Why do betta fish keep floating to the top?

In this post, we will learn why betta fish keeps floating to the top. Also, we will explain the reasons and methods to avoid betta fish to float to the top.

Why do betta fish keep floating to the top?

The betta fish could be swimming to the top of the aquarium if there is not enough dissolved oxygen in the water. It is common for Betta fish to choose the middle of a water column rather than the top. Your Betta may have a health issue if you’ve noticed that he or she is continually swimming at the top of the tank.  Let’s have a look at some of the possible reasons for this condition.

Deficiency in oxygen

Poor water oxygenation and aeration may be causing your Betta fish to constantly swim to the top of the tank. Only a tiny fraction of fish have what is known as a labyrinth organ, making these little fishes somewhat unique.

Essentially, this labyrinth organ is similar to a human lung. To put it another way, Betta fish can both breathe dissolved oxygen in the water and gaseous oxygen in the air.

Your Betta fish may be swimming to the surface of the water to catch some air if there is not enough dissolved oxygen in the water. Dissolved oxygen levels are higher near the surface of the water.

Betta fish that swim to the surface and gasp for air because the tank water lacks dissolved oxygen are symptoms of an oxygen deficiency in their environment.

How to remedy the oxygen deficiency?

You may always add a bubbler or air stone to the tank to remedy this problem. Small, porous objects that are attached to an air pump generate tiny bubbles that fill the water with nutrients and oxygen. Filtration systems that circulate oxygenated water around the tank are also beneficial.  Furthermore, if the water temperature is high, it will have a lower concentration of dissolved oxygen than water which is colder. Keep in mind that since Betta fish are tropical fish, you should not let the water get too chilly.

Inadequate tank conditions 

If your Betta fish is continuously circling and leaping out of the water, poor water quality and unsuitable tank settings may be to blame. Although Betta fish are known for their toughness and resilience, they can only take so much abuse and fluctuating tank conditions.

The water in a Betta tank must meet certain criteria for the fish to be happy and healthy. Using this method, you may compare your tank’s conditions to the suggested ones, and you may discover the issue.

If you observe that your tank does not meet these specified parameters, you may have discovered the issue.

Betta fish need a certain set of water conditions to thrive. If the water is not appropriate for them to live in, they may swim upward and attempt to leap out in search of water that is more suited to their lifestyle. The temperature of the water is an important consideration in this situation.

A Betta fish needs a temperature of 25.5 to 26.5 degrees Celsius. Bettas may suffer major health problems if the temperature in their tank is too hot or too cold, so it’s critical to keep it just right. Because heat rises, a chilly Betta fish may seek refuge near the top of the tank, where it will be somewhat warmer. Additionally, Betta fish need water with a pH of 7.0.

The betta fish tank is not enough

It’s recommended that a Betta tank be at least five gallons in size. This is the bare minimum that should be met.  Your Betta fish may clamber to the top of the tank if it doesn’t have enough area to swim and play.

Rocks and plants

Betta fish like having a lot of plants and rocks to hide beneath, play with, and swim about in their aquariums. In the absence of plants, rocks, and caves, Betta fish may get depressed, sad, and bored in a sparsely decorated aquarium. As a result, the fish will be feverishly swimming, frequently reaching the top of the tank. 

A Filtering Device

Many people believe that Betta fish don’t need a filter in their aquarium, however, this is completely false. Betta fish, like many other fish, value and benefit from clean water and thus need a high-quality filter. If mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration is not being used correctly, the water in your Betta’s tank may be too polluted for it to bear, prompting it to swim higher in search of cleaner water.

All kinds of contaminants, from ammonia to fish waste to decomposing organic matter to other pollutants, all contribute to this impact.

Betta fish is asking for food

Another possible explanation for your Betta fish swimming to the top of the tank constantly is that it is pleading with you to feed it. This means that Betta fish will learn that food always comes from the top, therefore if the fish are hungry, they may remain at the top to look for food. Betta fish can now eat two meals a day, each of which is around the size of one of its eyes, or roughly three little pellets or brine shrimp.

Proper Nutritional Stability

Feeding your Betta merely once a day or seldom may be the cause of its malnutrition. However, overfeeding fish may have serious consequences. Your Betta fish may not enjoy the food you are feeding it if there is a lot of uneaten food at the bottom of the tank.

You may want to give it a taste of something new to see whether it likes it. Don’t feed the fish more than they can handle. This will only lead to greater and worse issues.

Swimming bladder 

The swimming bladder is an expression to describe whether your betta has a disease, injury, or another issue, that causes your betta’s swim bladder to malfunction. This means that when it comes to treating the symptoms of swim bladder “illness”, you are treating something different.

Problems with Swimming Bladder

It’s also possible that your Betta fish is having a problem with its swim bladder. A swim bladder problem is unlikely if your Betta is healthy and can swim to the top of the tank.

Swim bladder problems will lead the fish to list to one side and make it difficult for it to swim straight; as a result, if the fish has this issue, it will float to and around the surface instead of swimming to the surface.

Intriguingly, constipation and overeating are the most common causes of swim bladder “illness”. Overfeeding may be to blame if your fish are crooked or swimming to the top of the tank. Then, give your Betta a cooked and peeled pea for 2 to 3 days without giving it any food.

There are a few peas you may sample. Swim bladder problems should be solved as a result of this procedure. Overfeeding and constipation may be to blame if your fish seem swollen and swim erratically. Consult an expert or take your Betta fish to the vet if this condition continues.

Swim bladder illness may be to blame if your beloved betta fish isn’t swimming as he should. Bettas are prone to swim bladder illness, although it is readily remedied. An internal gas-filled sac, the swim bladder serves as the fish’s primary propulsion system. Like a buoyancy control gear for divers, it helps the fish rise and fall in the water. A betta suffering from this condition will either float or sink to the bottom of the aquarium. A lopsided swimming stance, lethargy, and stomach enlargement are further signs. 

Prevention of Swim Bladder Disorder

It is commonly known that poor water conditions lead fish to be more vulnerable to diseases.

Swim bladder problems may be prevented by keeping the tank clean and changing the water regularly.

To aid digestion and possibly avoid constipation, raise the temperature of your water. Consider soaking dry food for a few minutes before giving it to your betta fish.

Before putting the food in the tank, defrost it well. Try feeding fish that gulp air at the surface with sinking food.

At all costs, avoid overfeeding. Feed fish in smaller pieces to prevent them from overeating, and keep an eye on the overall quantity of food you give them each week.

Is Swim Bladder Disorder Contagious?

A swim bladder condition is not spread from one fish to another by water droplets or other aquatic organisms. You should, however, relocate the fish to a different tank where it may get treatment and be monitored while you monitor its condition. The tank should be devoid of pebbles or plants so you can observe how the fish is doing. Freshwater should be used instead of water from the fish’s original tank, which may have contributed to the condition.

When it comes to Swim Bladder Disorder, do Bettas recover?

Sadly, Swimming bladder disorder (SBD) is a fairly prevalent illness in betta fish. Fortunately, it isn’t deadly.

Constipation is the primary cause of SBD in the majority of cases.  A bacterial infection, a hereditary condition, or damage to the swim bladder over time may all lead to permanent SBD, which is something I am frightened about. However, even in these circumstances, it’s not typical to be deadly, and many fish may still have long lives with some degree of SBD.


In this post, we learned why betta fish keeps floating to the top. We also explained the reasons and methods for avoiding betta fish to float to the top.

If you have any thoughts or doubts, feel free to drop us a comment below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Why do betta fish keep floating to the top?

Is it usual for my betta to float to the top of the tank?

Also, the top of the water generally contains more dissolved oxygen in it than the bottom.

In other words, if you observe your Betta fish swimming to the surface and gasping for air, the water in the tank is depleted of dissolved oxygen.

What is going on with my betta that keeps floating to the top?

A swim bladder is what gives a Betta the ability to ‘balance’ in water. When there is an issue with the Bettas swim bladder, the Betta will struggle to keep upright in the water. He may roll about, struggling to keep upright or float belly up in the water.

What can I do to increase the amount of oxygen available to my betta fish?

Increased oxygenation is always a benefit of increased water circulation. Add an extra filter or replace the present filter with a greater capacity unit, if required. Using a powerhead, a spray bar on the filter’s output, or airstones are all other alternatives.

What is going up with my betta, who is just laying there doing nothing?

Bettas have to have air – they can’t receive all the oxygen they need from water – so making it simple for them to go to the top is crucial, even when they’re healthy. There are several reasons why a betta may be laying on its side, including stress, illness, or just resting.

How can I tell if my betta fish is dying?

Other symptoms that give a hint to recognizing when a betta fish is ready to die include discoloration throughout the fish’s body, such as white or brown blotches. Strange swimming motions or a shortening / eating away of the fins may also signal serious diseases.