Betta fish are among the favorite fish of most fish keepers. However, they are very sensitive, and their health can be affected when living in inadequate tank conditions, making us worry when they show strange behavior like floating at the top of the tank.
So, why is my betta fish floating at the top of the tank? Let us find out.
Low oxygen level is the primary cause for betta fish floating at the top of the tank. Other reasons include swimbladder disorder, poor water conditions, and inadequate water temperature. Ensure adequate temperature, avoid overcrowding, and add an air pump to your betta tank to prevent such issues.
This article will discuss the reason behind betta fish floating at the top of the tank and how we can prevent them from such issues. So, let us get into it.
- 1 What makes betta fish float at the top of the tank?
- 2 Is it normal for a betta fish to float at the top of the tank?
- 3 Seven reasons your betta fish floating at the top of the tank?
- 4 How to prevent my betta fish from such issues?
- 5 Conclusion:
What makes betta fish float at the top of the tank?
There can be numerous reasons behind your betta fish floating at the top of the tank, of which the most common reasons are poor water conditions and parameters and lack of oxygen in the water.
Issues like ammonia spikes, oxygen deficiency, and inadequate water temperature make your betta fish float at the surface.
Bettas are hardy fish, but when kept in inadequate housing conditions, which will make them suffer from various issues, and they will show such behavior.
An overcrowded tank can also make your betta fish float at the surface.
We always think that bettas come from a small shallow place in the wild and will thrive in a small bowl or a vase, but this is not the truth.
Bettas are active swimmers and require ample space to swim and live comfortably.
However, there are some factors in which your betta fish will float at the surface, and it is completely normal.
Let us discuss when it is normal for a betta fish to float at the surface.
Is it normal for a betta fish to float at the top of the tank?
Betta fish floating at the tank’s surface is not normal as it indicates that something is going wrong.
However, it is normal if these are the reasons behind your betta fish floating at the top of the tank:
- Your betta fish is hungry and want more food.
- Your betta fish stays at the top for a minimum time.
Bettas are voracious eaters and will act hungry all the time. So your betta fish may float at the surface because they require more food.
If your betta tank is super clean and has adequate and stable water parameters, food can be the reason behind its floating at the surface.
How to fix this?
To fix such issues, consider feeding your betta fish with 2-3 pellets twice a day.
Feeding more than this quantity will result in you overfeeding your fish, which can make them suffer from issues like bloating, constipation, and swim bladder disorder.
Also read: How Often To Feed Betta Fish?
Staying for a minimal time
If your betta fish is coming to the surface for a minimal time, say for seconds, it is completely normal.
Bettas have a labyrinth organ that allows them to breathe oxygen directly from the air.
So, betta fish will often come to the surface to breathe sometimes.
Seven reasons your betta fish floating at the top of the tank?
These are the seven reasons behind your betta fish floating at the surface:
- The water conditions of your betta fish tank are poor.
- Your betta fish is suffering from ammonia poisoning.
- Your betta fish tank has a low oxygen level.
- Your betta fish tank is overcrowded.
- Your betta fish is suffering from a swimbladder disorder.
- The water temperature of your betta fish tank is inadequate and unstable.
- Your betta fish is suffering from an illness.
Poor water conditions
A betta tank with poor water conditions can make them float at the surface.
Bettas are very sensitive when it comes to water conditions.
Inadequate living conditions will stress them out, and they will become prone to numerous issues like fin rot.
Inadequate water conditions come with the risk of oxygen depletion and ammonia poisoning, making your betta fish come to the surface to breathe oxygen from the air.
Usually, ammonia spikes in a newly setup tank, but it can also occur in a well-established tank when the water conditions are poor.
Ammonia poisoning causes skin burns to your betta fish and affects their gills, making it harder for them to breathe.
Betta fish with affected gills will come to the surface to breathe oxygen from the air.
Low oxygen level
Low oxygen levels can be the primary reason for your betta fish floating at the top of the surface.
When there is a lack of oxygen in the water, your betta fish will come to the surface to breathe oxygen from the air.
Betta fish have a labyrinth organ that allows them to breathe oxygen from the air.
Usually, poor water conditions, overcrowded tanks, lack of plants in the tank, and failure of the filtration system cause oxygen depletion in the tank.
An overcrowded tank comes with many issues, like oxygen depletion, poor water conditions, and ammonia spikes.
Also, in an overcrowded tank, your betta fish cannot live and swim comfortably.
Bettas are middle and top swimmers, and when the middle level of the tank is overcrowded with fish, your betta will swim at the top most of the time.
Fishes have swimbladder, which helps them maintain buoyancy in the water.
When their swimbladder gets affected, it becomes harder for them to maintain balance in the water.
You will find your betta fish floating at the top of the tank or sinking at the bottom of the tank in case of a swimbladder disorder.
Overfeeding, inadequate water temperature and bacterial and parasitic infections are the causes of swimbladder disorder in fish.
Inadequate and unstable water temperature
Inadequate and unstable water temperatures can also make your betta fish stay at the top of the tank.
Inadequate and unstable water temperature causes stress to your betta fish, and they show such swimming behavior.
Also, when we add a heater to our betta fish tank, the water is warmer at the surface than at the bottom, so your betta fish will prefer to be at the surface most of the time.
Also read: 15 Reasons Why Betta Fish Sit At The Bottom Of The Tank?
Bettas are very sensitive fish when it comes to water conditions and parameters.
A slight change in their adequate living conditions can make them suffer from stress, and they will become prone to various diseases and parasites.
Betta fish suffering from an illness will become weak and lethargic.
They will not prefer moving much and will remain at the top of the tank or at the bottom of the tank.
Also read: Why Is My Betta Fish Not Active?
How to prevent my betta fish from such issues?
To prevent your betta fish from such issues, ensure all these things:
- Provide your betta fish with adequate and stable water temperature.
- Provide your betta fish with good water conditions.
- Avoid overcrowding your betta fish tank.
- Keep your betta fish tank well-oxygenated.
Adequate and stable water temperature
As discussed above, betta fish are very sensitive when it comes to water temperature.
Betta fish are tropical freshwater fish and require warm water to thrive.
Keep your betta fish tank water temperature between 78-82 °F.
Add a heater to your betta fish tank to ensure stable water temperature.
We recommend using the Fluval M200 Submersible heater for your tank.
Also read: What Is The Good Water Temperature For Betta Fish?
Good water conditions
Providing your betta fish with good water conditions will help prevent them from such issues.
Perform a weekly water change of at least 50% to keep the water clean.
Make sure to treat the water using a water conditioner to dechlorinate it.
We recommend using the API water conditioner to treat the water, as it will help you eliminate chlorine, chloramine, ammonia, nitrite, and heavy metals from the water.
Add a filter to your betta fish tank with biofilter media to protect the water from harmful toxins like ammonia and nitrite.
Consider using a Fluval high-performance aquarium filter for your tank, as it will ensure that your water is clean and protected from harmful toxins like ammonia and nitrite.
Keep a regular check on ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, and make sure to maintain ammonia and nitrite at 0 ppm, and nitrate should be below 20 ppm.
We recommend using the API freshwater master test kit to check your fish tank’s ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH level, as it shows an accurate result.
- Contains one (1) API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT 800-Test Freshwater Aquarium Water Master Test Kit, including 7 bottles of testing solutions, 1 color card and 4 glass tubes with cap
- Designed for use in freshwater aquariums only
- Use for weekly monitoring and when water or fish problems app
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To prevent your betta fish tank from getting overcrowded, follow the one-inch on-gallon rule.
The one-inch one-gallon rule means one inch of fish per gallon of water.
Usually, you should keep only one betta fish per 5-gallon tank.
Also read: How Many Betta Fish In 5-Gallon Tank?
Ensure enough oxygen
Lack of oxygen in the water is the primary cause of betta fish being at the top of the tank.
Add plenty of live aquatic plants and an air pump to ensure enough oxygen in your betta fish tank water.
These are some of the best plants you can consider adding to your betta fish tank:
- Java moss
- Water sprite
- Java fern
- Betta bulb
- Sword plant
Poor water conditions, overcrowding, inadequate water temperature, and low oxygen level are the common cause behind betta fish floating at the top of the water.
If your betta fish stays at the top because they want more food, then it is completely normal, as they are voracious eaters and need food every time.
Also, it is normal if they come to the surface for a minimal time as betta fish have a labyrinth organ that allows them to gasp oxygen from the air.
Ensure good water conditions, adequate and stable water temperature, and enough oxygen, and avoid overcrowding to prevent your betta fish from such issues.
Reference: NCBI, ResearchGate, Wikipedia