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Jan 14, 2024
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Newtown, CT
Hello, our female betta always had a version of this white material on her scales since she was purchased. It is localized to her head.

She is otherwise very healthy, as is the tank she's in. Does anyone know what this is or how to treat?

I have these available:

Jungle Fungus Clear
Fritz Coppersafe
API Melafix

If anyone has a better suggestion, we are all ears and have a quarantine tank ready. Thanks!

- Greg & Jess


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I don't 100% know as I've only kept 2 bettas previously but my last one had a tumor that had a similar colour to the white mark on yours. Hopefully it's not this and is treatable :) Wait for responses from more experienced members though.

(It started off as a small white dot and turned into this after around 100 days)


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It has a small sore on the side of the head (the dark patch) and it is covered in excess mucous (the cream stuff). It's not contagious.

You can try salt for a couple of weeks or a broad spectrum medication. I would use salt first and if it doesn't help, then try something else.

It also appears to have a bit of excess mucous on its top lip and over the entire body. This is normally caused by something in the water irritating the fish. It can be ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, plant fertiliser, medications or something from outside the aquarium that has entered the water. A big water change and gravel cleaning the substrate should help, as will cleaning the filter.


Test the water for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH.

Wipe the inside of the glass down with a clean fish sponge. This removes the biofilm on the glass and the biofilm will contain lots of harmful bacteria, fungus, protozoans and various other microscopic life forms.

Do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate every day for a week. The water changes and gravel cleaning will reduce the number of disease organisms in the water and provide a cleaner environment for the fish to recover in. It also removes a lot of the gunk and this means any medication can work on treating the fish instead of being wasted killing the pathogens in the gunk.
Make sure any new water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.

Clean the filter if it hasn't been done in the last 2 weeks. However, if the filter is less than 6 weeks old, do not clean it. Wash the filter materials/ media in a bucket of tank water and re-use the media. Tip the bucket of dirty water on the garden/ lawn. Cleaning the filter means less gunk and cleaner water with fewer pathogens so any medication (if needed) will work more effectively on the fish.

After a week of water changes, add some salt.


You can add rock salt (often sold as aquarium salt), swimming pool salt, or any non iodised salt (sodium chloride) to the aquarium at the dose rate of 1 heaped tablespoon per 20 litres (5 gallons) of water. If there is no improvement after 48 hours you can double that dose rate so there is 2 heaped tablespoons of salt per 20 litres.

Keep the salt level like this for at least 2 weeks. If there's no improvement after that, do some water changes and get a broad spectrum medication that treats bacteria, fungus and protozoa. Don't get an antibiotic.

The salt will not affect the beneficial filter bacteria, fish, plants, shrimp or snails.

After you use salt and the fish have recovered, you do a 10% water change each day for a week using only fresh water that has been dechlorinated. Then do a 20% water change each day for a week. Then you can do bigger water changes after that. This dilutes the salt out of the tank slowly so it doesn't harm the fish.

If you do water changes while using salt, you need to treat the new water with salt before adding it to the tank. This will keep the salt level stable in the tank and minimise stress on the fish.

When you first add salt, add the salt to a small bucket of tank water and dissolve the salt. Then slowly pour the salt water into the tank near the filter outlet. Add the salt over a couple of minutes.
One of my wife's bettas had a similar condition and I never found the cause. The betta lived out its life with the white growth sometimes developing then other times it would go away. The growth was at the base of the tail in our case and even under the microscope I could not find anything that would cause it. The betta, did not seem to suffer from the growth but in the end it only lived for 3.5 to 4 years, which seemed a short time so maybe it did have an effect on it.
Thank you all for your time and careful consideration.

So, if the betta is already in a 1-gallon quarantine tank that has been dosed with Jungle Fungus Clear, Fritz Coppersafe, and API Melafix at their appropriate doses for a tank of that size, is it safe to also dose the quarantine tank with 1/3 tbsp of API aquarium salt?

Thank you again for all your advice. Our daughter, Margot, is hoping her betta, Athena, will pull through successfully.

- Greg & Jess
Don't add salt if you already have chemicals in there. You shouldn't mix chemicals either because most are poisonous and it's a fine line between adding enough medication to do the job, but not too much that you kill the fish.

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