15 Betta Fish Behavior Before Death: Is Your Betta dying?

After coming from outside, the first thing a betta owner do is stand in front of the aquarium and enjoy the lively swimming of his betta as it is the most satisfying scenario for the whole day. The average lifespan of the Betta is 2 to 4 years in captivity, for both males and females. Some aquarists have reported keeping Betta for 6 years! Lucky!

As a Betta fish owner, the worst thing is a dying fish. We know how much effort you put to keep your fish happy and healthy. But several times, fish dies, and you don’t even know why. So, we are here to tell you some common betta fish behaviors before death so that you can know if your betta is dying and take necessary actions to keep him alive.

Later on, you will also find some tips and tricks to avoid that and keep him healthy.


Why Would My Betta Fish Die?

The life of Betta will be threatened if kept in unfiltered water. This is always true if the volume of the aquarium is less than 10 liters. The pet stores expose the Betta in mini containers because of their aggressiveness and territorial nature.

It is a habitat for only a little time since the cohabitation is delicate with the females and the other fish. And with males, it is impossible to cohabitate.

Pet stores also sell small aquariums of less than 10 liters (or even only 2 liters!) It is not suitable for these fish and would reduce their life expectancy.

Poor water condition, attack by tank mates, low temperature, overfeeding, and stress can also cause your bettas death.


Betta Fish Behavior Before Death: How to Tell if Your Betta is Dying?

The observation is essential to know if your fish has normal behavior or not. They must swim easily, eat, maintain an intense color, and good overall appearance. You can check the following 10 clues that show that he is dying:

1. Lethargy

Lethargy is one of the most common betta fish behavior before death. Normally, bettas are very active fish. They love to swim around the tank and play with their toys. But, a lethargic betta seems very tired and stays at the bottom of the tank, doesn’t move, doesn’t play, and swims around. They act lazier and don’t even want to eat properly. You might notice a color loss in their fins.

Lethargy is commonly seen in betta fish if the fish tank is very small and the water contains ammonia, chlorine, chloramine, nitrates, and other harmful substance. Low temperature, old age, and other illnesses can also cause lethargic betta fish.

Depression can also be a reason for your inactive betta fish. However, fish depression is very rare compared to lethargic betta fish.

2. Losing Colors

The colors of the betta fish are a way of telling how healthy your betta is! The more attractive colors indicate that the fish is happier and healthier. But if your precious betta starts fading colors then the issue is far more concerning than being lethargic. If your betta keeps losing color, there is a high possibility the betta is sick. It can also indicate your betta fish is getting old. When bettas get old, their color becomes grey and their fins lose attractiveness and become very dull. The marble gene causes the color changes of betta fish. Sometimes the color change is so slow that you won’t even notice it. If you check old pictures, you might notice the change.

If the color change is significant, it’s a very bad sign and you have to test the water of the fish tank and remove any harmful substance. We recommend changing 20% water in the fish tank every 3-5 days.

unhealthy betta fish

3. Less Responsive:

Healthy betta fish are highly responsive and interactive with their owner. Whenever a betta fish sees its owner, it comes in front and greets him. Being unresponsive is one of the most common betta fish behavior before death.

When a betta gets sick, it becomes less responsive to you. Healthy bettas respond to gestures and movement but when they get sick, they will sleep and not interact with you. Betta fish might also show unresponsiveness if you try to feed it at the wrong time and they don’t like the food.

If you can’t get your betta’s attention, you may feel sad. But you should never tap on the tank glass to get his attention. It might make him stressed. Instead, you can feed him his favorite food and move your finger around the fish tank.

4. Glued fins

When the fish keeps its fins glued, it is not necessarily a good sign. The fins can also suffer from a bacterial disease. They fray and rot. It may be a lack of food or poor quality of water.

5. The shimmy

We talk about shimmy when the fish seem to swim on the spot. His fins move, but he does not move. It is because of too low a water temperature or a too sudden temperature drop.

6. Flashing

If your fish bangs against the scenery, the windows, or rubs against the ground, this is flashing. He’s just trying to scratch himself. If this behavior persists, your fish may have external parasites.

7. Isolation

If your betta doesn’t have any tank mates, this point doesn’t apply to him. If he has some tank mates, he loves to interact with them. When a betta fish gets sick, it becomes less interactive with other fish. If you notice a decrease in interaction with other fish, something is wrong for sure. After all, bettas have a very interactive social behavior and it’s not normal t0 isolate himself

If your betta is isolating himself from other fish during waking hours, it can be very concerning and you should find out the reason. You should look carefully in their fins if any abnormal sign is available.

8. Acceleration of breathing

You may find that your fish is breathing faster than usual and is agitating by snapping up the surface air. Normally, fish breathe very frequently if there is insufficient oxygen in the water or the fish is old and sick. If you see your betta fish is breathing fast, you should change the water of the fish tank.

9. Modified swimming behavior

When a fish is sick, it may have a changed swimming behavior. Some fish swim at a certain level of the aquarium. It may be on the surface, in the middle, or slightly towards the bottom. If you notice a change in these habits, take the time to observe them.

10. Decreased Appetite

Decreased appetite is a common betta fish behavior before death. Betta fish loves to eat. Whenever it’s their feeding time, they come to the upper surface of the water and look for food. When an owner comes to feed his betta, betta fish swims around and gives thank you to the owner. But when a betta fish grows old, it loses its interest in food, has less appetite, and wastes a lot of food. For old betta, the decrease in appetite will be slower but for a sick betta, the decrease in appetite occurs very fast.

11. Stress

Stress can kill your betta very fast. There are several reasons for getting betta fish stressed. Change of water, introduction to new tank mates, presence of ammonia in water, poor aquarium maintenance, etc can be reasons behind a stressed betta. Sometimes, new owners or kids tap on the tank to get the betta’s attention. It creates a soundwave that’s harmful to betta fish and might stress the fish.

12. Fish TB

Fish TB is not similar to human TB but you can catch it from the fish tank. Instead of causing lunge disease, it will appear as a rash on your hand and can have devastating side effects. So we recommend using gloves when you put your hand into the fish tank water.

Fish TB has two major symptoms which are curved spine and spots on their skin. This disease is not so common but not unheard of. it has no cure and it may stay unnoticed for years. If any fish comes in contact with the affected betta or its water, it should be quarantined immediately.

13. Dropsy

Dropsy in Betta fish is a bacterial infection that can be dangerous and even fatal. It is an indication there is something not good with your Bettas. It is not a disease itself. Instead, it is an indication that your Bettas are undergoing some problems internally.

You can take dropsy as a warning that your Betta fish health is compromised, and if not taken seriously, your Bettas won’t live long. Luckily, it is not common in healthy fish. If your fish have a weak immune system, there is a high chance they will catch dropsy easily. The growth of dropsy is a slow and deadly process. Kidneys, Liver, and Betta fish skin are usually the most common parts affected by it.

Unfortunately, the chance of survival for such fish is low. But still, it is curable to somewhat extent. The sooner you find and identify the symptoms of dropsy, the more chance your Bettas will have to survive.

Read more: Dropsy in Betta Fish: Causes, Symptoms, and Cure

14. Skin problems and Pigmentation

Skin problems in fish can be varied. The fish may be covered with white dots on the body and fins. He may also have swollen abdomen and scales that bristle. These are often bacterial diseases.

The fish can lose the intensity of its pigmentation. It may be a discoloration of small parts of the body.

15. Swelling of the eye and Slimming

If one or both eyes are swollen, it may be a viral, bacterial, or fungal disease.

If your fish is losing weight, it may be due to a lack of food or vitamin deficiency. This can lead to death.

So now you know the betta fish behavior before death. Have a close look and you will know if your betta fish is dying!

betta fish huge fin

How to Save Your Dying Betta Fish?

If you have any doubts about the health of any of your fish, try to notice the signs. Especially check out if there is any sign mentioned above. If you have recognized any, transfer it to a quarantine aquarium as soon as possible. Here’s some tips to save your dying betta fish:

Prevention is better than cure

You should be careful of your betta’s health and try to protect it from any unwanted disease. You should feed him regularly, change the water and keep it in a large tank. Always try to maintain a good environment for the betta. Having a fish tank filter and heater can protect them from poor and cold water.

Check the water condition and change if needed

Lack of appropriate temperature and presence of ammonia, chlorine, etc can kill betta fish very fast. If your betta fish is sick, you must check the water condition and change the water quickly. However, when changing the water, you have to ensure the new water temperature is not too cold or too hot. You can change 50% water instead of changing all of it.

Make sure the oxygen level doesn’t drop in the tank. Using an airstone can help you in this regard. Make sure the lid has some ventilation so that new air can pass through.

You can put some almond leaves in the water as it is good for a sick betta.

Identify the symptoms and Call a Vet

If you are sure that your betta fish is sick, then you should call a vet, take his advice and medicate your betta fish accordingly.


How to decrease the chance of the death of the Betta fish?


It is recommended to choose an aquarium with a volume of 20 liters to have a happy and healthy betta. If the place forces you, a 15-liter aquarium is a necessary minimum.

A smaller aquarium will seriously affect the life expectancy of your Betta.  Because the chemical balance of the water will be very precarious and the Betta will not have enough places to hide: it will be stressed. Finally, die.


The Betta needs a specific diet, rich in fiber and protein. Some betta fish will not even touch the food for tropical fish because it does not meet their needs.

It is, therefore, necessary to try different food for betta fish. Add supplements with other foods that are rich in protein. For example, bloodworms or artemias.

These can be freeze-dried, frozen, or alive. In the wild, fighters have access to many preys and are active carnivores. They will increase the longevity of betta fish and reduce untimely death.


Another main cause of death is the poor quality of the water. Always try to avoid distilled water. Distilled water lacks nutrients and minerals. Betta fish need these elements to be happy and healthy. Use tap water if its ph is 7. If your water does not meet these parameters, use mineral water.


Small aquariums require timely and frequent cleaning because of the unstable balance and waste’s significant impact on water quality. As you feed your Betta, they discharge ammonia. The resulting diseases can make your fish sick and often result in death due to degraded water quality.

Make sure your aquarium is clean by regular water changes. For example, 3 water changes of 20% per week if there is no filter. Always use a filter to prevent the accumulation of ammonia and other toxins.


The Betta fish are from the tropical area and need a constant warm temperature of around 24 degrees. Avoid sudden changes in temperature and avoid cold temperatures. You should get a heater for your betta fish if you don’t have one. It will keep the temperature steady.

I use Tetra HT Submersible Aquarium Heater With Electronic Thermostat for my male betta fish and it’s giving pretty good service so far!

The untimely death of your loving pet is sad. All you need is just a little awareness to prevent this. Just look out for the sign that may indicate that your betta is dying. Take adequate measurements to avoid the symptoms.

If you follow these simple rules, we hope you will have a happy and healthy betta. Now we will discuss some worst situations that can happen if you don’t take proper care of your betta. Here we go!


Is my betta fish dead or sleeping?

If you suddenly see that your betta fish is not moving, what would be the first reaction?

“Is it dead?”

But an absence of reaction can have other explanations like- he sleeps, he has a problem of the swim bladder, he is constipated, or maybe the water is too cold.

So, before feeling blue and starting to mourn, check if he is indeed dead or something else.

But how would you understand?

Not so tough. Let’s have a look at the following-

Turn on the lights

If the lights in the aquarium are out and the room in the dark, it may be why your betta fish did not react. He might be sleeping!

Yes, the betta fish also rest, usually at night, when it is deep dark. For this, they lie on the side without moving, and the impression is almost similar to being dead.

Thus, in an attempt to wake your betta fish if he is alive, turn on the lights and Tap a little help on the aquarium.

Observe his breathing

Most fish species have gills through which they breathe. When they breathe, the gill operculum generally moves. So if the operculum of your other fish does not move, it’s likely he’s dead.

But, some species, like betta fish, breathe through the mouth. So, don’t panic if the grill operculum doesn’t move. Check the movements of your betta’s body.

Look at his eyes

If your betta fish has sunken eyes or if its pupils are glassy, it is usually a sign that it is no longer alive or that it is in agony. I wish your betta wouldn’t face such a situation.

Check the water temperature

Though it is a pre-doing, it is important to notify you. Have you checked the water temperature on a regular basis?

When the water in the aquarium is too cold, it can plunge the betta fish into a kind of hibernation. So, remember to check the temperature of the water as well as its toxicity.

Indeed, if the water has too much nitrate, your betta fish may have been intoxicated and is, therefore, sick. In this case, a water change is required.


Why did my betta fish die suddenly?

Surely you have ever had fish at home, and suddenly they have died, not having been long since you acquired them.

But why?

If you’re supposed to take good care of them, they wouldn’t have to die.

Well, in this part you will discover what the most common causes of the sudden death of betta fishes are-

For cleaning water from the bucket

When you are going to clean the fish tank, you have to transfer the betta fish to a bucket full of water.

But the water has to be a mixture of the water they have in the fish tank with clean tap water. You cannot simply fill a bucket with tap water since chlorine is very harmful to the fish.

Many fish in the same bucket

If you have many bettas in an aquarium, try to separate them into different buckets or bowls. Bettas fear each other. This fear causes intense stress.

On the other hand, betta fish are very aggressive by nature. They can kill each other too.

For using chemicals for cleaning the aquarium

Do you use household cleaning products to clean the decorative objects or the interior of the fish tank?

If yes, you are heading your betta to the end.

You have to use some specific and exceptional products to clean. The random soapy stuff has some sensitive chemicals. This can kill your betta fish.

Do not use a dirty bucket 

Before filling a bucket in which to put the betta fish, check that it has no soap residue or many bubbles form. Even if you make the mixture well, the soap remains will kill them.

Hitting the glass a lot

The betta fish is very sensitive. So being constantly hitting the glass makes them scared, and that stresses them. The more stress, the more likely they will die soon.

Fill the aquarium with clean water

Aquarium water cannot simply be flushed out and put on a new one. At least 40% of the previous water must be left So that the fish do not notice so much change.

If you empty the aquarium, the fish will not get used to the sudden change and will probably die.

For throwing the fish into the aquarium without care 

Whether you are going to put a betta fish for the first time in the fish tank, you cannot drive it crazy. You have to put it carefully, avoiding sudden movements.

red betta fish

Why My betta fish dying after the water change?

You should know that Betta dying after a water change is a common occurrence. If your betta fish suddenly die after the water change, then there must be some mistakes in the process. Here’s why betta usually die after water changes-

Water change

When we change the water in the betta tank, we must let the new water rest. If we use tap water, the fish can be poisoned due to the high concentration of chlorine.

Therefore, betta can die in the short term. Water should not be changed in its entirety. To maintain the water values ​​we already had, we retain 20% of it and add the rest of the new water.

Water container

The container in which we put the water must not have been in contact with any generic cleaning product.

It could cause fungus and infections in our little betta fish and later their death. The best thing to prevent is to use a new container.

Filter and ornament cleaning

We need to clean the filters by rinsing them with the water we have allowed. We will do the same with the ornaments that we have put to our aquarium.

You can do it all with the help of an unused toothbrush, like all the utensils we use in the process.

No soap! This can cause death to betta fish after the water changes.

Water temperature

Before reintroducing the fish one by one, check the temperature of the new water. We need to fill in the fish tank little by little so as not to stir the water.

These are some of the essential guidelines that, however, we do not usually take into account, especially when we are beginners.

The highest percentage of deaths in this phase is due to soap, cleaning utensils with remnants of other products, or the radical change of water.

If we keep these warnings in mind, we are sure that your fish will swim happily and happily for a long time.


Wrapping Up

Bringing out dead betta from the aquarium is really pains-taking. If you can’t recognize the sick fish then you might suffer the same.  How do you know if your betta fish is dying? We have presented you with the 15 most common betta fish behavior before death. Just go in front of your aquarium and find out the sick betta.

If you find this article helpful, please do share! If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comment section!

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