Can Betta Fish Have Seizures: Top 4 Causes Of Sudden Attacks

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Last Updated: July 13, 2022 by Flora Gibbins

Did you know that, like humans, fish can have seizures too! 

Intriguing right? 

Fish can experience an episode due to ailments or involuntary reactions to water changes. Therefore, it is important to know most, if not all, illnesses your pet is susceptible to.

So, can betta fish have seizures? Yes. Seizures can be so fatal among the Siamese fighting fish that even the healthier ones might fail to recuperate after the experience. 

Anyway, take a breather since most of the causes are within your control. Let’s dig in on this!

Can Betta Fish Have Epilepsy?

Betta fish can be epileptic. They may experience an epileptic episode when they detect rapid temperature changes in the tank, infections, excessive light of bass frequencies, chemical imbalance, and loud noise. Fishes react differently to exposure to these elements. What may be fatal to some may still be irritable but tolerable to others. 

Like humans, fish also suffer from stress, heart attacks, and stroke. Some bettas are more likely to experience epileptic episodes due to their genetic makeup.

The severity of seizures is determined more by the level of exposure to environmental factors than individual tolerance. Monitoring your water parameters can go a long way in keeping them safe from seizures and minimizing stress levels.

What Are the Signs of Seizures in Betta Fish?

1. Twitching


Twitching among the fishes may be a sign of aggression, but this should take just a few seconds. Otherwise, when the movements are violent and last over a minute, that could be an epileptic episode.

2. Shortness of Breath

Shortness of Breath

In this case, the fish will move closer to the surface, open their gills wider, and try to inhale more oxygen. However, it may also signify reduced oxygen levels in the tank and not necessarily a seizure.

3. Poor Feeding

Poor Feeding

Consider it a red flag when your betta fish show zero or very little interest in food alongside excessive or erratic swimming. 

What Are the Causes of Seizures in Betta Fish?

Although some bettas can be genetically predisposed to epilepsy, the major triggers are always environmental causes, like ammonia poisoning. 

For the most part, the main causative agents are always environmental changes or infections.

1. Infection 


Betta fish can suffer from viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. Seizures can present as a symptom of the same. Like other animals, betta fish are prone to septicity when injured and have an exposed wound.

In case you have more than one betta fish in a tank, isolate the infected one from the rest to reduce the spread of bacterial infections. Administer natural or mild antibacterial medication in the quarantine tank for the safest recovery.

Artificial medications like Oxytetracycline or tetracycline are alternatives, although potent doses may cause more harm and high-stress levels for the betta fish. 

Other infections, like fungal toxicities, are all addressed differently- and it’s okay if you don’t know how to go about it. This is where your vet comes in. Over time, you will be well accustomed to different occurrences and deal with them better.

2. Temperature Shock

Temperature Shock

Change is highly expected when transferring betta fish from one tank to a new one. Among the alterations is a difference in water temperature. If the shift to the new parameters is too sudden, the fish may suffer from physical stress.

Remember, these are tropical fish, so the water in the tank should always range from 75-80 Fahrenheit. Measure the temperature with a thermometer to ensure the water is conducive for them. A rapid change over short moments, like a few minutes, is enough to cause seizures.

Wrong water temperatures can impact your betta even in the long term. Water too cold lowers the immune system, which is fatal. On the other hand, too hot causes temperature shock and speeds up aging.

You need to install a reliable power source for the fish tank. A rapid water temperature change resulting from a power outage is too costly when fish keeping.

3. Excessively Bright Light

 Excessively Bright Light

When setting up your aquarium, settle for light that has fish-friendly frequencies. Consider using dim lights or ones with adjustable brightness. Blue, green, and red are less intense colored lights, thus suitable for fish.

You can place items in the aquarium, like smooth rocks, toys, and live plants, to help the fish avoid bright light pouring in through the glass.

Consider an aquarium with low light penetration glass to further prevent betta fish seizures.

Please turn off the lights when transitioning the betta fish from one tank to another. It will help them feel safe and adapt to the new environment faster. It’s safe to maintain little or no light for some hours until they are well-settled in, to cushion them from the stress associated with the movement. 

It would be best to place your tank away from windows and other areas in the room with bright light exposure. Flashes of light from a camera or lightning strikes can be as nerve-wracking as steady light and cause betta fish seizures.

4. Irritating Sounds

Irritating Noise
Irritating Noise
Do Not Tap On Glass
Do Not Tap On Glass

Betta fish use the lateral line as their nervous system. It helps maintain balance in the water, perceived temperature, pressure, and other water parameters. Why is this important, you ask?

“Do not tap the glass” is a phrase not strange in fish tanks for obvious reasons. 

The tapping irritates the fish and may lead to stress or betta fish seizures. The vibrations from tapping attack the anatomical lateral line, making it unbearable for the fish.

Much like other elements, sound behaves differently in water. External vibrations move much more rapidly and violently in water than in the air and can cause an internal injury to your pet. 

Don’t dismiss sounds just because they’re trivial to your ears because they may be highly disconcerting to the fishes.

You can protect your vibrant, bubbly friend by placing them away from sound outlets and even further away from children’s tapping fingers.

How Can Seizures in Fish Be Prevented or Cured?

Ensure your fish tank has the best water quality because environmental factors are the major seizure causes. Poor water quality can also lead to infections and plaguing diseases. You can start treating your fish right with regular tank maintenance, frequent cleaning, and regularly changing the aquarium filter.

Place the tank away from triggers like loud noises and excessive light. Also, ensure your betta fish safety by removing sharp and pointed items from the tank to minimize injuries and reduce infections. Quarantine the infected fish in separate tanks to further curb the spread of diseases.

If managing the episodes will require consistent administration of treatment doses, you need to work hand-in-hand with an aquatic veterinarian. 

Why Does My Fish Look like He’s Having a Seizure?

That’s because he may be. This article expounds that fish having seizures is quite prevalent when exposed to various causative elements.

On the other hand, the fish may just be projecting aggression, defending, or marking their territories. Remember, betta fish are also called the Siamese fighting fish because they fight to claim and command their spaces. It’s natural for them to project violent behavior when clustered together. One fish is enough if you have a small tank, like a 5-gallon one.

Be observant enough to spot any peculiar changes in the demeanor of your bubbly companions. Sudden changes are unique tellers of the wellness of the fish.

Fun Fact: Would a seizure cause any aquatic fish to jump out of the tank? Find out by reading this article — Betta Fish Jumping: 4 Reasons Why Your Pet Is Hyperactive.

Watch This!

NOTE: Fish is not a Betta Fish but the symptoms are similar.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can fish have seizures?

Yes, fish can have seizures, which are pretty similar to episodes in humans. Factors like bright flashing light prove that human and fish seizures can be photogenic. Fish attacks damage their nervous system, which basically means death.

When fish experience seizures, they lose control over their muscles and nerves, resulting in uncontrollable movements. They appear to have shortness of breath, among other symptoms, as explained earlier. Diarrhea can also be a sign of seizure. 

Can betta fish have epilepsy?

Yes, they can. However, baby betta fish are not as susceptible to epilepsy, thanks to the advancement in eugenics.


Now that we know the signs of seizures in betta fish, my clarion call is that you stay alert. You can prevent your fish’s suffering from seizures or other afflictions by simply being keen on what goes on in their tank. 

Clean the tank as frequently as twice a week, use aquarium filters, and maintain favorable water conditions free of potent chemicals and substances like ammonia to secure the health of your bettas. They are, after all, your companions in this fish-rearing journey.

Conceivably, now that you know what to look out for, you should be able to take the necessary steps to ensure the wellness of your fish. 

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