Betta fish are very graceful and agile swimmers, but a lot of folks are surprised to learn that they are pretty athletic out of the water as well – especially when they leap out of the water. You have to keep your eyes on betta fish all the time (especially when changing their water). They love to jump!
Anyone that has kept betta fish before can tell you at least a story (or two) about their favorite betta bouncing right out of the bowl or tank.
Most folks are able to catch their fish pretty quickly and flip them back into the water with no harm done. And it certainly helps that betta fish have a labyrinth system that allows them to breathe oxygen when they are out of the water.
Still, it’s not the best thing in the world for your fish to keep bouncing out of the water and leaping out of its home.
You’re going to want to keep your eyes on a bouncing betta, doing everything you can to corral it and keep it underwater.
Can Betta Fish Jump?
You bet they can!
There are a whole bunch of different reasons that betta fish decide to jump out of their tank (many of which we go into in just a moment), and some of them are going to surprise you, but it’s important to know when you keep these fish that they have a tendency to bounce around a little bit.
A lot of first-time betta fish owners are surprised to discover that these tiny, sometimes docile looking little creatures have a pretty athletic street to them.
It’s not at all uncommon for them to pull a jailbreak and bounce right out of a tank, especially when owners are swapping water, cleaning out the tank, or doing a bit of work to balance temperature or water conditions.
You really need to keep your eye on your betta fish whenever you are doing anything with the tank. But you want to keep an eye on them generally just to make sure that they are springing out just because they got a little frisky.
Why Do Betta Fish Leap?
Now that we’ve sort of gone over the basics of cluing you in on the fact that betta fish will bounce around a little bit, let’s run through the why behind this jumpiness.
One of the top reasons that betta fish like to spring out of the water whenever they get a chance is because they feel otherwise constricted and claustrophobic.
These fish don’t need a ton of water, to be fair.
There’s a reason why they are sold in tiny little Tupperwares – even if it’s recommended that you get them into much larger containers ASAP. They don’t need a lot of oxygen and they don’t need a lot of water to survive.
To thrive, on the other hand, is something else entirely.
Betta fish like to have as much room to roam as they can manage, with most experts recommending that you give them at least 5 gallons of water all to themselves.
Any less than that and you run the risk of your betta fish trying to lead a leaping revolt, bouncing out to bigger spaces (even if they’re not sure what lies beyond the limitations of their aquarium).
Bad Water Conditions
Poor water conditions are going to drive your betta fish to want to leap out of their environment as well.
We are talking about bad water temperature, bad water pH balance, high levels of ammonia building up in the water, and a whole host of other issues that can become toxic for your betta fish.
It’s really important to remember that these fish are native in Southeast Asia and are used to warm, relatively clear waters.
You want to be sure that your tank conditions are dialed in. Tropical water temperatures of between 73°F and 85°F are perfect. Anything colder is going to be trouble for your betta fish, but a little bit warmer (up to maybe 87°F or so) shouldn’t cause too many problems.
Ammonia needs to be eliminated from the water as much as possible and you also want to be sure that the water is plenty oxygenated.
These fish are going to want to breach the service every now and again just because they can (they have those unique labyrinth systems that let them breathe oxygen out of the water), but they’ll be less likely to do so if their oxygen needs are met in the tank.
Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety might not be the first two emotions you think of when you think of betta fish, but these underwater creatures are more prone to these personality traits than you realize.
Betta fish are naturally pretty aggressive, naturally pretty territorial, and like to have control and command over their environment.
If your betta fish feels like they aren’t in control, like they are being threatened, or like things are going little sideways in their underwater world it may lead them to want to jump out of the tank and flee somewhere else.
Something Caught Their Attention
Betta fish aren’t just going to experience the underwater world around them, but instead everything else they can see around the tank space as well.
They see you moving around, they see your guests checking them out, they see your pets, and they see any other fish or underwater creatures your keeping in separate enclosures as well.
If something catches their attention they might just decide to pop loose and have a closer look, even if they don’t really know why.
Tips for Keeping Betta Fish “Grounded”
Solid Tank Hygiene
Good tank hygiene goes a long way towards helping keep your fish “grounded”.
If their underwater environment keep them happy and healthy they’ll be a lot less likely to want to look around a little bit, so to speak.
Bigger Tank, More Room to Roam
Giving your betta Fish a little more room to grow and a little more space to zip around can be hugely beneficial for keeping them in the tank instead of jumping out of the water. 5 gallons of water per betta fish is recommended, but even double that isn’t a bad idea.
Put a Lid on It!
Of course, one of the best ways to make sure that your betta fish doesn’t break out is to put a lid on the tank itself.
It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, just something that clearly (and obviously) dissuades the fish from even trying to jump out.
Try a combination of these tips out and you won’t have to worry about a betta breakout anymore.