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. In the wild, Betta splendens spends its time hunting for food, defending its territory, breeding the next generation of offspring, and of course resting. Based on these activities, let’s discuss 5 creative enrichment ideas to mentally and physically stimulate your betta fish and give it the best life possible.
1. Betta Fish Toys and Decorations
You can create an underwater jungle gym that your betta can explore. You can give your betta a place to explore by creating fish tank ornaments or caves that he can dive into. Make sure there are no sharp edges or holes that your betta fish can get stuck in. We like floating betta logs because bettas love to swim close to the surface for a breath of air. The natural-looking decor acts as a tunnel that your betta can use to swim, nap or build a bubble nest. There is also another opening on the side for you to feed fish foods through to prevent his meal from being stolen by other fish or sinking too quickly into the gravel.
A floating betta log is an excellent place for exploring, resting, eating, and making bubble nests.
2. Betta Fish Exercise Mirror
Because they are fiercely protective of their turf against their own species, betta fish are often called “Siamese Fighting Fish”. We don’t recommend keeping two bettas in close proximity. However, this protective instinct can be used to your advantage and you can give your betta a workout by using a floating exercise mirror every day. Most bettas will react to seeing themselves in the mirror by flaring up their gills and stretching their fins out, making their bodies appear as tough and large as possible. After watching him move back and forth in front the “intruder”, it is time to take the mirror out and maybe give him a treat.
A few minutes with a mirror each day can offer some much-needed exercise for your betta fish.
3. Live 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. You can encourage your betta’s hunting skills by giving her a variety of fresh 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. The bettas are rewarded with full bellies when they find their next meal. 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. The cone can also be used in a community tank to stop aggressive fish from eating the food, and gives everyone an opportunity to eat.
If you don’t access to live fish foods, a worm feeder cone can provide an entertaining way for your betta fish to get its food.
4. Aquarium Plants
Betta splendens are originally found in shallow waters with tons of dense vegetation, so why not give your little buddy a lush, green forest to call home? Of course he’ll be happy with just about any live aquatic plant, but our favorites include large anubias plants to rest on like a leafy hammock or a Christmas moss bridge to shelter beneath at night. The floating plants near the water surface, as well as tall background plants, are much loved for their ability to create bubble nests and provide interesting structures that can be swam in between. You can also use Indian almond or catappa leaves if you don’t want to care for live plants. Not only do they tint the water with tannins that have mild antibiotic and antifungal properties, but they also act as fallen foliage for your betta to investigate.
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. The fish tank can be filled with other animals that provide entertainment, social hierarchy to build, and rivals to compete during mealtimes. Because of the betta fish’s territorial temperament towards its own kind, avoid other fish with colorful and flowy fins. Plus, steer clear of nippy animals that may want to take a chunk out of your betta. If your betta is unable to target any one fish, then schooling nanofish are often preferred. For specific suggestions, learn about the 5 best tank mates for betta fish.