How To Play With Betta Fish: Bonding Activities With Your BF

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For us humans, escaping boredom can be as simple as going out on a walk. However, making your little betta fish escape boredom isn’t so easy. But if you’re willing to learn how to play with betta fish, you’ll be well on your way to exciting your pet fish.

Keep reading because this guide will tell you exactly how to make your betta fish entertained all day in their fish tanks!

Betta Fish Toys
Betta Fish Toys

1. Add in Plants

Add in Plants

While the addition of plants in a betta fish’s tank doesn’t involve much playtime, it can add a lively feeling to your pet’s environment. A betta loves live plants, and the fact that they enhance the water quality is more than one could ask for.

Here are some plants that betta fish love:

  • Christmas moss bridge
  • Java ferns
  • Anubias plants
  • Water sprites
  • Betta bulbs
  • Indian almond leaves
  • Marimo moss balls

However, if you don’t fancy maintaining them on top of taking care of your betta fish, you can easily get silk plants, which betta fish will also love to hide under or move around when they’re playing.

A fake plant can still create a healthy natural habitat for your betta fish, but make sure they don’t have sharp edges, as your betta’s flowing fins can get caught and torn on these. Also, consider getting floating plants with various textures.

2. Use Ping Pong Balls

Use Ping Pong Balls

Nothing screams entertaining aquatic pets like floating toys! If you have an energetic betta fish or any other type of tropical fish, for that matter, you’ll have a great time watching it push ping pong balls around in its tank.

What’s great about ping pong balls is you can use any ball at your disposal; however, be sure that your ping pong ball is well cleaned and rinsed before it’s chucked into your betta’s tank. Pet fish also adore airline tubing, as it can be bent and folded into all sorts of shapes, which will attract your betta’s attention.

Make sure not to leave ping pong balls or any floating toy in the fish tank for long periods, though. 

Toys won’t be as stimulating when fish play with them all the time. Plus, leaving toys in the water might result in poor water quality in the long run.

3. Use Betta Tank Floating Decorations

Use Betta Tank Floating Decorations

Any fish species will jump on the opportunity to play around with floating decorations and even find hiding places between them. Fluval moss balls, caves, or rocky structures should do the trick! Add in some floating logs as well, as betta fish enjoy sleeping on their surfaces. Sometimes, they might build bubble nests inside these logs.

Remember not to overstuff the betta’s tank with too many decorations. If you have a small tank, putting more than two floating decorations won’t leave enough space for your betta fish, as opposed to having a large tank.

Whenever possible, move decorations around to keep your little betta friend entertained. Any betta loves a dynamic environment, and these little changes will surely keep it interested.

4. Draw on the Fish Tank With a Marker

Draw on the Fish Tank With a Marker

Betta fish is surprisingly easy to entertain. With a couple of markers, you can doodle on the betta fish tank, and it’ll soon come around to investigate your doodles.

It’s preferable to try this trick only in tanks containing male bettas or female bettas and not other fish species. Not all fish is as curious as our little betta friends, so you’ll be wasting time (and markers) with this method.

Furthermore, use erasable markers; you don’t want to spend your time erasing doodles. In addition to that, you want to be always able to look clearly inside the tank.

5. Start the Siamese Fighting Fish Training

Start the Siamese Fighting Fish Training

Bettas are highly intelligent, and training them will be absolutely worth your while despite how tiring it could get. To start the training, you’ll need a couple of items first:

  • Balls
  • Hoops
  • Bars
  • Tunnels

Fortunately, you don’t need to purchase these items separately, as you can find all of them in fish training kits! With these items, your betta fish will breach the water’s surface to jump through hoops, swim over or under bars, or push balls in your direction if you engage. On the plus side, training kits have manuals and instructions on using these items.

Like how you’d train a cat or a dog, make sure to give your betta a treat (live food like blood worms, for instance) when they perform a trick correctly.

Treats will increase the chances of your betta performing these tricks more often.

6. Betta Hammocks

Betta Hammocks

If you’re averse to the idea of adding more plants (live plants or not) for your betta, betta hammocks might change your mind. These hammocks are sometimes designed after the Anubias plant. If you have a new betta, we recommend having a hammock already placed in the tank, as it’ll be their first instinct to rest on it.

However, as mentioned earlier, bettas like a dynamic environment, so make sure that you always move the hammock around or substitute it with a different one after a while.

Betta Hammocks
Betta Hammocks

7. Use a Mirror

Use a Mirror

Male betta and female betta fish have quite the aggressive temperament, although the male bettas are considered more aggressive than the females. This is why the mirror trick always works with them. However, note that it’ll definitely increase their stress levels to a great extent if they’re exposed to mirrors for long periods.

What’s the mirror trick, you ask? It’s simple: place a mirror in front of your betta fish and watch it flare in defense of its territory. When a betta fish flares, it extends its fins and flares its gills in an attempt to appear bigger and more intimidating in the face of its own reflection.

This territorial reaction is highly entertaining to watch and might even pull a betta out of a prolonged state of inactivity. On the other side, the mirror trick can also increase their stress levels, so it can be harmful as well.

Using a mirror to play with your betta is harmless only if you use it for a short period. 

For example, a few minutes a day should suffice. I’d also recommend not doing this trick on a daily basis.

8. Consider a Diet Change

Consider a Diet Change

Bettas fish are natural hunters, so while using pellets for a long time as the main source of their food will tame their scavenging instincts, you can still let them have fun while feeding.

Try to add live foods like daphnia or bloodworms to their diet. You should also incorporate other treats that are high on protein, such as mysis, brine shrimp, or even mosquito larvae, into their diet while training. Since bettas adore these treats, they’ll be more motivated to perform.

Remember not to overdo it. Although they might seem pretty energetic, bettas have small bellies, and overfeeding them might cause obesity and, in worse case scenarios, complicated health issues.

The general rule of thumb to know whether or not you’re overfeeding your fish is to give it a moderate amount of food to consume in 3-5 minutes without leaving any leftovers.

9. Use Paper and Post-Its

Another way of playing with your betta is by using paper and moving it over the surface of the tank. Because bettas become highly engaged when they see bright colors or moving objects, they’ll definitely investigate the cut-out paper you’re presenting to them. Sometimes, they might end up chasing it!

Try to cut out crabs, fish, or any seafaring animal to your fish and watch it chase after the paper! Don’t worry if you’re not talented with paper and scissors; animal-shaped post-its will do the trick if you’re in a pinch.

10. Caves and Shipwrecks

Caves and Shipwrecks
Cave
Caves and Shipwrecks
Shipwreck

If fun tricks like ping pong balls and markers aren’t doing it for your pet’s curious nature, you might want to invest in complex structures like caves and shipwrecks. These explore-worthy places are a great asset, particularly for a new betta trying to get used to its new surroundings.

You can buy a cave big enough for your fish to explore and hide inside. A shipwreck is also an excellent option, though it might consume a large area of the tank. If neither of these two options is at your disposal, you can use other cave-looking structures. Below are some examples:

  • Shell huts
  • Tree-trunk caves
  • Ceramic jars

It goes without saying that these structures must be made of non-toxic materials to maintain water quality and the health of your betta.

You’re probably thinking that all of these items might not fit in a small or medium-sized aquarium, which is true. That depends on how many toys, plants, and decorations you’re adding into the tank and the number of fish inside. If the number is large, you should consider upgrading to a larger tank.

Stackable Caves
Stackable Caves

Helpful Tips

  • Before you start, don’t rush things up. Keep in mind that playing and training might be a slow process, especially if you’ve never incorporated these activities before into your betta’s routine.
  • Don’t overfeed your fish. Leftover food will accumulate at the bottom of the tank and, most probably, rot, affecting the water in the process.
  • Spend no more than 10 minutes when you play with your betta, as it can be exhausting for you and the fish.
  • Playtime won’t be considered successful if other fish are threatening the betta’s territory, so avoid putting your betta with fish like tiger barbs or gouramis. Large fish can also be threatening to your fish. Keep in mind that betta fish are aggressive toward each other, so only add one per tank.
  • Keep a close watch on your betta’s behavior and temperament before starting the training. This will give you an idea of which activity to begin with!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can betta fish feel lonely?

Bettas are a lone-wolf type of fish due to their territorial nature, so they won’t feel lonely. However, they can feel bored.

Do betta fish like when owners talk to them?

Betta fish are affectionate toward their owners, so they’ll be interested when you talk to them. However, they won’t be as affectionate as dogs or cats.

Which fish types can live with betta fish?

Only a few types of fish mingle with bettas, like cory fish and ember tetras.


Conclusion

With that said, you now know everything you need about how to play with your betta! Whether it’s simple toys or large, explorable structures, a betta will always love to play around. Teaching your fish some tricks is arguably the most engaging activity you could do, so don’t miss out on that.

Remember to look at our tips here before starting out with your betta, and if it’s not responsive, make sure that you pay a visit to the vet, as signs of inactivity could indicate health issues.

Last Updated: June 23, 2022