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Why Is My Betta Fish Not Moving

Betta fish are one of the most popular types of tropical fish in the world. They have bright colors and flowing fins and can live peacefully in small spaces, making them the perfect option for many fish lovers.

However, sometimes Bettas will stop moving around their tank and float up at the top, seemingly lifeless. You may be wondering why this happens or what you can do about it.

Here are 5 possible reasons why is your Betta not moving in its tank and what you can do about it to keep your Betta happy and healthy.


Reasons why is my Betta fish not moving

It might be sleeping

Bettas are typically pretty lazy fish that like to sleep or doze off all day long. So when your pet suddenly starts resting on its side instead of darting around its bowl-like usual, it might not mean anything serious—it could just be napping.

Once you’ve ruled out illness, feel free to check back in with your finned friend later on in case he or she decides to get up and start swimming again.

Or, if you’d rather see some action, try adding a mirror to your tank—that’ll usually rouse even the laziest Bettas from their slumber. And if nothing works then go ahead and give them a gentle prod.


Poor environment

If your Betta is living in an environment where it can’t move or has a limited area of space to swim, it may be lethargic. If you have multiple Bettas in one container, make sure each of them has enough space. A tank that’s too small for just one Betta will become even more cramped if you add a second or third. Some Bettas simply prefer less swimming room, so if your aquarium is big enough for your Betta to swim comfortably then you don’t need to worry about changing its environment.


Water temperature too low

Too low fish tank temperature might be another reason for the question “Why is my Betta fish not moving.” Bettas like warmer water. They’re tropical fish, after all! On average, their water temperature should be around 78–82℉.

You can equip your tank with a heater to maintain a stable water temperature and avoid temperature fluctuations. Temperature fluctuations will stress out your Betta and make him lethargic.

Aquarium heater

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The other reason that Bettas can become sluggish when exposed to cooler temperatures is that they may have diseases such as ich. This parasite attaches itself to a Betta’s gills and fins, and causes them to become clamped down; basically paralyzing them. When infected with ich, a Betta becomes immobile due to extreme stress and exhaustion from fighting off these parasites constantly.


A lack of oxygen

If your Betta isn’t swimming around, it might be a sign that there’s something wrong with its oxygen supply. Make sure you have enough water circulating in your tank to provide proper flow.

If your Betta is stuck to an object in its tank, make sure you remove it; Bettas can’t breathe while they’re staying still and will soon die if they aren’t able to get oxygen from above water.


Male Betta aggression

This is one of but not the most common reasons Betta fish stop swimming in their tank. Males will fight with other tank mates when placed together (even if it’s only for a minute or two), and sometimes after a fight, they become listless or even float to the top of their tank.

If you notice your Betta swims to the bottom, stays there all day, and doesn’t want to eat, odds are he had an encounter with another male that resulted in damage.

The best way to treat male aggression is by giving your Betta plenty of space, using dividers and/or multiple tanks if needed.

Don’t put it back into his old tank—it may remember his aggressor is still around and continue to act aggressively. Instead, move him to a new tank so it can heal. It should return to normal behavior within about 2 weeks.

While healing, feed it live foods like bloodworms to get its strength up. You might also try a medicine called Melafix; some people swear by it for treating wounds caused by fighting.

One last thing: before treating any fish with medicine, be sure to do your research! Not every treatment works on every disease or injury!


Fish shock

When you’re first getting used to your new aquarium, it’s important to pay close attention to your fish. If any of them seem lethargic or in shock, try gently scooping them out of their tank and putting them into a container with clean water. So it's possible that your fish not moving in the aquarium due to fish shock.

Transferring animals from an area with a different temperature, pH level or salt content can be stressful for them—just like it would be for us.

The transition will likely take less than half an hour and after that, you should notice a big difference in their behavior. If they still don’t improve within 24 hours, consult a professional. It could be something more serious than simple stress.


What are the first signs of a sick Betta fish?

Some common signs of a sick Betta fish include difficulty swimming and breathing. They may have trouble breathing through their gills or swim oddly.

Other symptoms may include lethargy and hiding in unusual areas of your tank or odd places outside the tank.

Another warning sign of a sick Betta fish is if its fins are torn, ragged or shredded.


Treatment of a sick Betta fish

If your Betta has been sick for more than a day, then It’s probably time to replace it.

If you suspect something might be wrong with your Betta fish, try testing its water quality first by changing out about 20% of the water every day until you get results from a test kit.

If there’s no improvement after three days, then there’s likely an infection present and you should treat immediately with aquarium salt at 1 teaspoon per 5 gallons. This can help bring down any infection levels quickly so that antibiotics aren’t necessary.

You can try adding aquarium salt directly into its food to help it get used to it. By doing this, you'll make tings easier when it really needs medical attention.

To do so, add a pinch of aquarium salt to some of its food and mix it up well. Then feed it as usual but watch for changes in how much it eats each day. Keep increasing how much salt you add each feeding until he refuses to eat anymore.



It’s very common for Bettas to go still for a period of time. At that moment a question comes to our mind “Why is my Betta fish not moving?” The simple answer is it might be your Bettas are sleeping, which is a normal behavior for Betta fish.

So if your Betta seems to have stopped moving, don’t worry: He just might be resting up before another big day tomorrow! However, if you don’t understand their natural behaviors, it can be easy to confuse them with dead or sick fish.

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