Proven Antidotes to Betta Boredom

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Concerned betta owners, mindful of the state of mind of their pet, want to know some things they can do to stimulate their fish. Of course their question too often leads off something along the lines of “I just got a green veiltail from Walmart, have him in a small bowl and he seems to be bored.”

Well duh! Small bowl. Cold water. What do you expect?

Others are concerned that their little guy might be lonely.

Well-intentioned, yes. But in reality bettas tend not to play well with others. They see threats where none exist. They’re territorial and aggressive which means they can be rough on smaller tank mates. So, no, they don’t necessarily tolerate them well. Not to mention how hard it is for them to constantly be fired up or on guard to keep their dominion secure. Especially if they share a tank with other fish with flowing tails like guppies, or Gouramis who they might mistake for potential rivals. Which is why bettas really and truly would rather be alone. They do better and frankly don’t need “finny friends” to find happiness.

Other still raise the point their crowntail just seems to swim around all day.

Well, let’s not confuse swimming around all the time with boredom. Your betta is simply doing what bettas do. Constant swimming, even resting (aka conserving energy) on a leaf, is pretty typical betta behavior. Besides what would you rather they do? Play solitaire?

Okay but let’s say you feel strongly about keeping your guy or gal entertained. How are some ways you can go about do so?

What follows assumes you’ve got a real tank of at least five gallons set up and decked out with a heater and filter. So that living conditions are close to optimum to begin with. Making any stimulation provided so much icing on the cake. Plus the bigger tank will allow sufficient space to swim around freely and space to add some points of interest.

Five Or Six Surefire Boredom Beaters

The first and easiest thing to do is add and then subsequently rearrange tank d├ęcor. Plants, be they real or silk, betta caves and other tank ornaments, even short sections of hamster habitat tubing (which you can pick up on eBay for next to nothing) gives them things to check out, new places to hide, new or different stuff to interact with. This is a super simple way to provide behavioral enrichment. Yet doing so can be very exciting for your fish. It can cause him or her to tune in and turn on to the new digs as s/he noses around the changed set up.

Then continuing to add or subtract things from their tank is a great way to bring a continued sense of adventure into their lives. They are surprisingly curious and intelligent fish. And this is how you can feed into that innate sense of curiosity. Simply rotating in and out one or two of these props in their world weekly can keep them fully engaged with their surroundings.

Also placing different and colorful visual stimuli outside the tank works well too. A flowering plant. Small brightly colored plastic toys. Shiny objects. Nothing fancy. Just being different can keep them intrigued for hours. As they give this new whatever-it-is the once over – over and over.

Be Where the Action Is

No one wants to be banished to some dark corner of the room. Everyone wants to be where the action is. Betta fish are no different. Once acclimated they like to keep an eye on what’s going on outside their tank. They learn to recognize you. They also can learn to take cover if it’s not you. That’s because they are watching the activity going on around them. Which is another form of stimulation. So give them something to see.

These Might Do The Trick

With enough time and plenty of patience, yes plenty of patience, you can teach bettas to do some pretty amazing things – for a fish. When it comes to teaching tricks, you have to patiently reward the tiniest correct behavior so that over time most will learn to associate a given action with food. Not unlike training dogs actually. As this video shows betas can be taught to swim through a hoop, a tunnel, and do the limbo. No really. The limbo.


TIP: You’ll notice a feeder wand was used to encourage the desired behavior. You can get one here.

These feats all started simply by rewarding the beta for following the wand around. And progressed from there. Just realize your betta isn’t going to be ready to join the circus performing entertaining fishcapades after one or two sessions. So while it looks easy in the video, you’ll need plenty of short training sessions and even more patience to make this happen. With training sessions spread out over weeks, if not months. But again such interactions with you is beneficial for them. And give you another way to jazz things up.

Feeding Fun Times

Play time might extend to getting your betta to jump out of the water to get their treat. Simple just not necessarily easy. Start out by holding a tiny pinch of blood worm perfectly still on the surface. Your betta should strike that. But he may not hit paydirt the first, second or third try even. But once he does he’ll get the picture pretty quickly. After succeeding at that, now hold the treat just out of the water so he has to reach for it. As he succeeds keep extending the distance between the surface and the treat so he then has to jump for it. These guys are renowned jumpers. Too often jumping to their death sadly. But you will be surprised how far you can get them to go for a bit of bloodworm. Or just another trick they can learn over time.

Making Dinner Time Super Stimulating

Then there is nothing like some live food to add some spice to even the most dull and boring existence. Release a half dozen mosquito larvae of various sizes onto his turf and prepare to be entertained. The first time maybe not so much. But as your betta activates and hones long dormant hunting skills they may have never tapped into before – game on. And after they learn to recognize the presence of prey, with hiding places they can wriggle to, and all, it can get very interesting. Just don’t bet on the larvae. Not when your guy is on the make to track down every last one. This is a great way to make feeding time fun and challenging.

Of course once they master mosquito larvae hunting, baby guppies as quarry provide a whole new ball game.

Not to mention what wingless fruit flies or pinhead crickets on the surface can do to their minds. See how fun this can be – for YOU?

Mirror Images

Some may not agree with this, but sticking a small hand mirror in front of your Siamese fighting fish’s tank can be good for him. It’s gets his juices flowing as he reacts to his image and defends his territory. Now I’m not saying to do this for hours on end. Because all the flaring and posturing, and such, well that’s too stressful for extended periods. But five minutes or so every day can get his blood flowing. Besides such behaviors are hard coded in his DNA. And such visual stimulation can lead him to believe he has to be vigilantly on the lookout for interlopers. Leading him on more seek and destroy missions to all parts of his domain – even if what he spied in the mirror was only his own reflection.

Anyway, mental and physical stimulation like this can be quite betta-ficial. So for those who feel the need to keep their fish in mental trim these are certainly some ideas to keep in mind. Who knows? Your betta’s little corner betta-dom many never be the same once you’ve applied these proven boredom fighters.

About Lucas
Putting a name with a face I'm Lucas Smatana. Like you I'm passionate about betta fish and hope to share my enthusiasm. The idea here is to make sure you get helpful info and useful ideas on betta fish care that really work. To insure your betta keeping experience is a good one both for you and your fish. So that you and your pet enjoy a long, happy and healthy relationship.

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