Why is my betta fish swimming on its side?

In this blog we will discuss reasons why bettas swim on its side. This blog will give all the information related to its abnormal swimming behavior.


In this blog

  • Why is my betta fish swimming on its side?
  • What are the reasons for betta to swim sideways?
  • What can you do to help your betta swimming on its side?
  • Can bettas recover from swim bladder disorder?
  • Points to remember if your betta swims on its side
  • Summary 
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Reference

Why is my betta fish swimming on its side?

Happy betta swims around their tanks every day. If the betta has no problems swimming and does not seem to lean or struggle to the side, the betta is healthy and happy.

On the other hand parasite-infected bettas, especially their stomachs and intestines, often result from overfeeding the fish causing the parasite to infect their bodies. Once it happens, you will start to see the fish swimming sideways.

Swim bladder organs of betta fish control its buoyancy and help  betta fish swim easily and save energy while swimming. If this organ does not function properly, bettas will face problems in swimming. 

What are the reasons for betta to swim sideways?

Impaired swim bladder in bettas cause them to swim on its side

Poor buoyancy in betta fish results from a defect in the swim bladder. When a fish is affected by a disorder of the swim bladder, they often lose their ability to swim properly. 

It will float uncontrollably to the top of the tank, and turn upside down, swimming sideways while still alive.

Overfeeding can cause bettas to swim on its side

Overeating causes constipation in bettas and excessive constipation can affect their swim bladders and their ability to swim. 

Persistent constipation can also contribute to the accumulation of large amounts of fatty deposits in the bladder, which can adversely affect its health.

Low aquarium water temperature in bettas tank cause them to swim on its side

The water temperature in the tank plays an essential role in keeping the betta fish healthy. They are incredibly sensitive to temperature changes as their bodies are designed for a stable aquatic environment.

When the water temperature in a betta tank is too low, it can also contribute to swim bladder disease in your fish. 

Low temperatures can cause the bladder to slow down, which can lead to constipation in fish.Constipation makes it difficult for bettas to swim normally and you can see them swimming on its side.

Betta fish require a water temperature of 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is below or above this standard, it may be harmful to the health of the betta.

Bacterial infections in bettas cause them to swim on its side

Another reason a betta fish can have a swim bladder disease is a bacterial infection.This can happen due to poor water management or if the water quality in the betta tank is too low.

Poor water maintenance and poor water quality cause bettas to swim on its side.

Parasitic infection in betta fish

Bettas can also become infected with parasites, particularly in their stomach and intestines. 

This is usually caused by overfeeding the fish, which causes parasites to infect their bodies. As soon as it happens you will start to see the fish swimming sideways.

Normally, in the case of an infection, betta fish appear to be very slow and sluggish, apart from swimming sideways.

What can you do to help your betta swimming on its side?

Provide your betta fish a clean aquarium

A huge factor responsible for the disease of bettas is a dirty aquarium. If bettas are fed too frequently without doing water changes, nutrients and waste build up in the aquarium, allowing bacteria, ammonia, and even parasites to survive.

If your betta is sick, put your fish in a hospital tank and give its old tank a thorough clean. If your betta doesn’t recover after entering a clean tank, medication may be needed to help your fish fight off any type of infection.

Provide bettas a bigger aquarium

Offering a larger tank is a quick way to get healthier fish. In small containers, waste collects directly below the betta, contaminating the water faster than tanks with larger volumes and filters.

Bettas in large pet stores often lie on their side in their feces and uneaten food. This is harmful to the betta and can lead to various infections.

Betta certainly survives in small aquariums and has the potential to live in small wild areas. Domestic bettas are healthier and live longer in large aquariums because water quality and waste management are much easier in large aquariums.

Always feed your bettas superior quality food

Only feed betta fish with high quality food, as live food can infect deadly bacteria and parasites that can contaminate water.

  • Northfin betta bits
  • Hikari betta bio-gold baby pellets 
  • Freeze dried california blackworms 
  • Hikari freeze dried daphnia

Always keep a betta first aid kit ready

It’s a wise idea to have bettas medicines on hand, as pet stores may not have bettas medicines or may be out of stock. The sooner you can treat a bettas illness, the more likely it is that the bettas will recover.

Medication for betta fish:

  • Aquarium salt
  • Indian almost leaves
  • Maracin 1
  • Maracyn 2
  • Bettazing
  • Bettamax
  • Kanamycin
  • Melafix

Before you take any medication, it is important to put your betta into another tank, isolation tank or hospital tank if you have plants in your tank or if you want to keep snails.

Can bettas recover from swim bladder disorder?

There is no cure as such, and if the betta fish can recover, they will recover within a few hours.Turning off the light in the aquarium for a while often helps, partially eliminating one of the sources of stress, but also encouraging the fish to calmly rest instead of trying to swim.

Points to remember if your betta swims on its side

Move your betta fish to the hospital tank, where they will be treated. It should be a small aquarium or even a bowl, but make sure the betta fish can swim freely even if they are swimming sideways.

Look for possible causes of the illness. If it is due to constipation, it is better not to feed the betta fish for three days. This process heals and rests their digestive system.

If your betta has a bacterial infection, the medication should be antibiotics. During this time, consulting a veterinarian is the safest and easiest thing to do.

Treatment of swim bladders includes aquarium water maintenance, changing feeding patterns, and possibly antibiotics. Fasting the fish: If an enlarged stomach or bowel is believed to be the cause of swim bladder disease, the first step is to not feed the fish for three days.


  • If your betta fish is swimming sideways, it may be due to swim bladder disease.
  • If a betta swims at odd angles, it also indicates swim bladder problems.
  • If your betta fish is swimming sideways,it may be due to parasitic infection.
  • When the water temperature in your aquarium is too low, the bettas may swim on their side.
  • Constipation and overfeeding also contribute to bettas swimming on its side.
  • Look for what may be causing the betta to swim sideways. If it is constipation, it is best not to feed the betta for three days.This process heals and rests their digestive system.
  • Early detection of signs of illness gives betta fish a good chance of a quick recovery.
  • The best way to help a betta fish is to put it in a cycled aquarium and change the water regularly.
  • Always keep your betta fish’s water clean, do not overfeed them, and have your betta fish first aid kit ready.
  • The fighting or betta fish, like most small fish species, are incredibly fragile creatures.They require a lot of careful care from the owner in order to survive and stay healthy.

Frequently asked questions

What causes swim bladder disease in betta fish?

Infections, water quality, genetics, overfeeding and digestion issues cause swim bladder disease in betta fish.

Why do bettas swim on its side due to swim bladder disorder?

Due to the betta’s poor buoyancy, they are no longer able to maintain an upright swimming position in the water, and instead, the distension of the bladder causes the betta fish to become unbalanced, forcing it to swim sideways or awkwardly.

Is there any permanent cure for betta swim bladder disease?

No, there is no permanent cure for betta swim bladder disease. You can try feeding peas, daphnia or fasting your bettas for three days to reverse the condition.

Where do healthy bettas swim in the aquarium?

A healthy betta fish should swim in the middle of the aquarium. Therefore, a betta on the side may indicate a problem.