Why Is My Betta Fish Hiding?

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A Betta fish may seem like a boring pet to take home, but they are actually really interesting and fun fish to own.

Each Betta fish has their own personality making them truly unique but why is my Betta fish hiding?

They may seem brave and bold but actually, they can feel insecure and scared which will cause them to find a place to hide.

Besides this, there can be other reasons for your Betta Fish to suddenly want to hide away.

In this article I will cover the most common reasons and also how to either solve the problem or prevent it from happening in the first place.

Betta Hiding In New Tank

It’s normal for a betta fish to be a little skittish when they are first introduced into their new home.

So just be patient and try not to stress him out too much by watching him, tapping on the glass, or sticking your hands in the tank.

In a week or two he should hopefully settle into his environment and feel comfortable enough to come out of hiding and might even surprise you by being willing to eat out of your hand.

He will want to explore his new surroundings, meet any other fish you might have in the tank, and define his place in the ranking order.

Give him the time he needs to feel comfortable and he will soon be swimming confidently around the tank and interacting with you.

Has Something Changed in the Tank?

Adding new tank mates can be stressful for your Betta.

This is especially true if he has always been alone and you have decided to get him some friends.

Do your research to make sure you only add suitable betta tank mates.

If you add the wrong fish then your Betta will either become aggressive or will hide away if he feels threatened.

Betta’s do not cope well with decor changes either.

If you want to change the look and decor of the tank then just be aware that he might hide for a while until he gets used to his new surroundings.

This is perfectly normal behavior so don’t be worried.

Has Something Changed Outside the Tank?

Your Betta fish, just like other fish can detect vibrations in the water in his tank. That’s because of the fish’s lateral line. 

This is important to know as they can ‘feel’ any outside noise which can frighten them causing them to hide.

This outside noise could be a TV that is now been placed next to their tank or a sound system that has been turned up high.

You need to be aware of what is happening in the vicinity of your Betta’s tank and try to always place it in a quiet calm area.

Hiding Places for Your Betta

Bettas need hiding places so that they can feel safe.

This means that you need to include caves, lots of plants, overhangs, and decor in their tank to help them feel confident.

In the wild, Betta Fish are often preyed upon by other fish so it is natural for them to need places where they can hide if they feel threatened or unsure.

They need these places even if they are alone in the tank as it is an inherent trait that they need to protect themselves at all times.

They will definitely not thrive or be happy in a bare tank or bowl like you often see people housing them in.

They will feel exposed and will not be happy.

They love to spend the day swimming all over the tank and exploring every inch of their environment.

Hiding Places for Betta

Why is My Betta Fish Hiding Behind the Filter?

If you find your Betta hiding behind the filter even though there are caves and lots of plants to hide in then it is highly likely that there is an issue with the water quality.

Bettas know that the filter pushes out fresh water and if the water quality is poor in the tank then they will hide near the filter to be exposed to the fresh water that is coming out of the filter.

You need to act quickly.

Water Parameter Check

The first step is to check the parameters of the water in the tank.

You will need a water test kit to do so.

All fish breathe using gills.

However, Betta fish not only have gills they are also labyrinth fish which means that they have an organ that allows them to breathe air directly from the surface of the water.

This can be seen in action when your Betta rises to the top of the tank and takes a gulp of air.

Even though they can breathe in air from the surface, if the ammonia or nitrite levels are too high in the tank they can cause chemical burns to your Betta’s gills making it difficult for them to breathe.

Nitrite Poisoning

High levels of nitrates in the water can bind to hemoglobin in the fish’s blood and interfere with oxygen transport, which can result in suffocation.

This is exacerbated if there are high levels of ammonia as well.

As a result, fish tend to congregate in the tank’s oxygen-rich sections.

The next time your fish is hovering near the filter, don’t be alarmed.

He’s just trying to get some air.

Excess ammonia and nitrites can be promptly and successfully removed from the water by doing multiple small partial water changes.

However, avoid performing a single large water change to prevent shocking or even killing your Betta.

Do an immediate water change of about 20% which needs to be done again a few hours later.

Clean the filter at the same time.

You can do another water change the next day if the levels are still too high.

It is important to constantly check the water parameters between water changes.

Why is My Betta Fish Not eating And Hiding

It can be really hard to determine whether or not your betta fish is sick or not.

However, if he stops eating and begins hiding more than usual, it may be an indication that he’s feeling under the weather.

Begin by testing the tank water to make sure that your fish are not suffering from ammonia or nitrite poisoning.

If the water parameters are all okay, then something else may be wrong with your fish.

Betta fish often suffer from bacterial infections, which can be easily treated by adding an over-the-counter medication to the tank water.

Besides bacterial infections, they can also have parasites or fungal infections.

If you’ve recently added your betta to the tank, it could already be suffering from a number of health issues.

Most Pet Stores house their Bettas in cups or bottles.

They might not have kept up with the constant water changes needed to keep the water quality high.

If this is the case then your Betta might already be suffering from ammonia or nitrite poisoning when you bring it home.

When Bettas feel sick they tend to hide away.

Why is my Betta fish not eating and hiding

Tank Issues

You might, unknowingly be stressing your Betta out if his tank setup is not correct.

Aquarium Lights

Bettas are not fans of bright lights and will actively try and avoid them by hiding away.

You can test if this is the problem by keeping an eye on your Betta when the lights go off.

Does he come out of hiding as soon as the lights are off?

If he does then the lights are the problem.

Bettas are naturally found in murky densely planted bodies of water so to help your Betta not hide from bright lights make sure the tank has floating plants and is densely planted.

Only cover at most half the surface of the tank with floating plants so that your Betta still has lots of open water surface where he can breathe in air.

The other alternative, if your lighting system allows it, is to just make the lights shine dimmer.

Water Flow in the Tank

Betta fish are not particularly good swimmers, especially if you have one of the long-finned varieties in your aquarium.

As a result, if the flow from the filter pump creates a very strong current or a lot of water movement, your Betta fish may take refuge behind some of the tank decorations or by hiding within a cave to avoid being buffeted around.

If you are unable to alter the flow rate on the filter, consider installing a redirector fitting, which will allow you to angle the flow and eliminate the disturbance that is now occurring.

Alternatively, you may use pebbles, driftwood, or dense plants to slow the flow of water.

Another handy method is to use a tiny piece of sponge to cover the end of the outlet’s connector.

That should be adequate to reduce the flow’s power without jeopardizing the system’s filtering capability.

Depressed Betta

Depressed Betta

Bettas are smart and can become depressed if they are bored.

You can easily combat this by including items in his tank that will stimulate him.

There should be toys, decorations, and plants to keep him entertained.

Besides these items, Bettas can benefit greatly from peaceful tank mates to keep them amused.

A lot of people think they are so aggressive that they should be kept alone in a tank.

This is not always the case as you can put other fish with bettas. 

Betta Hiding After Water Change

 The main reason a Betta will hide after a water change is if the amount of water that has been replaced has been too great.

This can actually shock them into hiding as the water parameters are completely different causing stress.

Rather do more frequent smaller water changes to avoid this happening.

A good percentage for a water change is around 20% of the water once a week.

You can go to twice a week if needed.

Why is My Betta Hiding at the Bottom of the Tank?

Betta fish often enjoy laying on their sides while resting.

It’s comfortable for them, even though it looks like very strange behavior to us human beings.

If your Betta is eating well and swimming around the tank then there should not be any cause for concern.

Just to be sure though, make sure you watch him closely for a few days to make sure he is okay.

Any signs of disease, lack of appetite, or heavy breathing can indicate a serious problem that needs immediate attention.

Check the water parameters for any signs of increased ammonia or nitrites.

Final Thoughts

Lots of Betta fish like to hide.

He may just enjoy exploring or he may be scared of his surroundings.

However, if your Betta is hiding around the filter unit, stops eating, or becomes lethargic, depressed, or refuses to move from its resting place near the filter unit.

This could be a sign that it has a sickness that needs to be addressed.

Poor water quality can lead to sickness & depression for Betta fish due to their sensitivity to changes in water conditions.

It’s important to test the tank’s water regularly so you can take action accordingly.

Every Betta is different and for some of them, it is perfectly normal behavior to hide away.

If your betta fish disappears then there could be other factors at play.

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Irma Bense is the founder of BetterFishkeeping.com. She has over 42 years of experience in keeping fish.She has kept both freshwater and saltwater fish through the years.She has extensive knowledge in breeding numerous species of fish from Show Guppies, Cory Catfish, German Blue Rams to Apistogrammas.You can learn more about Irma on the 'About' page.

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