Last Updated on September 27, 2021 by Woody Pet

Why betta fish laying on bottom of tank?

If you, like us, are a great betta fish fan and you love your little betta pet, it can most certainly be incredibly stressful to find your betta fish on bottom of the tank. You immediately sense that something might be wrong, and you may even recreate all the worst case scenarios. If you previously owned another betta fish, you might even try to compare the behavior of your previous pet and start to make parallels.

It is more than normal to be concerned about the wellbeing of your betta fish. It is normal to start worrying that something might cause discomfort to your pet, and you want to start solving this issue instantly. The first instinct you have is probably Googling is it normal for betta fish to lay on the bottom of tank.

In this piece, we will go over the possible scenarios and advise you with further steps if you find yourself in this situation.

Is it normal for betta fish to lay on the bottom of the tank?

This is definitely not a very normal situation. However, this does not have to mean that it is something serious. Before starting to ask yourself what is the betta fish behavior before death,  remember that your betta fish might have a temporary discomfort, and you need to change its environment, so it can get back to normal and thrive again.

The first things to check are your water filter and the heater. If you don’t have a filter, or if your filter got clogged with residue, some compounds tend to stay in the water and create an unpleasant atmosphere for your betta friend. The most dangerous of them are some chemicals, such as ammonium, whose poisoning can cause serious harm to your betta fish. So first things first, check your filter – if you have one. If you see a build-up, clean it immediately. If you do not have a filter, clean the water of your betta pet.

Next thing to check is the heater. If the heater malfunctions and the water becomes too cold, the betta fish will swim to the bottom of the tank and stay there until the temperature normalizes. Once again, if you do not have a heater, make sure the warmth of the water in your tank is sufficient, and if it’s not, change the water immediately. Of course, if your betta fish was previously living in rather cold water, start changing the water temperature gradually, so you do not cause it a temperature shock.

My betta fish is at the bottom of the tank breathing heavily

Why betta fish laying on bottom of tank

There might be several reasons for this occurrence, however, the most common one is ammonium poisoning. As we have mentioned previously, having no filter, or having residue clogging the filter, might cause a build up of ammonium in the tank, slowly affecting the betta fish’s health and wellbeing. It is usually manifestated through betta fish laying on bottom of the tank gasping.

There are test kits that are usually sold in pet stores so you can check the pH value and whether there is a residue build up in your tank. They are incredibly useful, because not only can they tell of an increased level of ammonium, they also test for other chemical solutions that might be in the water and harm your betta fish on a long run.

However, if you do not have one at the moment, try changing the water of the tank gradually – start with a little amount and make sure that in the end, at least half of the tank water has been changed. This might solve the issue – just note that your betta fish will not thrive instantly – give it some time to accommodate in the new, normalized environment.

Betta fish laying on bottom of tank other reasons

Here are several, also very common reasons for the betta fish laying on the bottom of the tank:

  • A swim bladder disease – this happens if your betta fish has too much food. The betta fish do not have a mechanism to tell them when they’ve had enough of their delicious meal, so naturally, if you provide them a bit too much of their treats, they will tend to eat everything. This can cause them a swim bladder disease and they will retreat to the bottom of the tank. However, this is easily solvable – restrict their diet for a few days and they will be back on track very soon. A swim bladder disease can also occur because of an injury, so make sure to check for that before putting your betta fish on a diet.
  • A stress from a water change – changes are affecting everybody – including your betta friend. If the water has been changed recently, especially if it was changed rather abruptly, your betta fish might get to the bottom of the tank in order to get accustomed to the new environment. This should stop in the next couple of hours.
  • Resting – sometimes there is no particular reason for your betta fish being at the top of the tank. If the filter is good, the heater works perfectly, there haven’t been any significant changes recently in the tank, and if the betta fish has been fed properly, but not too much, they might just be resting. The easiest way to check if this is the case is to wave with something and see whether they will react. You can also give them a small amount of food and see if they will move.


It definitely might look scary if you see your betta friend at the bottom of the tank. However, go through the checklist above and make sure you have tried everything on the list. If this persists, it might be time to check in with the vet.

Betta fish might sometimes behave in a manner that seems irrational to us, however, this does not always mean that they are suffering or they are in a serious distress. If your betta fish is staying on the corner of tank on the other hand, many more reasons might be involved, such as a bright light, injury, shyness, or even depression. If your betta fish is staying at top of the tank, this probably means they do not get enough oxygen from their water and the conditions in their tank are poor.

Without panicking, start checking the parameters that make your betta fish tank a pleasant home, and your beloved pet will be well very soon.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here