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Why Is My Betta Fish Swimming Sideways?

betta fish swimming sideways

Betta fish is a demanding and extremely common tank pet universally. Anything weird with a betta might be an issue with most people out there. It is a horrifying visual for beginners watching their betta fish swimming sideways or abnormally.

Firstly, no, your fish is not probably dead. There are many reasons why your betta fish might be swimming sideways. Your betta fish might be swimming sideways because it might have some infection or due to inappropriate filtration. Nevertheless, there is a high chance that your fish is suffering from swim bladder disease if betta fish swimming sideways is a constant habit. The concern is always how to be sure whether or not this is a matter of concern. In this post, we will discuss what you should do if you see your betta fish swimming sideways.

Betta Fish Swimming Sideways: Swim Bladder Disease

One of the most common reasons your betta fish is swimming sideways is because it suffers from swimbladder disease. With all the eerie and bizarre personality traits of betta, one’s first reaction might be to ignore it or consider it dead, either of the two extremes. Nonetheless, it is always better to be particular about the symptoms first.

Swim bladder disease is caused when your betta fish’s swim bladder is injured. The organ is responsible for the buoyancy of your betta fish. It helps manage and control the amount of energy required by your betta to help with buoyancy. The objective is to minimize the energy needed for the purpose.

Hence, any damage to the swim bladder would cause an irregularity in its swimming patterns. This would mean that your betta fish will have no grip over its buoyancy then, and your betta fish will tend to swim sideways.

Betta Fish Swimming Sideways: Symptoms

It is essential to be sure that your betta suffers from the condition to treat it. Hence here are a few indications of swim bladder disease. Sometimes betta fish swim sideways because they are sleeping, and we do not want you to worry about it. If your betta fish is swimming sideways along with the following, you must be concerned.

  • Swimming irregularities, like betta fish floating sideways but alive.
  • Betta fish might not be able to flow through the substrate and sink at the bottom.
  • Swimming upside down or not being able to maintain abalance in swimming patterns.
  • Inactive and lethargic betta fish
  • Loss of vibrancy and the glow in its pigmentation. One might notice spots on the fins and tail too.
  • Curved belly or crooked back due to bloating
  • Loss of appetite.

If you see your betta fish showcasing most of these symptoms, we suggest starting its treatment process.

Betta Fish Swimming Sideways: Causes

Why Is My Betta Fish Swimming Sideways?

Swim bladder disease can be caused due to a range of reasons. The primary reason is the compression of the organ. However, inappropriate tank parameters and dietary habits of the fish can cause this.


Because of their predatory nature, betta fish never stop eating. It may latch on to any opportunity to eat. As a result, they may develop a tendency to overeat. They will not quit consuming even if they are complete. Constipation is a common symptom of these personal characteristics.

As a result of constipation, the fish bladder will stop operating. In addition, lipid formations accumulate in the bladder due to sickness, putting a strain on the body. Betta can often consume more oxygen while consuming meals from the top, causing the same organ to shut down.


Taking care of a betta is pretty much essential. But if the optimal conditions are not met, your betta will be infected. When the water is not filtered frequently, and the water quality is inappropriate, your betta will be prone to infections and bacterial issues.

With infections comes in swim bladder disease-causing betta fish swim sideways. Other signs of a bacterial infection in betta may include bloating, spots, decoloration, and weird scales on its exterior. These bacterial and parasitic infections might lead to a betta fish swimming sideways.

Improper Water Temperature:

Low temperatures might cause organ damage, resulting in constipation in the betta. The optimal range for a betta fish aquarium is between 78 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit or 26 and 28 degrees Celsius. The digestion mechanism of the betta fish is significantly slowed for temperature under the range specified. 

Constipation is almost inevitable as the process of digestion decelerates. Other vital organs of the betta fish may also bulge due to this condition. As a result, installing a radiator to keep the temperature levels checked for a betta is always a good idea. A betta tank requires a filter and a heater as a minimum.

Betta fish is susceptible to any inappropriate changes in the tank. Hence, any change in temperature, water quality, lightings, tank mates, and other tank parameters will cause it a trauma, leading to a non-functional swim bladder, eventually, betta fish swimming sideways.

Betta Fish Swimming Sideways: Treatments

Betta Fish Swimming Sideways Treatments

The first step to treating any abnormality is to check for its cause. Hence, firstly figure out whether it is suffering from swim bladder disease. To treat your betta fish swimming sideways:

  • Provide a healthy water quality to your tank. Install a filter an clean your tank once evry week. It is preferrable to shift your betta fish to a completely new tank.
  • Provide enough space for your betta to swim. Small bowls stress betta. They are terriotrial in nature and require enough space to swim.
  • Check for any variations in water temperature now and then.
  • Practice proper eating habits. Do not feed your betta more than two times a day to avoid overfeeding. Keep a day off in a week.
  • Consult a vet for any antibiotics required for parasitic and bacterial infections. You can also add aquarium salt in the tank.

FAQs on Betta Fish Swimming Sideways

What can cause betta fish to swim sideways?

Possible causes of betta fish swimming sideways:
– Swim bladder disease
– You betta fish is resting or sleeping.
– The filter current might be too strong for your betta.

Is betta fish swimming sideways fatal?

Depending on the intensity and cause of the disease, fatality might be tested. Any bacterial infection will cause the death of your fish. However, other reasons might be reversible.

Is swim bladder disease contagious?

Swim bladder disease might spread to other fish if the cause of the disease is an infection.

Why is my betta fish swimming sideways after a water change?

Often the current is too strong for a betta to swim, so it gets swayed away. The temperature might also not be optimum. Hence, check the current and water quality after a water change.

Why is my betta fish making bubbles at the top of the tank?

Betta fish tend to make bubble nest when it wants to mate. Therefore, betta fish bubbles on top floating sideways is an indication that your betta is ready to mate.

Final Thoughts:

While there can be a multi-dimensional cause behind betta fish swimming sideways, a swim bladder disease could be a matter of concern. Hence, do not compromise on any tank parameters to prevent your fish from such abnormality. Consult a vet for proper treatment.