March 16

Sarah Robertson

Why Is My Betta Fish Swimming Sideways?

Betta fish are known to swim sideways sometimes. This is usually a sign that they are uncomfortable. It’s important to make sure your tank is decorated in a way that makes your betta feel comfortable and safe. You can also try adding more plants or decorations to create hiding spots.

If you notice your betta fish swimming sideways after water change, it might be a sign that something is wrong. It could be caused by an injury or illness such as fin rot or ich. A chronic condition such as swim bladder disease can also cause your betta to swim oddly — sometimes even flipping over and staying at the bottom of the tank.

If you're not sure what's going on, it's best to consult a betta expert. In the meantime, feed your betta a high-quality diet and add aquarium salt to the water. This should help him feel safe and comfortable while he heals from whatever is wrong with him. It also helps prevent secondary infections.

Reasons For Betta Swimming Sideways

Why is my betta fish swimming sideways at the top of the tank? This could be due to few reasons including:

Improper Water Parameters

If your betta fish swims sideways, it's possible that there is a problem with the water chemistry in the tank. Poor water quality also affects the betta's ability to stay upright when swimming.  

  • If your fish is exposed to high levels of nitrates and phosphates over an extended period of time, he will develop Pop-Eye, which causes his eyes to bulge out and makes him swim erratically.
  • If your betta fish is exposed to high levels of nitrates and ammonia, this can cause the development of Ammonia burns, which will make him swim erratically.
  • If your betta's water has poor quality pH levels, he might develop Swim Bladder Disorder, which makes him appear bloated and causes him to swim poorly and erratically.
  • If your betta doesn't have access to clean, fresh water with a neutral pH between 7.0 and 8.0, he might develop Fin Rot, which will make him swim poorly and erratically.
  • Water temperature is an important factor as well. If your fish lives in water that is too hot or cold, it might make him swim poorly and erratically. The ideal temperature for betta fish is between 78F to 80F. 


Overcrowding can also lead to an excess of waste in the tank water. This can lower the oxygen level and create conditions that are stressful for your betta fish, making it more likely he will swim sideways.

To improve your betta's environment, work on creating some hiding spaces. Add plants or other decorations so there are plenty of places for your betta to hide if he's feeling threatened. It's also a good idea to give your betta more space by upgrading to a larger tank.

Stressed Betta Fish

Stress is another common reason betta fish swim sideways. Fish are very sensitive to changes in water temperature, pH levels, and overall tank conditions. If your betta fish starts swimming sideways, it could be a sign that he is stressed.

Make sure the water conditions are stable and monitor them closely for changes. Try to reduce overcrowding in the fish tank by moving or selling some of your other fish, or swapping some with someone else's so they can grow accustomed to the new water. If you think your betta is stressed because of a fight, make sure no other fish are bullying him.

Injuries From Jumping Out Of The Water

Another possible reason why your betta fish is swimming sideways is that he's jumped out of the water and injured himself on a rock, plant, or another object in the tank. If this happens, there might be injuries to his fins or body from either direct contact with the object or using his fins to push himself off of it. If you notice your betta has developed lesions on his body, this could be due to jumping out of the water and injuring himself.

Dietary Deficiency Or Imbalance

Your betta fish might swim sideways if he has a dietary deficiency or imbalance. 

A lack of Vitamin C in the diet causes ich, a parasitic infection that causes your fish to swim erratically.

A lack of Vitamin B1 in the diet can cause neurological problems and make your betta fish swim strangely.

Inadequate levels of copper can also lead to nutritional deficiencies and cause your betta to swim sideways.

An excess of Vitamin A in the diet can cause damage to your betta's retina and lead to blindness, which causes him to swim strangely.

Inadequate Tank Size Or Improper Aquarium Condition

If you have a betta fish that is swimming erratically, one possible reason is that the tank is too small for him or does not meet his needs. The recommended minimum tank size for a betta fish is 5 gallons, and you should keep at least 1 gallon of water per inch of fish.

If your betta fish swims erratically because he lives in an environment with low oxygen levels, this can also lead to him swimming poorly. Make sure you have an air pump running in the tank and that the tank has proper ventilation.

Aquarium plants should be cleaned regularly since plants can absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide when they decay, which further decreases the oxygen in the environment.

Betta Fish Is sick 1

Betta Fish Is sick

There are many reasons why your betta fish might be swimming sideways. For example, he may be sick with an internal parasite or bacterial infection. It is important to take him to a freshwater fish vet as soon as possible if you suspect that this is the reason for his abnormal behaviour. You will need to treat your aquarium with the proper medication once you have taken him to the vet.

Betta fish are very sensitive animals, so if something is wrong with them, it is important to get the treatment immediately.

Swim Bladder Disorder

One common reason why betta fish might swim sideways is that they are suffering from Swim Bladder Disorder (SBD). This is a condition in which the betta's swim bladder malfunctions, often causing the betta fish floating on side but not dead. Swim Bladder Disorder can be caused by a number of things, including:  

What other foods should I avoid feeding my betta fish?

  • Infections
  • Tumours
  • Trauma
  • Pre-existing conditions, such as liver disease
  • Ingestion of toxins

If you notice that your betta is swimming sideways or even upside down, it's important to take him to a vet for diagnosis and treatment.

Internal Bacterial Infection: Dropsy And Popeye (exophthalmia)

Internal bacterial infections are a common cause of betta fish swimming sideways. One such infection, known as Dropsy, can cause the fish's body to swell up with fluid. Another common infection is Popeye, which is a condition in which the eyes bulge out of the sockets.

Mouth Rot: Fungal Infection

Mouth rot is a fungal infection that can cause your betta fish to swim sideways. This infection can affect the mouth, gills, and fins of the fish, leading to lesions, haemorrhaging, and even death.

Infection From Marine Ich Or Velvet Disease 

If your betta fish swims erratically and you have a saltwater aquarium, he might have contracted Marine Ich or Velvet Disease.

Marine Ich is caused by a parasite that attaches to the outside of the betta's body and causes him to swim erratically. Make sure there are no dead spots in the tank where there is no water movement and make sure your betta has a place to hide. Remove any dead fish from the tank as soon as you notice them since dead animals can release toxins into the environment which will make your betta sick.

Velvet Disease is also spread by parasites and causes small white spots to appear on your betta. It does not usually cause your fish to swim erratically, but can weaken him over time and make him more susceptible to other diseases that do cause erratic swimming.

Betta Swimming sideways

Frequent Questions

How Do You Treat Swim Bladder Disease in Betta Fish?

If your betta is suffering from swim bladder disease, you can try a few different things to treat him. One thing that you can do is add 1 teaspoon of non-iodized salt per gallon of water and add the fish. Let him soak for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove him and place him back in his tank.

You can also try feeding your betta fish frozen peas. Thaw the peas and remove the skin and bones before feeding them to your fish. Some people have also had success using aquarium plants like Anubias or Java ferns to help treat swim bladder disease in betta fish.

Can a Fish Recover From Swim Bladder?

Yes, it is possible for a fish to recover from swim bladder issues.

Swim bladder disorders are characterized by air bubbles that form in the organ called the swim bladder. As these bubbles grow, they can restrict movement and reduce stability, preventing your fish from swimming normally. Swimming sideways can indicate this problem has occurred, so you should take him to a vet immediately.

How Do You Know if Your Betta Fish Is Dying?

There are a number of signs that your betta fish may be dying, including:

  • Your betta fish is lying at the bottom of the tank and not moving

  • Your betta fish has stopped eating
  • Your betta fish's fins are drooping or disintegrating
  • Your betta fish's color is fading

What Other Foods Should I Avoid Feeding My Betta Fish?

  • Swimming sideways or upside down
  • Lack of appetite
  • Inactivity
  • Abnormal behaviour
  • Reduced coloration
  • Lesions or sores on the body
  • Gills that are inflamed or discoloured

How to Cure Swim Bladder in Bettas and Can It Cure Itself?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the cause of swim bladder disease can be many different things. However, in some cases, swim bladder disease may cure itself over time. This is especially true for swim bladder disease that has been caused by age or injury, as it may heal itself over time.

What Do I Do if My Fish Is Swimming Sideways?

A betta fish might swim sideways when it's suffering from a dietary deficiency or imbalance. It can also happen if the tank is too small or doesn't meet the needs of the fish, which is why it's important to choose one that meets his requirements.

If your betta starts swimming strangely after an injury, you should consult with a veterinarian about how best to help him recover and/or whether medication is needed for his injuries or infection.

How Can I Make My Betta Fish Stop Swimming Sideways?

If you want to make your betta fish stop swimming in circles, there are plenty of things that might be causing the issue. To find out what's wrong, check his environmental conditions and see if they need adjusting. If the conditions are stable for a long time, then there might be an underlying issue causing the behaviour. Once you've determined what's wrong, take steps to improve his health with proper care and food.

Summing Up

There can be a number of reasons why your betta fish is swimming sideways, and it's important to troubleshoot the issue so you can get him back to swimming normally. Some common causes of this behaviour are poor water quality, stress, and overcrowding in the tank.

If you're having trouble determining what's causing your betta to swim strangely, take a look at his environmental conditions and see if they need to be adjusted. You might also want to consider whether he's getting enough food or if he's been injured. With some detective work and by making small changes to his environment, you should be able to get your betta swimming happily again in no time!

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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