Why Is My Betta Fish Not Moving? Know The 8 Top Reasons Why!

Why Is My Betta Fish Not Moving
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Last Updated: July 13, 2022 by Flora Gibbins

Your Betta fish is probably no longer moving, can’t feed properly, or appears sick. 


It isn’t for you to conclude that something terrible has happened to your fish because there are several reasons for the question, “Why is my Betta fish not moving?”

Of course, there may be visible signs, but sometimes, the condition’s causes may not be something to worry much about. In this article, we’ll see several reasons for your Betta not moving.

Reasons Your Betta Fish Isn’t Moving

Here are the most common reasons for the inactivity of your Betta.

1. Unfavorable Temperatures

Unfavorable Temperatures

Bettas are tropical fish, and water is essential for their survival. This is why you should consider the water parameters. Poor water conditions like unfavorable temperatures do more harm and impede the regular activities of your fish, such as movement and feeding. 

The optimum aquarium water temperature for the survival and thriving of your fish is roughly 78 degrees Fahrenheit, which is warm water.

Hot water and cold water can negatively affect Bettas. Hot temperature shock is dangerous for Bettas, and in cold water, Bettas stop swimming.

Once the aquarium water temperature is frigid, precisely below the 75 degrees Fahrenheit mark, there will be an abrupt shutdown of the metabolic system of the Betta fish. The temperature will halt the normal body functions; the Betta will automatically lose appetite for food and won’t be able to move.

So, if you observe that your Betta isn’t moving, ensure that the temperature of the water and your heater are in order.

2. Extreme pH Levels

Extreme pH Levels

This aspect is also crucial for the survival of Betta fish. The optimum pH required by Betta fish is 7.0, which is the neutral pH. Any wrong pH value other than the optimum neutral pH will negatively impact the health and activity of the Betta fish, resulting in illnesses and possibly death. 

An important factor that can affect the water pH is dissolved substances such as nitrate and nitrite.

When these substances are in high concentration, they can result in various diseases or poison your Betta. So, it’s important to monitor the tank’s pH levels to make sure it’s not the reason your Betta isn’t moving.

3. Ammonia, Nitrate, or Nitrite Poisoning

Ammonia Poisoning

If you check and see that your tank water pH and temperature are at optimum levels and your Bettas aren’t moving, high nitrate, nitrite, or ammonia levels could be the cause; your fish might be poisoned.

It’s pretty easy to check if your fish is poisoned. What you do first is to check if the fish is having difficulty breathing or breathing heavily. You may also observe that the Betta isn’t feeding correctly and lying at the bottom of the tank. If you see these symptoms, it’s crucial to use an aquarium test kit to inspect the ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels in the water.

The average ammonia level in the water should be below 0.25 ppm; else, your Betta could be in danger. Additionally, make sure that the nitrite levels in the water are less than 0.5 ppm, while nitrate levels should be lower than 20 ppm. Make sure that you have an adequate biological filtration system in the breeding Betta tank or aquarium.

Filters help regulate the levels of these compounds in the tank water.

4. Poor Lighting

Poor Lighting

Poor lighting can also cause reduced movement of your fish. If the Betta’s tank is poorly lighted most times, then your fish may be asleep or inactive at the bottom of the tank or aquarium because it assumes it’s no longer daytime. So, it’s important to adjust the tank’s lighting.

5. Your Fish May Be Asleep

Your Fish May Be Asleep_1

All living things need rest, and Betta fish are no different. When Betta fish sleep, they may shut their eyes at times and at other times may not. Also, Bettas like to lie on their sides when asleep; they usually lie on some aquatic plants’ leaves.

If your fish is inactive, then it may just be taking a nap. If you stir the water, switch on the lights, or flick the tank, and the sleeping Betta fish suddenly jumps, then there’s a big chance that your fish was having some rest.

6. Your Betta Fish May Be Dead

Your Betta Fish May Be Dead

If your fish has lived longer than three years and has stopped moving, particularly if it’s floating around or just lying on any of its sides, then it can be very much lifeless.

Though it’s sad, let’s face reality; all living things will eventually die. So, always inspect the tank to see any dying fish by swirling around the water, observing them closely to know whether the Betta’s gills are still moving.

You can invoke a response from even a sick Betta by tapping the tank or swirling around the water. But if your Betta is old enough and its gills aren’t moving anymore, your tank buddy has probably passed away.

Although it’s possible to revive dying Betta fish, the likelihood of any efforts to revive them working is very slim.

7. Swim Bladder Disease

Swim Bladder Disease

Occasionally, Bettas do suffer from declined functionality of their swim bladder. This bladder is a pouch-like organ that accumulates gas or disposes of it, depending on the activity of the fish. It’s like a tool that maintains the buoyancy of the Betta fish and natural movements.

If you observe that your Betta fish isn’t moving but has signs of life and is tilted to its side, then there may be swim bladder problems.

A common cause of swim bladder issues with Bettas is constipation and overfeeding. If a bladder disease is an issue, you may notice an outward bulge or swelling on the abdomen of your fish, or your fish will swim sideways.

For this issue to be addressed, avoid feeding the fish for three days; afterward, start feeding it with some pea, which helps relieve Bettas of any abdominal blockage.

Several other diseases, such as velvet, popeye, ich, fungal infections, dropsy, worms, and parasitic infections, may cause the inactivity of your Betta.

As many aquarists do, you can perform a water change and keep the tank clean to get rid of parasites. Make sure to treat your pet fish for any underlying infection that might be the reason for its inactivity.

8. Inappropriate Feeding and Poor Quality Food

Inappropriate Feeding and Poor Quality Food

Let’s talk about how you feed your Betta. If your fish isn’t getting a proper diet, then it could be why it suddenly became slow and sickly. This is because a good amount of quality protein is required in the diet of Betta fish, and Bettas are entirely carnivorous.

Therefore, you need to supply them with quality foods such as Betta fish pellets and flakes bought at a local pet store. Other good sources of Betta fish foods are worms, insect larvae, brine shrimp, & Daphnia.

To sum up, lack of protein or generally enough food could result in sick fish. On the other hand, Bettas will be more active and less prone to illnesses with proper feeding.

Fun Fact: Did you observe lately that your pet betta is moving funny? Know the reasons behind this behavior by reading our post — Can Betta Fish Have Seizures: Top 4 Causes Of Sudden Attacks.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my Betta is dying?

Your fish might be on the verge of death if it has visible discoloration on its body, such as brown or white spots. Other signs like abnormal swimming movements or shortening or Betta fin rot can also indicate serious illnesses.

Why is my Betta fish lying at the bottom of the tank?

Your fish may lie still at the bottom of the tank or aquarium to save energy if the water temperature in your tank drops very low.

Alternately, if the water temperature spikes up to the high side, your Betta will remain at the bottom of the tank because of the increased oxygen levels there.

Why is my Betta fish lying on its side?

Your Betta may be lying on its side because of swim bladder issues. These problems arise when the swim bladder becomes poorly functional due to various factors.

This internal organ contains gas that helps the fish maintain buoyancy in water. These disorders are usually a collection of issues affecting the organ and not necessarily a single illness alone.


Inasmuch as having a Betta fish is fascinating, be it a female or male Betta fish, in reality, it’s pretty sad they would die eventually. But, if your fish isn’t moving, the reasons vary. For example, poor quality foods, unfavorable temperatures, extreme pH levels, and poor water quality are some of the reasons.

Most times, the solutions needed to address the issues your Betta is experiencing are easy to come by. You don’t have to worry so much or beat yourself up if any of your fish develop any issues because there’s always an opportunity of resurrecting your fish and make it healthy again.