Has your Betta jumped out of its tank and is now lying on the floor gasping for air?
Betta fish are well-known to be keen jumpers, often terrifying us hobbyists when we walk into the room and see them lying there on the floor soon drying out. Our response is to often panic in a race to save them because no one wants to lose their beloved pet!
You are not alone!
Many Betta fish lovers have told the horror story of coming home to find an empty tank and their Betta lying somewhere nearby, often already dead.
But, DO NOT panic yet…
We are here to help you understand the “fight or flight” behavior of your Betta fish and why your Betta has jumped out of the tank.
With expert advice and top tips on how to save your Betta’s life and some solutions to prevent it from happening again, you have come to the right place!
My Betta Has Jumped Out of The Tank – What Do I Do?!
Ok, so your Betta has jumped out of the tank for some reason. You are not the first nor the last aquarium hobbyist to experience this, trust me!
When a Betta jumps out of a tank, you need to act immediately for him to survive. If they become too dry, this jumping act out of the water could become fatal.
Betta fish are pretty impressive as they can breathe the open air thanks to their labyrinth organ. But this does not mean they can survive out of the water for long. You have no longer than 10 minutes, so ACT FAST.
The First Thing When You Find Your Betta Out of the Tank
Your poor Betta is going to be in shock from hitting the floor and is starting to dry out, if not already.
1. Straight away, splash aquarium water over him and observe your Betta and see if he is alive or has already passed away.
2. If he is moving, that is great. Place him back in his tank.
3. If he is not moving, gently pick him up and place him in front of the filter, or better yet, a bubbler if you have one. This is to help resuscitate him to allow oxygen to pass over his gills. Do not worry too much about fin damage right now, and the main aim is to keep him alive.
4. After he springs back to life, then you can treat him for any injuries.
5. After placing your Betta in the tank, we recommend adding an airstone or filter (if there is not one already) to give him an extra oxygen supply and cover the top of the tank immediately with food plastic wrap.
6. Make sure you punch a few holes in the wrap to ensure he doesn’t jump out again and prevent condensation.
How to Treat an Injured Betta That Has Jumped Out of the Tank?
It is most likely your Betta had become injured from the fall or when you scooped him up. He is going to need some medical care and more TLC than normal.(*)
As mentioned, when Bettas jump out of the tank onto a surface, they dry out very fast. Therefore, it is quite likely he may lose some scales from being stuck to the surface he fell onto, or from the impact.
- Ensure you have pristine water conditions
- Add Indian almond leaves at the top
It is also possible your Betta has lost its slime coat as it was drying out on the floor, if so:
- Dose with “API Stress Coat” or “BettaFix”
If he is starting to show signs of infection:
- Dose the water with “BettaFix” or “MelaFix”
If you prefer a more natural remedy, you can add one clove of crushed garlic. Garlic is a great anti-inflammatory for aquarium fish. (*)
Why Did My Betta Jump Out of Tank?
Your Betta did not jump out of the tank for no reason. Something inside its home was not quite right – Bettas do not take a “leap of faith” for fun.
In the wild fish, especially Bettas, jump from different bodies of water to seek a more appropriate environment. Unfortunately, in your house, there is only one body of water available – their tank.
Poor Water Conditions
The main culprit for a Betta jumping out of the tank is poor living conditions.
Imagine lying in your bed full of poo, and you would quickly jump out of bed, right..?
If you have not been keeping on top of those water changes, parameters such as ammonia have no doubt spiked. When you let this happen, your Betta will do anything to find clean water, even if it means jumping out of the tank.
It is not only ammonia that creates poor water conditions but large fluctuations in pH that can also make a Betta jump out of the tank. This is why it is important to test the water parameters often.
What should your water parameters be?
- Temperature: 75°-81°F
- pH: 6.5-7.5
- Ammonia: 0ppm
- Nitrite: 0 ppm
- Nitrate: <20 ppm
- GH: 3-4 dGH
- KH: 3-5 dKH
A Poor Sleep Cycle
How do you feel when you have a bad night’s sleep? Frustrated? Restless? Stressed?
Believe it or not, your Betta fish feels the same way!
Like us, Betta fish need to have the lights turned off at night, so they know when to sleep. If he does not know when to rest or sleep, he will become confused and likely jump out of the tank.
Trying to Catch Something Outside The Tank
Betta fish like to hunt food. So if you have a lot of flies in your house, they may try to jump and catch them, which is why you now have a Betta lying on your floor.
Bettas fish are also known to jump from puddles of water to find a mate. But, obviously, there are no puddles of water outside his tank, and certainly, no sexual partner when he lands on the floor.
How Do I Prevent My Betta Fish from Jumping Out of the Tank?
There are many different ways to prevent your Betta from jumping out of the tank.
Below we have put together our top tips to reduce the chances of this happening again.
Maintain Your Tank
This is the most important. Maintaining your tank requires you to frequently check the water conditions and do regular water changes including vacuuming the gravel where the small decaying matter may be hiding.
Betta fish are well-known to jump out of the tank because the water was also too cold. Your Betta fish should be kept in water that is between 75 and 82℉.
Make Sure Your Tank Is Big Enough
Fish always need a big enough tank to stay happy and healthy.
The least required tank for a Betta fish, holds at least 2.5 gallons of water, yet, we recommend 5-gallons or more to prevent them from wanting to escape, so the bigger the better!
Cover the Top of Your Tank
The obvious solution is to cover the tank. Be sure to check their health frequently as Bettas want to jump out the tank if they become ill, and now they will not be able to jump out and tell you they are feeling a little under the weather.
A lid also deters flies and other flying insects from luring your Betta out of the water.
While lids probably do not look the most aesthetically appealing, we are sure you would agree that the safety of your Betta fish is more important than having an attractive tank in your home.
If you do not want to cover the tank or cannot find a suitable lid, you can use floating plants. Live plants are also great at keeping the water clean by removing nitrates and other nasty elements that may have accumulated in the water.
Make Sure the Lighting Is Right
Would you enjoy being under the burning sun or in complete darkness for 24 hours every day?
Fish, such as your Betta, need lighting to create a circadian rhythm, much like other animals and ourselves.(*)You should aim to give them at least 8 hours of light, remembering to turn the lights off at night so they know when to rest/sleep.
As your Betta is a tropical fish, he likes to sleep during the night, just like you.
Add Some Plants Or Ornaments
Imagine your house without any furniture…not a very “homey” environment, right?
Your Betta fish is likely to feel the same. Plants also give shade from the lighting if your Betta wishes to take a rest or nap during the day.
Adding plants and ornaments gives them that “jungle-feel” they have in the wild and act as obstacles to discourage your Betta from jumping out of the tank.
How Long Can a Betta Fish Be Out of Water?
As briefly mentioned, your Betta can survive out of the water for only 10 minutes or so. (*) Once you put him back, do not be surprised if he lies on the bottom of the tank for some time, he is probably in shock and needs to take a rest.
If his breathing is weak (gills will be pulsing very slowly), add some aquarium salt, which will hopefully get his gill function back to normal. (*)
How High Can Betta Fish Jump?
Bettas are pretty impressive fish. They can jump quite high despite their small size!
On average a Betta fish can jump 2-3 inches out of the water, some jumping even higher in extreme cases.
Are Some Species of Betta More Likely to Jump Out of the Tank Compared to Others?
All Bettas can jump out of a tank, but, Plakat and Halfmoon Plakat Bettas are both notorious for jumping out of tanks. So, if you decide to keep these species, always ensure you have a secure lid to prevent them from jumping, ensuring there is a small space for aeration.
Interestingly, female Bettas are more likely to jump out of the tank than males. So if you have females, you should get a lid on right now!
The biggest mistake you can make is assuming “he has never jumped out the tank before.” Just because something has never happened before, you can not guarantee one day it may happen.
Saying that by now you should know what to do if your Betta fish jumps out of the tank, and why he has decided to do it. Most important, now you should be able to prevent him from risking his life and likely killing himself in the ‘flight or fight”’ response.
If you do not want to lose your beloved Betta, follow the advice in this article and they should live a long and happy life with you.
Thank you for reading, have a ‘fin-tastic’ day!