Vertical Death Hang In Bettas: 5 Causes & 4 Solutions

Last Updated on 2023-11-09

If you ever catch your betta floating vertically in its tank, then you may have realized they’re suffering from vertical death hang. As the name suggests, this position could have deadly consequences if you act quickly.

There are several reasons why your fish may be in this position, and fortunately, each one has a solution. So keep reading to find out everything you need to know! As well as how to prevent death hang from occurring.

Key Takeaways:

  • Vertical death hang in bettas is a serious condition that can lead to death.
  • There are several causes of vertical death hang in bettas, including poor water conditions, overfeeding, swim bladder disease, and constipation.
  • To treat vertical death hang in bettas, you should address the underlying cause.
  • To prevent vertical death hang in bettas, you should keep the water clean, get the right size tank, feed the fish properly, and maintain the correct temperature.

What Is Vertical Death Hang In Bettas?

Noticing vertical death hang in your betta, can be scary, and if you don’t fix the issue quickly, then it could cause your betta to pass on. But what is vertical death hang?

Vertical death hang in bettas occur when your betta is floating vertically in the tank. It’s most often caused by swim bladder disease, however, poor water conditions, and overfeeding can also cause it. To treat it, you should make sure you improve the water quality and treat any illness.

Some bettas will go through spurts, where they will be active for a bit then resume back to their vertical hang. However, some will remain this way the whole time.

If your fish continues to float in this position without treatment, it could lead to fatality. To prevent death from occurring, you need to find out why your fish is floating like this in the first place. Once you have determined why your betta fish is in an upside-down hang, you will be able to figure out which solution to take. 

vertical death hang,bettas
Floating verticallyPoor water conditions, overfeeding, swim bladder disease, constipationAddress the underlying causeKeep water clean, maintain proper tank size, feed betta properly, and maintain proper temperature
Bloated abdomenOverfeeding, constipationReduce feeding, feed betta daphnia, and use Epsom salt bathsFeed betta properly, soak food in tank water before feeding, and avoid feeding fatty foods

Why Is My Betta Fish Hanging Vertically?

There are a few likely possibilities as to why your betta fish may be floating upside down. When you notice your fish in this position, you will need to take action right away. Here are some of the main reasons why it happens:

Poor Water Conditions

The most common cause of vertical death hang in bettas is poor water conditions. In many cases, these conditions can lead to an infection in the betta fish’s swim bladder, as well as many other illnesses which will result in your betta not being able to swim properly.

A Small Tank

Betta fish need to be in the right size of tank to be healthy and thrive. Your fish needs a big enough tank for proper living conditions so it can grow and have daily activity. A small tank or bowl could be the reason behind your betta fish’s vertical death hang.

If your unsure which size tank you should get for your betta it should be 5 gallons minimum. However, bigger is always better! (Find out more about the minimum tank size for bettas.)

Temperature Problems

Betta fish need a nice and warm living condition to stay healthy. If the water is too cold or too hot, then it could result in your betta becoming sick, which in turn could cause a vertical death hang. Make sure that you’re keeping the water in your tank between 76-80F however ideally at 78F.

Too Much Food

Often a betta fish will float upside down as a result of overeating. Remember your bettas natural diet consists of insects and larvae, which have a higher moisture content. Your betta is probably being fed a lot more pellet food which is going to be drier and bloat up inside them.

This swelling can cause blockage, which leads to pressure on the swim bladder, as well as constipation. This of course can cause swimming troubles in your betta!

Poor Diet

On the subject of too much food, a poor diet can also cause vertical death hang in your betta. You may have heard that feeding your betta bloodworms is good for them, however, a lot of time this isn’t the case. In fact if you’re feeding your betta fatty foods like bloodworms, or fish flakes meant for omnivores, it’s going to damage them!

(Check out this article if you want to find out more about what to feed bettas.)

Low pH Level

Another reason your betta fish may be floating upside down is that the pH level of the water is too low. The ideal range is between 6.8 and 7.5. In some cases, betta fish can thrive in slightly more acidic water. However, they do not do well in water with a low pH level.

The General Health Of Your Betta

As you can guess all of these things are going to affect the general health of your betta. And once your betta succumbs to certain diseases, then a vertical death hang is imminent.

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What To Do If My Betta Fish is Hanging Vertically?

Once you determine why your fish is hanging vertically, you can begin treatment to get them healthy again! Getting them the help they need in time could potentially save their life.

Give Them Medicine

The first thing you should do is make sure that you’re giving your betta the medicine they need, if it’s due to sickness. The most common sicknesses that cause vertical death hang are constipation, swim bladder disease, and dropsy.

(Check out this helpful guide on every betta disease and illness to help you figure out what’s going on.)

Give Them Daphnia

As well as this, you can also try feeding your betta daphnia if you think they’re constipated or suffering from swim bladder disease due to constipation. Feeding them daphnia will fill their bellies with high quality fibre which will help them pass any stool.

Try API Stress Coat

If there’s one water conditioner I love, it’s API Stress Coat. If you haven’t tried it yet I’d highly recommend it. It has aloe vera in it which reduces your bettas stress levels, and can help them feel better again!

Now, check out this video by Aqua Diary on Betta Fish Vertical Death Hang and some of their diseases!

How To Prevent Vertical Death Hang In The Future

Now you know all the ways to treat vertical death hang in your betta, then here are the best ways you can prevent it from happening in the future!

Keep The Water Clean

Your betta fish needs clean water to live in. Just by living your betta produces a lot of waste which will eventually turn to ammonia in the tank, which leads to poor water conditions.

In these conditions your betta will begin to get sick, which is why it’s so vital to make sure that you’re testing the water regularly, performing frequent water changes, and using a high quality filter!

Get the Right Size of Tank

Just because betta fish are small doesn’t mean they can live in a small tank. All betta fish need a tank that is at least 5 gallons (19 liters). However, bigger is always better when it comes to keeping fish, so you should always try to go as big as possible!

Proper Feeding Portions

Overfeeding is one of the biggest causes vertical death hang in betta fish as it often leads to swelling. To prevent this, you need to stick to proper feeding portions and only feed them 1 – 2 pellets of food 1-2 times a day.

For pellets, you should soak them first to allow moisture into the food. This makes it easier for the betta fish to digest safely without any swelling. To do this, you should soak the pellets in some tank water for at least 10 minutes before feeding them to the fish.

If you want to master the tricks of Betta fish care, you need a complete guide. Click here to read one!


Here are some frequently asked questions that people have about their betta fish suffering from the vertical death hang!

What Is the Ideal Temperature Range for Betta Fish to Live In and Stay Healthy?

Making sure your betta fish has the proper tank conditions is important to avoid betta fish vertical death hang. These fish need warm water in a range of 75 to 80 F. Anything colder than this could weaken their immune system and lead to death. 

How Often Does A Betta’s Fish Tank Need to Be Cleaned?

Always make sure you clean your bettas fish tank at least once a week. Doing this will help ensure that the tank doesn’t become too dirty and the water parameters remain good.

Why Is Your Betta So Still?

If your betta isn’t moving at all, but you know that he’s alive, than the most likely case is that he’s sleeping! If you’re worried, just turn the light on in your tank and see if he moves!

Why Do Betta Fish Hang At The Top Of The Tank?

When your betta fish swims at the top of their tank, it usually means they’re gasping for air due to low oxygen levels. Which can be due to low oxygen levels, ammonia poisoning, or temperature shock.

Some other common, but less urgent reasons for upward swimming in bettas is not getting enough food, bladder problems, or being in a crowded space.

Why Is Your Betta Fish Swimming Vertically?

Usually, betta fish swim vertically because of an underlying problem, like swim bladder disease, constipation, or infections. Most of which are going to be caused by poor water parameters, or overfeeding.

Do Betta Fish Sleep Vertically?

If you’ve kept betta fish for sometime you know they don’t sleep vertically but rather lounge on things. If you notice your betta “sleeping” vertically, it will often be a death hang.

How Do Bettas Act Before Dying?

There are a few signs you can expect to see in your betta before they die such as a loss of color, clamped fins, gasping for air, bloating, pineconing, and a lack of appetite.

Check out this article if you want to know all of the common behaviors you can expect to see in your betta before they die.


As you can see, there are so many reasons your betta may be suffering from the vertical death hang as well as plenty of ways to treat it and prevent it!

With proper care, you’ll be able to avoid this from happening, and help your betta live a long and healthy life!

If you liked this article, make sure you check out the rest of the website! Otherwise, have a great day!


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