Why Is My Betta Fish Not Moving?

Bettas are tropical fish that are very active by nature and responsive to movements around the tank.  But they are also a kind of fish that tend to sleep when it is dark. While sleeping you can see them laying at the bottom in different positions, or on the leaf and not moving. The first thing that crosses your mind if you notice your betta is not moving is – Is it alive? In most cases, your pet is just taking a rest or sleeping. But on the other hand, something may be wrong. We are going to provide six top reasons why your betta isn’t moving. 

Betta Fish Not Moving: Top 6 Reasons


Your betta might not move simply because it is sleeping. Like humans, bettas also need to regenerate and rest. They usually sleep when it is dark but they can occasionally take a nap during the daytime too. The way they sleep can be a bit weird because you can see it laying at the side, floating on the filter, at the top of decorations or at the bottom on the substrate. Since they have no eye-lids you can’t tell whether they are sleeping or not. There is no need to panic because there are ways you can check.  You can check the gills to see if it is breathing, you can turn the light on or swirl the water. If your betta starts moving it is just resting or sleeping. Try to avoid sudden noise or poking your pet, it may stress her out and lead to a shock. 

Poor water quality

If you notice lethargic behavior with your betta, it may be caused by poor water conditions. The first thing that causes it is a change of temperature. If the temperature falls under the recommendable limit, it will slow your fish down. It will stop moving and even eating and it will cause more serious damage.  Everything below 72 F is bad for your pet. Just to remind you that you need to keep the temperature between 76 and 82 degrees of Fahrenheit and the ideal is at 78 F. 

The lack of light can also cause betta to move slower. If there isn’t a light provided your betta might think it is still dark and rest or sleep more than it is supposed to. 

If the PH of the water isn’t neutral, between 6.5 and 7.5 and the best is to keep it at 7,0. The wrong level of PH can cause illness and you need to fix it right away. You should also check the levels of nitrates, nitrite and ammonia. If the levels Are too high it will be toxic and your betta will stop moving. So, you should keep the level of ammonia and nitrite at 0.0 and nitrates less than 20 ppm (part per million). 

Everything below the limits connected to water temperature and quality can compromise your betta health and it may appear like sleeping. From time to time check the water parameters to prevent possible issues. 

Improper feeding

If you do not provide a varied balanced diet your betta might stop moving due to less energy. High protein food is something that is a must for your betta. That way it will have enough energy to move around the tank the way it is supposed to. You need to feed them with a specially designed food for bettas and we recommend brine shrimp, worms, daphnia and insect larvae. You can serve pellets or flakes, live, freeze-dried or frozen food. As long as it is produced for bettas and rich in proteins it will be great for your pet. 

You just need to be careful not to overfeed your pet because that will cause other health problems that you need to deal with. Feed it twice a day, serve 1 to 3 pre-soaked pellets and let it eat within two minutes. If you notice your betta is spitting food out, you should stop feeding it. All the leftovers removed from the tank did not pollute it and you did a great job. 


Betas are fish that can be easily stressed. There are many things that can stress a betta and some of them are: too small tank, improper feeding, poor water quality and tank conditions, aggressive tank mates, sudden changes or illness. All of these stressors can affect the immune system and lead to disease or death. If you keep the environment properly and avoid the thing that can provoke stress your betta will be happy and healthy. 


There are many diseases that are common in betta fish and cause bettas to stop moving.  

  • The most common is constipation and it is more a condition than a disease. In most cases, it is caused by overfeeding and the inability to pass feces which then stops in the digestive tract.  The symptoms are the swollen abdomen, loss of appetite, not swimming and lethargy. If noticed in time it is cured easily. Let your pet fast for a day and then reduce portions until everything gets back to normal. Another thing is boiled peas that are an excellent cure for constipation. 
  • Another condition is called swim bladder disease which happens due to overfeeding or constipation. The symptoms are that your fish is floating sideways, upside down or not moving. The best way to treat swim bladder is to fast your betta for three days and then treat it with pre-skinned peas. If the cause is a parasite or fungal infection treat it with proper medications. 
  • Dropsy is another common disease caused by the buildup of liquid inside the betta`s body and does affect betta stop moving among many other things. Since it is caused by bacteria it needs to be treated with specific medications such as Maracyn 2 following the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Popeye eye is a condition when betta`s eye becomes swollen, depending on the cause (bacterial or fungal) the treatment differs. Antibiotic or antifungal medications will help in treating this disease which also affects movements. 
  • Parasitic and fungal infections, velvet or worms also influence your betta to stop moving.

Depending on the type of disease after detecting the symptoms you should start treatment and help your pet get well soon. 

It has passed away

Betta’s life span is 3 to 5 years. And sadly, when the time comes your betta might not be moving because it has passed away. You may know how long you have had your pet but you can’t always and with certainty know how old your pet is. 

Be sure that your fish is not just sleeping by observing and look for any response before you pronounce it dead.  

Final Thoughts

If your betta pet stops moving or becomes lethargic there are many reasons that can cause it. And let’s recap the options:

  • Your betta might be resting or sleeping so you do not need to be alarmed
  • The quality of the water is lower than your pet can tolerate. Check for all parameters, especially the temperature. 
  • Your betta can stop moving due to an improper diet so provide it with a varied diet rich in proteins.
  • A betta may be stressed, look for symptoms, eliminate stressors and it will be fine
  • In some cases, betta stop moving due to illness so check the symptoms and react accordingly.
  • The unfortunate reality and the last thing that can happen is that your betta has come to an end. 

Whatever the cause is from the list except the last, there are huge chances that your betta will be fully recovered with a little effort.

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