How To Know If Your Betta Fish Is Stressed? (Causes+Treatment+Prevention)

Fishes can also get stressed like us and can suffer from issues because of that. Therefore, it is necessary to know what causes stress to our bettas and how we can identify that our betta fish is under stress and calm them. So, How to know if your betta fish is stressed? Let us find out.

Loss of appetite, strange swimming patterns, and hiding are the signs of stress in bettas. Poor water conditions, irregular feeding, and inadequate water parameters cause stress in bettas. Ensure stable water temperature and good water conditions, and avoid aggressive mates to prevent such issues.

This article will also discuss how to prevent and calm our betta stress. So, let us get into it.

Is my betta fish stressed?

There are signs that your betta fish will show when they are under stress.

All these are the signs that your betta fish will show when under stress:

  1. Your betta will become lethargic.
  2. Your betta fish will lose its appetite.
  3. You will see your betta fish hiding most of the time.
  4. Your betta fish will show a strange swimming pattern.
  5. Your betta appearance will change as it will start looking pale.
  6. Your betta will suffer from illness.

Betta will become lethargic.

Your betta fish will not be much interested in moving much when they are under stress.

You will see your betta fish staying in one spot (at the bottom of the tank) most of the time when they are under stress and suffering from issues.

Also read: Why Is My Betta Fish Not Active?

Lose its appetite

When your betta is under stress, it will lose its appetite or eat much less food than normal.

Whenever your betta avoids food, it means there is something wrong, and the root cause behind not eating is either stress or illness.

Also read: Why Is My Betta Fish Not Eating?

Hiding most of the time

You will notice your betta fish hiding most of the time under stress.

Betta prefers to hide when stressed to avoid being seen by vulnerable predators that can harm them.

It is not necessary that your betta will show such behavior only when there are other tankmates present in the tank because it is their natural behavior.

Also read: Why Is My Fish Hiding?

Strange swimming pattern

Stressed betta will not show normal swimming behavior and will show strange swimming patterns.

You will notice your betta fish swimming strangely at the surface, rubbing against the surface, swimming against decors and rocks, and hitting the aquarium wall.

Also read: 15 Reasons Why Betta Fish Sit At The Bottom Of The Tank?

Change in physical appearance

Your betta’s physical appearance will change when it suffers from stress.

You will notice your betta fish looking pale and weak because of loss of appetite and high-level stress.

Illness

Illness is also a sign that your betta fish is under stress.

Stress makes your betta fish weak, and they get vulnerable to various diseases and parasites like ich, swim bladder disorder, etc.

What causes stress in betta fish?

All these are the causes of stress in your betta fish:

  1. Poor water conditions
  2. Inadequate and unstable water parameters.
  3. Inadequate and poor feeding
  4. Overcrowded tank
  5. Small-size tank
  6. Incompatible tankmates
  7. Illness
  8. Physical injury
  9. Lack of hiding spots

The water conditions of your betta fish tank are poor.

Keeping your betta fish in poor water conditions will cause stress.

Dirty water conditions result in an ammonia and nitrite spike, which your betta is very sensitive to, and can suffer from a critical condition.

There are many other issues that come with dirty water conditions, like lack of oxygen and inadequate pH levels. 

All these issues cause stress to your betta fish, and they become vulnerable to various diseases and parasites.

Also read: How Often To Change Betta Fish Water?

The water parameters of your betta tank are inadequate and unstable.

Bettas are very sensitive when it comes to water parameters.

Also, unstable water temperature is the root cause of stress in betta fish.

With unstable water temperature, inadequate pH and TDS levels also cause stress to your betta fish.

Also read: What Is A Good Water Temperature For Betta Fish?

You are not feeding your betta fish adequately.

Food plays an important role in keeping your betta fish healthy and ensuring their longer lifespan.

When you don’t feed your betta fish adequately with high-quality food, they become weak and come under stress.

An inadequate feeding schedule also causes stress to your betta.

Also read: How Often To Feed Betta Fish?

Your betta is living in an overcrowded tank.

Not only bettas but any other fish will also come under stress when kept in an overcrowded tank.

When you keep too many fish in your betta tank, your betta will not get enough space to live and swim comfortably, and they will come under stress.

It is necessary to provide our betta fish with ample space to live comfortably.

Your betta is living in a small-size tank.

Many betta owners make a mistake by thinking that betta fish don’t require big space to live as they live in a shallow and small place in their wild.

But in reality, betta fish require ample space to swim and live comfortably.

Also, the small-size tank holds less water, and it will be challenging to maintain the water chemistry in a small-size tank.

Also read: How Many Betta In A 5-Gallon Tank?

You are keeping your bettas with incompatible tank mates.

Bettas are known to be aggressive creatures and are not meant to be kept with bigger and more colorful fish than them.

Keeping your betta fish with aggressive and bigger tankmates will make them scared and put them under stress.

Also, bettas will not like to live with fish with more colorful and long fins. 

Your betta is suffering from illness.

Bettas will also come under stress when suffering from illness.

Illness weakens your betta fish as they start losing their appetite from illness.

Issues like ich, swimbladder disorder, and bloating are common in most fishes, including bettas.

And all these issues make your betta fish come under stress due to weakness and pain.

Your betta is suffering from physical injury.

Like illness, your betta fish can also come under stress due to physical injury.

It is possible that your betta fish can get injured by banging itself on decors or by fighting with the tankmates.

An injured betta will suffer from pain, which will put them under stress.

Your betta tank doesn’t have enough hiding places.

Lack of hiding spots can also cause stress to your betta fish.

Bettas need hiding spots to calm down and hide when they are stressed and feeling threatened.

Bettas also need hiding spots when they are weak and vulnerable.

If there are no hiding spots in their tank, they will not be able to calm themselves or relieve themselves from stress, and the stress will keep increasing.

How to calm my stressed betta fish?

To calm your betta fish, first, you have to find the reason behind your betta fish’s stress.

Some of the necessary things you should perform are:

  1. Perform a water change.
  2. Check for the ammonia and nitrite levels and ensure to maintain both at 0 ppm.
  3. Look for the water parameters.
  4. Ensure stable water temperature.

You can also use medication like aquarium salt and other stress-coat to calm your betta fish.

Now, let us discuss how we can prevent stress in betta fish. Also, all the prevention we will discuss is a treatment for distressing your betta fish, as ensuring all that will also help you calm your betta fish. 

How to prevent stress in betta fish?

Ensure all these things to prevent stress in your betta fish:

  1. Provide your betta fish with clean water conditions.
  2. Ensure adequate and stable water parameters of your betta tank.
  3. Avoid overcrowding your betta fish tank.
  4. Keep your betta fish tank well-oxygenated.
  5. Feed your betta fish adequately with high-quality nutritional food.
  6. Keep your betta fish in a large-size tank.
  7. Create enough hiding spots in your betta fish tank.
  8. Avoid adding incompatible tankmates to your betta tank.

Clean water conditions

Providing your betta fish with clean water conditions will keep them healthy and stress-free.

To ensure good water conditions, perform a weekly water change of at least 30-35%. 

While performing a water change, treat the fresh water with a water conditioner to dechlorinate it.

ParticularsBetta Requirement
Water conditionsClean water conditions
Ammonia0 ppm
Nitrite0 ppm
NitrateBelow 20 ppm
This table shows the water conditions needed by the betta fish to thrive.

We recommend using the API water conditioner to treat the tap water as it eliminates chlorine, chloramine, ammonia, nitrite, and heavy metals.

You can buy this product on amazon: API TAP WATER CONDITIONER.

Adding a good filtration system will help you keep the tank water clean and well-protected from harmful toxins like ammonia and nitrite.

You can consider using the HYGGER small aquarium bio sponge filter as it is best for the small-size tank and will keep your betta tank clean and protected.

You can buy this product at amazon: Hygger bio sponge filter.

Bettas are very sensitive to ammonia and nitrite and can suffer from life-threatening conditions if any of them increases a little bit. So, keep a regular check on ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate and maintain ammonia and nitrite at 0 ppm, whereas nitrate should be below 20 ppm.

We recommend using the API freshwater master kit to check your betta tank’s ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH level, as it shows the accurate result.

You can buy it from amazon:  API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT.

Performing a regular water change and adding a filter to your betta tank will keep the water clean and prevent ammonia and nitrite.

Adequate and stable water parameters

Ensuring adequate and stable water parameters will help prevent stress in your betta fish.

Provide your betta fish with a water temperature between 78-82 °F.

Unstable water temperature will cause stress to your betta fish, and they will become vulnerable to various diseases and parasites.

ParticularsBetta Requirement
Water temperatureBetween 78-82 °F
Water ph levelbetween 6.5 and 8
Water TDS levelBetween 200-400 ppm
This table shows the ideal water parameters requirement of a betta fish.

So, make sure to add a heater to your betta fish tank to ensure stable water temperature.

We recommend using the Fluval M200 Submersible heater for your tank.

You can buy this product at amazon: Fluval M200 Submersible Heater.

Maintain the pH level of your betta tank between 6.5 and 8.

Avoid overcrowding

An overcrowded tank will stress out your betta fish, and also it comes with all these issues:

  1. Your betta will not be able to swim and live comfortably.
  2. There will be an oxygen deficiency in an overcrowded tank.
  3. There will be a high risk of ammonia spike in your betta tank.
  4. The tank will get dirty faster than usual.

An overcrowded tank always looks attractive but comes with tons of issues.

To make sure you don’t overcrowd our betta tank, follow the one-inch one-gallon rule, which means one inch of fish per gallon of water.

However, you should provide at least 5-gallon space to one betta for their comfortable living.

And if you are keeping more fish in their tank, follow the rule to house the fish appropriately.

Keep tank well-oxygenated

Lack of oxygen can also be the reason behind stress in your betta fish.

Despite being a labyrinth fish, betta will require a well-oxygenated tank to thrive.

You can consider adding an air pump to your betta tank to ensure enough oxygen.

Also, adding plenty of live aquatic plants to your betta tank will keep the tank well-oxygenated.

Feed adequately with high-quality food

Feeding your betta fish regularly with good quality nutritional food will keep them healthy and prevent stress.

Bettas are carnivore creatures and require meat-based food in their regular diet.

Pellets should be the staple part of their diet. 

Some pellets are specially made for bettas, so you should consider feeding them.

You can consider feeding your betta fish with Tetra Betta Small Pellets as it is protein-rich food and high in quality.

You can buy this product at amazon: Tetra Betta Small Pellets.

You should also feed them live, frozen, and freeze-dried food like bloodworms, daphnia, brine shrimp, earthworms, tubifex worms, and mosquito larvae.

Live, freeze-dried, and frozen food should not be a staple part of your betta fish daily diet and should be fed as a treat once a week.

Also, make sure not to overfeed your betta fish as it can cause issues like constipation, swimbladder disorder, and bloating to your betta fish, and they will come under high-level stress.

Serving QuantityServing QuantityNo of Times
Betta Pellets2-3 pieces at a time2 times a day
Brine shrimp2-3 pieces at a time1-2 times a week
Mosquito larvae2-3 pieces at a time1-2 times a week
Bloodworms2-3 pieces at a time1-2 times a week
Daphnia2-3 pieces at a time1-2 times a week
Tubifex Worms2-3 pieces at a time1-2 times a week
This table shows the ideal dietary requirements of a betta fish.

Feed your betta fish two to three pellets twice a day to avoid overfeeding.

If you are feeding any other food, ensure to feed them two to three small pieces of the food to avoid overfeeding.

Provide large-size tank

As discussed above, betta fish require ample space to live and swim comfortably.

Keeping them in a small tank of 2-3 gallons will cause stress to them.

Consider at least a 5-gallon tank, a minimum size tank for one betta.

Bettas like to live in a tank with plenty of plants and hiding spots, and for that, you will require space. 

Create hiding spots

Creating plenty of hiding spots will help you prevent your betta fish from stress. 

Bettas require hiding spots to relax and feel safe. Therefore, whenever they feel threatened, they hide in hiding spots which helps them to feel safe.

You can choose multiple options when creating hiding spots for your betta fish.

You can add live aquatic plants, as it is the best hiding spots for your betta fish.

Other options include caves, terra cotta pots, sunken ships, and other decors.

You can buy rock caves at amazon: Stackable Aquarium Decoration Rock Caves.

Avoid adding incompatible tank mates.

Bettas are known to be aggressive creatures and cannot be kept with any fish.

Especially, make sure not to keep two male bettas together, as doing this will end up in both fighting until one goes down.

Also, fishes that are bigger, more aggressive, and more colorful than your betta fish should not be kept with your betta fish.

You should consider keeping small fish with calm temperaments with your betta fish.

All these are the best tankmates of a betta fish:

  1. Guppy
  2. Neon tetras
  3. Snails
  4. Shrimp
  5. Cory catfish
  6. Kuhli loach

Conclusion:

Bettas are hardy creatures but can come under stress when kept in inadequate living conditions.

Showing signs like loss of appetite, lethargy, and strange swimming pattern indicates stress in betta fish.

Inadequate water parameters, unstable water temperature, poor quality water, and irregular feeding can cause stress to your betta fish.

Providing your betta fish with good water conditions, adequate and stable water parameters, and a regular food supply, and keeping them with compatible tankmates will help you prevent and calm your betta stress.


Reference: Oxford Academic, Journal, ScienceDirect, Wikipedia

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