Why is my betta fish barely swimming?

In this blog, we are going to discuss some possible reasons why betta fish might be swimming less or not at all.


In this blog

  • Why is my betta fish barely swimming?
  • What are the reasons why a betta fish barely swims?
  • Summary 
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Reference

Why is my betta fish barely swimming?

The swimming patterns of a healthy betta fish are normal. They swim happily around their tank with curiosity and inspecting each and every object in it.

Swimming behavior of a healthy betta fish:

  • Healthy betta fish swim happily.
  • Healthy betta fish are always inquisitive and interested in their surroundings. They will have a specific time for resting and time for swimming.
  • They will never skip their meals and swim happily towards their food.

But what happens, when they are swimming less or not swimming at all. There could be several reasons why the betta fish are barely swimming in the tank. Some possibilities include: 

  • The fish is sick.
  • The water is too cold.
  • The fish is too tired.
  • The fish is resting.
  • The fish is experiencing some external injury.
  • The fish is overweight.
  • The fish is dead.
  • The water current is too high.
  • Tank water is of poor quality
  • The fish is sick or suffering from swim bladder disease.

In the next section, we will discuss everything in great detail.

What are the reasons why a betta fish barely swims?

  • Resting betta fish don’t swim
  • Injury hampers bettas swimming
  • Tired betta fish don’t swim
  • Colder temperatures hampers bettas swimming
  • Overweight hampers bettas swimming
  • Poor water quality hampers betta swimming
  • Poor water currents hampers betta swimming
  • Swim bladder disease hampers betta swimming
  • Dead betta fish don’t swim

Sleeping or resting betta fish don’t swim

The first reason your betta fish barely swim is that they are resting and that is their natural behavior.

Like humans, betta fish also sleep and do not move while resting or sleeping. Please do not disturb your fish when they are resting or sleeping.Betta is sometimes lazy and rarely swims or does not swim at all.

There is nothing to worry about If your betta fish is resting and not swimming or moving around much.You should be worried when they take a rest all day and skip their meals.

Injury hampers bettas swimming

Another reason your betta fish is barely swimming is that it has an external injury. Betta fish are naturally curious and enjoy exploring their surroundings. 

When you add decorations to your tank, they will enjoy looking at them. If you add a sharp decoration to your betta tank, they could rub against the sharp object and injure themselves.

It is therefore important to choose aquarium decorations with care. If you have sharp objects around your fish, they may be more susceptible to injury and may not swim as much or at all.

Tired betta fish don’t swim

Sometimes betta fish get too tired to swim because they eat too much or because they drag their massive fins around. Tired fighting fish after rest will return to normal and resume swimming. You shouldn’t worry too much about this.

Colder temperatures hampers bettas swimming

Betta fish live best in temperatures between 74-81 degrees F and become dormant if they are cooler. They cannot tolerate colder temperatures, because they are tropical fish and need warm water in their tank to function well.

So if the water temperature drops below 71F, they will become lethargic and barely swim around. It is important to keep the temperature in a betta fish tank at the right level using a good heater and to monitor it with a thermometer every day to avoid fluctuations.

Overweight hampers bettas swimming

An overweight betta fish tends to stay in one spot in the tank – either at the bottom or at the top. They find it difficult to swim because their bellies are swollen and their fins are massive.

If you overfeed a fighting fish and they don’t get enough exercise, they will obviously swim less or not at all.

Poor water quality hampers betta swimming

If the water quality is poor, the fighting fish will feel uneasy and uncomfortable in the aquarium, will tend to stay in one place and will not swim.Check the water quality with a water testing kit and plan water changes accordingly.

Poor water currents hampers betta swimming

Betta fish live in slow-moving water currents in their natural habitat and prefer the same in man-made homes. If the current in the tank is too high, your fish will be uncomfortable and will only stay in one place and avoid swimming.

Swim bladder disease hampers betta swimming

Betta fish avoid swimming due to a very common disease known as swim bladder disease. This disease is caused by overfeeding or by damage to their bladder from decorations in the tank. They have problems with buoyancy and find it difficult to swim.

Dead betta fish don’t swim

If your betta fish dies, it’s likely that it will stay at the bottom of the tank and not swim around. You should remove a dead betta fish from the tank as soon as possible. A dead fish can change the water chemistry in a tank, making it unsafe for other fish.

If your betta is hardly swimming due to the above reasons, you should fix the situation as soon as possible without any delay.Here are things you should do to fix the situation:

  • Check the water quality by using a water testing kit to measure levels of organic pollutants like ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. If it’s beyond the normal range, consider changing it. Make sure you are doing it properly, as sudden water changes can kill your betta fish.
  • Don’t overfeed your betta fish, overfeeding can make them lethargic and inactive. Give your pet good food to eat, as poor-quality food can make their health worse. If your fish does not get a nutritious and balanced diet, it will lack the energy to move and swim.
  • Install filters with constant flow, as strong currents can affect swimming.You can go ahead with sponge filters for both mature and baby betta fish.
  • Keep the tank’s temperature within a range of 74-81 degrees Fahrenheit, and monitor it daily to avoid sudden and extreme changes. Sudden and extreme fluctuations in water temperature can interfere with swimming.
  • Be careful when choosing tank decorations – some sharp and pointed tank accessories can hurt the pectoral fins and even the swim bladder of betta fish. If these two are damaged, the betta fish will not be able to swim well.
  • Bettas like to sleep when it’s dark, avoid switching lights suddenly near or inside the betta tank as this can stress them out and they may avoid swimming for a while.
  • Monitor your fish closely to see if they are getting better. If they resume swimming like before, then that’s good. If not, please consult your veterinarian. 
  • Give the fish time to recover, don’t panic and deal with the situation patiently.


Fish behavior can be unpredictable at times and as a beginner, you might not understand your fish’s strange behavior at first. However, by gradually interacting with your betta fish, you can learn to understand them better. 

If you check on your fish’s swimming habits every day, you’ll be able to figure out what is bothering them.

I have covered all of the possible reasons why betta fish might be swimming less or not at all. If your fish is displaying unusual behavior, I suggest you take some steps to correct the situation.

Frequently asked questions

Some betta fish may rest all day without swimming. Is this normal?

It’s normal if the betta is sleeping all day and moving between meals, but not if they’re skipping meals. Check the water parameters or look for external infections.

What is the ideal temperature for betta fish to survive in an aquarium?

The ideal temperature for betta fish to survive in an aquarium should be in the range of 74-81F, anything below this range can make the fish lethargic and difficult to swim around.

What kind of decorations would be safe for a betta fish tank?

The decorations you put in your tank should be smooth so your betta fish can easily move around them. It should not hurt your betta fish at all.

Can an overweight betta fish swim effortlessly?

An overweight betta fish struggles to swim with ease, as their bellies are swollen. They don’t seem to be able to swim well and usually stay in one spot.

Do betta fish like strong or powerful filters in their aquarium?

Betta fish do not like strong filtration in their tank, which hampers their swimming and can overwhelm them.Install filters with slow-moving water currents that resemble their natural habitat.

Do betta fish swim well?

Betta fish are not great swimmers, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t swim at all. The fish swim happily around the tank, but they avoid swimming when the conditions are not suitable in the tank.