Betta Fish Hiding: 9 Reasons Why and What it Means

Bettas, aka the Siamese fighting fish, are unique freshwater fish with exciting personalities that make them a favorite among aquarists. If you’ve noticed your betta hiding recently, you’ve come to the right place to find out why!

Betta fish hiding could be usual, but it could also be a symptom of a severe health issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Despite their reputation as aggressive fish, you’ll find that the siamese fighting fish can be timid and hide a lot.

As a fish parent, getting worried is expected because of how active bettas are. But your Betta could be hiding for numerous reasons; the tank could be too small, the current inside the betta tank too strong, or they’re sick and need somewhere safe while they recover.  

While it’s not easy to pinpoint one specific reason, you can eliminate other common causes of your betta fish hiding with this article! 

Read on to discover why your Betta keeps hiding, what it means, and what you can do about it!

9 Reasons Why Your Betta Fish is Hiding

In their natural habitat, betta fish hide from larger fish in the thick vegetation provided by the numerous plants and aquatic life around them.

But in captivity, without the threat of predators, your betta fish hiding could indicate they haven’t yet adapted to their new home.

This is the case most of the time, but below are other reasons why your betta fish could be hiding and how you can get them to come out and play.

1. Limited Hiding Spaces

Hiding is normal for these fish species because they had to hide away from predators in their natural environment to survive. Bettas would hide in the plants, rocks, and other vegetation, allowing them to blend in and stay safe longer.

The fewer hiding spaces your Betta has in their tank, the more likely they are to hide in those spaces as a way to protect themselves from any imagined (or real) danger.

blue betta fish

We might be trying to get them to hide less, but you should give them as many options as possible to make them comfortable enough not to hide so often. 

Bettas will feel safer with numerous hiding spaces than keeping them in wide open spaces in a large tank with nothing but water.


You must add more hiding spaces so your Betta doesn’t feel overexposed to other fish. Especially if it’s a new environment. More hiding spaces will make them comfortable enough to come out of their shell and adjust faster. 

Aside from plants, other hiding places you can add are caves and driftwood. Offering them a variety will keep them entertained. It also reduces the chances of depression in your Betta that could cause them to hide.

2. Strong currents in their tank

In their natural environment, betta fish enjoy slow-moving water currents, so if their tank has powerful currents, they will find areas in the tank to hide in because they can’t comfortably swim. 

Strong currents will wear down your betta fish. It may help them exercise at first, but they can’t keep up for very long. Excessively strong currents can cause them to lay at the bottom of the tank and become very inactive for most of the day.

The tank’s area with the least current is behind or below the filter. If you find your betta fish hiding here, the filter flow rate may be too high.

However, if the flow rate isn’t too strong and you find your Betta hiding behind the filter intake or under the filter outtake, there could be something wrong with the water quality.

The cleanest and freshest water is found around the tank’s filter, so this could be why they are hiding there. Poor water quality is a life and death issue for betta fish, so you shouldn’t take it lightly.


When choosing your filter, choose one with an adjustable setting to control the current flow rate. As long as your betta fish can swim and eat in the slow-moving water, they won’t want to hide away. 

Another solution is adding a sponge to the filter. Sponges help reduce the strong currents from a filter without damaging the system. If you haven’t bought a filter, you can buy a sponge filter first and see the results. 

You can also add small holes on the output hose of the filter to reduce the water flow rate. You should also add the small holes slowly and not all at once. Adding them one at a time allows your betta fish to adjust to the changes in their environment.

3. Poor water quality

As mentioned above, poor water quality can cause serious health issues for your betta fish.

The best water for betta fish meets the parameters like warm water temperatures, pH, ammonia, and nitrate levels that these fish need to survive.

Aside from getting a bacterial infection, bettas can also get depressed because of their high sensitivity to their environment.

Bettas are freshwater fish, so if you cannot maintain the tank’s warm water temperatures, your betta fish will go into hiding.

Drastic temperature changes affect the health of bettas, and they can go into shock. Most bettas will react by looking for somewhere to hide.


The best way to prevent your Betta from hiding because of poor water quality is to frequently test the tank water to ensure you maintain the proper parameters. 

Bettas are some of the easiest fish to take care of because they aren’t demanding, so with an aquarium test kit, you can recognize the problem to take quick action before your Betta’s health is affected.

You should also be frequently changing the tank water. The best water for betta fish has to be at a temperature of between 75 to 80 degrees F with low nitrate levels to prevent poisoning.

4. Excessively bright lights In the tank

If you, like many other fish keepers, are tempted to fill their tank with numerous artificial lights for their Betta, you shouldn’t because they won’t like it. If the LED lights are too bright, betta fish will go into their hiding places.

This is because their natural environment doesn’t have a lot of light. They receive less light because of the heavy vegetation and plant cover in the slow-moving and sometimes muddy water where they live.

If you want to make your Betta happy, replicating their natural environment is the surest way to start, as they definitely won’t appreciate an overly bright tank to live in. If you forget to turn off their lights during the night, they might look for a good hiding spot, whether it’s behind the filter or a rock.


You should try turning off the light and see whether you’re betta fish it comes out of its hiding place. If they do, you need to reduce the intensity and change the lighting you have with in Betta’s tank. 

One of the best solutions is to buy adjustable LED lights so you can regulate the light in the Betta’s tank. 

You can also consider adding live and floating plants to the tank to reduce the amount of light your Betta is getting. Floating plants help cast a shadow in the water that will give your Betta the shade they need.

They also shouldn’t completely cover the surface because bettas habitually come up to the surface for air.

5. Your Betta is New To The Tank

New environments can be scary, even for small companions like fish. When moved from their natural habitat or the pet store, a betta fish will frequently hide in the tank’s corners as they explore and get to know their new home.

Each betta fish has unique behaviors and personality traits, but no matter the species, almost all have similar responses to certain stimuli. Bettas are more likely to hide if they are sick or stressed. 

If your Betta is the new kid on the block in a community tank, getting stressed is usual behavior that shouldn’t worry you. If you’re taking care of your first betta , this betta fish care guide can help!


While they might be shy at first, giving them time to adapt to their new environment could be the best thing to do.

You need to make your bettas as comfortable as possible. Dim the lights, keep the tank calm, and avoid drastic changes to their water because it can stress them.  

You should expect this behavior from the bettas you just bought. When they get comfortable, they will be bold and swim around the tank.

If you’ve been with the betta fish for a while, the other reasons on this list could be what’s causing your betta fish to hide.

6. Your Betta is sick

To protect themselves, betta fish will go into hiding when they are sick or hurt because they know they can’t defend themselves from threats like other fish.

Bettas are susceptible to different diseases and infections because of their environment. Some are curable with water changes or medication, but others can be fatal. 

The most common diseases among bettas are fin rot and ich disease. Some signs include torn fins, lethargy, and ragged edges on their fins and tails.  When your betta fish is sick, observing their symptoms will help you identify what’s wrong. 

If they are sick, one of the likely causes could be poor water quality in their tank. 

This can cause your betta Illnesses like ammonia and nitrate poisoning. A build-up of ammonia from fish waste and high nitrate levels damages your Betta’s immune system and could be fatal. 

If a change in the water parameters doesn’t help them get better, something else could be causing them to hide.


Ensure you maintain the proper water parameters to keep your betta fish healthy. An aquarium test kit from a trusted pet store will help you measure the pH levels and water temperature so as not to stress your Betta. 

You want the ammonia and nitrate levels at 0ppm while the nitrite levels should be at 20ppm to avoid poisoning.

7. You have an  injured betta fish

Bettas are hardy fish, so they are likely to retreat and try to heal when they get hurt instead of remaining exposed.

Especially if other tank mates are the cause of the damage. Known for their fighting ability, you shouldn’t be surprised if these fish get into fights with unfriendly fish species that can leave them injured. 

Bettas can also get injured by tank décor or equipment in their tank. If your Betta is sick, erratic swimming patterns can cause them to swim into equipment like filters or sharp rocks and harm themselves.


The tank décor and equipment you choose should be safe to have around your betta fish. If you are adding substrate and rocks, ensure they don’t have sharp edges that can harm your betta fish.

If unfriendly tank mates cause the injuries, your Betta needs other fish as roommates. You can find some friendly tank mates that bettas can live with below.

8. They’re trying to avoid their tank mates 

For bettas sharing tanks with other fish, they can quickly get threatened and hide out of fear. They could also want time for themselves when sharing space in a community tank.

This behavior isn’t typical to bettas and indicates unease with their current situation. When male bettas feel threatened, they flare their fins and become aggressive with each other. 

If you’re keeping two male betta fish, you will likely be stepping in to break up fights frequently, so it’s not recommended. A male betta fish will feel threatened by fish with brightly colored fins and bodies. 

They will hide more if they don’t like the fish around them.


If they’re not getting along with their tank mates, you can research and find the best fish to keep them with. The best tank mates for bettas are peaceful fish like Neon Tetra, guppies, cory catfish, pleco, and mollies. The tank mates you choose should also not take up too much space because of how territorial bettas are. 

If you have a large 10 gallon tank, you can add fish like catfish and loaches to the betta aquarium. For small 5 gallon betta tanks, you can add shrimp or snails. Moving things around in the tank can also provide the territory your Betta wants to feel safer in the community tank.

9. The tank is too small

Is your Betta’s tank too small? A betta will feel exposed and afraid if they don’t have enough space to move around in their tank.

The best tank size for a betta fish is 10 gallons. This gives them enough space to swim and exercise and for you to add proper tank equipment like filters and a heater to keep them comfortable.

While you will find bettas in bowls and small fish tanks at a pet store, it doesn’t mean they’re happy. The store is likely trying to be economical with its space. 

If they get stressed due to lack of space, your betta fish will go into hiding to feel safe.


Yes, bettas may look okay in a 5 gallon tank, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy. These fish need a lot of space to swim and hide, which is hard to do in such a small tank. 

If you’re keeping more than one betta fish, each needs plenty of room for territorial purposes. As much as they are okay sharing their tank, they need their own space where they will feel safe. 

A 10 gallon tank or larger will provide enough space for your betta fish.


Is hiding normal for a betta fish?

Yes, it’s very normal for bettas to hide. Hiding makes them feel safe, so if they do this in their tank, they might be looking for safety from their tank mates or their environment.

Do Betta fish get depressed?

Yes. Bettas have feelings, and when they are in a new environment away from what they’ve known in their natural habitat, they can get depressed. More so if they are alone. Bettas aren’t the friendliest, but they like the company of peaceful fish.

How long does it take betta fish to adjust to a new environment?

You can give your Betta a couple of days to a week and see if they adjust to their new environment. You’ll know your Betta is happy in their new tank when they’re actively swimming and eating their food.

Wrap Up

As you can tell by now, betta fish hide for several reasons. Your Betta could be stressed, injured, or just needs alone time in a tank filled with other fish.

Sometimes betta fish hiding could be a sign of a severe issue, but the only way you can be sure is by monitoring their behavior. 

Something is wrong if they are hiding and not eating or as active as they used to be. Some bettas have exciting personalities and just love hiding, so it’s normal to find them in their favorite hiding spot.  

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