Home » Fish » Freshwater Fish » Betta Fish Not Moving: Here’s Why It Happens

Betta Fish Not Moving: Here’s Why It Happens

Renee Whitmore
Last Updated on
by Renee Whitmore

Bettas aren’t constantly on the move like feeder fish, but they’ll still dart around when someone approaches their tank or to explore exciting nooks and crannies of their tank. Needless to say, a betta not moving can feel worrisome for the betta’s owner.

Are you wondering why is my betta fish not moving? There are many reasons your betta fish isn’t moving, and not all of them are life and death situations.

We’ll help you understand and identify why your betta fish isn’t moving so that you can try to fix the issue (assuming there’s a problem).

Stiff betta fish

Why Is My Betta Fish Not Moving?

Your betta might not be moving in its tank for several reasons, including biological ones, health issues, or environmental factors.

Let’s explore four of the most common reasons why bettas don’t move:

Reason #1: Sleeping:

Can you imagine life without resting and sleeping? Bettas can’t, either.

So, if you walk into the room and notice your betta isn’t moving, it’s most likely resting. To find out if this is the case, turn the lights on if they’re off. That will probably startle your fish awake.

Alternatively, you can move closer to the tank, giving it a light tap. If your betta pops back to life and starts swimming around, then you know that you had a sleeping betta on your hands, which is entirely normal.

Bettas prefer to sleep when it’s dark. So, more often than not, you’ll notice that your betta isn’t moving when you have the lights off.

If your betta isn’t swimming a lot during the day, it could be because they’re bored. Therefore, you should make sure their tank is in an area with a good view of their surroundings.

Furthermore, you should regularly change out the plants and toys in their tank to give them new places to explore and hide in.

Reason #2: Swim Bladder Disease:

Have you thought to yourself, my betta fish won’t eat and barely moves? If so, you likely have a more serious condition on your hands than a sleeping betta.

Swim bladder disease is one of the most common health problems that bettas face, and it often accompanies a loss of appetite. The swim bladder is an organ that helps your betta control how it floats. Typically, you’ll either find your betta down in the rocky substrate or on top of the water.

There are several reasons that bettas get swim bladder disease, including overfeeding, parasites, a low water temperature, a bacterial infection, and shock.

Since many factors cause swim bladder disease, you may have to do a little trial and error to see what gets your betta back to its regular swimming habits. Below are some recommendations:

  • Put your betta on a fast for three days.
  • Slowly increase the water temperature. You should keep it in a 78 – 80°F temperature range.
  • Feed them cooked peas with the skin off (that’ll help with any constipation they may have).
  • Introduce Melafix into the tank (for a bacterial infection) or Bettamax (for parasites) if the Melafix doesn’t work.

We recommend trying these recommendations in steps so that you don’t overwhelm your betta and you can more easily identify what triggered its swim bladder disease.

The good news is that you can almost always cure this common betta illness if you catch it early enough.

Reason #3: Issue with Its Water:

If you have a betta not moving, it could be because the water temperature in its tank becomes too hot or cold.

Bettas come from warm tropical water in Southeast Asia. They prefer a water temperature around 78°F. If the temperature gets above 82°F, it’ll cause them to overheat.

However, more often than not, cold water is the reason why bettas stop swimming. To a betta, cold water is any temperature below 72°F. Just like a human’s reaction is to curl up and stay in one place when they’re cold, bettas also become sluggish.

Over time, cold water can have detrimental effects on your betta’s health; it increases their stress and increases the chances of getting a disease.

So, if you notice your betta isn’t moving after you turn on the lights and tap their tank, stick a thermometer in the water.

If cold water becomes a recurring issue for your betta because you love cranking the air conditioning in your house, consider purchasing a heater. That way, your two-footed and fined house members alike will be able to coincide.

Reason #4: Your Betta Died:

To outsiders, your betta might seem like “just” a fish. But we understand the attachment you can form with them and the individual personalities that bettas have.

Nevertheless, betta fish don’t live forever, so if your betta isn’t moving, there’s a possibility that it passed away.

The average lifespan of a betta fish is three to five years. However, if you keep your betta’s tank in optimal conditions and feed them high-quality food, they could even live a couple of years past the five-year mark.

Before you stick your finger in the tank to poke your betta to check if they’re alive, start by taking a close look at their gills. Even if they’re lying on the substrate or floating on top of the water, they could be alive and suffering from an illness, so you don’t want to startle them.

If you don’t see their gills moving, try tapping the tank or swirling the water around to see if your betta reacts. If it doesn’t, it sadly passed away.

Betta Fish
About Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore is an American college professor and freelance writer from North Carolina. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in English Education. When she is not driving her teenage son to wrestling practice or learning the ins and outs of Fortnite from her younger son, she is working on her first book to be published soon.
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.