Why is my betta fish swimming upside down?

In this blog, we will discuss the reasons why bettas swim upside down. This blog will discuss everything about the same in detail for betta enthusiasts.


In this blog

  • Why is my betta fish swimming upside down?
  • What causes beautiful bettas to swim upside down in the tank?
  • How do I fix my betta fish swimming in an  upside down position?
  • Summary 
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Reference

Why is my betta fish swimming upside down?

Betta fish typically swim with their heads above the water, just like most other fish. It is not at all common for a betta fish to swim upside down.

If betta swims upside down, the fish is either asleep, dead or infected with swim bladder disease.

What causes beautiful bettas to swim upside down in the tank?

There are three main reasons which causes bettas to swim upside down in the tank:

  • Swim bladder disease causes bettas to swim upside down.
  • Your betta might be sleeping in an upside down position.
  • Your betta fish is no more.

Swim bladder disease causes bettas to swim upside down

Swim bladder disease is also known as Flip-over disorder and most commonly affects betta fish. The disorder occurs when the fish’s bladder doesn’t function properly and they start to flip over while swimming. 

Fish with such disorders are often floating upside down, struggling to stay on the surface, or sinking to the bottom of the tank, once they stop swimming.

Swim bladder disease in bettas may be caused by parasites or by constipation caused by high nitrate levels from overfeeding.

Main reasons for swim bladder or flip-over disorder in bettas:

  • Constipation, which is caused by eating too much, can lead to a build-up of food in the stomach and intestines, which can constrict the swim bladder.
  • You may be overfeeding your betta fish and he is now swimming improperly because of it.
  • Swallowing air at the surface of the aquarium when eating.
  • Sudden temperature fluctuations.
  • Bacterial and parasitic infections.
  • Wrong feeding habits, freeze-dried food and dried pellets are the most common causes of swim bladder disorder.
  • If your betta fish lives in a tank with other aggressive tank mates or with rough ornaments, it may have damaged its swim bladder in a fight or by swimming into something.
  • Sometimes, bettas are born with a defective swim bladder which means they can’t swim well.

Your betta might be sleeping in an upside down position

When a betta fish adopts an upside down posture and ceases to move, many people will conclude that the creature is asleep. Some conclusions drawn from data can be inaccurate. 

Like most other animals, fish sleep in order to rest and recover. Bettas has no eyelids, so you can’t expect them to close their eyes. They are less active than usual, but are still able to react quickly to danger.

If betta stops moving when the lights are turned off and when you turn on the lights, it starts swimming again.If the betta fish remains inverted during these rest periods, he is sick. A healthy betta will keep its head up even when it is sleeping.

Your betta fish is no more

If your betta is inverted or upside down and doesn’t respond to the external stimuli, even when you remove it from the aquarium, the fish may have died.

How do I fix my betta fish swimming in an upside down position?

You can treat your betta fish upside down swimming pattern by doing the following things:

  • A dead betta fish will swim upside down in the tank and if you see your betta fish dead, remove it from the tank. Don’t wait for the scavengers in the aquarium to eat it.
  • Most betta keepers who have bettas that have contracted constipation find that feeding the fish boiled peas resolves the issue. During this course, don’t feed your betta any other food for the next three days.
  • Monitor your betta during this period. If constipation is the main culprit behind bettas swelling, the fish will gradually return to its original shape.
  • Feed your bettas fish high quality food without overfeeding and underfeeding. There are betta specific foods available in pet stores that are designed especially for bettas. It is very important to provide proteins and vitamins to bettas for their better health and longevity.
  • If fish become constipated as a result of overfeeding, please learn from your mistakes. Install a feeder that will automatically dispense food to your betta fish. An automatic feeder prevents your fish from starving if you’re not around to feed them.
  • Even if a betta is sick, constipated, or injured, the right aquarium conditions can help it recover quickly. Bettas are tropical species that thrive well when the temperature is between 76-81F, pH between 6.5- 7.5 and water hardness range between 5-20 DH.
  • Always keep the level of organic pollutants in check by using a water testing kit. It is also important to remove leftovers and other debris from the aquarium everyday using a gravel siphon to avoid ammonia pollution in the tank.
  • It is always a good idea to acclimate new fish before adding them to the tank. Otherwise, the shock of entering a new environment may produce the same results that you want to avoid.
  • Make sure the bettas’ tank is clean and change the water every week. If your betta fish is already upside-down in its tank, you should change the water as soon as possible to provide relief.
  • Always keep the water conditioners on hand, in case ammonia levels go up unexpectedly. Conditioners can neutralize toxins like ammonia and chlorine quickly, providing relief within minutes.
  • Add some salt to the aquarium to help the fish relax. Aquarium salt can be purchased online or in the pet shop.
  • Avoid overfeeding and underfeeding your betta fish. Both are harmful to betta fish. A balanced and nutritious diet is what keeps bettas healthy, active and swim normally.
  • If your betta fish is swimming upside down due to some infection, then treat them asap or take them to vets but never delay, as it can kill them.
  • If you are treating your betta fish with antibiotics, it may be best to move him or her to a hospital tank for treatment. This is especially so that plants and other tank mates are not exposed to the medication. Inject the medicine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Always monitor your bettas swimming pattern and take actions immediately if you see them swimming in abnormal patterns.


  • A happy and healthy betta fish will usually swim around freely and with ease. If betta has no swimming problems and does not lean to the side or upside down, then it is happy and without any issues.
  • Betta fish typically swim upside down because of a swim bladder disorder, which impair their buoyancy.
  • Betta fish swim upside down also when they are asleep or dead.
  • The malfunction of a fish’s swim bladder causes them to lose their buoyancy, which can make them difficult to move and sometimes even cause death, if not treated on time. 
  • Betta fish with swim bladder disorder often have difficulty swimming.They will rise to the top of the aquarium, upside down, while still alive.
  • Betta fish commonly suffer from swim bladder disorder due to problems with their bowels, injuries, poor water quality, diseases, and stress.
  • Swim bladder disease treatment involves water maintenance, feeding changes, and possible antibiotics.
  • Feed your betta fish properly so they don’t get overweight or underfed. Both can be harmful to betta fish. A balanced and nutritious diet keeps bettas healthy, active and swim normally.
  • Make sure to keep an eye on your betta’s swimming patterns and take appropriate action if you notice any abnormalities.
  • Taking care of your betta can be difficult, but with the right information, it doesn’t have to be.

Frequently asked questions

Will swimming bladder disease in bettas go away on its own?

There is no known cure for swim bladder disorder in betta fish, but if it can recover in a few hours, it will. Sometimes turning off the tank lights for a while can help, partly by removing one source of stress and partly by encouraging the fish to rest quietly.

How long can betta fish live with swim bladder disease?

There is a range of possible causes for swim bladder disorders, from temporary to permanent. If your betta fish have permanent swimming bladder disorder,they can still live a full and happy life, changing some way of life.

Do bettas with swim bladder disorder sleep upside down?

Yes, a betta with a swim bladder disorder will also sleep upside down.

What is the sign of a happy and healthy betta fish?

A happy betta fish will swim around her tank every day. If betta has no swimming problems and he or she doesn’t lean sideways or upside down, your betta is healthy and happy.