10 Common Betta Fish Behaviors Before Death

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Betta fish are a species of freshwater fish that live in rice paddies, slow-moving streams, and stagnant pools. They are known for their beautiful colors and their fighting ability.

While Bettas are some of the most popular pet fish because of their beauty, they are not easy to care for. That’s because they often change their behaviors and it’s not easy to understand them always.

This makes it difficult for Betta owners to know what to do if their fish has started behaving strangely. Maybe it means their pet has a health issue or it’s dying.

betta fish behavior before death

As a first-time Betta owner, you may have a hard time identifying the behaviors of your fish before death. That’s why we will point out the most common signs Betta is dying in this article.

Keep reading to find out what behaviors Betta fish commonly show before death. You will also learn what to do when noticing them and which symptoms mean your fishy friend might be in distress.

Is My Betta Fish Dying?

The first thing you need to do is identify strange behaviors that indicate something goes wrong in your aquarium. So, how to tell if Betta fish is dying?

Common behaviors before death are fading color, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Besides, increased stress may also be a bad sign. If your Betta shows any sign of physical distress or doesn’t move around much, this could mean it’s dying.

These are just some of the Betta fish behaviors they exhibit before passing away. In the next section, you can familiarize yourself with all the signs to watch for.

10 Signs Betta Fish Is Dying

It can be hard to recognize modifying behaviors in Betta fish. This is especially true for beginners.

Fortunately, there are some clear signs that almost anyone can notice and save his fishy friend on time. Without further ado, let’s check out these signs.

1. Loss of Appetite

The first sign of a Betta fish death is usually an unwillingness to eat. If your Betta isn’t eating anymore, this could signify a problem with its health or environment.

They often have decreased appetite due to the rise in water temperature. When the water becomes too warm, they will not eat as much as they would when it is cooler. The warmer water also causes them to become lethargic and less active.

This can be problematic because it can lead to malnutrition and death if left untreated. It is important for pet owners to keep an eye on their Betta’s appetite levels so that they can catch any problems early on before it is too late.

2. Change of Color

Why Is My Betta Turning White

Bettas boast beautiful, bright colors. Did you know that their emotions and health condition can influence how the colors change? Yes, that’s true.

If your pet is sick or dying, its colors might dull alike. Age fading is a natural process in Betta fish as they are growing old. However, it is not always a sign of aging.

Younger fish can also change color if they are unhealthy. The sudden and unnatural fading of middle-aged or young individuals is something to worry about.

Pay close attention to the unusual colors on their scales. If you notice horizontal stripes that run down the body of your Betta, this will tell you that your fish is sick.

A red belly is also a bad sign. It’s often an indication of nitrite poisoning that happens due to high levels of nitrites (NO2) in aquariums. This lethal fish illness requires euthanization. Without fast emergency intervention, your Betta will likely die.

3. Inactivity and Lethargy

Betta fish may become lethargic and inactive for different reasons. For example, this change in their behavior can occur when they are not getting enough oxygen.

In that case, they will have trouble breathing and their gills will be working hard to keep the water flowing over them. This is a sign that they need help.

Unlike some other types of fish, healthy Bettas never exhibit inactivity and lethargy. These active swimmers can move around the aquarium endlessly, exploring their new home or searching for food.

That said, lethargy is not the typical behavior of these vibrant swimmers. There might be a severe reason for it. So, if your Betta doesn’t move much or spends most of its time in only one place of the aquarium, it is a warning indication that something is wrong.

4. Increased Stress

If the water quality is poor in your fish tank, this can contribute to depression and stress in Betta. Sometimes it results in loss of senses and death.

That’s why you should make sure water parameters are good all the time. However, increased stress can be caused by different factors, including:

  • Poor aquarium maintenance
  • Chemistry or cleanliness
  • Incorrect aquarium setups
  • Change of environment
  • Rapid water changes
  • Malnourishment or overfeeding
  • High ammonia and nitrates levels
  • Handling and transport
  • Lack of mate
  • Tapping on glass

All of these things can be a cause of stress, depression, and combat aggression in Betta. As a result, your Betta may experience different health problems and become vulnerable to various illnesses. If their neural system is seriously damaged, they will eventually pass away.

5. Living Alone and Hiding (Isolation)

Obviously, this only applies to aquariums in which Betta lives with other mates. Bettas get a bad rap for being compatible species.

Though they generally enjoy interacting with their tank mates, especially compatible fish. By the way, they need social situations to thrive.

If your Betta doesn’t interact with its “friends” anymore, this may mean it has a serious problem. Is isolation noticeable?

Perhaps you’ve noticed that your Betta avoids his mates and hides under stones or plants. This is a common behavior in older Bettas. Sadly, this typically indicates that they are about to die.

6. Reduced Response to You

Besides stopping to interact with tank mates, a dying Betta fish may also stop to respond to its owner. This is not a good sign because Bettas take pleasure in interacting with humans.

These lively, curious animals are capable of recognizing their owners. Healthy individuals are very social, meaning they respond to the voice or gestures of their owners in an eager way. What’s more, they can be trained!

On the other hand, sick and old individuals are noticeably uninvolved or reclusive. If your beloved Betta stopped to respond to you when you’re getting closer to the aquarium, it can be an indication that the end is close.

7. Gasping at Water Surface

Bettas gulp air at the surface when they don’t receive enough oxygen in the fish tank. Older individuals may have difficulty breathing. That’s why they frequently go to the surface to get dissolved oxygen using their labyrinth organs and gills (branchiae).

Young fish may also gasp at the surface of the aquarium due to a lack of oxygen. If you notice this behavior, check the water parameters as soon as possible. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

Consider introducing more oxygen into your aquarium if necessary. For this purpose, you can use a filtration system, aquatic plants, or air stones.

8. Swelling

When experiencing eye problems or dying, Betta fish may swell up. Aside from eye swelling caused by infection or inflammation, they may also suffer from body swelling (dropsy). Dropsy is a fluid accumulation in the interstitial spaces as well as bodily cavities and fish tissues.

Swelling is typical for older fish. It’s one of the signs of death or aging. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about it if your Betta is too old.

However, if you notice this physical change in young fish, be sure to call a veterinarian immediately. Try to save your pet!

9. Clamped Fins

Bettas are known for boasting of their stunning fins. They are available in a variety of shapes and colors. It appears that they enjoy flaring them all day long.

If your fish stops displaying its fins or they look somewhat clamped, it can be a warning indication of a health problem. Clamped fins often indicate stress in fish.

It may also be a sign of infection, which makes flaring a painful act. Whatever the cause, try to solve this problem on time to prevent it from getting worse.

10. Stringy White Poop

Last but not least, you should check what your fish poop looks like from time to time. It should look like dark or black short clumps.

If your Betta produces white stringy excrement, this deviation in color and shape can be a warning sign. The common cause of such poop is parasitic infections. It may result in death when not treated adequately and timely.

Read More:

What Are the Reasons for Betta Fish Death?

You might be wondering why your Betta is dying. Well, there could be a wide range of possible reasons.

Listed below are the most common causes of death in Betta fish:

  • Ammonia poisoning
  • Unhealthy diet or overeating
  • Fungal infections
  • Diseases and parasites
  • Bad water parameters
  • Oxygen deficiency in the water
  • Aggressive aquarium mates
  • Respiratory dysfunction
  • Serious injury
  • Extreme stress
  • Birth defects

What Factors Can Influence a Betta’s Lifespan?

Surprisingly, Betta owners can make a significant difference in the lifespan of their fishy pets. How long your fish will live depends on the following factors:

  • Aquarium size
  • Water quality and temperature
  • Habitat
  • Diet
  • Tank cleanliness
  • Immune system strength

If you notice any changes in behavior or signs of problems, try to address them as fast as you can. It can save or prolong the life of your fish!

How Do You Save Your Dying Betta?

Whether you are an experienced or first-time fishkeeper, you need to know what to look for and act promptly. Prevention can keep your pet from passing away in some cases.

However, it’s not always possible to save them. If your little friend is already at death’s door, you should give him a comfortable end at least before saying goodbye.

Just like other pets, Betta fish aren’t in our lives forever. Whatever the case, you should do everything in your power to help your Betta and save its life.

Here are some things you can do in order to save your dying Betta:

  • Try to Identify the cause
  • Check the water temperature regularly
  • Aerate the water properly
  • Transfer your fish to a quarantine aquarium if needed
  • Consult a veterinarian or professional who specializes in Betta fish


No owner likes to face the death of his pet, but it is just a natural process. As a Betta owner, you should understand how and why your fish reach this point.

Watch the behavior of your fish for any sign of approaching death. Try to recognize the warning signs before it is too late.

Maybe your fishy friend is sick and requires urgent veterinary care. If nothing works, send it off in a peaceful manner.

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