It is a known fact that betta fishes normally swim at the middle levels of the tank. Occasionally, they might swim up and down the tank. However, in some cases, it might come to your attention that your betta is staying at the top of the tank for an unreasonable amount of time. This begs the question, ‘Why is my betta fish staying at the top of the tank?‘
There is a host of reasons why your betta fish might be swimming close to the surface of the water of the tank. The most common reason for this behavior by the betta fish is the lack of required levels of oxygen in the tank water. Among other reasons, your betta fish might be staying at the top of the tank due to an inadequate supply of food, constipation, and uneven water temperature.
5 Reasons For Betta Fish Staying At the Top of the Tank
As mentioned earlier, betta fish staying at the top of the tank is not normal behavior. If you see your betta fish quite often swimming close to the tank’s water surface, you should consider the possibility that there is something wrong with your tank environment. Here are some reasons for this behavior by betta fish.
Low Oxygen Levels In The Tank
One may wonder that if the tank water is low in oxygen concentration, how does swimming close to the surface of the water helps a betta fish. Betta fish has a labyrinth organ that allows the betta fish to breathe above water for a short period of time.
This labyrinth organ serves as a lung to the betta fish, thereby enabling the betta fish to breathe close to the tank’s water surface. However, it must be noted that betta fishes can breathe outside water only for a short period of time, and they must still be moist during this period.
Thus, it may so happen that your tank water is low in oxygen which forces the betta fish to swim at the top of the tank as oxygen concentration is higher at the top level of the tank than the lower levels. Even though the betta fish can breathe properly at the top of the tank, you must ensure that the oxygen level in the tank is adequate for your betta fish.
Inadequate Supply Of Food
Another possible reason for your betta fish staying at the top of the tank can be hunger. Food is fed to the betta fishes from the top, and due to this pattern, your betta fish may start swimming at the top of the tank, signaling that it is hungry.
Betta fishes are needed to be fed once or twice during the day. It might so happen that you were unable to feed your betta fish the optimum amount of time. In this case, you may notice that your betta fish stars swimming closer to the water surface.
This is the betta’s way of indicating that it is hungry. If you have already fed your betta fish twice a day and it is still staying at the top of the tank, it might be caused due to another reason.
Swim Bladder Disorder
Betta fishes are usually too susceptible to being overfed. Once you overfeed your betta fish, it might cause constipation. If you continue feeding your betta fish beyond this time, they may develop an illness called swim bladder disorder (SBD).
If you are confused about whether or not your betta fish is constipated, you should look for some signs. If your betta fish seems to be bloated or has not pooped for a while, then it may be a sign of constipation. The most common solution for this is to stop feeding your betta fish for a day or two.
In case of swim bladder disorder, your fish is unable to swim upright. They may only swim from side to side. This, too, causes your betta fish to stay at the top of the tank. This can easily be prevented if you stick to a rigid feeding schedule.
Unconditioned Water Parameters
You must also ensure that the water parameters like temperature, pH, etc., are adequate for your betta fish. Betta fish needs a water temperature ranging between 76 and 82 degrees F. The water pH must be between 6 and 8, the ammonia level in the tank water must be zero, and the nitrate level must be below 20.
If your tank is not conditioned to these ranges, your betta fish will feel uncomfortable and try to escape the tank. This is the reason behind betta fish staying at the top of the tank. Your betta fish will try to jump out of the tank as it cannot stand the uncomfortable conditions of the tank.
Thus, you must ensure that the tank parameters are up to the required level. This will ensure the health and safety of your betta fish and prevent them from swimming close to the water surface for too long.
Must Read | Betta Water Parameters: Best Conditions for Your Betta
If your betta fish is staying close to the surface of the water, it might be due to its personality and natural behavior. Betta fishes have a varied range of personalities. It may so happen that your betta likes swimming at the top of the tank.
However, the personality of the betta fish is not always the reason for betta fish staying at the top of the tank. You should first ensure that the behavior is not due to any of the above-listed reasons. If you find out that none of the mentioned reasons holds, then it may be the case of the betta fish’s individual personality.
Recommended Reading | 7 Reasons Why Betta Fish Staying in Corner of the Tank
Solutions For Betta Fish Staying At the Top of the Tank
The solution for the betta fish staying at the top of the tank is just another extension of its reasons. Once you know the reasons behind such behavior by your betta fish, you can easily resolve the issue.
Following are some of the solutions for such kind of behavior by your betta fish:
- Add air stones to your tank so as to increase the oxygen concentration in the tank water.
- Feed betta pellets if your betta fish seems to be hungry.
- Stop feeding your betta fish for a day or two if constipation is the case. If this too does not work then try using daphnia (laxative for fish).
- Make sure the water temperature and pH are of the optimum level. Conduct periodical ammonia and nitrate tests to check their levels.
FAQs Related to Betta Fish Staying at the Top of the Tank
Is it normal for betta fish to swim at the top of the tank?
NO. It is not normal for your betta fish to swim close to the surface of the water. This may be due to lack of oxygen, constipation, inadequate supply of food, or unconditioned water parameters.
How to increase the oxygen level in the tank?
You can add air stones in the tank to increase the circulation of oxygen in the water. You can also add more water into the tank from a height or conduct a water change (about 50%) to increase the oxygen level in the tank.
What causes a lack of oxygen in the tank?
There are several reasons why oxygen starts to deplete in a tank. Among the most common ones, improper filtration, algae overgrowth, and fish waste cause such a decrease in oxygen levels in the tank water.
Thus, if you are wondering whether betta fish staying at the top of the tank is normal or not, the answer is NO. There are a host of reasons why betta fishes do so. Lack of oxygen, improper water conditions, lack of food, and constipation are the most common reasons. It would help if you did not ignore such behavior and immediately look for a valid solution.