The Fish Guru

Unlocking the Mystery: Why Your Betta Fish Isn’t Moving and How to Help

Betta Fish: Reasons for Not Moving and Best Care PracticesBetta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are one of the most beautiful and popular fish species kept as pets. Their vibrant colors, unique personalities, and low maintenance make them a top choice for beginners and experienced hobbyists alike.

However, if you notice that your betta fish is not moving, it could be a sign of a potential problem that requires your immediate attention. In this article, we will examine the reasons why betta fish may not be moving, as well as the best care practices to ensure that your fish remain healthy and active.

Part 1: Reasons for Betta Fish Not Moving

1. Sleeping Betta Fish

Like all animals, betta fish need rest, and its not uncommon to see them taking naps or enjoying a few moments of stillness.

If your betta fish is sleeping, you may notice it resting on a hammock or nestled in the leaves of a plant. You can tell if your fish is sleeping, as it will appear motionless, but it will breathe, and its gills will be slightly moving.

Allow the fish to rest and recover, and if it doesnt move after an extended period, there may be an underlying issue. 2.

Older Bettas Like Resting at the Bottom

As betta fish age, they may not have the same stamina they did when they were younger. Older fish may appear tired or lack energy and just want to rest on the bottom of the tank.

Ensure that the water temperature is in the range of 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit and avoid placing your fish in strong currents that may exhaust it. 3.

Ammonia Poisoning

Ammonia can build up in your aquarium if water is not changed regularly or if the tank is overcrowded. Ammonia is toxic to fish and can cause them to become lethargic, not move, or, in extreme cases, gasp for air.

Always check water chemistry before adding new fish to the aquarium and perform water changes regularly to keep the levels of the chemicals stable. 4.

Nitrate Poisoning

Nitrate poisoning is another issue that may cause your betta fish to become lethargic and not move. When there is a chemical spike in the amount of nitrates present in the water, your fish may display rapid breathing and pale gills.

Overcrowding and overfeeding are the most common causes of nitrate build-up. Test the water regularly with a nitrate kit and ensure that you change the water whenever the levels rise above 20 ppm.

5. Swim Bladder Disease

The swim bladder is an organ that controls a fish’s buoyancy and movement in the water.

When a betta fish suffers from swim bladder illness, it may struggle to swim properly and appear bloated or float on the surface. A fish with the swim bladder issue may be too buoyant or too heavy and have difficulty moving through the water.

Specific medications such as epsom salts can help to ease this condition. 6.

Small Aquarium

If your aquarium is too small, your betta fish may not move around as much due to a lack of space. The size of the aquarium should be suitable for your fish and accommodate their needs.

A small tank can lead to overstocking, which restricts your betta fish’s movement and causes stress. 7.

Temperature Fluctuation

High or low temperatures can be detrimental to your fish’s health. Bettas prefer water temperature between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit and may become lethargic and less active when the temperature fluctuates.

Place your aquarium in a quiet space away from direct sunlight or air conditioners, which can cause temperature variations. 8.

Wrong pH

Bettas require a specific water quality that is slightly acidic and prefers a pH range between 6.8 and 7.5. If the pH level is too high or too low, it can shock your betta fish and cause respiratory stress, leading to lethargy and death. Check the aquarium regularly and monitor the quality of the water to avoid such scenarios.

9. Lack of Filter

Filters are essential in maintaining the quality of water in the aquarium.

Without a filter, toxins and harmful bacteria can build up, leading to water quality issues that may be fatal for your fish. A lack of filtration required for a specific tank size can also cause overcrowding, leading to reduced space for movement, stressful conditions, and lethargy in your betta.

10. Improper Eating Habits

Overfeeding and underfeeding can lead to health issues for your betta fish.

Overfeeding may cause bloating that makes it challenging to swim, while underfeeding can lead to a lack of essential nutrients, which can make your fish lethargic and unresponsive. Always provide evidence-based betta food, and limit the feeding schedule to the necessary amount for your fish’s requirements.

11. Lack of Habitat Features

Betta fish enjoy hiding spots and plenty of shelter.

Without these features, they may feel stressed and agitated, limiting their movement and contributing to lethargy. Adding plants, rocks, and hiding spots can make your betta fish comfortable and active.

12. Wrong Tank Mates

Incompatible tank mates or fish that may cause stress to your betta fish may lead to it not moving.

Bettas are relatively aggressive and cannot coexist peacefully with every fish species. Avoid species and individuals that might pose danger to your betta fish like aggressive species.

13. Death

If your betta fish is not moving and its gills are not moving, it may have passed on.

You can tell by the discoloration of the fish and tapping on the tank. Part 2: Betta Fish Care Best Practices


Observing the Fish

Observing your betta fish regularly is essential in monitoring its behavior and identifying health issues early. This can involve checking its appetite or behavior to detect any sluggishness.

2. Using Medication and Remedies

Swim bladder disease is treatable with specific medications such as epsom salts.

Always seek expert advice before treating your pet fish with any medication. 3.

Offering A Resting Place

Providing your betta fish with accessories that it can use to rest anytime is one of the necessary best-care practices. You can provide a betta leaf hammock or a hiding spot.

4. Checking for Chemical Spikes

Keep regular tabs on the quality of the water in your aquarium to achieve healthy betta fish.

Use test kits to check for ammonia, nitrate, and other chemical compounds in the water. If the levels are elevated, you may need to change the water or take additional steps.

5. Feeding the Fish

Feeding your betta fish with the right food and servings is necessary to maintain good health.

Avoid overfeeding, and ensure that you provide adequate and suitable nutrients. 6.

Adding More Habitat Features

Hiding places, plants, and rocks are essential for your betta fish’s comfort and wellbeing, and adding them can make it comfortable and more active. 7.

Avoiding Overstocking the Aquarium

Overcrowding your aquarium can restrict your betta’s movement, and they may feel stressed, leading to illness and death. Maintain a comfortable number of fish for your tank size and ensure the fish’s ability to move around with comfort.

8. Being Mindful of Tank Mates

Ensure that the tank mates you select are peaceful species that can coexist with your betta fish.

Species that are too aggressive may cause them stress and limit their movement. 9.

Maintaining Aquarium Water Temperature

Bettas require an optimum temperature between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid extreme temperature fluctuations by placing your aquarium in a quiet space away from sunlight and air conditioners.

10. Checking for Betta Fish Movement

Regular betta movement is a good indicator of your fish’s health.

The fish will be active and curious if healthy. If you suspect that it is not moving, check the water quality, temperature, and other necessary factors to ensure that it is healthy.


In summary, the reasons for betta fish not moving primarily depend on their care, living environment, and the aquarium condition. Regular observation, attention, and a clean and comfortable habitat can prevent many of the issues we explored.

Following the care practices in this article, you can ensure the optimum health of your betta fish. In this article, we discussed the reasons why betta fish may not move and the best care practices to ensure their health and well-being.

Common reasons for betta fish not moving include ammonia and nitrate poisoning, swim bladder disease, improper tank conditions, and improper feeding habits. Best care practices include observing the fish, checking for chemical spikes, offering a resting place, feeding the fish, adding more habitat features, avoiding overcrowding, being mindful of tank mates, maintaining aquarium water temperature, and checking for betta fish movement.

By following these best care practices, we can help our betta fish live longer and healthier lives. Remember to observe your fish regularly, ensure proper water conditions, and provide a comfortable and spacious environment.

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