Like other fish, bettas are playful creatures. You can keep them alone or in small groups in n adequate tank size, but good owners provide them with toys to keep them entertained. These toys can give your betta a place to hide, a fun place to explore, and a safe place to call home.
So the answer to “Do bettas need toys?” is a resounding yes! It takes more than just food and water to keep your pet happy.
In this post, we’ll talk about why toys are important and what are the ways to keep them entertained.
Do betta fish get bored?
Betta fish is one of the most popular fish to keep as pets. Their vibrant colors and relative ease of care make them excellent starter fish for aquarium hobbyists. But, one area where betta owners often fall short is in providing their fish with a stimulating environment.
You may wonder, does my betta fish ever get bored? Bettas are solitary creatures in nature, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t need any fun and interactive activities. If you already have a betta in a tank with nothing to stimulate them, then your fish will definitely get bored.
Imagine a betta in its natural habitat. They’d be swimming around to hide and look for food, competition, and even partners. Although trying to survive can be stressful as it is, one thing is for sure, it is not dull compared to doing nothing at all every single day.
Most of the time, a betta will be housed in a bare-bottom tank, with no toys or decorations. This may be fine for a short period, but long-term neglect can lead to boredom, which may be expressed in a variety of ways.
When a betta fish is bored, it can develop a number of strange behaviors, such as spinning in circles, flashing a particular color, and moving its fins. While these behaviors may seem harmless, they can actually be signs of more serious problems.
Betta owners should always strive to provide their fish with ample stimulation.
3 Signs of a bored betta
Now that you already know that bettas get bored, how would you know and confirm that your betta is feeling off? Here are the signs to look out for!
A lack of enthusiasm and energy from your betta could be a sign that your pet is bored. Although lethargy could also be a sign of other illnesses, once you rule out that your betta is sick, then it is most likely that boredom could explain their sluggishness.
Remember that a healthy betta will swim around the area regularly and is active inside the tank.
Losing appetite suddenly is another sign to look out for. Bettas surely love their food and may even swim towards it when you feed them.
Showing a lack of interest when feeding could be a sign that they are not stimulated enough. But, make sure that you rule out any other illnesses before concluding that they are just suffering from boredom.
Another distressing symptom to watch out for is when they bite their tails. Bettas have the possibility to turn their frustrations into nipping their elegant, overflowing tails whenever there is nothing to occupy them.
Monitor your fish when this happens as tail biting could bring them serious damage.
8 Best betta fish toys to keep them entertained
Betta fish like to play and explore and need toys just as much as children do. But in choosing a toy for them, it’s a bit more complicated than picking one out at the store. There are things you need to check to ensure your betta’s safety while keeping them stimulated.
Here’s a list of the best betta fish toys on the market today.
Coconut betta hut
Recommended product: SunGrow 1 Betta Cave & 50 Mini Catappa Almond Leaves Combo
In the wild, bettas claim caves, rocks, and logs as their territory. As an alternative, coconuts are also a nice toy and area for your fish to serve as their nests.
It’s easy to buy coconut betta huts but check and research if the materials used are safe for your betta since some coconuts leach oils into your water tank.
Marimo moss ball
Recommended product: POPETPOP Moss Balls
Since bettas are inquisitive creatures, marimo moss balls are a nice toy to pique their interest. These moss balls will give your pet fish hours of amusement as they explore their soft and safe texture.
Marimo moss ball is not only just a plaything for your betta’s entertainment but is also a living organism that helps keep your water tank clean by using nitrates as a fertilizer. Aside from its helpful feature, it can also add beauty to your tank because of its color and form.
Recommended product: Zoo Med Laboratories AZMBL20 Betta Hammock
Why not add a nice place to make your fish comfortable? Since bettas love to take naps during the daytime and sleep at night, providing them with a leaf hammock is a good place for them to doze off.
To avoid boredom, you can try moving the hammock in different places inside the tank so that your little friend can have a different view from his territory from time to time.
Did you know you can teach your bettas simple tricks? One famous trick you can teach your fish is to swim or jump through the hoops. This activity will surely keep them out of boredom!
Recommended product: PIVBY Natural Aquarium Driftwood
Driftwoods are part of your betta’s natural environment. Placing one in your tank can give a homey feel to your betta while creating a natural-looking habitat that your fish will surely love to explore!
You might have seen cats playing and chasing laser lights. If you think only cats enjoy playing with a laser pointer, then you might not have seen videos of bettas chasing the lights as well. Try playing with your betta using a laser pointer to encourage them to move around but be careful to not point it directly to their eyes.
Ping pong ball
Because ping pong balls float on the surface of the water, betta will surely enjoy playing with it. Anything that appears on the surface will pique your betta’s interest.
Resin clamshells is another good hiding spot for your betta. Although shells look appealing, remember to never use real shells that you find lying around the beach. Real shells discharge calcium and other minerals that might affect your water tank’s pH level.
What to avoid when buying betta fish toys
There are many beautiful decorations and toys out there that you can add to your tank but not all of them are safe. So what should you avoid when deciding what to purchase for your betta?
One of the most important things to avoid bringing to your tank is objects that have sharp edges that can cut through their bodies and leave them with serious injuries.
Anything made of metal
Buying metal decorations may be tempting at first, but remember that they slowly rust. Rust is going to be extremely harmful to your betta and the water quality. It can also cause infection to your betta especially if your betta suffered a cut from it.
Glass may look safe and appealing, but if it shatters, then this will be problematic for your fish. Similar to the sharp edges, glass chips may end up cutting your pet.
8 Decorations to keep your betta feel at home
Many fish owners know that betta fish can be hyperactive, and will do almost anything to get your attention and express their boredom. So not only do toys help ease this problem, there are decorations that you can also introduce to spice up their tanks!
1. Betta Bed – Betta beds like a hammock will make your pet feel more at ease because of the comfort it gives. Providing them with a comfortable area to rest will give them nice security and a place to call their home.
2. Silk Aquarium Plants – Placing aquarium plants for your betta to explore will give them an area to hide, rest, and just be their playful selves. Silk aquarium plants are an excellent alternative if you don’t want the hassle of growing and caring for real live plants.
3. Betta Fish Mirrors – Bettas are very protective over their territory. It is in their nature to display aggression when threatened in order to frighten off other fishes. If you decide to place a mirror alongside your fish tank, your betta will challenge his own reflection by flaring. This action shows their instincts and will make them feel they are in their natural habitat.
Be careful though with the use of mirrors, as this is quite stressful for your betta. Remember to keep the use of mirrors at a minimum.
4. Caves – Bettas enjoy the thrill of hiding, and what better decoration to give them than caves? Caves will give them the space to hide and an area to just relax when they feel like it.
5. Floating Decorations – Floating decorations such as the floating log can provide your betta with another place to explore, rest, and hide.
They design these floating decorations to make your fish safe and interested in an accessory that they will surely love!
6. Post-it notes outside the tank – Did you know bettas can see colors? Just like us humans, bettas can identify and distinguish different colors around them. Since there are different post-it note colors, displaying outside their tank can be very stimulating for them.
Some even believe that bettas can see more colors than humans – they may also see even ultraviolet colors!
7. Rocks – Another decoration that will remind your betta of the wild is some good rocks and rock formations. But, make sure that the rocks you are going to add to your tank will not fall over and risk the safety of your little friend.
Rocks can also anchor the plants that your betta can’t swim around.
8. Outside tank items for a betta to investigate – Having items outside your tank will definitely get your betta’s attention. Given that they are very curious creatures, placing objects outside their tanks can be energizing for them.
Have you decided on what toys to give your pet? With a little research, you can learn how to provide your fish with an enriched environment that will stimulate their senses and keep them entertained.
Betta fish are gorgeous creatures and will live a long and happy life if you provide not only the needed resources for them to live but also enrich them with activities that provide both physical and mental stimulation.
There’s nothing like the feeling of coming home to a happy, healthy betta!