Betta Fish Behavior Before Death: Is My Betta Dying Slowly?

Betta fish are gorgeous fish to have in your aquarium as pets and have a beautiful appearance that contributes to the appeal and beauty of your aquarium.

However, they are also susceptible to various health problems. The environment of a betta can directly affect its life span. Factors such as the quality of water and food quality, diseases, and much more influence how long a betta is likely to be alive.

As betta fish age, or get sick, they exhibit different signs and behavior prior to dying. Betta fish may be killed suddenly due to any illness trauma, toxicity, or infection.

This article will speak about the most common behaviors of betta fish prior to death, and what you should do if you spot them.

Below are a few items mentioned in this article to assist you in maintaining a healthy and safe environment for your betta, and also aid in fighting off illness.

Products Mentioned in This Article

Last update on 2024-05-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What Is a Betta’s Normal Lifespan?

In a tank Betta fish typically live for between three and five years, however, they are known to live as long as 10 years. There are many factors that affect the lifespan of betta fish, such as diet, water conditions, tankmates, etc.

Bettas that live in wild habitats have shorter lives due to the fact that they are aggressive towards other species of bettas.

What Are Some Common Betta Fish Behavior Before Death?

The ability to detect changes in betta fish behavior before death isn’t easy. But, betta’s behavior prior to death is distinct and may allow you to fix the issue before the fish is dead.

How do betta fish act before they die? It is crucial to be aware of the expected behavior of betta fish. The changes in behavior could make a difference in the life of your fish companion.

Betta Fish Behaviors Before Death: 17 Signs to Watch For

How do betta fish act before they die?

Sometimes your betta fish could exhibit the following behavior health issues, poor water quality, or a lack of oxygen. In other instances, it could mean it’s nearing death.

It all depends on the condition of your Betta’s health and health, you might be able to help the fish to good health before dying but in older betta fish, it usually signifies that they’ve attained the end of their lives and will soon die.


Dropsy is defined as the accumulation of fluid within the body’s cavities, tissues, or interstitial areas. It is a multifactorial sign in betta fish that could be a sign of parasite or bacterial diseases.

Hepatic impairment can also cause dropsy. Dropsy among older bettas could indicate an immune system or kidney failure. In turn, any changes in the water’s conditions or hygiene may cause betta fish death. It’s crucial to speak with the veterinarian as soon as you notice any indication of dropping.


Betta fish that are dying are extremely weak because of the loss of appetite that lasts for a number of days. The metabolic processes of the body malfunction and result in a deficiency of energy balance.

Betta fish, according to experts, starts eating fats known as triglycerides. These fats are which are present in the body’s muscular organs to supply their energy requirements. When triglycerides are utilized as an energy source they cause significant weakness.

This is particularly true for the betta fish as they grow older. The lack of energy and fatigue in a betta fish that is old are typical signs that it is at its end lifespan.

This is a personal experience My betta fish was just four seven and a half years old at the time that it stopped eating food as it did at a younger age.

After a few weeks and days, the situation got worse. It was very weak at the point it was 4 years and 11 months. It died eventually because of metabolic problems and the shut-down of vital organs in the body.

I’m certain it was disease-free and its conditions in the water were monitored well; However, at the age of 4 eleven months, and four years old my betta was living a full healthy, and happy life. Its inability to eat was an indication that it was at an endpoint in its lifespan.

Troubles with breathing

Betta fish can’t breathe when they’re sick or elderly or if the water quality is not good. The capacity of a Betta the fish’s labyrinth (the organ that functions as a lung) to absorb a substantial amount of oxygen diminishes when it gets older. In turn, it will begin to breathe fast.

This fast breathing can indicate that a betta fish may be dying when it’s older. If it’s young the frequent breathing can be linked to illness or low conditions of the water. It is therefore important to examine the parameters of your water and seek advice from a vet to resolve the issue for a young fish.


Lethargy is an occurrence in older Betta fish. If your betta fish doesn’t respond to the environment and has a tendency to rest is a sign it’s dying.

Betta fish are typically active and receptive pets that typically respond to sound or the way you approach your tank as a result of environmental factors. When your fish exhibits fatigue, it may be caused by stress or poor quality of water.

In this case, alter the quality of your water on a regular basis to ensure water quality and restore your betta to good health.

Color and physical appearance fade

If Betta Fish are in good health, they’re healthier and more energetic, as well as their colors are more vibrant. Unusual changes in the appearance of betta fish like white spots on the body may be due to stress, age, and illnesses.

Betta fish have a more vibrant color, however, their skin color diminishes as they get older. The skin turns transparent and the internal organs of their body can be visible. Genetic mutations can result in streaks and white spots, as well as low water quality and stress could cause color loss in fish that are young.

If you notice any changes in the appearance of your betta or the color of its changing, it’s important to recognize that it could be nearing death. Analyze the parameters of the water and fish to discover what’s behind the change in color first, and then determine the best course of action.

Stress and depression

Poor quality of water can cause depression and stress. Water quality issues can trigger severe depression and stress in older bettas. This could lead to death due to a decrease in the senses.

Stress can be caused due to an increase in nitrates as well as ammonia levels, which damage the brains of the betta fish. This causes them to be unable to sense smell and hearing and appear to be unresponsive.

For Betta fish, stress can be the cause of their health issues due to the fact that it affects immunity, which makes them susceptible to a range of ailments. So, make sure you check your betta tank’s quality of water, as well as keep nitrate and ammonia levels to zero.

Air gushing on the surface

Betta fish are equipped with gills that let them breathe and take in oxygen from the water. Betta fish start gasping for air near the surface of the water due to the following reasons. inadequate oxygen levels in the water or damaged gills.

If their gills aren’t able to absorb enough oxygen, fish like bettas need to breathe in order to get oxygen. A betta fish struggling to get oxygen in its later years is a sign that it’s in danger of dying.

If it’s choking for air at an early age you must assess the water’s quality and make changes to it to preserve the oxygen levels.

Changes in behavior

If Betta is healthy, the fish perform things in a consistent and graceful way. As they age, However, you’ll find irregularities in their behavior. If you compare them to young Betta fish, the swimming style of betta fish that are older is completely different.

Due to the degeneration of organ systems and organs, dying betta fish feel an immense amount of discomfort. As pet owners to spot abnormal behavior changes and consult a vet to determine the root cause.

Eye swelling

Betta fish are at risk of skin infections and inflammation which can lead to eye issues. If the eye of a betta fish expands, it’s because of an acute viral or bacterial infection.

Since betta fishes have the monocular eye (its eyes are in opposition to one to the other). It’s hard to tell whether the outer skin layer of their eyes is swollen, however, it can be observed by examining it closely.

The swelling of the eyes could be an indication of a serious bacterial viral infection that’s been running for a long period. Betta Fish have a tough to recovering from such a condition and are currently close to dying.

Hiding and living alone

When a betta fish gets aged in its natural habitat, it will hide under rocks, stones, and even plants. They behave the same way in tanks as they do when they are in nature, choosing to retreat in the shade of plants and avoid interaction with tank other fish.

If you observe this behavior within your own betta fish that is at an older age, it suggests that it has been around for a while and is about to go to the next stage of its life.

Fish Tuberculosis

Fish tuberculosis, also known as fish TB is caused by Mycobacterium. Betta fish that are healthy are not vulnerable to Fish TB. Betta fish that have an immune system that is weak, in contrast, is more susceptible to the effects of fish TB.

Mycobacterium is present all the time in aquariums and can infect older or weakfish like betta. The bacterium is shielded from death by its outer cover. It is nearly impossible for a betta fish that old to recover from the effects of fish TB.

The disease is contagious as well as zoonotic meaning it could be passed on to other fish and to humans. Therefore it is imperative to remove the bettas with TB and wash your hands clean after handling the bettas.

Appetite Loss

A loss or decrease in the desire to eat is among the most frequent symptoms that indicate you have an illness in your fish. It’s crucial to be aware of the amount of food your betta fish often eat.

If your betta’s health is declining and are not eating, it might still swim to the surface while feeding but it won’t eat. Bettas need to eat approximately five pellets per day. Be sure to use food that is approved by Betta.

If the lack of appetite persists for several days, it is important to check your betta immediately. Betta fish can survive without food for more than one week, but this is not a good idea for them.

Not As Responsive

Healthy betta fish can be extremely active fish. They are very active swimmers and generally social. They generally enjoy interacting with their fellow swimmers So if you see they aren’t responding to your gestures and greetings This could indicate that they’re not doing as well.

When bettas are sicker they respond more and less. They could also become less responsive during meals or not appear on the surface to eat.

Isolation From Other Fish

Apart from being friendly with humans, in addition, bettas are friendly among other fish. Another indication that they’re sick could be a decreased level of interaction among other fish.

If your betta seems to be separating itself during times of activity or when other the fish is socializing it could be an indicator of illness.

Gasping At the Surface

If your fish is groaning at the top in the aquarium, it could mean they aren’t receiving enough oxygen dissolved in the tank.

The sensation of gasping on the surface is an indication of the time of death. To address this issue it is possible to agitate the water surface with one of these:

  • Filter
  • Powerhead
  • Wavemaker
  • Bubbler
  • Spray bar

The addition of more fish to the tank will require greater oxygen levels for fish to flourish.

Clamped fins

Clamped fins are an indication of stress within your fish. Clamped fins are a sign that the bettas keep their fins folded inside their bodies until the fin curls over the body.

Insufficient water quality, incompatible tankmates a lack of space, and many more could result in stress that causes closed fins.

Hunched Back

As humans, your betta may have a hunched back as it is getting older. A hunched back isn’t necessarily a sign of dying but could be an indication the betta is aging and is nearing the end of its life.

Conditions That Contribute To The Death of Betta Fish

Water Quality Issues

One of the most common reasons for the death of fish is the bad condition of the water. The temperature of a betta’s water must be in the range of 76 to the temperature of 82 degrees. A sudden drop in temperature could lead to the death of your fish. Alongside the water temperature, maintaining regular cleaning and PH is vital to ensure your fish stays well-nourished.


Another reason behind the death of betta fish is overfeeding. Bettas are incredibly sluggish. Giving your betta a wide range of food items, including pellets, and freeze-dried food items like bloodworms is crucial to ensure an overall healthy Betta.

Bettas must be fed two times each day. Feed your betta in small portions. The stomach of bettas is about the size of an eyeball, so that’s roughly the amount of food they consume. Excess feeding can cause illnesses, which can lead to death.


Stress can increase over time, and eventually cause the deaths of fish. There are many things that stress Bettas, such as:

  • The water quality is poor
  • Inadequate aquarium maintenance
  • An incorrect aquarium setup, such as the size or tankmates that are incompatible or tank mates that are not compatible, etc.
  • Insufficient or excessively fed
  • Changes in the tank’s environment
  • Sickness
  • Fish handling
  • Rapid changes in water
  • Glass tapping

It’s easy to think that tapping the glass isn’t such a big issue, but it could be extremely stressful for fish. Most of these ailments can be easily treated to avoid the death of fish.


Betta fish are usually tough fish that aren’t easily killed. However, they are injured easily because of their fins that flow long. Injuries can cause infections and even death.

If you keep a betta ensure that there are no sharp objects in the tank that they could harm themselves with. Also, make sure that your tankmates are not violent.

Best Betta fish care products

As a betta’s owner, it’s essential to have the necessary items in your possession that will ensure our fish are happy and healthy. Here are some items that you need to have as a betta fish proprietor.

1. Betta Water Renewal

Aqueon Aquarium Renewing the Water is the ideal way to increase the health of the bettas. It is specifically designed for betta fish and it improves health and colors and also helps restore trace elements. We strongly recommend ensuring that your aquarium’s water quality is excellent.

Aqueon Water Renewals Betta 4 Fluid Ounces
  • Renews biologically essential trace minerals
  • Promotes health, color and vitality in fish
  • Restores water back to its natural state
  • Specially formulated for bettas
  • Convenient dosage cap is included - Add 5mL (1 tsp) per 1/2 gallon of...

Last update on 2024-05-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. API Aquarium Salt

API Aquarium Salt aids in keeping your aquarium in good health by preventing an increase in fungus as well as bacteria. It allows bettas to breathe and helps in the recovery process from illness. We strongly recommend this method when switching the water and establishing the aquarium for the bettas.

API AQUARIUM SALT Freshwater Aquarium Salt 16-Ounce Box
  • Contains one (1) API AQUARIUM SALT Freshwater Aquarium Salt 16-Ounce...
  • Promotes fish health and disease recovery with increased electrolytes
  • Improves respiration for fish in freshwater aquariums
  • Made from evaporated sea water for all-natural results
  • Use when changing water, when setting up a new freshwater aquarium and...

Last update on 2024-05-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3. Aqueon Betta Beads

Aqueon Betta Beads help to boost the health of bacteria and the growth of beneficial bacteria to the betta fish. It contains soft gravel as well as enzymes, which are crucial to ensure that bettas are happy and healthy. This product is highly recommended for keeping an aquarium that is healthy and keeps bets in a state of mind that is stimulating.

Aqueon Pure Betta Beads, Blue
  • Provides live beneficial bacteria and enzymes to maintain clear water
  • Great environmental enrichment activity for Bettas! Watch as they play...
  • Soft biodegradable gravel encourages the natural foraging behavior of...
  • Aids in maintaining a healthy aquarium by breaking down organic sludge...
  • For use in unfiltered betta habitats. Add 1 pouch of betta beads per 1...

Last update on 2024-05-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Is My Betta Dying Slowly? How Do I Tell?

If your betta’s health is declining It could be showing indications of stress, such as concealing, laying on the bottom of the tank and brown or white spots on its body, odd movements, or the disintegration of its fins. All of these are signs of a serious illness that can lead to the fish’s death.

Is My Fish Dying of Old Age?

Like all animals, the human body will age at some point. Betta fish that are dying from old age will decline just like human beings. A loss of color, as well as a lack of interest and a large amount of sleep, are signs that your betta’s dead. old age.

As they age, bettas become more prone to infection and less likely to recover.

Do Bettas Sink When They Die?

A majority of bettas drown after death, so one that is resting at the surface of your tank is a cause for concern.

If a betta’s body is floating out of place, it could suffer from the condition of the swim bladder. It is often due to constipation or an obstruction. It is possible to treat the condition corrected by regular water changes, consuming peas that have been thawed, or removing any stress-producing source.

My Betta Fish Isn’t Moving

If a betta fish at the bottom of the tank not moving or is asleep it may resemble symptoms of death. They can lie on a flat surface, not moving, and their color could diminish. This could be a defense strategy since other fish are less likely to disturb a dead fish.

How To Comfort A Dying Betta Fish?

If you observe any of this behavior that bettas exhibit prior to their death, you should change your tank’s water immediately. This will save your fish.

But, if your fish is suffering and there isn’t any other thing that you can do simply provide them with the comfort they need in their final moments.

It is possible to do this by keeping the water at a comfortable temperature and adding an amount of salt to the tank to ease discomfort. It is also possible to move the tank to a larger one when they are in a small tank to get more security.

Make sure that their space is as relaxing as it can be.


How do you save a dying betta fish?

Cleanse the tank at least every 3 days. Add Ampicillin or Tetracycline to the tank to help treat. Repeat the process until your fin of fish stops showing indications that it is losing tissue. Add a fungus remover to the water to aid in recovery.

How do you tell if Betta is sleeping or dying?

To put it in simple terms dead fish can’t breathe. Take a look at the mouth of your betta and gills. Even in sleeping, you’ll be able to see your betta draw water into its mouth, and then out of the gills. Also when you sleep your betta’s mouth as well as the gill movements of your betta are significantly slower than they would be when it was awake.

Why is my betta laying at the bottom of the tank?

If you’re not noticing any other signs of stress, you’re Betta could be unfocused and lying on the bottom constantly because it is in a tiny aquarium or is kept in poor conditions the water. This is due to inadequate conditions in the tank.

What do betta fish do when they are sad?

Bettas who are unhappy and grumpy tend to be lazy. They are prone to laying around and appearing bored. Every betta rests at times however a betta who is never active may require assistance. The main reason that causes Betta fish to be unhappy is the fact that they aren’t well-maintained.

Conclusion: Be aware of the signals before it’s too late

Learn about the betta fish’s behavior before death to prevent them from sustaining diseases. It is important to reflect this information as a betta’s owner to keep your betta happy and content.

If you have additional questions, please leave them in the comment section. If you find this post useful and informative Please share it with others to assist other owners of bettas.

Are you still unsure of the reason your betta fish is acting in a particular way? We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to the care of betta fish including tanks, food preparation, and behavior to watch for >>> The complete Betta Fish Care Guide

Dibyajyoti Bordoloi is the creator and author of, a third-generation experienced fish keeper and owner of a successful pet breeding farm. He is also a member of the Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation And Conservation (Assam), the Marine Aquarium Societies of North East India, and the Kaziranga Nature Conservancy of Assam.