Why Do Tetras Stay At The Bottom Of The Tank? (5 Main Reasons)

Image of a tetra at the bottom of the tank

Tetras stay at the bottom of the tank when they are stressed due to incorrect water temperature or poor water quality. Infections and diseases like ich or swim bladder disorder can also make them stay at the bottom. Even bullying by aggressive tank mates can force the tetras to remain at the bottom.

Let’s now look at all the factors that make tetras stay at the bottom of the tank.

5 Main Reasons Why Tetras Stay At The Bottom Of The Tank And How To Treat Them

When tetras choose to stay in the lower parts of your aquarium, it’s an indication that they are in distress, and you need to treat them with extra care.

Given below are the five main reasons why tetras stay at the bottom of the tank.

1. Incorrect Water Temperature

Maintaining your aquarium’s water temperature correctly is vital for the well-being of tetras.

Warm water contains less oxygen than cold water. It also rises, leaving the cold water at the bottom of the aquarium.

So if the water temperature is off, tetras will move to the bottom of the aquarium where the water is cold and more aerated.

Too warm water will also increase the metabolism of tetras. As a result, tetras will excrete more waste.

This waste will produce more ammonia, thereby reducing the oxygen level of the tank water. This vicious cycle can kill the tetras.

Ideally, you should keep tetras at a temperature of 75°F to 82°F. This temperature range should stay constant and not fluctuate much.

2. Ich

Ich is one of the most common aquarium diseases that can cause a fish to stay at the bottom. It is caused by a parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis.

This parasite causes small white spots on tetras.

These spots can make them uncomfortable and cause them to go to the bottom of the tank to rub themselves against the gravel, stones, or other aquarium decorations.

You must treat ich as soon as possible because it has the potential to kill all of the fish in your aquarium.

The parasite causing ich can be killed using chemical treatments like copper sulfate and formalin.

You can prevent ich by increasing the temperature to 86°F and maintaining it there for approximately three days.

You can also use aquarium salt to treat the tank.

However, consult your vet before using any medication or treatment.

3. Swim Bladder Disorder

The swim bladder is a crucial organ in all fish, including tetras. It gives them the ability to stay balanced as they swim in the water.

If tetras are constipated or overfed, the other organs can impact their swim bladder and cause it to dysfunction.

It can also get impacted because of infections from bacteria or parasites.

When the swim bladder weakens, tetras begin to swim strangely.

Some tetras swim vertically in the tank, some swim erratically, while others stay at the bottom of the tank.

You can heal swim bladder disorder by increasing the temperature of the water.

ou can also avoid overfeeding the tetras and keep them on a fast before giving them cooked and peeled peas.

4. Poor Water Conditions

One of the worst things a fish owner can do is have poor water conditions in the aquarium.

A lack of cleanliness, or bad water quality, can send your tetras to the bottom in no time.

Poor quality water results in ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites. All of these are dangerous to tetras.

Leaving the tetras in these conditions for too long can make them ill or even result in their death.

If you’re unsure about the water quality, use a water testing kit or take a look at one of the tetra’s gills.

If the gills have turned reddish, then the water quality is definitely affected.

You can improve the water quality by changing the water on a regular basis.

This reduces the number of pollutants from the water and removes substances that may be causing diseases or infections in tetras.

A water change will also help eliminate debris and impurities.

Make sure that you do the water change gradually.

If you have a large tank (20 gallons or more), change only 30-40% of the water on a weekly basis.

For tanks with a capacity of less than 20 gallons, replace only 15% to 20% of the water per week.

5. Stress

Stress can be caused by a variety of factors in tetras. Poor water quality, aggressive tank mates, and unfamiliar habitats can all stress the tetras.

After you introduce tetras to a new aquarium, they may become disoriented.

New lighting, sudden movements, and changes to decorative items in the tank will irritate certain tetras.

As a result, they will then try to take shelter at the bottom of the tank.

To reduce the stress in tetras, you can do the following:

  • Keep the tetras in a group of six or more at all times. Otherwise, they might feel unsafe.
  • Keep friendly fish like guppies and mollies with tetras.
  • Remove all aggressive fish from the tank.
  • Add a lot of plants and hiding places in your tank so that the tetras can hide when they feel unsafe.
  • Recycle the water regularly.
  • Add a filter to the tank to improve the water quality.

Related Questions

Why Do Neon Tetras Stay At The Bottom Of The Tank?

Neon tetras stay at the bottom of the tank when they are stressed due to poor water quality or aggressive tank mates.

They may also stay at the bottom if they are suffering from diseases like ich or swim bladder disorders.

Other reasons include incorrect water temperature and new habitat.

Why Do Cardinal Tetras Stay At The Bottom Of The Tank?

Cardinal tetras stay at the bottom of the tank because of incorrect water temperature, poor water quality, ailments like ich and swim bladder disorder, and stress due to new environment or aggressive tank mates.

Is It Normal For Any Fish To Stay At The Bottom Of The Tank?

It is normal for a healthy fish to stay at the bottom of the tank.

Many fish species stay at the lower third of the aquarium, which is why a horizontal tank is better than a taller one.

Bottom feeders frequently settle on the gravel as they dig through the substrate to grab any food that has settled at the bottom.


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