As a caring betta fish owner, you will want to do the best for them in every way, but do they get lonely or bored on their own, and should you provide them some entertainment, a tank mate, or just some extra interaction to keep them from losing their mind?
Betta fish can get lonely because they are intelligent fish that get bored very easily. A betta that has plenty of stimulation and a good bond with its owner will be very content in a tank by itself and will have little time to get lonely.
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Most fish interact well with other fish species, or among their own species, but this is not true for betta fish as they are very territorial fish that will fight with their own kind.
The question, “do betta fish get lonely” is not as straightforward to answer as you may think because loneliness and boredom often go hand in hand.
This information in this guide will help prevent your betta from getting bored and lonely, and if you follow the tips provided you will have a happy betta fish, that should live a long and healthy life.
Betta Fish Care GuideDo Betta Fish Get Bored
People often ask, Is my betta bored? Boredom can be a real problem for betta fish as they are intelligent and need lots of stimulation. A bored betta fish can suffer all sorts of health problems such as lethargy and they may stop eating.
Boredom and loneliness are two very different things, but boredom can often lead to your betta feeling lonely.
A bored betta will often display certain behaviors, such as:
- Hiding away more than usual.
- Sleeping more than usual.
- Sitting at the bottom of the tank.
- You notice your betta not eating much.
Although these behaviors can be caused by other factors, boredom is one of them. A betta fish hiding is not necessarily a problem, but a betta hiding more than usual is often a sign that something is wrong. Ideally, you should get to know your betta fish
There are several ways to stimulate your betta fish and keep it entertained which will alleviate much of the boredom that they can suffer. I will cover some of these methods later in this article.
Do Betta Fish get Depressed
Betta fish don’t get depressed like humans. Depression is too complex of a condition for a fish to suffer from, but a betta fish can suffer a form of depression caused by boredom, loneliness, and anxiety.
Fish are not deep thinkers and instead will only show basic, instinctive emotions such as fear, anger, or happiness when presented with certain situations.
Do Betta Fish Like To Be Alone
There is no real way of knowing if betta fish like to be alone, however, when kept in a tank on their own, they often appear more relaxed, probably because there are no potential threats from other fish.
Betta fish prefer their own space and are often solitary fish in the wild. They do their best to keep away from other betta fish unless they are mating, so it makes sense that they enjoy being alone.
Why Are Betta Fish Kept Alone
Betta fish are often kept alone as they are very territorial, and will often fight with their own kind in the same tank if they feel that their territory is being encroached upon.
Fighting between male bettas can also lead to death, so it’s generally not recommended to keep more than one male in a tank unless it is a large fish tank with plenty of hiding places.
Female betta fish are less aggressive and with the right tank setup, they can often be kept together in a betta sorority. Betta sororities are tricky and best left to experienced betta owners because fighting can still occur among female betta fish.
So can male and female betta fish live together? Female betta fish can be paired with a male for breeding and if successful, you will see the male betta fish building a nest of bubbles where the eggs will be placed. Once mating has taken place, female bettas should be removed to a separate tank because they can be a risk to the new baby betta fish. The male will often become very protective, and attack the female betta.
For more information, I recommend reading the following articles:
Can Betta Fish Live In A Community Tank
Betta fish can live in community tanks with carefully chosen compatible tank mates. Although I have mentioned that bettas are very territorial fish that prefer to stay away from other fish, many fishkeepers successfully keep betta fish in community tanks.
There are two main considerations to successfully keeping betta fish in a community tank, which are:
- Use a large enough tank with plants and ornaments that can be used for hiding places. Betta fish will look to hide when it feels threatened, and will often claim a piece of territory where it can retreat and is not easily accessible to other fish. Check out this article: How Big Should A Betta Fish Tank Be?
- Choose tank mates carefully. When choosing compatible tank mates you will need to make sure they are docile, peaceful fish that will not try and provoke the betta fish or encroach on the betta’s territory. On the flip side, betta fish will try their luck against smaller tank mates such as guppies because of their larger fins.
Do some research and talk to your fish supplier before purchasing fish for a betta community tank.
How To Tell If A Betta Fish Is Happy
You can tell when your betta fish is happy by its behavior. A happy betta fish will be:
- Swimming around the tank frequently.
- Flaring its fins when you approach the tank.
- Eating well.
- Building a bubble nest (this is more common in male betta fish).
A happy betta fish generally has vibrant colors and is active, often looking to interact with its owner during feeding time. Betta fish also like to play with toys and will often nudge a toy around the tank with their nose.
How To Tell If Your Betta Fish Is Unhappy
You can tell if your betta fish is unhappy from its behavior. An unhappy betta fish will be:
- Hiding away more than usual.
- Not eating.
- Pale in color.
An unhappy betta fish is often a sign that something is wrong with its environment, such as the water quality, or that it is being bullied by another fish.
You should always rule out the possibility that your betta fish is unwell before assuming that it is just unhappy. There are many good resources on this site to identify common betta illnesses or symptoms of conditions such as:
- Betta Fin Curling And Clamping
- Betta Fish Losing Scales
- Betta Fin Rot
- Betta White Spot Disease (also known as Betta Ich or Betta Ick)
- Betta Swim Bladder Disease
- Betta Constipation
- Betta stress Stripes
Stress stripes are a common sign of stress, and so is fin clamping so you would need to identify the cause which could be environmental or an underlying illness.
How To Make Your Betta Fish Happy
Betta fish are not difficult to keep happy as they have pretty low care needs when in the right environment.
Regular tank cleaning and a healthy, varied diet are two of the easiest ways to keep a betta fish happy.
Regular tank maintenance will keep the tank water in the ideal condition to protect against bacterial and parasitic infections and keep toxins such as ammonia and nitrites to a minimum. Check out the 2 guides below for advice on water changes.
Diet is another important factor in a betta’s overall health, so two feeds a day, with a combination of betta pellets and live foods will keep your betta fish in the best health.
The best food for betta fish are:
- Mysis shrimp
- Brine shrimp
- Tubifex worms
Live foods are best if you can get them, but frozen and freeze-dried foods are also beneficial. A good quality betta pellet will provide all of the nutrients necessary when not using the foods above.
A healthy betta fish in a comfortable environment will be a happy betta fish.
I found the video below which discusses ways to stop your betta fish from getting lonely or bored.
How To Keep Your Betta Fish Entertained
You can stop your betta fish from becoming lonely or bored by adding some entertainment to its daily routine.
The best way to entertain a betta fish is through the use of some toys or you can interact with your fish throughout the day and during feeding time. Some betta owners even use music to keep their betta entertained.
Because betta fish are quite intelligent, it is possible to train them to perform some tricks such as swimming through hoops or jumping out of the water. The easiest way to train a betta is to use food to coax them and reward them. Patience is also necessary.
Betta fish also enjoy swimming through tunnels that can be made from PVC tubing, or you can buy ornaments for this purpose.
I mentioned music as a way to entertain your betta fish which you can read a little more about in this article: Do Betta Fish Like Music?
Betta Fish Toys To Avoid Boredom
Betta fish do love to play and they are very inquisitive, so by using betta fish toys to avoid boredom you will provide much entertainment for your betta and yourself as you sit and watch them play.
Some popular betta toys include:
- Betta balls – Betta balls come in different colors and patterns. They simply float at the surface and your betta will nudge them around with their nose. As simple as these may seem, your betta will get hours of fun out of them.
- Betta logs – Betta logs are just specially made ceramic ornaments that look good in the tank and are hollow inside to create a good hiding place or tunnel.
- Betta Mirrors – Betta fish can see their own reflection so betta mirrors can provoke an angry response, but they are good exercise for betta fish, and once your betta gets used to the mirror it will be like having another fish for company.
- Floating rafts or lily pads – Betta fish love to sit in or out of the water on rafts and lily pads and will even sleep on them. Betta fish can breathe out of the water which makes this possible.
- Tunnels – Betta fish love to swim in and out of tunnels, and they provide comfort and safety.
- Betta hoops – Hoops that are suspended in the water can be great fun for a betta to swim in and out of. Some betta owners have had success in training their betta to swim through hoops on command and even jump through a hoop half out of the water.
Betta toys have become very common with the rising popularity of betta fish as pets, but pet shops may not provide the widest choice. If you are looking to find toys specifically designed for bettas, my advice would be to look online.
Check out the below article:
How To Make Betta Fish Toys
Although it is often easier to buy betta toys, and you know that they will last longer, if you are a little low on money, nothing is stopping you from making your own betta toys.
Betta fish toys can be made from common or easy-to-obtain items that you may already have lying around your home. If you want to know how to make betta fish toys, I will give you some examples below, but be sure not to add any toxic materials to the tank, or to leave any rough or sharp edges which can cause injuries.
How to make a betta ball
Betta balls are simple to make. You will need a ping pong ball and something to add decoration such as a non-toxic waterproof marker (in different colors), or some colorful stickers.
The ping pong ball itself will float at the surface, so you just need to add decoration to the ball which will keep your betta entertained for longer.
You can divide the ball into quarters and add a different color or sticker to each quarter, or just in half, with the top half a strong color that contrasts well with the bottom color.
Your betta fish will enjoy spinning the ball and pushing it around the tank and the added colors will provide more stimuli.
How to make a betta mirror
A betta mirror can be made using a ping pong ball, a pipe cleaner or stiff wire, and a small double-sided mirror.
The basic idea is to suspend the mirror in the water using the ping pong ball as a float. You will attach the mirror to the ping pong ball using the pipe cleaner or stiff wire and some aquarium-safe glue.
I recommend a pipe cleaner or stiff wire because your betta fish may become tangled in cotton or string. A plastic straw is also suitable.
If you don’t have a small double-sided mirror, you can buy some inexpensive reflective material that can be glued to a circular object such as a large coin. It doesn’t even need to be circular.
Your finished betta mirror should float freely in the tank, and you will probably notice your betta flaring and attacking the mirror in the beginning, or your betta fish may just hide away from it. Once your betta fish adjusts to the new addition, it will settle down and become inquisitive and playful.
How to make a betta tunnel
A betta tunnel can be made from any tubular material providing it is not toxic. PVC piping is great for making tunnels and you can cover it in an aquarium moss or any type of plant that can attach itself.
I have written an article that describes some aquarium plants that attach to ornaments, driftwood, and rocks which you can find here: Aquarium Plants That Grow On Rocks And Driftwood.
Although it is quite possible for your betta fish to get lonely or bored, you can also see that there are plenty of ways to keep your betta fish happy and entertained.
Many people keep fish just as decoration to their home but never really interact with the fish, which is fine for most community fish, however, betta fish are quite intelligent and because they often live alone, they will benefit from some gentle interaction.
Betta toys are a must for a bored betta fish and there are many toys to choose from, and you can see from my tips above, they are relatively easy to make if you keep your bettas safety in mind.