Betta fish (also known as Siamese fighting fish) are beautiful in color and great to watch. They are usually active which is why them laying at the bottom of your tank and not eating should fire off warning signals. It could just be that they are sleeping but they generally only do that in more protected areas.
A healthy betta fish are generally quite active and social. If there is a change in their behavior then you need to investigate it to see what the problem is. It will often be down to poor water conditions and you need to go through all the checks to see if it’s still suitable for them.
Are my betta fish sleeping?
Bettas need their sleep but it’s good to look at how you can tell the difference between a sleeping fish and one that is in distress. Bettas sleep at night and do for around an hour at a time. They prefer to sleep on leaves and do so on their side.
You need to be able to give them the dark conditions that they need to sleep by switching lights off at night. If your fish is showing these signs but is otherwise healthy then there isn’t anything for you to worry about.
Laying down during the daytime, not eating, being lethargic and odd behavior are all signs that it’s not a sleeping issue. Here we look at what could be wrong if you’re getting these signs.
Betta fish questions and how to solve them
Are my betta fish poisoned?
Nitrate can be dangerous as it’s a slow and silent killer and therefore it can build up without you thinking about it. Nitrite and ammonia are (rightfully) seen as bigger dangers to fish but this can often lead people to underestimate the dangers of nitrate.
It’s the best idea to get a water testing kit that is going to let you know the levels of nitrate in the water. If it’s found then this needs to be removed in a controlled way as suddenly changing a bettas environment can lead to osmotic shock.
Ammonia can be an even bigger problem and if you see your better gasping for air then you need to solve it. Again, all you need to do is test the water to see if the levels of anything are too high and need to be brought down.
Excess ammonia usually comes from fish waste. If this isn’t being cleaned then it could be that your filter isn’t strong enough, the fish are being overfed or perhaps your tank is simply too crowded. Changing this environment will help to bring those ammonia levels down.
Does my betta fish have bladder problems
Just like us humans, fish can develop bladder issues. This can be seen by a swelled bladder and could be a sign that you’re overfeeding your fish. If you think that this may be an issue, reducing their food intake and increasing the amount of fiber in their diet may be the solution.
Betta fish can get constipated and this can be solved by giving them the right diet. If this is an issue then it’s one that will resolve itself without any long term damaged to worry about. Just make sure you are correctly controlling their food intake.
Is my filter current too fast?
Part of the reason betta fish are so beautiful is because they have such big fins. If they are having to constantly battle against a filter that produces a fast current then they can find it extremely difficult. If this is a problem, check to see if you can adjust the flow of your filter.
There are a few things that you can do such as getting a sponge filter. If you don’t want to change your existing filter then you could get a tank divider or perhaps just block the flow with plants or decoration. You could even put holes in your intake pipe to be able to reduce the current.
Is my water temperature incorrect?
Betta are tropical and need the right temperature to be able to thrive. Your tank should be between 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit as if the water is too cold, this will slow down their metabolism, make them more lethargic and they’ll often stay near the bottom of the tank.
Conversely, if the water is too warm then they will struggle to breathe and take in enough oxygen. If your water is the wrong temperature then you want to adjust it slowly. Any dramatic change in temperature can shock the fish and therefore you should do this gradually.
Are my betta fish diseased?
This is the worst case scenario as it may be that your betta is suffering from a disease. If so Epsom salts and Almond leaves can help to boost their immune system and fight off infection. In reality, this may not be enough. Signs that there is a serious health issue are clouded eyes, loss of color, patches on the fins and any other physical change.
Are my betta fish stressed?
It could be that your betta is stressed and not in the right conditions. This could because:
Your tank is too small
Your tank is overcrowded
They have nowhere to hide
If you think any of these may apply then double-check the advice on betta fish and ensure the tank conditions are right for them.
When not to worry
Have you checked everything and are still wondering why they aren’t darting around the aquarium? There may not be a problem at all. As we all do, when betta start to get a little older they will slow down and become lethargic. They have a life expectancy of 4-5 years and may just want to rest in their old age.
Betta can also be a little lazy. If everything is looking fine and the conditions are perfect then they are probably just chilling out. Some of them like to hide and have a little downtime. Don’t be concerned if you think it’s being a little lethargic.
If your betta fish are acting unusually then don’t panic. Simply go through this list, tick off the factors that don’t apply and hopefully you have your solution.