There are many health concerns that can cause a betta fish to go blind. Knowing what these concerns are can help you take preventative action as best as possible to avoid having your betta fish lose their vision.
It’s also wise to know what may have caused your betta fish to go blind in order to have the condition treated appropriately. Then, you can learn how to adapt to your betta’s new way of life to give them the best care possible.
Can Betta Go Blind?
Bettas are visually oriented creatures. Their eyesight is one of the best ways they can observe the world around them, and even their sense of color is highly developed.
Unfortunately, betta can lose their vision due to a number of health issues that cause their vision to degrade. For a betta, this can be devastating considering how much they rely on their eyesight.
Thus, it’s important to be able to recognize the signs of a blind fish to know how to adjust how you care for them.
How Can You Tell If A Betta Fish Is Blind?
There are a few visual cues you will notice if your betta fish is losing their sight or has gone blind.
Sometimes, their eyes might be missing, or it may look as though their scales have grown in front of their eyes. Their eyes may also look like they are cloudy or they may look like they are bulging out.
You can also try getting your betta to follow your finger after submerging it into their water. If you notice them come towards it or follow it around, you’ll know they can still see. If they don’t react, it’s possible that it’s because they cannot see your finger.
If you notice your betta bumping into objects, or not moving away from your hand when you’re near the tank, this can also be a sign that it’s a blind betta.
Another common sign of blindness in fish is if they frequently have trouble finding their food. If your betta used to eat all its food without any issues but now looks like it can’t find the food pellets in the water, this could indicate that it’s blind.
In some cases, it might look like your betta has lost its sight completely and is unable to see anything around them. In other cases, they may just appear to be less aware of things around them.
If you put a betta mirror in the tank and you see him flaring at it (or he sees his reflection on the side of the aquarium and flares at it), that’s a sign your betta may not be blind.
What Causes Betta Fish To Go Blind?
The most common cause of a betta fish going blind is eye trauma. If your betta’s eyes become impacted by something floating in their tank, they could easily injure themselves. It’s also possible that they can hurt themselves by swimming into sharp decorations in their tank.
Some common causes of blindness in betta fish include fungal and bacterial infections, as well as parasitic infections and cataracts. If your betta’s water is not clean and clear, they could potentially contract a bacterial or fungal infection that causes them to go blind.
There is also a condition known as dragon’s eye that can occur in betta fish. This condition is somewhat rare, and will usually only occur in certain kinds of bettas. Essentially, their scales will begin to grow in the eye region, to the point where their eyes can become completely covered by scales.
It’s theorized that this condition could be a result of a specific immune response in bettas bred for their colorful scales, often referred to as dragon’s scales.
Thus, if you have a betta who has had an eye infection, you want to monitor their eyes to check for signs of scales growing.
How to Treat Bettas Who Are Blind
One common symptom of bettas who are going blind or having vision troubles is that their eyes will become cloudy.
Cloudy eyes on various species of fish is a fairly common issue, and betta are not immune to this issue. There are a number of reasons why it happens, and I’ll talk about treatments for each.
The most common reason why bettas get cloudy eyes is that they’re being kept in a tank with a high level of ammonia in the water.
If you’re not regularly changing your water, you should start by testing your water to see how much ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate you have in the aquarium water.
If you have a problem with ammonia, you should do a 50-75% water change and add something to make the ammonia in the water harmless (like Seachem Prime).
Test again afterwards to see if the levels are still above safe thresholds. Prime only works for 48 hours, so you’ll want to change the water daily until your aquarium water is safe.
I have a guide on changing betta water that should give you everything you need to know.
If your water test reveals no issues with pollutants, there are other potential reasons why it may happen.
Infection: Bacterial, Fungal, or Parasites
The eyes can also become cloudy because of similar conditions that cause blindness: including bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infection.
In this case, you may want to add between 1-2 tsp of aquarium salt per gallon of water to your aquarium to help resolve bacterial and fungal issues.
You should leave this in your tank for no more than 10 days before removing it via a water change. You should also test your water before you add the salt to make sure ammonia and nitrite are both at 0 parts per million and nitrate is below 10 parts per million, that way you can do a water change before as needed to fix the water quality before adding salt.
If you have plants or marimo in your aquarium (or scaleless fish), you will want to move your betta over to a hospital tank to do this treatment.
Bad Reaction to New Food
There is also a slight chance that your betta is having a reaction to their food. If you recently switched their food, or just started feeding them something, you may want to either switch again or go back to their original food.
Be sure to do a thorough cleaning of their water and take care to remove anything that could have potentially impacted your betta’ eyes.
Keep monitoring them, and if things don’t improve, you can try posting a picture on a forum like Fishlore to get more personalized advice.
How Do You Care For A Blind Betta Fish?
Blind bettas can be kept in captivity just like any other fish although there will be some adjustments you will need to make to their living environment.
Bettas are known for being able to adapt to many different environments and circumstances, so while they may be blind, they can still live a happy and fulfilling life. With a little extra care and attention, you will be able to make sure that your betta fish is as comfortable as possible.
You will have to alter a betta fish’s living quarters to make them as safe and easy to maneuver as possible, however. First, remove anything that is sharp or could cause them to get easily injured.
You may also have to take care to feed them in one particular spot of the tank that they will be able to sense to go to. Try tapping on the glass to let them hear where you are, then drop the food in when they are close by.
Given that betta fish are very intelligent, learn quickly, and have other senses they can rely on, they will be able to adapt to going blind and having to learn new ways of doing things much better than you might expect. As long as you don’t give up on them, they won’t give up on themselves either.
Having a betta go blind is never a fun experience, however it doesn’t have to be a huge issue. In a lot of cases, the issue is caused by poor water quality and may resolve itself if you change your aquarium’s water, keep it clean, and treat any infections that your betta may have gotten.
In other cases the blindness may be permanent, and you’ll just have to adjust your routine to meet your betta’s new needs – understanding that he won’t be able to avoid running into things and will have trouble finding his food.