Betta Fish Behavior: Happy, Sad or Sick?

Betta Fish Behavior: Happy, Sad or Sick?

Betta Fish in small container

This is an interesting topic about the emotions of a Betta Fish. There are several signs that you know if your Betta Fish is happy. Let us delve and know how to tell Betta Fish behavior on several scenarios.

How Can I Tell if my Betta is happy?

brine shrimp

  • Make Bettas are happiest if he is left alone. If there is another Male Betta they will fight and get very aggressive. You can put a female betta for the purposes of breeding.
  • Bettas are also very happy when they are with some suitable tank mates but you must provide at least 10 gallons and above and with a lot of hiding places and live plants.
  • Bettas are very happy with the proper water parameters, so it is necessary to do 25% regular water changes weekly so that the 7.0 pH and water conditions are met.
  • A Happy Betta is vain, in fact if you place a mirror on one of the outside wall of the betta fish tank then the Betta will always enjoy and admire and staring all time on the mirror
  • The Betta is happy if the color of fins and body glows and always swimming around and showing it off.
  • If you put your finger on top of the tank, a happy betta will quickly go up to the surface and anxiously waiting for food.
  • Happy Bettas like to build bubble nest. The larger the nest the happier!
  • A Happy Betta will also be energetic and always be swimming around and observing the surroundings.

How do you know if your betta fish is sad?

Uninterested in Food

Betta will always be staying at the bottom and seems not to be interested in food or anything. Normal behavior of a Betta is that they are always hungry and have a voracious appetite.

If the Betta does not eat as usual as there will be some observations:

  • Uneaten food at the bottom
  • Picking at food but not eating
  • Loss of weight


If Betta does not swim up and down and being curious running up and about and just staying in one place then this is an obvious sign of depression. Betta will just move from one spot to another without the usual curiosity.

At times when your Betta is just resting on a plant or leaf for too long then this is another sign.

Does Not Pay Attention

We all know that when you point your finger near the surface of the fish tank, the Betta Fish normally eagerly dashes to your finger and even jumps! They are expecting food whenever you are near the surface.

When you are at one of the corner wall of the aquarium, if the Betta fish does not go near and observe you as there will be some issues regarding the behavior.

Not Colorful Betta

When he is depressed then the former vibrant colors will seemingly become dull looking. They call it “racing stripes” when the Betta Fish is under a lot of stress. Racing stripes is uneven color from gills to the body, horizontal in nature.

The “racing stripes” can be caused by stress. Sometimes the Betta is infected by bacteria or fungus hence the color is faded or have some blotch spots on the body and fins.


We all know that Betta fish is always flaring out his gills. He momentarily flares his gills when you are feeding him food at the surface. If he is in a community tank, he always flares his gills all the time on tank mates.

If there are completely no sign of aggression as there is something wrong with your Betta Fish.

Betta Fish Behavior Before Death

Bad Water Parameters

Always monitor the water on your Betta Fish Tank to ensure that the pH level is around 6.8 to 7.2. If the pH level is too low then the water will be too acidic and Betta fish will burn their gills.

Always use the same water on your Betta Fish Tank. In the first place when the water parameters is bad then you are not doing the 25% regular water changes that is needed on a weekly basis.

It is evident that when the pH level is low there are a lot of uneaten food lying around and feces that are not cleaned on the gravel causing a spike on Ammonia levels.

It is a simple routine that you always have to remember.

Here is a video on how to check the water parameters on your aquarium tank.

Can you use tap water for Betta fish tank?

Low Water Temperature

The origin of Betta Fish is in the tropics. Temperature must be maintained between 78 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is too low as there will be several factors to your Betta Fish:

  • Stress
  • Illness
  • Shock

What can we do to solve this problem?

5 Gallons and larger fish tanks can evenly distribute the temperature and is not as sensitive to temperature changes. Smaller tank water can cool off very quick. Smaller volume if water are more sensitive to water changes either in temperature, pH levels, Ammonia, Nitrite or Nitrate.

Use the proper heater for the size of the Betta Fish Tank.

If you use a thermometer you will quickly know the temperature in an instant. Do not use the heater as a gauge because sometimes a measuring device will always be more accurate than just setting it on the heater.


If you feed your Betta Fish too much then your fish will die eventually. Just feed the proper amounts, like once a day. Betta fish can survive without food for 14 days!

It would be good if your Betta Fish do not eat at least 1 day in a week. Siphon the gravel and do a 25% water change on a weekly basis to remove unwanted uneaten food that will make the water toxic due to Ammonia.

Betta Fish With Other Fish Behavior Traits

Everyone thinks that Betta Fish have to be solitary all the time. There is difference on the male and female betta fish.

Male Betta Fish will fight if there is another male in the tank. Female Betta fish can live with other females such as in a sorority tank.

Actually if you have a 10 or 20 gallons fish tank, a single male betta can cohabitant with other fish such as:

  • African Dwarf Frog
  • Cory Catfish
  • Snails
  • Skirt Tetras
  • Ember Tetras
  • Guppies
  • Platies
  • Rasboras

Betta Fish Staying At Top Of Tank

Betta Fish usually stays at the center of the tank. If you noticed that your Betta Fish is staying at the top of tank as there maybe several factors.

Betta tank has poor aeration

There is not enough dissolved oxygen in the fish tank then the Betta will always be more often gasping for air. This is very evident on the Betta Fish that are sold in pet stores housed in small containers.

The solution to this problem is to put them in a 2.5 gallons or even 5 gallons of aquarium with filtration system. It would be also best if you can install an aerator or air pump.

The Betta Fish can actually live in poor water conditions since they have this labyrinth organ. This special organ allows them to breathe gaseous oxygen air on the surface if the water conditions are poor.

Swim Bladder Problem

If your Betta Fish does not swim properly. If the Betta swims on one side as there is a bladder problem. The main cause for this is:

  • Overfeeding
  • Constipation

Overfeeding can cause the Betta Fish bloated and not swim properly. You can actually solve this problem by not feeding your Betta for a couple of days. By feeding your Betta Fish a boiled pea it will act as a laxative.

Constipation is the direct result of overfeeding. By feeding the Betta Fish pea it will remove the waste out of the system, issues of the bladder could be solved.

If feeding a pea or dieting could not solve the problem then it would be a bacterial or fungal infection.

Betta Fish Behavior In New Tank

Betta Fish does not need days to acclimate to a new tank. As soon as a couple of hours the Betta Fish can be already comfortable in its new house.

When you try to feed the Betta Fish on the surface of the tank the newly placed Betta will happily go to the surface and actively start eating.

Unlike other fished that tend to stay in a corner for a couple days.

Betta Fish Behavior After Water Change

I tried many times changing the 25% partial water changes on a weekly basis and there is no observe change in behavior on my Betta Fish. As long as your change the water gradually on your fish tank then it will not have any noticeable odd behavior on your Betta Fish.

If your Betta Fish tank is very small then a water change that is not the same temperature will lead to a shock on your betta fish and will cause stress which will eventually lead to illness.

Normally if there is an erratic behavior after a water change then it might be:

  • Water temperature
  • Water contains chlorine
  • Adding salt or other stuff in water

If there is an abrupt water temperature and doing water change then it will definitely affect the Betta Fish. All kinds of fishes are sensitive to fluctuations in temperature. Be sure when changing water or doing partial water changes, temperature has to be the same. A Thermometer is advisable.

Water directly coming from the tap is not aged and still with chlorine. Be sure to age it for at least 24 hours so that the chlorine will dissipate.

Adding salt on newly added water can directly impact the properties of the water especially if the water tank is small.

Baby Betta Fish Behavior

betta fry

When the fry are hatched. Most of the baby betta fish will likely swim a lot and most of them will be always near the surface or the water.

It is advisable to keep the water low so that they can be trained on using their unique organ: Labyrinths.

Betta Fish Courtship Behavior

When the male and female betta are near the joining together in spawning, their body color will be brighter than normal. They will start to stretch their fins which will begin on what you call: Mating Dance.

They will encircle themselves using noses pushing each other.

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Do betta fish change color?

Do betta fish change color?

betta fish on a container

Siamese fighting fish, also known as Betta Fish are brightly colored fishes with glamorous fins. They are very sought after because they just swim gracefully and it is so calm to look at in your Betta Fish tank. Unlike their other counterparts such as neon fish with darting forward or backward.

Betta Fish has a great personality which everyone likes.

There are several reasons why a Betta Fish changes color:

The most common reason for Betta Fish to change color is due to stress.

Does Stress contribute to my betta fish changing of color?

Yes under the circumstances when the Betta Fish is stressed then it would change color. They tend to lose some of their color and undergo a condition called : “stress stripes” or “racing stripes”.

What is a stress stripes?

Stress stripes are seen on the Betta Fish from the gill to the tail and the colors maybe: black, red or white. The colors may also mix in combination.

This is likely to be caused by this factors:

The correct water parameters should be around pH 7.0 to 7.4 which is right for a healthy and thriving living conditions for the Betta Fish.

water test kit

The correct temperature must be kept at 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit which is the temperature where the Betta Fish is accustomed to the tropical conditions.

It would be a good idea if you can buy a water test kit so that you can monitor the water quality every week or bi weekly to make sure that the levels are in acceptable conditions:

  • Ammonia
  • Nitrite
  • Nitrate
  • pH

You sometimes noticed that when you recently purchase the Betta Fish from a store and thinking that it is light red or light blue and when it gets acclimated to your 2.5 or 5 Gallons Betta Fish Water Tank the color perhaps would go deeper than the original color that you saw at the store.

When the Betta Fish is in a very small and tight container in the store, it is likely to be very stressful and might not display the correct depth of color that it is predisposition.

How to test the water in your aquarium video below:

Showing the correct pH level on your Betta Fish Tank video below:

Make sure that you have at least 1 gallon tank and heated. Male Bettas need to be separated since they are very aggressive. Unlike the Female Bettas which can be mixed with a larger community tank.

Does illness make my Betta Fish to change color?

When a Betta Fish is pale in color that can also mean that they are sick. The Betta Fish can have a lighter color when they are struck with:

  • Bacterial Infection
  • Fungus Infection

The bacterial and fungal infections of your Betta Fish have the Fin Rot and Body Rot as the common Betta Fish disease.

Most illnesses are caused again by the following factors:

  • Poor water conditions
  • Improper temperature in the fish tank
  • Overcrowding in a community tank
  • Introduction of an infected fish on the Betta Fish Tank
  • Uneaten food on the gravel
  • Too much recycled feces on the tank which was neglected in cleaning maintenance

Bacterial and fungal infections leave patches of discolored spots on the body and fins. Ich can also be delibidating on the Betta Fish which appears as many small white spots on the body. Ich is actually a parasite that is latched on the body of the Betta Fish feeding.

Velvet is also another illness can cause color change especially on the gills and scales in a slimy film: Yellow or Brown.

8 Ways to tell if a Betta is Sick ( Color Change )

You may ask what are the visible signs that your Betta Fish is sick?

  1. The color of your Betta Fish can be lighter and faded in color
  2. If there are signs of Fin Rot or Body Rot then the color of his fins and body may also be dfferent when he was healthy. There are visible micro holes and missing fins. Your Betta Fish may not glare the fins as it is used to when you are feeding or when your finger is on top of the Betta Tank
  3. Lethargic. Your Betta Fish is always at the bottom and seems to be sleeping all the time. Lethargy can be caused by improper water temperature. You always have to maintain the correct temperature at 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit since they are tropical fishes.
  4. Small White spots all over the body. This is caused by Ich, a parasite that lathes the body and especially gills of the fish.
  5. Eating habits. If your Betta Fish do not eat then it tells us that she is definitely sick.
  6. Breathing problems. Betta fishes that constantly go to the surface is not normal.
  7. Betta Fish Rubbing on decors. If your Betta Fish is constantly rubbing its body on all the decors that means that Ich may be present. The Betta Fish wanted to rub off the Ich parasite since it is hooked on the body and gills.
  8. Swollen Eyes can be a major problem. This is not normal for the Betta Fish and definitely sick.

Why is my Betta Fish turning white? Losing its color?

Betta Fish is losing its color which stems from stress. The greyish and whitish under the mouth then is it probably cased by stress.

Stress can simply come from not doing regular water changes which is the most common problem. By doing 25% regular water changes every week is needed to keep your Betta Fish healthy.

If your it is a 1 gallon tank then simply dump a small cup of water taken from the surface and top up with tap water or spring water.

The tap water must be aged at least 24 hours so that there is no presence of chlorine from evaporation. Remember that the tap water must be of the same temperature on your Betta Fish tank so that it will not shock the Betta Fish.

Does Age make my Betta Fish to change color?

The average lifespan of a Betta Fish that is kept in captivity is about two to five years. In the wild, Betta Fishes with a large space and abundance of insects and food source may live longer.

With proper care your Betta Fish may even live longer as compared to ones in the wild. When the Bettas are born the color is almost translucent as observed on the Betta Fry.

transparent betta fry

The color deepens when the Betta Fish is aging normally. When the Betta Fish is about two years old it will gradually lose its luster and dull in appearance. But of course when you take great care in proper feeding your Betta Fish may still maintain its full color.

What is a Marble Betta Color changing fish?

Here are some of the pictures of a Marble Betta Fish

marble betta fish 1

Marble Betta Fish 2

There is a particular type of Betta Fish called “Marble Betta Fish”.

This a condition of a mutation called as “jumping gene”. This gene is able to move the fish’s chromosomes, which will always have different kind of colors. In one morning the color is turquoise and then when you get home it might be red and white star-spangled color pattern which is very cool.

When you purchased a young Betta Fish at a store and when it reaches puberty the color may also change to a deeper color.

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