March 24

Sarah Robertson

Complete Guide To Betta Glass Surfing

Bettas are beautiful long finned fish which are very popular in the pet trade. They are one of the most popular fish in the freshwater aquarium trade, second perhaps only to goldfish. The betta's popularity is not without merit; they typically have a good disposition and can be easily trained to do tricks.

A common occurrence among bettas is glass surfing, which is a fancy name for what they do while they're perched on the top of the water. This erratic behavior can be quite disturbing to a betta owner, but there are ways to avoid the problem.

What Is Betta Glass Surfing?

The term refers to when fish appear to be surfing along the aquarium glass sides or tank wall. Not just bettas, but most other fish do this too. However, bettas seem to do it a lot more frequently. This can sometimes be a cause of concern when an owner is worried that their fish will fall again. However, in most cases they do this out of boredom.

Why Do Bettas Surf on the Glass?

Glass surfing can be somewhat alarming for the owner, especially if they're accustomed to watching their betta floating at the top of the tank. This can happen due to a lot of reasons. They are


Fish are intelligent creatures and they want to play. Keeping your betta very occupied can help stop this behavior, whether you do so through frequent playtime, feeding him at least three times a day or providing them with plenty of things to look at.

If your habitat does not have much in the way of decorations it may be a good idea to add some more. You can also try hiding food in various places throughout the aquarium for your fish to seek out. There are also plenty of other toys you can try like the betta wiggle worm.

Tank Size

Bettas are naturally found in shallow waters where they hunt crustaceans and larvae from vegetation. In the wild, a betta's tank size is most likely not going to be much bigger than a small puddle. When you compare them to other fish species, they tend to have smaller tanks for their given sizes.

This may cause them to be easily stressed and surf the glass in an attempt to escape. Make sure you have a tank that is at least 5-gallon when keeping bettas. Though they're small fish, they still require plenty of room to turn around and move around.

A betta kept in a 1-gallon jar will not be happy and is more likely to be kept in a container like that because the owner didn't know any better. It is always best to put them in a larger tank. When you have a betta in a bowl, the water level should be twice as high as the height of his body when he is relaxed with his fins spread out.

Schooling betta Fish

Schooling Fish

Bettas are schooling fish. It is recommended to have at least five of the same bettas together in the same tank, though more if you can manage it. This is an adaptation of their natural habits and proves beneficial for them as they swim around the aquarium.

They'll be able to protect each other from predators and share food. It is a common misconception that bettas cannot tolerate other fish. They actually do quite well with community tank mates who are not fast swimming, big or aggressive.


If you move your betta to a new home or change anything about its living conditions it may cause stress and anxiety. It is always important to reduce the stress level for your fish. It's advisable to make these changes slowly and over time so as not to shock the fish and force him into glass surfing.

Keep your bettas water fresh and clean at all times, avoid using soap or any chemicals that would harm them when cleaning the tank. If you see your betta showing any sign of stress or anxiety, you should do your best to figure out the source.

Tank Temperature

Temperatures that are much too high can also be an instigator for this kind of behavior. Remember that bettas come from Southeast Asia and live in water around 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 26 Celsius, so it's possible that your house is too cold for him or that you have his water heater set too high. Keep the tank Aquarium away from windows and air vents.

Poor Water Conditions

Glass surfing may also be a symptom of poor water quality. Check your aquarium for signs of ammonia, nitrite and high nitrate levels and take steps to remedy the situation. You should also keep a close eye on your betta's appearance and behavior.

Lethargy, clamped fins and lack of appetite can be signs that something is wrong with the tank water. If you notice your betta exhibiting these symptoms and the water is fine, then there may be something else going on. However, it is possible that all of these conditions are at play here.


Sometimes a betta will climb to the top because he has an injury. If you discover a cut or scrape on your fish it's possible that he is glass surfing due to discomfort. Usually, this kind of behavior will only last for a few days while the fish heals, but if it persists you may want to take the sick betta to the pet store and ask their advice.

Inappropriate Tank Mates

It's possible that your betta is glass surfing because he perceives another fish or object as a threat. It may be that your betta has never been around other fish before and the tank mate is new to him, so he doesn't know how to react. Without getting into the specifics of betta care it's important to remember that bettas can be somewhat territorial and it's best not to keep them in close quarters with any other fish.

There are many fishes that make good tankmates with your bettas such as guppies and goldfish. But some fishes are not good tank mates with your betta such as angelfish, catfish, some barbs and cichlids. Just remember that if you want to keep your betta in a community tank, it's important to choose the right species of fish.


Excess food can be both a blessing and a mistake. Bettas are carnivores and they need plenty of protein in their diet. But if you feed him too much your betta will become lethargic, suffer internal injuries or worse still die from malnutrition or poisoning.

If you notice that your betta is acting strange after eating, the best thing to do is cut back on feeding. The waste produced by too much food can also severely hamper water quality and cause your betta to become sick.

How to Break Your Betta From Glass Surfing

How to Break Your Betta From Glass Surfing

All of these conditions have the potential to instigate glass surfing in a betta fish, but sometimes there is no discernible reason for this behavior. Glass surfing may just be a quirk that some bettas exhibit from time to time or it may be a sign of an underlying problem. There are various ways you can discourage this behavior.

Provide Adequate Habitat

The easiest way to stop your betta from surfing is by moving him to a larger aquarium with plenty of room. Bettas need space to swim and they don't like feeling confined or trapped, so a larger aquarium is often the best solution. Plants, rocks, and decorations may be used to decorate the tank.

It is always best to add live plants rather than plastic plants or silk plants. It will give your betta enough hiding places while also allowing him to relax away from the surface. However, you should be careful not to overcrowd the tank though, because this can lead to health problems and stress in your betta.

Check the Temperature and Water Readings

Ideally, betta fish need warmth in order to thrive because this is the temperature range which best mimics their natural environment. You should keep your betta's tank somewhere between 78- and 82-degrees Fahrenheit (25 to 28 degrees Celsius).

However, the water conditions are just as important. Bettas breathe oxygen directly from the surface of the water so you need to make sure that there is adequate circulation within the tank. The water should be clean, filtered and then re-circulated through the tank for between 3 and 5 days before you start using it.

Switch Up His Diet

Bettas are carnivores so their diet should consist of meaty foods. However, betta fish can become bored with a limited range of food and they can often refuse to eat. This can be particularly worrying because it can cause your betta's health to slowly deteriorate.

If you notice that your betta is refusing food, try feeding him live or frozen food instead. You could also invest in freeze dried bloodworms, brine shrimp and tubifex worms which are all popular with bettas. However, it's important to remember that your betta will have a varied diet and try not to feed him the same food every day. Make sure not to overfeed either because it can cause your betta to become lazy.

Provide Sources of Entertainment

Bettas are intelligent creatures with a fairly energetic lifestyle, so they need some way to stimulate their minds. If you notice that your betta is surfing the surface then he may simply be bored or in search of food. However, you can discourage glass surfing by adding some ornaments to the tank. Add a steady stream of bubbles to the tank.

A small air pump and some air stones will work wonders if you want to stop your betta from glass surfing. Not only does this provide a steady source of entertainment, but it also creates lots of bubbles which help to create a more natural environment. The sound and rhythm of the bubbles will also soothe the betta and discourage him from being aggressive. 

Some fish owners also likes to play music for their betta as it is believed  that it can help calm betta fish. While there is no scientific evidence to support this claim, many people swear by the practice. 

Dimming the Lights in the Tank

Tank light play an important role in bettas life. Bright light often create stress in bettas. Adding dimming lights to the tank can discourage your betta from glass surfing. This is because it simulates their natural environment where they would be deep in caves or crevices at certain times of the day. It can provide them with a sense of security and allow them to relax away from the surface of the water.

Why Should You Stop Glass Surfing


Why Should You Stop Glass Surfing?

There is no single reason why you should stop your betta from surfing the tank glass. It's important to remember that when a betta surfs the surface of the water, he is doing so for a reason and there could be any number of underlying problems which are causing this behavior. Glass surfing is not dangerous unless the betta falls off at which time it can be fatal.

The bettas are built for swimming, not flying. They are very unlikely to survive unscathed if they do in fact hit the ground. This behavior makes it fairly difficult to keep a betta in a community tank because the fish will constantly be trying to occupy the top of the aquarium.

Your best course of action would be to check the tank and make sure that it is the correct size and that all of the water conditions are ideal. If you notice your betta surfing a lot, you should also switch up his diet and provide him with some entertainment because this could simply be a sign that he is bored or hungry.

Is It Normal for Fish to Swim Against the Glass?

It's not unusual for fish to swim up and down the betta glass, but it may appear to be a cause for concern. This is usually not something to be concerned about, though. This is frequently done in the aquarium's corner for one of two reasons: because they are imitating their reflection or just out of boredom.

But if the fish is continuously swimming against the glass and it appears to be a compulsion rather than a conscious decision, then you should take this more seriously.

What Are Some Other Reasons for Surfing?

There are several common behavioral issues that are typically associated with betta surfing.

  • Attract Attention
    One of the most common reasons that a betta fish will swim against the glass is because they are trying to attract your attention. Bettas are very social creatures and enjoy being in the presence of people or other bettas so if you notice that they are frequently trying to push their faces against the glass it's usually nothing to worry about.
  • Seeing His Own Reflection
    The betta fish is a very territorial creature and they will also frequently surf when they see their own reflection. The reason for this boils down to the fact that the betta's natural habitat is naturally turbid so having a clear view of another male can be quite threatening to them. Surfing when you notice your male showing signs of being aggressive is usually caused by this reason. Most of the time, they will become very agitated and intimidated if they see their reflection.
  • Hunger
    Another common reason that a betta may surf is because he is trying to find food. This behavior can also be identified by other signs such as the fish frequently sticking his fins into the air. If you notice your betta doing this, one of the best things you can do is to switch his diet over to some live food. This will also provide him with the protein that he needs in order to get rid of stress. It's critical to remember to clean out the tank after every feeding, since uneaten food might cause water quality issues.
  • A New Home
    A new fish often not understand the laws of their new environment and they will behave in strange ways such as surfing. This is because when a fish undergoes a change in their surroundings, they will often try to fight the current until they get used to it. If you see any sign of stress, try adding more plants and hiding spots. It is recommended to use live plants rather than fake plants.

Can Glass Surfing Be Fatal?

Glass surfing can be dangerous if the fish falls off of the glass and hits the floor, but it isn't harmful beyond this. Bettas are delicate creatures with long fins. It's possible that surfing could cause it to fall and rip its delicate fins. However, if the fish has a lot of area to swim and adequate area to maneuver, this isn't an issue that happens very frequently.

What Do I Need to Know About My Betta Fish?

The betta fish, despite popular belief, is not a freshwater type of fish. It comes from the swamps on Thailand and has adapted to be able to survive in fresh water. However, it's still best if you keep them in an aquarium with salt added so they can adjust to the change.

A betta fish will primarily live off of the food that you give it, but they are also carnivores. This means that you need to make sure that their diet is primarily made up of meat, including brine shrimp and bloodworms. Because bettas are natural creatures of the water, they often need to be kept in tanks with still waters.

If you notice your betta constantly trying to surf against the glass, then provide him with more places for him to rest and play around in your tank. You'll find that this is one of the most common reasons why bettas try to surf against the glass, but it's also one of the easiest fixable ones too.


Bettas are very playful creatures and they enjoy being in the presence of people. However, whenever there is any change in their surrounding environment or behavior then it's best that you take it seriously. If your betta fish is surfing against the glass, there are several reasons that could be causing this.

It may be due to an ill water condition, a shift in the climate, insufficient tankmates, schooling of fish, seeing his own reflection, or hunger. Providing your betta with a space to swim and maneuver in might help reduce surfacing behavior considerably, regardless of the reason. It is important to check the water parameters as well as the ammonia levels.

In most cases it can be simply because it could be trying to attract your attention. The most important thing to remember is to provide them with enough room in order for them not to be harming themselves by surfing against the glass. It may take a little while for them to get used to their new environment, but with enough room and time they should eventually stop surfacing.

Sarah Robertson

I am a passionate blogger who also happens to be a fish keeping enthusiast. Writing about my hobby is something that I absolutely love to do, and it's no secret that my chosen topic is always centered around fish keeping.

Sarah Robertson

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