Why is my betta fish freaking out?

In this blog we will discuss why bettas freak out and what could be done to calm them.This blog will help betta keepers to understand the reasons behind bettas freaking behavior.


In this blog

  • Why is my betta fish freaking out?
  • Why do bettas swim erratically when they freak out?
  • How to keep bettas calm?
  • Why does betta fish freak out randomly?
  • Summary 
  • Frequently asked questions 
  • Reference 

Why is my betta fish freaking out?

There could be several reasons for bettas to freak out:

  • Hypoxia, often caused by lack of oxygen in the water of a fighting fish,hypoxia can cause your fish to swim in strange ways.
  • It is also due to gill disease and anemia.

Hypoxia in betta fish

The best way to increase oxygen in a betta fish aquarium is to increase the surface area of ​​the aquarium. 

By Increasing surface agitation or surface water movement, you can allow more oxygen to dissolve and more carbon dioxide to release.

Gill disease in betta fish

Betta fish draw water infused with oxygen into their mouths. Water is pumped through the gills, allowing the exchange of gasses.

Damage from ammonia poisoning, perforated gills, & inflation prevents or restricts this exchange, causing problems for the betta as it tries to breathe.

  • Ammonia poisoning- Ammonia levels are highly toxic to betta fish, & low levels can quickly burn their gills and internal organs. Nitrite can also combine with hemoglobin to deprive the fish system of oxygen.
  • Scarring or enlarged bettas gills- Gill enlargement or hyperplasia is a deformity, fusion, or narrowing of the gill fibers. The gills are sensitive and easily damaged. Such conditions can freak out bettas.
  • Bacterial gill disease in bettas-Bacterial infections in bettas gills and fins can seriously freak them, if left untreated.It could be contagious too.
  • Physical damage to bettas gill- Bettas freak out when their gills undergo physical damages due to fighting with another betta or other species and also due to sharp edged decorations in their tanks.

Anemia in betta fish

Betta fish anemia is usually not caused by iron deficiency, but by protein deficiency caused by a poor diet.

Bettas can become anemic for a number of reasons; among them: bacterial, fungal, viral, and parasitic infections.

Prolonged exposure to very high concentrations of nitrite in water. Aggressive tank mates can also be one of the reasons for anemia in bettas.

Poor water conditions in bettas tank

Bettas freak out due to poor water conditions in their aquarium like:

  • Ammonia and nitrate levels are elevated due to infrequent water changes.
  • pH fluctuations in a betta aquarium.
  • Fluctuations in the temperature of the aquarium water are one of the main reasons why bettas freak out.

Incompatible tank mates in bettas tank

Adding incompatible tank mates can trigger aggression in betta fish. Stress is not good for them, as it can hamper their lifespan. 

Avoid tank mates that are too flashy.Bettas don’t get along well with flashy or colorful and finnippers in their tank.Incompatible tank mates are injurious to bettas well being.

Too strong filters in bettas tank

Bettas do not like fast-flowing water and will find it difficult to swim. Strong filters can freak out bettas and if the filter is too strong, it may even pull the betta onto the suction tube and the fish may drown. Particular attention should be paid to the choice of filter for betta.

Why do betta swim erratically when they freak out?

If a betta fish has just begun to swim irregularly or erratically and has been swimming for a while, you need to check the water parameters. Sudden changes in behavior usually indicate a change in the system or poor water quality.

Acclimation is the process by which betta fish become accustomed to aquarium water, primarily pH and temperature, when transfered from a pet store.One sign that your betta fish is acclimating too quickly is erratic swimming.

How to keep bettas calm?

Efficient filtration system in bettas tank

Permanent solutions to low oxygen levels or hypoxia in the bettas aquarium include the use of hang-on-back filters or spray bars or air pumps.

Hang-on-back filters draw water from the aquarium and provide mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. 

Located behind the tank, these filters are easily accessible for media maintenance and do not compromise the space available or the aesthetics of your tank.This will help your bettas from freaking out.

Maintaining pristine water conditions in bettas tank

  • Water temperature: 75-80F/24-26.5C
  • Ammonia levels: 0 ppm. 
  • Nitrite levels: <0.25 ppm. 
  • Nitrate levels: <20 ppm.
  • GH: 3-4 dGH
  • Water pH  between 6.5 and 8.

Feeding bettas proteinaceous diet

Bettas are carnivorous fish that need lots of protein in their diet, such as daphnia, bloodworms, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae,tropical flakes and other fish.By feeding your bettas a wholesome proteinaceous diet on time can help them from freaking out.

  • Daphnia for betta fish-Daphnia acts as a mild laxative for betta fish, rich in protein, certain vitamins and minerals, which requires the betta fish to thrive happily and speeds up the healing process of fins, if it gets shredded due to physical damage or infections.
  • Bloodworms for betta fish-Bloodworms are an excellent staple food for your betta fish.They just have too much fat and protein. Frozen bloodworms or fly larvae are some of the best foods you can provide them with.
  • Mosquito larvae for betta fish-If you can feed the mosquito larvae frequently, the betta fish will be really pleased because they are high in protein. Betta fish are insectivores in nature and must eat both adult and larval insects in their diet.
  • Tropical flakes for betta fish-Betta fish are mostly found in the tropics, it is a smart choice to feed them tropical fish flakes. Tropical fish flakes are rich in protein, which helps to strengthen your fighting fish’s body & also take care of its immune system.

Adding suitable tank mates to bettas tank

Characteristics of bettas companions are:

  • Bettas companions should be peaceful and non-aggressive fish
  • Bettas companions should be plain coloured fish
  • Bettas companions should be a bottom dwellers
  • Those who don’t nip bettas fin

Suitable tank companions for bettas are:

  • Small corydoras species.
  • Some types of tetras.
  • Harlequin rasboras.
  • Feeder guppies.
  • Mystery snails.
  • Ghost shrimp.
  • Moss balls.
  • African dwarf frogs.

Using water testing kits to check water parameters in bettas tank

Of all the aquarium accessories available for betta fish the most important item to have is an ammonia test kit.Because most fish keepers don’t keep their bettas in filtered, cycled aquariums, ammonia testing is the most essential.

Removing algae everyday from bettas tank

When algae starts to build up on the walls of your betta tank, it can seriously affect its appearance. If left untreated, algal overgrowth can quickly turn your betta tank into a mess and make your bettas to freak out.

An easiest way to get rid of algae from the tank glass is by using an aquarium scraper and some elbow grease. The scraper removes large algae deposits and daily film algae and allows you to clearly see the betta fish.

To avoid such situations, use algae scrapers to remove algae from their tanks everyday.

Doing water changes in bettas tank

  • It is very important to change water in bettas tanks, as it is the only way to remove certain waste in their tank.
  • Partial water changes should be done once a week.
  • 30-50 % water changes should be done in unfiltered tanks.
  • 20-25% water changes should be done in filtered tanks.
  • Doing water changes is like a spring cleaning of an aquarium. 
  • Doing water changes will calm bettas.

Why does betta fish freak out randomly?

Due to the lack of oxygen in aquarium water, the betta fish will randomly become abnormal or freak out. Hypoxia can cause fish to swim in strange ways.Oxygen deficiency often occurs when water is too hot.

In most cases, bettas spend a lot of time trying to get oxygen on the surface of the tank. However, it can also be caused by gill disease and anemia.


  • Regular tank maintenance is a must in bettas tank.
  • Correct and efficient filtration systems will do chemical, physical and biological filtration in bettas tanks.This will maintain pristine water conditions in bettas tanks.
  • It is very important to remove algae from bettas tanks regularly.
  • Water should be monitored regularly, using a suitable water testing kit to remove organic pollutants and heavy metals from bettas tanks.
  • Adding suitable tank companions in bettas tank.
  • Use test kits to check water parameters and monitor behavioral changes, inflamed gills and other pain in the body of betta fish.
  • Performing water changes in bettas tank to maintain pristine water conditions.

Frequently asked questions

Is it because of poor water quality that the bettas are likely to go crazy or freak out?

Yes, bettas are very sensitive to poor water quality parameters, and if water parameters are not within optimal ranges, bettas will go crazy.

Do bettas like strong filters in their tank?

No, betta fish don’t prefer strong filters in their tank.

Do bettas like finnippers in their tank?

No, bettas don’t like finnippers in their tank.