How do Betta Fish Behave before Death?

It hurts when an aquarist loses a  Betta fish. It hurts even more when an aquarist has to watch a betta die- slowly and painfully. 

A fishkeeper, albeit a responsible one, will naturally be quick to take the blame. Had the aquarist seen the sign earlier, he would have probably saved the fish. Therefore, we must ask, what are the behaviours of betta fish before death? Are there signs pointing toward an imminent demise of betta fish?

In this article, I will look at all the telltale signs of death in betta fish. The symptoms are largely applicable to other fish species as well. Feel free to look for them in any fish type.

Signs of a dying betta fish

Lack of appetite

Betta fish enthusiasts can attest to its ravenous appetite. A betta will gobble up anything they can eat in record time and still ask for more whether or not they are full. More often than not, We have to take measures to keep ourselves from overfeeding them.

The catch is, only healthy bettas will have such an instinctual appetite. Unhealthy bettas will refuse to eat. Even after she does, she will eventually spit the food out. 

Betta facing death will not swim towards the surface begging or hoping you might give them something to eat. Hunger is the least of their concerns.

Lack of appetite in betta fish is the first sign you ought to look for when something is suspicious with your fish. It is the single most accurate one indicating stress, illness, or oncoming death. 

There are a billion reasons why your betta does not want to eat. The thing is, if you do not address the reason, death will be knocking.


Bettas are social animals. They will not only interact with their tankmates but also with you or anyone out of the aquarium. 

Healthy bettas actively seek such interactions. My bettas, in particular, will follow me all around as long as they can see me. It doesn’t matter that they have to swim from one end to the other. They will still do it. 

It is thus a cause of concern when such fish suddenly prefer keeping to themselves. Abandoned or less frequented spots of the fish tank become their favourite places to hang. Why does this happen?

That is something you should find out fast because something is seriously wrong with your fish. In my experience, betta fish do not like isolation.

Faded Appearance

We are all attracted to the vibrance and beauty of betta fish. In full health, they can be one of the most magnificent creatures in your tank.

A betta will lose its vibrance when sick. The sickness ought to be so severe that death will be knocking on its doors. Faded appearances are easy to note as you will not see the splendour you are used to.


Common diseases will make your betta fish lethargic. They will not swim towards you or scout their territories unless the infection is gone.

In the end, bettas look sluggish in their movements. They will turn upside down and swayed around if there is a movement of water in your tank. This is the most painful part of watch for an aquarist. Painful because it will feel like the fish has succumbed to her fate.

How to save your fish from dying

This is not a fish health blog. There is not much I can contribute about fish medicines and treatment. However, as an aquarist, I know that the best way to prevent your fish from unexpected death is maintenance.

You can control and modify the environment. Thus, give your betta the best environment in water quality and other ecological parameters significant to your fish’s life in the fish tank. Make sure that you leave nothing to chance and if something happens, then let it happen for reasons out of your control.

If your fish is currently in a death or life situation, you can take some actions. For instance, if the fish in your tank are stressed and show some of the signs above, test the different water parameters. Quickly evaluate and see if there is something wrong in the tank. Fix the problem immediately after you find it.

In the case of a single fish, a quarantine tank is your best bet. Take the fish out from your communal aquarium so that you can better address the issues affecting it. 

If the trouble is not something you can alleviate, seek professional help or consultations from certified veterans. There is a lot of noise online about what you can medically do. However, I don’t recommend such solutions because your situation is not similar to mine or theirs. 


Life and death are part and parcel of almost everything in existence. The signs of death in fish are the same signs that will typically indicate sickness or stress. Frankly, the difference between disease and death in fish is so minute.

Knowing the signs may not necessarily prevent death or keep your betta fish alive forever. However, the signals can you rectify a problem or prepare you (if it is inevitable) emotionally for the end.