How to Make Your Betta Fish Happy with 5 Enrichment Ideas
While betta fish can be beautiful and have spirited personalities, they are often very sedentary due to their small size. 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. 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. 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. 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 makes a great place to explore, rest, eat, and 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”. 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.
A few minutes each day with a mirror can provide some 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. 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. The bettas are rewarded with full bellies when they find their next meal. 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. 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 have access to fresh fish, a cone worm feeder can be a fun way for your betta to get food.
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. He’ll happily live with any aquatic plant, although he will be content with large anubias plants that he can use as a hammock or shelter at night. Floating plants at the water’s surface and tall background plants are very much appreciated as they offer interesting structures for swimming in and building bubble nests. 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. Because of the betta fish’s territorial temperament towards its own kind, avoid other fish with colorful and flowy fins. Avoid nippy fish that might want to eat your betta’s flesh. Because your betta can’t target one person, schooling nano fish is often better. Learn more about the best tank mates to betta fish.