Betta Fish Laying On Bottom of Tank? Find out Why!

If your betta fish is laying on the bottom of the tank, not eating properly and breathing heavily then you are at the right place. Today we’ll discuss the reasons why your betta fish might be laying on the bottom of the tank, not eating and breathing heavy! Let’s get started!

Betta Fish are colorful, fierce, fragile and one of the most famous pet fishes in the world. However, they also require special care and can thrive for many years (3 to 5) when cared for properly.  Some times you may notice that your lovely betta fish laying on the bottom of the tank, not eating, breathing heavy!  This is understood as a sign that it is about to die. However, when it comes to Betta fish, this is simply not true.

There are many reasons why a Betta fish may be laying on the bottom of the tank, not eating, breathing heavily. If you see your lovely Betta fish laying at the bottom, not eating, breathing heavily then it could be something that you need to be concerned about. Try and look for some signs of a disease or an injury. Given below are some common reasons why you will find Betta fish laying on the bottom of the tank, not moving, not eating and breathing heavily.

Betta Laying On Bottom Of Tank and Not Moving

Sleeping or Resting

Just like all living beings, Bettas do need proper sleep time. Not always there is some danger involved when Bettas are laying at the bottom of an aquarium and not moving. Most of the time the reason could be as simple as wanting to rest and sleep. Bettas go to sleep at night when the room lights are off. However, their sleep time is divided into different portions with one portion stretching to 1 hour.

Bettas sleep lying on their side, so there is no need to worry about your pet if it is simply laying on its side at the bottom and not moving while looking healthy and active around other times. It is most probably taking a nap. You can also purchase a betta bed on Amazon from here. They sleep on a leaf that can be mounted at the tank’s top. To check if they are simply sleeping and resting, turn on the lights since Betta sleeps only in the dark. This would make them active again. Be careful when your fish shows signs of exhaustion as that can mostly be confused with sleep.

It’s simply being Lazy

Bettas like other creatures also become lazy. If you notice your Betta taking support for itself by moving its front pelvic fins, then it is simply being lazy. In fact, laziness and lazy attitude is a common habit of Bettas.

Fish not always use huge fins for swimming. This means that just like teenagers, it too has a habit of chilling at different places inside the aquarium. Closely monitor Betta’s behavior to check for any alarming signs. If it is laying on the bottom of the tank and not moving for a little time, then it is nothing to be concerned about. But if your betta lay on the bottom of the tank and doesn’t move for a longer period of time, you should consult with an experienced person!

Swim Bladder Disorder

Betta Fish laying at the bottom of the tank, not moving could be a sign of a swim bladder disorder. This happens when Bettas are overfeeding or are constipated. Due to overfeeding the stomach gets swelled and results in the malfunctioning of the bladder. Although it is treatable and fatal, it takes time to recover and makes moving and swimming difficult for the fish.

The bladder malfunctioning makes Betta spend most of their time laying around at the bottom not moving due to difficulty. It also makes them float to the tank’s top but either sideways or upside-down. You can treat this problem by giving a high-fiber diet or by making Bettas fast.

An easy way to get over this issue is by feeding Betta a crushed pea. Use a boiled pea and feed it to your Betta. Make sure it fasts for 24+ hours after that. To avoid continuous constipation, feed your Betta 1 pea per week or bloodworm sometimes.

To get rid of overfeeding, soak pellets for 2 to 3 minutes in either aquarium or chlorinated water. This would give a full stomach feeling to Betta due to which it won’t overfeed.

Tank’s Temperature

Tank’s temperature is also an issue behind Betta fish laying at the bottom of the tank not moving. When you see something like this, make sure to check the tank’s temperature. If the temperature has dropped from what you have otherwise set, you would need to warm it up again.

This doesn’t happen when there is a heater installed inside the tank. However, if the heater has stopped working, then you would have to get a new heater to warm up the tank to the required temperature. You also need to know that too hot water also creates a problem for Betta as it releases oxygen quickly causing it to gasp on the bottom. In this case, you need to lower the temperature and add some oxygen to the water tank.

Old Age

Bettas have a life span of 4 to 5 years. However, in some cases, they can even live a bit longer. However, after the 3-year mark, they become old and disease-prone. This makes them lethargic and so you find such Betta fish laying at the bottom of the tank not moving most of their time. There is nothing you can do in such situations. Just leave them to peacefully live out the rest of the days.

Filter Current’s Fast Speed

Most Betta fish keepers are of the view that they don’t need a filter as it tires them out in case of the fast and strong current. However, not needing a filter part is wrong. You must opt for sponge filtration in small fish tanks of 5 or fewer gallons.  Some times aquarium kit also comes with a built-in filter that produces the perfect current. In the case of water that has stronger currents, Betta fish does not move much and prefers staying at the bottom of the tank.

However, you can solve this issue by lowering your filter’s power. Most of the filters come with a valve that controls its flow. This would make your Betta fish active again.

In the case of an unfiltered water tank, you have to change and clean the water on a weekly basis. In a filtered tank, you will need to change about 20 to 30% water on a weekly basis.

Do not wait for the water to become murky as it would make Betta sick. While changing tank waters, make sure to scoop Bettas into a bowl or cup instead of removing him from his home. Otherwise, it would have a stressful effect on his health. However, due to their jumping ability, make sure to put Bettas in a safe space.

Betta Fish Laying On Bottom of Tank and Breathing Heavy

Ammonia Poisoning

Betta fish laying on the bottom of the tank breathing heavy is a sign that you can’t ignore.  In many such cases, its most probably is due to ammonia poisoning. Check the tank’s water parameters with a test kit. You can use the API Master Test Kit to check the ammonia levels in your tank. The kit would automatically look for the pH and nitrates in the water. If you are unable to access any kit, then try and change half of your tank’s water. You can easily purchase a water tank test kit at Amazon from the trusted sellers.

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Betta Fish Laying on Bottom of Tank and Not Eating

Sick or Stressed Out

Betta fish have a weaker immune system compared to most fishes owing to the way they bred. This means that a number of diseases can make them sick as a result of which you would see Betta fish not eating and laying at the bottom of the tank. If you also see symptoms such as loss of coloration, inflamed fin patches, cloudy eyes, and strange behavior then your Betta is suffering from some illness. Here are some common signs which indicate some sort of illness in a Betta fish:

Sideways Swimming

Sideway swimming as shared above is caused due to swim bladder issue. Its caused due to bad water conditions or overfeeding. Try changing the water and set an alternate feed/fast schedule to improve their health conditions.

Deteriorated Fins

You may see Bettas fins deteriorating in some cases. Avoid this by keeping the water clean and feeding it properly.

Scales Falling off

When you see your betta bloating up like a balloon, it is mostly due to its scales falling off. The condition is known as dropsy. You can prevent this situation by choosing not to overfeed, especially when it comes to feeding rich foods such as bloodworms.

White dots on scales

The parasitic infection creates white dots on Metta scales. This is known as ‘Ichthyophthirius’ or simply ich in layman’s language. You can treat this condition by adding aquarium salt and increasing the water temperature. In case of some infection, you can use Epsom salt to cure the problem. You can also use Indian Almond leaves since they release tannins that clear infection and strengthens your fish’s immune system.


Stress can also cause problems for your Betta fish. One way for reducing stress levels is by introducing some live plants in your water tank. This helps in giving a natural environment effect that helps to keep stress away. Try adding plants that float at the top of the tank. Not only do they filter the aquarium from excretory material but also give a nice feel and effect to the water tank.

You can use API STRESS COAT with API STRESS ZYME to assure good water quality and a healthy, clean aquatic environment. I use these products every time I change the water in my fish tank, whether it’s partial changes or full water changes.

API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT 800-Test Freshwater Aquarium Water...
  • Contains one (1) API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT 800-Test Freshwater Aquarium Water Master Test Kit, including 7 bottles...
  • Helps monitor water quality and prevent invisible water problems that can be harmful to fish and cause fish loss

Small Aquarium Size

The size of your aquarium is important. If the fish feels confined then you need to choose a bigger aquarium. As a thumb rule, keep a tank that has a bare minimum of 3-gallons. A 10 or a 20-gallon tank is perfect for keeping Betta Fish active and healthy.

You can also add more fish to a large tank in addition to Just Betta. Since these fish are curious and love having personal space, a small aquarium restricts their movement and stresses them out.  Naturally, Bettas like to swim in a vertical space such as shallow rice paddies that have a nice hideout space. Confined environment results in lazy and lethargic Betta fish who would stop eating and simply lay to the bottom of the tank.

Betta Hiding in the Tank’s Corner

Betta fish loves to hide in some structure to feel safe. This is how their nature work. In case, your tank does not have any decoration or a structure that it can swim around in order to have a safe feeling, you will find him tucking in a corner. This is normal behavior at their end and you don’t need to worry about it. Simply add some structure to provide for a place they can escape to.

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Bettas can also hide in the corner when the water currents are stronger than required. Situations in which people are always tapping on the glass or making noise outside the tank will have them hide from the surrounding. Bettas are not very social. They like their company and are fine on their own, which means that you must also not add other fish or they will simply retreat and hide in a corner. Only add some tankmates by researching about the fish or other sea animals that it can co-habitat with. Usually, Betta fish are not good around goldfish since they both are from different water conditions. Friendly tankmates would keep Bettas fresh, healthy and stress-free. Some good tankmates for Betta fish include names such as:
  • Dwarf Frogs
  • Mystery Snails
  • Ghost Shrimp


Bettas are a popular fish not because of their colorful skin but because it’s quite easy to take care of them. They are found in the wild such as slow-moving creeks, ponds, and Southeast Asian rivers. However, you will mostly find male Betta fish in pet stores, since pet stores selling female Bettas are not very common. You can keep them healthy if you know about all the ways and habits of a healthy Betta fish. Monitor its movement to see if it is laying at the bottom of the tank breathing heavy or suffering from some other health or water tank issues. Take help from the reasons shared above when faced with a Betta fish not eating and laying at the bottom.

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