Betta is acting weird ...


Hi, I'm new ...

My family has a had a betta for a few months now and has been fine but it's been acting weird the last couple of hours. I'm completely jumping the gun here but I've honestly never seen the fish refuse food before (!!!) and now it's alternately swimming and holding itself suspended while staring into space. It doesn't look bloated, the fins look normal, the scales seem normal, it has no trouble swimming, and the water is newly changed. However, it seems to occasionally make these weird, jerky movements, moving its head to the side. (BTW it's alone in the bowl.)

Overall, it's more active than usual, but not in a very "nice" way. He seems uncomfortable. I'm waiting to try the pea thing in case it's constipation.


well it could be a number of things, but the key thing to treating any betta is to keep them warm. can you put him in a larger container with a heater? or possibly keep him in a warmer part of the house? he needs a temp of 82' right now


Welcome Dory25!!
Bowls are notorious for making Bettas act weird, sick, etc (because they probably are).  Bettas need a tank of at least 5 gallons, which is heated, filtered, and lighted to be healthy and happy.  In a bowl without these requirements, it is no wonder they may act sick.  Whatever is wrong with your Betta, the first thing that needs to be done to help him feel better is to put him in a bigger tank.  Please, if you haven't already done so, read Chickadee (Rose's) stickied post that is called Welcome and Betta Care Guide.  It will explain in detail why Bettas need heat, filtration and light as well as other things.


When fish are jumpy and make funny movements like that, there is something in the water not to their liking. They are hitting pockets of some chemical or some water type that is not good. You may think that the water is good but do you test the water for ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite? You especially need to test the tap water before you add anything to it. Some city water can be very high in nitrates or even ammonia. It is a shock what is in our water supplies and in a bowl the fish has nothing to help get rid of the things that bother him but you. If you do not have one yet, you need a Master Test Kit for Freshwater. The most commonly used one and the least expensive is the one by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. or API. Please do not test with test strips as they are notoriously inaccurate and can give false positives and negative readings or make the situation into something it obviously is not.

Tap water also needs to be conditioned and the conditioners that work well in filtered tanks do not do much in a bowl. If you have an unfiltered container for him, he needs to have Amquel+ added to his water as it helps to neutralize the ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites in the water. (not remove but make them temporarily safe for him until you can change the water) A bowl or unfiltered container needs a 50% water change every day and a 75% change one time out of the week (6 - 50% water changes and 1 - 75% water change a week) as the water can go toxic overnight. He really needs to be in a heated container, but the smallest container that can be safely heated is 2.5 gallons with a 25 watt heater.

Like gammerus said he definitely needs to be at about 82 degrees F or 28 degrees C now. His metabolism is suffering at a lower temperature and he is probably constipated too as you mentioned him refusing food and being off color. DEFINITELY try the peas but unless you get into something warmer, I do not gaurantee they will help much as the problem is he is cool enough his metabolism has his digestive system slowed to the point of not being able to pass the food along so perhaps you should give him a one day fast before you try the peas.

Please do let us know how things are going and welcome to

  • Thread Starter


Thanks for all the input! For now I'll keep the bowl in the vicinity of the kitchen and get to the pet store ASAP for a test kit, etc. The fish did eat a little this morning but for now I'll put him on a fast before feeding anything else. He seems a little more calm and like himself today -- i.e., lazy swimming and/or sitting among the rocks.
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