Many betta fish are kept in an empty tank with no decoration, no substrate, and no plants. After all, the beautiful betta is the star of the show, and he deserves to be the center of attention, right?
Well, although that’s true, betta fish are pretty intelligent, and they do need stimulation to prevent them from becoming bored.
Do Betta Fish Get Bored?
In their natural habitat, betta fish are solitary creatures, having little interaction with their own species except when spawning.
However, the betta’s wild environment is filled with objects that stimulate their naturally curious character, such as lush plants, driftwood, rocks, and the like.
Wild betta fish spend their days lurking beneath the water surface, waiting for an insect to land that they can snatch and devour, or patrolling and investigating their adopted territory. If his patch shrinks during the dry season, the betta can even jump across to a fresh area!
So, you can see how a betta fish that’s kept in an empty tank with little or no decoration will easily become bored.
Signs Of A Bored Betta
So, how can you tell if your betta buddy is bored?
A responsible owner observes his betta fish every day to get to know his pet’s usual behavior. If everything else is well, and your betta is not showing any signs of illness, changes in behavior could be due to boredom.
Behavioral changes that can be indicative of a bored betta include:
Some betta fish are pretty lazy characters, spending long periods resting or napping and occasionally exploring their environment.
However, if your usually lively fish stops patrolling his territory and seems to be laying around doing absolutely nothing, that may be a sign that he is bored. Keeping active is very important for your fish, as bettas can become obese or bloated if they don’t get enough exercise.
Betta fish are generally greedy creatures, so if your fish stops rushing up to the surface to gobble up his grub, it may be a sign that he is bored.
A lack of interest in food goes hand-in-hand with lethargy, as a busy, active betta will quickly work up an appetite, whereas one that does nothing all day probably won’t be hungry.
Your betta fish has tiny white teeth in his upturned mouth, which he uses to grab insects and other prey from the water surface.
Unfortunately, a bored betta sometimes turns his teeth on his lovely, flowing tail, purely out of frustration. As you can imagine, those sharp teeth can do a significant amount of damage to the fish’s fragile tail, leaving your betta susceptible to bacterial infection and attack by parasites.
How To Cure Betta Boredom
Add Tank Decorations
Adding decorations to your betta’s tank is the simplest way to spice things up for your fish.
No betta fish should live in a tank that has no decorations or plants! So, if your betta tank is currently devoid of any accessories, check out our suggestions in the next section of this article!
Betta fish love to explore caves and overhangs, often choosing one particular area as a resting or spawning site.
You can keep your fish busy by making sure that he has plenty of places where he can hide and chill out. Try hiding the entrance to a cave by screening it with plants. That will keep your betta amused for ages finding and exploring his new hideout.
One of the best ways to spice up your betta’s life is by offering him a live diet.
Every few days, try introducing a few live daphnia, bloodworms, or mosquito larvae to your betta tank, and watch your fish spring into action as he chases down his dinner!
Bettas are curious fish that will investigate anything new that appears in their environment.
When choosing toys for your fish, remember that bettas inhabit the upper area of the water column. So, choose something that floats on the surface to catch your fish’s eye. Ping pong balls make great DIY betta fish toys. Wash the ball in hot water and drop it into the tank.
You may find that your fish flares at the object at first, but as long as he eventually settles down, that’s fine.
Playing With Your Betta? – Who Knew!
Did you know that you can play with your betta fish?
And, with a little time and effort, you can even train your fish to perform simple tricks.
Betta Fish Memory
Contrary to popular belief, the phenomenon of the three-second “goldfish memory” is an urban myth, which has been debunked by scientists.
Bettas are extremely observant and curious, and you can be sure that your fish is keeping tabs on everything that moves outside of his tank, including you!
Teach Your Betta Fish Tricks
Betta fish are pretty smart, and that means that you can include a short training session every couple of days to entertain your fish.
You can train your betta to swim through a hoop!
Train Your Betta To Jump!
Betta fish jump in their natural environment and you can replicate that natural behavior by training your fish to jump when you feed him.
Begin by placing a fingertip in the water. Stick a betta pellet or frozen bloodworm onto your moistened fingertip. Hold your finger right in front of your betta, slightly above the water.
17 Betta Fish Toys and Décor
Now, let’s check out some great boredom busters for bettas!
The inclusion of a range of living plants in your betta’s tank is a great way of providing him with areas to hide, rest, and explore.
If you don’t want the hassle of caring for and maintaining live plants, choose silk ones instead. Silk plants come in a range of colors, too, so you can use them to create a theme in your aquascape.
2. HammockCheck on Amazon
Betta fish love to take naps during the daytime, as well as sleeping at night. You can provide your fishy friend with a comfy place to doze by including a hammock in his aquarium.
To keep boredom at bay, try relocating your betta’s bed each time you carry out a partial water change so that he can enjoy a different view of his territory.
3. Floating LogView Product Here
A floating log can provide your betta with somewhere to explore and doubles as a resting and hiding place too.
This resin log is specially designed to be smooth and free from rough edges that may snag your fish’s fins and tail, making this a safe and interesting accessory that your betta will love.
4. Sinking LogAvailable on Amazon
This high-quality sinking log toy is created to look just like a sunken tree trunk and will blend in beautifully with your tank decoration theme.
The log doubles as a cave and hiding place for your fish, and its choice of entrance and exit holes means that your fish won’t get bored with this toy.
5. Moss BallView Product Here
These Marimo moss balls will provide your betta with hours of entertainment as he investigates their soft, safe surface.
The moss balls are living organisms that can help to keep the aquarium water clean by utilizing nitrates as fertilizer while also adding a beautiful splash of color and form to the setup.
Male bettas will defend their territory by putting on a display of aggression that’s designed to frighten off a rival fish.
If you place a mirror alongside your betta’s tank, he will challenge his own reflection by flaring and displaying at the perceived intruder. Although this behavior is entertaining and impressive to watch, too much can be stressful for your pet, so keep the use of a mirror to a minimum.
7. SpongeBob Ornament Pineapple HomeView Product Here
If you and your kids love SpongeBob, then you’ll adore this pineapple home betta tank ornament!
The pineapple is made from smooth resin and is non-toxic, making it a safe and quirky accessory to add to your fish’s tank. The home’s many different entrance ports provide your fish with lots of places to explore, keeping him occupied for hours.
8. ShipwreckAvailable on Amazon
Your betta will love cruising around this effective, interesting shipwreck tank decoration.
Try surrounding the wreck with tall plants to create an exciting underwater seascape effect that will show off your beautiful betta to the best effect.
9. Imagitarium Asian Gazebo With Bamboo OrnamentAvailable on Petco
This realistic Asian gazebo fish tank ornament provides a cave and hiding place for your betta, and the bamboo feature will complement your natural planting perfectly.
The resin model has no rough edges, making it safe for your betta’s flowing fins, and the paint used is non-toxic too.
If you want, you can also incorporate lucky bamboo in your setup to add to the theme. You can learn more about the plant here.
10. Laser Pointer
If you’re looking for a fun, interactive way of entertaining your betta fish, you must check out this video of a betta having a ball chasing a laser image around his tank.
Laser pointers are commonly used to encourage cats to play, but your betta is sure to love checking out this brightly colored intruder to his territory too!
Be extremely careful not to shine the light directly into your betta’s eyes. Fish don’t have eyelids, and their eyes may be damaged by a very bright light that appears suddenly.
11. Ping Pong Ball
As previously mentioned, a simple ping pong ball can make the ideal toy for a bored betta. Wash the ball in hot water (not soap), and then simply drop it into your fish’s tank.
Bettas are instinctively attracted to anything on the surface of the water, as that’s where they hunt for food. So, anything that appears there is sure to pique your fish’s interest.
12. Fish Training KitView Product Here
Did you know bettas are quite intelligent and they can learn simple tricks?
This fish training kit comes with an instructional DVD produced by a world-renowned fish trainer, so you can be sure to have your betta jumping through hoops and playing fishy football in no time!
Now, that’s sure to be a talking point at parties!
13. Training Your Betta To Jump
In the wild environment, betta fish can jump from puddle to puddle during a drought in search of food or escape from predators. You can encourage your fish to mimic that natural behavior by teaching him to jump.
As you’ll see in this video, the betta will launch himself out of the water to grab his owner’s finger. You can encourage and reward this behavior by sticking a piece of food to your fingertips.
Be sure to fit your betta tank with a cover slide or tightly fitting lid so that he can’t go solo and leap right out of the tank while you’re not around.
14. Coconut Shell Cave
In nature, betta fish claim caves or rocky overhangs as their territory. The fish use the caves to shelter from predators, to rest in during the daytime, and to create bubble nests when spawning.
Half a coconut shell makes a perfect hideout for your betta’s tank. Although you can buy coconut caves in some pet stores, I’ve found that these often leach oils into the water, which can be harmful to the fish.
Instead, make your own homemade coconut cave by following the instructions in this helpful video.
15. Terracotta Pots
Imaginative planting can add a real touch of style to any aquascaping project, and betta fish love to have live plants to explore and rest in.
In this video, you can learn how to plant your aquarium plants in attractive terracotta pots. The pots not only look great, but they can also prevent bottom-dwelling fish from uprooting the plants from the substrate.
In a betta-only tank, the pots and plants provide plenty of scope for exploration, keeping your fish busy for hours.
Driftwood is a feature of your betta’s natural environment, and including a stunning arrangement such as this one can make a stunning centerpiece in any tank.
Break up the driftwood sculpture with a few tall aquatic plants, and you’ll create a natural-looking habitat that your betta will love exploring. The driftwood also provides your pet with plenty of scope for resting and hiding.
Resin clamshells can make a very attractive addition to your betta tank. Your fish will love hiding inside while keeping an eye on his territory from the safety of the shell.
However, you must never use real shells that you find on the beach.
Although real shells might look great in your tank, they leach calcium and other minerals into the water, which will eventually change the pH levels. Bettas are sensitive to the water parameters in their tank, and changes in the water quality can be harmful to your fish.
Betta fish can become bored and depressed if you don’t provide enough distraction and entertainment in your pet’s environment.
Use plenty of interesting decorations and planting in your betta’s tank, and be sure to devote some time each day to some interactive playtime sessions too.
You can have hours of enjoyment, teaching your betta to perform simple tricks such as jumping up for food or even swimming through a hoop. That’s a great way to bust betta boredom, as well as impressing your family and friends!