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Do betta fish get lonely?
Yes, but not from being lonely!
They are pretty happy in solitary. If anything, they enjoy not having other fish, especially one of their kind swimming in their tank.
Therefore, when you have to make your betta happy, you’ll need more than hope and a new fish in the aquarium.
Luckily, engaging your betta is more fulfilling to you and satisfies your need to bond than it is amusing to the fish.
BEWARE, it does get very exciting.
That said, betta fish are pretty amiable and intelligent pets that learn tricks quite easily. For instance, if you’re lucky to own one with a lively demeanor, you might have it dancing in a short while.
Or try to get it to flare since that is a classic betta fish trait which is fairly easy to exploit.
In this article, we’ll, therefore, look at these and more ways to play with and entertain your betta.
But first, how to tell if betta is happy
How Do You Know if Your Betta Fish is Happy or Not?
Though their behavior may get aggressive, betta fish are generally happy fish, particularly when kept in the right conditions.
The one thing that would make your fish unhappy are inappropriate tank settings, especially in a new aquarium or water.
Consequently, most betta fish will display this displeasure through their appearance which is hard to miss since they are conspicuously colored.
These are the cues you are likely to notice:
#1. Vibrant Colors
Check your betta fish colors, make sure they are strong and vibrant akin to their normal shade. Inspect their body and fins and look out for any horizontal stripes that look unnatural.
When your betta is unhappy, the fish will fade with unevenly colored stripes appearing on its body. The lines are called stress stripes and are noticeable even when the fading color is difficult to spot.
However, stress lines are only horizontal, verticle lines on female betta indicate the fish is mature and ready to reproduce.
#2. Feeding Habits
Watch you betta feeding habits regularly since this make it easier to note any changes.
Naturally, these species are vicious eaters and rarely leave any scraps, off course, only if you don’t overfeed them.
Granted, any uneaten food or slow feeding is a clear sign something is off, stressed bettas will eat less in an irregular manner.
Also, betta fish somehow recognize their owner or sitter and will get excited whenever they sense food coming. So try to note even subtle changes in such behaviors.
You may also notice your betta getting slimmer in case of apparent weight loss from lesser feeding.
#3. Betta Activity
Bettas are generally happy fish that engage in activities like flaring and dancing around the tanks. However, if your betta is stressed, this liveliness will drastically reduce, and the fish will generally look lethargic.
Some unhappy bettas will even float in one spot for an extended period. Which is should concern you if it doesn’t move even when you come close to the tank.
A healthy and happy betta should be interactive and follow you around the tank. Naturally, it should swim fairly and more when you are around.
#4. Fins and Swimming
A healthy betta fin will hold its fins open but not taut allowing the flips to billow and fold in the water. Plus the fish will actively swim in smooth movements.
A departure from either of this physical or behavioral attributes is a sign of betta in distress.
Especially inspect the fins and tail to make sure your betta is not fighting any infection like fin rot.
How to Keep Your Betta Happy
To keep your betta fish happy, you need to identify the reason your betta would be stressed.
First, check the tanks for obvious faults in water temperature and pH. Next, make sure there is no ammonia or nitrites in your aquarium and nitrate levels are within safe limits.
Once you are sure the aquarium is safe, then focus on the betta.
When a betta fish is constantly dealing with a stressor, it will exhibit the traits of an unhappy fish like poor appetite and fading color. So, to solve such problems, try to pinpoint the stressor and if possible remove it from your tank or protect your betta.
For instance, adding other colorful or nipping fish in your fish tank will most likely stress the fish, so try to avoid such tankmates.
You also want to make sure your fish is not fighting any infection. Some betta diseases are hard to detect hence will stress the fish without your knowledge.
Discourage pathogens by cleaning your tank frequently and use medication and conditioning should your fish get sick. Also, conduct regular water checks and make sure your filter is in top condition.
One other thing to consider is the feeding and diet. Though betta fish can go for a while without food, try not to starve it. Feed it meaty meals rich in proteins but also try to mix the feed accordingly.
A common food problem with bettas is constipation which is caused by overfeeding, dry food or lack of fiber. Normally, a constipated fish will be bloated and lack appetite.
Feed your betta fibrous food once in a while and avoid excess dry food like nuts. Also, feed you betta servings it can finish in five minutes to keep it from overfeeding.
That said, bettas are quite intelligent hence need constant action in their tank, or they’ll get bored and unhappy.
How to Play With Your Betta Fish
One classic way to keep your betta happy and less bored is to play with it. This, because betta fish can learn tricks, which is fairly cheaper than training other pets.
Ergo, if you need to help your betta escape boredom, here are a few ideas.
All it Takes is a Betta Fish and a Mirror
In somewhat of an irony, bettas are quite intelligent but something so dumb is the easiest way to keep them engaged, especially if your is a male betta.
If you put a mirror in front of the tank, you will have fun for hours watching your betta try to scare away his own reflection.
Basically, what happens is the betta doesn’t recognize the image, because one, it doesn’t know what it looks like. And two, ain’t familiar with the workings of a mirror.
A catalyst to the whole commotion is a betta’s general aggression towards other betta fish. Hence, your fish could spend hours trying to make sure the perceived male doesn’t get to its territory.
However, don’t overdo it and don’t leave the mirror by the tank because your betta could get overstressed. Plus the mirror might awaken aggressive tendencies if your fish has not been stimulated for a while.
Also, if you have female betta your most likely won’t witness as much flaring since most girl bettas are not as aggressive. At times, even male bettas with subtle personalities casually stare at the reflection then swim away.
Doodle on The Aquarium Glass Using a Non-Permanent Marker
Betta fish are not only outright smart but also quite curious, they will notice when something is off and will spend quite some time playing FBI in the tank.
Hence, if you draw on your aquarium with a non-permanent marker, you’ll keep your fish entertained for a long minute.
Ideally, draw on different parts of the tank every time just so your betta doesn’t get used to the markings. Plus make sure your marker is non-permanent and rated for use on glass or acrylic surfaces.
An alternative to doodling is to place new objects just outside of the tank. This way your fish will still investigate as long as it can see the new object.
Simply Run Your Finger Back and Forth Across Your Betta Tank
This trick is quite easy, but most effective when your betta can recognize you.
So, assuming you’re are its prime caregiver, your fish should follow the figure across the length of the tank seeking the gift you have today.
Therefore, it’s noble to at least do this around feeding time then gift your betta after you’re done with the exercise.
Also, if you are consistent, your fish will quickly adapt to the process which makes it easy to know when your betta is stressed or unhappy.
Train Your Betta to Swim, Maybe Even Jump, Through a Hoop!
Teaching your betta how to swim and jump through hoops could take a while but it’s not impossible. As long as you can get your fish to concentrate for more than a second, it should be pretty easy.
When starting out, you’ll need to bait your fish with its favorite food. Then hang the hoop in the tank in such a way your betta will swim through it while attempting to get to the food.
Once you betta has learned to swim and jump through hoops, you won’t need the bait anymore, especially because with food bait you risk overfeeding the fish in case you get carried away.
DIY a betta training hoop out of a piece of plastic, or you can buy them online quite cheaply.
You will just need to ensure that the hoops are big enough for your fish to easily swim through without picking up injuries.
Get or Make Your Betta Awesome Toys
An awesome way to keep your fish engaged even when you are not around is by placing toys in the betta tank. You can either use floating toys or place them at the bottom of your tank.
Just make sure the toys are big in a way they can’t fit in your betta’s mouth. Plus find or make toys that are made to go in a fish tank and clean them properly before putting them in.
If you opt to use floating toys that are not anchored, make sure they can’t go through the filter intake.
At the very list, consider adding both live and fake plants, which will also provide good hiding places for your betta to unwind.
Some awesome betta toys include:
Have fun with your betta