sure if you haven’t already, then quarantine your affected betta separately to start the treatment.
Steps to treat velvet in your betta
- Water change
- Increase water temperature
- Dim the tank lights
- Add aquarium salt to the tank
First and the most important part of treating velvet in your fish is to clean out the tank and replace its water. Make sure to do that thoroughly by a gap of every two to three days. This will help to flush out the parasites before they get a chance to attack your betta. By doing this the dirty water will also take pollutants with it that prevent the fish from fighting velvet.
The second thing that you’re going to do is increase the temperature of the water. Bettas are usually good at a temperature between 74 to 79 degrees F. but increasing the temperature more will kill the parasites. It is best to set the temperature to 84 degrees F to decrease the life span of the parasites living in it. But remember not to increase the temperature all of a sudden as it may be shocking for your fish. Do it gradually every 24 hours.
The next step is to dim the lights of the tank or keep it in a dark place for seven days straight. This will not cure the gold dust disease but it will limit the growth of parasites as they have chlorophyll in them and can-do photosynthesis, but with no light, they won’t be able to reproduce themselves, and thus, lessen juvenile parasites. For the final step add aquarium salt to the tank. This will help the fish in the production of fish slime that prevents them from velvet. Don’t add too much salt, use 1 to 3 tablespoons of salt per gallon of water. And don’t directly add it to the tank rather take a mug full of fresh water, mix in the salt and then pour that into the tank. This will prevent the fish from getting shocked.
What is the Severe Case of Velvet? / What Medication to Use to Treat Velvet?
In severe cases when you feel like the above-mentioned methods are not working out then use a stronger medication. You should use copper sulfate and malachite green to treat your fish. Make sure of one thing, when using this medication make sure that the infected fish is treated in a quarantine tank.
Copper Sulfate for Treating Velvet
Using copper sulfate as a medicine to treat velvet has been known as the most effective method. When using this make sure to follow the manufacturer’s advised dosage for safe results. It is also very essential to note the pH level of the water before adding in the copper sulfate. Make sure that the water pH level is above 6.4 or else it can get really dangerous as it starts killing the bacteria that help in the removal of ammonia and nitrates from water. A full treatment for velvet will last for 10 days.
Malachite Green for Treating Gold Dust Infection
Alongside copper sulfate consider malachite green as well. This also helps in getting rid of parasites in your bettas’ tank. This does stain your tank or objects thus make sure to use it in a quarantine tank. And also use it as per the manufacturers’ directions and even if it seems as if the velvet is setting do not stop the medication before its recommended date as there still could be Oodinium living in the tank or on your fish.
How Long will it take for your Betta to Heal from Gold Dust Infection?
For the complete removal of parasites from your betta, it is going to take 3 to 4 weeks on average. Oodinium usually lasts only for two days in water unless it does not have a host, but if it manages to attack one then it will take 2 weeks to get rid of the parasite.
How Can You Prevent Velvet?
Betta velvet can be difficult to treat once your betta home is affected with gold dust infection, as it is highly contagious. But you can prevent your fish from getting this disease by using the following prevention methods.
- Quarantine your new fish
- Feed your betta properly
- Do frequent water changes
- Do water testing
- Do not overcrowd the aquarium
The Bottom Line On Velvet In Bettas
Gold dust infection/ velvet can be contagious but we cannot say it is fatal. The disease is curable as long as it is caught in an early stage. Just remember one thing, using the right prevention can stop any disease from forming be it velvet or any other. So, use the precautions carefully and help your betta get through this.