As good pet owners, we need to ensure that our beloved Bettas are at the peak of their health, and sometimes the best way to do this would be to know the answer to the question, “Why is my Betta fish swimming sideways?”
There are multiple reasons why your Betta fish might be swimming sideways, and thankfully not all of them are serious. For example, it could just be that the water flow in your tank is too strong. However, it could also be a symptom of swim bladder disorder.
To help you keep your fish healthy, this article will discuss everything there is to know about why your Betta might be exhibiting this uncommon behavior.
Why Is My Betta Fish Swimming Sideways?
A Betta fish swimming sideways constantly is not a normal thing. It can definitely be a cause for alarm, as this might be a sign of an underlying health condition, particularly swim bladder disease.
However, occasionally, there are also other reasons why your Betta fish may be swimming sideways. Here are some of them.
First and foremost, you should check the water conditions in your fish tank. Take a look at the water quality and cleanliness.
If the water quality in your fish tank is poor, then this could definitely be the reason why your Betta fish is swimming sideways.
Bettas are very sensitive to changes in water quality, and even the slightest change can cause them stress. You may see them starting to swim sideways as a result of it.
Once you change the water, you should see an improvement in your Betta’s behavior.
Bad Water Parameters
To check the parameters in your fish tank, you can use a water test kit like the API Freshwater Master Test Kit. This will tell you everything you need to know about the quality of your tank water.
Make sure that the pH levels, ammonia, and nitrites are all within the ideal range for Bettas. The ideal pH level for Bettas is between 6.5 and 7.5, while the ammonia and nitrite levels should be 0 ppm.
If your water parameters are bad, then you need to take action immediately to fix the problem.
The first thing you need to do is to clean your fish tank and change the water. You should also consider using a water conditioner to remove any toxins from the water. A good option would be the Seachem Prime Water Conditioner.
Once you’ve done all of this, you should see an improvement in your Betta’s condition.
Incorrect Water Temperature
Another thing you need to check is the water temperature in your fish tank. Bettas are tropical fish, and they prefer warm water. The ideal water temperature for Bettas is between 76 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit since they’re tropical fish that are used to warmer climates.
If the water in your fish tank is too cold, then this could be the reason why your Betta is swimming sideways. Cold water can cause Bettas to experience stress.
To fix this problem, you need to raise the water temperature in your fish tank. You can do this by using a heater like the Aqueon Aquarium Heater.
Once the water temperature is increased to the ideal range, your Betta should start swimming normally again.
Swim Bladder Disorders
One of the most common reasons why Bettas swim sideways is because of swim bladder disorders. Swim bladder disorders are a type of disease that can affect Bettas and other fish.
There are multiple different types of swim bladder disorders, but the most common one is swim bladder disease. Swim bladder disease is caused by a bacterial infection, and it can cause Bettas to swim sideways.
If your Betta is suffering from swim bladder disease, then you need to take action immediately to treat the problem.
We’ll discuss this in more detail below.
What Is Swim Bladder Disease, Exactly? Main Symptoms
Betta fish are capable of floating vertically and horizontally in the water due to a unique organ called the swim bladder. This is a gas-filled sac located in their abdomens that gives them buoyancy.
The swim bladder is connected to the Betta’s intestines via a thin tube. This tube allows Bettas to expel any excess gas from their swim bladder so that they can maintain their buoyancy.
However, sometimes this system doesn’t work properly, and Bettas can end up with too much gas in their swim bladder. This can cause them to float awkwardly to the top or even swim sideways.
The main symptom of swim bladder disease is Bettas swimming sideways. However, there are some other symptoms you can look out for, including:
- Floating at the surface of the water
- Sinking to the bottom of the tank
- Having a bloated abdomen
- Curvy, S-shaped spine
- Swimming with difficulty
- Swimming in a jerking or darting motion
If you notice any of these symptoms in your Betta, then it’s likely that they have swim bladder disease. It’s best to act quickly and watch out for signs because this disease can be fatal if left untreated.
Causes Of Swim Bladder Disease
There are many different factors that can contribute to swim bladder disease. Some of the most common include:
It’s not uncommon for Betta fish to go up to the surface of the water to take a gulp of air. Sometimes, they just accidentally do this while they’re eating. Other times, they really mean to gulp air to get additional oxygen. It’s similar to breathing for them.
Since they’re labyrinth fish, they have a special organ that allows them to do this, especially if they can’t get enough oxygen from the water.
But while Bettas need to take in air from time to time, too much air can cause problems.
It’s definitely not harmful in moderation, but if Bettas ingest too much air, it can build up in their swim bladder. This can cause their swim bladder to become bloated and eventually lead to swim bladder disease.
Constipation doesn’t only plague humans. It’s a big problem for fish like Bettas as well.
In fact, constipation is another common cause of swim bladder disease. When Bettas are constipated, they can have a hard time passing stool. This can cause their intestines to become bloated, which puts pressure on the Betta’s swim bladder.
The pressure from the bloated intestines can make it difficult for Betta fish to expel gas from their swim bladder. As a result, they can end up with too much gas in their swim bladder, which leads to swim bladder disease.
Bacterial or viral infections can also cause Bettas to develop swim bladder disease. This is obviously very concerning, because aside from swim bladder disease, infections can cause a whole host of other problems for Bettas.
Bacterial infections are the most common type of infection that leads to swim bladder disease. Examples include Pseudomonas, Columnare, and Aeromonas bacteria, among others. The list may also include parasites.
These infections often occur when Bettas are kept in poor water conditions or in contaminated water. So, if you’re Betta is suffering from a bacterial infection, it’s likely that the water in their tank is dirty.
However, Bettas can also develop viral infections that affect their swim bladder. For instance, Bettas may develop a condition called viral nervous necrosis (VNN) that occurs in both freshwater and saltwater fish, which is caused by a virus known as betanodavirus.
This virus attacks the Betta’s nervous system and can cause a hyperinflated bladder, which can lead to swim bladder disease. Obviously though, if your fish has this disease, you’ve got more problems on your hand than just their swim bladder.
The most common symptom of a Betta infection is red streaks on the Betta’s body or fins. If you notice this, it’s important to take your Betta to the vet as soon as possible.
Tumors affect Betta fish just like they do humans. And just like humans, they can get them in various places on their body.
The usual place where a tumor develops is on the Betta’s tailfin, especially if it’s a long-finned variety.
However, in some rare cases, Bettas can develop tumors on their swim bladder. These tumors can cause Bettas to have difficulty swimming or even start swimming sideways.
Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done if your Betta has a tumor on their swim bladder.
Bettas can still live for weeks or months even when they have a tumor, but if you see that their quality of life is already suffering, you should consider taking them to the vet to have them euthanized or euthanizing them yourself at home.
If Bettas experience any trauma to their abdomens, this can also cause swim bladder disease.
For example, if Bettas are dropped or jarred, this can cause their swim bladder to rupture. This obviously leads to Bettas having difficulty swimming.
If Bettas eat something that’s too big for them, this can also cause trauma to their abdomens and swim bladder.
Bettas that have undergone abdominal surgery may also experience swim bladder disease as a result of the surgery.
How Do You Cure Or Treat Swim Bladder Disease?
If you think that your Betta has swim bladder disease, then you need to take action immediately to treat the problem. The sooner you start treating the disease, the better the chances are that your Betta will make a full recovery.
There are many different ways to treat swim bladder disease:
Give Them Better Food
Feeding Bettas high-protein foods can help to reduce the amount of gas in Bettas’ swim bladders.
Foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms are all high in protein and can help Bettas to expel gas from their swim bladder.
It’s important to note that Bettas should only be fed high-protein foods on a temporary basis. Once Bettas have recovered from swim bladder disease, you should return to feeding them their regular diet.
That’s because high-protein foods are also high in fat, and Bettas that eat too much fat can develop obesity. This can lead to a number of health problems, which also include swim bladder disease.
Change The Water
If the water in your Betta’s tank is dirty, then this could be the cause of their swim bladder disease. As such, one of the best things you can do for your Betta is to change the water in their tank.
You should also make sure to clean the gravel and decorations in the tank. This will help to get rid of any bacteria or parasites that could be causing your Betta’s swim bladder disease.
It’s important to use a water conditioner when changing the water in your Betta’s tank. This will help to remove any harmful chemicals from the water that could be making your Betta sick.
You should also make sure that the water in your Betta’s tank is the same temperature as their body. If the water is too cold or too hot, this can also cause Bettas to develop swim bladder disease.
Add Epsom Or Aquarium Salt To The Tank
Epsom or aquarium salt can help to relieve Bettas’ swim bladder disease. The salt can help Bettas expel any excess gas from their swim bladder, which should improve their condition pretty quickly.
Simply add 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt for every gallon of water in your quarantine tank.
Although other people say that Epsom salt is fine to use straight in your tank when you don’t have invertebrates or plants, we recommend making it a habit to use a quarantine tank every time you want to give medication to your fish.
Additionally, you should only use Epsom salt as a temporary measure. Once your Betta has recovered from their swim bladder disease, you should remove them from the quarantine tank and add them back to their home tank.
If the swim bladder disease is caused by a bacterial infection, then using antibiotics can help to treat the infection and reduce the symptoms of the disease.
Some of the antibacterial medications that can be used to treat Bettas with swim bladder disease include:
You should only use antibiotics as a last resort, however. This is because they can kill both good and bad bacteria in your Betta tank.
Once you have the antibiotics, you can add them to your Betta’s tank according to the instructions on the bottle. It’s important to finish the course of antibiotics, even if your Betta seems to be feeling better. This will help to make sure that the infection is completely gone.
In some cases, Bettas with swim bladder disease will need to have surgery. This is usually only necessary if the Betta has a blockage in their digestive system that is causing the swim bladder disease.
Surgery is a fairly invasive procedure, so it’s important to make sure that it is absolutely necessary before going ahead with it.
How To Help Prevent Swim Bladder Disease
The best way to deal with swim bladder disease is to prevent swim bladder disease from occurring in the first place. Some of the best ways to do this include the following:
Quarantine New Fish
When you add new fish to your tank, it’s important to quarantine them for at least two weeks. This will help to ensure that they don’t have any diseases that could infect your other fish.
Do Regular Water Changes
You should also be sure to change the water in your Betta tank on a regular basis. This will help to keep the water clean and free of bacteria or other contaminants that could cause Bettas to develop swim bladder disease.
Feed Bettas Properly
It’s also important to feed Bettas a high-quality diet that is low in carbohydrates. This will help to reduce the amount of gas in their swim bladder.
Additionally, make sure that your Bettas don’t ingest air while they’re eating. You can help them avoid this by doing the following:
- Soaking Betta food in water before feeding it to them.
- Using a Betta pellet food that sinks to the bottom of the tank, like Fluval Bug Bites or TetraMin Tropical Granules.
- Giving them only what they can finish immediately.
Another way to avoid swim bladder disease is to make sure that Bettas don’t become constipated. You can do this by:
- Feeding Bettas a high-quality diet that is rich in fiber, like the ones mentioned above.
- Offering Bettas live or frozen foods, such as brine shrimp or bloodworms.
- Not overfeeding them.
If you think that your Betta has swim bladder disease, then it’s important to take action immediately to treat the problem. The sooner you start treating the disease, the better the chances are that your Betta will make a full recovery
A Betta fish swimming sideways might be an alarming sight. If we don’t know what’s causing it, it’s very easy to fall into panic mode, which might very well reduce your fish’s chances of survival.
This article discussed every possible reason why a Betta might be swimming sideways. With this information, you now have everything you need to do the best thing to help your pet.
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