Eric is an aquarium enthusiast with over two decades of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish.
How to Care for a Betta Fish
Betta fish are easy to care for, but they have some special requirements due to their behaviors. They are colorful fish, both fierce and fragile. While they are among the most popular aquarium fish in the world, they are also one of the most misunderstood.
If you've just brought your new betta home, or if you are thinking of getting one, you probably have a lot of questions. This betta fish care guide can help you figure it all out, and give you the information you need to provide your new pet with a healthy environment where he will thrive for many years.
Or, perhaps you're having trouble with a betta you've had in the family for a while. It is tremendously disheartening when a pet gets sick or starts acting strangely, but you're not alone. Here you learn facts about betta fish and find the answers to many frequently asked questions about the things they do.
Maybe you'll discover your betta's actions aren't so weird after all!
Even though the tiny cups they come in at the pet store might suggest otherwise, bettas are not disposable pets. They require the same care and respect as any animal. Are you up to the task?
Of course! If you didn't care about your betta fish you wouldn't be here! So let's get down to business.
How to Choose the Right Betta Tank
You want to choose a quality aquarium and have it set up before you bring your betta fish home. You may have heard that bettas do best in small bowls or even plant vases, but that’s simply not true. Just like any other tropical fish, they need space to thrive.
So, why do some people think it is okay to keep these fish in tiny little containers? Betta fish are Anabantids, which means they can breathe the air above the water through their mouths as well as obtain oxygen from the water through their gills.
They can exist in low-oxygen water environments where other fish would perish. In the wild, this means rice paddies or even muddy puddles. However, this is not an excuse for keeping betta fish in poor conditions.
What size tank is best for betta fish?
You’ll want at least a 5-gallon tank, but many people have great success keeping a betta in beautifully planted 10-gallon tanks. Avoid small bowls and very small tanks. Small volumes of water pollute quickly, creating a bad environment for your fish.
Heat and Filtration for Your Betta Tank
As tropical fish, betta may require a heater and filter in their tank. You can find nano heaters for 5-gallon tanks, and if you choose a 10-gallon tank you’ll have many more options. Bettas need a temperature between 75 and 80 degrees.
You’ll want a heater capable of maintaining that temperature, as well as a thermometer that will accurately measure the temp of the tank water. (I prefer to use this digital thermometer with a probe. It is inexpensive, and super easy to read.)
As with heaters, you can find nano filters for 5-gallons tanks, and a wider variety of options for 10-gallon tanks and up. Look for something with adjustable flow. Bettas don’t like a lot of current. In worst-case scenarios, strong currents can even be bad for their fins, so try to find a filter with low-flow capabilities.
Betta Fish Ideal Water Parameters
- Temperature: 78 degrees
- Nitrates: < 20
- Nitrites: 0
- Ammonia: 0
- pH: 7.0
Betta Fish Tank Accessories
You’ll need a few more supplies for your tank. Some things to think about:
- Gravel and Substrate: In my opinion, regular aquarium gravel is best. Some people like to use large pebbles and marbles, and that’s fine if you are willing to go the extra mile every time you clean the tank. However, waste and uneaten food can easily slip between pebbles and become trapped, where they decay and foul the water. If you use regular gravel the tank is much easier to clean.
- Plants: Bettas love plants, and they’ll sometimes even rest on the leaves. There are pros and cons to choosing live plants for your aquarium. But, if live plants seem too daunting, there is nothing wrong with artificial plants.
- Hiding Spots: I always like to have a hiding spot, such as a cave or decoration the fish can swim into. It gives them a little haven where they can get away from light or current, or whatever else might be bothering them. Some fish use hiding spots a lot, where others rarely go into them.
How to Clean Your Betta Tank
If you set up your tank wisely you only need to spend a couple of minutes per week on maintenance. The most important thing is to perform a water change, while simultaneously cleaning the gravel. This is easily accomplished with an inexpensive siphon.
Choose a siphon based on the size of your tank. Obviously, very small tanks only require very small siphons. (I prefer the Aqueon Mini Siphon. There are more elaborate versions out there, but this one is inexpensive and does the job.)
You’ll want to vacuum the gravel until you remove about a third of the water, and then replace it will clean, fresh, water. For small tanks, make sure you allow the new water to come up to room temperature before adding.
How often should you change your betta fish's water?
If your betta lives in an unfiltered setup you’ll need to completely change his water and clean his tank weekly. If he is in a tank with filtration, you need to change about 20-30% of his water weekly.
Some people wait until the water is visibly murky before performing maintenance on the tank. By then it’s too late.
It’s best not to net him if you need to remove him from his home. His fins are fragile and it can greatly stress him. A better idea is to scoop him out into a small cup or bowl while you perform the weekly maintenance.
Be aware that Bettas can jump, so make sure he’s in a safe place.
Is tap water safe for betta fish?
If you are lucky enough to live where you have fresh, clean water without additives floating around in it, this will be fine for your betta. If your water is drinkable, but you know it contains additives such as chlorine, there are dissolving tablets you can purchase that will condition the water and make it safe for your betta. If you are unsure about the safety of your water you can purchase quality bottled spring water.
It’s a good idea to have your tap water tested. It’s important to know whether or not your water source includes chemicals such as chlorine. Many municipal water sources do.You.can bring a sample and ask the staff at the pet store to do this for you, or you can purchase a kit and do it yourself. I prefer the API Freshwater Master Test Kit, and I've used it for years. Follow the directions that come with the kit and its super easy.
How do you get rid of algae in a betta tank?
Dealing with algae is something you’ll have to do with good old’ elbow grease. Algae scrubbers are inexpensive and are made to scrape the side of the tank clean. You may need to remove the decorations and clean them by hand
Food for Betta Fish
Feeding mistakes are among the top reasons betta fish die before their time. Take some time to learn the best practice for when dinner time comes around.
What are the best foods for betta fish?
- Betta pellets
- Flake food
- Blood worms
- Brine shrimp
- Freeze-dried foods
- Frozen foods (thawed)
How much should you feed your betta?
Choose a simple flake or pellet and only feed as much as he will eat in a few minutes. Most food containers advise feeding several times per day, but in my experience once a day is fine. Your betta won’t eat a lot, so pay attention to what he’s letting float to the bottom of the tank and learn to gauge the appropriate amount of food to feed.
Why isn't my betta fish eating?
If your betta isn't eating it could be a sign of illness or constipation, but there are few other things to consider before jumping to that conclusion. First, your betta may pick at the food on the gravel when you aren't paying attention.
It is also possible he doesn't like the foods you are presenting. Experiment with other foods and see when he likes. It’s best to find a good flake or pellet food for his regular feedings and provide more exotic foods as treats.
Remember, he is one small fish and doesn't need a lot of food. It is possible that you are overfeeding him and expecting him to eat too much. It's okay to give him a fasting day now and then. You might find him more receptive to the food you offer.
Betta Fish Tank Mates
Bettas can have tank mates under the right circumstances. When kept in a community tank, the threat is often to the betta as much as to the other fish. It is important to understand the dangers so you can make the best choices.
Can bettas live with other fish?
Maybe. It depends on the temperament of the other fish and your betta. You may be surprised to read this, given the reputation bettas have for fighting. Because they are so aggressive, many people keep them in tanks separate from their other fish, which is smart for beginners.
There are a few keys to keeping a betta fish in a community tank. In a nutshell:
- Try to add your betta to a tank that’s already established.
- Don’t put your betta in a tank with species who are known fin nippers.
- No other semi-aggressive fish in the tank, especially other anabantids.
- No other fish with flowing fins, as he may mistake them for another betta.
- Have a peaceful tank with lots of hiding spots.
- Above all else, always have a backup plan (small tank or bowl) ready in case betta doesn’t get along.
Keeping betta in a community tank takes some planning and patience. If you are considering it, this article can help.
Which fish can live with bettas?
While you can never be sure how a betta will react to any fish in his tank, some good choices for tank mates include:
- Neon Tetras
- Kuhli Loach
- Ember Tetras
Be sure to research any fish you intend to stock!
Can bettas have tank mates that aren't fish?
In many cases, bettas can live with critters. In fact, in smaller tanks, it is preferable to housing them other fish. You want to take some of the same precautions as you could keeping him with tank mates in a community setting, such as keeping a peaceful tank and, most importantly, having a backup plan in case things go wrong.
Some tankmates to consider are:
- Apple/Mystery Snails
- African Dwarf Frogs
- Ghost Shrimp
Can two male bettas live in the same tank?
You should never put two male betta fish in the same tank. In most circumstances, two males bettas in the same tank will severely injure or even kill each other. The only possible way to have two in one tank is to use a divider system to partition the tank. If you try this don’t use a clear partition, as both fish may stress themselves to death trying to get at the other.
Male bettas are aggressive fish and will attack each other and fish similar to them. It’s important to realize this when planning the environment where your betta will live. Novice fish keepers are wise to keep their betta alone in a single-specimen tank.
Can male and female bettas live together?
Male bettas may become aggressive toward females. For this reason, it is not a good idea to keep male and female bettas together in the same tank. The obvious exception is if you are trying to breed them. Breeding bettas should only be attempted by fish keepers who know what they are doing (or are willing to take the time to learn) and have a plan for the fry.
Can betta fish live with goldfish?
The short answer is no. Goldfish and betta fish have very different care requirements. Goldfish are cold-water fish, and bettas are tropical fish, meaning the appropriate water temperature for each would stress the other.
Goldfish pollute water quickly, which would be deadly for a betta. They also have long, flowing fins, which could provoke aggression.
Finally, goldfish grow much too large for most home aquariums. They are appropriate only for very huge tanks and outdoor ponds.
Betta Fish Diseases and Illnesses
Sometimes bettas get sick, but more often their owners mistake odd behaviors for signs of illness. People often think their fish is sick when really it is just betta being betta. However, there are some signs to watch out for that will clue you into illness.
How do I know if my betta fish is sick?
Signs of illness include:
- Swimming Sideways: If you notice buoyancy issues with your fish, it could be because of swim bladder issues. Overfeeding and poor water conditions are the cause of many betta maladies. Do a water change, and switch to an alternate day feed/fast schedule for a week and see if he improves.
- Fins deteriorating: This is called fin rot, and it is often due to poor water conditions. Keep up with water changes, don’t overfeed, keep his water super-clean and he ought to recover.
- Scales look like they are ready to pop off: If your betta seems to be blowing up like a balloon to the point where his scales seem to be ready to burst, this is a condition called dropsy. Unfortunately, it is usually fatal, but can be prevented if you avoid overfeeding, especially live or very rich foods like bloodworms.
- Little white dots on scales: This is a parasitic infection called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, or more commonly referred to as simply ich. It can be treated with over-the-counter meds, thought some fish keepers prefer to treat by raising the water temp and dosing the tank with aquarium salt.
Why is my betta fish turning white?
This is due to stress. If he just went through a water change or some other event where his environment was disturbed he should relax in a few minutes. Likewise, if he just went through an episode of flaring it may be followed by his face turning white.
If it seems like he’s always stressed it could mean there is something wrong in the tank. Some possible reasons include poor water conditions, no hiding spots in the tank, or a tank that is too small or overcrowded.
If he is living in a community tank setting, and his face is white all the time, it is a sure sign that it is time to get him out of there. Something, or some fish, is causing him stress, and it isn’t the right environment for him.
Betta Fish Behaviors
Have some questions about your betta fish? Is he doing something strange? Odds are you're not the first betta owner to witness this behavior.
Why is my betta fish lying on the bottom of the tank?
When a betta fish sits on the bottom it, in itself, does not mean that there is anything wrong. This is normal betta behavior, and as long as he appears otherwise healthy it is no concern. He’s just lazing around, or your betta could be sleeping. This is sometimes interpreted as a sign that a fish is about to die but fear not.
Bettas often sit on the bottom or of the leaves of real or artificial plants. However, if he appears to be tucking himself in a corner or in some other unnatural position it could be a sign that you need to include a hiding spot in his tank.
Also, be on the lookout for any other signs of disease or injury. While healthy betta fish will often lay on the bottom, ill or injured fish may as well.
Why do betta fish make bubble nests?
It’s a mating thing. Male bettas build bubble nests, especially when they are content in their environment. In the wild, this is where the male betta stashes the eggs after they are released by the female.
However, this is also the subject of a little confusion at times. The absence of a bubble nest doesn’t mean your fish isn’t content. Sometimes people change tanks or make some other alteration to the betta’s environment and then become concerned when there is no bubble nest the next day. Let your fish become accustomed to his new environment, and even then don’t worry if he isn’t making nests.
Likewise, the presence of a bubble nest doesn’t always mean everything is fine. Remember, this is an instinctual behavior, and bettas live is some pretty rough environments in the wild. They make nests even when times are hard.
Also, bettas sometimes leave bubbles on the surface of the water when they come up to breathe, and these can be misinterpreted as attempts to build bubble nests.
Why do bettas flare their gills?
A betta flares his gills as a sign of aggression. He is saying: Look how big and bad I am! Back off, buddy! If there is no other fish in the tank it may be because he sees his reflection and thinks it is another betta fish. Bettas are territorial, and the perceived presence of another male will send him in to fight mode. He doesn’t know it is his own reflection he sees.
This may be comical, and to some extent good for the fish, but don’t let it go on for hours on end. Adjust the light near his tank so he doesn’t see himself. If he is always flaring up because he perceives another fish in the tank he will be under constant stress and prone to illness.
Why is my betta swimming up and down the sides of the tank?
This is called glass surfing and it’s usually a sign that a fish is unhappy in its environment. That means he is experiencing stress of some kind. It could be because of poor water conditions, or it could be because the tank is too small.
This is one of the reasons recommend tanks at least five gallons for a single betta fish. Some people put their fish in tanks as small as one gallon and then wonder why the fish spends all day glass surfing. In my opinion, one gallon – or two gallons or three gallons - is far too little space. Bigger is better.
Like any tropical fish, bettas need to swim around and have a little room. And remember: bettas do not like fast currents, so if the filtration in the tank is pushing him around it could be causing him stress.
Why is my betta hiding in the corner of the tank?
Bettas need some kind of decoration or structure they can swim into when they need to feel safe. If that isn’t provided, and he feels he needs it, you may find him tucked into a corner instead. Always provide a place for him to escape to.
This is especially true if the current in the tank is somewhat strong, or if there are other things in the tank that are causing him to feel threatened. Even the outside room can be threatening if people are always tapping on the glass or making a great deal of noise around the tank.
The solution is to have a hiding spot, so betta can retreat when he needs to.
Betta Fish Fighting
Male betta fish are extremely territorial and will viciously fight upon sight of each other, sometimes to the death. You should never house two bettas in the same tank, with the exception of the proper use of a partition. Bettas are ornery critters. This may seem strange, but it is not uncommon in the world of tropical fish.
Why do betta fish fight?
In the wild, bettas fight for territory, food and to protect their eggs, But, remember, in the wild, each betta fish has much more territory to roam. Male bettas do their best to intimidate others out of their area by flaring and making themselves look bigger, and a scrap may occur if the intruder doesn't back down. However, it isn't likely they will fight to the death.
In aquariums, there is no way for bettas to escape from each other. With the added stress of a confined environment, tankmates and possibly sub-par tank conditions betta aggression can be peaked.
Some bettas are even bred for fighting. This is unfortunate and sad. Betta fighting is a behavior that should not ever be encouraged. Please keep them separated and safe, and enjoy these beautiful fish as the peaceful creatures they are.
Betta Fish Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few more things betta owners seem to wonder about If you don’t see your question addressed here, you can also look to see if your question has been asked before in the comments section.
After all of that, if you still can’t find the answers to your betta questions feel free to ask in the comments section below! I do respond ASAP to all legitimate questions, but be patient and give it a day or two, and please be sure to check that your question isn't already asked before posting.
How long do betta fish live?
Betta fish do not live very long. In home aquariums, they have an average lifespan of about three years but can live a little longer with appropriate care. If your betta has made it past the age of five you are doing a great job as a betta keeper! (Or you have a very hardy fish.)
How do you know if a betta fish is happy?
This seems like an odd question, but it is one I get several times per week in various forms on one or more of my betta articles. Usually, someone is concerned because their betta is no longer exhibiting a certain behavior, such as coming to the glass when a person enters the room.
Truthfully, I have no idea if a fish is capable of being “happy” or not, though I am as guilty as anyone for using the term. I think it is more likely that they feel content when their needs are met, such as when they are free from danger and disease, well-fed and unstressed.
Sadness isn't something you can prevent in your betta, but you can prevent those other issues. You keep your betta stress-free by setting up his tank correctly. You know he is well fed because you practice smart feeding practices. You watch for signs of disease and treat if necessary, and you keep his tank clean through proper maintenance procedures.
These are things to strive for when keeping a betta fish. If you do this he will be content, and maybe even happy!
Is my betta fish lonely?
No. Bettas are fine all on their own, and in many cases, they are better off. As long as you follow smart betta care practices you don’t need to worry about the mental state of your fish. Some fish do experience what we might call primitive loneliness. They are schooling fish, and when they are not with others of their kind they experience elevated stress. Bettas are not this kind of fish.
Is my betta fish bored?
Betta fish don't get bored as people do, but animals in captivity do require a certain amount of stimulation. If you are concerned about your fish being bored you can rearrange his tank every time you do a water change. Unfortunately, worrying about a betta being bored and lonely is often used as an excuse to add more fish to the tank. Sometimes I think it is the fishkeeper who has become bored with the betta.
Where do betta fish come from?
In the wild, betta can be found in ponds, slow-moving creeks, and rivers in Southeast Asia. The fish you purchase in the pet stores are all male and bred to bring out their amazing colors and flowing fins. Wild bettas are far duller. Some pet stores sell female bettas, but they are not nearly as common.
Take Good Care of Your Betta!
Betta fish are so popular not just because they are beautiful, but also because they are so easy to take care of. But don’t make the mistake of thinking they are disposable pets. It's easy to keep your fish healthy if you know the ropes.
Finally, please don’t keep your betta in a tiny cube, and if you’re given one in a plant vase please liberate him as soon as possible. If nothing else, I try to be an advocate for responsible fish keeping.
Good luck with your betta!
How is your Betta Care knowledge?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: Why does my betta fish stay near the filter intake?
Answer: It may be because the filter is too strong, or the fish is ill, or both. The current of the tank, along with the pull of the intake, may mean the area near the intake is where he can stay while expending the least amount of energy. If he can go into a cave or decoration, he would also get relief from the current, but sometimes it takes a fish a while to figure this out.
Keep in mind that fish do all kinds of things for all kinds of reasons, and this is only one possibility. It's also possible that nothing is wrong and he just decided that he likes that area for reasons we'll never understand. It's important not to make significant changes on an assumption. When you notice an issue like this, you can make small changes until the problem is solved.
Question: Why is my betta fish swimming at the top of the tank?
Answer: It is possible there is no reason your betta is swimming at the water's surface, other than that's where he likes to be. In the wild bettas often live in shallow water, so this just may be where he feels most comfortable.
Bettas are <i>anabantids</i>, which means they can take gulps of air at the water's surface in addition to taking oxygen from the water through their gills. They have evolved this ability to survive poor water conditions in the wild.
Doing this occasionally is no big deal, but if you see your betta constantly going to the surface for air, your first concern should be poor water conditions in the tank. Test your water and see where your parameters stand. Even though bettas can survive in polluted, low-oxygen conditions in the short-term, in the long-term it leads to illness and death.
The solution is to keep your betta in a tank that is five gallons or larger, avoid overfeeding, and keep up with water changes and tank cleanings.
If your tank water is in good shape, watch for your betta blowing bubbles at the surface. Male bettas build "bubble nests" when conditions are right, and sometimes just blow random bubbles. It's normal behavior and nothing to worry about.
Question: Why is my male betta only eating one pellet at a time?
Answer: He must have a small appetite! Many bettas will gobble up as many pellets as you will give them. If yours only wants to eat one pellet at a time, it is best to only feed one pellet at a time.
The uneaten pellets will decay in the tank and contribute to poor water conditions. That's not good for your betta's long-term health.
I usually like to feed bettas 2-3 pellets once per day, but it is important to only feed as much as he will eat at one time. So, in this case, I think it would be smart to feed multiple times per day, just to make sure he is getting enough to eat.
Question: What does it mean if my betta fish is not eating?
Answer: It could be a sign of illness, and if your fish is not eating you’ll want to look for other indications such as a bloated belly, ragged scales or deteriorating fins to diagnose the issue.
However, before jumping to conclusions, there are a few more things to consider. If you are accidentally overfeeding your betta, there is a chance he simply isn’t in the mood for food when you present it. He may pick at old food in the gravel when he gets hungry, which you may not notice. He may be eating plenty, but there is simply way too much food.
Overfeeding is a major cause of illness for bettas, and if you are giving him too much food, there is a good chance he will become sick if he isn’t already. Only feed once per day and only as much as he’ll eat in a couple of minutes.
If you’ve gotten off-track with his feeding schedule, you can try vacuuming the debris and old food from the gravel and then give him a day or two of fasting. He may then be more interested in the food you present, and more likely to eat it when it is fresh.
There is also the chance your betta could be stressed. If there is something lacking in his environment, or the tank is too small, or the water is polluted, or any number of other issues, he could be stressed to the point where he is not eating. Look at his overall situation and check his water parameters. If something seems off, fix it.
Finally, realize that bettas are not necessarily big eaters. A few pellets or a small pinch of flakes once per day is all he needs. Don’t expect him to eat more than that, and if he doesn’t eat for a couple of days, it doesn’t always mean something is wrong.
Question: All my betta fish does is rest on the ground. How can I make him more comfortable?
Answer: Resting is a common behavior for betta fish, and unless you see signs of illness or distress, there is no reason to worry about his comfort. Bettas like to rest on gravel, or even on plant leaves. Some do this more than others, and some may not do it at all. Just like people, every betta is different.
This is one great reason to have a hiding spot for him somewhere in the tank, such as a small cave-like decoration he can easily swim into. He can escape from the world and have a calm, dark place when he needs it. There are also products made especially for bettas to rest on which you may want to introduce into your tank, such as betta hammocks.
While a lazy betta isn’t necessarily a concern, you do want to make sure he isn’t staying in one spot for the wrong reasons. A strong current from the filter may push him around the tank, and if he is sitting on the bottom to escape it, you may want to consider finding a way to reduce the filter flow.
Of course, you also want to check your water parameters regularly to make sure there is nothing wrong with the tank water, and he isn’t getting ill.
Otherwise, if he appears healthy and happy, try not to worry if he likes to rest.
Question: How many pellets would you recommend to feed a male betta?
Answer: Only feed him two or three pellets at a time, and no more than what he will consume in about two minutes. This might not seem like enough, but realize his stomach is only about the size of his eye.
Over-feeding betta fish is one of the biggest causes of illness and premature death. Some fish will over-eat available food to the point of making themselves sick. Chronic over-feeding will pollute the water with uneaten food and excess waste, thus allowing more algae to grow.
So take care to feed the appropriate amount of food whether you choose pellets or flakes. Feeding too much food could mean an early demise for your beloved betta.
Question: My betta just died with ich, and I’m worried it’s going to happen to my other betta. I have been through six, and they have all died from ich. What do I do?
Answer: Ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis) is a parasitic infection that spreads from fish to fish. The little white spots you see on the fish are actually embedded parasites. The parasites can also live in your tank - on the gravel, the plants and even in the water. If left untreated this infection will lead to the death of your fish, and will likely spread to any other fish in the tank.
There are over-the-counter treatments for ich, but many aquarium owners rely on raising the water temperature and dosing the tank with aquarium salt. The warmer temperature accelerates the lifecycle of the parasites, and the salt kills them off. Unfortunately, most treatments are somewhat stressful for the fish. You’ll want to do some research into the different methods of dealing with ich and decide which is best for you.
If you have had a string of betta fish die from ich, I am going to assume you had them all in the same tank, one after another. The tank is now infested with parasites, and any fish you introduce will be vulnerable. If you have no fish in the tank, you need to tear down that tank and thoroughly sterilize it before attempting to keep more fish in it.
I would drain the tank and remove all of its contents, (make sure you unplug any electrical items first!) then clean the glass and the filter with a strong solution made with water and aquarium salt, making sure to rinse thoroughly when done. I'd replace the gravel, the heater and all of the decorations, along with all of the filter media with new items. You will need to re-cycle the tank before adding fish.
When you do introduce a new betta, make sure you are keeping his tank conditions under control. When tanks become dirty, and water conditions deteriorate, it is stressful for the fish, and their immune systems suffer. This makes them more susceptible to diseases like ich.
Question: My betta swims around the tank like a crazy guy, then swims to the bottom and hides in his cave. Is this okay?
Answer: Bettas do all kinds of strange things, and it is certainly possible nothing is wrong. However, if you feel like your betta is behaving oddly, here are a few things to think about:
<b>Tank size:</b> When fish are in very small tanks they often become restless and stressed. This could explain some of the frantic behavior you are witnessing. Consider a tank of at least 5 gallons for a single male betta.
<b>Water Quality:</b> Dirty water will also stress your fish, and combined with a small tank may result in odd behavior. Glass surfing is a term used to describe how fish dart up and down the sides of the tank. If this is what you are seeing, it means your betta is stressed in his environment.
<b>Tankmates:</b> If there are other fish in the tank with your betta, it could account for his stress. Betta can have tankmates in certain situations, but in other cases, it can be a disaster. You need to plan wisely.
<b>Current:</b> Because of their flowing fins, bettas do best in tanks with gentle currents. If he has to struggle against the current every time he leaves his cave it may appear he is darting around. Use low-flow filtration so he doesn’t have to fight the current so much.
<b>Illness:</b> Strange behavior in itself should not lead you to the conclusion that your betta is sick, but watch for other signs. Illness, of course, leads to stress in your betta, but stress also increases the chances your betta could get sick. This is why it is important to keep your fish as stress-free as possible.
Question: My betta fish was flaring at his reflection at night so I added a nightlight to stop the reflection. (He gets scared when there is no light.) Now he’s circling the tank and looks like he’s confused. Any advice?
Answer: Rest assured; your betta is not afraid of the dark. In fact, bettas, like most fish, benefit from a day/night cycle, and he should have a period of darkness every 24 hours. It is fine if that coincides with when you are sleeping and have the lights out in your room. He doesn’t need a special nightlight.
If you have his light on when lights are on in the room, and his light off when lights are off in the room, you should be able to minimize the reflection and therefore the flaring. A little flaring is okay, but you don’t want him to flare too much or it will stress him out.
Fish also behave differently when the lights are out, because of that day/night cycle I mentioned. For example, some fish become more active, and some less active. It may appear to you that he is confused or acting strangely, but he is probably fine.
Question: My betta fish is hiding in his house. Is that normal?
Answer: Yes, it is normal for betta fish to hide. I always encourage betta owners to include a decoration or little cave for their betta to retreat into. It gives bettas a safe spot where they can feel secure when they need it.
While bettas may hide for any number of normal reasons known only to them, there are a few things to consider, just to be sure nothing is wrong. If your betta is hiding to escape a strong current in the tank, you may want to take steps to reduce the filter flow. Bettas prefer lazy currents, and strong filters may stress them out.
Take a good look at your betta when you can and assess his condition. Look for injuries, torn fins or signs of disease. While a lazy betta is no big deal, you want to make sure there isn't some other issue.
If you have other fish in your tank, you need to make sure your betta isn't hiding because he is being bullied. A lot of people worry about bettas hurting other fish, but more often than not it is the betta who ends up in danger in a community tank.
In addition to hiding, you may also observe your betta resting on the gravel or plant leaves. This too is normal behavior and nothing to be concerned about.
Question: My betta fish is getting caught on my filter. How do I keep him from getting stuck?
Answer: A healthy betta fish should be able to easily escape the pull of the filter. Sometimes he may swim too close and his fins may get sucked in, but he should be able to get away with no problem. In most cases, it freaks them out a little and they learn to stay away.
So, if your betta keeps getting grabbed by the filter, I would first be concerned about his health. Look for signs of fin rot or other indications that the water quality might be poor. Check for signs of disease. Test the water and see where the parameters stand.
Getting caught by the filter once or twice may have caused injuries to his fins, which would only make things worse.
The other possibility is that your filter is just too strong, and he's getting worn out trying to keep away from it. See if you can take some steps to reduce the flow, or get a low-flow filter. He should also have a little hiding spot where he can get away and escape the current when he needs to.
Question: Can I have a female betta and a male betta in the same fish tank?
Answer: Keeping male and female bettas together is not a good idea. The only time it should be attempted is with the intent to breed them, and only by an experienced fish keeper who knows what they are doing.
Bettas are aggressive, solitary fish. Males may tolerate females for a period of time, but the chance of him attacking her is high.
Bettas are best kept apart from other bettas. Both males and females can be community fish under certain situations, but they should not be housed together.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on September 03, 2020:
Hi Scott. You should certainly wash out the tank just to get rid of any dust or debris, but don't use soap. Never use soap products in an aquarium. Water is fine.
As far as how long to wait, please research something called the nitrogen cycle and learn how to cycle a tank. This is a process you need to go through before your tank is safe for fish. Good luck!
Scott on September 02, 2020:
Hi just wondering if we brought a brand new tank does it need to be washed first before adding water and setting up the tank and how long should we wait untill we put a fish in it?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on August 29, 2020:
@Jewel - Not usre what you mean by pointing his head. If he is having boyancy issues it could be a swim bladder problem.
ELLIE on August 28, 2020:
Hi! Can anyone tell the swimming speed of betta fish?
I will be thankful.
Jewel Brewster on August 23, 2020:
I was just wondering why my betta is just pointing his head toward the top of his tank and not acting normal he normally always swims around but he’s not swimming as much now
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on August 18, 2020:
Hi Bailee - How long has he been in the tank? Sometimes it takes fish a little while to calm down and settle in. Have your read this article and noted all of the things that make a betta comfortable in an aquarium? As long as your tank meets those specifications he is probably okay.
Keep an eye on the little white spots. They could be something as simple as bubbles, or they could be a sign of something worse. If they spread, your want to research a disease called ich and treat your betta accordingly. For now,try not to worry.
Bailee on August 18, 2020:
My betta fish also has three very little white dots on top of him is he ill or stressed along with his new tank he glass surfs but it's 3.1 ml he has a hiding place he hides and darts away from me and idk if he eats when I'm gone but he doesn't when I'm the and finally he loves the filter he always swims to the top of the bowl and the filter he always sits up there sometimes I even think he's dead
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on August 17, 2020:
@Tamzin - Honestly, I would worry more about learning how to care for him correctly instead of getting his attention. There is a lot to learn about tank maintenance and general care. One you master that, then maybe move on to teaching him tricks. Good luck!
Tamzin Lovelock on August 16, 2020:
I brought my Betta yesterday his name is Bruno, this is my first betta fish so not 100% sure what i'm doing. I have a few questions,
(1) how can i get his attention? I have been trying to get him to follow my finger, but i cant really get his attention.
(2) how do i know if he is happy or not, he is always swimming up and down the front of the tank, so i'm not sure if he is happy or stressed about something.
so i really just want a bit of he;p getting his attention so that i can teach him some new tricks and make sure that he is always happy and healthy.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on July 31, 2020:
@Zoe- How is the current in the tank? Bettas tend to get pushed around by strong currents. Is it possible that is why he ends up in the corner?
Zoe on July 30, 2020:
I moved my betta fish into a 10 gallon tank about a week ago. At first he would swim around the tank all day and occasionally hangout near his fake plant, sea helmet cave, or tree cave (looks like an Ent from LOTR) but today I noticed he has been hanging out in the corner of his tank near where the standing heater is. He'll swim and hangout behind what's probably an inch spaced between the heater and tank glass. Not sure if maybe his tank is too bright.. he has some spots he can hide. Any advise?
Olivia on July 04, 2020:
Wow o recently just bought a beta fish and i was wondering why he swims around the top and sometimes the middle but now i know! also the tank can be small but you'll have to replace the water every couple of days. Thank You!!!
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on July 03, 2020:
Hi Brooklynn: This is covered in the above article under "Why do bettas flare their gills?" :-)
Brooklynn on June 30, 2020:
I am new in Betta care, and just got one yesterday, His name is Finn and i just introduced him to his new 5 Gallon tank. I have a couple questions,
1. Finn can see his reflection in the sides of his tank and I was wondering, Should I do anything about that or is it fine?
2.Does he get stressed if he sees his reflection?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on June 24, 2020:
@Emilina - I would guess it is a popularity/marketing thing. Female bettas aren't quite as pretty as males and don't have the reputation for fighting (though they are plenty feisty). You can find them if you look around, but males are just more common because of demand.
5-gallon tanks and bigger are great for bettas! I wouldn't use anything smaller. Bottled water is okay, but don't use distilled water.
@J - He might be startled by the sudden change. Unless he shows other signs of stress or illness there is probably no need to worry.
J on June 23, 2020:
I just got mines and whenever we turn off the lights he starts to move around really fast in the tank is that a sign of stress or his way of having fun
Emilina Noble on June 22, 2020:
Out of curiosity, why do pet stores rarely sell female beta fish? Will a 5 gallon tank be okay for 1 beta? If I can’t use my tap water, is it safe for the fish to have bottled water (spring) in his tank, or if not what water should I use?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on June 17, 2020:
@Carol - Did you test the water? That is really the only way to know if it is safe. Bettas do weird things. Unless you see signs of stress or illness I wouldn't worry just yet. You do want to stay on top of water quality and make sure his environment is healthy. Good luck!
Carol on June 16, 2020:
I just got a betta fish today, and when I first put it in the tank, he was moving around a bit and checking things out. But now he's really still and hanging out right by the filter with his head pointed up towards the water's surface.
Is he just sleeping, maybe? Or is there something I can do to make the water better? It should be pretty safe because I put some AquaSafe in the tank, but is there something I'm missing?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on April 18, 2020:
@Jodie - Unfortunately, I can't know whether or not your betta will recover but I hope he does. The best thing for him is clean, healthy water and low stress. Hopefully he will bounce back.
Jodie on April 17, 2020:
My Betta has been unwell for about 3 weeks now. He started hiding behind the heater. The water quality had become poor I think from me over feeding. I changed the water and cleaned the tank. He has been laying on the bottom of the tank for about 2 weeks now. He is not eating, his colour has faded and his fins deteriorated. I got the water tested and there was only a small amount of nitrate. They said to bump the water temp up to 27 degrees from 26 degrees. I added salt and an antibiotic and some other medicine as instructed, but there has been no change. How long can he stay like this? Is he likely to recover?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on April 15, 2020:
@Taj - Do the best you can. That's all any of us can do, especially with problems as they are today. I do not think the temperature fluctuation is a big deal. If he was stuck at 35c all the time it would not be great, or if he were going between 24 and 35, but if you are keeping him between 24 and 27 I don't see an issue.
Taj on April 12, 2020:
Thanks for the article, I've understood a lot about my betta..
there is one concern that the temperature in my location goes beyond 35c as it is summer here .. however i am managing to keep my aquarium temp at 25 to 27c(by 4 cooling fan) at daytime but in night it stays at 24c .. i am concerned will this fluctuation in temp harms my betta.? , i didnt even had time to buy a heater,plants,gravel etc. as there is country lockdown going on & the betta was rescued just before the lockdown from a stupid pet store. . it was suffering from swim bladder and fin rot , which is 90% cured and the betta is most active now, it made a beautiful bubble nest recently.. But sometimes it sits ideally at the bottom for like 20min. and later swims at the surface tucking its long tail down ..! is this 'coz of the temperature fluctuation going on or is he bored as i have nothing in his 12gallon aquarium except filter & guava leaves, as i mentioned i was unable to get anything coz of this nation wide lockdown??? i have red vieltail betta by d way ...
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on April 03, 2020:
@Miguel - I don't know that there is a problem, but you didn't mention anything about water parameters or his condition. Why do you suspect something is wrong? Does he seem stressed or ill?
Miguel on April 03, 2020:
Hi i have a 20g tank for my betta with live plants, and there are 2 tiger guppies, 6 neon tetras and 2 corydoras and 3 kuhli loaches. and recently i see him on the top left corner of my tank. what seems to be the problem?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on March 24, 2020:
@Annie - Possibly a mating thing. Or it could mean nothing at all. It is impossible to know what goes on in little betta brains. I'm not an expert in breeding bettas so It could be a behavior I am not familiar with.
Anniie on March 22, 2020:
I have a male and 4 female bettas. They got used to each other and they do not fight. Although, I am interested why does the male betta hide with one female betta and seem like they are playing. He leaves the other three alone. What does it mean? There are no bubbles just those two playing in the corner between the plants. They eat normaly (all of them) they have normal colour and horizontal lines on them. So.. What does the playing in the plant mean?
Stephanie on March 11, 2020:
My betta acts pretty normal. He always gets close when he sees me, but I think he is stressed because his fins aren't too open, he tends to swim fast and swim like crazy and sometimes he only likes to lay at the bottom of the tank with his face at the ground or under a leaf. I only added a fake big leaf that he uses to hide and a marimo ball
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on March 04, 2020:
@Gill - It sounds like a possible infection. Clean water is the most important thing. If you are not testing for nitrate, nitrate, ammonia consider starting. You can also dose the tank with aquarium salt for a few days. If this doesn't help you may need to consider an over-the-counter anti-bacterial med. Good luck!
Inflamed Gill on March 03, 2020:
I bought a full moon betta day before yesterday. I have kept it in a 10 gallon tank with gravel, rock hiding places(no plants yet) and a filter.
Its right gill is swollen. Earlier it used to spend much of its time near the water surface, which has somewhat decreased now. The swollen gill was there when I bought it. Its in better water conditions now than where it was kept at the pet store. What should I do to help?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on March 03, 2020:
Hi Allie: If he is healthy he is fine where he is. However, if you want to see him more you can move him.
Allie on March 02, 2020:
Our Betta currently lives in our daughter's room, he gets so excited when we are in her room, but unfortunately, we are gone all day and only go in her room a couple of times before bed. Overall he seems healthy, I am wondering if Should we move the betta tank to a location where he can see us more? or is he content with his own space?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on March 02, 2020:
@Ken - Unless he exhibits signs of illness or injury I wouldn't worry.
Ken on March 01, 2020:
My male made a nest then now he wants to hide his face and lay on bottom. Any comments
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on February 20, 2020:
@Mr. Bean - Does he have another place to hide in the tank?
mr bean on February 18, 2020:
my betta is not moving away from his heater and we try to tap the glass to make him swim somewhere else, but he just keeps going and hiding by the heater. the water is warm, so what is wrong? is he sick?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on February 16, 2020:
There is a lot I don't know about your tank, Dragons49, so I'm just going to be offering suggestions. You didn't mention the size of the tank or if you tested the water. Are/were the bettas exhibiting signs of stress? Black mollies are not, in my opinion, a great choice as tank mates. Is it possible to keep the betta alone in his own tank?
I'd avoid blood worms and stick with a good flake food or pellet. Three little otos don't need more than one or two algae wafers per day, which you need to provide because if you just thoroughly cleaned the tank there is nothing else for them to eat (no algae). Feed once per day - small pinch of flakes (what they will eat in two or three minutes) plus an algae wafer or two and you won't be overfeeding.
Melafix is for treating infections and wounds. Did you see signs of either? Not sure what you mean by looking weird. I would not use it to treat prophylactically, nor would I do so with the aquarium salt. Only use them if you see specific issues.
So, to sum up, keep the water clean by avoiding overfeeding. Try to separate the betta to his own tank if you can. Test your water to see what's going on. Avoid putting additives in the tank unless they are warranted. Don't forget to feed the poor little otos!
I don't know if any of this helps but it is the best I can do without knowing more about the tank. Good luck!
Dragons49 on February 15, 2020:
Hi we are at our wits end..we first bought a betta to help me through stressful times. We bought our first one it died before a week..bought a second one from not a pet store but a fish shop dies within 1 week or so..bought our 3rd one he lasted a bit longer but died after 2 weeks...Now with that said we have spent a lot of money on bigger tanks, so we are doing all the stuff right but I think it may have come down to eating...because that is the last thing that we can figure out...When we bought no one explained about treatment ect etc so we clean once a week 30 percent we treat with stress and aquarium salt also with bacteria stuff as well as metaflex I believe. Anyways we had him in the tank with some black mollies and some ottos 3 of each...he was doing great swimming back and forth. Now we fed once in morning and once at night just to make sure that he got fed. Doesn't like pellets so we did blood worms in morning and flakes at night..very small pinch with fingers and used fingers to grind down so they were thin sized...Started looking a bit weird the other day so started the metaflex treatment changed water washed all things inside with the clean. Now we also had stopped putting the bottom feeder pucks in as well only once a week...I just don't understand we are following everything doing everything right my only guess is the feeding but how do we feed with others in the tank to make sure they eat???HELP any advice will do we are going to try again but I don't want to throw all the money spent out the window either.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on January 30, 2020:
@Juice person - I wouldn't worry. He has only been there a day. Give him some time to figure things out.
Juice person on January 29, 2020:
I got a new betta yesterday and I was wondering if these were enough hiding spots. I have three fake plants and two little hideouts that are able to fit the beta. However he still likes to be behind or near the heater is that a problem should I be worried?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on January 13, 2020:
@Rody - Aside from behaving oddly, does he exhibit any signs of illness? Does he appear bloated or is he swimming sideways or at another strange angle?
Rudy on January 12, 2020:
I have a super delta and yesterday he started floating at the top of the tank and I don’t know why. He doesn’t swim down to the bottom, however he does rub himself against the side of the glass occasionally
Annchen Van der merwe on November 27, 2019:
My betta usually would come to the top to eat and would eat quite a bit before he’s done. Now he’s been waiting on the bottom for the food but he would either miss it or just spit it out a few times and let it lay there. So I don’t know if he’s hungry and just don’t like the food or if he’s full. He also seems to act like he’s “hunting” for food on the bottom when he swims around on the gravel.
Heather on November 26, 2019:
Okay, I’ll check around the tank and see if there is anything that he might be catching on. Thank you so much for your time, I appreciate it.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on November 26, 2019:
@Heather - Stress and poor water conditions are the usual culprits, but if you are sure you have that covered look around the tank for any decorations he could be tearing his fins on. That is usually more like an injury though, where what you are describing sounds more like fin rot.
Heather on November 25, 2019:
Thanks for getting back to me. I just checked the water, and both the nitrate and the nitrite levels were at zero. The pH was at 7.5. Which, after doing some research seems okay, unless my research was incorrect. Is there anything else that you know of that would cause fins to deteriorate?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on November 25, 2019:
@Heather - Have you tested the water? Water changes are smart, but your water may still be the issue. There is no way to know without testing for ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites.
Heather on November 24, 2019:
Hi! I have a half moon Betta fish that I’ve had for about 6 months now. When I first got him, I was uneducated on Betta fish and had him in a 1 gallon bowl for the first 3 months. After doing some research I moved him into a 3 gallon Top Fin tank from PetSmart. However ever since I moved him to the new tank, his fins have been tearing and disintegrating. I thought that this was just a result of stress from transferring him from the bowl to the tank, but his fins keep getting worse. I have the tank heated so it stays between 77-80 degrees and I do a 30% water change once a week. So I can’t figure out why his fins are disintegrating. I also haven’t noticed a change in behavior, and he is still eating fine. His fins are just tearing. Any idea why that might be happening?
Zachary on November 03, 2019:
Ok. Thank you. I have tried this and it seems to have helped her. The only thing I am worried about is she isn't as responsive to things anymore. Thank You though!
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on November 01, 2019:
@Zachary - Could be a digestive thing.You could try fasting your betta for a day or two and see if it helps. I also wonder if it could be an injury with what you describe with the pebbles.
Zachary on October 29, 2019:
Hello! I have had my Betta for a while now, and I was wondering, what does it mean if my Betta is Lopsided? She was fine the days leading up to today, but today I noticed that she wasn't in her normal spot. I checked on her, and she was underneath the glass pebbles we put in there for her. We were able to get her out, and thankfully she was still alive. We put her in to a "Training Bowl" (bowl with no pebbles) and we noticed she was curved. She stayed in this position, and it looked like it hurt to move so she could get fresh air. I am worried and everything I have found says that it is most likely constipation, but I think that's highly unlikely. what are your thoughts???
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on October 26, 2019:
@Renee - The cold certainly could be a factor. Sixty degrees is very cold for a betta. Adding the heater is a good idea. I would see if that makes a difference before making any other changes.
Renee on October 24, 2019:
Hi! I got a koi betta last week and set him up with a 2.5 gallon tank (I know this is small and I am hoping to find the space to upgrade his tank in the future), a live plant, a moss ball, and a decorative hiding area. The tank has a filter, which has been on the entire time. For the first few days, he was very energetic. He would come up to the glass whenever someone would enter the room and sit at the top of the water begging for food. Yesterday, I noticed that he was suddenly lethargic and did not come up to the glass. I did a 50% water change while adding prime water conditioner, but he was still sitting at the bottom of the tank. Today, he wouldn’t eat and would let the food fall to the ground without even flinching to get the pellet. He stayed at the bottom of the tank, occasionally swimming around the gravel and plants, hiding in his house, and coming up for air once in awhile and then straight back down to the gravel and corners of the tank. He’s also not responding to my movements like he used to. Could he have became stressed overnight and I made it worse by changing the water in the tank while he was still in there? I also do not have a heater yet, since water in the tanks I had when I was much younger always stayed in the right range. Where I live now, it is much colder so I ordered one online and it will arrive in the next few days. I read that they can get lethargic if the temperature is too low, and two nights ago the temperature dropped to between 65-70° overnight after I turned off his light. i am planning to now leave his light on 24/7 until his heater comes so the water stays warm. Is it possible that he became sick in the short time that I had him or is he just stressed? I also tested his water and the ammonia level is safe. It’s conceding to me because the first few days I had him he was acting like a happy fish. Sorry this is so long! Thank you
Abbey on October 08, 2019:
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly, I really appreciate it. I will definitely try switching up the tank decorations and see if that helps. I have not yet tried flakes, so I’ll get some and see if I can get him to eat anything other than bloodworms.
Thanks so much!
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on October 08, 2019:
@Abbey - I'm trying to get into the mind of a betta fish and imagine why in the world he would eat bubbles. The only thing I can come up with is lack of stimulation or stress. I might try changing the decorations around in the tank, or adding something new so he feels like he's in a different environment. I have no idea if it will help, but it seems like an easy experiment to see if it makes a difference. Have you tried feeding flake food? Six bloodworms per day seems a lot for one betta. Good luck!
Abbey on October 07, 2019:
Hi! I have a half-moon Betta that I have had for 4 months. I have him in a 3 gallon, low flow tank that is specially designed for Bettas. However recently, he has been gulping the bubbles he produces when he breathes like they are food. He waits till the bubble hit the filter flow and then gulps them down like food. Because of this, he seems to have a swollen abdominal and is unable to swim down. I am very careful to make sure he is not over feed (I feed him 2-3 bloodworms twice as day as he refuses to eat any type of pellet) so I don’t think over feeding is the issue. I think his bubble gulping is causing a swim bladder issue... but I can’t figure out how to make him stop eating bubbles. Any ideas?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on September 30, 2019:
@snwdrp: I could only guess about whether your betta is stressed or not. Knowing water parameters would help. Bettas are tropical fish and best kept at tropical temperatures. If it is too cold in his tank it could stress him out. If the water quality is poor it could stress him out. It's just impossible for me to guess without knowing readings for things like temperature, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite and whether your water has any additives like chlorine.
If you think he is okay on all of that, he may just be excited for some reason. Watch for signs of illness and stress, and consider a heater.
snwdrp on September 28, 2019:
Hello! My friend gave me this tiny little koi betta few days ago in a tiny cup. I went to the shop today and bought a 2.5 gallon tank together with some decor and a filter for him. I've washed and setup everything and transferred my betta into the new tank.I did ask the shopkeepers whether or not if i need a heater, they say i dont need one.
Anyways, after that, he keeps swimming around non-stop. I cant tell whether if he's happy or stressed at this point.
He keeps going onto the surface. im not sure if he's breathing or just trying to make "bubble nests" cause the bubble pops every time he goes up and blow a bubble/breathe.
I feed him as usual and he eats them. No white spots no nothing, his color is still the same, vibrant.
Is he just happy/the tank's got problem/i really need a heater?
Looking forward to your reply!
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on September 20, 2019:
@Chanelle - Unless he seems sick or injured I wouldn't assume you are doing anything wrong. Sometimes bettas are just lazy. I suggest you read up on betta care (this article is a good start) and make sure you are changing his water and maintaining his tank correctly. Learn about diseases so you can watch for signs that he is ill. Just learn as much as you can and do your best. That's all any of us can do.
Chanelle on September 19, 2019:
Thanks Eric, I tried feeding him today and he did not come again. He doesn’t belong to me, I take care of him at my work and I’m not sure when the last owners cleaned the tank, it’s the type that looks like a wall hanging. Since the place was newly bought over we have no idea where to begin with cleaning the tank and we have no idea how old the Betta is..he’s very quite and sits at the bottom a lot and hardly moves at times and it worries me. I keep his aquarium at 25 degrees C but it fluctuates at times. I’m not sure if he’s ill or if it’s just his character. He used to swim around but now I notice he’s hardly doing that. He doesn’t look sick, I mean his fins look fine, I bought I plant cuz I read they like to hide, but when I put it in the tank he showed no interest and still sat there at the bottom. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, I’ve never taken care of a fish before and have no idea about their behavioural traits. I would really love to hear what u think. Thankyou.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on September 19, 2019:
@Chanelle - Unless you see other signs of disease or injury I would not worry.
Chanelle on September 18, 2019:
My Betta, used to come up for food but he hasn’t been doing that lately.. he just sits at the bottom and waits till the food comes to the bottom, he seems to look ok, but I’m a little concerned by his behaviour. Pls help!
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on August 27, 2019:
@Sarah - I'm glad your betta is eating now! You can turn his light off at night when you go to bed. Bettas need day/night cycle just like we humans
sarah on August 27, 2019:
should i keep the light on my betta tank turned on at all times? or should i keep it off sometimes?
p.s. u were right he eats the pellets perfectly now!
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on August 26, 2019:
@Emma - Cycling a tank for a betta is just as important as for any other fish. You need to test the water with a freshwater testing kit to know when it is cycled. It's not hard, and there is no reason to worry. I intend to write an article about it at some point, but until there there are a lot of great resources already on the web to tell you how to cycle an aquarium.
The tank may cycle in a week, or it may take a little longer. There really is no way to say. That's why you have to test the water.
Emma on August 25, 2019:
How important is nitrogen cycling and establishing a tank environment for a betta? My lil guy was a gift and came in a bowl. As of now doing once in 2 day water changes. I am eager to move him into a 7 gallon tank that I just bought. But the nitrogen cycling seems so daunting that I am afraid of putting him in stress. Can I introduce him there after I set it up with a few plants in a week?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on August 23, 2019:
@sarah - This is common betta behavior. My guess is that he will eat the pellets eventually, but you can try feeding flake food to see if he likes it better.
sarah on August 22, 2019:
i just got my male betta a couple days ago and noticed when i feed him he'll take the pellet into his mouth, chew on it a little bit, and then spit it out. every single time, does this mean he isnt hungry or that he doesnt like the food? should i get a different brand? right bow im giving him the API betta pellets
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on August 04, 2019:
@Maddie - A one-gallon tank is way too small for two female bettas. If you intend to keep more than one female it is best to have four or five in order to cut down on aggression and bullying. For that you would need a minimum ten-gallon tank. These are often referred to as "sorority tanks"
maddie on August 03, 2019:
I have two female bettas in a 1 gallon tank. I want to get a third seeing as one of them is getting “bullied”. should I go up a tank size if I am getting a new fish?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on July 09, 2019:
@Velma - How is he getting into the bubbler tube? The bottom should be in the gravel and the force of the bubbles from the air stone should prevent him from getting in the top. I'm having trouble picturing what is happening here.
I can't even guess why he'd do this. As for it hurting him, if he can get in and out on his own and his fins aren't getting damaged he'll probably be fine. If he is getting stuck it is a problem.
Are you turning the bubbler off and he is swimming in? If you aren't using the bubbler you can simply remove the tube. It is not necessary if you aren't using the filter.
Again, I am having trouble picturing the situation, so it is hard to say.
velma on July 08, 2019:
i am a new betta owner and mine keeps going into the bubbler tube in a 2.5 gallon tank he has his castle to hide in and plants.why is he doing this for and will it harm him?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on June 12, 2019:
@Angela - If your water parameters are okay and you see no signs of illness or injury I wouldn't worry. It's tough to guess why bettas do what they do sometimes. I would keep an eye out for signs of trouble if he is acting strangely, but otherwise there isn't much you can do. Good luck!
Angela on June 11, 2019:
Hi, your article was very informational.
I have had a betta for over a year now. He is in a 5 gallon tank with a heater. He was perfectly fine before - healthy appetite, weekly water changes, swimming around happily. Recently I noticed he was spending a lot of time closely behind his piece of driftwood, just sitting there. Occasionally he would come up and swim up and down the corner of the tank and go back to his spot. The only other time he would come up is when he sees me. He still has a huge appetite and all the water parameters are fine, but it has been worrying me because this was just recent behavior and he wasn't like this before. It might just be because he doesn't have a little cave to hide in, but I am still worried. I only see him during the evening, so maybe he might be a bit tired, and might not be like that during the day. I will be getting a hiding place for him and see if he stops. I am just wondering if there is anything wrong with him or what I am doing. Thanks.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on June 03, 2019:
@Elena - It's hard to guess. He may be searching for food. I wouldn't let it worry you.
Elena on June 02, 2019:
My Betta fish keeps moving his pebbles around in the corner of his tank, what does it mean?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on May 29, 2019:
@Sammy- Without knowing more about the tank I can only guess why your betta might be glass surfing. I'd say maybe the guppies are stressing him out. They are fast-moving, colorful fish. Was he in with them before?
@Bree - Distilled water is not the best choice for bettas as it has all of the minerals removed. I don't think this would have caused what you described though. What was the water temp?
@Tatiana - A filter is a good idea. As for the decorations, I would see how the betta reacts and if he is always bumping into things perhaps remove a few items. Bettas can tear their fins on plastic plants and other decorations, so you don't want him overcrowded.
Tatiana on May 28, 2019:
Hi! I have a betta fish and a 5 gallon tank. Do i need a filter?
Regarding the decorations, my 5 gallon tank has 3 tress (artificial), a bridge, a cave and a little fake turtle. Do you think it might be too much? Thanks!
BreeS on May 28, 2019:
I changed the water in my bettas bowl and i used regular distilled water. When i put him back in the water he basically went straight to sleep is that normal?
Sammy on May 26, 2019:
I just moved my betta in a new lager tank, glass swimming. But my other guppies are acting normal. Does he miss his old home?
Fin rot on May 23, 2019:
Thank you. For your reply.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on May 23, 2019:
@Manchas - If you feed once a day you only need to feed one type of food. If you feed more than that you can vary it, but it is very important not to overfeed your betta.
@fin rot - You will notice his fins deteriorating and there is often a dark discoloration around the edges.
Manchas on May 22, 2019:
Do ypu just feed one food a day to a betta or is it more like for ex:say you fed him bloodworms do you have to feed him palettes to or no
Fin rot question on May 21, 2019:
How do I know my Beta has fin rot? He was very active and ive noticed his bottom fins are stragly with manu short. The front ones have turned white at the bottom and not he has a lighter color patch on his head. He is snuggling into his plant at the bottom of the tank.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on May 21, 2019:
@Oya - Unless you see other signs of disease or distress I would not worry. Some bettas swim a lot, while others are more lazy.
Oya on May 20, 2019:
I am new to my betta fish. He seems stationary, like stays in one location, upper half of the water, close to the glass, and does not move at all. Is this normal?? Fins are open but no move at all.
And recently saw him almost be on the side from time to time, lays flat for few seconds, then takes his stationary position, which scares me.
Are they supposed to move/swim a lot or no?
Can you please advice??
HopiCat on May 08, 2019:
I'm now doing daily water changes in hopes that does something positive but the water always tests out pristine anyway so not holding out much hope!
The tank treatments were last resort measures. If you had seen what was happening to Raggedy Man I believe even you may have tried them!
The plastic plants have all been "panty- hose" tested and I spent three hours filing making sure the Tardis hideout had absolutely no rough edges inside or out. I rotate the plants out monthly to help prevent boredom (if they actually DO get bored! ).
He has SO much personality it makes me sick to think he may be suffering.
Funny, my other betta is LAZY, even a slow eater and I'm not nearly as attached!
Oh well, thanks again! I'll just keep trudging along.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on May 07, 2019:
@HopiCat - I would stick with what you are doing, with a preference for clean water over the use of meds. Fin re-growth takes time, and things like too much current or rough plastic plants can inhibit it. Sounds like you have the current issue under control, but I'm wondering if he is bumping the plastic plants. Have you tried removing them for a while to see if it makes a difference?
HopiCat on May 03, 2019:
I am at a complete loss over my once beautiful white betta, Raggedy Man.
I thought I would rescue him from a tropical fish store back in September of 2018 but it has turned into a full on battle! I was pretty sure he was developing fin rot from the beginning. He's in a 5 gallon Marineland Portrait filtered aquarium with a 25w Cobalt heater (80° regularly monitored). 25% water change weekly at minimum using Seachem Prime and Stability. I use the API Master Test Kit - PH 7.6 (a bit high but still acceptable! ) Ammonia 0; Nitrites 0; Nitrates 0-10. Plastic plants, Marimo moss ball, Tardis to hide in (which he rarely does!). The filter is adjustable but even so, he doesn't love the flow so I have a bit of filter floss slowing it down. Hikari Bio-Gold pellets and rare treat of a frozen blood worm or two. He has a ravenous appetite but I don't ever cave in to it!
RM's fins are horrendous! Ruffled, thin, top fin clump, and occasional bloody looking spots and streaks!! I can rid the bloody spots fairly easily with water changes and a bit of salt but they are constantly recurring! I have tried Jungle, Mardel Bactersheild, API Melafix and Pimafix! I follow the directions to the Nth degree! No matter, the only improvement is in the reduction and temporary elimination of the bloody spots! His only tank mate is a Zebra nerite snail.
I have another male beta in a separate Marineland tank about 8" away but they don't even seem to notice each other. Neither exhibit any stressed behaviors. And my other betta is perfectly healthy.
Any ideas of how I can promote healthy fin regrowth on my poor guy??
I absolutely cannot figure this out!
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on April 27, 2019:
@Lyss - If you think your betta has been overfed you can try fasting him for a couple of days, then get back to a regular feeding schedule.
@Cline - I would not use tea tree oil in a betta tank, and I would only use aquarium salt if he is recovering from an injury or illness. There are medications that incorporate tea tree oil which are a little safer than using the pure product. In my opinion, it is far better to maintain good tank conditions than rely on preventative additives. Nothing beats clean, healthy water at the right temperature.
Cline on April 25, 2019:
Is it safe to add aquarium salt and tea tree oil to a tank together? I like to use tea tree oil for my betta tanks as it has helped with my fish June when his fins where torn from being eaten from his tank filter and then three months later he got fin rot due to very cold temperatures and stress (I’m assuming) and after giving him tea tree oil each time he did a lot better and was more active but I’m afraid to mix aquarium salt into my new betta I just got that has very short fins that doesn’t look like any betta I ever had (crown tail but the spikes are weirdly short). The fear of mixing the two has made me be wary of giving my betta fish the oil or the salt unless I do a 50-100% water change. Am I overreacting to this in the sense that it is safe to use both?
Lyss on April 25, 2019:
About 5 days ago my beta looked like a ballon ( my roommate watch him while I was out of town) I have him bites of peas for 2 days and then didn’t feed for two days. He came back to normal size. Yesterday he was floating at the top of the tank, the filter current was just pushing him around. He seemed so weak. I was able to get him to eat 4 pelts of food. Today my betta is just sitting at the bottom of the tank. He doesn't come up for food or the way he used to. His gills are barely moving and he is only opening his mouth a little bit.
I actually thought he was dead at first, but now I think he really is almost dead. Yesterday I could touch him and he wouldn’t even react. Today he’s staying at the bottom.
I have a 3 gallon filtered and heated tank. I’ve had him for going on 3 years. I did a water change today to see if that would help. But he hasn’t moved much, randomly goes to the surface but is very uninterested in good with is not like him. HELP! I think my roommate over fed and i don’t know if he’ll recover.
Unknown on April 17, 2019:
This thing about glass surfing is true.My betta fish once had this and I was scared.He kept hiding away from me because the water was too hot.After we fixed the tempature , he was happy again.
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on April 09, 2019:
@Emma - 1. If you think your filter is causing problems you should consider getting a different filter. You haven't given me any other info so I can't suggest why the problem might exist.
2. Both fish should have a hiding spot.
3. In my opinion that tank is too small for 2 betta fish.
Emma on April 08, 2019:
1. I just got a new tank where there is a divider in the middle so I can have two bettas. I think the filter in the tank was messing up one of my fishes fins and like tearing it. So I decided to switch the sides the bettas were on and now it is happening to my other fish. What should I do??
2. I have a ship that has a hole in it so my betta can hide I there for one of my fish and he really likes it. Should I get another place for my other fish to hide?
3. My tank is only 2.5 gallons plus it has a divider In the middle so that makes it even smaller. Is it bad that it is this small?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on April 04, 2019:
@Amber - If your betta is having issues swimming straight he may be having swim bladder issues. This is commonly caused by overfeeding and constipation. You can try skipping a day or two of feeding. Some fish keepers like to feed their bettas pieces of blanched frozen peas to help clear things up.
A filter shouldn't make your water cold. To make the water warmer you'd use the appropriate heater. Betta fish need tropical temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees.
Amber on April 03, 2019:
I have a couple questions. 1 can filters in a 5 gallon aqquarium make the water cold even though there is a heater in the aquarium and 2 how do I make the water warmer
Amber Calhoun on April 03, 2019:
I need help with my betta. She is not swimming. She is at the top of the tank not sideways but straight up and down. She will not eat. She is in a bigger tank. Im concernee the water is to cold as well. She does have decorations but they are at the bottom and she hasnt tried swimming down to get in the house or to lay on the leaves. What should i do?
Eric Dockett (author) from USA on April 01, 2019:
@Oakgirl - Can you describe the "cloudy stuff"? Could it be bubbles?
Oakgirl on March 30, 2019:
my betta fish's water has cloudy stuff at the top that keeps returning. i have done research but i need help.