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Why Is My Betta Fish Swimming Erratically?

betta fish swimming erratically

Betta fish are not that active swimmers and generally swim at the top level of the tank. However, sometimes you may observe your betta fish swimming erratically. There might be several reasons behind such exhibition of behavior by your betta fish.

Betta fish swimming erratically is quite common. However, this does not mean that it means no harm. There is a valid reason behind the erratic behavior showcased by the betta fish in most cases. Neurological diseases, parasitic infections, or poor quality may be some of why your betta fish is swimming erratically. The mode of treatment depends on the root cause. Such erratic swimming does not always mean that your betta is harmed.

Causes Behind Betta Fish Swimming Erratically

As stated earlier, the mode of treatment for such behavior by a betta fish depends on its cause. Therefore, it becomes essential to figure out the real reason behind betta fish swimming erratically. Here are some of the most common causes.

Neurological Condition

Betta Fish Swimming Erratically Neurological Condition

Neurological conditions may be hereditary or may be caused due to the presence of bacteria or a parasite. To identify whether or not your betta fish is swimming erratically, you should first observe how erratic is your betta fish’s swimming pattern.

Your betta fish’s swimming may be considered erratic if he is swimming in circles, upside down, floating at the water surface, continuously rubbing his body into the tank decors, or having trouble swimming or sinking to the bottom of the tank.

Suppose you notice your betta fish swimming in circles or whirly patterns. In that case, it is most probably due to an underlying neurological illness that may be present from birth or may develop as an effect of a parasite or a bacteria.


Betta fish Constipation problem

Another most common cause for erratic swimming by a betta fish is constipation. Constipation causes what is generally termed as the Swim Bladder Disease in your betta fish. This disease directly affects your betta fish’s capability of swimming straight.

Constipation may be caused due to the overfeeding of a betta fish. Betta fish are voracious eaters and will gladly eat anything presented before them. Thus, you need to make sure that you feed your betta the optimum amount to avoid any chances of bloating or constipation.

Bad Water Quality

Water parameters like water temperature, water pH level, and the level of different elements like ammonia, nitrates, and chlorine are perhaps the essential factors in determining the overall health of the betta fish. Any discrepancies in the mentioned factors may cause your betta fish to stress and swim erratically.

Here are the required water parameters for a betta fish.

  • Water temperature – Between 76 and 82 degrees F
  • Water pH level – Around 7
  • Ammonia and chlorine levels should be at a minimum
  • Water current should be kept at a low level

Compromised Vision

It may so happen that your betta fish is getting partially blind or is suffering from poor eyesight. This may, in turn, cause your betta fish to bang into the tank surface due to the lack of proper vision. The vision generally deteriorates as the betta fish ages.

Therefore, if your betta fish is relatively old, such erratic behavior may be noticed. However, other eye diseases like cloudy eye or popeye may also compromise the vision of your betta fish.

Treatments For Betta Fish Swimming Erratically

As mentioned earlier, the mode of treatment depends on the actual cause behind betta fish swimming erratically. Therefore, depending on the causes mentioned above that lead to such an erratic behavior in your betta fish, here are some of the most effective modes of treatment.

Conduct A Water Change

Stress can also cause your betta fish to swim erratically. The number one solution for a stressed betta fish is conducting a water change. Your betta fish may be stressed because of a chemical introduction or unacceptable levels of ammonia and chlorine.

A water change will help adequately cycle the tank water and improve its overall quality. If your betta fish is healthy, periodical water changes are always recommended. It is advised not to change more than 25% of your tank water once every week.

In some cases, betta fish swimming erratically after water change may also be noticed. Well, this is a pretty common problem. The reason behind such erratic behavior by your betta fish is that while conducting the water change, you may have changed the water composition of your betta fish that stresses the betta.

Balanced Diet

Balanced Diet for betta fish

Constipation, which in turn causes Swim Bladder Disease, can affect your betta fish’s movements. Constipation generally leads your betta fish to swim upside down rather than straight. It restricts the mobility of your betta fish, thereby causing it to swim erratically.

Constipation can be prevented by cutting back on the amount of food you are feeding your betta fish and putting the betta on a new and scheduled balanced diet. You can also try fasting your betta fish for a few days or feeding it a blanched pea that has proven to be effective against constipation.

Water Conditioner

Various bacterial and parasitic infections can also cause the betta fish to swim in such an erratic manner. For instance, some parasites stick to the body of your betta fish. This leads your betta fish to rub itself against the tank objects and surfaces.

To prevent this, you can administer a water conditioner in your tank water after conducting a water change. You can also treat your betta fish with antibiotics in case of a bacterial infection and add aquarium salt to your tank. You can administer the API General Cure to treat various infections.

FAQs On Betta Fish Swimming Erratically

Is betta fish swimming erratically bad?

There is always a reason behind betta fish swimming erratically in most cases. It is generally bad but not always. Your betta fish may swim erratically because it may be feeding time.

Why is my betta fish swimming fast back and forth?

Stressful water conditions may be the reason behind your betta fish swimming back and forth rapidly.

How do you calm a stressed betta fish?

Try checking and optimizing the water parameters and tank conditions, adding a sufficient amount of hiding places within the tank, and administering water changes to reduce the stress level.

Final Thoughts

Thus, if you notice your betta fish swimming erratically, try finding out the root cause behind such behavior by your betta fish. Treatments for betta fish swimming erratically depend on the nature of the cause. However, this does not always mean that your betta fish is ill.