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[Solved] Why Is My Betta Fish Burrowing in Rocks?

betta fish burrowing in rocks

Betta fish is not only known for their showy appearance but is also known for how mysterious it behaves from time to time. For instance, you may see your betta fish swimming erratically from one place to another, or you may notice the betta fish burrowing in rocks.

The real question here is whether or not it is normal for the betta fish to behave in this manner. Generally speaking, it is pretty standard for a betta fish to burrow itself in rocks, stay close to the substrate, or rub itself against the tank surface. However, this kind of behavior is not always normal and therefore should not be ignored. Underlying bacterial and fungal infections, diseases, and stress may also cause your betta fish to indulge in such activities.

Betta Fish Burrowing In Rocks: Causes

The central dilemma here is distinguishing this type of behavior by your betta fish from its normal behavior. There may be several reasons behind a betta fish burrowing in rocks. Determining the actual cause is essential as the mode of treatment depends upon it.

Here are some of the possible factors that may cause your betta fish burrowing in rocks.

Parasitic Infections

Betta fish are not that hardy a fish, and if the surrounding conditions are not adequate, it can cause illness to your betta fish. Thus, betta fish are highly susceptible to various kinds of bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections.

There are different sources for these infections and need to be looked into as soon as possible. These infections include velvet disease, columnaris, anchor worms, and white spot disease. Such infections may be the reason behind your betta fish burrowing in rocks.

Velvet Disease

Caused by a parasite called Oodinium, these parasites are highly reproductive under the right conditions and are brought into the aquarium from another infected fish. Some of the major symptoms of velvet disease include lethargy, loss of appetite, and difficulty in breathing.

Velvet disease is quite hard to spot in its early stages as the spots are visible on the betta fish’s body after some time. Your betta fish may try to eliminate the parasite by scratching itself against the tank surface and burrowing itself in the rocks.


Columnaris is caused by a bacteria called Flavobacterium columnare and is highly contagious. Therefore, if you have got a fish suffering from columnaris, it is highly likely that all of the fish in the aquarium have been affected by the bacteria.

Columnaris is pretty hard to identify early, and its symptoms include frayed fins, development of body ulcers, loss of appetite, and lethargy. It can prove fatal for your betta fish if left untreated for days. You may also notice your betta fish burrowing in rocks during this stage.

Anchor Worms

Anchor Worms betta fish

Unlike other parasitic infections, one caused by the anchor worms may be detected during the early stages of the infection and be treated accordingly. In this disease, the anchor worms attach themselves to a betta fish and slowly start feeding off it.

Symptoms include discoloration in the infected area, loss of appetite, and lethargy. Your betta fish may also start rubbing itself against the tank decors and surface and may also begin burrowing itself in the rocks trying to get rid of the anchor worms.

White Spot Disease

Also called Ich, the white spot disease is a relatively common parasitic infection seen in a betta fish. As the name suggests, it is characterized by the development of white spots all over the infected betta fish’s body. Thus, it can easily be observed before it is too late.

Some of the significant symptoms of the white spot disease are the development of white spots over the betta fish’s body, lethargy, loss of appetite, and gasping for air. This disease may be confused with the velvet disease, and you may notice your betta fish burrowing in rocks during this period.

Gill Flukes

Gill Flukes betta fish

Like the velvet disease and the white spot disease, Gill flukes are pretty common among betta fish. This parasite majorly attacks the fish’s gills, thereby making it harder for the betta fish to breathe correctly. This forces the betta to gasp for air near the water surface.

Other symptoms include discoloration around the fish’s gills, betta fish scraping against the tank objects, or betta fish burrowing in rocks. Gill flukes are relatively harder to see from the naked eye, so you need to look into other symptoms to get a guesstimate.

Stress & Boredom

Stress can also cause your betta fish to burrow in the rocks. Pressure may be caused due to inadequate water parameters like water temperature and water pH, lack of good hiding places in the tank, or high levels of elements like ammonia and chlorine.

Boredom may be another reason why your betta fish is behaving in this manner. Lack of entertaining activities for the betta fish, small tank, and no tankmates may cause your betta fish to get bored. Out of boredom, the betta fish may start burrowing in rocks.

It is a known fact that the individual personality of a betta fish may vary from betta to betta. Therefore, it may so happen that there is nothing wrong with your betta fish, and it is its natural behavior to burrow in the rocks.

Betta Fish Burrowing In Rocks: Solutions

As stated earlier, the mode of treatment for betta fish burrowing in rocks depends on the cause behind it. Thus, if you have correctly identified the reason behind the betta fish burrowing in rocks, you can quickly determine its solution.

For instance, if the reason behind your betta fish’s behavior is some parasitic infection, you should administer certain medications based on the type of the infection. You should also check whether or not the tank conditions are optimum for the betta fish.

If your betta fish is acting this way because of stress or boredom, you can try adding tank decors to provide your betta fish with hiding places in the tank. You can also try performing the betta fish mirror exercise with your betta fish.

FAQs Related to Betta Fish Burrowing in Rocks

What are the signs of a betta fish dying?

Tattered and frayed fins, discolored body, lethargy, loss of appetite, and breathing difficulties may be some signs that your betta fish is dying.

Do betta fish like to hide in rocks?

Betta fish-like places for them to hide in. They also like resting on the aquarium gravel from time to time. You may also notice your betta fish burrowing in rocks from time to time.

What kind of rocks do betta fish like?

You must make sure that your tank gravel is smooth and is not too hard. Hard surfaced gravel may harm your betta fish if they brush up against it.

Final Thoughts

Thus, if you are wondering whether or not betta fish burrowing in rocks is normal behavior for a betta fish, you can rest assured that it is pretty common among bettas. However, it would help if you did not count out the possibility that your betta fish may be suffering from certain infections or stress.