So you’ve just found your beloved new betta fish floating upside down, eyes vacant, seemingly lifeless. Heartbroken, you go to retrieve its little body, but as soon as you do, swoosh! He wriggles away and starts swimming around again as if nothing had happened!
Now you’re justifiably confused and worried that something may be wrong with your new pet.
Well, worry no more! There’s a good chance that your betta fish is playing dead.
In this post, I’m going to share with you some ways to tell if your betta fish is playing dead (or if there may actually be something more serious going on), as well as the reasons why he seems to enjoy scaring the life out of us by bobbing around upside down with that hauntingly hollow gaze.
Is My Betta Fish Dead?
As when any fish passes, your betta may be resting on the bottom of the tank, floating on its side, or stereotypically floating upside down.
To check that your fish is alive, first look closely at his gills; if they’re moving, your fish is breathing and alive and well. If not, check his overall appearance. Dull eyes, rough, faded, discolored fins, or scales appearing raised are all signs of something wrong.
If you still can’t tell, try to gently disrupt him with your hand or a toy to get him moving again. If he doesn’t respond or seems to be struggling, that would be a good sign to call your local veterinarian or aquatics provider to get help and seek further advice.
Try not to disrupt your fish every time this happens; he needs to sleep! You’ll quickly get used to his habits and how he’s most comfortable (even if that is upside down!). But don’t be afraid to give him a nudge if something looks out of the ordinary – it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Why Is My Betta Fish Floating?
If your betta fish is floating when he sleeps, that’s perfectly fine. It’s a common pattern among bettas to sleep in strange positions.
If your betta fish is floating while conscious, with the occasional wiggle or failed attempt to move, seek immediate help. Floating and struggling to swim or move around could indicate a swim bladder issue, which could be fatal.
In instances like this, it’s best to contact your pet’s healthcare provider to identify the cause of the issue and find the best course of action to help restore your little fishy friend to optimum health.
Do Betta Fish Play Dead for Fun?
Betta fish are among the smartest small fish species out there. They’re able to enjoy playing with toys, learn basic tricks, and even recognize their owners and learn their feeding times!
Therefore it’s not silly to ask: Do betta fish play dead for fun?
Well, not exactly. They don’t get a kick out of trying to scare you – they’re fish, not practical jokers. That said, just like you and me, they’re content when they’re comfortable. They may choose to lounge on a nearby log, slightly tilted to the side (yes, they may appear dead), but they’re just getting comfortable!
Should I Be Worried If My Betta Fish Is Playing Dead?
No. If you’re confident this is just his regular habit, leave him be. He’s likely content just resting where he is. As I mentioned before, betta fish sleep in strange positions that make them appear dead, and if this is his normal position, there’s nothing to worry about.
If you’ve had this fish for a while, and he’s suddenly started sleeping like this, it would be best to double-check his health with a professional. Changes in your pet’s behavior can indicate a more serious problem.
Yes. Betta fish can ‘play dead’ when sleeping or relaxing, and it’s prevalent behavior in this type of fish. So if you get a new pet betta, and within the first day, he’s floating – don’t flush him just yet! Likely, he’s just having a rest from his long journey to his new home!
And if you learn anything from this article, let it be this: If your betta fish looks dead, and it’s out of the ordinary, or something seems off – trust your gut and contact a professional.
For more information on your fish’s sleeping habits, check out this article, ‘Do Betta Fish Sleep With Their Eyes Open?’