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Can Betta Fish Hear And Do They Recognize Voices?

Do you talk to your betta buddy?

If you do, you’re not alone! Many betta owners talk to their beloved finned friend at feeding times and when carrying out basic care and maintenance tasks in the aquarium. 

But can betta fish hear? Do betta fish have ears? And can betta fish recognize their owner’s voice? 

Read this guide to find out if your betta buddy can hear you talk!

Can Betta Fish Hear Your Voice?

The Betta Siamese fighting fish, Betta splendens Pla-kad ( biting fish ) Thai. (Halfmoon fancy white red betta ) in motion on fresh water weeds background

The simple answer to that question is, yes, your betta buddy can hear your voice, and he can hear you when you speak to him. 

In fact, all fish species can hear. For fish, the ability to hear is another way of avoiding predators or locating prey, depending on the species. So, all fish use their senses of hearing, sight, and smell, as well as their ability to detect vibrations through the water in combination.

However, bettas don’t have visible ears like yours. Instead, they have tiny holes situated on the sides of their head that contain minute hearing structures. So, your betta buddy can hear your voice from outside the aquarium. That said, the water and the glass barrier between you will dampen the sound somewhat. So, it’s unlikely that your pet will be able to hear you as clearly as you can hear your friends speaking or your dog barking.

That said, bettas aren’t like your average family pet in that they won’t learn to recognize their name. For example, if you call your pet Bubbles, you can repeat that name a zillion times in front of the aquarium, but your fish is never going to understand that Bubbles is his name.

Word Association

Although your betta will never exactly learn his name, he can associate certain words or sounds with particular actions.

For example, if you repeat the word Bubbles every time you feed your fish, he will eventually learn that Bubbles means food. So, if you say Bubbles and approach the tank, your fishy friend will expect to be fed.

Now, ask a friend to approach the betta’s tank and say Bubbles. Do you get the same reaction from your pet? If the betta immediately rushes to the water surface, expecting to receive a snack, it’s probable that he understands the word Bubbles but doesn’t really care who’s saying it. That proves our theory that bettas can learn to understand the meaning of certain sounds and words, but they don’t learn their names.

Do Betta Fish Recognize Their Owner’s Voice?

So, can your betta buddy recognize your voice?

Yes, it’s thought that bettas can indeed recognize their owners by sight. However, as outlined above, it could simply be that your fish learns to associate you approaching his tank with food or some form of interaction such as training rather than recognizing your voice specifically. 

Over time your betta fish will certainly learn to recognize you through a constant mix of hearing, sight, and bonding experiences. However, that can take many months. So, how do you get your betta to recognize you as someone special and meaningful in his life?

Visit Your Betta Often

If you spend at least 20 minutes every day in front of your betta’s tank where he can clearly see you, your betta might come to recognize your face rather than anyone else’s.

Talk To Your Fish

Woman feeding beta fish in aquarium at home.

Although it’s debatable whether a betta fish can actually distinguish your voice from someone else’s, there’s no harm in spending a little time every day talking to your pet. 

You can tell him about your day at feeding times, chat to him when cleaning his aquarium, and perhaps update him on the latest fish training techniques when teaching him tricks. Bettas are intelligent, curious fish, and your pet is sure to appreciate your conversation, although he won’t understand a word you say. Still, at least your pet won’t argue with you! 

Get Interactive

Bettas are pretty intelligent fish, and training your betta fish is beneficial for your pet’s health in that it keeps him entertained and prevents boredom. However, interacting with your betta is also a great way of teaching him to recognize you as his significant other.

Can Betta Fish Understand Noise Or Sound?

Asian male showing glass jar of siamese fighting or betta fish. Man holding glass jar of betta splendens for selling or bidding.

Most fish are quite skittish, and they don’t appreciate loud noises or sounds around their habitat.

Remember that fish are sensitive to vibrations in the water as well as sound. So, if you put a massive sound system right beside your tank and have your tunes cranked up to 11, you’ll stress your fish out! Think about it. All that background noise prevents your territorial betta from detecting the approach of a potential rival invading his patch, so he will get stressed and worried by the noise.

So, generally, bettas are happier when kept in a quiet environment.

Similarly, never tap on your betta tank’s viewing panes. That will frighten your pet and make him wary of coming up to the glass. Instead, if you want to get your betta’s attention, talk to him or snap your fingers over the water surface.

Do Betta Fish Like Music?

Whether fish enjoy listening to music is debatable. I think it’s more likely that your betta would find a constant barrage of the sound somewhat confusing and irritating. As mentioned above, bettas prefer a peaceful environment without lots of white noise in the background.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section of the guide, we take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions about betta fish behavior and hearing.

Q: How smart are betta fish?

A: It’s widely accepted by betta owners that their fish are pretty smart. After all, you can teach your betta simple tricks, such as jumping out of the water to take food from your fingers. Also, it’s thought that bettas can eventually learn to recognize their owners and their owner’s voice.

Q: Do betta fish have ears?

A: No. Fish do not have ears like yours. However, they do have hearing structures inside their heads that enable the fish to interpret sounds. Look closely at your betta, and you’ll notice a tiny hole on either side of the fish’s head, which are the equivalent to your ears.

Q: Do bettas have good memories?

A: So, let’s debunk a common myth here. Your betta does have the capacity to remember things; it’s thought of for up to five months. So, if you constantly interact with your betta and talk to him, there’s a good chance that your pet will get to recognize you.

In Conclusion

Betta fish can hear, even through the water and the glass walls of their tank. Also, bettas are smart and have a pretty good memory, so there’s a good chance that your beloved fishy friend will learn to recognize your voice if you take the time to talk to him and interact with him every day.

Since bettas are sensitive to vibrations and they can hear, take care not to put your betta’s aquarium right next to your TV or sound system, as that would stress your pet. 

Did you enjoy our article all about your betta’s hearing? If you did, please share, and let us have your comments in the box below.

Alison Page has been an avid fish keeper for over 35 years and has owned many different species of freshwater tropical fish including bettas. Currently Alison has two large freshwater tanks. The first tank has two huge fancy goldfish who are almost ten years old and still looking as good as ever. In the other, she has a happy community of tiger barbs, green tiger barbs, corydoras catfish, platys, and mollies.

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