Many betta fish are kept in an empty tank with no decoration, no substrate, and no plants. After all, the beautiful betta fish is the star of the show and deserves to be the center of attention, right?
Well, while that is true, betta fish are quite intelligent and need stimulation to keep them from getting bored.
Are Betta Fish Bored?
In their natural habitat, betta fish are solitary creatures, having little interaction with their own kind except when spawning.
However, the betta fish’s wild environment is full of objects that stimulate its naturally curious nature, such as lush plants, driftwood, rocks, and the like.
Wild betta fish spend their days lurking beneath the surface of the water, waiting for an insect to land that they can catch and devour, or patrolling and investigating their adopted territory. If your patch shrinks during the dry season, betta fish may even jump into a cool area!
So you can see how a betta fish kept in an empty tank with little to no decoration will easily get bored.
Signs of a Bored Betta
So how can you tell if your betta partner is bored?
A responsible owner observes their betta fish every day to learn about their pet’s usual behavior. If everything else is fine and your betta is not showing any signs of illness, the behavior changes could be due to boredom.
Behavioral changes that may be indicative of a bored betta fish include:
Some betta fish are quite lazy characters, spending long periods resting or napping and occasionally exploring their surroundings.
However, if your usually lively fish stops patrolling its territory and appears to be lying around doing absolutely nothing, it may be a sign that it is bored. Staying 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 coming to the surface to devour its food, it may be a sign that it is bored.
Lack of interest in food goes hand in hand with lethargy, as a busy, active betta will quickly work up an appetite, while one that does nothing all day probably won’t be hungry.
bite the tail
Your betta fish has small white teeth in its upturned mouth, which it uses to grab insects and other prey from the surface of the water.
Unfortunately, a bored betta will sometimes turn its teeth on its beautiful, flowing tail, simply out of frustration. As you can imagine, those sharp teeth can cause a significant amount of damage to the fish’s fragile tail, leaving your betta fish susceptible to bacterial infections and parasite attack.
How to Cure Betta Boredom
Add tank decorations
Adding decorations to your betta’s tank is the easiest way to bring your fish to life.
No betta fish should live in a tank without decorations or plants! So, if your betta tank doesn’t currently have accessories, check out our suggestions in the next section of this article.
Betta fish love to explore caves and ledges, often choosing a particular area as a resting or spawning spot.
You can keep your fish busy by making sure it has plenty of places where it can hide and relax. Try hiding the entrance to a cave by covering it with plants. That will keep your betta fish entertained for years to come looking for and exploring their new hiding place.
One of the best ways to bring your betta fish to life is by offering them a live diet.
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. Therefore, choose something that floats on the surface to draw your fish’s attention. Ping pong balls are great betta fish DIY toys. Wash the ball with hot water and drop it into the tank.
You may find that your fish turns on the object at first, but as long as it eventually calms down, it’s fine.
Playing with your Betta? – Who knows!
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
Bettas are extremely observant and curious, and you can be sure that your fish is keeping an eye on everything that moves outside of its tank, including you!
Teach your betta fish tricks
Betta fish are quite intelligent, and that means you can include a short training session every other day to keep your fish entertained.
You can train your betta fish to swim through a hoop!
Train your betta fish 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 it.
Start by placing your fingertip in the water. Stick a frozen betta pellet or bloodworm onto your moistened fingertip. Hold your finger just in front of your betta, slightly above the water.
17 Betta Fish Toys and Decoration
Now, let’s take a look at some of the best boredom busters for bettas!
Including a variety of live plants in your betta’s tank is a great way to provide areas for it to hide, rest, and explore.
If you don’t want the hassle of caring for and maintaining live plants, go for silk ones. Silk plants also come in a variety of colors, so you can use them to create a theme in your aquascape.
Betta fish love to nap during the day as well as sleep at night. You can provide your fishy friend with a comfortable place to sleep if you include a hammock in your aquarium.
To keep boredom at bay, try repositioning your betta’s bed every time you do a partial water change so he can enjoy a different view of his territory.
Check on Amazon
3. Floating log
A floating log can provide your betta fish with a place to explore and also doubles as a resting and hiding place.
This resin log is specially designed to be smooth and free of rough edges that can snag your fish’s fins and tail, making it a safe and interesting accessory that your betta will love.
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4. Sunken trunk
This high quality sinking log toy is created to look like a sunken tree trunk and will blend beautifully with your tank décor theme.
The log functions as a cave and hiding place for your fish, and your choice of entry and exit holes means your fish won’t get bored with this toy.
Available on Amazon
5. Ball of moss
These Marimo Moss Balls will provide your betta fish with hours of entertainment as they investigate their smooth, safe surface.
Moss balls are living organisms that can help keep aquarium water clean by using nitrates as a fertilizer while also adding a beautiful splash of color and shape to your setup.
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Male bettas will defend their territory by making a display of aggression designed to scare off a rival fish.
If you place a mirror next to your betta’s tank, it will challenge its own reflection by lighting up and showing itself to the perceived intruder. While this behavior is entertaining and impressive to watch, too much of it can be stressful for your pet, so keep the use of a mirror to a minimum.
7. Spongebob Pineapple Home Ornament
If you and your kids love SpongeBob SquarePants, then you’ll adore this homemade betta tank pineapple topper!
The pineapple is made of soft resin and is non-toxic, making it a safe and quirky accessory to add to your fish tank. The different ports of entry in the house give your fish plenty of places to explore, keeping them busy for hours.
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Your betta fish will love cruising around this cool and interesting wreck tank decoration.
Try surrounding the wreck with tall plants to create an exciting underwater seascape effect that will display your beautiful betta fish to best effect.
Available on Amazon
9. Imagitarium Asian Gazebo with Bamboo Trim
This realistic Asian gazebo fish tank ornament provides a den and hiding place for your betta, and the bamboo feature will perfectly complement your natural planting.
The resin model has no rough edges, making it safe for your betta’s flowing fins, and the paint used is also non-toxic.
10. Laser pointer
If you are looking for a fun and interactive way to entertain your betta fish, you must watch this video of a betta fish with a ball chasing a laser image around his tank.
Laser pointers are commonly used to encourage cats to play, but your betta will surely love seeing this brightly colored intruder in his territory too!
Be very careful not to shine the light directly into your betta’s eyes. Fish do not have eyelids and their eyes can be damaged by very bright light that appears suddenly.
11. Ping-pong ball
As mentioned above, a simple ping pong ball can be 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 is where they look for food. Therefore, anything that appears there is sure to pique the interest of your fish.
12. Fish Training Kit
Did you know that bettas are quite intelligent and 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 your betta fish will be jumping through hoops and playing fishy football in no time.
That’s sure to be a talking point at parties!
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13. Training your betta fish to jump
In the wild, betta fish may jump from puddle to puddle during a drought in search of food or to escape predators. You can encourage your fish to mimic this natural behavior by teaching it to jump.
As you will see in this video, the betta fish will dart out of the water to grab its owner’s finger. You can encourage and reward this behavior by placing a piece of food on his fingertips.
Be sure to fit your betta tank with a slip top or tight-fitting lid so it can’t go it alone and jump right out of the tank while you’re not around.
14. Coconut Shell Cave
In the wild, betta fish claim caves or rocky ledges as their territory. The fish use the caves for shelter from predators, to rest during the day, and to create bubble nests during spawning.
Half a coconut shell is a perfect hiding spot for your betta’s tank. Although you can buy coconut caves at some pet stores, I have found that oils often leach into the water, which can be harmful to 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 flair to any aquascaping project, and betta fish love having live plants to explore and rest on.
In this video you can learn how to plant your aquarium plants in attractive terracotta pots. Pots not only look great, they can also prevent bottom-dwelling fish from uprooting plants from the substrate.
In a betta-only tank, pots and plants provide ample scope for exploration, keeping the fish busy for hours.
Driftwood is a feature of your betta’s natural environment, and including a stunning arrangement like this can make a stunning centerpiece in any tank.
Partition the driftwood sculpture with some tall aquatic plants and you’ll create a natural-looking habitat that your betta fish will love to explore. Driftwood also gives your pet ample room to rest and hide.
Resin shells can be a very attractive addition to your betta tank. Your fish will love hiding inside while keeping watch over their territory from the safety of the shell.
However, you should never use real shells that you find on the beach.
Although real shells may 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 parameters of the water in their tank and changes in 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 lots of interesting decorations and plants in your betta’s tank, and be sure to set aside some time each day for some interactive play sessions as well.
You can have hours of fun teaching your betta fish to perform simple tricks like jumping for food or even swimming through a hoop. That’s a great way to break the betta’s boredom as well as impress her family and friends!