A betta fish jumping out of the tank can be a sign that your pet is unhappy or that something isn’t quite right with your aquarium. However, it can be difficult to figure out why your betta is jumping as there are many reasons that can cause this behavior.
Bad water conditions, stress, inadequate rest, and a lack of space can all contribute to a betta fish jumping out of their tank. Alternatively, some fish leap outside the aquarium to catch food or simply because they enjoy it.
If you’re not sure why your betta is trying to escape their enclosure, our guide will help you pinpoint the cause and how to stop your betta fish from jumping.
Why Is My Betta Fish Jumping Out Of The Tank? Main Reasons
Betta fish can jump out of their tank for a variety of reasons, including poor water quality and to catch food. It’s important to figure out the cause of your betta jumping so you can prevent it from happening again.
We’ll be going over some of the most common reasons why bettas jump below, but this video also does a good job explaining the behavior:
Poor Water Conditions
One of the main reasons why betta fish jump outside their tank is due to poor water quality. This is commonly associated with a lack of water changes or general bad tank maintenance.
High ammonia levels, pH fluctuations, and extreme changes in water temperature can cause your betta to jump from their aquarium to search for cleaner water. Ammonia poisoning in betta fish can be lethal if it is left untreated, so you need to take action immediately.
The best way to combat bad water quality is to keep your fish tank clean by performing regular water changes. This will remove ammonia and nitrite, as well as reduce nitrate levels in your tank water.
Most aquarists do partial (around 25%) water changes every week, but smaller or overstocked tanks may benefit from more frequent maintenance. You should also check your water parameters at least once a week with an aquarium test kit like API Freshwater Master Test Kit.
Lack Of Space
Another reason why Siamese fighting fish can jump outside the tank is due to a lack of space in their enclosure. If there is not enough room in the tank, your betta fish may jump in an attempt to find a new and larger habitat.
Upgrading to a larger betta tank will prevent your betta from jumping, as well as make them happier overall. While pet stores may tell you that you can keep betta fish in small containers, this is completely untrue.
An individual betta fish without tank mates needs at least a 5-gallon aquarium, though bigger is always better for this species. Besides, if your betta is housed in a small tank, it can lead to stress and boredom, as well as make it harder to maintain your aquarium water.
Poor Sleep Cycle
Betta fish need a proper sleep cycle to be healthy, just like other animals. When Siamese fighting fish don’t get enough rest, they can become disorientated and stressed, making them more prone to jumping out of the tank.
Keeping the aquarium lights on for too long and boisterous tank mates can disrupt your betta’s sleep cycle, so make sure you allow your fish enough time to sleep and house them with peaceful residents.
You should leave your aquarium lights on for between 8 to 12 hours per day so your betta has at least 12 hours of darkness.
Fin nippers like tetras and barbs can harass fish with long trailing fins like betta fish, so avoid keeping your betta with species like these.
To Catch Food
It’s not an uncommon behavior for betta fish to jump out of their tank if something piques their interest, such as flies hovering around the aquarium or a bit of uneaten food on the water’s surface.
If your betta fish jumps out of their aquarium, it may be because they’re trying to catch a bite to eat. As many betta owners will tell you, Siamese fighting fish are extremely greedy and will never turn down a meal!
Betta fish jumping to catch food can be fixed by removing leftover food with a net and using an aquarium lid. Floating plants like salvinia, duckweed, and frogbit can also deter your betta from jumping.
They Enjoy Jumping
Some betta fish jump simply because they enjoy doing it! If your betta tank is clean and healthy, and there doesn’t appear to be anything else wrong, you can probably put the behavior down to this.
Aquarium lids are a great idea for Siamese fighting fish that like to jump as it allows them to leap to their heart’s content without the risk of injury or escape. You can also add floating aquatic plants to your aquarium to discourage your tropical fish from jumping.
What To Do If A Betta Fish Jumped Out Of The Tank
If your betta fish has jumped out of the tank and is lying on the ground, it’s important to act fast so you can increase their chance of survival. Below are the steps you need to take if your Siamese fighting fish has escaped from their aquarium.
Step 1: Swiftly pick up your fish and place them back into the tank. They may look lifeless and lay on the bottom of the substrate, but if you’ve caught them early enough, they should recover.
Step 2: Your betta’s gills may have started to dry out, so they may have difficulty breathing. Adding aquarium salt to the water (1 tablespoon per 3 gallons) can help enhance your betta’s gill function and get them back on the mend.
Aquarium salt for betta fish has a number of other benefits too.
Step 3: It’s a great idea to use a water additive to improve your betta’s slime coat as it will likely have been damaged from the fall. We recommend API Stress Coat as it contains aloe vera to assist with wound healing.
Step 4: Monitor your Siamese fighting fish and check for signs of injury. Continue using API Stress Coat to help your betta fight off infections and keep their slime coat protected. If you caught your betta quickly after they jumped, they should fully recover within a few days.
How To Safely Dispose Of A Dead Betta Fish
Sadly, bettas jumping can often lead to their death if it happens in the middle of the night. If your betta completely dries out or is without water for more than an hour or two, their chance of survival is extremely slim and they will likely be dead by the time you find them.
In this case, you’ll need to dispose of your dead betta fish. While most people flush dead fish down the toilet, this is the worst method as it can have disastrous consequences on your local waterways and wildlife.
The safest way to dispose of a dead betta fish is to put it inside a ziplock bag and throw it into your waste disposal. Alternatively, you can bury it in your backyard.
How Long Can A Betta Survive Out Of Water?
Most fish can only survive around 5 to 10 minutes out of the water if their gills dry out, but Siamese fighting fish can live a little longer out of water due to their labyrinth organ. A healthy betta may be able to survive up to 2 hours without water if they do not dry out completely and their gills remain moist.
Labyrinth species like bettas and gouramis are able to breathe air from the surface of the water, which helps them survive in shallow waters and on land for a short period.
Some individuals in the fish keeping hobby have reported that their bettas have survived for more than 2 hours without water, but you shouldn’t test this out. If your fish has jumped from their enclosure, put them back inside the tank straight away.
How To Treat The Betta’s Injuries
Jumping bettas can often injure themselves if they fall from a high height or start to dry out before they are placed back into the tank. If your Siamese fighting fish has hurt themselves, you’ll need to begin treatment right away to help them recover and prevent secondary infections.
Step 1: Use a water additive like API Stress Coat to assist with wound healing and protect your betta fish’s slime coat. This is a natural remedy that can be effective for bettas with minor scrapes or cuts.
Step 2: Clean your tank regularly to promote good water quality. This can be achieved by performing water changes every day or every other day. Pristine water can help your betta recover sooner and stop their wounds from becoming infected.
Step 3: Add Indian almond leaves to your betta tank as they contain antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Step 4: If your betta’s wounds are severe or become infected, you may want to use medications alongside the above methods. Bettafix is a good option as it promotes wound healing and treats a variety of ailments.
Step 5: Continue to monitor your Siamese fighting fish and treat their injuries until their condition has improved.
How To Stop / Prevent Bettas From Jumping Out Of Their Tank
It can be dangerous and often fatal if betta fish jump out of their tank, so it’s a good idea to take appropriate measures to prevent it from happening in the first place. Let’s dive into some of the things you can do to stop your betta fish from jumping.
Maintain Good Water Conditions
One of the most common reasons why betta jump out of their tank regularly is unclean water or improper parameters. However, performing regular water changes and tank maintenance will help you keep your Siamese fighting fish happy so they’re less likely to seek a new water body.
Many fish owners perform partial weekly water changes, but small or overstocked tanks will need more frequent water changes to keep the water chemistry clean and stable.
In addition to water changes, you should siphon the substrate in your aquarium using a gravel vacuum. This will remove uneaten food from feeding time, fish waste, and other decaying matter that has fallen to the bottom of the fish tank.
Use A Larger Tank
Betta fish can jump if they are kept in an overly small space, so make sure you keep your betta in at least a 5-gallon aquarium. If your Siamese fighting fish lives with other fish, you’ll need to ensure each resident has enough space.
The “1 inch of fish per gallon of water” rule is handy for calculating the number of fish you can house in your aquarium.
Add Floating Live Plants
Floating live plants like duckweed, salvinia, and frogbit can be useful for betta tanks as they can help discourage your fish from jumping. Aquatic plants are also great for removing nitrates and ammonia, as well as increasing oxygen levels.
Better yet, live plants create a much more natural environment for your betta and provide them with hiding places to help them feel safer.
Select Suitable Tankmates For You Betta
Bettas do best when kept alone, but if you want to add other fish to your Siamese fighting fish aquarium, make sure you select suitable tankmates. If your betta is jumping out of the tank, it may be because they are stressed or being harassed by other residents in your setup.
Species that are known as fin nippers like tetras and barbs don’t make great roommates for bettas. Better choices include harlequin rasboras, cory catfish, dwarf plecos, and kuhli loaches.
You’ll need to use large aquarium designs to make each fish comfortable and ensure they have enough room.
Cover The Top Of Your Tank
The easiest way to keep your betta fish safe and to stop them from jumping is by covering the top of your aquarium with a lid or hood. A tank cover is useful for any aquarium hobbyist, but especially betta tanks due to the species’ tendency to jump.
However, you’ll need to make sure that the reason your betta jumps isn’t due to bad water conditions, stress, bullying, etc, as a fish tank cover won’t fix the root of the problem.
Make sure you use an aquarium hood or glass canopy that fits the size of your fish tank as you don’t want there to be any gaps your fish could squeeze through.
Female bettas are most prone to jumping, so housing them in rimless aquariums isn’t a good idea. You should definitely consider using a lid or hood!
Don’t Leave Your Tank Lights On For Too Long
The last thing you can do to stop your Siamese fighting fish from jumping out of the tank is to provide your fish with a proper sleep cycle. This can be done by making sure you don’t leave your fish tank lights on for extended periods.
Your betta should have at least 12 hours of darkness each day, so turn off your lights after 8 to 12 hours of use. It may be worth using an aquarium light timer as this will automatically switch off your lighting system so you don’t accidentally forget!
This device is also great for helping you prevent algae outbreaks. As you may already know, algae thrive in high-light conditions, so keeping your fish tanks on for more than 12 hours a day can make your aquarium water green and look like pea soup.
How High Can A Betta Fish Jump?
Despite their small size, betta jump surprisingly high. Most bettas can jump around 2 to 3 inches in height, though larger Siamese fighting fish may be able to leap even higher.
How Do I Make My Betta Fish Jump?
Betta fish are relatively intelligent, so you can teach them how to jump on command if you want a cool trick to show your friends and family. Begin by dabbing your finger in some water and sticking a bit of food like a bloodworm or fish pellet on the tip.
Next, hover your finger around 1 inch or so above the water in the aquarium. You may need to get your fish’s attention first by gently tapping the water surface to create ripples.
Be patient and wait for your betta to investigate your finger. They should eventually jump to grab the food from your finger.
Once your Siamese fighting fish has mastered jumping for food, you can gradually increase the distance of their leap by moving your finger further away from the water’s surface.
While some betta fish jump out of their aquarium to hunt food or because they like it, there’s usually another reason behind this strange behavior.
Bad water conditions, an undersized tank, or a poor sleep cycle are usually at fault, so you’ll need to remove the stressor to stop your betta from jumping.
Keeping on top of your tank maintenance, a tank hood/cover, and a large aquarium can help you prevent your fish from escaping their enclosure. Remember to house your Siamese fighting fish alone or with suitable roommates too!
If your betta fish jumps from their tank, make sure you put them back inside as quickly as possible and add a stress coat water additive to help them recover swiftly.
- Signs Of Happy Betta Fish
- How Big Should A Betta’s Tank Be? Factors To Consider
- Signs & Behaviors That Indicate A Betta Fish Is Dying
- How To Save A Dying Betta