Why is my betta fish is having trouble swimming?

In this post, we will answer the question “Why is my betta fish having trouble swimming?”. We will discuss the most probable cause and the treatment recommended in this case. 

Why is my betta fish is having trouble swimming?

Your betta fish is highly probably to be suffering from swim bladder disorder, which is a condition when the swim bladder is not working properly due to various possible factors. 

The swim bladder is an internal organ that contains gas and is responsible for helping bony fish retain their buoyancy. An illness rather than a single disease, the term refers to a combination of disorders impacting the bladder’s ability to swim. Swim bladder dysfunction is most typically found in goldfish and betta fish, although it can occur in any type of fish, including humans. The condition is usually curable, and the fish may usually make a full recovery after being treated.

What is swim bladder disorder?

Swim bladder dysfunction is a medical condition in which the swim bladder does not operate correctly as a result of a disease, physical, mechanical, or environmental problems, or for unknown reasons. Fish that are affected by this disease will have difficulties managing their capacity to float or sink, which means they will struggle to maintain their buoyancy.

Symptoms of swim bladder disorder in aquarium fish

It is possible for a fish owner to mistakenly believe that a fish floating awkwardly in the tank is dead when in fact the fish is displaying signs of swim bladder condition. Swim bladder dysfunction manifests itself in several ways in fish, most of which are associated with buoyancy.

Sinking/floating to the top

It will sink to the bottom of the tank if the swim bladder is not inflated. If the fish has gulped in too much air during eating, it may float to the top of the tank, causing it to become disoriented.

Struggling to stay upright

Generally speaking, a fish that does not have buoyancy issues will remain static and erect in the water. If your fish is straining to maintain its upright position, you may see excessive fin movement as it attempts to float in the correct direction.

Distended belly

Because of the compression of the swim bladder, the fish may be swimming with a bloated stomach. The digestive mechanism of the fish may be interrupted as a result of this condition, which may result in the fish’s belly being larger.

Curved back

When the fish’s abdomen is inflated, other organs are pushed to the side, which might cause the fish’s spine to bend in some cases.

Changed appetite pattern

Fish that have been affected may eat normally or may have no appetite at all. The fish may be unable to eat regularly or even reach the surface of the water if they are suffering from significant buoyancy issues.

Causes of swim bladder disorder

Various factors, ranging from the environment to nutritional deficiencies, might contribute to this condition. 

When consuming floating meals, it is possible to experience rapid eating, overeating, constipation, or gulping air, which can generate an enlarged belly and displace the swim bladder. Similarly, eating freeze-dried or dry flake food that expands when it comes into contact with water might result in an enlargement of the stomach or digestive system. 

Other abdominal organs, such as the spleen and gallbladder, may grow enlarged and interfere with the swim bladder’s function. Cysts in the kidneys, fatty deposits in the liver, or egg binding in female fish can all cause expansion of the swim bladder to the point that it interferes with the fish’s ability to swim. 

Low water temperature can cause the digestion process to slow down, which can lead to gastrointestinal tract hypertrophy, which puts pressure on the swim bladder and cause it to rupture. 

In addition, parasites and bacterial infections can cause inflammation of the swim bladder. 

A forceful hit to the swim bladder, such as striking an object in the tank, fighting, or falling, might cause it to rupture. 

Fish may be born with congenital abnormalities that impair the swim bladder; however, in these instances, symptoms are typically evident at a young age.

Diagnosing swim bladder disorder

Swim bladder condition is often diagnosed at home by observing the patient’s signs and symptoms. If you choose, you may take your aquarium fish to a veterinarian who is experienced in aquatic problems. If this is the case, an X-ray is the only method to fully identify a swim bladder problem. The size, shape, and position of the swim bladder will be shown by the X-ray. If there is any fluid or other abnormalities inside the bladder, it should be treated immediately. It can also be determined whether there is another tumour or illness that is pressing on or displacing the bladder using an X-ray.

Swim bladder disorder treatment

Water maintenance, diet adjustments, and maybe antibiotics are all part of the treatment process. Allow the fish to move quickly: If it is suspected that a swim bladder disease is caused by an expanded stomach or intestine, the initial line of treatment is to refrain from feeding the fish for three days. 

Fix the water temperature: While the fish is fasting, raise the temperature of the water to 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit and maintain that temperature throughout the treatment process. 

The fourth day should be spent feeding the fish peas that have been boiled and peeled (see recipe below). It’s best to use frozen peas for this since they can be thawed in the microwave or under running water for a few seconds to achieve the desired consistency (not too soft but not too firm). Alternatively, you can continue to feed a pea a day for a few days and then transition to a species-appropriate meal but avoid feeding flakes or pellets that float in water. 

A broad-spectrum antibiotic may be effective in treating a fish’s swim bladder condition if it is suspected that an infection is the source of the problem. You will need to see your veterinarian for this medication.

The prognosis for aquarium fish with a swim bladder disorder

Sometimes a swim bladder issue is merely a transitory ailment that improves with time and medical intervention. Your fish may die if it does not receive adequate nutrition because of this illness. If your fish has substantial movement problems, you may need to hand-feed it. Swim bladder problem, unfortunately, is a chronic condition that does not respond to any form of therapy. If the fish does not recover within a reasonable length of time (usually one or two weeks after therapy), the most compassionate option may be euthanasia to ensure its survival. 

What you can do to avoid swim bladder problem 

·      It is widely known that fish are more susceptible to diseases when the water quality is poor. Maintaining a clean tank and doing frequent water changes can assist to avoid swim bladder conditions from occurring. 

·      Keeping the water temperature a little higher will aid digestion and may even prevent constipation in certain cases. 

·      Use high-quality meals and consider soaking dry items in warm water before feeding them to your pet. 

·      Always be sure that frozen meals are completely thawed before putting them in the tank. Make a switch to sinking meals if your fish are gulping air when they are feeding at the surface. 

·      At all costs, avoid overfeeding your pet. Feed smaller pieces so that the fish do not become overfed, and keep track of the total amount of food you feed during the week.


In this post, we answered the question “Why is my betta fish having trouble swimming?”. We also discussed the most probable cause and the treatment recommended in this case. 

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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Why is my betta fish is having trouble swimming?

Is it possible for a swim bladder to disappear on its own? 

Swim bladder diseases can be either transient or permanent, depending on the underlying aetiology. If your fish suffers from a lifelong swim bladder condition, they can still lead a full and happy life if you make certain changes to your way of living. 

How do you tell if your betta fish is about to die? 

Other symptoms that a betta fish is ready to die to include discolouration along the fish’s body, such as white or brown blotches, and the presence of parasites. Swimmers with severe swimming ailments may exhibit unusual motions or shortening / eating away from the ends of their strokes. 

Is it true that peas can assist with swim bladder? 

Because green peas sink in water, fish are forced to dive to the bottom of their tank to consume them, avoiding extra air from entering their GI tract and swim bladder. 

Is it possible to rescue a dying betta fish? 

However, if properly cared for, your Betta Fish may live for up to six years in a happy environment. If you believe your Betta Fish is near death, there are several options for treating its health and reviving it. While the majority of illnesses are treatable, a handful is potentially deadly. Betta fish are also referred to as Siamese fighting fish, which is a more formal term. 

What is the cause of my betta’s resting at the bottom of the aquarium? 

Immediately take action if your Betta fish is laying at the bottom of the tank and is struggling to breathe. There are a few possibilities for why this is happening: Temperatures above 100 degrees might indicate ammonia toxicity or nitrate poisoning. 

What is causing my fish to float to the bottom of the tank? 

Your fish may remain immobile at the bottom of the aquarium if your aquarium’s water temperature dips too low. This is done to preserve energy. The polar reverse is true if the water temperature increases to dangerously high levels. In this case, fish will choose to stay on the bottom because that is where the oxygen levels are highest.


Swim Bladder Disorder in Aquarium Fish – https://www.thesprucepets.com/swim-bladder-disorder-in-aquarium-fish-1381230

Swim Bladder Disease In Bettas (3 Best Cures). https://www.bettacarefishguide.com/swim-bladder-disease-in-bettas/

Swim Bladder Disease in Bettas: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment. https://bettafish.org/diseases/swim-bladder-disease/