Betta Glass Surfing: A Cause For Concern?

While not entirely unique to betta fish, the practice of what is known as “betta glass surfing” seems to be particularly prevalent among betta owners. In a nutshell, glass surfing occurs when your betta has started to pace along the glass of the aquarium. They will be doing this quickly, but also repeatedly. The result is a pattern that can strike you as extremely troubling.

There is no doubt that glass surfing can be a sign that something is wrong with your betta fish. The reason for why your betta is glass surfing is also something that can vary from one fish to the next. Some form of distress is obviously the culprit. What you want to do then is figure out how to stop a betta fish from glass surfing.

Not to worry. We’ve come up with some tips that can go a long way towards alleviating the cause of your betta’s anxiety.

What Exactly Is Betta Glass Surfing?

As we mentioned before, glass surfing involves a very specific behavior. There are several potential causes you will want to learn about. However, it is good to keep in mind that regardless of the reason, if your betta is pacing quickly up and down a specific area of glass, something is almost certainly wrong.

You also want to address as quickly as possible. In many situations, if your betta is engaging in glass surfing, there is a good chance that they are also not eating, due to stress. If the glass surfing continues unabated, your betta’s health can very quickly take a turn for the worse.

Let’s get into some of the main causes of betta glass surfing. From there, we can move into cause-specific solutions that should do the trick.

Cause #1: The Condition Of The Water Is Poor

This is one of the most common reasons for betta glass surfing. Water temperature is a big deal for bettas. Yes, they are indeed hardy enough to withstand temperatures ranging between seventy-six- and eighty-five-degrees Fahrenheit. However, most bettas seem to do best at 78F.

In other words, if your betta is engaging in glass surfing, check your tank temperature. It may need an adjustment. Cold water can make them lethargic, erratic, or a disconcerting mix of the two.

The water can also be poor due to aquarium maintenance neglect. You definitely want to keep too much waste and debris from accumulating, as well as making sure the ammonia levels do not get too high. Dangerous ammonia levels can utterly and completely devastate your aquarium. Chemicals can build up in the water, if you aren’t taking care of things on a regular basis.

Basic maintenance measures are going to go a long way towards preventing behaviors such as glass surfing. While the quality of the water is not the only factor that can lead to this action, we would suggest taking care of the water first.

If this doesn’t alleviate the situation, there are several more things you are going to want to keep in mind.

Cause #2: Other Issues With The Tank

Beyond heating and keeping the tank properly maintained, there are a few other possibilities with your aquarium that we are going to want to take a look at.

For example, let’s talk about the following potential hazards:

  • The tank is too small: While companies and retailers do sell betta fish tanks that are 5 gallons or even less, it is not considered a good idea to get one in this range. Even a single betta fish needs at least 10-15 gallons to be comfortable. Some would argue even more. If you’re going to have other fish in the tank, including other bettas, you are going to need to adjust the size of your tank accordingly.
  • The tank mates are not appropriate for bettas: While the list of fish that get along with bettas is perhaps longer than you might think, you still shouldn’t consider any tankmate for your betta without careful research. The right tankmates can coexist with your bettas just fine. The wrong tankmates can lead to aggression issues and stress, which in turn can lead to behaviors such as glass surfing. Also, remember that if your tank is too small for your overall aquarium, that is going to create some problems, as well.

As you can see, one influences the other pretty distinctly. Make sure you have the right tankmates for your bettas, if you’re going to have any at all. Combine this with making sure you have an aquarium large enough to accommodate everyone.

Cause #3: Your Betta Sees Its Reflection

The third major cause we’re going to discuss tonight involves the peculiar, yet fairly common phenomenon of your betta catching its own reflection. Remember that betta fish have a well-established reputation for being highly territorial fish.

In other words, if they catch that reflection in the glass of the tank, your betta will very likely try to chase off the intruder. You can begin to see where this becomes problematic!

If your betta fish is trying to scare off this non-existent advisory, there is a good chance that they are also going to be flaring. The flaring behavior itself is not a problem, unless they keep doing it over and over again. That builds up their stress levels, which in turn can cause health issues.

While dealing with a reflection issue can be annoying, we have assembled a few suggestions:

  • Dim the lights: This is considered to be one of the most effective ways of preventing your betta from glass surfing and/or flaring. The tank doesn’t have to be completely darkened. You just want it to be little darker than the room your aquarium is in.
  • Purchase a backdrop: This is another simple solution that can work wonders. We have an exceptional range available, but you can buy them almost anywhere.
  • Plants: Invest in some of the best plants for bettas. Set them up around the sides of the tank.

We hope this helps you address your betta glass surfing!

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3 thoughts on “Betta Glass Surfing: A Cause For Concern?”

  1. I disagree with the tank size because any size is better than the cup they are in at pet stores but I agree with the other facts

  2. Try reducing the water flow. After reading multiple articles I was left with the conclusion that my betta must just have some screws loose. Turns out that I had recently turned up the air pump on my corner sponge filter when my betta started pacing the front of the tank non-stop 24/7. It finally dawned on me that she wasn’t doing that until I turned up the air pump. I turned the air pump back down and she stopped pacing and now spends her time exploring her surroundings again. I have her in a 10 gallon well planted tank with two African dwarf frogs and a few snails.


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