Do Betta Fish Jump Out of Their Bowls

Not overfilling his aquarium will keep your betta in his home.
Not overfilling his aquarium will keep your betta in his home. (Image: Ryan McVay/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

With long, flowing fins in a rainbow of colors, betta fish are some of the most beautiful freshwater aquarium fish. Theyre not just easy on the eyes; they're easy to care for, too. Watch out, though: Bettas are excellent jumpers who can leap right out of an uncovered fish bowl.

Lidded Tank

Betta fish are good jumpers, known for leaping out of tanks. The best way to prevent a betta from fleeing is to keep a lid on his tank. House him in a smaller tank, one with capacity of 2 to 10 gallons, so he feels secure. The lid should have holes in it to let in plenty of air. A mesh cover is a good option because it allows nearly free flow of air but won’t allow your betta to escape.

Fish Bowl

If you want to keep your betta in a decorative fish bowl, make it sure it is at least 2 gallons. Since they don’t have lids, the best way to keep your betta in the bowl is to not overfill the bowl. Leave at least 2 or 3 inches of space between the waterline and the opening of the bowl. This will not only allow for plenty of oxygen for your betta to breath, but will make it too far for him to attempt a daring leap.

Make a Cover

If your betta is already living happily in a round fish bowl, you can make a cover that will keep him from jumping out. You can use an old piece of pantyhose or colorful piece of tulle secured with a rubber band to secure his bowl. If you want to use a heavy fabric, like cotton, make sure to poke some holes in it to allow plenty of fresh air in. Make sure to cut an opening that's large enough that you can drop in his favorite food but isn't large enough for him to fit through.

Labyrinth Fish

Bettas belong to a group of fish known as labyrinth fish, which includes gouramis. Their labyrinths allow them to breathe oxygen directly from the air. A betta can swim to the top of the tank for a gulp of air -- whereas fish without labyrinths gulp at the top of the tank only when they're stressed. The betta's ability to breathe air means he will survive longer outside the aquarium than other fish who can only absorb oxygen from the water. If you find your fish on the floor beside the tank, try putting him back in the water. There’s a good chance that, if he wasn’t outside his tank for too long, he’ll be okay, thanks to his labyrinth.

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