Why is my betta fish not swimming much?

In this blog, we will discuss why betta fish is not swimming much.


In this blog

  • Why is my betta fish not swimming much?
  • What are the main reasons that bettas do not swim much in the tank?
  • What can you do to help your betta fish swim more?
  • Why does poor water quality restrict bettas’ movement?
  • Summary 
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Reference

Why is my betta fish not swimming much?

Betta fish are known for their beautiful colors and variety, as well as their moody behavior. They are mostly active and enjoy swimming by displaying their vibrant pectoral fins. But sometimes they don’t swim much either due to sickness, injury or just like to stay in their hideouts.

There could be several reasons behind this behavior. It is therefore very important, as a betta owner, to ensure the water quality and temperature of your betta aquarium are stable,as even minor changes in these factors can have a significant impact on the fish.

What are the main reasons that bettas do not swim much in the tank?

Betta fish are very charismatic and lively fish. The fish is responsive to its surroundings and often swims energetically. So when it’s inactive, most people’s initial reaction is panic.

There are several reasons why bettas may not swim as much as they would like. Some reasons include:

Not swimming much sometimes bettas normal behavior

Each betta fish is unique and they have different personalities. Some are hyperactive and some are lethargic. Some enjoy swimming, while some like to rest in their hiding spots. It completely depends on the type of bettas you have selected for your aquarium.

Bettas not swimming much due to poor water quality

Bettas prefer pristine water conditions in their tank and its ideal water parameter is:

  • Ammonia and Nitrite levels: 0 ppm.
  • Nitrate levels: <20 ppm.
  • General hardness: 3-4 dGH or 50-66.7 ppm
  • KH: 3-5 dKH or 53.6- 89.4 ppm
  • Water pH: 6.5-7.5.

If the water chemistry changes, bettas may not swim much, and the most common cause of this is ammonia poisoning.

Nitrate poisoning is another reason the bettes don’t swim much. The problem occurs as a result of a sudden increase in the chemicals in the aquarium water. Fish with nitrate poisoning may appear lethargic and may not swim much, but they are not necessarily dead.

If your tank’s pH is not ideal, it can kill your betta. The fish will appear to be inactive and will not be able to move around as much as usual.

Bettas not swimming much due to temperature issues

Temperature fluctuations are a threat to betta fish.The likelihood of the betta fish not swimming too much is higher when the temperature of the tank water rises and falls down.

Bettas are cold-blooded species, so they absorb the water’s warmth rather than generating their own body heat. As a result, sudden drops in water temperatures will make it difficult for them to swim much.

Bettas not swimming much due to swim bladder disorder

Swim bladder disorder is a common ailment in fish and it can often be the reason why your betta fish is not swimming much.

Swim bladder disease is a medical condition that means the swim bladder can no longer function properly. This makes it difficult or impossible for your betta to swim much.

Swim bladder disease is often caused by overfeeding your betta fish or a fish’s inability to properly digest its food.

Bettas not swimming much because its dead

If your betta fish is not swimming much and is not moving at all from its place then it’s probably dead.It could be due to old age , poor water quality, aggressive tank mates, stress due to large water changes or aggressive tank mates.

Bettas not swimming much because its sleeping

One of the most common reasons a betta fish doesn’t swim much is that it’s asleep. Betta fish don’t swim when they’re asleep.

If a betta has a good appetite, plenty of energy, and is not seen gasping for air but not swimming much, it is often just taking a nap.

Fighting bettas like to rest their large fins as it takes a lot of energy to drag those heavy fins.

If you’re not sure if your betta’s sleeping, watch the fish for a few days, watch for any signs of stress or disease.

Bettas not swimming much due to older age

Older betta fish may not have the energy to swim around the tank as much, and may take a brief break by resting in a particular place in the tank.

As your bettas get older, they sleep moret. Bettas also prefer slow, moderate currents, which are particularly important for older fish.

Bettas not swimming much due to small tank size

Another common reason betta fish don’t swim as much is their tank size. The aquarium may be too small for the fish.

Bigger and spacious tanks are better for betta fish. The extra space will give them more room to move, which is essential since they are very active. 

The small tank restricts their movements. Moreover, a smaller tank also means that biological waste is formed faster, which is toxic to betta.

Bettas not swimming much due to overeating or underfeeding

A healthy diet is important for a betta fish. It is important to keep in mind that too little or too much food can be harmful to their health. One of the leading causes of a betta fish’s inactivity is inappropriate feeding.

Too much food can cause bettas to get bloated and be unable to move around much. That’s why they won’t swim much.

If you feed your betta fish too little food, they will not get the nutrients they need and may die. Without the right nutrients, their energy will suffer. Their movements are restricted in turn.

What can you do to help your betta fish swim more?

There are many ways to help your betta fish more are:

  • Monitor your betta fish and look for signs of illness, such as lethargy or lack of movement, i.e not swimming much.
  • Avoid overfeeding and underfeeding your betta fish.
  • Add hiding spots for each bettas fish in the tank to make them feel safe and secure.
  • Maintain pristine water conditions in bettas tank.
  • Avoid sudden and large water changes in bettas tanks.
  • Always acclimatize your bettas before adding them to their new home or while performing water changes.
  • Always keep water testing kits ready and test water regularly to avoid poor water conditions in bettas tanks.
  • Keep bettas in biggers and spacious tanks. 
  • Avoid temperature fluctuations in bettas tanks.
  • If you think your betta is not swimming much due to constipation, you can try fasting him for a few days to see if the obstruction breaks up, or you can give him a shelled pea to see if that helps.

Why does poor water quality restrict bettas’ movement?

The quality of water in an aquarium is affected by many different chemicals produced by the aquatic organisms, which in turn affects their health. 

If the water in bettas tank is not clean, the fish will be stressed and more prone to diseases and parasites. These conditions will not allow bettas to swim much.


If you are unfamiliar with betta fish swimming habits, seeing one that isn’t swimming much can be frightening.You might think that it is gone. However, lack of movement is not necessarily a sign of death.Instead, it could be as simple as sleeping, or even poisoning.

Frequently asked questions

Is it normal for bettas to not swim much the way they swim around?

Sometimes, if bettas don’t swim often, it’s betta’s normal behavior, and as long as he looks healthy, it doesn’t matter.