Betta fish are some of the most beloved and common fish that people take care of in home aquariums. You might have purchased some of these fish recently because of how pretty they look.
Male betta fish are particularly visually stunning. They have colorful fins that will stand out and flow with the water as they swim around.
Another reason why betta fish are so ubiquitous is the fact that they’re easy to care for. These fish are fairly hardy, and that makes them good choices for those who are new to keeping aquariums.
This is why it’s very worrisome when your betta fish don’t appear to be doing well. You heard that caring for this fish was supposed to be easy, but still, your betta fish don’t seem to be moving.
What are the reasons why betta fish will stop moving? Is there something that you can do to try to turn things around?
Keep reading to get more information about things that can cause betta fish to stop moving. This should help you to fix many problems, and it might help you to save the fish if you’re lucky.
1 – The Fish Could Be Resting or Sleeping
Perhaps there isn’t anything to worry about at all. You could have just observed the fish when it wasn’t in an active state.
Sometimes fish are going to rest and they won’t move around when they’re doing so. The fish could also be straight-up sleeping.
Your fish is going to need to get rest from time to time. Freshwater fish such as bettas will generally go to sleep when it’s dark.
If it’s dark in your home right now, then the betta might very well be sleeping. You should try to learn to recognize what these fish look like when they’re sleeping.
The way that fish sleep will vary somewhat. Some betta fish will lay down on their sides, but others might not do that.
To test if the fish is sleeping, you can turn the lights on quickly. Observe the fish while you’re doing so and see if it starts scurrying once the lights come on.
2 – The Betta Fish Could Have Swim Bladder Issues
One thing that should be considered is whether or not the fish has swim bladder issues. The swim bladder is a flexible organ that controls buoyancy for the fish.
It does this by filling up with gas, but sometimes the organ has issues that will prevent it from functioning properly. If a betta fish becomes constipated, then you might notice it floating near the bottom of your aquarium.
This means that it’s possible that a betta that doesn’t seem to be moving could be experiencing swim bladder issues. Fish that have this problem won’t be able to swim normally, and they’ll have to exert a lot of effort trying to reach the surface.
Constipation is something that can go away after a few days, though. That means that you might not have to do anything at all because the problem could solve itself.
Sometimes it can be helpful to feed a constipated betta fish one shelled pea. It’s been said that it helps the fish to get back to normal faster.
3 – Water Quality Issues
Water quality issues can also be problematic as a new fish owner. It’s possible that you might have made a mistake of some sort that caused the water to become less than ideal for the fish in the tank.
Betta fish are hardy, but they can be quite sensitive to certain things. For example, you need to keep the temperature of the water within a certain range for them to thrive.
These fish want the water to be between 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. If the water is hotter or colder than this, then you might notice that the fish won’t be very active.
Cold water is very dangerous for fish because it can cause them to have issues with their immune systems. A betta fish that is forced to live in water that is too cold might wind up having issues with many illnesses.
Check the temperature of the water to see if it’s in the right range. If it’s not, then you might want to make some adjustments as soon as possible.
See if the fish start acting more normal again after several days have passed. If the betta fish start swimming around again, then you should have solved the problem.
It’s just going to be necessary to pay more attention to the temperature of the water in the tank moving forward. Try not to let temperature fluctuations happen again so that your fish will be able to remain healthy.
4 – The pH Balance of the Water
It’s also imperative to keep an eye on the pH balance of the water. As important as the water temperature is, you’re going to need to pay just as much attention to the pH balance.
Betta fish need the pH balance of the aquarium water to be at 7.0. You want to do your best to keep it right at 7.0 for the sake of the fish.
If the balance winds up going higher or lower than this, it can cause betta fish to have issues. In fact, many betta fish become ill when they’re kept in water with an improper pH balance.
Check the pH balance of your tank if you notice that your fish are sluggish. It’s possible that something could have gone wrong that threw the balance off.
You can turn things around by using different pH treatments on the water. What you’ll need will depend on whether the balance is lower or higher than it needs to be.
If you’re struggling with any of this, then you can always ask for advice at the local aquarium store that you go to. There should be experts there that can talk to you about what you need for your tank to get things fixed up.
Hopefully, this will be enough to solve your problems. Remember that it’s possible that the fish could be ill due to being in the water with the wrong pH balance for too long, though.
5 – Illness
Illness can cause fish to act very sluggishly overall. When a betta fish gets sick, you’re going to notice that it won’t swim around as much as it usually does.
Sometimes the fish will still be semi-active when it’s ill, but it might stop swimming altogether. It really depends on how severe the illness is as well as other factors.
There are a number of different illnesses that can impact these fish. Determining what exactly is wrong with the fish might not be easy.
Betta fish can get fungal diseases, bacterial diseases, and even parasitic diseases. Fungal diseases usually occur as a result of a fish already being sick.
Parasitic diseases are different because they’re often introduced to the tank by other fish. If you added some new fish to the tank recently, then it’s possible that one of them was carrying a parasite that negatively impacted your betta fish.
There are all sorts of things that can cause fish to get sick. It could be something that you’re doing that made the fish sick, but you’ll want to try to determine what went wrong either way.
It was already mentioned earlier that water temperature issues can cause fish to suffer immune system failure. This makes betta fish more susceptible to getting sick, and it’s certainly something that you want to avoid.
Handling the fish improperly could easily cause it to get sick, too. You could have exposed the fish to bacteria that made it sick.
You’ll want to be careful to keep the aquarium environment just right so that the fish can thrive. Don’t handle the fish more than necessary and always use a proper aquarium net tool when you need to transfer fish to a temporary fish tank.
6 – Improper Feeding
Have you done your best to feed your betta fish recommended foods? Sometimes new fish owners will make mistakes that will cause them to harm their fish.
Of course, not feeding the fish often enough could kill it or cause it to become sluggish. It can also be bad to feed the fish too much or to feed them the wrong food.
Betta fish need to get the proper nutrients so that they will have the energy to move around. If they aren’t getting what they need, then you might not get the best results.
You’ll find that betta fish require a diet that is high in protein. It’s best to seek out food that is made to give betta fish the nutrients that they need to thrive.
Generally, betta fish food is going to contain everything that they need and you won’t need to give them any other food. This makes things rather easy, but there are other food options that are fine to feed betta fish.
You could feed betta fish foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, insect larvae, and various types of worms. It isn’t necessary to do this, though, and you’ll probably get better results if you buy betta fish food from the pet store.
It’s less risky and you won’t have to worry about whether the food is safe to give to the fish or not. There really isn’t a good reason to make things harder for yourself.
Try your best not to give the betta more than it can eat, too. You should give a betta only as much food as it can eat in approximately two minutes.
7 – The Fish Could Be Dead
Sadly, it’s very possible that a betta fish could be dead when it isn’t moving. Sometimes it’s just time for a fish to expire, and there might not be anything that you could have done to save the fish.
Betta fish will live between three and five years on average, but there are some fish that have lived a few years longer. You might wind up getting some fish that will die slightly faster, too.
When a betta fish dies, it’s likely going to be in one of two positions. It’ll either be floating on the surface of the water or it’ll be lying at the bottom of the aquarium.
Don’t jump to conclusions before checking the fish, though. You might remember from earlier that betta fish will sometimes sleep at the bottom of the tank.
Take a look at the fish and see if its gills are moving. If the gills are moving, then it should still be alive.
You can attempt to move the water around a bit to see if the fish moves at all in response. If it doesn’t move even a little, then that’s a sign that the fish is dead.
Don’t be too sad about the fish dying if it simply reached the end of its life. This is going to happen and you will lose fish fairly regularly when you’re keeping them in an aquarium.
There could be things that you’ve done that will cause a fish to die. For example, you might not have fed the fish, and it could have starved to death.
Also, there could be issues with the temperature of the water that caused the fish to become ill. If you’ve been doing everything right, then it was likely just time for the fish to die.
Try to catch yourself if you are making mistakes. This will allow you to learn from your mistakes so that you can do a better job of caring for the fish in the future.
Can You Tell If a Betta Fish Is Dying?
Now that you know that the betta fish could be dead if it’s not moving, you might be wondering if you missed some signs. Is there a way to tell if a betta fish is dying?
There are certainly signs that you can look out for that will tell you that the betta fish in question might not be around much longer in this world. You might not be able to do anything to keep the betta fish alive if it’s simply getting ready to die of old age either.
Betta fish that are getting close to dying will be quite lethargic. If your betta fish used to be very energetic in the past, then general lethargy could be a telltale sign that the fish is going to die soon.
You might also notice that the fish will look a bit different than it usually does. Betta fish are normally quite vibrant, but a fish that is dying might have a faded color.
The way that the fish moves will sometimes change when it’s on death’s door as well. If you notice the fish making twitching motions or darting in odd ways, then it could be close to death.
Sometimes betta fish that are about to die will start hiding as well. They could be hiding from other fish because they don’t want to be eaten.
It’s also likely that a dying fish won’t have much of an appetite. You might notice that the fish will either stop eating entirely or it won’t eat much at all compared to what it used to.
If you’re able to notice signs like this, then you’ll be able to mentally prepare yourself for the death of the fish. Some people do get a bit attached to their fish, and it’s normal to feel a little sad when it dies.
Taking care of betta fish has the potential to be a lot of fun. You can have a very good experience keeping an aquarium in your home.
It’s just worrisome when you notice that your betta fish isn’t moving at all. You might be concerned that the fish has died or that something else is wrong.
There is a possibility that your fish has passed away if it isn’t moving, but it could also be perfectly fine. You’ll just have to check on it to see what’s up.
Betta fish will stop moving when they’re resting or sleeping. These fish need to sleep just like other fish do, and sometimes they sleep at the bottom of the aquarium.
You can check to see if the fish is just sleeping by turning on the lights. These fish sleep when it’s dark, and this means that turning the lights on should startle it and make it start moving.
Fish can also become lethargic when they’re in water that is too hot or too cold. You want to do your best to keep the water at the right temperature so that your fish can thrive.
The pH balance of the water needs to be kept at 7.0, too. If you don’t monitor the pH balance of your fish tank, then you’re going to run the risk of making your fish ill.
Illnesses can certainly cause fish to stop moving for long periods of time. Sometimes fish will get illnesses due to being exposed to bacteria or parasites.
Even not feeding a fish right will cause it to have problems. You want to feed your fish food that is specifically meant for betta fish.
This ensures that it will get enough protein to be able to have the energy to move around. You can easily get what you need from a pet store that sells fish.
If you suspect that your fish is dead, then you’ll want to check to see if its gills are moving. If they aren’t, then the fish might have simply passed away.
These fish live for three to five years. Sometimes it’s just time for the fish to pass away naturally.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. I have a wife and two children and love taking them to the zoo to see all the animals. I grew up with dogs and fish and now have two dogs and two cats. I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.