Why Is My Betta Fish Hiding?

There are many reasons why Betta fish is hiding and don’t worry, not everyone is a bad news hint. 

As you probably know – Betta fish have a wide range of behaviors; they can be hysterical, aggressive, but calm and cuddly – all in one day!  

Such extreme mood swings are not easy to define so it can be very stressful to Betta owners.  

However, It is a fact – many Betta fish like to hide; moreover, most experts recommend putting accessories such as plants, gravel, shells, and various specialized castles in the aquarium so Bettas can hide, and rest. 

Healthy and well-groomed Betta fish hide most often when they need a break or when they sleep. Generally, hiding is part of their primal instinct, due to Bettas’ wild nature and predatory character. 

These fish sometimes hide for other reasons, when they are sick or the water is polluted and the temperature is inappropriate. If you notice that your Betta fish is hiding more than usual or that it has abruptly changed its pattern of behavior – don’t panic and overthink. 

We promise – you can fix most of them. 

Below, we will explain in more details why Betta fish are hiding.

Inadequate Aquarium Conditions

First and foremost – a large enough and properly maintained aquarium is a must have and it’s impossible to mark enough the importance of it. 

It’s not always easy to tune in the ideal atmosphere for a betta fish because they’re moody, but one thing’s for sure: They like large aquariums. Even if you only have one Betta fish – the aquarium must be at least 5 gallons. If it is smaller – your Betta fish will not have enough space to swim or explore. For that reason, they will probably rest and hide. 

The need to hide is closely related to the self-protection reflex. Resting and hiding in nature is a sign that they are endangered or that natural enemy is near. This protects them from unnecessary energy consumption and exposure to predators. It is similar to an aquarium. Betta fish are curious and love to swim and explore. In a small aquarium, this is not possible, and they will probably spend most of their time hiding. 

No matter how paradoxical it sounds, the less space to hide – the Betta fish will hide more. Such behavior is a sign of vulnerability and great stress which, if not changed – leads to disease and unfortunately – to death.

Filters And Heaters

Filters and heaters can cause the problem. If the filter doesn’t work properly, the water may become polluted or it may generate too much current. Betta fish are thin, with very sensitive fins, which can break or be damaged when the water current is strong. 

They will therefore hide somewhere where the water flow is calmer. You can fix this by putting the filter on the other side, close to the fish tank top, or just take a piece of filter sponge and cover the nozzle. It should reduce the water flow. However, it is safest to set up a filter properly, and if something goes wrong to consult the manufacturer.

When it comes to heaters the water must always be within the optimum temperature (75-80 degrees Fahrenheit). Otherwise, the Betta fish will become lethargic due to stress and hide somewhere in the aquarium, where it feels the temperature change as little as possible. So, check the aquarium heater regularly and make sure it works properly.

Betta Fish Don’t Like Changes

You saw a beautiful Betta fish in a pet store and decided to buy it. You have researched everything about Betta fish and it seems to you that you have provided everything you need for Betta to be healthy and playful. But your new pet does not cooperate, persistently hides and often it seems to you that the aquarium is empty.

However, this is normal behavior because the Betta is getting used to the new environment. Everything is new and different. Betta fish reacts very similarly to people when they find themselves in a new environment. They have to adapt, get to know, and accept the environment. Bettas are otherwise very sensitive to any changes and they require a lot of tenderness and patience.

Betta Fish

It usually takes up to two weeks for a Betta to get used to her new home. During that time, it will be mostly hidden and it will shyly explore the aquarium. Once he gets used to it and marks the territory, he will stop hiding all the time.

Keep in mind that Betta fish gradually get used to each change. Whether you change the water in the aquarium, add a new fish, move it, etc. – you have to do it carefully. Always put the Betta fish first in a special bag of water it has already been in. When the fish starts to swim, regain color, release it from the bag.

Be careful with changing water as well. Always gradually accustom your Betta to any novelty in the environment. 

Literally, any change, even the smallest ones – can make a fish hide for hours or even days. This is not the rule and does not apply to every Betta fish, but they generally behave that way. New tankmates, a new aquarium, decorations, and even when you move the aquarium to another location – all this is a reason enough for the Betta to dramatically disappear from the owner’s sight.

Betta fish have the so-called. “Lateral lines” – a type of sensory organ that, due to poor eyesight, helps them navigate the space. Lateral lines are also sensitive to vibrations outside the aquarium; thus, a Betta fish can be frightened by a human voice, TV, or music. All of this can scare them and make them hide.

Water Quality

Many things can affect the quality of water in the aquarium. Incorrect heater and filter setup as well as other fish tank accessories, all the way to irregular maintenance. In addition to hiding, Betta fish can get seriously ill, choke or die if the bad condition lasts for days. 

The natural and basic environment of Betta fish is water and therefore it must be of the correct quality. It often happens that if the water is polluted, the betta fish usually stays close to the filter because the water is the cleanest there.

It is an immediate sign to you that something is wrong with the water. You can buy equipment for water analysis in the aquarium in specialized shops. This is the easiest way to detect nitrates, ammonia or other ingredients that are harmful to Betta fish.

Pay Attention To The Lighting

If you have lights in the aquarium and your Betta fish often hides – try to find out if it is bothered by the intensity of the light. Turn down or turn off the lights in the aquarium and watch how your Betta behaves. 

If it stopped hiding, the light was probably creating a problem. Betta fish function similarly to humans and cannot be constantly under the light. So they can’t rest and that’s probably why they’re hiding. Turn off the lights in the aquarium at night, and reduce the intensity during the day.

Maybe Betty Is Bored

As sensitive as Betta fish are, they are also intelligent. In nature, they will explore the environment, occupy the territory and attack. Thanks to their aggression and strong will to live, they became famous all over the world. In the wild, Betta fish have enough stimulation, space to explore, and even risk their life.

It is quite different in the aquarium, but Betta fish are Betta fish and that is why you have it as a pet. 

Betta fish need stimulation – mental, fun, and territorial. That is why experts recommend plants and other adequate decorations that will animate the Betta fish. It’s not a bad idea to have tank mates, but you have to be careful there. 

Choose compatible fish species, otherwise bloodshed could occur. If a fish is bored or the aquarium is too small, Betta will probably become depressed and lethargic over time and will often hide.

When Hiding Is An Alarm Signal

If a Betta fish refuses food and persistently hides, it looks like it is stuck to the bottom of the aquarium or floats – it is probably sick.

The most common cause of the disease in Betta fish is polluted water, i.e. poisoning with nitrates and ammonia. If you find that it is not (the optimal level of ammonia and nitrate in the aquarium should not exceed 20 ppm) it is probably a bacterial or fungal infection.

Depending on where you bought the fish and what conditions it was in before it came to you – it is possible that you bought it sick. This most often happens when Bettas are grown in cups and bowls. You can treat them by adding medications directly to the water.

Water temperature and general negligence towards the aquarium and the fish, such as irregular feeding – can lead to depressed states of Betta fish. Remember, fish are also living beings and must have the necessary conditions to be healthy and happy. 

Well, Is Hiding A Problem Or Not?

In general, it is not. However, with Betta fish, nothing is black and white. In healthy fish – hiding is used for rest or sleep. Some Bettas are more passive, some more active, but they all need a break. It is important to notice the routine of your Betta fish and to react in time, if something is wrong.