Why Is My Betta Fish Laying On Its Side? Learn How to Help Your Fish

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If you’re a Betta fish owner, you know how important it is to keep your little aquatic friend healthy and happy. However, sometimes things can go wrong even if you think you’re doing everything right.

A common issue that Betta fish owners experience is finding their beloved pet laying on its side at the bottom of the tank. This can be concerning and confusing for many reasons.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the reasons why your Betta fish may be laying on its side and what steps you can take to help them. We understand the importance of keeping your fish happy and thriving, so it’s essential to learn what signs to look out for when something isn’t right with your Betta fish.

“A Betta fish laying on its side could be a sign of various problems – from diseases to water conditions. It is crucial to identify and address the root cause as soon as possible.”

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of what might be causing your Betta fish to lay on its side and what actions you should take to potentially prevent future issues from occurring. Our goal is to provide you with knowledge and tips that can help your Betta fish stay happy and healthy for years to come!

Causes of Betta Fish Laying on Its Side

Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, are known for their vibrant colors and long fins. However, they require proper care to ensure their health and wellbeing. One common issue that betta owners may encounter is finding their fish laying on its side at the bottom of the tank. This can be a sign of several underlying issues that need to be addressed immediately.

Swim Bladder Disorder

One of the most common reasons why a betta fish may lay on its side is due to swim bladder disorder. The swim bladder is an internal organ responsible for the fish’s buoyancy and balance in water. A malfunctioning swim bladder causes the fish to lose control of its movement and sink to the bottom.

According to Drs. Foster & Smith, a leading pet supply retailer, “swim bladder problems are often due to overfeeding or feeding your betta inappropriate food.” Feeding your betta too much food or giving them food that is not suited for their digestive system can cause constipation and disrupt the swim bladder function.

If you suspect that your betta has swim bladder disorder, it is crucial to evaluate their diet and make necessary adjustments. You can also try fasting your betta for 24 hours, then feeding them a small amount of food with high fiber content like boiled peas. If symptoms persist, consult with a veterinarian who specializes in aquatic animals.

Poor Water Quality

Bettas are tropical fish that require clean and warm water to thrive. Poor water quality can lead to a variety of issues, including fin rot, infections, and even death. When ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates build up in the water, they become toxic to the fish.

One of the signs of poor water quality is finding bettas laying on their side at the bottom of the tank. The stress caused by toxic water can lead to lethargy and loss of balance in fish. Therefore, it is essential to maintain a consistent cleaning schedule.

To ensure good water quality for your betta, perform partial water changes regularly, siphon out debris from the substrate, and avoid overcrowding the tank. Monitoring ammonia and nitrite levels with a test kit every week is also recommended.


Betta owners may be tempted to overfeed their pets due to their small size and cute begging behavior. However, overfeeding can cause digestive issues and contribute to swim bladder disorder, as mentioned earlier. Additionally, uneaten food that accumulates in the tank adds to the pollution of the water.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) suggests feeding adult bettas twice daily with an amount of food that they consume within two minutes. They recommend choosing high-quality pellet or flake food specifically formulated for bettas and supplementing their diet with frozen or live foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp occasionally.

Temperature Shock

Bettas are sensitive to temperature changes, particularly sudden drops or rises. A drastic change in water temperature can cause shock and result in swimming difficulties, including laying on their side.

Therefore, it is essential to keep the water temperature within the optimal range of 76-82 degrees Fahrenheit consistently. Avoid placing the tank near windows or air vents that expose the fish to drafts. Use a thermometer to monitor the water temperature and adjust the heater accordingly. When performing water changes, make sure that the new water temperature matches that of the old water before adding it to the tank.

“Bettas are native to warm waters in Thailand, which means they need temperatures between 78 and 80°F. Anything less than that puts them at risk for illness,” says Dr. Valerie Tynes, a veterinarian at Pet Paradise resort in Jacksonville, Florida

Finding your betta fish laying on its side can be distressing. However, it is essential to identify the underlying cause promptly and take necessary action to address it. Do not wait until your fish shows severe symptoms of illness before seeking professional help. Ensure that you provide clean water, appropriate diet, and consistent temperature maintenance for a healthy and happy betta fish.

Symptoms of a Sick Betta Fish


If you notice your betta fish laying on its side, it could be a sign that your fish is feeling lethargic. Lethargy in bettas can manifest as a lack of interest in swimming or interacting with their environment. Your fish may appear to be sleeping for longer periods than usual and may not respond to stimuli such as food or movement around the tank.

There are several factors that can cause lethargy in bettas. One common cause is poor water quality in the tank. When ammonia and nitrite levels build up in the tank, they can be toxic to fish and make them feel unwell. Another possible cause of lethargy is stress. Bettas are sensitive creatures, and changes in their environment or routine can easily cause them to become stressed out. Stressors can include overcrowding, aggressive tank mates, or exposure to bright light or loud noises.

“Poor water quality is one of the leading causes of sick fish,” warns Dr. Jesse Grady, an aquatic veterinarian. “When these parameters get too high, many types of bacteria flourish and can wreak havoc on your fish’s immune system.”

Loss of Appetite

If your betta fish is laying on its side and not showing much interest in food, this could be another symptom of illness. Loss of appetite is a common indicator that something is wrong with your pet. Your fish may refuse to eat altogether or only nibble at its food, which can lead to weight loss over time.

Loss of appetite in bettas can have several potential causes. As with lethargy, poor water quality is often a factor. Betta fish need clean, well-maintained tanks in order to thrive, and dirty water can make them feel unwell. Another possible cause of loss of appetite is illness or injury. Bettas are prone to a variety of diseases that can impact their digestive system, making it difficult for them to eat or digest food properly.

“Fish can become sick in many ways,” says Dr. Cathy Wong, DVM. “It can be from bacteria, viruses or parasites, as well as improper environmental conditions such as high ammonia, nitrite or low oxygen.”

Faded Coloration

If your betta fish has lost some of its vivid color and appears faded or washed out, this could also indicate an underlying health issue. Healthy bettas typically have vibrant hues that reflect their mood and overall wellbeing. However, if your fish’s coloring looks dull or less intense than normal, this may be a sign that something is wrong.

There are multiple factors that can cause changes in a betta fish’s coloration. One possibility is stress or poor water quality, which can cause the scales to lose their shine or become discolored. An infection or disease could also cause faded coloration, particularly if other symptoms such as lethargy or loss of appetite are present. If you notice changes in your betta’s color, it’s important to monitor their behavior closely and consider taking them to a vet if symptoms persist.

“One of the most common problems I see with bettas is color fading,” says Betta Fish Expert Emma Turner. “Often this is caused by poor water quality or simply not being fed enough. Providing a clean tank environment and feeding a varied diet can help prevent these issues.”
In conclusion, if your betta fish is laying on its side, there may be several reasons why they are feeling unwell. Lethargy, loss of appetite, and faded coloration are all common symptoms of illness in bettas, and can have multiple potential causes. If you notice any of these signs in your fish, it’s essential to act quickly to address the issue and prevent further harm. By maintaining a clean and healthy tank environment, feeding your betta a varied diet, and seeking veterinary care when necessary, you can help keep your pet happy and thriving for years to come.

How to Diagnose Betta Fish Laying on Its Side

Observe Fish Behavior

If your betta fish is laying on its side, it could be a sign of several things. The first step in diagnosing the issue is observing your fish’s behavior carefully. Bettas are known for their active and energetic nature and any sudden change can indicate that there might be something wrong.

A common reason why bettas lay on their sides is because they are sleeping. However, if you notice that your fish stays in this position longer than usual or has trouble moving around, then it may be an indication of health problems.

Another thing to look out for is whether your betta fish appears tired or lethargic. A sick fish will often show signs of weakness by swimming slowly or not at all. If this sort of behavior persists, then it’s worth investigating further.

Check Water Parameters

The second thing to do when diagnosing a betta fish laying on its side is to check their water parameters. Poor water quality can cause many different types of health issues for fish, including swim bladder disease which can result in difficulty staying upright.

Bettas require clean, warm, well-oxygenated water with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0. Make sure your tank is properly cycled and avoid overfeeding your fish as this can lead to high levels of ammonia in the water. Also, ensure adequate filtration and regular water changes to maintain healthy water conditions.

If your aquarium does not meet these standards, then it could be causing undue stress on your fish which can manifest itself through symptoms such as listlessness or laying on its side.

  • Temperature: Maintain a water temperature range between 75-82°F (24-28°C).
  • Ammonia: Ensure that the ammonia level in your tank is less than 0.25 ppm.
  • Nitrite: Keep nitrite levels in your aquarium below 0.5 ppm.
  • nitrates: Maintain the nitrates level at or below 20 ppm.

The bottom line is, bettas are delicate creatures and require specific water conditions to thrive. Make sure you tailor your care habits accordingly to ensure a healthy and happy fish, laying on its side can be an indicator of a serious underlying issue.

Home Remedies for Betta Fish Laying on Its Side

Epsom Salt Bath

One reason why your betta fish may be laying on its side is due to constipation or swim bladder disorder. One effective home remedy for these conditions is an Epsom salt bath.

To prepare this treatment, you will need to fill a small container with dechlorinated water and add one teaspoon of Epsom salt per gallon of water. You should mix the salt well until it completely dissolves before introducing your betta fish into the solution. Once the mixture is ready, place your fish in the container and leave them there for about 10-15 minutes.

The Epsom salt works by drawing out excess fluids from the fish’s body, which can relieve bloating and encourage bowel movements. This remedy can also help improve the fish’s overall health and immunity.

“Epsom salts have been used as a folk remedy for hundreds of years because of their numerous benefits.” -DoctorNerdLove.com


If your betta fish has overeaten or eats too much of a specific food, they may experience digestive issues that lead to laying on their side. In this case, fasting can be an effective remedy.

All you have to do is stop feeding your betta fish for 24-48 hours to give their digestive system time to recover. After this period, gradually reintroduce their regular diet but feed them smaller portions once or twice a day instead of one large meal.

This home remedy can help prevent further complications associated with overfeeding such as constipation, bloat, and swim bladder disorder.

“Fasting helps regulate digestion when there are problems such as constipation or indigestion.” -FishForPets.com

There are several reasons why your betta fish may be laying on its side. You can use these effective home remedies to provide relief and improve their overall health. However, if the problem persists or worsens, it is best to consult with a veterinarian who specializes in fish care.

When to Seek Veterinary Care for Your Betta Fish

Betta fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish, may occasionally lay on their side which can be a cause of concern for pet owners. While it’s not always an indication of illness and could just be resting or napping, there are some instances where veterinary care is necessary. Here are some symptoms to watch out for.

Symptoms Persist Despite Home Remedies

If your betta fish continuously lays on its side despite trying home remedies such as changing the water, adjusting the pH balance, and adding aquarium salt, you should consider seeking professional help from a veterinarian. It may be indicative of an underlying health condition that requires specific treatment like antibiotics.

According to Dr. Bassem Ayyat, director of Ready Vet Go in Maryland, one of the common causes of a betta fish laying sideways is swim bladder disease. It occurs when the air-filled sacs allowing buoyancy become overinflated. “Swim bladder disorder is usually caused by feeding too much dry food,” he warns.

To avoid overfeeding your betta fish, maintain consistency with meal portions, frequency, and type. Overfeeding might cause bloating and digestive problems leading to swim bladder disorders.

Signs of Infection

An infected betta fish will have visible physical symptoms such as discoloration, frayed fins, white patches on scales, and swollen eyes or belly. Check if there are abnormalities in swimming patterns such as lethargy or erratic movements. Notice changes in appetite and hydration levels, such as refusing meals or remaining at the surface, gasping for air.

According to Dr. Marcia K. Thoesen, a board-certified aquatic veterinarian, one of the most commonly encountered bacterial infections for bettas is Aeromonas.

“Aeromonas can cause red sores or ulcers on the body and head called furunculosis, and it may cause bloating from intestinal inflammation,” she said. Treatment involves antibiotics administered through food or water over several days.

Difficulty Breathing

One classic sign of respiratory illness in betta fish is excessive gasping near the surface of the water. Gills begin to change colors too, and they might appear pale when healthy gills are bright red. It’s usually linked with poor water quality, overcrowding, and dirty air stones.

Dr. Jennifer Coates, an experienced vet with 15 years of veterinary practice experience explained that “when your betta fish starts struggling to breathe properly, it’s time to direct your attention towards checking water conditions.” She recommends testing for ammonia and nitrites regularly. High levels will irritate the gill tissues leading to infection. Clean the aquarium often. Severe cases require medication such as antibiotics and antifungals.

Severe Laying on Side

If you notice your betta fish lying sideways at the bottom of the tank, this is not normal behaviour and requires immediate intervention by a professional vet. Failure to act quickly could be life-threatening.

It indicates possible organ damage resulting from poor water parameters or injury. Internal bleeding, parasitic disease, and tumors could also lead to abnormal swimming posture. If left unattended, the condition could advance into muscle deterioration or paralysis; hence euthanasia becomes necessary. A trained veterinarian would run tests to ascertain the exact problem and offer appropriate solutions or medication as necessary.

The key to keeping your betta fish healthy is by observing any changes in behavior or appearance and taking prompt action. Professional veterinary care is a viable solution if the problem persists despite trying home remedies. Remember, early intervention might prevent irreversible damage that could threaten the life of your beloved pet.

Preventing Betta Fish from Laying on Its Side

Betta fish are known for their vibrant colors and graceful swimming movements. However, if you notice your betta fish laying on its side at the bottom of the tank, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue. To prevent this problem from occurring, there are several steps you can take to maintain a healthy and happy environment for your betta fish.

Maintain Proper Water Quality

The quality of water in your betta fish’s tank is crucial to its overall health and well-being. Poor water conditions can lead to stress, disease, and even death. Therefore, it is important to keep the water clean and free of harmful chemicals. Change 25% of the water every week and remove any debris that may have accumulated at the bottom of the tank. You should also check the pH levels of the water regularly. Bettas prefer slightly acidic water with a pH range between 6.5 – 7.5. If the water in your tank is too alkaline or acidic, it can cause stress to your betta fish and eventually lead to serious health problems.

Feed Appropriately

Overfeeding your betta fish can cause several health issues, including bloating, constipation, and swim bladder disorders which leads to laying on their sides. It is recommended to feed your betta fish two small meals each day- once in the morning and once in the evening. Follow the feeding instructions on the food packet and do not exceed the recommended amount. Some foods products such as freeze-dried or live foods like bloodworms or brine shrimp come with risks of bacterial infections, so it is best to avoid them if possible.

Avoid Extreme Temperature Changes

Betta fish are sensitive to temperature changes. Drastic fluctuations in the water temperature can cause stress, which leads to different health problems and laying on their sides at the bottom of the tank. Maintain a stable temperature in your betta’s tank by using a heater that keeps the water within an optimal range. The ideal temperature for Betta fish is 75-82°F (24-28°C). Additionally, avoid placing the fish tank near windows or air conditioning vents as it can expose them to drastic temperature changes.

Signs of Illness

Even with providing the best care possible for your betta fish, they may still experience health issues from time to time. Some common signs of illness include lethargy, loss of appetite, abnormal swimming patterns, and discoloration. If you notice any of these symptoms, take appropriate action immediately. Consult with a vet who specializes in aquatic animals if necessary or visit websites like PetMD.com or FishLab.com for more information about diagnosis or treatment options.

“Fish are incredibly resilient, but anyone who has kept them will have suffered the heartbreak of seeing one die.” -Dominic Couzens

Maintaining proper water quality, feeding appropriately, avoiding extreme temperature changes, and being observant of any signs of illness can help prevent your betta fish from laying on its side at the bottom of the tank. It is essential to provide your betta fish with a healthy and comfortable environment where they can thrive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my betta fish laying on its side?

There are several reasons why your betta fish may be laying on its side. It could be due to swim bladder disease, which affects the fish’s ability to regulate its buoyancy. It could also be due to stress, poor water quality, or a lack of oxygen in the aquarium. Additionally, if your fish is bloated or constipated, it may struggle to maintain its balance and end up on its side.

Is my betta fish sick if it’s laying on its side?

Yes, if your betta fish is laying on its side, it is likely sick. Swim bladder disease, bacterial infections, and parasites can all cause your fish to lose its equilibrium and end up on its side. It’s important to observe your fish closely and look for other symptoms, such as loss of appetite, lethargy, or discoloration, which may indicate an underlying illness.

What can I do to help my betta fish if it’s laying on its side?

If your betta fish is laying on its side, there are several things you can do to help. First, check the water parameters and make sure they are within the appropriate range. You may also want to add an air stone or increase the water flow to improve oxygenation. If your fish is constipated, you can try feeding it a pea or other fiber-rich food. If the problem persists, consult with a veterinarian or experienced fish keeper for further advice.

Can a betta fish recover from laying on its side?

Yes, in many cases, a betta fish can recover from laying on its side with proper care and treatment. If the fish’s environment is improved and any underlying health issues are addressed, it may gradually regain its balance and swim normally again. However, if the condition is severe or has been left untreated for too long, the fish may not be able to recover fully.

What are the common causes of a betta fish laying on its side?

The most common causes of a betta fish laying on its side are swim bladder disease, poor water quality, stress, and constipation. Swim bladder disease can be caused by overfeeding, feeding the wrong type of food, or bacterial infections. Poor water quality can be caused by overstocking, inadequate filtration, or infrequent water changes. Stress can be caused by aggressive tank mates or inadequate hiding spots. Constipation can be caused by overfeeding or feeding the wrong type of food.

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