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Why Is My Fish Not Moving But Still Alive?

A very common problem that we see time and time again amongst people brand new to fish keeping is that they will have issues with their tank water and end up with a fish that is not moving but still alive.

This is very common and although it is usually a problem with goldfish, we have noticed that there are various other types of fish being reported as having this behaviour including betta fish, guppies, and mollies.

With so many people who are beginners to fish keeping having problems with their pet fish not moving but still being alive, we see a number of people reaching out and asking questions every month about what they are able to do to try and help their fish.

Due to so many people reaching out about having this problem with their pet fish, we have decided that we wanted to publish our own article going over the topic to try and help as many of our readers as possible as many people seem to be having this problem.

As with any health issue in a pet, to treat it correctly, you first have to identify why your pet fish is not moving before you are able to start working on treating it.

Due to this, we have split the article into three parts to make it as easy as possible for our readers to find the information they require going over what causes this in fish, how to treat it, and the chances of your fish being able to make a full recovery.

Why Is My Fish Not Moving But Still Alive?

The most common reasons that a fish will not move around but still be alive include the fish being in a tank that is too small, infections from parasites, fungi, bacteria, and problems with the water parameters in the tank.

Thankfully, all three of these are easy to correct but the problem is that the longer your fish has been in this state, the less likely it is to make a full recovery.

Many fish are often sold with tanks that are far too small for it, especially goldfish and this is a very common cause of a fish not moving but still being alive. Some goldfish species can require a tank as large as 55 gallons but many keep them in tanks of 3-10 gallons.

Betta fish are another fish species that commonly have this issue and our article going over keeping betta fish in small tanks should be able to offer advice on this situation if your fish having the problem is a betta.

If your fish is not moving around in its tank but is still alive due to poor water parameters then a aquarium water test kit will be able to give you an idea of the potential issues with its water parameters.

The various types of infection in fish such as bacterial, parasitic, and fungi often show obvious signs that the fish is not well and gives you signs that you are able to use to workout exactly what type of infection your pet fish is having problems with.

How Can I Get My Fish Moving Again?

Is it generally easy to help a fish recover that is not moving in its tank but still alive provided you notice the condition early enough.

Depending on the cause of the condition, fixing the issue could be as simple as upgrading the tank that your pet fish lives in but other issues may require a tank water change or a treatment for any specific infections the fish may have but all three are usually easy.

As we touched on above, upgrading to a decent, cheap tank is often a quick and easy win to help get your fish moving again and reduce the stress and anxiety that is common in fish kept in tanks too small for them.

Just be sure to double check the minimum tank size that the species of fish that you keep will require and then look for a tank that is at least that size.

For the majority of fish species, we would always recommend that you go with a long tank design rather than a tall tank design too.

If you think that your pet fish may be suffering from some sort of infection then Melafix is often able to treat many of these issues in fresh water fish.

Just keep in mind that if your fish is suffering from ich then you will usually need to get a specialist ich treatment such as super ich cure as other treatments tend to be ineffective against ich.

Will My Fish Make A Recovary?

If your fish has stopped moving in its tank but it is still alive, there is a very high chance that you will have to intervene to correct whatever the problem is to help your fish make a full recovery.

Although there are some rare situations where the fish may recover without you getting involved, the majority of the time, you will have to fix the issue yourself due to the fish not being able to or you risk the situation getting worse.

As we covered above, your fish is not able to make its tank larger or fix its water parameters so if the fish is staying still due to either of these issues then there is a high chance of your fish getting worse and eventually perishing if you don’t take action to correct the problem.

If the issue is caused by bacteria, fungi or parasites then there is a small chance that your fish will be able to get better without help but this is very small so we would still recommend that you try to intervene and help your fish if possible.


That brings our article going over why your pet fish is not moving but still alive to an end. We hope that we have been able to help you better understand the various reasons that a pet fish may not move but still be alive as well as how you are able to go about trying to fix the issue. The majority of the time, provided you intervene early enough, your pet fish should be able to make a full recovery without issue.