Betta fish or Siamese fighting fish are extraordinarily beautiful, inquisitive, and sociable fish that are native to Southeast Asia. Since they can live in extremely small places, some breeders bred them to live alone in small bowls or tanks as a pet.
Although they can live alone, bettas and the same as other pets out there, still tend to get bored and lonely when left with nothing to stimulate them.
If you have a betta or planning to get one, you can give them the attention they need by learning how to interact and play with them.
Do bettas like to play?
Have you ever heard someone say, either from other people or the internet, that bettas are lazy? This is one of the many misconceptions about bettas so some owners opt to leave their bettas be with nothing to do inside their tanks.
So to answer the question do bettas like to play, it is a resounding yes!
Knowing that bettas would interact with their surroundings, how can you stimulate and play with your betta fish?
3 Signs that your betta fish is bored
Do bettas get bored? They do! Boredom is most commonly caused by the lack of stimulation and activities of your betta. How would I know if my pet is bored?
Here are some of the signs to watch out for if your betta is bored and needs to have more hobbies:
Lack of energy
A healthy and active betta fish will usually swim around the areas of the tank regularly. If your pet does not show this activeness, then it is most likely that your betta is feeling bored. If you notice a lack of energy and enthusiasm from your betta then you might want to play with them more and give them toys to play with.
Although a lack of energy is one common sign of boredom, it is important to rule out other illnesses as well first because this can also cause lethargy to your pet.
Bettas sure love their food. When you try to approach their tank to feed them, your betta should follow and come up to the surface in anticipation of their meal. However, if your pet shows a lack of interest during mealtime, then it is a good indication that something is not right for your betta. Again, make sure to rule out other illnesses first before assuming that your betta is just simply bored.
Nipping their beautiful tails is another sign that your betta is bored. Tail biting happens when your pet feels frustrated because there is nothing to keep them occupied. Make sure to check their tails regularly to avoid any risks of wounds and infection if it gets too serious.
Now that you are aware that bettas do get bored, you should make the necessary actions to avoid this from happening to your little friend. Here are some of the important things to remember when it comes to your betta’s health:
- Rule out other serious illnesses first before concluding that your betta is just bored.
- Letting your betta fish stay bored is not only cruel but could also weaken their immune system.
- While odd behaviors are not always a cause for concern, watch closely for patterns that may indicate that there is something wrong with your betta. One of the biggest reasons why bettas die early is due to the stress that may be caused by boredom.
- Some ways you can stop your betta from boredom include: providing them toys, putting him in a tank with enough space to swim around, playing with them daily, giving a healthy and balanced diet, and giving them enough stimulation to keep them from being idle.
How can I play with my betta fish?
There are many ways to keep your little friend happy and entertained. Here are some of the ways you can play with your betta and keep them stimulated for hours.
Add objects at the bottom of your tank
Bettas are very curious creatures indeed which is why providing them with new things and places to explore is an effective way to entertain them. They also like places where they can hide and relax. Adding decorations or objects to your tank is a good way to increase their happiness.
There are many items you can buy online or in your local pet store that is made for your betta’s entertainment. Just make sure that the items you’re going to put inside your tanks are thoroughly clean and non-toxic. Make sure to buy objects that are specifically made for our little friends.
Another thing to remember when decorating your tank is that the objects should have no sharp edges or broken bits so that they won’t harm your betta’s long and beautiful fins.
Add floating toys at the top of betta’s tank
Floating toys will surely catch your betta’s interest. You can give your pet a small floating toy or even a fish bobber but you have to be careful not to cover the entire surface of your tank with these objects as bettas come up to the surface to get air from time to time.
What do you have to consider before deciding to give them floating toys?
For safety measures, make sure that the toy is clean and doesn’t contain any chemicals that might be harmful to your betta and the water tank’s pH level.
Give your betta live food occasionally
Above: Zoo Med 78065 Can O’ Bloodworms, 3.2 oz,Black. Click on the image for more information.
Bettas are considered to be carnivorous fishes. Aside from fish pellets, your dear friend also enjoys eating meat every so often. Feeding them live food provides them healthy and balanced nourishment.
Here are popular live food choices you can give your betta:
- Brine shrimp
However, be careful not to overfeed them or they might get sick. Overfeeding can cause bloating or constipation so it’s best to keep your feeding portions balanced.
Do betta fish recognize their owners?
Is it possible for your beloved fish to recognize you?
Your betta will most likely recognize you when you are the one constantly feeding them. The more interaction and exposure you have with your betta, the more they would recognize you.
Can you touch a betta fish?
Touching your pet is a way to show how much you love and care for them. Although it seems affectionate and tempting, touching a betta fish is not the best idea there is. It may spook your pet and respond by biting you or becoming afraid of you (which is not a good behavior to learn if you want to play with them and teach them tricks). Touching a fish can also affect and remove their natural slime coating which will make them more vulnerable to diseases.
Interacting with your betta
Bettas are finicky so you must understand how to interact with them. Bettas may not show affection the way dogs or cats show theirs. Nevertheless, they are capable of showing clear interest and affiliation with their owners.
For instance, they are territorial, so it’s best to start with one or two fishes to avoid crowding the fish tank. But if you start with just one, don’t worry, you can be their social companion too.
Interacting with your betta by playing or simply accompanying them increases not only your bond together but also the trust between you and your little pet.
Knowing this, how would you get even closer to your betta by playing? Let’s talk about that below!
Playing with your betta fish
From floating toys to simple decorations they can hide from, bettas will likely play with anything that will keep them stimulated and will feed their curious minds.
Aside from playing with various toys, another type of play you can do with your betta is teaching them how to perform tricks.
“My betta fish doing tricks?” Well, that is certainly possible!
Training a betta can be a whole lot of fun and may even improve your bond together. It’s also a good mental and physical exercise that will keep your pet active and prevent boredom.
Here are some ways that you can play with your betta:
Running your finger back and forth across the fish tank
One way to interact and bond with your pet is by running your finger across its tank. See if your betta will follow as you move your finger. In most cases, if you are the caretaker, the betta will follow along with your movements.
Another fun and challenging thing you can try with your betta is drawing different patterns using your finger. Will your betta be able to keep up? Try and see it for yourself!
Getting your bettas to flare up
If you want to see your betta flaring, showing them their reflection using a mirror will most likely cause them to flare up. Seeing their reflection will make them think that there are other fish inside the tank, thus, they tend to flare their fins to protect their territory.
Encouraging your betta to flare up is also a good way to see if they are healthy.
While they are flaring, you can easily see if their fins are okay or if there are any infections on their body. However, playing with mirrors can easily stress out your betta so it’s best to keep it at a minimum of around 5 to 10 minutes a day only.
Place a ping pong ball inside the tank
Above: Kevenz 60-Pack Ping Pong Balls, Assorted Color Table Tennis Balls. Click on the image for more information.
Ping pong ball is a cheap, great, and exciting toy that will amuse your betta. If you want something that your fish can push and poke around, then a ping pong ball is a nice choice for your pet. Any ping pong ball will do as long as you make sure that you have cleaned it thoroughly. However, it should not be left in the tank at all times to avoid stressing out your betta and potentially becoming bored of it.
Train your betta to eat out of your fingers
Since bettas recognize their owners, they must see that it’s you who is feeding them. Once they are used to you being near them, try keeping your hand at the surface of the water while they eat. Slowly and gradually, you can start feeding them while holding the food slightly underwater.
It’s also good to note that feeding your betta with a food they like will reinforce them to learn the behavior you want to teach them. Just remember not to overfeed them too much with treats!
Train your betta to swim across or jump through hoops
Above: Zoo Med Betta Bling Mermaid with Hoop. Click on the image for more information.
Yes, it is possible to train your betta to swim or jump through hoops.
When doing this trick, you have to ensure that the hoops you are using are big enough for your fish to swim through to avoid any injuries. The important thing to remember when playing with your betta is to keep it in moderation. Do not stress out and tire your betta when playing and teaching them tricks. If you notice that they are becoming tired or fearful, stop the session and resume only once they get to rest.
While bettas can live for years, they will count on you to offer them the right home and care. Providing them home and keeping them fed are just the basics, but making sure that they are happy and stimulated will reward you with a happy and content betta!
Playing with your betta is a good way to stimulate and bond with them. This is a nice way to show your affection to them and likewise for them as well. Even a 5 to 10-minute playtime a day is a good exercise to keep them healthy, active, and entertained.
Remember not to overfeed them when teaching them tricks to avoid spoiling the water quality which can cause health problems for your beloved friend. Finally, talk and interact with your betta. Treat them like any other pets and call them by their names to make your bond with them stronger.