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, in the wild, spends its time hunting, protecting its territory, and resting. Let’s look at five enrichment ideas that will mentally and physically stimulate your Betta fish to give it the best possible life.
1. Betta Fish Decorations and Toys
Want to provide an underwater jungle gym for your betta to explore? Find some fish tank ornaments and interesting caves that he can swim around or dive inside. Make sure there are no sharp edges or holes that your betta fish can get stuck in. The floating log is a good choice for bettas, as they like to swim close enough to the surface to get a breath of fresh 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 makes a great place to explore, rest, eat, and make bubble nests.
2. Betta Fish Exercise Mirror
Betta fish are sometimes called “Siamese fighting” fish because they will defend their territory against other species. 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. Upon seeing their own reflection, most bettas react by flaring their gills, stretching out their fins, and making their bodies look as big and tough as possible. 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.
Putting in a few minutes every day to look at a mirror is a good way to get some exercise for your fish.
3. Fish Food
Because betta fish are hunters and not ambush predators, they spend a good amount of time searching for insect larva, small crustaceans, and other tiny 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. You can buy blackworms from local fish stores, hatch your own baby brine shrimp, or maintain cultures of daphnia and microworms at home. When bettas must find their next meal, it activates their patrolling, pursuing, and pouncing abilities and rewards them with a full belly. You can use a cone worm feeder if you cannot obtain live fish foods. 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 can be found in shallow waters that have dense vegetation. So why not give your little friend a lush green forest to call his home? Although he can live with almost any aquatic plant, his favorite are large anubias plants for him to relax on. 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. Catappa and Indian almond leaves are also options if you’re not able to maintain live plants. They not only tint water with mild antibiotic and antifungal compounds, but also act as fallen leaves for your betta.
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. 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. Learn more about the best tank mates to betta fish.