Betta fish are the second most commonly kept freshwater fish in the world right now second only to goldfish. They’re beautiful, have unique patterns and colors, while also having a low price tag for both the fish and the equipment you need to keep a betta.
One of the best things is that you can safely keep a single betta fish in a ten gallon aquarium meaning that they really don’t need much space in your home too!
With betta fish being so popular with beginners to the fish keeping hobby, we commonly see people reaching out with a range of different questions about keeping a betta fish happy.
Although betta fish do have a number of peculiar behaviors that can be common to the species, a number of people reach out each month and ask why their betta fish is twitching in its tank.
Unlike some of the other common problems with betta fish, there are actually a wide range of potential reasons that your pet betta fish may twitch.
This is why we have decided to publish this article going over all of the common causes of beta fish twitching that we can think of to try and cover everything and help as many of our readers as possible!
Chlorine Being In Your Bettas Water!
Chlorine is a betta fish killer and unfortunately, it’s very common for bettas to be put in tanks with chlorine in the water due to chlorine being in tap water. Chlorine can cause bettas to twitch or tremble as the betta tries to get away from the toxic water.
If you think your betta may be twitching due to chlorine in its water, the best thing you can do is to remove the betta from the water and place it in a betta bowl or cup filled with dechlorinated water while you fix the issue in its main tank.
There are plenty of tap water conditioner products on the market such as API's tap water conditioner solution that is able to quickly remove the chlorine from your tap water.
This makes the water safe for your betta to live in and should prevent the fish from twitching in its tank.
The Betta Fish Living In Poor Water Conditions!
The betta fish is a species of fish that is native to the Mekong basin in Southeast Asia. In the wild, betta fish can be found living in everything from ponds and marshes through to rice paddies and slow moving streams with a range of different water parameters.
As with all fish, just because they can live in a range of different water parameters it does not mean that betta fish are okay to be kept in any water quality.
If the water quality that your betta fish is living in starts to drop then this can cause a number of health problems for your betta including random twitching!
Other symptoms of potential problems with your betta fish’ water conditions include betta fish pineconing, clamped fins in your betta fish, betta fish floating at the surface, and betta fish lethargy. Thankfully, in most cases, poor water parameters for a better fish is easy to fix.
If you have been noticing that your betta fish has been twitching, one of the first things you should check is the water quality. Bettas like clean, well-oxygenated water, and if the water quality in your tank is poor, it can cause your betta to become stressed and twitch.
A partial water change is usually all that’s needed to fix poor water quality, but a full water change may be required in some cases but this is rare. Ideally, your weekly tank maintenance will include a partial water change to prevent this being an issue in the future.
Body Rot, Tail Rot And Fin Rot Setting In On Your Betta Fish!
Due to the long tails and fins on most betta fish, tail rot, fin rot, and eventually body rot can be more common than with other fish species.
This is because the betta fish’ fins and tails can be easily ripped or torn in their tank which then provides an open wound for bacteria to enter and start an infection.
A betta fish that is in the early stages of having problems with body rot, tail rot or fin rot can commonly twitch due to the irritation of the problem.
If betta fish are kept in poor water conditions this can also cause problems as betta fish are very susceptible to infections setting in if their immune system is weakened due to the stress of living in poor water quality.
We have a dedicated article going over how to treat betta body rot quickly that may be helpful. The majority of our readers should be able to easily get a product online such as Bettafix to treat these conditions in their betta fish.
Although Melafix and Pimafix are far more common within the fish keeping hobby, they are usually not suitable for use with a betta fish.
We go into more detail about this in our article on using Melafix with betta fish but you should be looking to use Bettafix with a betta fish to prevent any unwanted side effects that the other treatments can cause.
The Ich Parasite On The Fish!
One of the more common problems that betta fish keepers face is the ich parasite. Bettas are very susceptible to this parasite and it can kill your betta fish if it’s not treated quickly but thankfully, in most betta tank setups, it is easy to treat but ich can irritate your betta fish and cause it to twitch randomly.
If you look closely at your betta that is suffering from ich, you will notice small white spots on the bettas fins and body.
These are the ich parasites that have latched on to your betta fish and are in the later stages of the infection. We have this article going over why your betta fish is turning white and how to stop it that may be helpful.
The ich parasite can cause betta fish to twitch due to the irritation that it causes but if you treat the problem quickly, your betta should make a full recovery.
Just be sure to check that the ich treatment you plan to use in your bettas tank is actually betta safe as not all ich treatments are!
Your Betta Fish Being Scared!
Another reason that betta fish may twitch is due to being scared. Bettas are a very skittish fish and although most bettas get used to their owner quickly, bettas can still be easily scared by movement or sudden changes in their environment even though they have an aggressive reputation.
A betta that has been scared may start to twitch as a reaction to the fear and this is perfectly normal betta behavior.
The betta fish will usually stop twitching once it has calmed down but if the betta fish is continually being scared, it may become stressed which can lead to other health problems.
Fear in betta fish does tend to spike if they are in a community tank. With female betta sorority tanks being so popular right now, it can be common for the bettas in the tanks to twitch or tremble due to fear is the tank is not set up correctly.
A betta harem tank is even more complex with more things that can go wrong causing the betta fish to be scared too.
The Betta Fish Being Frustrated!
Bettas are a very intelligent fish and although they are not known to be as good at tricks as other fish, bettas can still learn simple tricks such as swimming through hoops.
Bettas can also get frustrated if they are not given enough to do in their tank and this can lead to them twitching or trembling.
Other symptoms of your pet betta fish being frustrated include the betta fish darting around its tank randomly too. A frustrated betta fish will usually go through periods of darting around its tank before calming down, staying in one place and then twitching.
This type of behavior in a betta pretty much confirms that the betta is frustrated. You can solve frustration in a betta fish by giving it more to do in its tank. This can be done by adding more plants, decorations or rocks for the betta to forage around on.
Your Betta Fish Having Velvet!
Velvet is a betta fish disease that bettas are very susceptible to and it can cause bettas to twitch or tremble. Velvet is a parasitic infection that causes the bettas skin to turn a velvety gold or copper color.
If you look closely at a betta fish with velvet, you will notice small gold looking dust particles on the bettas skin. These are the velvet parasites and they can cause a betta a lot of irritation which will lead to the betta twitching or trembling.
Velvet is a very contagious betta fish disease and it can spread quickly so if you think your betta has velvet, it’s important to treat it as soon as possible.
Most people recommend that you try to increase your water temperature in your betta tank while also reducing the amount of light available to the velvet parasite until the betta fish is getting better.
An Injury To Your Betta Fish!
Another reason that betta fish may twitch or tremble is due to an injury. Bettas are a very active fish and they love to swim so it’s not uncommon for bettas to get injured while playing or swimming around.
Aggression between betta fish, especially male betta fish is common too often resulting in mild injury.
The majority of betta fish injuries that are not serious will not be visible and they will heal over time. It is normal for your betta fish to twitch during the healing process though.
The more serious injuries are usually visible and may require medication to heal correctly and without long term problems in the fish.
External Or Internal Parasites Irritating Your Betta Fish!
There are a number of external and internal parasites that can be common with betta fish. The irritation that these parasites cause can then cause your betta fish to start twitching in its tank.
If you think that your betta fish may have parasites, the best thing to do is to take it to a veterinarian who specializes in fish. The veterinarian will be able to diagnose the parasite and recommend the best treatment for your betta.
There are a number of different medications that can be used to treat parasites in betta fish. The most common betta parasite is the gill fluke which is a small flatworm that attaches itself to the bettas gills.
Thankfully, gill flukes are also one of the easiest parasites to treat and there are a number of treatments available online that will work well.
The Betta Fish Being Stressed Or Anxious!
Betta fish are very sensitive to their environment and any changes in their tank can cause them to become stressed or anxious. If your betta fish is twitching, it may be because it’s feeling stressed or anxious in its tank.
The most common reason that bettas become stressed or anxious is due to a change in their tank. This could be something as simple as a new decoration being added to the tank or the water quality being changed.
Bettas are also very sensitive to light and noise so if there is a lot of activity around the betta tank, this can also cause the betta to become stressed or anxious.
Water Temperature Issues Making Your Betta Twitch!
If the water in your betta fish tank is too cold, this can cause your betta fish to start twitching. Betta fish are tropical fish and they like to live in water that is around 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the water in your betta tank is much colder than this, it can cause the betta to become stressed and twitch.
The temperature range of 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit is acceptable for bettas but you should aim for 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
Anything below 75 degrees Fahrenheit is too cold for bettas and anything above 80 degrees Fahrenheit is too hot and twitching can be displayed, especially on the colder side of the temperature scale.
Your Betta Fish Being In A Tank That Is Too Small For It!
If your betta fish is living in a tank that is too small for it, this can also cause the betta to start twitching. Betta fish need at least 5 gallons of water to live in and they prefer tanks that are larger than this with a 10 gallon tank being the usual recommendation for our readers.
If your betta fish is living in a tank that is too small for it, the betta will become stressed and this can cause the betta to start twitching. If you think that your betta’s tank is too small for it, the best thing to do is to upgrade to a larger tank as soon as possible.
A Lack Of Oxygen In The Water Of Your Betta Fish!
Another common reason for betta fish twitching is a lack of oxygen in the water. Betta fish need a lot of oxygen to live and if the water in their tank does not have enough oxygen, it can cause the betta to start twitching.
The best way to increase the amount of oxygen in your betta’s tank is to add an air stone to the tank. Air stones release bubbles into the water which increases the surface area of the water and allows more oxygen to dissolve into the water.
You can also increase the amount of oxygen in your betta’s tank by adding more plants to the tank. Plants release oxygen into the water as they photosynthesize and this can help to increase the amount of oxygen in the water.
An Excess Of CO2 In Your Bettas Tank!
While a lack of oxygen can cause bettas to start twitching, an excess of CO2 in the water can also cause bettas to start twitching. CO2 is released into the water when bettas breathe and if there is too much CO2 in the water, it can cause the betta to become stressed and twitch.
Removing CO2 from your aquarium water is more difficult than increasing the oxygen levels in the tank. The best way to remove CO2 from the water is to do a water change. This will remove some of the CO2 from the water and it will also help to dilute the concentration of CO2 in the water.
Gill Flukes Irritating Your Betta Fish!
Gill flukes are a type of parasite that can infect betta fish and they are one of the most common causes of betta fish twitching. Gill flukes attach themselves to the gills of betta fish and they feed on the betta’s blood. This can cause the betta to become anemic and it can also cause the betta to start twitching.