Why Is My Betta Fish Swimming Sideways?

For most of the Betta keepers, Bettas are not only fish. And they are stunning pets. For some, Bettas become even a part of their family. This is so for all the right reasons. Due to their offbeat and unique personality, Bettas are considered a perfect fish for new fish keepers. This beautiful fish does strange positions, swims, and floats in the aquarium. In “Why Is My Betta Fish Swimming Sideways?” You’ll get brief detail:

But what if you ever come home and find that your beloved betta fish is swimming sideways, or sometimes upside down. As such, it is worrisome to see that our Bettas are unwell. While not necessarily deadly, betta fish swimming sideways is a sign of some issue with their swim bladder. Betta fish swimming upside down or sideways is a sign of a particular swim bladder disease. This swim bladder disease is commonly caused by constipation or overeating. Figuring out the condition and curing it requires fasting the fish until they get enough to process and pass food properly. Once they start doing so, reducing the amount they normally feed is suggested.

We will learn about this disease and the rest of the reasons behind this behavior in this extensive guide.

What Are the Possible Reasons for Your Betta swimming sideways?

What Are the Possible Reasons for Your Betta swimming sideways

Why is your Betta not swimming in a normal manner? Why has it started swimming sideways? Everyone asks this pair of questions when their Betta fish gets infected with swim bladder disease. Initially, many people considered it normal because of the strange and quirky personality of Betta fish.

Swimming sideways or not swimming is a symptom of swim bladder disease. The swim bladder is an organ that Betta fish possess. It allows them to have control of their buoyancy. This particular organ helps Bettas swim easily and saves energy during the swimming.

Fortunately, swim bladder disease is usually not a cause for alarm, and curing this disease can be fairly simple and quick. However, to properly this fish disease, it is best first to understand it. A simple explanation of this disease would be that the fish’s swim bladder can get damaged because of several reasons that make this organ not function properly.

Why do fish get swim bladder diseases? There are several reasons involved. Please check on the ones mentioned below.

1. Overfeeding and constipation

One of the common problems with Bettas is that they try to overeat. Once you start feeding them, they will not stop eating even if they get full or finish their food. This eating habit leads them to be constipated.

Constipation for a prolonged period can also cause swim bladder disease. It affects their ability to swim. Too much constipation can also cause build-ups of plenty of fatty deposits in the fish’s swim bladder, leaving a negative impact on their health.

2. Bacterial infection

One of the main reasons a Betta fish gets swim bladder disease is any bacterial infection. A bacterial infection is a disease that occurs in fish, and one of the symptoms of this disease is having a swim bladder disease.

Usually, bacterial infections can be caused by poor maintenance of tank water. If the water quality in your tank is so low, Betta fish will show many more symptoms apart from the swim bladder problem. Severe bloating and Pinecone scales are common signs indicating that your fish is, somehow, in trouble and needs your immediate attention, too.

3. Low Temperature

When the temperature of your tank water is too low, it can also lead to your fish suffering from swim bladder disease. If you want to prevent your fish from this condition, make sure that the water in your tank is maintained at a temperature tolerated by the fish. Always make sure that the water temperature in your fish tank does not go down below a value of 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Shock

A rare cause of swim bladder disease in Betta fish is a shock. If something drastic ever happens in your tank, the shock and stress could affect the overall health of your fish. The shock can result from a whole range of factors—for instance, a sudden change in temperature or constant changes in light.

5. Serious diseases

There will be times when your beloved Betta gets infected with multiple cysts in its kidney. Egg binding of betta fish can also make it acquire the swim bladder disease. Most of these diseases are serious enough that all you have got to do is wait and observe what will happen to your betta fish.

6. Physical damage

There is a possibility of Betta fish physically damaging its swim bladder. Although, chances are rare in an aquarium environment.

A most common cause of physical damage to the swim bladder is when another fish or tank mate deliberately rams into Betta fish. Different predatory fish use the same technique to immobilize their prey. The predator fish chases the prey fish at speed and intentionally rams into its side. The resulting collision because of this attack may rupture the swim bladder of the Betta fish. It allows the aggressor fish to catch and consume it without a drawn-out chase.

7. Parasitic Infection

Parasitic infection can also affect Betta fish, especially their intestines and stomach. It usually happens because of the overeating habit of Betta fish. It makes parasites infest bettas’ bodies. And once it gets infected, you will notice your betta swimming sideways or even doing a strange position.

What to Do When Betta Fish Is Swimming Sideways?

What to Do When Betta Fish Is Swimming Sideways

Without any doubt, it is distressing to see your beloved Betta unwell. If you are also worried because of the same problem, there are certain ways by which you can fix it.

Provide your Betta with a clean tank

Hygiene comes first. As we have mentioned in the list of causes, a dirty tank contributes to Betta’s sickness. If you are feeding your Betta regularly but not performing regular water changes, wastes and nutrients build up in the betta tank. It allows Ammonia, bacteria, and even parasites to thrive in the tank.

So, if you notice that your Betta is unwell, the first step you need to take is to shift it to a quarantine tank and properly clean its old tank. If your Betta shows no improvement even after being redirected to another tank, medication can be necessary.

Provide a spacious tank

Providing a spacious tank is a good idea if you want healthier fish. In a small tank, bowl, cup, or vase, waste builds up directly below a Betta and pollutes the water more quickly than in a tank with more water volume and a filter. In big-box pet stores, you will often see Bettas lying on their side in their uneaten food and waste. This is not healthy for these fish as it may lead to a bacterial, fungal infection, or another disease.

The minimum tank size for a Betta fish is 2.5 gallons. While bettas may live in smaller areas in the wild and survive in smaller tanks, domestic bettas live longer and healthier lives in larger tanks because waste build-ups and water conditions are much easier to control in spacious tanks.

My favorite size for a betta fish is 5 gallons. A 5-gallon-sized tank has enough room for a betta fish to exercise while also giving the fish keeper some space to aquascape the tank.

Availability of Betta Medication

Keeping the betta first aid kit on hand is a wise idea as pet stores often do not carry betta-specific medications, or even if they have, some of the medicines may be out of stock when you need them. The quicker you can cure your Betta’s disease, the higher the possibility that your Betta will get recovered smoothly.

Types of Betta Fish Medication

Types of Betta Fish Medication

You can find most of the Betta medications online, but if you don’t have a betta first aid kit on hand and need some medicines ASAP, then look for one of these at your nearest pet store:

  • Kanamycin
  • Betting
  • Betamax
  • Ampicillin
  • Tetracycline,
  • Marcin 1
  • Jungle Fungus Eliminator
  • Maracyn 2

Naturally Available Betta Fish Medication:

  • Aquarium Salt
  • Melafix
  • Indian Almost Leaves

Even if you are unsure about the main underlying cause of your Bettas sickness, giving your fish a medication like Melaflix for one week may give your beloved Betta a chance to fight.


To sum up, Bettas are one of nature’s most uniquely designed creations. Their strange positions and beautiful color pattern are something that never misses catching the audience’s attention. They enhanced the overall beauty of the aquarium they live in. But what if you get to see your beloved Betta swimming sideways or even upside down for quite a long time. This can be upsetting, right? If anything like this is bothering you, we have covered you by coming up with a list of different underlying causes. Not only this, multiple ways by which you can treat swim bladder disease have also been mentioned. Give these a try if your Betta fish has started acting weird, and let us know which one of these worked well for you.