How to Make Your Betta Fish Happy with 5 Enrichment Ideas
Betta fish are amazing creatures with beautiful finnage and spirited personalities, but they often lead very sedentary lives in way-too-tiny 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. 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 Toys and Decorations
You can create an underwater jungle gym that your betta can explore. Fish tank ornaments are great for your betta to use. Just make sure the decorations have no sharp edges and all the holes are big enough for your betta fish to fit through without getting stuck. Since bettas like to swim near the surface to take the occasional gulp of air, we like the floating betta log. This natural-looking decor is like a large tunnel for your betta to easily swim through, take a peaceful nap, or even build a bubble nest inside. To prevent your betta from eating out of the gravel or getting too hungry, there is a side opening that you can feed him fish food.
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”. Although we do not recommend having two bettas, you can use this protective instinct to give your betta some exercise by giving it a floating betta mirror for a few moments each 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 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 with a mirror each day can offer some much-needed exercise for your betta fish.
3. Fish Food
Because betta fish hunt and eat small aquatic animals, they are not ambush predators. 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. Offering a variety live foods will encourage your betta to use her hunting skills. 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. 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. You can place a cube filled with frozen bloodworms, or any other fish food in the cone and watch your betta fish figure out how to extract them. A cone is also useful in community tanks to keep aggressive fish from eating all of the food. It gives everyone a chance for food.
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? 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. 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. Other animals in the fish tank provide exciting activity to watch, social hierarchies to establish, and rivals to outcompete during mealtimes. Avoid colorful or flowing fin fish because of the betta fish’s territorial nature. Plus, steer clear of nippy animals that may want to take a chunk out of your betta. Because your betta can’t target one person, schooling nano fish is often better. Learn more about the best tank mates to betta fish.