Betta Fish Swimming Sideway: Reasons, Treatment and Care Tips

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Is your betta fish swimming sideways? Betta fish swim sideways due to many factors such as improper diet, overfeeding, constipation, physical injury, and infection. Swim bladder disorders, often caused by overeating or poor-quality food, can lead to abnormal swimming patterns.

What are the causes of betta fish swimming sideways? Is it expected behavior, or is your betta fish suffering from some physical problem? In this article, we will try to discuss in detail why betta fish swim sideways.

Betta fish are not only beautiful; they are also intelligent. So it is quite a concern when this intelligent animal behaves abnormally. This means they must be feeling pain or suffering from some physical problem.

Possible reasons: Why is the betta fish swimming sideways?

How to Fix a Swim Bladder in a Betta
A betta fish swimming sideways all the time is not a normal thing. This can certainly be a cause for alarm, as it can be a sign of an underlying health condition, particularly swim bladder disease. However, sometimes there are other reasons why your betta fish is swimming sideways. Here are some of them.

Contaminated Water in Betta Fish Tank

First, you should check the water condition of your fish tank. Pay attention to water quality and cleanliness. If the water quality in your betta fish tank is poor, this may be why your betta fish is swimming sideways.

Bettas are very sensitive to changes in water quality, and even small changes can cause them stress. As a result, they can start swimming sideways.

First, do a water change and observe if there is any change in the betta fish’s behavior.

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

Sometimes, when we change the water in the aquarium, we put cold water in the old hot water. This shocks the bettas, causing them to swim to the side. To avoid this, make sure that when you change the water, the temperature of the new water and the old water inside the aquarium is the same.


Poor water parameters in Betta’s tank

To check the parameters of your fish tank, you can use a good water test kit. This will tell you everything you need to know about the water quality in your tank. Make sure that pH levels, ammonia, and nitrite are all within the ideal range for bettas.

The ideal pH level for bettas is between 6.5 and 7.5, while ammonia and nitrite levels should be 0 ppm.

If your water parameters are bad, you need to take immediate action to fix the problem.

The first thing you need to do is clean your fish tank and change the water. You can use a water conditioner to remove any toxins from the water.
Even after doing this, you should always keep an eye on your betta fish. It should be noted whether there is any change in their condition.

Incorrect Temperature in the Tank Water

Another thing you need to check is the temperature of the water in your fish tank. Bettas are tropical fish, and they like warm water. The ideal water temperature for betta fish is between 76 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the water in your fish tank is too cold, it may cause your betta to swim sideways. Cold water can stress betta fish. To solve this problem, you need to increase the water temperature in your fish tank. For this, you can use a heater.

Once the water temperature is raised to the ideal range, your betta will resume swimming normally.

Many people also want to know why my betta fish is floating on top of the tank.

  • Aquarium water can be too cold or too warm.
  • Lack of oxygen in tank water.
  • Aquarium water can be polluted.
  • Betta fish can have swim bladder problems
  • Betta fish may be injured for some reason.
  • Betta fish can do this during the spawning season.

Swim Bladder Disease

One of the most common causes of bettas swimming sideways is swim bladder disease. Swim bladder disease is a disease that can affect bettas and other fish. If your betta is suffering from swim bladder disease, you need to take immediate action to treat the problem.

What Exactly is swim bladder disease?

Betta fish are able to float vertically and horizontally in water due to a special organ called the swim bladder. It is a gas-filled sac located inside the abdomen. Which helps them to float and swim at any level of water.

The swim bladder is connected to the large intestine through a thin tube. This tube allows bettas to expel excess gas from their swim bladders to maintain their buoyancy.

However, sometimes this system does not work correctly, and often this tube becomes narrow, causing obstruction in gas exchange. This causes them to float on top of the water or even swim sideways. You will see your betta fish floating to the side, but not dead.

How do you know if your betta has swim bladder disease?

There are some signs to know if your betta has swim bladder disease. But you should know that not all these symptoms will appear at the same time.

Some symptoms of constipation or overfeeding:

  • Abnormal swimming patterns or general problems with buoyancy
  • An arched back or distended abdomen is an indicator of constipation
  • Lethargy, especially if your beta is normally very active
  • Your beta may refuse to eat as

Unusual appetites
Some symptoms of infection include:

  • The fins are sticking due to the stress
  • Their body is constantly shaking

The main symptom of swim bladder disease is the betta fish swimming sideways

  • However, there are other symptoms you may see, including:
  • Betta fish floating on the water’s surface
  • Sinking under the water in the tank
  • The betta fish’s belly is bloated
  • Curved, S-shaped spine
  • It is difficult to swim
  • Swimming abnormally with a little jerk

If you notice any of these symptoms in your betta, Perhaps they have swim bladder disease. This condition needs to be treated quickly, as the consequences of neglect can be fatal.

Causes of swim bladder disease

There are many different factors that can cause swim bladder disease. Some of the most common include:

Constipation and overeating

Betta fish have a tendency to overeat. Once you feed them, they will not stop eating, even when they are full or once the food is gone. This type of personality can make them often constipated.

Excessive constipation can also affect their swim bladder, which can reduce their ability to swim. Constant constipation can also contribute to the formation of large fatty deposits in the bladder, which can negatively affect its health.


Why is my beta swimming upside down?

Eat air

As they are labyrinth fish, they have a unique organ that allows them to do this, especially if they are not getting enough oxygen from the water.

But while bettas need air from time to time, too much air can cause problems. There is certainly no harm in moderation., but if bettas take in too much air, it can cause problems with their swim bladders. This can cause their swim bladder to swell and lead to swim bladder disease.

Bacterial infection

One reason a betta fish can develop swim bladder disease is a bacterial infection. It’s actually the other way around. Bacterial infection is actually a disease that can occur in fish and one of the symptoms is fish swim bladder disease. These infections occur when bettas are kept in poor water conditions or in dirty water. So, if your betta is suffering from a bacterial infection, it is likely that their tank water is dirty.

The most common sign of bacterial infection is red spots on the betta’s body or fins. If you notice this, it’s important to get your betta to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Parasitic infection

Your betta fish can also become infected with parasites, especially in their stomach and intestines. And once that happens, you’ll see the fish swim strangely or even sideways.

The Betta Fish is swimming sideways, not eating

This is because your betta fish is sick. This illness can be caused by bacterial or parasitic infections. Fish also do this due to swim bladder disease.


Treatment of swim bladder disease caused by bacterial or parasitic infections.

If your betta has a bacterial or parasitic infection, follow the steps below to treat your fish.

  1. Quarantine your betta in a separate tank where you can medicate the water.
  2. Start dosing your aquarium with the appropriate medication.

Tumor in Betta fish

Tumors affect betta fish just like humans. And just like humans, they can get them in different parts of their bodies. The usual site of the tumor is in the betta’s tail fin, especially if it is long-finned.

However, in some rare cases, bettas can develop tumors in their swim bladders. These tumors can cause bettas to have difficulty swimming or even start swimming sideways. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done if You have a tumor in your bettas swim bladder.

With tumors, bettas can still live for some weeks or months, but if you see that their quality of life is already suffering, you should consider taking them to the veterinarian to have them euthanized.


If bettas experience any trauma to their abdomen, it can cause swim bladder disease. For example, if bettas are dropped or strained, it can cause their swim bladder to burst. This obviously leads to bettas having difficulty swimming.

However, in some rare cases, bettas can develop tumors in their bodies. If bettas eat something that is too big for them, it can cause injury to their stomachs and swim bladders.

How do you cure or treat swim bladder disease?

How long can a fish live with swim bladder disease?

If you think your betta fish have swim bladder disease, you need to take immediate action to treat the problem. As soon as you start treating your betta fish, it will make a full recovery.

There are several ways to treat swim bladder disease:

Give them more suitable food

Feeding bettas a high-protein diet can help reduce the amount of gas in their bladder.
Foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms are high in protein and can help bettas expel gas from their swim bladders.

It’s important to remember that bettas should only be fed high-potein foods on a temporary basis. Once the bettas have recovered from their bladder disease, you should return to feeding them regular food.
Because high-protein foods are also high in fat, bettas who eat too much fat can develop obesity. It can cause several health problems.


Just like humans or other animals, Betta fish can get sick and suffer from physical problems. This is not unusual. But if the betta fish gets sick or dies due to our wrong care, it is very distressing for any betta fish owner. That’s why it’s so important to gain some knowledge about betta fish.

You should have proper knowledge about what kind of food they eat, water temperature, tank water parameters, etc. It is very important to keep a betta fish healthy and happy.

If you have benefited in any way from this article, please let us know in the comment box below. If you want to know more about this, then feel free to comment in the comment box.

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Question: Can betta fish recover from a swim bladder disease?

Ans: Yes, with proper care and adaptation to their environment, betta fish can recover from swim bladder disease. However, if swim bladder disease is caused by a tumor or any other disease inside the body, it is difficult to recover.

Question: What is the ideal tank temperature for betta fish?

Ans: The ideal temperature range for betta fish is around 78-80°F (25-27°C).

Question: How often should the tank be cleaned?

Ans: About 25-30% of the water should be changed every week. And the entire tank should be cleaned once a month Never change all the water in the tank at once. If you use a high-grade filter in the tank, it can go longer without cleaning.

Question: Are live plants beneficial for betta fish tanks?

Ans: Yes, living plants can provide hiding places, oxygenate the water and contribute to a more natural environment.

Question: Can stress lead to sideway swimming?

Ans: Yes, stress from factors like tank size, lack of hiding spots, or aggressive tank mates can lead to abnormal swimming behavior. Create a stress-free environment for your Betta Fish.

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