Betta Fish Floating At Top Of Tank – Why And How To Fix It?

Betta fish are a common choice among aquarists thanks to their peaceful temperament, affordability, and hardiness. While they are durable and do not perish easily, betta fish are still subject to diseases and illnesses from time to time.

Occasionally, you will see betta fish floating at top of the tank, which can be concerning for many people. So, what are the reasons behind this occurrence? And what can you do for your fish? Keep reading and find out now!

Betta Fish Floating At Top Of Tank – Reasons And Solutions?

betta at top of the tank


Limited space

If your water tank fails to provide betta fish with enough space to swim around, they will end up moving near the water surface. Or, if the tank is filled with semi-aggressive fish who pose a threat to betta, they sure will feel intimidated and seek comfort somewhere further away from the main waters.

To counter this problem, make sure to create an ideal fish community for your betta. As bettas are known for their mild manners, mixing them with bullies will not suffice. Opt for fish that are equal in both size and habits. This way, both bettas and their tank mates will live in harmony without much fuss.

Another approach here is to put in as many hiding spots as possible. When the water is too clear and does not provide playgrounds, bettas may feel exposed while swimming. Caves, driftwood, plants, and stones are perfect additions to help bettas stay lowkey when needed.


Bettas fish are among the guttiest species. They are in constant hunger and will seek food almost every time. Hence, you will see them floating near the water surface, yearning for more to eat.

In this case, there is nothing to be worried about. As long as you feed bettas two to three times per day, they will be fine. Try to refrain from overfeeding them, as it would cause constipation and even induce betta to more ailments.

Lack of oxygen

When there is not enough oxygen in the water, bettas will inevitably swim near the top for more air. While betta can suck in oxygen from the exposed air, having to do it all the time will drain them of energy.

If you think your fish are struggling to breathe properly, consider investing in an air bubbler. Such a device helps generate oxygen within all water bodies. Furthermore, feel free to put in more live plants, as they are vital to oxygen generation and CO2 removal.

Temperature shock

Bettas enjoy a bit of heat and warmth to remain healthy and active. if your tank’s water has experienced a drop in temperature lately, chances are bettas will not want to be anywhere near the bottom. Swimming to the surface is how betta tries to retain their body heat.

In case bettas are too cold to function normally, you might want to have a look at how you arrange your heater. If not placed in the center, heaters may not dissipate well, keeping the heat unevenly distributed.


You can also switch your tank to a more favorable location, where it can get lots of sunlight. Wrapping the tank with towels and placing lamps around them are also recommended courses of action.

Swim bladder disease

A betta suffering from swim bladder disease will not be able to swim upright. Not only do their swimming postures look weird, but they also tend to float to the surface.

If this is the case for your fish, you might want to stop feeding them for a few days. As swim bladder disease is caused by constipation and overfeeding, forcing bettas to fast will give them time to digest all of the food residues.

Adding a bit of daphnia for more fiber also smoothens bettas’ digestive system and encourages them to get rid of food buildup.


1. Why is my betta fish floating but still alive?

Betta fish floating at top of a tank is not always a sign of death. Too often, betta swims to the surface because of several problems, ranging from having to live in an overcrowded tank to higher stress levels and lack of oxygen.

Thus, you do not need to worry about whether your fish may die when they are spotted near the surface. Determining what causes your betta fish to act abnormally is the first step to solving the puzzling question of their swimming tendencies.

2. How do I add oxygen to my fish tank?

There are many ways to increase oxygen in a water tank. The cheapest ways include a large water change of up to 50%, putting in water from a relative height, using a fan to blow into the water, and adding ice cups.

Feel free to stir the water using your hands as well, as it helps to generate a steadier oxygen flow.

If you can afford it, battery-powered air pumps and air bubblers are more than welcome. Their working mechanisms are the same as stirring the water, but you will not need to exert yourself manually.

3. What does it mean when fish stay at the top?

Fish staying at the top can be traced back to multiple reasons. Sometimes, they do not get enough oxygen and have to suck in more from the air. Or, the tank gets too much for your fish and they need to go somewhere undisturbed.

Last but not least, fish swim at the top of the fish tank to escape temperature shock and retain their body heat.


There are various reasons accounting for betta fish floating at top of the tank. Once you have pinpointed the root of the problem, try to come up with solutions before things get messy. This way, your bettas surely can live for a long time!