How to Make Your Betta Fish Happy with 5 Enrichment Ideas
Although betta fish are beautiful creatures, with great finnage and strong personalities, they can be very sedentary in small bowls. If you’ve already seen our betta fish tank setup guide and upsized your betta’s aquarium with the necessary equipment, you may be wondering what else you can do to keep your pet fish entertained. Betta splendens is a wild Betta that lives off food and rests. Let’s look at five enrichment ideas that will mentally and physically stimulate your Betta fish to give it the best possible life.
1. Toys and Decorations for Betta Fish
Want to provide an underwater jungle gym for your betta to explore? Fish tank ornaments are great for your betta to use. Make sure there are no sharp edges or holes that your betta fish can get stuck in. Since bettas like to swim near the surface to take the occasional gulp of air, we like the floating betta log. The natural-looking decor acts as a tunnel that your betta can use to swim, nap or build a bubble nest. You can also feed your fish food through the opening to keep him from getting his meal stolen by other fish, or sinking too fast into the gravel.
A floating betta log can be used to explore, rest and eat as well as make bubble nests.
2. Betta Fish Exercise Mirror
Betta fish are also known as “Siamese fighting fish” because they will fiercely defend their home turf against others of their own species. While we don’t recommend putting two bettas together, you can take advantage of this protective instinct and give your betta a nice workout by using a floating betta exercise mirror for a few minutes each day. Most bettas respond to their reflections by flaring their arms, stretching their fins, and looking as strong and muscular as they can. After a short period of watching him parade back and forth in front of the “intruder,” remove the mirror and perhaps give him a little treat for his efforts.
A few minutes each day with a mirror can provide some exercise for your betta fish.
3. Fish Food
Betta fish are hunter-gatherers and not ambush predators. They spend a lot of time looking for small crustaceans and larvae and other aquatic animals to eat. While floating betta pellets are a good staple for daily feedings, there is usually not a lot of challenge in “catching” them since slow water current is recommended for their aquariums. Get your betta to apply her hunting skills by offering a variety of live foods. Blackworms are available at most local fish markets. You can also hatch your own baby shrimp or keep cultures of microworms and daphnia at home. It activates bettas’ patrolling, following, and pouncing abilities, and rewards them with full bellies. If live fish foods are not possible for you to obtain, try using a worm feeder cone instead. Your betta fish will discover how to grab the delicious morsels of food by placing a frozen cube of bloodworms inside. In a community tank, the cone also helps to slow down the more aggressive fish from gobbling all the food and give everyone a chance to eat.
A worm feeder cone is a great way to provide fresh food for your betta fish.
4. Aquarium Plants
Betta splendens were originally found in shallow water with lots of dense vegetation. Give your little friend a lush, green forest as a home. Although he can live with almost any aquatic plant, his favorite are large anubias plants for him to relax on. Tall background plants and floating plants at the water surface are also much appreciated because they provide interesting structures to swim in between and build bubble nests amongst. Catappa and Indian almond leaves are also options if you’re not able to maintain live plants. These leaves not only tint the water with some tannins, but also serve as fallen foliage for your beta to examine.
For more recommendations, read our article on the top 10 betta fish plants for your aquarium.
Not only are live aquarium plants beautiful, but they also help to purify the water that your betta lives in.
5. Tank Mates for Betta Fish
If you have a 10-gallon or larger tank with plenty of hiding spots, you may be able to add some peaceful roommates to your betta aquarium. You can watch other fish in your tank and see social hierarchies being established, rivals competing for food, and exciting entertainment to observe. Because of the betta fish’s territorial temperament towards its own kind, avoid other fish with colorful and flowy fins. Keep your betta away from nimble animals that could try to take over your tank. Because your betta can’t target one person, schooling nano fish is often better. Learn more about the best tank mates to betta fish.