In your experience as a Betta fish owner who takes care of Betta fish, you may find it quite alarming to observe your Betta lying still at the bottom of the tank.
There can be various explanations for this uncommon behavior, and some of them may not be a cause for alarm. However, it could also indicate that your Betta is going through a significant health concern.
For your convenience, let’s discuss the common reasons why a Betta fish might rest at the tank’s bottom and the actions you can take in response to each situation!
Table of Contents
Common Reasons Why Betta Fish is Not Moving
If your Betta fish is not moving at the bottom of the tank, there could be several reasons for this. These causes vary in severity, so we’ll divide them into two parts.
1. Betta Fish is Sleeping
When you see your Siamese fighting fish sleeping at the bottom of its tank, don’t worry, it might just be taking a rest. Betta fish like to lie on their sides when they rest, even though it may seem strange to aquarium owners.
If your betta fish has a good diet, lots of energy, and isn’t having trouble breathing, then it’s probably just catching some Z’s. If you’re unsure whether your betta is simply tired, keep a close eye on it for a few days and watch for any signs of stress or sickness.
Bettas appreciate having a place to rest their usually big fins, so consider adding something for them to rest on above the tank’s bottom to see if that’s where they prefer to sleep.
Betta fish are known for finding cool places to rest. They can curl up in corners, lay down on the bottom, or even take naps on plant leaves!
If you see your Betta fish sleeping a lot during the day, check how you set up their tank at night. Do you keep the tank lights on when it’s dark outside? Is there too much light in the room?
Make sure to put your fish in a quiet, dark place at night so they can get all the sleep they require.
2. Temperature Fluctuation
Betta fish can suffer from fluctuating temperatures in their tanks when the water gets too hot or too cold. They may not eat and will just sit on the bottom of the tank. To keep them happy, it’s best to maintain the water temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Too Cold Water
Just like how too much heat can be a problem, water that’s too cold can also cause issues for Betta fish. It’s best if the water in your tank stays warmer than 74 degrees Fahrenheit (you can find more information in our full care guide).
When the temperature goes lower than that, your fish’s body slows down. Even the amount of oxygen it can take in decreases. When these things happen together, your fish becomes very weak and tired.
If you don’t make the water warmer, your fish might get stressed out and become more likely to get sick.
4. Too Hot Water
Sudden temperature changes can be really dangerous for Betta fish. These fish like to be in warm water, but if it gets too hot in the summer, it can make them sick.
The issue is that warm water doesn’t have as much oxygen as cooler water. It’s not just the heat that’s the problem; it’s the fact that there’s not enough oxygen for your fish to breathe!
If your Betta fish don’t have enough oxygen, they might start gasping for air near the bottom of their tank. Even though they can breathe air from above the water, not having enough oxygen is a big problem for them.
5. Wrong pH
A betta fish lying on its side at the bottom of a tank might be suffering from bad water quality. One of the things that can make the water terrible is having the wrong level of pH.
Betta fish are happiest when the water they live in has a pH level of 7.0, which is neither too acidic nor too basic. Tap water is usually a good choice because it typically has a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5.
If the pH in the tank is not right, it can harm your betta fish. They can experience something called pH shock, which can be deadly. This shock can happen suddenly and kill the fish right away, or it can happen slowly. When it’s slow, the fish will start to show signs of weakness, like not moving around much. It might first rest at the bottom of the tank, and eventually, it could die.
So, it’s essential to make sure the water in your betta fish’s tank has the right pH level to keep them healthy and happy.
6. Bettas Like to Rest at the bottom of their Tanks
If you wonder, ” Why is my betta fish at the bottom of the tank?” It could be because they are getting old and don’t have as much energy as before. Just like people slow down as they age, bettas do too. They can’t swim around as vigorously as when they were young, so they take short breaks by lying on the tank’s bottom.
As bettas grow older, they become less active. Their bodies can’t move as fast as they used to when they were young. So, they prefer to rest and conserve their energy. To make them more comfortable, you can add more resting spots in the tank. Older bettas also like the water flow to be gentle and slow, which is especially important for them.
7. Ammonia Poisoning
Ammonia levels in your tank rise when your fish make waste. It can damage fish’s gills and cause them to die if they are exposed to ammonia.
The issue with ammonia is that you can’t see it. To stop the levels from getting too high, you need to take good care of your tank and keep an eye on it. This means doing regular water changes and having a good filter system.
If you don’t have a good filter, the ammonia levels will keep going up, and this makes your Betta fish weak. In simple words, they have a hard time breathing!
If your tank is too small or has too many fish, it can also have ammonia problems. You can use a testing kit to see how much ammonia is in the water. The only safe amount is 0 parts per million (PPM). If it’s higher, your fish might be in trouble
8. Nitrate Poisoning
The cause of nitrate poisoning in fish is excessive levels of a harmful chemical in their tank water. Fish that have nitrate poisoning might breathe heavily, look pale or not their usual color, and appear tired. They could also tilt to the side but aren’t dead.
When we compare nitrate to ammonia, nitrate is not as bad, but it can still harm fish. The problem with nitrate is that it harms fish slowly.
It makes fish feel tired and weak, and they might even rest at the bottom of the tank. Your Betta fish might lose interest in eating and have trouble breathing. Their colors might also fade.
To find out if nitrate levels are too high, you can use a water testing kit. Ideally, you want the nitrate levels to be no more than 5 to 10 parts per million (PPM).
9. Sickness & Disease
If your Betta fish seems tired and stays at the bottom of its tank, it might be sick.
Betta fish can get sick quite easily because their immune system is not very strong.
There are various illnesses that can make Betta fish become weak, such as Ich, Bloat, Dropsy, and others.
10. Swim Bladder Disease
Your fish has a special part inside its body called the swim bladder, which helps it swim properly in the water. This bladder also helps the fish stay up or down in the water. Sometimes, when a fish gets sick with swim bladder problems, it might swim in strange ways, find it hard to move around, or just rest at the bottom of its tank.
This issue happens quite a bit with Betta fish. These fish really enjoy eating, and sometimes they eat more than they should. This can lead to tummy problems and trouble with their swim bladder.
Swim bladder problems usually happen when a fish eats too much or can’t digest its food the right way. To help a fish with swim bladder trouble, you can give it small pieces of green peas or a special fish food called daphnia, which are both rich in fiber. You can also try not feeding your fish for a few days. After a little rest and getting rid of what was making it feel bloated, a Betta fish that was resting on its side should start swimming normally again.
11. Wrong Tank Mates
A Japanese or Siamese fighting fish, known as a Betta, is known for its aggressive nature. But, you can put them in a tank with other fish if you choose carefully.
Don’t put bigger or more colorful fish with bettas, as it can make them scared. Also, avoid fish that like to nibble on others. It’s better to choose bottom-feeding fish because they won’t bother the bettas too much.
Never put two male betta fish in the same tank. They will fight for sure.
Sometimes, bettas get scared instead of fighting when they feel threatened. They might hide or stay still. So, if they live with a more aggressive fish, they might not be the ones starting the fight.
12. Small Aquarium
New fish keepers sometimes believe that Betta fish can live anywhere. It’s true that they can be okay in small tanks that hold only three gallons of water, but it’s always better to have a bigger tank!
When your fish are kept in a small and empty space, they don’t have much to do. There’s nothing interesting for them to explore. Your Betta fish might get bored quickly and end up just resting at the bottom of the tank. That’s not a very good way for them to live, is it?
To make your Betta fish happier, you should give them more space to swim around and explore. You can consider getting a slightly larger tank. It’s also a good idea to add things like caves, plants, and natural decorations to the tank. These things will keep your fish joyful and in good health.
13. Lack of Filter or Use of Improper Filter
If you see your betta fish lying on the side or at the bottom of the fish tank, it could mean that your aquarium doesn’t have a filter. A good filter helps remove harmful chemicals and bacteria from the water that can hurt your fish.
When there’s no filter, harmful chemicals like ammonia and nitrate can build up in the water. This can make your fish sick, as I mentioned before. Also, if the water is not clean because of the missing filter, your betta fish might develop fin rot or a bacterial infection.
However, having a filter alone may not always solve the problem. Sometimes, even with a great filter system, you might still see your betta fish resting at the tank’s bottom. This could be because the filter’s water flow is too strong, so you might need to adjust its settings.
A very strong water flow can make your betta fish very tired. Think about trying to swim in a sea with really big waves – it’s tough, right? Bettas can feel the same way. Instead of swimming against the strong water, they might choose to stay still.
One way to make the water flow gentler is by using a sponge filter. Another trick is to make the water move toward the decorations in your fish tank instead of directly at your fish.
14. Improper Eating Habits
A good diet is really important for keeping your betta fish healthy. But, you have to be careful not to give them too much or too little food.
If they eat too much, they can get bloated and feel too full to swim around. They might just sit at the bottom of the tank or rest on the tank’s side, like when we eat a big meal and want to lie down.
On the other hand, if you don’t give them enough food, they won’t get the nutrients they need to have energy. This lack of nutrition can make them less active and not move around much. So, it’s important to feed them the right amount to keep them happy and healthy.
15. Habitat features lacking
The stuff inside an aquarium isn’t just for looks. It helps make a good home for betta fish. Betta fish like to hide, and if there aren’t enough places to hide in, a betta fish resting at the bottom of the tank might be feeling stressed.
You can fix this by adding more plants to the aquarium or putting a small cave or house in the tank. When your betta fish feels safe, it stays healthy and won’t usually hang out at the tank’s bottom.
There is nothing worse than seeing a betta fish die, but it does happen sometimes.
Usually, betta fish live for two to four years. How long they live depends on how good their home is, like the water being clean and the right temperature. If you take good care of them, they can live longer and be healthier.
If you’re worried your betta fish might be dead, the first thing to check is their gills. See if they’re still breathing, even if they’re not swimming around in the tank. You can also tell if a betta is dead because they change color.
Sometimes, you can gently tap the tank, and if your betta fish moves even a little bit, that means they’re alive. Even if they’re sick, they’ll usually react when you tap the glass.
How to Prevent Betta Fish from Not Moving
Keep a betta fish away from the side or bottom of your tank. The following are some of the best solutions to keep it active:
- Observe for Signs of Illness: Regularly observe your Betta fish for any signs of illness. This includes lethargy, loss of appetite, clamped fins, or unusual behaviors. Promptly addressing any health issues is essential to keep your Betta active.
- Use Medication or Remedies: If you notice signs of illness, research and use appropriate medications or remedies. For instance, swim bladder disease can cause buoyancy issues, so treating it can help your Betta swim properly.
- Offer a Resting Place: Bettas enjoy resting on plant leaves or other surfaces. Provide live or silk plants near the surface where your Betta can rest or hide when needed.
- Check Water Chemistry: Regularly test the water parameters in your aquarium, including pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. Make sure they are within the appropriate range for Betta fish (pH 6.5-7.5, ammonia and nitrite at zero, nitrate below 20 ppm).
- Proper Feeding: Feed your Betta fish a balanced diet of high-quality Betta pellets or flakes. Avoid overfeeding, as it can lead to health issues and water quality problems. A general guideline is to feed them small portions twice a day.
- Provide Hiding Places: Bettas appreciate hiding spots like caves or decorations. These provide security and reduce stress. Be sure there are no sharp edges that could damage their delicate fins.
- Tank Size and Stocking: Ensure your Betta has enough space. A tank size of at least 5 gallons is recommended, and avoid overcrowding with too many fish or decorations, which can restrict their movements.
- Choose Compatible Tank Mates: If you want to keep tank mates with your Betta, select peaceful species that won’t harass or attack them. Avoid fin-nipping fish and ensure they have compatible water parameter requirements.
- Maintain Proper Temperature: Betta fish are tropical and thrive in water temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (24-27°C). Use a reliable aquarium heater to maintain a stable temperature.
- Regular Water Changes: Perform regular water changes to keep the water clean and fresh. Aim for at least 25-30% water changes every week to remove accumulated waste and maintain water quality.
- Use a Gentle Filter: Betta fish prefer slow-moving water. If you use a filter, choose one with adjustable flow or add a baffle to reduce water movement in the tank.
- Avoid Drastic Changes: When changing the tank environment, such as rearranging decorations or introducing new fish, do so gradually to minimize stress for your Betta.
What causes them to lay at the Bottom of the tank Upside Down?
If you see a Betta fish lying on its side, it’s usually nothing to worry about. Betta fish actually enjoy resting on their sides rather than standing up straight. Side resting is fine, but if you want your fish to stay off the bottom, you can offer them different options. It is also possible to find special shelves and caves designed for fish to sleep in, which can make your fishy friend even more comfortable.
2. Is it normal for a betta fish to say still?
It’s okay if a betta fish doesn’t move much. Sometimes, betta fish stay still, and that’s normal. However, it can mean something’s not quite right, like the water quality, the fish getting old, or the fish being sick.
3. What are the differences between a sleeping and a dying fish?
A betta fish resting at the bottom of its tank may be napping or in need of medical attention. To figure out which one it is, you should check how it looks. If you spot dark marks or unusual colors on its body, along with signs of trouble breathing or struggling, it’s probably not just asleep but in poor health and might be dying.
4. What fish can coexist with bettas?
Here are some great friends for your betta fish: cory catfish, guppies, glass catfish, and blue gourami. They make a calm and perfect home that keeps your betta from getting too scared and lying at the bottom or on its side in the tank.
5. What if they’re At the bottom of the tank breathing heavily?
There are a couple of reasons why this might be happening:
It could be because of too much ammonia or nitrate in the water, or because the water is too warm. All of these things can make it hard for Betta fish to breathe, which is why they are breathing heavily.
If it’s because the water is too warm, you can cool it down by turning on an air conditioner in the room and pointing a fan at the water’s surface. Don’t use ice or very cold water because that can harm the good bacteria in the tank. Make sure to do this slowly so that your Betta stays healthy.
Sometimes, it’s not a problem if you see a Betta fish lying at the bottom of its tank. They might just be taking a break! But it’s important to be ready if something more serious is going on.
Good Betta fish owners are always prepared and take really good care of their fish. You should learn about your fish so you can help them if they need it.
Since lots of Betta owners worry about this, please share this guide with others. We want to help as many fish owners as we can learn what to do!