Betta fish have a lively and colorful personality. It is sensitive to the environment and often swims enthusiastically. Therefore, when inactive, most people's first reaction is to panic.
|Betta Fish: Why A Betta Might Be Laying At The Bottom?|
So one day you look into your beautiful Betta tank and see that it's sitting on the bottom of the tank, maybe even leaning to the side. Many owners panic when they see a Betta fish lying on the bottom of the tank. They assume that something is seriously wrong. After all, fish are supposed to swim, aren't they?
It's a little complicated than that, though. There are a number of potential reasons why a Betta might be on the bottom (and not all of them are bad). And this guide is here to help. It will teach you why they might be at the bottom of the tank, how you can fix each problem, and how to use position and behavior signs to accurately diagnose any issues.
This is an informative article. Nodisk One is not permitted to make a diagnosis or recommend any form of veterinary care. If your pet is in pain or ill, we recommend that you take him to the vet.
Identify If Signs Of Stress Are Present
Often, if a Betta is lying on the bottom because it is sick, there are other signs of stress. Look for items such as:
- Rapid or labored gill movement
- refuse to eat
- Stays constantly at the bottom
- White spots on the body
- White lines on the fins
These are all indications that your Betta may be suffering from a condition. You should immediately perform a water change and consult a fish veterinarian or other reputable medical expert.
Is Betta Fish Lying On The Bottom Of The Tank Normal?
Betta fish are some of the finest around. With their long, flowing fins and vibrant coloring, they look their best when swimming around your aquarium and displaying their beauty. But what does it mean when a Betta starts laying eggs at the bottom of your tank? Is this normal?
Witnessing this behavior can be alarming to owners who are used to seeing their fish act in a spirited and playful manner. A Betta fish lying on the bottom of the tank, there are actually several reasons why a Betta might do this, and some of them are quite innocent. However, others are of concern. It means it's normal sometimes.
All Possible Causes
Knowing how your Betta fish behaves will enable you to know when to take appropriate action. Here are some of the most common reasons why a Betta fish gets to the bottom of the tank.
1. The Betta Is Getting Old
Bettas have a relatively short lifespan. Under the right conditions, these fish will live between three and five years! If you've had your Betta for a while, it may be suffering from the effects of aging. Old Bettas tend to slow down as they age, just like any other animal. They just don't have the energy to roam their habitat like they did when they were younger.
Their bodies begin to slow down and they find it harder to keep up with young fish. The majority of older fish thus prefer to rest a little bit more. Your fish might start lying on leaves or spend more time resting on the substrate at the bottom of the tank.
Unless you have raised your fish from the nursery stage, it is difficult to determine the age of the fish. Even if you just got your Betta a few months ago, it could have spent years with a breeder or at the store. If your fish looks generally healthy and just seems to be slowing down, it may be at the end of its life.
2. Ammonia Poisoning
As your fish produce waste, the ammonia levels in the tank will rise. Ammonia is a chemical that is harmful to fish, as you are probably aware. It can cause chemical burns to the gills and possibly lead to death. Ammonia presents a problem in that it is invisible. You have to rely on good tank maintenance and monitoring to keep these levels from skyrocketing.
To put it another way, frequent water changes and a reliable filtration system. If you don't have an effective filter in place, ammonia levels will constantly rise. This weakens your betta fish. In short, they have trouble breathing!
Small tanks or crowded environments also tend to suffer from ammonia problems. To check the ammonia levels, use a test kit. The only "safe" level is 0 PPM. Anything higher and your fish could suffer.
3. Excess Current
Betta fish do not do well in strong currents. In reality, their enormous fans serve only as decoration. They don't really help this fish in swimming. If you have heavy flow from the filter or air pump, your fish are probably exhausted!
Fighting a strong current continuously consumes a lot of energy. It's possible that your Betta fish gave up and decided to take a rest on the tank's bottom. You can attach a sponge filter to your filter to lower the water flow. Alternatively, you can redirect power to plants or decorations. Breaking the current will do a lot to reduce the flow throughout the aquarium.
4. Nitrate Poisoning
Another substance produced by fish waste is nitrate. However, it is a byproduct of bacterial breakdown. Bacteria in a properly cycled tank will convert ammonia to nitrites. Then it will break down the nitrites into nitrates. Nitrates, in contrast to ammonia, are less dangerous. They still do a lot of damage, though. Nitrate is a slow killer, which makes the situation even worse.
This makes the fish lethargic and weak (and can cause them to lay eggs at the bottom of the tank). Your Betta might lose its appetite and have difficulty breathing. You might even see their color start to fade. Get out your water test kit and see where the nitrate levels are. Ideally, you should have no more than 5-10 PPM.
5. The Water Is Too Hot
Heat shock is a very real threat to Bettas. These fish like warmer temperatures. However, the excess heat during the summer will cause several health problems. You see, warm waters release oxygen much faster than cold waters. The issue is not so much with the temperature.
It is rather the lack of oxygen that affects your fish! Without this oxygen, your Betta fish will gasp at the bottom of the tank. Even for organisms that can breathe atmospheric air, a lack of oxygen in water can be a serious issue.
Slowly cool down your tank temperatures. You can do this with a fan or a room air conditioner. To quickly infuse oxygen into the water, use an air bladder.
6. Swim Bladder Disease
Your fish's swim bladder is a crucial organ it needs to swim. It controls buoyancy. A fish with swim bladder disease frequently swims in odd patterns, finds it difficult to move, or lies on the bottom of the aquarium. This disease is quite common in Bettas. These fish have a healthy appetite, so they frequently consume more food than they really need to.
This can cause constipation and swim bladder problems. You can treat the condition by providing fiber-rich foods like daphnia and blanched peas. To avoid it in the future, reduce the amount of food you provide. Sometimes swim bladder disease is chronic. Treatment does not help all fish. In these cases, the fish should generally be euthanized.
7. Illness And Disease
Your Betta fish may be sick if it appears lethargic and spends a lot of time laying eggs on the bottom of the tank. There are many diseases that affect bettas. Because of their weakened immune systems, these fish actually tend to get sick more frequently. Diseases such as Ich, Bloat, Dropsy, etc. can weaken betta fish.
In most cases, these illnesses are caused by stress and a poorly maintained environment. Stay aware of water conditions and ensure parameters are within an acceptable range. When things go beyond the recommended range, your betta fish will get stressed and become more susceptible to disease.
It's not always a problem if a Betta fish is lying on the tank bottom. Sometimes your fish takes things lightly! Take a look at their behavior. If the pelvic fins are still moving, your fish might just be relaxing!
They may go through periods of movement before resting on the substrate. Although those enormous fins are beautiful, a Betta may find them to be tedious. Because of this, they might take a while to rest. There is no need to be panicked because this is entirely normal.
9. The Water Is Too Cold
Like excessive heat, cold waters beyond the Betta's comfort range can cause problems. Ideally, your tank water temperature should be no lower than 74 degrees Fahrenheit (learn more by reading our comprehensive maintenance guide).
When the temperature drops below this, your fish's metabolism slows down. Oxygen also absorbs more slowly. This combination of events makes your fish very weak and lethargic. If you don't raise the temperatures, your fish could become stressed and sick.
Use a heater or lights in the tank to slowly increase the water temperature in the aquarium. Avoid to do it all at once!
10. The Aquarium Is Not Big Enough
Many new fish owners make the mistake of thinking Bettas can live anywhere. It is true that they do well in aquariums that only hold three gallons. But the bigger, the better!
When your fish are confined to a tiny, arid environment, they have nothing to do! There is nothing to explore. Your Betta fish will quickly lose interest in things, leaving them with nothing to do but lay on the bottom of the tank. I suppose that's not the ideal way to live, is it?
Give your betta fish an extra room to explore. Consider increasing the tank size by a few gallons. You should also implement all sorts of enrichment items for your fish. This includes caves, plants and natural decorations. These things will all keep your fish content and healthy.
11. They Sleep
Believe it or not, betta fish sleep like any other animal! They actually follow the same general sleep pattern as humans. They prefer to stay active during the day and sleep at night. If they don't get enough sleep at night, you might find them dozing at the bottom of the tank!
Bettas have a unique reputation for finding interesting places to sleep. They can snuggle up in nooks, rest on the substrate or even sleep on plant leaves! If you notice your Betta sleeping a lot throughout the day, consider your nighttime setup. In the evenings, do you leave the tank lights on? What about mood lighting in the room?
Leave your fish in a dark, quiet space at night to ensure they get all the sleep they need.
The worst case scenario for a betta not moving is this. Nobody wants to have a dying betta fish, but the reality is that your fish will reach such a stage. A betta fish typically lives for two to four years. It depends on environmental conditions, including water quality and temperature. Proper care and maintenance will help fish live longer and have a better quality of life.
One of the first things to look at is the gills to see if the betta is dead. Look for indications that he is still breathing, even if he is not moving at the bottom or side of the tank. A dead betta exhibits discoloration as well. You can also tap the betta tank lightly and pay attention to any reaction from the fish. The slightest movement is proof of life. The betta will move when you tap the glass, even if it is sick.
Sleeping Betta Fish
So, you've gone through this whole list and found that you have everything pretty well in hand. Your tank is big enough, it has a filter and a heater and the water parameters are acceptable. Impressive! You totally rock! But then, why is your Betta lying on the bottom?
It's probably just a nap. Yes, a nap. Bettas are fairly low energy fish and they like to take short naps… or fish naps? I'm not sure about the correct grammar on this one. But seriously, it is common for bettas to sleep at the bottom of the tank. They can rest on a plant leaf, inside a hollow log, or simply layer directly on top of the substrate.
I've even seen them lying on their side or pointing their heads down. These brief naps play a significant role in a Betta's life. So please if you see your Betta napping at the bottom, don't try to wake him up by tapping on the glass or anything like that.
You will wake up the Betta, which can be very stressful. If you are worried, be patient and come back later. He will usually start swimming again after about an hour. I know it can be scary to have to wait and see, but imagine how stressful it would be for you if someone was shaking you every time you tried to sleep!
The Importance Of Positioning
It is important to note how your Betta fish sits on the bottom of the tank. Different positions and movement patterns can actually help you choose the right cause from the list above. Below, we go over some of the most common signs to watch out for:
What Makes A Betta Fish Lay On Its Side?
In most cases, a Betta fish lying on its side is not a major concern. Bettas like to sleep on their sides rather than in an upright position. Author's Note: Take a close look at their gills to make sure they are breathing and healthy. A healthy Betta should straighten up as soon as it wakes up.
Although it's perfectly normal to sleep on your side, you can give your fish more options if you want to keep them away from the substrate. Consider adding plants to the aquarium. There are also many "sleeping shelves" and man-made caves available. These decorative objects are specially designed for sleepy fish!
What If Your Betta Is At The Bottom Of The Tank And Not Moving?
You need to look more closely to determine what's happening if your fish isn't moving. Take a look at their gills. I hope your fish is breathing well! If so, they are probably sleeping. Bettas can't close their eyes, so it looks like they're still awake. If your fish tries to move its fins, you may be suffering from heat shock or swim bladder disease.
Adjust the temperature accordingly, but be sure to do so slowly. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do to immediately relieve swim bladder disease. You can reduce the water flow to make life easier for your fish. However, it's largely a waiting game until you can provide fiber-rich foods.
Finally, it is possible that your betta fish is dead. Chances are you'll see the signs of death coming before it happens. Because Bettas can't close their eyes, it's easy to confuse death with sleep. If your fish is not moving its gills, chances are it has already died.
What Causes Them To Lie Upside Down At The Bottom Of The Tank?
One of the biggest warning signs is if your Betta fish is upside down. Generally, this is a sign that your fish has swim bladder disease. If he is still breathing or trying to move his fins, you can easily tell that there is still something going on inside. This is a good thing. Reduce the flow in the aquarium and wait a bit. You can also add salt to the reservoir (this can sometimes help with constipation issues).
What If They Are Breathing Heavily At The Tank's Bottom?
If your Betta fish is lying on the bottom of the tank and breathing heavily, you need to act as quickly as possible. There are several explanations for this:
- It can be ammonia poisoning, nitrate poisoning or high temperatures. All of these problems make it difficult for betta fish to breathe, which explains the heavy and labored breathing.
- Test the water to see what problem you need to solve. If it's ammonia or nitrate poisoning, perform a 50% water change to provide immediate relief. Then make changes to prevent the levels from climbing again.
For hot temperatures, turn on an air conditioner in the room and direct a fan toward the surface of the water. To lower temperatures, avoid using ice cubes or cold water. You need to do this slowly so as not to kill the beneficial bacteria.
Best Practices For Preventing Betta Fish From Laying On The Side Or Bottom Of Your Aquarium
Avoid having a betta fish lying on the side or bottom of your tank. Here are some best practices for keeping it active:
- Check the fish for illness symptoms like lethargy and lack of appetite.
- Use medications or other remedies to clear up any conditions, such as swim bladder disease.
- Give the betta a resting place.
- Check chemical spikes and ensure water chemistry is balanced.
- Feed the fish the necessary nutrients while avoiding under or overfeeding.
- To reduce stress, give the betta fish more places to hide or put them in a bigger tank.
- Avoid overloading the aquarium with ornamental plants as this can restrict movement.
- Be careful of the tank mate of bettas, avoiding overly aggressive fish.
- Keep aquarium water between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
As you can see, it's not always a bad thing when you see a Betta fish lying on the bottom of the tank. Sometimes they just need a rest! But you should always be prepared if the cause turns out to be serious. Great owners practice preparation and provide a consistent level of high-quality care.
In case you ever need to assist your fish, you must understand them! Since this is such a common concern among Betta owners, please share this guide as much as you can. Our hope is to help as many aquarists as possible get informed!
Only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, are used by Nodisk One to substantiate the information in our articles.