Betta Fish Laying On Bottom Of Tank Breathing Heavy: Causes & Solutions

Betta fish have vibrant, energetic personalities. They swim exuberantly and are perceptive to their environment. Therefore, when they are inactive, most fishkeepers assume they have problems and need help.

For instance, many novice aquarists are worried when they notice their Betta fish laying on the bottom of the tank, breathing heavily.

There are various reasons for this issue. It’s time to delve into this article to discover the causes. Let’s get started!

Betta Fish Laying On Bottom Of Tank Breathing Heavy: Causes

Knowing how your Bettas behave will enable you to understand when to take appropriate action.

Below are a few typical explanations for a Betta lying near the tank’s bottom. Let’s scroll down!


The lifespan of bettas is not very long. These fish have a three to five-year lifespan when given favorable conditions.

Your Betta can experience aging effects if you’ve kept them for a long time. When they get older, aged Bettas typically become slower.

Therefore, these creatures prefer to lie at the bottom rather than swim around the aquarium.

aged betta fish


Stress is among the most frequent causes of your Betta gasping for oxygen.

Your Bettas may get stressed due to inappropriate water parameters, overstocking, diseases, or smaller tanks.

Ammonia Poisoning

Ammonia concentrations in the aquarium will increase as your Bettas create more waste.

Ammonia rates will continuously rise if you lack a good filter in hand. Your Bettas will get weaker and have breathing issues as a result.

Nitrate Poisoning

Another substance produced by fish excrement is nitrate. It is also a result of bacterial degradation, nonetheless.

Nitrates are much less dangerous than ammonia. They still cause a great deal of harm, though. This poison kills slowly.

Bettas that absorb it become sluggish and feeble and may lie at the bottom of your aquarium.

Excessive Current

Strong currents are not suitable for bettas. Their enormous fans are mainly decorative and don’t assist in swimming.

Your fish may be exhausted if the filtration system and air pump produce excessive flow!

High Temperature

The hazard of temperature shock to Bettas is quite severe. Summertime heat can cause several health issues.

Much more quickly than in cold ones, warm waters lose oxygen. Without oxygen, your Betta must gasp for air while lying at the bottom.

Low Temperature

Cold waters that are too chilly for the Bettas might also be problematic. When the temperature is below 74℉, the fish’s metabolic rate will decrease.

Also, oxygen absorbs more slowly. Your Betta will become extremely feeble and sluggish due to this chain of circumstances.

betta fish in low temp water


Your Bettas may be ill if they exhibit fatigue and waste a lot of time lying at the bottom of your aquarium.

They may suffer from common diseases such as Ich, Bloat, and Dropsy. If you want to learn about common illness in this species, you can watch this video:

Tank Size Problem

Your fish have nothing to do when cooped up in a small, lifeless space! There is nothing to investigate.

Your Bettas will rapidly quit participating in activities, leaving them with little choice except to sleep at the tank’s bottom.

Uncycled Tank

If the cycling process hasn’t finished, the water parameters in the aquarium are not suitable for your fish, which can cause ammonia poisoning.

Overcrowded Population

If the tank is overcrowded, your Bettas will use the oxygen amount more quickly while increasing the carbon dioxide levels.

Besides, overstocking may cause an ammonia spike, especially if your aquarium is too small.


Interestingly, bettas have a similar circadian pattern to humans. They prefer to keep busy all day and sleep at night.

You may find them sleeping near the bottom of the aquarium when they do not get enough shut-eye at night!

sleeping betta

Betta Fish Laying On Bottom Of Tank Breathing Heavy: Solutions

When you see the above signs, you need to take action to ensure your Bettas are healthy. Here are some practical solutions to this problem in this species.

Treat diseases

If diseases like Ich cause your fish to be sick and lie at the bottom of the tank, the first action is to quarantine ill Bettas.

Depending on the case of your Bettas, you should apply suitable therapy or consult with an aquatic vet.

Solve ammonia poisoning

If ammonia concentrations are the culprit, you must start treating the water in the primary tank.

Change the tank water and clear any decaying plants, trash, or other organic stuff that may be present.

After that, it’s time to set the nitrogen cycle in the aquarium.

Remove stress source

It would be best to determine the reason for the stress because several elements might do so.

Remove any aggressive species you may have added to the aquarium as quickly as possible. If the aquarium is too small, it’s best to get another bigger one.

Inadequate food can also cause stress, so give your Betta suitable food with the right amount.

Control water parameters

Water conditions are essential to prevent stress in your Betta.

It’s best to use a test kit to regularly check the water’s pH, salinity, hardness, ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels.

Another critical element to maintaining stability is temperature. Add cooler water to lower the temperature if it is excessively high.


How Do You Fix Low Oxygen In A Fish Tank?

You can increase water movement to fix the low oxygen in the aquarium because it dissolves more O2 and CO2 released.

How Do I Know If My Fish Has Ammonia Poisoning?

If your pets suffer ammonia poisoning, they may show some signs:

  • Red, purple, bleeding gills
  • Red streaks on the body or fins
  • Gasping for air
  • Jagged fins

Is My Betta Fish Dying Or Sleeping?

To answer this question, you must determine whether your pet is breathing to determine if it’s dead or asleep.

How Do I Check The Oxygen Level In My Fish Tank?

A dissolved oxygen meter is the most effective way to check the oxygen level in the tank water.

Can A Betta Recover From Ammonia Poisoning?

The good news is yes! Bettas often need 3 – 5 days to recover from a typical ammonia poisoning.

Wrapping Up

Betta fish laying on the bottom of the tank breathing heavily may be due to reasons like stress, aging, diseases, ammonia poisoning, or tank size problem.

You must determine the root causes before applying suitable solutions for specific situations.

If you have further questions, please comment below. Hopefully, this article will be helpful for you. Thanks for reading!