Why Betta Fish Float to the Top and on Their Side? Causes & Treatment

Betta fish are popular for pet owners due to their vibrant colors and low maintenance needs. But, it is not uncommon for betta fish to float to the top of their tank or rest on their side. This can be concerning for owners who are not sure what is causing this behavior.

Betta fish floating on its side or at the top of the tank is a sign of swim bladder disorder. Swim bladder disorder in betta fish is a common issue that many owners face. This disorder can lead to more severe health problems and even death if left untreated.

Therefore, it’s essential to identify and treat this issue as soon as possible. This article explains the reasons behind the swim bladder disorder and how to prevent and treat it to ensure the betta fish’s well-being.

Reasons Why You Betta Fish Float To The Top And On Their Side

Betta fish floating to the top and on their side is a common problem in fishkeeping. Understanding the reasons behind this behavior is essential for proper care and prevention. Here are some potential causes:

Swim Bladder Disorder

Feeding betta fish excessively can lead to swim bladder disorder. The swim bladder, responsible for buoyancy, can become compromised, causing the fish to float to the top or on their side. Constipation can also contribute to swim bladder issues, leading to abnormal floating behavior in betta fish.


Betta fish are sensitive creatures, and stressors such as poor water quality, sudden changes in temperature or lighting, or aggressive tankmates can cause them to float vertically. High-stress levels, often due to a lack of hiding spots, excessive noise, or frequent disturbances, can also manifest as floating behavior in betta fish.

Water Temperature

Elevated temperatures reduce the oxygen-carrying capacity of water, making it harder for betta fish to breathe. This can result in floating or struggling near the surface. Also, cold temperatures can slow down a betta fish’s metabolism, affecting its digestion and swimming ability, leading to floating or floating on its side.

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Can Flaring in Betta Fish Cause Them to Float to the Top and on Their Side?

Flaring in betta fish is a natural behavior that can occur due to various reasons and solutions for betta fish’s flaring. However, excessive flaring can lead to stress, and if the fish becomes stressed, it may float to the top or even on its side. It is essential to provide a calm environment to reduce stress and avoid excessive flaring.

How to Treat Swim Bladder Disease in Betta Fish?

Swim bladder disease is a common ailment that can affect betta fish, leading to buoyancy issues and difficulty in maintaining a normal swimming position. Treating swim bladder disease requires a combination of adjustments to the fish’s environment and careful management of their diet. Here are some steps to help treat swim bladder disease in betta fish:

Isolate the Affected Fish (If Necessary)

When you have multiple betta fish in a tank, consider isolating the affected fish in a separate quarantine tank. This allows you to closely monitor its condition and provide targeted treatment without affecting other tankmates.

Adjust the Water Level

Reduce the water level in the tank to make it easier for the betta fish to reach the surface for air. This can help alleviate the stress caused by swim bladder issues.

Maintain Water Quality

Regularly test and maintain optimal water parameters, including ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH levels. Proper water conditions are crucial for the overall health and recovery of the betta fish.

Adjust Feeding Habits

Feed the affected betta fish small, frequent meals instead of one large serving to prevent overeating and further strain on the swim bladder. Opt for high-quality betta-specific pellets that are easier to digest. Soaking the pellets briefly before feeding can make them softer and more manageable for fish with swim bladder issues.

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Consider incorporating fiber-rich foods, such as daphnia or brine shrimp, into the diet, as they can help regulate the betta fish’s digestive system.

Consider Fasting Periods

Introduce intermittent fasting periods to give the betta fish’s digestive system time to rest and recover. A fasting period of 24 to 48 hours once or twice a week can be beneficial. During fasting, ensure the betta fish is still in a clean and comfortable environment with access to clean water.

Maintain a Stress-Free Environment

Minimize any potential stressors in the tank, such as aggressive tankmates, excessive noise, or sudden changes in water temperature or lighting. Provide ample hiding spots and a comfortable environment to reduce stress levels and promote overall well-being.

Consult a Veterinarian (If Necessary)

If the swim bladder disease persists or worsens despite the above measures, consult a veterinarian specializing in fish health. A veterinarian can provide further guidance and prescribe appropriate medication, if needed, to help treat the underlying causes of the swim bladder disease.


After reading this article, it’s clear that betta fish floating to the top and on their side is abnormal behavior. identifying their symptoms’ root causes is necessary to provide appropriate care and treatment. Some possible reasons for this behavior include swim bladder disorders, poor water quality, and infections.

Consult with a veterinarian or fish expert to diagnose the issue and properly create an effective treatment plan. It’s also crucial to ensure betta fish are housed in a suitable environment with proper filtration, temperature, and nutrition.

As responsible pet owners, we must provide the best possible care for our betta fish and seek help when necessary. By paying attention to their behavior and addressing any health concerns early on, we can help our fish live healthy and happy lives.

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