Betta Fish Behavior Before Death: 13 Common Behaviors

Betta fish are popular and attractive pets kept in tanks. Their vibrant colors enhance the tank’s beauty. Proper care is essential to observe any unusual betta fish dying behavior to keep them healthy and prolong their lifespan, as factors such as water quality, diet, disease susceptibility, and tankmates influence their longevity. Typically, pet Betta fish live around two to five years.”

Betta Fish Behavior Before Death

Betta fish can pass away suddenly from different problems like sickness, injuries, harmful substances, or infections. As they get older, they show various signs that suggest they might not live much longer.

Luckily, we have various options to explore when we want to help our sick betta fish get better. Things such as spotting the initial signs of sickness, understanding when to separate them, giving them the right medicine or food, and so on, can make a big difference for your betta fish’s health.

In this piece, we’ll learn about the different causes behind why your betta fish might have died. More importantly, we’ll explore ways to stop it from occurring again in the time to come.

What is the Lifespan of a Betta Fish?

Do you know why your Betta Fish died? The main cause of Betta fish deaths is poor living conditions. If their water is dirty, their tank isn’t properly maintained, or they are kept with other fish that don’t get along, it could be an indication that their aquarium is too small.

Other things can also be a problem. Stress is a big reason why Betta fish die. 

This is why it’s important to be careful when there are sudden changes in their environment and to see how they act with new things.

If your Betta fish starts acting differently, you should check the water and see if there are any problems with it. You can do a test to check the water. 

This will help you know if there are any bad chemicals in the water. Your next step depends on the results.

13 Signs that your Betta Fish is Dying 

Betta Fish Dying Behavior

In an aquarium environment, betta fish usually live for three to five years, but they have been known to live up to ten years. Many factors affect a betta’s lifespan, including diet, water conditions, tankmates, etc. Wild bettas live shorter lives due to aggression from other bettas.

1. Facing Problems with Swimming

A betta fish that has difficulty staying up in the water or moving around could be having a health problem.

This might be caused by various factors, like an illness, sickness, a problem with its swim bladder, or even issues with its organs. 

If your betta fish is struggling with swimming, it will become more challenging for them to obtain the necessary oxygen. As a result, the situation will only get worse.

2. Stressed Out

Did you know that even fish can feel stressed? Stress can be very dangerous for betta fish, so it’s important to be careful. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a fish is stressed, but there are some signs.

Stress can happen if you put fish that don’t get along together in the same tank, or if you don’t take good care of the tank.

Stressful things can happen, and while some stress can go away on its own, it’s best to make sure your betta fish doesn’t have too much stress.

The fish don’t suffer harm from stress immediately, unlike other problems. It can take a few weeks to make a fish very sick, and it can be tricky to figure out what’s wrong, especially if you’re new to taking care of fish.

Here are some things that can cause stress:

  • The fish gets sick
  • The fish is moved to a new place
  • The water in the tank changes suddenly
  • Someone taps on the tank glass
  • The fish doesn’t have a friend or gives up on making babies when it’s older
  • The water in the tank is not good for the fish 
  • The tank isn’t kept clean
  • The tank is set up in a way that’s not good for the fish (like the wrong size, plants, or too many fish)
  • The fish isn’t getting enough food or is getting too much food
  • Something in the fish’s environment changes

There are many things that can make a fish stressed, and some are worse than others. If you added something new to the tank before your fish got sick and died, that might be what caused its stress and death. 

It might not have happened right away, but the stress built up over time. Even though it might seem hard to understand why a fish dies, there are reasons for it.

3. Unhealthy Water Conditions

Sudden changes in your Betta fish’s water temperature or quality can lead to their demise. Betta fish require clean and stable water to thrive. Rapid water changes can make them sick or result in death. Poor water conditions are often the main cause of shortened Betta lifespans.

Sometimes, you might not even know you’re making mistakes that hurt them. This happens a lot when things like how sour the water is (pH), or how dirty it is with ammonia, or even how warm it is suddenly changing. So, it’s super important to make sure you take care of all these things so you don’t accidentally do the same thing again.

For Betta fish to remain healthy, the water temperature must remain between 76°F and 80°F. There is also a need for stable pH levels around 7, as sudden changes in pH can cause death. Temperatures below 76°F can lead to illness.

4. Changing Color 

When Betta fish are feeling good, they swim around a lot and their color looks bright. If Betta fish start to look strange, like having white spots on their body, it might mean they’re getting older, feeling stressed, or getting sick. 

As Betta fish get older, their skin becomes see-through and you can see their insides. Sometimes, because of their genes, they might get white dots and lines. 

When young fish lack clean water or are stressed, their colors can fade. If your Betta fish looks different or loses color, it might be unwell. Check both the fish and the water to determine the cause of the color change, guiding your next steps.

5. Having No Filter in Your Fish Tank 

If your Betta fish struggled to breathe at the water’s surface and then died, it’s probably due to insufficient oxygen. Fish require oxygen from the water’s surface movement, often facilitated by filters or agitators.

Your underwater buddy needs enough oxygen to stay alive. So, when the water’s surface isn’t moving, it can lead to sudden and surprising death. If you didn’t have a filter in your fish tank, that’s probably why your fish didn’t have enough oxygen.

The absence of a filter can lead to poor water quality, a major cause of sudden Betta fish deaths. Filters remove debris and harmful chemicals, ensuring clean water for fish to thrive. Without a filter, water contaminants accumulate, posing a threat to the fish’s well-being over time.

6. Vertical floatation 

The term “Vertical floating position” refers to when you see your betta fish floating up and down in your fish tank. This can happen because of various reasons, like having a small tank, not keeping the water clean, giving too much food, or not feeding them the right things.

If you see your betta fish in this upward-floating position, it’s really important to take action fast. This situation can be very dangerous for them, and it’s a behavior that often shows up before they pass away.

6.  Loss Of Appetite 

As a betta fish nears the end of its life, it loses its appetite, ignoring even its favorite treats. This lack of interest could indicate the fish’s struggle for survival.

If your betta fish is still young but not eating, it’s important to take it to your veterinarian. It could be sick with a serious disease. On the other hand, if your betta fish is old, not eating is a sign that its body is slowing down. This happens because the fish’s energy needs become less as it gets older.

As betta fish age, their sense of smell may weaken, causing them to lose interest in food. If a betta fish is nearing the end of its life, it often stops eating and avoids its usual foods. 

If this is the case, identify possible causes for to lack of appetite, such as stress, illness, or inadequate water.

7. Eye Puffiness 

Betta fish can easily get skin boo-boos and redness, which might lead to eye troubles. When a betta fish’s eye puffs up, it’s because of a really bad germ or virus that has invaded. 

The reason for this is that betta fish have different sideways eyes. When you look closely, you can probably spot swollen eyes on betta fish.

The swollen eyes of bettas indicate a prolonged infection that is challenging to recover from. The fish may be near the end of their lives because of this situation.

8. Overeating

Overfeeding is another issue that can lead to betta fish fatalities. While they relish various foods like pellets and bloodworms, it’s crucial to gauge their eating limits and notice if they’re refusing food.

Betta fish should only be fed twice a day, and the portions should be small. Normally, giving them 5-6 pellets in each feeding is sufficient, but remember that pellets come in different sizes. 

Keep in mind that a betta fish’s stomach is about as big as its eye, and that’s how much food it should have.

Overfeeding them can cause stomach problems, and leftover food can also contaminate the aquarium’s water.

9. Injuries

Betta fish are usually strong swimmers and don’t give up easily. But, their fancy, long fins can get hurt quite simply. When they get hurt, germs can make them sick, and sadly, they might not survive.

When you have a betta fish, remember to keep their home free from sharp stuff that could hurt them. Also, it’s good to choose fishy friends that they won’t fight with in their tank.

10. Breathing Problems 

When betta fish are not feeling well, getting old, or the water they live in is not clean, they might have trouble breathing. Betta fish have a special part inside them, called a labyrinth, which helps them breathe air. But as they get older, this part doesn’t work as well, so they start breathing fast. 

If an old betta fish is breathing fast, it might be a sign that it’s not doing well. For young betta fish, if they’re breathing fast a lot, it could mean they’re sick or their water isn’t good. 

If you want to help a young fish with this problem, you should make sure the water is clean and contact a vet who knows about animals.

11. Lethargy

Lethargy often happens to older betta fish. If your betta fish isn’t showing interest in what’s around and keeps on resting, it might mean it’s not well. Betta fish usually have lots of energy and pay attention when they hear sounds or see you near their tank. 

If your betta fish seems sluggish, it could be because it’s stressed or the water it’s in isn’t very good. So, make sure to change the water regularly to keep it clean and help your betta fish get better.

12. Clamped Fins

When fish are anxious, their fins may clamp, as seen when bettas tuck fins tightly until they bend. Stressors like dirty water, incompatible tankmates, and limited space can cause this. 

Well, healthy Bettas are outgoing and social, but sick Bettas become isolated and passive.

As a result, if your betta fish doesn’t greet you in the morning or reacts less to your presence, it might be ill. Sick bettas become less interactive, often preferring to rest alone rather than respond to you or food. 

If they seem disinterested, avoid tapping the glass, as it can harm them. Instead, gently move your finger or offer a treat to engage them.

13. Hiding and Being Alone

When a betta fish becomes old in its natural home, it likes to stay hidden under rocks, stones, and plants. They still act like wild animals even when housed in tanks. They choose to hide under plants and avoid spending time with other fish in the tank. 

If you see your betta fish doing this when it’s old, it might mean that it has lived its life and is getting ready to go away.

How To Save A Dying Betta Fish

How Can I Tell if My Betta Is Dying

First, find the problem’s cause. Then, treat your betta fish to help them recover. Betta fish often die from diseases and infections due to factors like poor water, stress, or genetics. If you’re unsure, seek help from a fish expert or vet.

Isolate and Treat the Fish

You need to identify the issue and take prompt action to resolve it. Regular cleaning is essential for minor issues like poor water quality. For infections or diseases, consider medicating your betta. Different meds are available based on the problem.

Check Water Parameters

Once you have treated your betta fish, be sure to keep their water clean, give them a healthy diet, and reduce their stress levels. The water quality significantly impacts your tanks, so change the water regularly, avoiding plain tap water; consider using a water conditioner. The tank should be cleaned whenever food or waste remains uneaten.

Water Changes

If the water conditions aren’t right, do a quick water change. Add something to the water to take out chlorine and chloramines from the tap water.


You should maintain the water’s temperature between 78 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (25 and 27 degrees Celsius). Make use of a trustworthy fish tank heater to keep the temperature steady.


If you think your betta fish is getting sick and that’s why it’s not doing well, you can try using special medicine for fish tanks that work against many types of illnesses. 

  • Aquarium salt: treats fin rot, velvet, columnar.
  • Fungal meds: handle fungal infections.
  • Parasite meds: tackle Ich, velvet, etc.

Some meds serve dual purposes, like malachite green and methylene blue, for both fungi and parasites.

These meds are commonly found in stores or online. If unsure, consult a vet or experienced fishkeeper for guidance.


If there are other fish in the tank, make sure to put the unwell betta fish in a different place. This will stop any sickness from going to the other fish. It will also help the sick fish feel less worried.


Provide small portions of good food that can be easily eaten. Don’t give too much food. If your betta fish isn’t eating, take away any leftover food to stop the water from getting dirty.

Stress Reduction

If your betta fish are stressed, their immune system weakens, which can make them more susceptible to disease.

A bad tank’s water, too many fish in a tank, nowhere to hide, and mean fish can stress them out. Try your best to make these things less stressful.

Clean Environment

Keep the tank tidy by removing leftover food, dirt, and mess. Change the water frequently to maintain the quality of the water.

Maintain Close Monitoring of Your Betta Fish

Watch your betta closely for any changes in behavior, appetite, or physical condition. This information can be valuable if you need to seek help from a veterinarian or fish expert.

How to Prevent a Betta Fish from Dying

Do Betta Fish Die Easily?
  • It is your responsibility to provide a safe and comfortable environment for your pets.
  • Regularly Change the Water in their Tank.
    • Keep the tank clean by removing uneaten food and debris.
    • Maintain proper filtration to remove waste and toxins.
  • Feed a Healthy Diet:
    • Offer a protein-rich diet suitable for betta fish.
    • Use betta-specific food such as shrimp patties, betta pellets, or
    •  insect-based foods. Avoid overfeeding, as excess food can lead to water quality issues.
  • Make Proactive Decisions:
    • Watch for changes in behavior, appetite, and appearance.
    • Address any signs of stress or illness promptly.
  • Minimize Stressors:
    • Ensure proper tank size and avoid overcrowding.
    • Provide hiding spots and decorations to create a secure environment.
    • Avoid aggressive tank mates that might stress out the betta.
    • Maintain a consistent environment with stable water parameters and temperature.
  • Regularly Monitor Water Quality:
    • Test the water parameters (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH) frequently.
    • Perform water changes to maintain optimal water quality.
    • Use a water conditioner to neutralize harmful chemicals in tap water.
  • Consult a Vet:
    • If your betta fish shows signs of illness, consult a veterinarian experienced in fish care.
    • Professional guidance can help diagnose and treat health issues effectively.


1. How can I tell if my betta fish is dying?

You can know if a betta fish is not well when its colors change and become dull, and it acts tired, doesn’t move much, seems upset, weak, struggles to breathe, or doesn’t want to eat. The signs of an unwell fish are different based on what’s making it sick.

2. Can my fish die because it’s old? 

Just like people, animals also get old. When betta fish get old, they start to move slower, like how old folks do. If your betta fish is getting old, you might notice its colors getting lighter, it might not be as interested in things, and it could be sleeping a lot. Getting older makes betta fish more likely to get sick, and they don’t heal as well as when they were younger.

3. Why do betta fish die after water change?

If the fish is getting sick and dying right away or within a day after you change their water, it might be because of the water’s chemistry and temperature. 

When you change the water, many things about it can change too, like how acidic or basic it is, how hard it is, how warm or cold it is, and the tiny and big nutrients in it. If these things change too suddenly, the fish might not survive.

4. How do you comfort a dying betta fish?

To save your fish from dying, change the water in its tank promptly if it shows unusual behavior before it dies. Make your betta’s last moments comfortable by keeping the water warm and adding a little salt. If the tank is cramped, consider moving it to a larger one for added comfort.

5. Is Your Betta Fish Dead Or Sleeping?

Sometimes it’s tricky to figure out if your betta fish is sleeping or if it has passed away. One of the simplest ways to tell is by switching on the light in the tank. 

If you see your fish moving when the light is on, that’s a sign they’re alive. But if they’re not moving at all, you might gently move the water around them to see if they show any response.


Losing a fish in your family is a sad and worrying experience, and understanding the cause is essential to improving its care in the future. There are several reasons why Betta fish have a short lifespan, including poor tank maintenance and poor water quality. 

It is essential to monitor water temperatures, test water quality, maintain the filter, and ensure adequate oxygen levels. As Betta fish can be sensitive to tankmates, consider compatibility when adding new elements. Although Bettas are considered beginner pets, it is important to learn more about their care.

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