Fish Getting Stuck Above Water

  1. WBB Initiate Member

    Hello. We've had a betta for a few weeks. We had some harder plastic plants in the tank that seemed to be bothering his fins, so we took them out a few days ago and replaced them with softer silk plants. He seemed instantly so much happier, but then the silly thing keeps getting stuck on a leaf from one of the plants. I really think he's stuck, because we tap the leaf or blow on him and he moves a little but can't seem to get off the leaf. We help him out of his predicament, and within a couple of hours he's right back in it. It's like he wants to be there. We finally moved the plant so it's no longer as close to the top of the water, and now he seems agitated and is ignoring the plant completely, just hanging out at the bottom of the tank. Any suggestions for why he is doing this or what he is wanting/needing? Thanks.

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  2. Moe98 Initiate Member

    Bettas like to sit near the surface of the water on large leaves. Have you ever seen the fake leaves that have the suction cup on them?, that's what they're meant for. Plus your betta has a labyrinth, meaning that he can "breathe" air as well. So don't be afraid that he's going to be in distress. I would let him sit like that next time and give him a while to get down. What's your water parameters?
  3. adh/smile Well Known Member Member

    Betta fish need to be near the surface of the water to breathe. Their labrynth organ allows them to take oxygen from atmospheric air. They like to rest on plants, or structures near the surface of the water.

    I suggest moving the plant back to where it was, but make the leaf he likes to rest on an inch below the water surface. That way, he can lay on it close to the water surface, but not be out of water. If there is any leaves out of water that he can't get "beached" See if that helps!
  4. WBB Initiate Member

    Thank you, Moe.

    I know what you are asking, because we used to have a large saltwater reef tank, but we haven't actually tested this tank. I know, I know... needs to be done. We did this all backwards - impulse purchase around the holiday at the insistence of the kids. It's a TopFin beta flow 3.5 gallon tank with the one fish and two snails. We've cleaned it once with a 1/3 swap-out and suctioning of the rocks, and it seemed there was a lot of "gunk", so cut back a bit on the food. Water looks clear, but is honestly probably too cold because there is no heater. That's a very unscientific answer. We really need to find all of our testing supplies.

    So you think we should put the plant back up where he likes it and see if he can get himself down? How long would you let him hang out there before "rescuing" him?
  5. adh/smile Well Known Member Member

    Yes. just make sure he isn't out OUT of the water if you know what I mean. An inch or so below is good. He should be able to get himself off of a leaf that is 1 inch below the water surface. If he can't, then something is wrong with him.
  6. WBB Initiate Member

    Thanks, adh. He was definitely out of the water before. He was shimmying himself onto a leaf that was basically floating on the surface. I just tried putting it back about an inch below the water. He instantly went to it and tried to lay on it, and slid off. So I bent the leaf so it's a little more flat. Hopefully that will do it...?
  7. Moe98 Initiate Member

    I would let it stay where it is, maybe he will find a new favourite leaf to lay on that's not partially out of the water. ;) If he is still not paying attention to that plant, possibly buy him one of those suction cup fake leaves? I have one for all my bettas and they love it!

    As for the leaving him up there question...mmm probably best to just observe him. My betta usually will go on and off his favourite leaf a few times in thirty minutes. So you be the judge!

    Definitely find/get another test kit because you'd be surprised at the rate of which parameters can change for the worse. Also, I 100% recommend a mini heater, you'll have a much happier little fishy. :)
  8. WBB Initiate Member

    Success! Laying just under the surface of the water. Thank you!

    Good advice, Moe. Test kit and a heater is on the list!

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  9. IceFyre1414 Well Known Member Member

    Just wanted to add that bettas are excellent jumpers so I wouldn't worry about him getting stuck. Additionally, you may want to add a cover for the tank if you don't have one already for that reason.
  10. WBB Initiate Member

    Thank you IceFyre. We have a lid, I just took it off while I was trying to adjust the plant. A heater is ordered and will be here in a couple of days, which I'm sure will make him happier.
  11. adh/smile Well Known Member Member

    Glad to hear you have success! You can now rest in peace that your betta can rest on his favorite leaf and not dry out!

    I've had many many bettas over the years and only two of them liked to rest on plant leaves. They were lazy fellows. The one I have now is too active in patrolling his territory from "impending danger" (aka. his reflection; he never knows when that mirror will pop up and threaten his authority you know!).

    This is my boy by the way. He loves poking his nose into the loach's business.
  12. WBB Initiate Member

    I just wanted to follow up and say that putting a heater in the tank made an incredible difference! The fish doesn't even try to get on the leaf anymore - he's happily swimming around the tank constantly. The cave he had never gone in before is now his favorite hide-out. My current theory is that he was so cold he was trying to expose himself to the sun to warm up. Perhaps somewhere in his DNA he had a "warm in the sun" survival mechanism built-in, which of course wasn't going to work in the tank in our living room. Anybody ever heard that theory anyplace else? Anyway, as a bonus, his fins are spreading out and waving more beautifully, and he's interacting more with us. I think overall he's just a much healthier fish.

    ADH - is it safe to put a loach in with the betta? We have a couple of snails - in the beginning the betta harassed them and knocked them off the glass, but he seems to be leaving them alone now. My kids keep wanting to put something else interesting in the tank, but I'd been told it was a super bad idea. Thanks!
  13. Moe98 Initiate Member

    YAY. I am so glad you're little buddy if flourishing!

    Now, I don't suggest loaches at all. They need to be in large groups as they're a social fish and a small grain substrate as well. Some more experienced aquarium hobbyists could give you more information though. I would suggest sticking to different snails. Nerites are awesome and come in different patterns so you could do a few of them.
  14. WBB Initiate Member

    Thank you! Will stick with snails. :)
  15. adh/smile Well Known Member Member

    I'm so glad your betta is improving because of the heater! Horay!!!

    I'm so sorry, but I don't remember if you've said what size tank you have. And I was too lazy to go through previous posts to find out. I have my betta in a 10 gallon with 2 kuhli loaches. I think the kuhli loaches need to be in groups of 4-5 or more and I'm working on getting more loaches in the tank. It's funny, every time I go to my fish store intending to buy more loaches they are out of stock!

    I also think there are a lot of disputes that are not 100% accurate out there about loaches such as; they MUST be in a 20 gal. tank minimum , They MUST be in groups of 5+, etc. I was so confused by contradictory information out there I just decided to go out on my own whim and see what happened. I started with 2 kuhli loaches in my betta tank and they are doing JUST FINE! They are fat (healthy fat), swim around all the time, I see them a lot. Part of me actually doesn't want to get more! My experience contradicts people saying you will never see your loaches if they are in small groups, your loach will be depressed without a large group, your loach will not thrive outside a group of 5+, etc. PLEASE! I agree that they will probably be even MORE active and visible in larger groups, but that does not mean that they will be JUST FINE with just 2.

    I think if you have a 10 gallon tank (minimum tank for even 2 loaches due to their activity level) you could have some loaches. NOTE: I have only personal experience with kuhli loaches. I can not speak for the others. My betta never chases them, or even notices them. The only time he does is every morning he goes down to their cave and sticks his head in as if to say "good morning!" but that is his only contact with them. I must say, if you get any loach they need dark places to hide, plenty of hiding spots, and sand substrate is a must!