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5 Best Ways to Treat Columnaris in Betta

columnaris in betta

Having a pet betta fish can be stressful. You might always be concerned about any unusual behavior of your betta or any unusual change in your betta, whether it is a disease or is it something fatal? Likewise, one such thing betta fish owners commonly worry about is columnaris in betta.

Columnaris in betta is a disease that might affect your betta if tank conditions are not met, especially if the water quality is poor. The disease is characterized by white patches on the betta fish exterior and is often referred to as a cotton wool disease. It is a bacterial infection and can spread to other fish if it’s a community tank. The most important thing to note here is that this could cause betta fish death if not treated timely. The bacteria responsible is flavobacterium columnare, which is common freshwater bacteria. To know more about columnaris in betta, keep reading.

Columnaris in Betta: What Is It?

The particular betta disease is known by many names like cotton wool disease, guppy disease, saddleback disease. The bacteria responsible for affecting your fish, flavobacterium coloumnare, breeds in cold water and generally affects freshwater fish like your betta.

Columnaris is a severe disease that, if not timely diagnosed, may kill your betta very fast. The sickness is also significantly infectious. Columnaris, like many other microbes, such as the pathogen Ichthyophthirius multifiliis that promotes white spot illness, are commonly found in aquariums.

Columnaris in betta can affect different organs of your fish and can make it difficult for them to survive. For instance, if the mucus affects the gills, it would make it hard for the betta to breathe. If it affects its fins, then it might not be able to swim, betta will lose its balance.

Columnaris in Betta: Symptoms

The first explicitly seen symptom of columnaris in betta is the white cotton-like extensions on the betta body. Columnaris can be mistaken for other illnesses such as fungal infections therefore knowing columnaris in betta symptoms is essential. 

  • The tattered and wrinkled fins are probably to be the primary indication. This, nevertheless, is identical to fin rot. You’ll detect blisters and rashes on your betta’s epidermis after the fins start shredding.
  • Concurrently, mucus starts to build up on the fish’s gills, causing them to darken. The betta’s lungs will be destroyed as the disease spreads, and the betta will have trouble breathing.
  • The colour of your betta’s gills will alter in the llast moments. They’ll begin to turn brown. Tissue damage begins setting in when the flesh around the gills begins to die. Betta fish will gasp for air, that is it will breathe heavly. 
  • Lips of your betta fish will swell if treatment is not provided. 
  • The fish’s creamy plates peel out, revealing the skin underneath.
  • Bettas will also scratch their body over the tank’s decorations and stones.
  • A little spherical spot that resembles a saddle emerges beneath the fish’s dorsal side in some situations.
  • Columnaris can also cause a loss of hunger and lethargy.

Columnaris in Betta: Causes

Columnaris in Betta: Causes

An underlying factor usually pushes Columnaris bacteria. It can be set off by inappropriate habits such as:

Water Quality

Suppose the temperature range required by betta is 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH of the water should range from 6.5 to 7.0. Anything beyond this range could stress your betta. It could indicate nitrate content in your tank water as well; hence if you want to avoid columnaris, betta practice frequent cleaning of tank water.


Overcrowding your community tank might also trigger the bacteria due to betta stress. Besides, small tanks with overcrowding of fish are what raises fish waste in the tank and causes stress among different species and problems of feeding disproportionately.

Another Tank

The bacteria might come into your tank from another tank, or a member from another tank, infecting fish. It can be passed by plants from an infected tank as well.


Stress in betta

It is the worst enemy of a betta fish. It could cause not only bacterial infections but also many other diseases. Stress itself could lead to the death of a betta fish. Hence, try to make the tank environment as hospitable as possible. Avoid any sudden fluctuations in tank parameters.

Due to their aggressive nature, a betta is usually kept alone, therefore avoiding tank mates. Try to install toys, shrubs, plants to keep your betta enthusiastic.

Columnaris in Betta: Treatment

It is essential to know the treatment procedure for any betta disease. However, if you want to avoid death, which is high certainly this case, you should know the treatment steps:

  • The very first step towards the treatment procedure is isolation. Quarantine your fish into another tank so that it does not spread it to other members. Even if your betta resides in a solo tank, shift it to a quarntined tank for treatment purpose. Use conditioned tap water for the tank.
  • Set the water temperauture towards the lower edge, that is keep it to 75 degrees, becuase columnaris in betta is augmented by warmer conditions. Change the tmeperature slowly, because sudden temperature change could stress your betta. Do not forget to keep all other tank parameters in check.
  • Use antibiotics available for columnaris in betta, like Furan 2 or Kanaplex. Add either of themor both into the tank. Consult a professional regarding the dosage and medications. Change the water every second day by 25%, and add the antibiotics after the change. Alternatively add nitrofurazone dosage too.
  • One can add aquarium salts too. However, the we suggest to change water 100%, to avoid overdosing of salts.
  • Do this for a few days after you notice the symptoms in betta. If perhaps yu observe not a significant improvement in your betta, shift to a stronger anitbiotic. This can affect the natural filtration of the tank, hence more water chnages will be required in this case.

FAQs on Columnaris in Betta

Do Columnaris cause fin rot?

Columnaris is caused by bacteria flavobacterium columnare, which can cause severe skin erosions, fins, and gills damage. So yes, columnaris can affect your betta’s fins.

Is Columnaris in all water?

The bacteria causing the disease is usually prevalent in all the water, but its presence does not cause infections in betta. It is the poor tank conditions that trigger it.

Why does my betta fish have white stuff on its mouth?

It is due to fungal infections. Even though the betta fish is constantly in the presence of bacteria and fungus, they get seriously infected when stressed. Columnaris, a type of bacterial infection, causes cotton wool-like extensions in parts of your betta.

Final Thoughts:

Columnaris in betta, although fatal, can be treated if one is observant and takes good care of their betta fish. If you diagnose the disease beforehand, you can save your betta’s life with proper treatment. Nevertheless, we believe prevention is better than cure. Try maintaining the tank conditions, and your betta will never face any disease and live longer.