Why is my betta fish looking scared?

In this blog we will discuss scared betta fish and the reasons behind this behavior.


In this blog

  • Why is my betta fish looking scared?
  • Behavior of a scared betta fish
  • How do you feed a scared betta fish?
  • Are bettas scared of strong filters?
  • How to calm a scared betta fish in the aquarium?
  • Summary 
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Reference 

Why is my betta fish looking scared?

The scared betta refers to those that get nervous or frightened easily. Bettas are susceptible to stress due to environmental factors and changes in tank mates or aquariums.Adapting to a new aquarium can be stressful for some bettas.

Environmental factors scare bettas

Anything that changes the environment of the fish can scare the betta  fish like:

  • Sudden water changes in bettas tank-Betta owners should also be aware of sudden changes in water quality.Slowly deteriorating water is less stressful, but rapid movement of water often causes a solid impact or overstress and can even lead to their death.
  • Temperature fluctuations in bettas tank- Betta fish are sensitive to rapid changes in temperature. In a well-maintained home aquarium this is usually not a problem, but temperature shock is a big risk when changing the water or when bringing a betta home for the first time.
  • pH changes in bettas tank-Sudden pH changes are very bad for your betta fish. Betta prefers slightly acidic water with a pH of 6.5 to 7.
  • Sudden transition from darkness to light in bettas tank- Betta fish don’t like darkness and need light to determine whether it is day or night, and they fear the sudden transition from darkness to light.
  • Bettas seeing their own reflections-A new study shows that betta fish are afraid of their own reflexes and try to fight themselves when they look in the mirror.They are even more scared to see their reflexes behave the same as they do and appear to be fighting back.

Betta adapting to a new aquarium

Adapting to a new aquarium might scare some bettas.To ease the transition, you can place your betta in a quiet, low-traffic area of ​​your home while he adjusts to his new surroundings.

Aquariums too small for bettas to accommodate

When choosing an aquarium for your betta fish, you should never house it in anything less than 5 gallons. When the aquarium is less than 5 gallons, it gets dirty very quickly, which will scare away your betta.

Bettas are naturally territorial and should not be housed in aquariums smaller than five gallons with other betta fish. They fight each other, get injured, and often die.

Avoid loud sound near bettas aquarium

Noise creates vibration.Betta fish can be sensitive to them and do not appreciate the loud noises/sounds around their tank.Betta is sensitive not only to sound but also to vibration in water. 

So if you put a large sound system right next to the aquarium and raise the volume, you can scare your fish.

Bettas sharing their aquarium with non-compatible tank mates

Betta fish are threatened by larger fish (such as angelfish) and fish that pinch fins. Another fish to avoid is with brighter fish (such as guppy), as they may mistake it for their kind and try to fight your fish.

If you notice that your betta is constantly thrashing about or acting insecure when swimming, then most likely he is scared of other inhabitants of the aquarium.

Bettas see your fingers as a threat

Your betta is afraid of your fingers because they see your fingers as a threat. As a result, they may become anxious and start looking around for ways to get out of the tank.

Rubbing bettas tank can scare them

One of the most common mistakes betta keepers make when swimming with bettas is that they keep rubbing against the tank.If you rub against the aquarium, your cockerel will get scared because he will think that his new friends are trying to attack him.

Adding too many fish in bettas aquarium

Bettas don’t like having too many fish in their tank.If you add too many fish, the fish may fight with each other. Adding too many fish can result in overcrowded aquariums, which can scare your aquatic buddy.

Behavior of a scared betta fish

When betta fish are scared, they often exhibit strange swimming patterns. They swim frantically without moving anywhere, crash on the bottom of the tank, rub against gravel or rocks, or squeeze its fins on its sides.

Flaring & bubble nest building are all good signs that betta is healthy, but they stop doing this when they are scared.

Flaring is stressful for your betta. Too much of it is harmful. Some flaring is good for bettas. It enables them to stretch, allows them to perform various exercises and keeps them fit.

One of the many reasons a betta fish jumps out of a tank is fear and stress. A fearful or scared betta behaves very erratically. It becomes volatile and swims at a very strange speed.

How do you feed a scared betta fish?

If your betta is afraid or feeling threatened, your betta will probably try to avoid your finger. Make your fish trust you by spraying some food next to your finger.

Follow the following steps to feed your scared betta fish:

  • When you come to the aquarium, throw a small piece of food into it and wait calmly until he comes for it.
  • If he is too scared to take food, move away for 15-20 minutes.
  • Come back to make sure he has eaten. 
  • If he didn’t eat, put away the uneaten food and try again later.

Are bettas scared of strong filters?

Filters in small aquariums cause strong currents that can scare bettas. Bettas are not very good swimmers and their long fins can make it even more difficult to navigate in strong currents.

If your betta is having trouble coming to the surface for air, is hiding and scared, and is swimming frantically in the current, your filter is probably too strong. This can put a lot of strain on your betta fish, leading to fin damage, injury and even death.

How to calm a scared betta fish in the aquarium?

Aquarium caves are ideal for decorating bettas aquariums and provide hiding points too. The hiding points provide shade & reduces their stress.

Hiding points are critical to keeping a betta relaxed. They give them a place to rest without fear of being attacked by other tank teammates, and feel safe if he starts to get stressed.

Having the perfect environment frees your fish from stress and boredom and allows it to live the happiest and longest life.

Aim to cover about three-quarters of the open area of ​​their tank with different types of hiding spaces. Decorate your bettas aquarium with driftwood.

Adding peaceful tank companions in bettas tank and avoid adding too many tank mates suddenly in bettas tank.

  • Malaysian trumpet snails.
  • Harlequin rasboras.
  • Cory catfish.
  • Kuhli loaches. 
  • Ember tetras.

Maintaining and monitoring right water parameters in bettas tank including water pH and water temperature.

  • Water pH between 6.8 and 7.5.
  • Water temperature  between 76° and 85° F.


  • Make sure the room volume is not too large and place the aquarium in a quiet place in your house.
  • Do not add tankmates immediately in bettas tank.
  • Make sure you are not keeping them in smaller and overcrowded tanks.
  • Avoid rubbing bettas tank, As bettas will think that he is being attacked.
  • Set the filter to the lowest setting as betta fish don’t like strong currents.
  • A scared betta will stop flaring and building a bubble nest.
  • It is not uncommon for them to refuse to eat first when you have new bettas. Often, they can be scared or stressed by traveling or being in a new environment,or if the water temperature is starting to drop, it may be the reason why the betta fish are not eating.
  • Avoid sudden transition from dark to light in bettas tank.
  • Maintain and monitor water pH and water temperature in bettas tank.
  • If your betta is scared or feels threatened, your betta may try to avoid your fingers. Squirt some food next to your finger to get your fish to trust you.
  • Please provide rocks, caves and hiding spots to bettas as these items give a sense of security to betta fish. 

Frequently asked questions

Can we install coconut caves in the bettas tank to calm scared bettas?

Natural coconut caves can be used to provide fish protection, safety, privacy and nursery. Once inside the cave, these betta fish feel homely.

Are betta fish scared of temperature fluctuations?

Yes, betta fish are scared of temperature fluctuations.

Are betta fish scared of sudden water changes in their aquarium?

Yes, betta fish are scared of sudden water changes in their aquarium.

Are betta fish scared of pH fluctuations?

Yes, betta fish are scared of pH fluctuations.

Are betta fish scared of loud sounds?

Yes, betta fish are scared of loud sounds.