Betta Temperature Shock Symptoms [Explained]

Once you decide to keep a Betta and enjoy it fully in its magnificence you need to learn about many things connected to its well being, care and treatment. In general, they are not demanding fish to keep but there are certain conditions you need to provide and once you establish and balance it you just need to keep it on and your Betta will be just fine.

Temperature is essential for Bettas and they do tolerate a wide range from 72 to 84 °F but they will thrive only between 78 and 82 °F. Great damage can be done to a Betta fish if it suffers from a temperature shock and here, we will tell you all you need to know about it. How does it happen, what are the symptoms and what to do when it happens? We hope that it will help you deal with it if it happens to your pet. 

The most important thing for you to remember now is that your Betta depends completely on the environment and cannot regulate its body temperature, so if you keep the water temperature within the preferable limits and that is 78 to 82 °F you shouldn’t expect issues with temperature shock. 

betta temperature shock symptoms featured

What Is A Temperature Shock?

However, things in the tank can change and you need to learn about what a temperature shock is and how it happens. If a sudden or large temperature change happens it will affect your Betta. As a psychological response to it, temperature shock will happen. Its body temperature can either rise or fall and due to it, the body functions will fail.

To understand it better we can compare it to hypothermia or hyperthermia in people. If you expose the human body to a sudden change from a conditioned room to a hot humid environment you will experience anxiety and difficulty breathing in. Similar things will happen if the conditions change from hot to cold and this is almost the same that happens to Bettas if there is a drastic change in temperature. 

However, you need to know that drastic and rapid temperature changes can be fatal to Bettas. They can cause metabolic changes, difficulties with breathing, organ function decreased and eventually death of your pet. 

Main Causes Of Temperature Shock

Since Bettas are tropical fish, they need tropical temperatures. If the ideal conditions change rapidly, temperature shock happens. Both ways are bad for Bettas and tank life either too hot or too cold. In most cases changing to colder is worse. It is very important to know the possible causes of rapid changes in temperature for two reasons. The first reason is to prevent it and secondly to know what to do if it happens so that you can help your pet. Now we will tell you several common situations of temperature shock.

Room Temperature Change

Depending on the season the temperature in the room can change drastically and influence the change in water temperature in the tank. Too hot in summer or too cold in winter can influence the tank temperature. This can happen more often if a tank is small. If you pay attention to the water temperature in a situation like this you will be able to avoid the temperature shock of the inhabitants. 

Moving Betta To And From Its Tank

This is a common situation when temperature shock happens. If not done properly moving your pet from one environment to another without proper acclimation will most certainly cause temperature shock. Be very careful, do not hurry, let your pet adjust when moving your pet for any reason. Let it float in a bag until it matches the temperature of the new environment. It will take about 30 minutes. After that slowly add tank water into the bag until it is fully adjusted. Only this way you will be sure that no damage will be brought to your pet. 

Performing Water Changes

If you want to keep the water clean and the parameters level at optimal values, you need to perform water changes on schedule. When doing it you need to do it with attention not to change the water temperature rapidly when pouring new water into the tank. It can reduce or increase water temperature drastically and harm your fish. To avoid a shock while performing the water change, prepare the water well in advance. Let it reach room temperature or more and slowly perform the water change. That way you will allow a safe acclimation process without rapid change of temperature and avoid temperature shock. 

Betta Temperature Shock Symptoms

If you want to save your Betta you need to know what to look for. We are going to tell you more about the Betta temperature shock symptoms. They can vary depending on the direction that the temperature changes. The symptoms are different depending whether the water temperature increases or decreases. 

Cold Temperature Shock Symptoms 

  • Lethargy is the first sign of temperature shock and it is because the fish stops moving. It does no longer absorb the warmth from water and slow down not only in moving but also in the function of the organs.  
  • Color loss is also one of the most common symptoms of temperature shock caused by cold water along with the stress stripes which can show up in some cases. Once you regain the proper water temperature if done in time your Betta will survive but it will take weeks until it gets its color back and the stripes disappear. 
  • Lying at the bottom can be also seen if a Betta has suffered temperature shock. This happens because it can no longer swim to the surface due to a lack of strength and energy. 
  • Coma condition appears if the temperature is extremely low so the functions of its body become too slow and there isn’t enough oxygen. If you do not notice it instantly and act right away you will lose your beta. Coma conditions should not be mistaken for being dead so you should first try to warm your pet and give it a chance for recovery. If a Betta doesn’t give signs of life after a few minutes it is certainly dead. 

Hot Temperature Shock Symptoms

  • Rapid breathing is one of the first Betta temperature shock symptoms that shows up if your Betta has suffered hot temperature shock. In most cases, it is not as severe as cold temperature shock but still, you need to act. You should cool the water to an appropriate level as soon as you notice the change. 
  • Swimming only around the surface surely is a signal that something is wrong. It is there gasping for oxygen. As soon as you lower the temperature your Betta will start behaving normally. 
  • Erratic swimming is another sign that the water is too hot. It is caused by extra energy which stresses your pet but weakens its immune system. 

Can Betta Recover From A Temperature Shock?

We have already said that a Betta prefers a temperature between 78 and 82 degrees and if there is a rapid change that lasts long it can be fatal to a Betta. However, if you notice that a temperature shock has happened and you react in time there is a chance to save your pet. The Betta temperature shock symptoms can last from a few days up to several weeks and it is crucial that during that time you keep your Betta happy. Since a Betta is weakened during that period there mustn’t be any change that can hurt it additionally or it won’t recover. All the parameters have to be at a perfect level. You should also provide a diet of high quality and also additional sources of vitamins which will significantly help in gaining the color. If the equipment caused the problem, then you need to provide a new heater or chiller. You need to do everything in your power to make a Betta feel happy, recover its immune system and regain strength.

How To Avoid A Temperature Shock?

It would be best if you never let temperature shock happen however if it does you need to know what to do to prevent further damage. 

If it happens the first thing is that you need to act right away but with extra caution not to cause another temperature shock which can be fatal. 

If you have to reduce the water temperature it is advisable to reduce it by 2 to 3 degrees every 3 to 4 hours. Set the heater, turn the lights off to stop extra heating and open the lid because of evaporation. Be careful with the lid because a Betta may jump out. Block any other sources of additional heat. Add extra fans to the top of the tank if possible. Increase the speed of the air pump to move the oxygen throughout the aquarium but still do not let the speed stress out a Betta. You can bag the ice cubes and let them float in the aquarium but be careful not to reduce the temperature rapidly. Another thing you can do is to add smaller amounts of cool water that need to be well calculated not to cool it rapidly. This could also help the level of ammonia and nitrite. Be patient and let the temperature fall to an appropriate level. 

If you have to increase the water temperature it is more or less the same. You should increase it only for a couple of degrees every 2 or 3 hours. However, many say that Bettas tolerate better temperature shock from cooler water than hot. The best option in this scenario is to set the heater at a desirable temperature and check the thermometer often. You can also add warmer water every few hours to raise the temperature. You can wrap a blanket around the tank or add a warmer float in the tank. Let the air pump run to circulate oxygen. 

Final Thoughts

After everything said, now you know that temperature shock can be very dangerous and, in some cases, fatal to Bettas. If you recognize the Betta temperature shock symptoms, you can heal your pet immediately. We have provided you options on how to fix the problem if it occurs and what to do to help a Betta recover. 

The best way to avoid temperature shock is to check the equipment regularly and have an accurate thermometer and that way you will surely avoid any undesirable circumstances. 

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