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. Betta splendens, in the wild, spends its time hunting, protecting its territory, and 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
Do you want to make an underwater jungle gym for your Betta? 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. 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. 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. 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 can be used to explore, rest and eat as well as make 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”. 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 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 each day with a mirror can provide some exercise for your betta 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. 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. A worm feeder cone is a good alternative if live fish foods aren’t possible. Your betta fish will discover how to grab the delicious morsels of food by placing a frozen cube of bloodworms inside. 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.
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. You can also use Indian almond or catappa leaves if you don’t want to care for 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. Due to the betta’s territorial behavior towards its own species, it is best to avoid colorful and flowing fin fish. Avoid nippy fish that might want to eat your betta’s flesh. Schooling nano fish are often preferred because then your betta has a hard time targeting any one individual. Find out which 5 best tank mates are for your betta fish.