How To Train A Betta Fish: Tips And Hints To Bond Fruitfully

Training your Betta Fish
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Last Updated: July 12, 2022 by Flora Gibbins

Did you know that you can teach your Betta fish some tricks? These intelligent creatures are capable of performing on-demand and may turn their fish tank into a private little circus! You can teach your Betta fish tricks like making it swim through hoops and obstacles, among many others.


The secret to successful training sessions lies in rewarding obedient behavior. So, if you want to learn how to train a Betta fish, you’ve come to the right place. This article reveals the many tricks these loveable little guys can perform, so stick around to read all about them!

Benefits of Training Your Betta Fish

Betta fish are intelligent creatures and are capable of bonding with their owners. They respond well to positive reinforcement, and many Betta owners enjoy spending time with their pets like this. Moreover, some of these tricks provide good exercise for your Betta fish. 

These fish can be lazy and may fall prone to obesity and inactivity. 

Therefore, tricks such as making your Betta swim toward a feeding stick or your finger promote much-needed movement.

Before You Get Started

There are a couple of things you’ll need to do before you start teaching your Betta fish tricks. We’ll go over them in detail below.


You’ll want to create a bond with your Betta fish as a first step. This means that you and your Betta should be comfortable interacting with one another. Such compatibility will only be possible when the fish has acclimatized to its environment. It’s recommended that you give it a few months before attempting to train your Betta.

Comfortable Environment

When Bettas feel stressed, the most common culprit is the conditions underneath the water surface. Factors like water quality and interesting ornaments (or a lack thereof) determine how amenable your Betta will be to training.

Therefore, you’ll want to make sure there aren’t any obstacles when your Betta swims around its tank, and the water current isn’t so strong as to make the poor fish hide. 


A comfortable environment for your Betta fish may mean lighting conditions that closely mimic their natural habitat. 

Overly-bright tank lights are a big no-no.

Also, Bettas scare easily, so keeping your tank in a room where loud noises are frequent may be the difference between keeping your Betta’s attention and dealing with a bashful fish.

Meanwhile, interaction with your pet shouldn’t be so difficult to do. You should be able to reach the aquarium without needing to stand on a platform and interact with your fish without leaning against the tank.

Finally, ensure your hands are always clean to avoid contaminating the water. Your fish doesn’t play well with stress, so aim to make the whole process as stress-free as possible.

How to Tell When Your Betta Fish Is Ready for Training

Every Betta fish is different. Some can learn more and more tricks, while others may not be interested in learning. Therefore, there isn’t a clear-cut way to tell when you can start training your Betta fish. You’ll need to be vigilant to know whether your Betta is ready. For example, if your fish is very active and curious, this is a good sign.

Additionally, you can guess whether your Betta fish can learn tricks when you’ve formed a bond with it. So, when you notice that your Betta moves along with the rhythm of your finger, swims to the water’s surface, or leaps out of the water during feeding, you’ll know your Betta will respond positively to training.

These tropical fish love tasty treats and quality food like freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex worms, brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae. So providing your fish with this food may work wonders in establishing positive reinforcement.

Tricks You Can Teach a Betta Fish

Now, it’s time to discuss how to train your Betta fish:

Follow the Finger

Follow the Finger

You can teach your Betta fish to follow your finger. It’s a simple trick that your Betta may begin to do during feeding time.

Drop some food near your fish using your finger or a stick to get started. You want the fish to notice when you do it, so it makes the connection between your finger and food.

Then, make your Betta swim toward your finger by increasing the distance between it and the food. Repeat this step, gradually increasing the distance. At the end of a successful training session, your Betta fish will begin to follow your finger around.

You’ll need to be careful not to overfeed your Betta when training it in this way. However, the finger-follow trick is the most basic one you can teach your Betta and is foundational to the fish learning other tricks described below.

Leap Out of the Water

Betta fish are known to ambush insects floating on the water’s surface by leaping out of the water in their natural habitat. Therefore, this trick relies on a Betta fish’s natural inclinations.

To make your Betta leap out of the water, begin by placing some food on the surface using your finger or a stick. Then, slowly increase the height and distance between your finger and the water.

Eventually, your Betta will be more willing to leap out of the water to get the food hanging in the air. However, if you discover that your Betta ignores the food, you’re likely hanging it too high. Therefore, gradually decrease the distance to see what your Betta can manage.

You’ll need to ensure that your fish can safely re-enter the water when it leaps out because you wouldn’t want the poor fish to completely fall out of the tank.

Gill Flaring

Gill Flaring

Gill flaring is one of the many Betta fish tricks that take advantage of these creatures’ natural behavior. 

In the wild, when a Betta flares its gills, it’s usually to warn off other fish that intrude on its territory. 

Predominantly, the males may flare their gills at other male Betta fish, though female Betta also flares their gills.

Flaring can be stressful for both male Bettas and females, so this trick shouldn’t be done too often. You risk leaving your pet in poor health!

There are numerous ways to make your Betta fish flare its gills. First, you can train your Betta to do this trick by showing its own reflection in a small mirror. The fish will think it’s looking at another occupant of the fish tank and puff itself up to look more imposing.

Additionally, you can get your Betta fish to recognize specific colors as threatening. For example, using a colorful pen might help with the flaring trick, and eventually, you’ll be able to get the fish to flare using only the pen. For best results, ensure you use the same pen.

Swim Through Hoops

Getting your Betta to swim through hoops may only be possible when the fish learns to follow the movement of your finger.

To get started, you’ll need to bend a pipe cleaner into the shape of a hoop, making sure the hoop diameter is large enough for your Betta to swim through easily. At this stage of the training, the fish needs to have come to associate your finger or a stick with food to follow it around when moved.

While getting your Betta to follow the stick around, introduce the hoop into the tank, so the fish learns not to feel threatened. Then, guide the Betta through the hoop by making it follow the movement of your finger. It’d help if you rewarded your Betta for doing the right thing so that it can learn to do the trick unprompted.

Make sure to store the hoop away when not in use. Leaving it in the tank may cause water contamination or injury to your Betta.

Obstacle Course

Obstacle Course

Once again, this trick relies on your Betta fish already knowing to follow your finger around. Therefore, it’s pretty similar to teaching your Betta the hoop trick. You’ll need to introduce a maze into the fish tank to perform this trick. 

However, getting the fish to complete the course is admittedly easier said than done, so make sure to provide it with a reward when successful.

Things You Shouldn’t Do When Training a Betta Fish

Training your Betta fish can be a rewarding experience. However, it can also go awry. Below are some things you shouldn’t do when training your Betta:

Too Much Food

Too Much Food

On a typical day, Betta fish grapple with an overfeeding problem. Unfortunately, it’s possible to exacerbate the issue when attempting to train your fish.

Training provides the benefit of getting particularly lazy Betta fish to move around. However, when these Siamese Fighting Fish associate the correct performance of a trick with food, you could quickly end up with a constipated or bloated fish.

Conversely, feeding a fish to encourage it to try harder at performing a task it couldn’t do on the first try may also cause issues. 

In summary, reward training carries risks of overfeeding, so moderation is essential.

Hands In the Water

Constantly sticking your hands in the Betta’s tank is a sure-fire way to contaminate the water. Moreover, contamination won’t always occur from dirty hands (which you should never insert into the tank); soaps, oils, and other chemicals used to sterilize your hands may also find their way into the water.

Therefore, we advise you to keep your hands out of the water unless necessary and limit the session to 15 minutes when you do. Also, be ready to change the water regularly to avoid unwittingly poisoning your Betta.

In addition, refrain from touching your Betta fish when teaching it simple tricks that don’t involve contact. You’ll minimize the risk of injuring the fish or affecting its slime coat, which keeps the bad bacteria away. Therefore, consider using a feeding stick as an alternative to your bare hands.

Forceful Treatment

It may take time for your Betta to learn difficult tricks. Additionally, you might struggle to keep the fish’s attention occasionally. When faced with either of the two scenarios, don’t try to force a performance out of your Betta. You might end up stressing the poor fish.

Like most animals, Betta fish have good and bad days and won’t feel like playing along on the latter type of day. Therefore, give it time to recuperate, and eventually, it’ll be ready to perform again.

Fun Fact: Betta training is only half the fun of taking care of your aqua pet! Read How To Play With Betta Fish: Bonding Activities With Your BF to further increase your bettas’ interests.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do Betta fish like it when their owners talk to them?

Bonding with your Betta fish can take several forms. While there’s no way to tell whether speaking to your fish is an effective way to bond with the creature, they’re smart enough to recognize their owners. So it wouldn’t hurt to talk to the fish, so long as you aren’t too loud.

Can a Betta fish get lonely?

Betta fish can be territorial and would rather live alone than with other animals. However, if you keep Betta fish in a small tank, they might get bored and fall into depression.

Some of the tricks (flaring) are pretty effective at snapping them out of their funk, so you can interact with your fish to bring some excitement into their life.

Will Betta fish bite my fingers?

When doing the finger trick, your Betta fish might bite if it feels threatened by your fingers. Therefore, ensure you form a bond with your aquatic pal, so it recognizes your fingers as non-threatening.


After reading this article, you should now know how to train a Betta fish. Betta owners are surprised to learn that teaching Betta fish tricks is possible. However, these fish are very intelligent, and so with enough positive feedback, they should come to associate tricks with treats.

To be successful when trying the methods mentioned in this article, you’ll need to ensure that you refrain from overfeeding your Betta fish, and sticking your hands in the tank where unnecessary.

After all, you wouldn’t want a constipated fish on your hands or a contaminated tank. So keep that in mind when giving your Betta fish food and maintaining its attention.

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