Betta Fish Floating Sideways 101: (Main Causes & Quick Fix)

Is your Betta Fish Doing the Sidewinder Shuffle? Imagine this: your once-vibrant betta fish, fins flared like a king in his underwater castle, is now listlessly betta fish floating sideways. It’s a sight that can send shivers down any fishkeeper’s spine.

But before digging a watery grave, hold your tears (and betta tank water)! This surprisingly common behavior, while cause for concern, isn’t always a death sentence.

There are several potential reasons why a betta fish swimming sideways, including swim bladder disorder, parasites, bacterial infections, or simply stress.

when betta fish die do they float

Identifying the underlying cause is crucial in treating the fish appropriately. Think of it as your Betta’s fishy SOS signal, a way of waving a fin for help.

In this blog post, we’ll unravel the mystery behind the betta fish floating sideways, uncovering the main culprits behind this tippy-toe dance and equipping you with quick fixes to get your finned friend back to swimming fabulously.

We will explore the leading causes of betta floating sideways and provide quick-fix solutions that can help alleviate the issue and promote the fish’s health and overall well-being. 

So grab your net, put on your fishkeeping detective hat, and dive into the fascinating world of betta buoyancy!

Why Is My Betta Fish Swimming Sideways?

A betta swimming sideways can be a worrying sight, but there are several possible explanations, some mild and easily remedied, others more serious. Here are some of the most common reasons:

Swim Bladder Disease: This is the most likely culprit. The swim bladder is an organ that helps fish maintain buoyancy and balance. Swim bladder disease can be caused by various factors, including:

  • Overfeeding: This can lead to constipation, which puts pressure on the swim bladder.
  • Poor water quality: Ammonia spikes or nitrite levels can irritate the swim bladder.
  • Bacterial infections: These can directly infect the swim bladder.
  • Physical injury: Bumping against decorations or being handled roughly can damage the swim bladder.

Other possibilities:

  • Stress: Sudden changes in temperature, pH, or tank mates can stress your Betta, leading to erratic swimming.
  • Parasites: Internal parasites can affect your Betta’s swimming ability.
  • Fin damage: Torn or clamped fins can make it difficult for your Betta to swim normally.
  • Underlying illness: In some cases, sideways swimming can be a symptom of a more severe illness, such as kidney disease or tumors.

If the sideways swimming persists or your Betta shows other worrying symptoms, it’s best to consult a veterinarian or experienced aquarist. They can help you diagnose the underlying cause and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Other Betta Fish Floating Sideways Causes

When a Betta fish is floating sideways, it could be a sign of various health issues. One common cause is swim bladder disease, which affects the fish’s buoyancy and ability to regulate its position in the water. This can be caused by overfeeding, constipation, or poor water quality.

Betta Fish Not Eating and Laying at Bottom

Another possible cause is a bacterial or parasitic infection, affecting the fish’s ability to swim properly. A Betta fish may also float sideways due to a physical injury or deformity, such as a spinal issue or swim bladder deformity.

It’s essential to address the underlying cause of the fish’s inability to swim correctly, as it can lead to further health problems if left untreated. 

Proper fish tank maintenance, a balanced diet, and closely monitoring the fish’s behavior can help prevent and address the issue of a Betta fish floating sideways.

Remember: Consulting with a veterinarian or a knowledgeable aquarium specialist can also provide valuable insights and guidance for the proper care and treatment of the fish. 

What Is Swim Bladder Disease?

Swim bladder disease is a common ailment in fish, affecting their ability to control buoyancy and swim properly. The swim bladder is an internal organ that helps fish maintain their balance by controlling the amount of gas inside it.

When the swim bladder becomes infected or damaged, it can cause fish to swim erratically, float to the surface, or sink to the bottom of the tank. Various factors, including bacterial infections, poor water quality, improper diet, or physical injuries, can cause this. 

How Do You Know If Your Betta Has Swim Bladder Disease?

Symptoms of swim bladder disease include difficulty swimming, listening to one side, or floating upside down. To prevent swim bladder disease, it’s crucial to maintain a clean and properly balanced aquarium environment, provide a varied and nutritious diet, and handle fish carefully to avoid injuries.

If a fish is suspected to have swim bladder disease, it’s essential to seek advice from a veterinarian or a knowledgeable aquarium professional to determine the best course of treatment. 

What Causes Swim Bladder Disease in Bettas?

Swim bladder disease in bettas is not a single disease but a group of symptoms that various underlying factors can cause. These factors can be broadly categorized into two groups: environmental and internal.

Environmental causes:

  • Poor water quality: Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels that are too high can irritate the swim bladder and make it difficult for the fish to function correctly.
  • Sudden changes in water temperature or pH: Bettas are sensitive to changes in their environment, and sudden changes can stress them out and make them more susceptible to developing swim bladder disease.
  • Physical injury: Damage to the swim bladder from being bumped or scraped can also cause swim bladder disease.

Internal causes:

  • Constipation: This is the most common cause of swim bladder disease in bettas. Constipation can be caused by overfeeding, eating the wrong food, or lacking dietary fiber.
  • Bacterial infections: Bacteria can infect the swim bladder and make it inflamed.
  • Parasites: Parasites can also irritate the swim bladder and make it difficult to function properly.
  • Tumors: In some cases, swim bladder disease can be caused by tumors in the abdomen.

If you notice that your betta fish is exhibiting any symptoms of swim bladder disease, it is essential to take action immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve the fish’s chances of fully recovering.

Do Bettas Recover From Swim Bladder Disorder?

Yes, bettas can recover from swim bladder disorder if the underlying cause is adequately addressed and treated. Swim bladder disorder, also known as buoyancy disorder, can be caused by various factors such as overfeeding, constipation, or poor water quality.

They can recover from the swim bladder disorder by addressing these issues and adjusting Betta’s diet and environment. 

Monitoring the Betta closely and changing their diet and living conditions is essential. This may include feeding them a pea to help with digestion, providing a clean and stress-free environment, and ensuring they have appropriate water parameters.

With time and proper care, bettas can often recover from swim bladder disorder and regain their ability to swim normally. However, in some severe cases, the disorder may be too advanced for the Betta to recover fully. In these instances, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian for further guidance and treatment options. 

How Do You Treat Swim Bladder Disease in Betta Fish?

Swim bladder disease (SBD) in betta fish can be treated in several ways. Firstly, assessing the tank’s water quality is vital to ensuring it is at the right temperature and toxins-free.

One of the most common treatments for swim bladder disease is fasting the fish for a few days and then feeding them a cooked, deshelled pea, which can help to clear any blockages in the digestive system. Additionally, adding Epsom salt to the water can help reduce swelling and alleviate symptoms.

Suppose these methods do not improve the fish’s condition. In that case, it may be necessary to use a water conditioner or seek the help of a veterinarian who can prescribe medication to address the underlying causes of the illness.

It’s important to note that prevention is critical, and maintaining a clean and stable environment for betta fish can help reduce the risk of swim bladder disease. 

Here are some steps you can take to treat your betta swim bladder disease:

1. Improve water quality:

  • Perform a 25% water change immediately and siphon the gravel to remove waste.
  • Maintain the water temperature between 78 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Ensure proper water circulation and filtration to keep the water oxygenated.

2. Fasting:

  • Stop feeding your betta fish for 2-3 days to allow their digestive system to rest and clear any blockages.

3. Epsom salt bath:

  • Prepare a bath with 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt per gallon of water.
  • Let your betta fish soak in the bath for 10-15 minutes, then return them to their tank.
  • Repeat the Epsom salt bath every other day for up to a week.

4. Dietary changes:

  • After fasting, introduce a high-quality, easily digestible diet for your betta fish.
  • Live or frozen foods like brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia are ideal.
  • Avoid pellets or flakes, as they can be difficult for bettas with swim bladder issues to digest.
  • Feed your fish small amounts several times a day instead of one large meal.

5. Medication:

  • Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics if a bacterial infection causes the swim bladder disease.
  • Use medications with caution, as they can stress your betta fish further.

Additional tips:

  • Reduce the water flow in your betta fish’s tank to make it easier for them to swim.
  • Lower the water level in the tank if your betta fish has trouble reaching the surface for air.
  • Minimize stress by keeping your betta fish in a quiet, peaceful environment.

It is important to note that not all cases of swim bladder disease are curable. However, following these steps can increase your betta fish’s chances of fully recovering. If your betta fish’s condition does not improve within a few days or seems to be in significant distress, consult a veterinarian or aquatic specialist for further advice.

Types of Betta Fish Medication for SBD

A few types of medications can be used to treat swim bladder disease in betta fish. However, it’s important to note that medication should only be used after proper diagnosis and under the guidance of a veterinarian or an experienced fish keeper. Here are some medications commonly used for treating swim bladder disease in betta fish:

  1. Epsom Salt: Epsom aquarium salt can be added to the betta fish’s tank to help reduce swelling and ease constipation, a common cause of swim bladder disorder. The recommended dosage is typically 1-3 teaspoons per gallon of water. However, it’s crucial to dissolve the salt in water before adding it to the tank and closely monitor the fish’s behavior during treatment.
  2. Antibiotics: In some cases, swim bladder disease can be caused by a bacterial infection. A veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to treat the underlying infection. Common antibiotics for betta fish include kanamycin, amoxicillin, and tetracycline. It’s essential to follow the dosage instructions provided by the veterinarian and complete the entire course of treatment.
  3. Anti-Parasitic Medications: Parasitic infections can also contribute to swim bladder disease. Medications like metronidazole or praziquantel may be prescribed to treat parasites like flagellates or worms. These medications should be used as directed and usually require multiple doses over several days.
  4. Digestive Enzyme Supplements: Digestive enzyme supplements can sometimes be beneficial in improving the digestion and absorption of food, helping to alleviate swim bladder issues caused by constipation. According to the manufacturer’s instructions, these supplements can be added to the fish’s diet.

It’s important to remember that swim bladder disease can have various causes, and the appropriate treatment depends on the underlying issue. It’s best to consult a veterinarian or a knowledgeable fish keeper who can accurately diagnose the problem and recommend the most suitable medication or treatment for your betta fish.

Is There a Way to Prevent Swim Bladder Disease?

Swim bladder disease in fish can be prevented by maintaining good water quality in the aquarium. Regular water changes, proper filtration, and avoiding overfeeding can all help avert swim bladder issues.

Providing the appropriate diet for your fish, with a good balance of nutrients and avoiding foods that can cause constipation, can also help prevent swim bladder disease.

Ensuring your fish have plenty of space to swim and avoiding overcrowding in the tank can also reduce the risk of swim bladder issues. It’s essential to monitor the behavior and health of your fish regularly, as early detection of any problems can help prevent them from developing into more severe issues.

By taking these preventative measures, fish owners can help keep their aquatic pets healthy and reduce the likelihood of swim bladder disease occurring. 

Why is my betta fish floating on its side?

Your Betta may suffer from swim bladder issues, impacting its buoyancy and making it float. Observe other symptoms like difficulty swimming or bloating for confirmation. Consult a vet or fish expert for proper diagnosis and treatment.

How do you fix a swim bladder in a betta fish?

To fix a swim bladder problem in a betta fish, ensure optimal water conditions. Maintain clean water, provide a balanced diet, and consider adjusting the fish’s feeding routine. Consulting a veterinarian may also be beneficial.

Why is my fish floating sideways but still alive?

Swim bladder issues, internal infections, fin damage, or environmental factors can cause a sideways-floating fish. Observe for bloating, erratic swimming, or poor water quality, and consult an expert for proper diagnosis.

Why does my betta fish lay at the bottom of the tank?

A bottom-loving betta could indicate stress, illness, or simply resting. Check water quality, temperature, and betta tank mates, and observe fin behavior for clues. If lethargy persists, consult a fish expert.

How do you cure swim bladder disease in betta fish?

Put your Betta in a quarantine tank with clean, warm water to cure swim bladder disease in betta fish. Fast them for a few days, then feed them small, easily digestible meals.

Is your betta fish lying on the bottom of the tank or struggling to swim?

If your betta fish is lying on the bottom of the tank or struggling to swim, it may indicate a health issue. Consult a veterinarian or a knowledgeable fish expert for proper diagnosis and treatment.

What to do if your betta fish is floating on its side?

If your betta fish floats on its side, it may indicate swim bladder disorder. Adjust its diet, maintain water quality, and consider consulting a vet for further guidance.

Why is my fish alive but floating on its side?

A floating fish alive but on its side may indicate a swim bladder disorder. This condition affects the fish’s ability to control its buoyancy, causing it to float.

Why does my betta fish swimming sideways at the top of the tank?

Betta fish swimming to the top sideways may indicate swim bladder disorder. This condition affects buoyancy, causing fish to swim irregularly or struggle to stay afloat.


In conclusion, noticing your betta fish floating sideways could indicate a severe health issue. It may mean problems with the fish’s swim bladder, which helps it maintain buoyancy in the water. Swim bladder issues can be caused by overfeeding, poor water quality, or bacterial infections. It is essential to address this issue promptly, as it can lead to discomfort and even death for the betta fish. To help your fish recover, you can try fasting for a day or two to see if its condition improves.

If the problem persists, consider consulting a veterinarian with fish experience. It may also be helpful to evaluate the betta tank environment and make any necessary adjustments to improve water quality and reduce stress for the fish. Taking proactive steps to address the betta swimming sideways issue can help your fish regain its average buoyancy and overall health. 

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About Me

I am the founder of, a devoted wife and mother, and an avid fish enthusiast. My aim is to assist fellow fish lovers worldwide in understanding how to properly care for and breed their pet fish.

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