Top 4 Reasons

Betta fish are easy to take care of, but it is also common knowledge that they require special treatment. This is because they have slightly peculiar behaviors, even though they are colorful and vibrant.

While they may be the most popular aquarium fish, they are among the most misunderstood fish.

Why does my betta fish stay at the top of the tank? This indicates that they are gasping for air due to oxygen deficiency and likely due to inadequate water temperature. Upward swimming mainly results from a food shortage, bladder issues, and crowded conditions.

In this short article, you will learn more about the behavior of a betta fish and some valuable tips for owning one.

What Makes Bettas Float at the Top?

Many fish enthusiasts keep betta fish because they are colorful, beautiful, and active. However, they do not act the way you think they will behave. For example, the average betta fish spends most of its time in the middle of the tank.

While they occasionally swim through the upper and lower sections, they usually spend their time in the middle.

If your betta fish is floating at the top, you should ask why and observe its behavior, indicating something wrong.

Low Oxygen Concentrations

Betta fish are different from other fish as most fish use their gills to extract oxygen from water. As a result, bettas can survive outside water for a short period.

If your betta fish is swimming upward and spending its time at the top, your tank probably suffers from an oxygen deficiency. Bettas escaping due to a lack of oxygenation might stick their mouths out of the water to get enough oxygen.

Inadequate Water Parameters

Bettas are known to require specific parameters for their survival. It would be best to have a water temperature ranging from 75 to 0 degrees, and the pH level should be 6 to 8. Also, the level of nitrites and ammonia should be zero.

Crowded Conditions

If you put too many fish in your tank, the bettas might swim to the top because they do not have enough space in the middle. Crowding is not good as it creates conflicts for many fish.

If you also have a more aggressive fish in the tank, your bettas will flee to the top to save themselves from potential danger.

Lack of Food

Bettas are intelligent fish, and they know that they are typically fed from the top of their aquarium. If you have permitted them to go hungry, they will start swimming near the top, hoping to be fed.


Bettas are magical creatures. They might sit at the higher spot of the tank merely because they prefer to, and it does not have to indicate any issues. However, there are warning signs you should get familiarized with, such as lethargy, lack of appetite, and faded colors.

This means that something is wrong with the fish. If that is the case, upward swimming is a symptom of an underlying cause.