The Reasons Why Does Betta Fish Stay At The Top Of The Tank

The Reasons Why Does Betta Fish Stay At The Top Of The Tank

The Reasons Why Does Betta Fish Stay At The Top Of The Tank7 mins read

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The Reasons Why Does Betta Fish Stay At The Top Of The Tank
Image from Flickr

The Betta fish is an aquarium favorite due to its color and finnage varieties, but they have quirky personalities, and you may wonder ‘why does my betta fish stay at the top of the tank?’. The colorful and hearty Betta is a loner, with males best kept solitary. Despite this, they are relatively easy to care for and ideal for beginners. Yet a consequence of this is many first time owners find themselves asking about a ‘betta fish staying at top of tank’ or a betta that won’t leave the surface!

Betta fish have the unique ability to obtain oxygen from water and air. Did you know, this may be one of the reasons why betta fish stay at the top of a tank?

So, to answer the question “why is my Betta Fish staying at the top of the tank” you mostly have to understand their needs. When you have a betta staying at top of tank environments this is often to do with unmet needs.

There are a few factors to consider that can give more clarity on the subject. Nevertheless, to keep Betta fish from staying at the top of the tank, you must understand their unique care requirements and behavior.

Breed Overview

OriginSoutheast Asia
Lifespan2-3 Years
Size5 – 3 cm (1 – 1.5 Inches)
ColorsVarious solid and multicolored
Water TypeFreshwater
FoodCarnivore
Tank Size20 – 30 Gallons
TemperamentAggressive, Intelligent, Territorial
Water Temperature74 – 82 ̊F/23 – 28 ̊C
Water pH5 – 7.5
Difficulty LevelEasy to Intermediate

Betta Fish as a Species

Betta fish were first kept as pets in Thailand for their aggression, and to gamble with. Hence where the name Siamese fighting fish comes from. If you want to answer the question ‘why does my betta fish stay at the top of the tank?’ you first must understand this species’ history and behavior, however.

Despite their brilliant array of color and fin variations, males do not get along well. In fact, two males will essentially fight each other to the death.

Basic Facts About Betta Fish

  • Betta fish are quite small ranging from 2.5 cm (1 Inch) to 14 cm (5.5 Inches) depending on the the species.
  • There are many different color variations, and types of Betta fish.
  • Females are less colorful and have much shorter fins than males.
  • Betta fish are intelligent, and curious and lose their temper quickly.
  • Male Bettas are highly aggressive in comparison to females.
  • Keep males solitary, and females in groups.
  • They have a short lifespan of between 2-4 years.

Caring For Betta Fish

Caring For Betta Fish
Bettas enjoy warmer water between 74 – 82 ̊F/23 – 28 ̊C and a neutral pH of around 6.5 – 7.5. Though they can tolerate poor water conditions, it is never a healthy environment for them. Image from Flickr

Caring for a Betta properly can prevent them from staying at the surface of the tank. Ideally, it’s advised to consult a proper Betta Fish Care Guide for in-depth information. However, here are the basics:

Aquarium Set-Up

A single Male or group of 4 females requires at least a 20 – 30 gallon tank with a lid. They need hiding spots such as decorative caves and rocks Most aquarium plants are suitable. Furthermore, a good filter and additional air stones provide more oxygen.

Water Parameters

Bettas enjoy warmer water between 74 – 82 ̊F/23 – 28 ̊C and a neutral pH of around 6.5 – 7.5. Though they can tolerate poor water conditions, it is never a healthy environment for them.

Feeding

Betta fish require a balanced diet of quality pellets or flakes, protein-based foods, and vegetables. Due to this, you should feed them small portions at regular intervals.

Tank Maintenance

Regular tank maintenance and water changes keep the water clean and healthy. This can be an answer to ‘why is my betta fish staying at the top of the tank?’ – they are avoiding dirty water. Though, Betta fish are not a species that creates excessive waste.

Basic Health Conditions In Betta Fish

Basic Health Conditions In Betta Fish
A bacterial infection caused by physical damage.

If you find yourself asking ‘why does my betta fish stay at the top of the tank?’ you may worry your finned friend has a disease. As with most Tropical fish Bettas are prone to similar health conditions:

  • Parasitic Diseases – Ich and Velvet Disease.
  • Fin Rot – A bacterial infection caused by physical damage.
  • Dropsy – Also called swim Bladder disease. It is a fungal or bacterial disease that can cause fish to stay at the top of the tank.

Why Does My Betta Fish Stay At The Top Of The Tank

Do Betta Fish Need a Filter in a 5-Gallon Tank?
The ideal temperature range for Betta fish is between 74-82 ̊ F(23-28 ̊ C).

In general, Betta Fish are well known to occupy the top and mid sections of their aquarium. They mostly stay clear of the bottom, as you may notice. However, if your Betta fish is spending excessive time at the top of the tank, there may be an underlying issue. if you find yourself searching ‘betta staying at top of tank’ you may want to solve this as soon as you can. Thus, to address the reasons why Betta Fish is staying at the top of a tank, it could be the following:

Lack of Oxygen

The Labyrinth organ in Betta fish is specially adapted. This means they can breathe oxygen from water and air, so this is one answer to ‘why does my betta fish stay at the top of the tank?’. What makes this so remarkable, is that Betta’s can survive in very poor water conditions. However, Bettas may survive in low-oxygen water, but they do not enjoy it.

Healthy Betta fish with sufficient oxygen will spend more time in the mid regions of their tank. You will see them their gills, rather than gasping for air on the tank surface, is much better for your Betta. Moreover, healthy and happy Bettas will spend time in the mid-section and surface of the tank.

Swim Bladder Disease

The swim bladder is an organ in fish filled with air. Did you know, that the Swim Bladder controls the buoyancy of fish in the water? A betta staying at top of tank habitats, no matter the tank size, can mean it is sick. Furthermore, betta fish are quite prone to swim bladder disease. Some symptoms of the disease include:

  1. Disorientation.
  2. Struggling to swim upright.
  3. Swimming on the side of the body.
  4. Swimming Upside down or in circles.
  5. Being stuck at the bottom or on the surface of the tank.

Often, the disease is because of a fungal or bacterial infection of the swim bladder. Yet at the end of it all, poor water conditions, a poor diet, and constipation are usually the main causes.

Poor Water Conditions

Sub-par water conditions and low oxygen levels go hand in hand. In fact, bad quality water can cause stress and illness in Betta fish. This can unfortunately be one answer to ‘why does my betta fish stay at the top of the tank?’

Usually, insufficient tank maintenance and a build-up of waste cause poor water conditions. Waste build-up and uneaten food causes high nitrate and ammonia levels, and algae. Furthermore, bacterial infections are similarly more evident in dirty water.

Ammonia Spikes

High Ammonia levels are detrimental to Bettas and decrease oxygen. If you are wondering ‘why is my betta fish staying at the top of the tank?’ it could be because of this. Indeed, this forces Betta fish to seek oxygen from the surface of the tank. Likewise, the Betta’s tank may likewise be too small to handle the bioload.

High or Low Water Temperatures

Surprisingly Both High and Low water temperatures can cause Betta Fish to stay at the top of the tank. The ideal temperature range for Betta fish is between 74-82 ̊ F(23-28 ̊ C)

  1. Low Water Temperatures – Bettas love warmer climates, so a betta fish staying at top of tank means the water may be too cool for them. Warm water usually rises to the surface of the tank, whereas water at the bottom is cooler. Concluding why Bettas that are cold will seek warmer water at the surface of the tank.
  2. High Water Temperatures – In contrast, high water temperatures, cause Bettas to stay at the top of the tanksurface. The Betta is seeking oxygen from the air, at the surface of the tank.

Overcrowded Tank

An aquarium overcrowded with fish, especially if you have a Betta, is most likely a cause. Betta fish become stressed with too many tank mates. Similarly, it increases the bio load of your aquarium. Remember, more fish increase the amounts of waste. This causes poor water quality, or the need for more regular tank maintenance.

Hunger

There are a few cases where hunger is the reason why your Betta is staying at the top of the tank. It may just be trying to get attention, or searching for food. In fact bettas require two to three small daily meals and a healthy balanced diet. Though a small chance, it may be that your Betta is searching the surface for food. Bettas are, in fact, surface eaters. This means they naturally prey on insects such as mosquitos that land on the surface of the water. So, a betta fish staying at top of tank environments may just be showing its natural hunting instinct.

Personal Preference

Lastly, as mentioned, they may just enjoy the surface of their aquarium. Eliminating all other causes, the last resort may be personal preference.

How To Stop Your Betta Fish Staying At The Top Of A Tank

How To Stop Your Betta Fish Staying At The Top Of A Tank
Add Air Stones to create surface agitation. This makes it easier for oxygen to enter the water. Similarly, they reduce CO² levels. Image from Flickr

Addressing all the possible reasons for your Betta staying at the top of the tank, you can fix and prevent it. Remember, you should always rule out the likelihood of disease first . Read on for the ways you can stop your Betta from retreating to the surface of the aquarium.

Increase Oxygen Concentrations

Your aquarium needs plenty of oxygen for your Betta to thrive, even within lower levels of the tank.

You may find your Bettas on the surface of the water gasping for air. Thus, should probably increase the level of oxygen within the water. Remember, a betta gasping for air on the surface of the tank is never a good sign. However,to improve oxygen levels you can implement the following:

  • Add Air Stones to create surface agitation. This makes it easier for oxygen to enter the water. Similarly, they reduce CO² levels.
  • You require a strong Filtration system. The initial concern with increasing oxygen levels is a quality filter.
  • Lower water temperatures contain higher levels of dissolved oxygen. Cooler water within the recommended range improves oxygen levels. Low oxygen can definitely be an answer to the question ‘why is my betta fish staying at the top of the tank?’
  • Powerheads create currents that distribute oxygen. Installing additional powerheads allows current distribution to all corners of the tank. It prevents water from becoming stagnant, and a reduction of oxygen.

Noticing your Bettas swimming near the surface of the water, or even too deep, means you should pay attention. In this instance, it is ideal to get a reading of your temperature as soon as possible. Also, check the temperature to ensure that it is within the specified range.

Treating and Preventing Swim Bladder Disease

Bacterial or fungal infections of the Swim Bladder usually cause Swim Bladder Disease. Bloating or constipation is similarly an issue leading to swim bladder conditions. Luckily, shelled peas, Epson salts, or a laxative will help with bloating and constipation.

If you are unfortunate enough that your fish does get ill, prescribed medicine helps with infection of the swim bladder. Essentially keep your tank water clean and according to proper parameters. Feed a more varied and balanced diet to your Betta. The diet must include greens, proteins, and a quality pellet or flake.

Make Sure Your Tank Water is a High Quality

Initially, you need a reliable quality filter for your Betta tank. In fact, this creates a clean, healthy environment. A betta fish staying at top of tank may be a sign of bad water quality!

All tank parameters must be within the proper range. To achieve this check the compound of your water regularly using a testing kit. Testing kits will check Nitrate, Nitrile, and Ammonia levels. If levels are not within range, perform a 50 % water change. To do a water change you can follow these steps:

  • Siphon 50% of the water from your tank with a siphon hose. Make sure to siphon from the bottom of the tank.
  • In a separate container add fresh filtered water.
  • Treat the fresh water with your conditioners. This helps to achieve acceptable water parameters.
  • Heat the water in the separate container to the required temperature, or use warm water.
  • Test the water to ensure temperatures, and pH are correct.
  • Now you can add the water to your tank.

Equip your Betta tank with a reliable filter. Perform a routine weekly or bi-weekly tank cleaning and partial water change. This helps to maintain a clean and healthy environment for your betta to thrive in.

Avoid Overcrowding Your Aquarium

Considering Overcrowding as a reason why your Betta fish is staying on top of the tank. It can be easily remedied. Firstly, ensure that you have a large enough tank for the Betta and tank mates. Do proper research when choosing suitable tank mates for your Betta.

To prevent yourself asking ‘why does my betta fish stay at the top of the tank?’, avoid adding too many species! Rather than adding more fish, use plants, and décor to fill up the aquarium. It’s best to use plants and décor with smooth edges such as rocks. They supply much-needed hiding spots.

Proper Betta Fish Diet

A betta Fish diet must consist of the following:

  • Quality Pellets or flakes as a staple food.
  • Additional proteins include fresh or frozen brine shrimp. Daphnia blood worms, or insect larvae are also good choices.
  • Blanched and shredded or cut Vegetable-based foods. Green vegetables such as lettuce, zucchini, or spinach. Other vegetables include shelled peas for digestion, carrots, and cucumber.
  • Feed small amounts at regular intervals, or use an automatic feeder. Bettas eat small amounts at a time and thus do not overfeed or underfeed.

To Conclude

By following these guidelines you should be able to answer the question “why is my betta fish staying at the top of the tank?”. Knowing why. there are easy ways to find a solution to remedy the situation of a betta staying at the top of tank or aquarium habitats. So, it’s bets to fix it before it’s too late, as this can be a sign something is off in your tank…

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my betta fish at the top of the tank after a water change?
The new tank water may be slightly too cold so it is seeking warmer water on the top. Otherwise, there may still be high levels of ammonia, and little oxygen. This can be due to having a tank that is too small.
Why is my Betta fish staying at the top of the tank by the filter?
The filter current may be too strong. This causes the betta to hide on surface next to the filter. Otherwise, the fish lacks oxygen.
Why is my female Betta fish staying at the top of the tank?
In the case of a group of females, one may feel dominated and try to escape the group or another female. Otherwise, the reasons can be the same as discussed for male and female Bettas.
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