Baby betta with spinal deformity

  • #1
I bought a baby betta from a petstore (i know not the best place to support...) and she was completely brown stripped laying at the bottom of the cup so i felt bad and wanted to give her a better life. I noticed very quickly that she had issues swimming and her rear end always has curved down. Had her for a month now and althought shes colored up shes hardly grown and sits on the bottom of the tank 90% of the time unless she comes up for air. I have her now in an isolation box just so she doesn't have a hard time swimming to the surface or eating. She seems decent enough but is she happy? Im having my doubts... she will wiggle over, more like a crawl when she sees me but i dont want her to suffer with her disability. Its only gotten worse to the point you can see a curve in her lower back when you look from the top. I want to give her a tank but i worry itll be too big for her to navigate. Should i just cull her? Or let her live in such a small isolated area?

  • #2
Awh, it makes me so sad that petstores sell baby bettas.
I once rescued a baby boy (turned out to be a girl) from Petco who also had a spinal deformity. I did the same thing you did but eventually she died maybe 6 months later.
I never culled her because she seemed to fight to being alive, but I got her a little resting leaf that she would sit on by the surface, so she wouldn’t have to swim as much.

imo, as long as the fish is happy, let it live, but if it seems to be suffering the nicest thing is to put it down, sadly.

  • #3
It's likely not a spinal deformity but result of being in the betta cup. Spinal deformity fish would be culled by a breeder and not make it to a store.

1) How deep is you tank? keep water lower, below a foot in height
2) how much oxygen rich water is there, keep temp lower so water has more oxygen, less need to surface breathe
make certain there are items or plants the fish can perch & rest on.
3) I cup fed my female koi for a few months (took her out daily in abetta cup sat her for 5 minutes with food and as it settled I'd reswirl it with my finger so she could graze. Ophelia only swam at a 45 degree angle. The cup feeding is only reason she survived. She had gotten under weight before I realized the issue.

It was only going from a 10 gallon to 20 gallon long (both heavily planted) almost immediately cured her - 'i'm talking 48 to 72 hours, no tilt when swimming at all. You would never guess it's the same fish. I posted before that I almost euthanized her. I bought clove oil to do it but held back. She had fight & still was eating.

imo Koi Bettas are genetically weak

regular Bettas have been wildly bred last 40+ years to create new looks which means they too can be weak ( recessive traits exploited for new looks)

Just like exotic dog breeds are bred to exploit recessive traits, making dog weaker, we see the same thing in fish.

add to that trauma of sitting in a cup in a store, you can end up with a fish that needs rehabilitation & extra care.

Good luck!
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
She was in a 55 gallon well planted community tank for a bit but then went to a 5 gallon hospital tank with a sponge filter that had been cycled months prior. Now shes in an isolation box in the 5 gallon but still alone. She was having issues getting to the top of the tank as her spine is getting more of a Z shape in the end. I have other bettas males and females and all are thriving and growing but not her. Her tail has always dipped down and shes only ever "swam" up or down, never straight. I dont think she can even turn her tail up if she tried. =(
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
The first photos are from the top and the third was when i moved her to the smaller tank. She always had a C shape to her from the side but the shape of the spine has gotten more noticable from the top.


  • 20200414_185355.jpg
    46.7 KB · Views: 48
  • 20200414_185350.jpg
    41.8 KB · Views: 46
  • 20200414_185739.jpg
    55.6 KB · Views: 52
  • #6
yes, the bent look.

if it's not deformity by structure (injury or genetics), then best possible care can improve quality of life
1) oxygen - low water line for surface breathing
2) plants, plants, plants
3) lower heat (especially if above 78 degrees) to keep oxygen in tank and maybe a 10% water change every other day? keep water quality pristine, less need to rise to top of water to breathe, less struggle

it's about what you think is best for your fish. if it's alert & eats, imo then manage the symptoms so the body can heal. best care possible so needs are met, best filter, best water parameter, result in less struggle for basics like breathing. Just throwing ideas out there.

To me, a breeding basket is for injuries where torn fins grow out or keep babies.

if your 5 gallon is good, then use it.

I only tossed Ophelia into my 20 gallon long because I really, really did not want another tank to take care of. ( I had 14 in total at the time, most betta 5 gallons) her recovery was a happy accident, not planned at all.

Try something for say 72 hours , enough time to have an impact & access - is it working? not working. A lot of this is trial and error. But as long as your Betta fish is alert & eating, don't panic ( not you per se, just in general) . it's a marathon not a sprint. I'm assuming the fish is youngish, 6 months or so so recovery is possible, not impossible.

Good luck!

Similar Aquarium Threads

  • Locked
  • Question


Top Bottom