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Why Your Betta Fish Is Darting Around Its Tank!

There are a number of strange behaviours that betta fish can display depending on their circumstances and the aquarium tank that they are kept in.

With there being so many people brand new to owning betta fish on the in the fish keeping hobby right now, we have also noticed more and more people who are taking care of their very first betta fish and experiencing some of these stranger behaviors for the very first time reaching out to ask for advice on their betta fish and to check if there is anything wrong with it.

Now, we do see a number of different questions about the different random behaviors of betta fish but one of the more commonly asked questions is about betta fish darting, jolting or tweaking.

There is sometimes confusion amongst people new to the fish keeping hobby about what each of these different movements in a fish actually are but we will explain each one later in the article.

Some of these behaviors such as betta fish darting actually have a number of different potential causes too making it more of a challenge to identify exactly what’s happening in your pet betta fish.

Our table of contents below should be able to help you skip to specific sections of the article to with each section being fully explained to help our readers work out what is happening with their betta fish.

Why Is My Betta Fish Darting Around Its Tank?

The too most common reasons that a betta fish will dart around its tank is due to its tank being too small or due to food recognition.

Both can be common with a quick tank upgrade being an easy fix for the first cause and there not being and reason to worry about the second as it is just your pet betta fish wanting to be fed.

As we have covered in our article on keeping betta fish in cups and keeping betta fish in small tanks, a huge number of people still think that they are able to keep their betta fish in small tanks and this results in a number of physical and mental issues.

The absolute minimum tank size you should be keeping your pet betta fish in is a decent, cheap 5 gallon aquarium and this should offer the space for your betta to swim around and burn off its energy without having to dart around smaller tanks rapidly.

Food recognition is actually a kind of cute cause of your pet betta fish darting around its tank and as the name suggests, it is due to your betta minding its own business in its aquarium, noticing you enter the room, associating you with being fed, and darting to the side of the aquarium closest to you.

Depending on the direction that your pet betta fish is facing, it may take a few seconds before your pet betta fish notices you in the room and darts to towards you.

Why Is My Betta Fish Jolting?

When betta fish randomly jolt in their tanks it is usually a sign of a parasitic infection and you should do your best to start treatment immediately.

If you have only just started the jolting in your betta fish then the parasites may not have grown to a large enough number to be easily seen yet but the sooner you start treatment, the easier it will be to rid your betta fish of the parasites.

Many people instantly try to use Melafix for their betta fish in these situations but a betta fish is usually too sensitive for its active ingredient as we covered in our article on treating betta fish with Melafix.

API actually have their specialist Bettafix treatment that is essentially a slightly diluted version of Melafix optimised to prevent gill burning and other issues in your betta and can treat many kinds of parasites and other common issues in betta fish.

Unfortunately, Bettafix does not treat the ich parasite so if you suspect that your betta fish is jolting or darting around its tank due to having ich then you will have to use a specialist ich treatment like super ich cure to treat the condition.

This is also a strong treatment that can cause some issues in betta fish but when it comes to treating ich, it often has to be done but we would recommend that you start the treatment as soon as possible and start with a half dose for the first few days to prevent any issues with your bettas gills developing.

Why Is My Betta Fish Tweaking?

Betta fish can randomly tweak just because they are betta fish and do random, strange things.

Tweaking from a betta fish does not always have a meaning and they often just do it randomly. If you do notice your betta fish tweaking and then swimming to the surface of its tank then it is probably due to an oxygen level issue in the water of your tank.

Many modern aquariums will come with a bubbler or aeration pump included as standard these days but some don’t.

Thankfully, aeration pumps are cheap and usually between $15 and $20 dollars and do a great job of keeping the oxygen levels in your betta’s tank at a level where it will easily be able to breathe without issue.

This can literally stop the tweaking behavior within hours of the pump being added to the tank of your betta fish due to the oxygen levels being fine.

Just keep in mind, if your betta fish tweaks and does not swim to the surface, it is probably just due to it randomly wanting to tweak for some reason. If your betta fish tweaks and then swims to the surface of its tank then you should probably look to get an aeration pump as soon as possible.


That brings our article going over betta fish darting, jolting, and tweaking to an end and we hope that we have been able to help any of our readers who own a betta fish better understand these behaviours in their fish. They really are common and are something that takes a little time and experience to understand but most of the time, they are easy fixes in most betta fish.