Do Betta Fish Kill Themselves?


So maybe you have arrived home one day and you discovered that your betta fish leaped out of its tank which means it killed itself. If it did, then this scenario is not typical to just you. Many people have complained about how they thought that their betta fish committed suicide.

Is it possible for a betta fish to kill itself? Well, read on as we will be exploring the truth behind whether betta fishes kill themselves or not. We will also consider how you can prevent this from happening.

Let’s get right into it.

Do Betta Fish Kill Themselves?

Sometimes betta fish could end up dead having jumped out of the aquarium and end up dead on the carpet of the room. This means that every betta fish has that tendency of jumping from time to time.

Even though some species of fish such as the labyrinth breathers can climb trees, the betta fish is not one of those fish that can climb trees. It is also unlikely that one of the tankmates of the betta fish pushed it overboard as fish don’t throw their companions out of the tank. This is even if they are species that don’t get along.

The fact however is that your betta fish can jump and this can lead to it killing itself. Although it can only jump a few inches out of the water.

What Makes a Betta Fish Jump?

In their wild environment in Thailand, betta fishes stay in stagnant waters which could be swamps, ditches, or rice paddies. As the year goes by, the environment will change as the seasons change. During the summer, when there is barely any rainfall, these wild habitats of betta fishes tend to dry up or the ammonia level rises too high.

When this happens, the betta fish will seek a fresh body of water by leaping into the air. If they are quite lucky, they can end up in another puddle or stream. Most times, the fish could just keep on moving till they can locate a large body of water where there is more food, more potential mates, and less competition for territory.

Bettas can also survive on dry land for a very short period by breathing through their labyrinth organ. Although this means their gills and body must stay moist. Bettas could also jump out of the water to take insects from the surface of the water.

Why Will a Betta Fish Jump Out Of Its Tank?

There are different reasons why a pet betta fish could jump out of its tank. So, let us consider a few of those reasons.

– Poor Water Conditions

One of the major reasons why your betta fish will jump out of its tank is poor water condition or bad water parameters. As in the wild environment, if you don’t have fresh water in your betta fish environment, the ammonia level could rise quickly. This could lead to the poisoning of your fish.

So, to combat this problem, your betta fish will do what comes naturally to them and jump out of the aquarium in search of safer territories. Also, if the temperature of the tank is too low or gets too high due to the failure of the heater, your betta fish will jump out of the water tank in search of better territories.

– Overcrowding

Bettas come off as territorial fish and this means they love a place to patrol and see as their own. In the wild, they could have a territory in a large mass of water. If you, therefore, put your betta fish in a vase or bowl, the betta fish could feel cramped.

This, therefore, means that your betta fish prefer spacious tanks. Your betta fish ideally need a tank of at least five gallons. Many beginner fish keepers tend to think that a small tank might mean lesser maintenance but that is not true.

However, a large tank means you have more water and this means that the organic waste products are easily diluted in smaller tanks. So, the water quality in a large tank will be better. A large tank will also contain more dissolved oxygen and a betta fish will thrive in such an environment.

– Unsuitable Tank Mates

Bettas are territorial fish and they can become aggressive if they sense that there is an invasion of their territory. This is why it is not a great idea to put two male betta fish in the same tank. Some bettas however prefer the company so that they don’t get overly bored.

The best tank mates that you can work with for your fish are small and peaceful fish that won’t hassle the betta fish. You can use snails and shrimps as they are quite peaceful and they can be helpful in grazing on algae.

If you work with a large fish, it can start bullying the betta fish. Your betta fish may then jump out of the tank for a more peaceful territory.

– Fear

If a betta fish is a new addition to your aquarium, it might not be used for the cleaning activities of the tank. So, if it sees the appearance of a big hand or a vacuum that is about to clean the tank, it could jump out of the tank as it might get scared. In this case, you can easily pick it up and return it safely to the tank before any serious damage happens.

– Hunting

Betta fish are primarily carnivorous. This means that they love to prey on insect larvae and water-bound insects. As such, if they sense the movement of any insect, they could jump out of the tank to catch it.

So, you shouldn’t be surprised to see your betta fish jump out of the water to grab a meal. Although, the fish could misjudge the jump and end up tumbling to the side of the tank. This could lead to the fish-killing itself.

How Can You Prevent Betta Fish From Killing Themselves?

So, let’s consider some of the ways that you can prevent your fish from jumping out of the tank and protect them from committing suicide.

– Use a Tank With a Lid

Many modern fish tanks don’t come with a lid or any form of cover. These kinds of aquariums can be a potential death trap for the betta fish. This, therefore, means to keep your betta fish safe in a proper tank with a tight-fit lid.

– Maintain Proper Conditions in your Tank

Ensure you vacuum the substrate in the tank to remove dead leaves, fish waste, and uneaten fish food. You will therefore need to carry out weekly partial water changes. This will help ensure that rot-producing chemicals do not poison the fish and make it want to jump out of the tank.

– Ensure There Is Enough Space For Your Fish

Your betta fish will need space to move around and claim territory around the tank as they would in the wild. So, you have to ensure that there is enough space for the betta fish so it doesn’t jump out of the tank and kill itself.


Betta fish can jump out of their tank when something in their environment triggers them. The water in the tank could have become too toxic, your fish could have spotted a prey or an aggressive mate could be troubling it. This could eventually lead to the fish-killing themselves.

We have outlined some measures to help prevent this. So, look through our guidelines and save your betta fish.

Written by Justin Michaels

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