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Betta frantic swimming, external parasites???

Jakub Sobczak

23 Mar 2019
Hi there,

I got a Betta 6 days ago an it seems to be glass surfing frantically. In the video you can see this behaviour.
This happens

The Betta seemed really happy with the tank. It was patrolling around, exploring every inch of the tank and trying to squeeze through every possible hole it could find.

Now it seems to be constantly glass surfing frantically as can be seen in the video. It will stop and rest from time to time but in general it stopped what I would consider the above normal behaviour and something is clearly bothering it.


It seems to keep slamming into the gravel as the video shows. In the picture you can see some white spots on the Betta. Could this be Ich? This is only on one side, on the back thin and doesn't see to stick out at all so might just be the natural colour of the thin. Hence I'm not sure.

You can also see some damage on the face of the Betta. This is the case on both sides and it was there when I bought him at the LFS.

I'm thinking external parasites are stressing and bothering the Betta and it's trying to scratch them off. This though is just an assumption as I've run out of other ideas. The other fish and shrimp in the tank seem fine. (The picture looks like it might be dropsy but it's just the camera that makes the scales look like they are sticking out. In real life this is not the case and the Betta isn't bloated)

Tank stocking:
1 Betta,
3 Harlequin Rasboras (Long story, use to have 6 now have 3),
6 Amano shrimp.

The Betta seemed completely fine in this environment. It has lots of plants and lots of places to hide. Seems to enjoy chasing the Rasboras from time to time but has no chance of catching them. On the other hand the Rasboras don't ever seem to pick the Betta's fins and stay far far away.

The tank is a 27 Litre cube. Ideally I wouldn't have the Rasboras in there but I'm stuck with them now.

The Betta also seems to not mind the shrimp. It will observe them from time to time but never harass and mostly just ignores them.

Water Quality:
Amonia: 0
Nitrate < 20
Nitrite: 0
GH: >7, >125 (No idea what these values mean on test strip but they are in the middle of green area so assuming these are fine)
KH: between 6,107 and 10, 178 (again same as GH don't understand but it's in the middle of green zone so assuming no problems)
PH 6.4 (Due to plants and wood)
Chlorine: 0

This happens with lights on or off. I tried lots of different light settings but it's not what seems to be causing this problem.

I'm assuming that there is nothing in these water parameters that can cause my Betta to be frantically glass surfing as in the video below.



24 Dec 2014
In the photo, your Bettas looks fine - he’s a Dumbo HMPK and that variation in tone is normal with the Dumbo gene

I agree something looks odd in the video - glass surfing doesn’t bother me so much (he may be reacting to reflections) but the substrate bounce is a stress reaction (eg if you were trying to net etc) - though watching it again, I’m not sure he isn’t just reacting to reflection

He’s not clamping hIs fins in photo or video - that frantic activity isn’t all that unusual in some of the HMPK’s

I’d do a large water change just in case

I find Seachem ParaGuard is a good Betta treatment - well tolerated as a dip or bath, and often seems to sort what ails them
If this behaviour continues, I’d try a dip - do a large water change on tank during this time - return Betta to tank and see how he goes
PG is fine with shrimp (unless they’ve just moulted - shrimp are very sensitive to changing water conditions until the new exoskeleton hardens, usually 24-36h) but continued bath can affect some plants (most are fine with a few days PG)

Tank looks like a great Betta home :)


30 Jun 2011
I agree that it looks like he's attacking his reflection. Does he only do it against the glass? If it's parasites I would expect him to flash against the rocks and wood too.