How To Stop Fish From Jumping Out Of The Tank

Some of the freshwater fish species you can purchase are pretty docile and hang towards the bottom or middle of the tank and swim around slightly. Then you have other fish that love to jump. Make sure that you know as much as possible about the fish you want before you purchase them. It will eliminate any surprises as far as behavior, and when they become sick, you will know the signs.

The top two things that you can do are; make sure you have a tight tank lid. If your cover is flimsy and just sits on top it is going to come off enough that the fish can get out. The other thing you can do is reduce the amount of water that you have in your aquarium. Instead of filling the tank to the top, leave a 2-3 inch gap between the water and the tank’s top.

Freshwater aquariums add appeal and beauty to the room that you have them in. You can find such a wide variety of fish to keep in your freshwater tank that will make it even more stunning, whether big fish, little fish, bright-colored fish, or even multi-colored fish.

You do have to be careful which species you put in an aquarium together. You also need to have a tank big enough for the fish to swim around comfortably.

Why Your Fish Jumped Out Of The Tank

Besides being a fish, who just likes to jump, there are reasons your fish may be trying to get out of the tank. A few reasons for your fish wanting to escape:

  1. Poor water quality 
  2. Low oxygen levels 
  3. Not enough hiding spots 
  4. Lousy pH levels

These conditions will cause a fish to want to jump out of the water in search of better living conditions. Escaping is what fish do in their natural habitat. Just because they live in an aquarium doesn’t mean that they no longer have their instincts. 

A couple of other ways to prevent your fish from jumping out of the tank are as follows:

  • Maintain suitable water parameters: water temperature, quality of water, and pH in the tank. 
  • Put a barrier over your tank: tight lid, glass canopy, or a cover net. The cover net will also allow oxygen to flow through the tank but will keep the fish in. 
  • Limit the noise: water absorbs more sound, and sound travels ten times faster in water. Try not to have your aquarium right next to a television or a stereo. If they are in the same room, you do not want to turn them up too loud. 
  • Compatible tank mates: if you have fish that fight, they will either do so until one dies or escapes the territory. Fighting fish causes stress and makes the fish that is picked on want to jump to safety. 

Types Of Fish That Jump Out Of The Water

Fish, by nature, jump. Whether they are fish living in an aquarium or fish, you catch with a rod and reel. Some fish that you keep in an aquarium are more docile than others.

Then you have freshwater fish that love to jump and are very active in their environment; this is where the precautions above will come in handy.

A shortlist of fish that like to jump out of an aquarium are; comet goldfish, betta fish, and killifish.

Betta fish are very notable for jumping out of aquariums. The killifish want to jump from one puddle to another in their natural habitat.

On the saltwater side of the question, the only two you need to worry about are the firefish and the koi fish. Other fish love to jump and may try to get out of the aquarium, but the fish above are the ones that you need to watch the closest.

Marbled hatchetfish: if you choose to have this fish in your aquarium, you need to have a tight lid or another precaution in place. These fish are accomplished jumpers.

Hatchetfish feed on the water’s surface and in the wild will jump to grab an insect on a low branch or leaf. If they think they see food above the water, they will not hesitate to jump and try to retrieve it. 

In nature, African Butterfly Fish live near the water’s surface and jump to catch prey or escape a predator. If you want this type of fish in your aquarium, make sure that you have compatible tank mates.

Betta fish: in the wild, in Thailand, betta fish will jump out of a pond that is drying up. They do this in hopes of finding another pond or more significant water source that is nearby.

They are typically found in swamps and rice paddies. The water changes through the course of the year because of the monsoon season, making the need to seek new puddles regularly.

How To Save A Fish That Jumped Out Of Water

All fish need to be in the water to live. You do have select fish that can live out of water for a short amount of time. If you are home and it happens, your fish will have a better chance of survival.

If you have only been at work for an hour, then your fish will not be ok when you arrive home. Even if you only work for four hours. If you are home and they land on carpet, you have less time to get them back in the tank than if they were to land on linoleum. 

So, what do you do if your fish jumps out of the tank? Depending on what you have your aquarium sitting on, your fish will land on the floor if he jumps. If your fish does this and you are home, you need to pick up the fish gently. After you have him picked up, you need to either put a small amount of water in your hands as you cradle him, or you need to put him back into the tank immediately.

The oxygen that is in the tank water will aid your fish in breathing more comfortably.

If you happen to have someone home with you, the process will be a bit easier if you will cradle the fish in your hands. Putting them back into the tank is probably the best way to handle the situation.

You can also opt to put them in a deep bowl or bucket with some aquarium water and keep an eye on them. Just in case the fish sustained injury. You do not want a fish that is almost dead floating in the tank.

If your fish lands on the carpet when he jumps out of the tank, you need to quickly get him into the water. The rug will absorb the water on the fish.

How Long Can A Betta Fish Be Out Of The Water?

There are many reasons why your betta fish may jump out of your tank; to catch something outside of the tank, low sleep cycle, not enough space, and because they simply like to jump.

Betta fish can jump two to three inches out of the water. On occasion, it can be higher. So you will need one of the precautions in place. The fish tank lids have a slot to allow oxygen into the tank, and some fish can get lucky and jump out of that opening. I would highly recommend the cover net.

A betta fish will only survive approximately 10-30 minutes outside of the water. They can supplement their oxygen requirements by taking periodic gulps of air from the surface but they cannot survive out of water for very long.

You will need to act quickly, if you are home, to get them back in the water. If you are not home, unfortunately, your betta will not be alive once you return. This is why the tight lid or one of the other precautions is essential if you have fish known to be jumpers. 

If you find your betta fish out of the tank, you need to put him back in the tank immediately. If it is past the ten-minute mark, his chances are incredibly slim. If you do see it and get him back in right away, do not be surprised if he just lays at the bottom of the tank.

If you notice that he is having a hard time breathing, you can add a little aquarium salt to the tank. This will help open up the gills. It is also recommended that you add a Stress Coat to the water as well. The Stress Coat will improve the betta slime coat. 

Additional Information

Here are the other ways to keep your fish from jumping out of the tank. 

  1. Sufficient hiding places – believe it or not, even freshwater fish need personal space and private time. They get tired and need a break from swimming and playing. Having 3 or 4 hiding places for your fish allows them to hide from the other fish and rest. 
  1. Adequate lighting – every living organism needs its daytime and nighttime periods. Just like humans, fish associate darkness with sleep and daylight with work and play. You should have the aquarium lights on for no more than 12 hours a day. Putting a timer on your lighting system will take the worry out of this. Your fish do not rest appropriately if the lights are kept on. Having their daytime and nighttime periods is essential for health and happiness. 

It is also essential to make sure that your fish have plenty of oxygen, their water is cleaned regularly, and you are feeding your fish accordingly. Most fish need to be provided food two to three times a day, with various diets. If your fish lack these, they will want to jump out of the tank to find their needs. 

Believe it or not, if your fish are consistently stressed, they want to escape the unhappiness and will jump out of the tank to do so. If you are not committed to doing everything that needs to be done to maintain an aquarium and healthy fish, please do not purchase them.

No matter what species of fish you have in your tank, you can not just put them in there, toss food in a couple of times a day, and go on about your business. They have essential needs to stay healthy.


Like humans, fish have specific needs that need to be met to be happy and healthy: clean water, oxygen, day and night cycle, proper food, and private time. If you provide your fish with these essentials, they will be happy and healthy and will not have a reason to try to escape their habitat.

If they do not have what they need, they will become unhealthy and stressed. Stressed fish sometimes try to commit suicide. 

You also need to ensure you have the proper tank mates. If you have a fish in the tank that is being a bully, your other fish may try to jump out of the tank to get away from the aggressive fish.

So do a little research and make sure that the species of fish you are putting in your tank will get along well. Everything that we have covered in our other articles applies to this article.

Fish are pets, just like a dog or a cat. Granted, they don’t play fetch or chase laser pointer lights. But they are still pets who need proper care and nutrition to be happy and healthy. 


I'm passionate about fish pets and love sharing everything I learn about them.

Recent Posts