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. Let’s talk about 5 enrichment ideas for your betta fish that will help it live the best possible life.
1. Betta Fish Decorations and Toys
Do you want to make an underwater jungle gym for your Betta? 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. 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 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 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
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. A worm feeder cone is a good alternative if live fish foods aren’t possible. Place a cube of frozen bloodworms or other fish food inside, and watch as your betta fish figures out how to get the tasty morsels out. 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.
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. 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. Keep your betta away from nimble animals that could try to take over your tank. Because your betta can’t target one person, schooling nano fish is often better. For specific suggestions, learn about the 5 best tank mates for betta fish.