Why Is My Betta Fish Not Moving? 5 Reasons, Treatment & Prevention Tips!

Betta fish are naturally lively creatures who are full of beautiful colors.

But sometimes, they may not be moving as much as they used to. This will leave you wondering,

Why is my Betta fish not moving? 

A Betta fish that is not moving is usually sleeping or taking a rest. In fact, many Bettas will lay very still on the leaf of a plant or at the bottom of the tank on the substrate without moving when sleeping.

However, there are other reasons your Betta fish might not be moving, and we’ve listed five of the most common reasons below;

  • Your fish is sleeping
  • The water quality in the tank is bad
  • You are not feeding your fish properly
  • Your fish has an illness
  • Your fish has passed away

Let’s explore each reason below in more detail;


Keep Your Bettas Tank Clean

Fish Don’t Move When They Sleep

Sleep is the most likely reason why your Betta isn’t moving. Like many animals, including humans, fish sleep when it is dark.

If you turn the light on or swirl the water, they are likely to jump awake. If they don’t instantly start moving, then there may be other reasons for their immobility.

However, don’t worry too much if your Betta is lying on its side.

Every fish sleeps a little different from each other, and some prefer to sleep on their side.

As long as they spring to life when you wake them, they are probably healthy and fine.

If you find that your fish is sleeping quite often during the day, try putting them near a light source or adding light to their tank to let them know it is day time and that they should be awake.

Have you ever wondered how your betta fish catches some z’s? You might be surprised to learn that bettas do sleep, but not in the same way we do. Discover the fascinating world of betta fish sleep patterns and how to ensure they get the rest they need by clicking on our comprehensive guide: how do betta fish sleep?

Bad Water Quality Can Cause Fish To Stop Moving

The quality of the water your fish are living in can greatly impact their health and mobility.

Once you’ve ensured your fish is not just sleeping, you should definitely check your water parameters with a test kit.

There are a few different aspects of the water quality you should be looking for to ensure it is safe for your fish.

These include:

  • The temperature of the water
  • pH levels
  • Ammonia levels
  • Nitrate levels

Let’s discuss each item below;

Ideal Water Temperatures For Betta Fish

Betta fish need water that is about 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything colder than this will cause them to stop eating and their bodily functions to shut down.

Are you looking for temperature requirements for betta fish in Celsius? Our comprehensive guide on temperature for betta fish in celsius will provide you with all the necessary information to ensure your betta fish lives a healthy and happy life.

This, in turn, causes them to become lethargic and prone to disease.

This can be fixed pretty easily by placing them in a warmer room in your house or adding a heater to your tank.

Be sure to inspect your heater before placing it in the tank with your fish to ensure it is working properly and won’t cause any harm.

Betta Fish Are Sensitive To pH Levels.

The pH of the water should be neutral at 7.0. Higher or lower levels of pH can cause your fish to become ill.

You can buy different pH treatment options from your local pet store to fix the water’s pH for relatively low prices.

Further reading: Best Environment For Betta Fish

High Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate Levels Will Harm Your Fish

You should also check the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels within your water.

High levels of either are toxic to fish, which causes them to become ill and stop moving.

To prevent levels from getting too high, make sure to use a proper filtration system.

If the levels are already too high, the easiest way to fix it is by doing a water change right away, sorry I know how much you love doing water changes, but that’s the best way.

This will take at least half the nitrates and ammonia out, thus lowering the levels.

Need help? Learn How To Clean A Betta Fish Tank the right way.

Properly Feeding Your Betta To Promote Healthy Movement

Like in any animal, if Bettas don’t get the proper nutrients, they will have less energy to move around.

Bettas require a high protein diet. You should feed them food that is specifically made for Betta fish.

If you feel they are still not getting enough protein. You can try giving them:

  • Brine shrimp
  • Insect larvae
  • Different types of worms
  • Daphnia

Make sure not to overfeed your Betta, though. Only give them what they can eat in about 2 minutes.

Further reading: What Do Betta Fish Eat

Illnesses Can Cause Lethargy In Betta Fish

While we won’t get into each disease/illness in detail, a few common diseases and illnesses that can cause your Betta to stop moving include:

  • Dropsy
  • Popeye disease
  • Parasitic infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Worms
  • Swim bladder issues
  • Constipation

If your Betta fish is not moving, looks swollen anywhere in their body, appears to have patches or other abnormalities to their scales, or has worms attached to their tail fins, they more than likely are suffering from one or more of these illnesses.

Once you have an idea of what the problem is, it will determine your course of treatment.

However, most of the illnesses above can be prevented by proper water care and feeding.

Swim Bladder Issues

The most common illness that might cause your fish to swim sideways or not move is a problem with their swim bladder.

If your fish is tilted to one side and has a swollen belly, it probably has a swim bladder issue.

The swim bladder is what helps with the buoyancy of your fish. If your fish is having problems with their swim bladder, they will not be moving around as much, floating sideways, or upside down.

Most of the time, swim bladder problems are caused by overfeeding. So be sure never to overfeed.

Your Fish Has Unfortunately Passed Away

Keeping your betta fish healthy and happy is important, but sometimes things go wrong. Are you aware of the most common causes of betta fish fatalities? Learn more about the dangers lurking in your aquarium and discover how to prevent them. Don’t miss our comprehensive guide on what kills betta fish and how to keep your aquatic friend safe and sound.

If you can not get your fish to move no matter what you do, he has most likely died.

Betta fish live on average about 4 years.

If your fish is over the age of three and floating on his side without any signs of gill movements, he has most likely reached the end of his life.

Be sure that there are no signs of life before pronouncing your fish dead, though.

Tap on the tank or swirl the water around to see if there is any response.

If he responds, your fish is not dead but rather very ill and requires immediate attention.

Video: Why is My BETTA Inactive

You Can Help Your Betta Fish Move Again

Besides death, many of the reasons that might cause your Betta not to move are very treatable.

Please go through each possible reason to determine if there is more than one factor affecting your fish’s mobility.

Properly feeding and tending to the tank’s water quality is the best way to keep your fish healthy and moving.

Is it normal for betta fish to not move?

It is very normal for Betta to lay still and not move from time to time and there are many reasons for this. The most common reason your Betta fish is not moving is sleep and rest.

However, other reasons, such as water quality, disease, and temperature, can also cause your Betta to become lethargic and not move around as much.

How do you know if your betta fish is dying?

A sick, stressed, or dying Betta may show a few of the following signs;

  1. Lethargy
  2. Faded color
  3. Twitching, Darting or Odd Movements
  4. Hiding
  5. Not eating

There are other signs; however, if you see any of these indicators, please take a closer look at what the underlying issues might be.

Why is my betta fish lying on the bottom of the tank?

Much like “not moving,” a Betta lying on the bottom of the tank is likely just resting or sleeping.

However, other reasons, such as water quality, disease, and temperature, can also cause your Betta to become lethargic and not move around as much.

Jack Dempsey
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