Betta Black Gills (Reasons + Ways to Treat Them)

Betta Black Gills (Reasons + Ways to Treat Them)

Betta with black gills

Bettas are popular fish species known for their striking colors and patterns.

However, they are susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections due to poor water quality and stress.

But is it normal for bettas to have black gills?

Why Do Bettas’ Gills Turn Black?

A betta’s gills can turn black because of several reasons, like unsuitable water conditions, stress, infections, etc.

Given below are the various reasons why bettas’ gills can turn black.

Inappropriate Water Parameters

Bettas are sensitive to water parameters, and even small fluctuations can stress them.

Unsuitable pH level, temperature, or hardness can stress their immune system and make them susceptible to gill infections.

So it’s essential to test the water parameters of a betta tank and keep them within the ideal range.

Poor Tank Hygiene

Poor tank hygiene can spike waste and ammonia buildup in the tank and result in gill infections.

Inadequate upkeep of the tank may also result in the buildup of toxins in the water, creating a risk to bettas.

Therefore, regular water changes and tank cleaning are essential to regulate the buildup of toxins and waste.

Uncycled Tank

Uncycled tanks can become prone to the accumulation of ammonia and nitrite in the water.

The water quality can become toxic to bettas and lead to stress, illness, and infections.

So to avoid this problem, cycling the tank is essential before introducing any fish.

Overcrowded Tank

Overcrowded tanks can accumulate fish waste and toxins very fast.

Lack of proper space can lead to stress and infections in bettas. They also need stable water parameters to thrive.

So it’s vital to ensure that there’s plenty of room for all the tank inhabitants.

Aggressive Tankmates

Aggressive tankmates can be another reason for gill infections in bettas.

They can cause a lot of stress to the bettas, which can result in a compromised immune system.

So it’s essential to have compatible and non-aggressive tankmates to ensure there is peace and harmony in the aquarium.

Lack of Hiding Spots

Bettas are territorial and will try hard to keep other fish away from their area of the tank.

Lack of hiding spots can stress the bettas and cause severe health problems.

So it’s essential to provide good hiding spots in the tank for bettas to retreat whenever they feel threatened.


Injuries are another common cause of gill infections in bettas.

An injury sustained due to a collision with a rock or object can prove hazardous and lead to gill infections.

Check the tank environment for potential hazards and avoid adding an object with sharp edges that can injure your bettas.

How to Treat Bettas with Black Gills?

Given below are a few tips to treat bettas with black gills.

Note that the below tips can help de-stress the bettas and improve their immune system.

However, you must consult a vet for medication and proper treatment.

Improve the Water Quality

The first thing you must do is improve the water quality of the betta tank.

To improve the water quality, you must regularly check the water parameters and ensure that they remain within the optimal range.

Regular water changes and tank cleaning are also recommended for maintaining proper tank hygiene.

Eliminate Stress

Always keep compatible tankmates like Ember tetras, Cory catfish, and Harlequin Rasboras with your bettas.

Avoid keeping Angelfish, Oscars, Parrotfish, and male bettas as tankmates to eliminate stress.

You must also add a few plants in the tank to reduce unwanted confrontations and provide your fish with plenty of hiding spots.

Cycle the Tank Properly

Betta in a cycled tank

You must monitor the water quality and perform regular water changes to maintain optimal water parameters.

If you have an already established tank, you must consider adding beneficial bacteria.

The nitrifying or beneficial bacteria will help break the waste and toxins inside the tank water.

Provide a Well-Balanced Diet

Bettas suffer from gill infections due to their poor immune system.

Besides eliminating environmental stress, you must also aim to provide a nutritious diet to your bettas.

A well-balanced diet will help your bettas improve their immunity and overcome bacterial and fungal infections.

Maintain a Happy Environment

Bettas are intelligent fish species that need mental stimulation to stay healthy.

You can engage and entertain your bettas by adding decor, toys, and other interactive items inside the aquarium.

Doing this will ensure that your bettas stay happy and stress-free. This will help build their immunity to fight off infections.

Precautions to Prevent Bettas’ Gills from Turning Black

Given below are some tips to ensure that your bettas don’t develop black gills.

Maintain Ideal Water Parameters

Bettas thrive in clean, warm, and filtered water.

The water temperature must be within 75°F to 82°F (23.8°C to 27.7°C), ph between 6.5 to 7.5, and hardness within 3 dGH to 4 dGH.

Heavy water movement can also cause undue stress to bettas. So the water flow should be gentle, similar to their natural habitat.

Create Conducive Tank Conditions

Bettas need a spacious tank with a lot of swimming space.

Although a single betta requires 3 to 5 gallons, it’s best to provide additional space to make the betta feel comfortable.

You should also create plenty of hiding spots by adding aquatic plants and decor. It helps the fish take shelter and de-stress.

Perform Regular Water Changes

Dirty tank water has high levels of ammonia that can stress your betta’s immune system.

Therefore, a robust filtration system, regular water changes, and proper maintenance are required.

This will ensure that the water quality remains consistent and bettas get a stress-free environment.

Keep Compatible Tankmates

Bettas are territorial and aggressive toward intruders in their area.

Keeping bettas with aggressive tankmates can stress and impact their immune system, making them vulnerable to infections.

So bettas should be kept with compatible tankmates that can co-exist in harmony.

Add Nitrifying Bacteria

Using a nitrifying bacteria supplement is an effective and time-efficient way to maintain your tank.

Bacterial growth in an aquarium is a natural process. However, it can be accelerated through the use of supplemental products.

A good bacteria supplement can help maintain the aquarium’s ammonia and nitrogen levels.

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