The Siamese Betta Fish is known for having a great deal of personality. They’re equal parts smart and curious – always loving to explore.
Experienced hobbyists will agree that no two betta fish are alike.
They have unique personality traits and temperaments that are often hard to make sense of.
Did you know that you can actually play with your betta fish – just like you would any other pet?
You can use various playtime activities. And if you’ve got the time, you can even teach them special tricks!
There are many ways of playing with your betta fish.
The first method is to use toys and tank ornaments. The second method is interacting directly with your betta fish.
For beginners, we recommend using toys first. This is because betta fish easily get frightened at close proximities to humans.
But given enough time, you can train your betta fish to play with you.
Let’s discuss how to play with betta fish.
Interacting/Playing With Your Betta Fish
Most hobbyists don’t know that they can teach their bettas various tricks.
This includes teaching them how to swim through hoops and completing obstacles courses.
However, not all betta fish will be comfortable with the hands-on approach.
Some activities you can perform with your betta fish include:
Making a Betta Fish Follow Your Finger
Betta fish are curious and intriguing by nature. Any flurry of activity outside the tank is bound to catch their attention.
If they are already familiar with you (the owner), betta fish will feel safe to learn and perform this trick.
If your betta fish sees you outside the tank and swims closer to the glass, it is a positive sign indicating that they are ready for training now.
Please make sure that you tap on the glass lightly to catch your betta fish’s attention and make them swim towards you.
Be very careful with this step because if you are not gentle enough, you may frighten your betta fish, and it will hideaway.
Once you have your betta’s attention, start moving your finger across the front panel and wait to see if your betta fish follows.
Reward them instantly with a small treat if they follow, so they start getting accustomed to this gesture.
Repeat this training exercise a couple of times every day until the betta masters the act.
Teaching Your Fish to Swim Through Hoops
Teaching your betta fish how to swim through a hole can be tricky.
You have to be extra patient and kinder with your betta fish while making them learn this tricky as it may take a while.
All you really need is a big enough hoop for your betta fish.
In the case of smaller fish, you could use a bracelet as a hoop. Wikihow suggests that you can fashion a hoop with a pipe cleaner.
Just make sure to wash any accessories to purge harmful bacteria.
If this is your first time, you’ll want to attach the hoop to a pole. This will get your betta fish comfortable enough to interact with you.
The hoop should be at right angles to the tank so the fish can swim. Some fish will show interest in the hoop right away.
Otherwise, it will just ignore it.
To encourage your fish, you can slide your finger across the aquarium.
Run your finger along the aquarium’s surface to where the hoop is. This will prompt your betta fish to swim right through it.
Prepare for quite a bit of trial and error before you finally get it right.
Pro tip: Reward your betta fish with a treat when it swims through the hoop. Positive reinforcements will gradually allow your fish to overcome more challenging obstacles.
Before long, your betta fish will master more advanced courses.
Teach Your Betta Fish to Jump
Start by feeding your betta fish directly by hand. Eventually, your fish will associate your hand with their favorite treat.
Betta fish are naturally intelligent pets, and they keep track of their feeding routine, which makes it easier for you to teach them the jumping trick.
This will also develop mutual trust with your betta fish. Try to get your betta fish to swim to the surface for feeding.
You can attract your betta fish’s attention by placing your fingers in the water. This will get them to swim to the surface.
If it doesn’t, hold some food in your fingers near the water
Pro tip: Do not release the food into the water until they have performed the trick
Once you have their attention, dangle the food above the water. Chances are, a hungry betta fish will jump for the food right away.
If it doesn’t, you may have to encourage them with ‘other means’. This can be done by pulling the food away from the water as it approaches.
This prompts your fish to jump from the water to grab the food.
Follow this up by rewarding your betta fish with some treats once they jump.
This will teach them that jumping out of the water is synonymous with being fed.
Design an Obstacle Course for Your Betta Fish
Start by decorating your aquarium with an obstacle course.
Use accessories like hoops, plants, and rocks to create an obstacle course. This method works best if you’ve first gained your fish’s trust.
Bonus points if you got them to swim through hoops. At this stage, they should be able to complete an obstacle course you prepare.
This will take quite a bit of practice at first, so be prepared.
As usual, dangle your betta fish’s favorite treat in the water. Now lead the fish around the course using the treat as bait.
Your betta fish will follow your fingers around the course to get fed. Start off with smaller obstacle courses and make them difficult with time.
As usual, make sure your fish doesn’t get the treat until it’s finished the trick.
Pro tip: Sling the treat on a stick or string instead of your finger.
This may be important if your fish is still distrustful of you.
Finally, once your betta fish has completed the obstacle course, reward it with a treat.
Positive reinforcement can go a long way in training your fish quickly.
Caution: Remove any hooks and strings from the tank before feeding the treats to the fish.
Petting Your Betta Fish
Once your betta fish starts recognizing you and gets playful and excited when you are around, you may start to pet it.
Just ensure that you are extremely careful while petting your betta fish and not applying too much pressure as it might scare them off.
If you are attempting to pet your betta fish and you see them stressing out or trying to look for a spot to hide, you should stop.
It is extremely essential for you as a pet owner to be able to read the body language of your betta fish and make them feel safe and secure in your presence.
Once you have achieved that level of comfort with them, your betta will get used to your touch.
Please be extra gentle while petting your betta as they are extremely sensitive creatures, and any exposure to germs or bacteria may be harmful to them.
Play with Betta Using Toys
You can also use toys to interact with your betta fish and spice things up.
Here are a few easier methods you can use.
Use a Ping Pong Ball in the Tank
Adding a ping pong ball can keep your betta entertained for a long time. Your betta fish will love pushing around a ping pong ball.
Before putting the ping pong ball in the tank, make sure it is properly cleaned and not damaged in any way.
If your betta feels particularly brave, they’ll push the ball to the surface. Or, it can just get curious and swim close to it and check it out. If possible, get a colored ball instead of the white one.
You can also get creative and color the ping pong ball to attract betta to it
Just make sure to remove the ball after a few hours. Some betta fish can get stressed out if they see the ball as a threat.
Also, if you just leave the ball in the tank, your betta may get bored of it, and may not be entertained with it the next time.
Add a Mirror (Reflection Game for Betta)
Betta fish can recognize themselves in a mirror.
This raises an important question: are betta fish self-aware? It’s hard to answer this question without going through an existential crisis first.
Whichever way you steer the conversation, mirrors make it easy to interact with betta fish.
To teach your betta how to flare their fins, pick a mirror and a pen with a colored cap.
Now place the mirror in front of your betta’s tank with the pen right beside it.
The key is to make your betta fish catch its own reflection in the mirror.
Your betta fish will flare after seeing the reflection; that’s when you move the pen forward and reward your betta with a treat.
Repeat this training exercise for the next several weeks until your betta fish is trained enough to perform this trick without the mirror by just looking at the colorful cap.
Remember to use the same pen every time so your betta fish can get more familiar with it.
You could also help a constipated betta with their bowels using a mirror. When they’re flaring, you can see the condition of their fins to monitor potential infection.
While this can be a good way for you to keep your Betta engaged, there is a possibility this may stress your Betta. They may consider the reflection as another Betta and may flare gills as a way to show aggression.
If you see your betta flaring too much near the mirror, remove it and try later.
Introduce Floating Decorations
Betta fish also like interacting with logs. Not only are logs fun to play with, but they also provide shelter and a place to hide.
Some bettas are known for building bubble nests inside floating logs.
Be careful when cleaning the log to preserve the paint.
Alternatively, you can also introduce floating decorations such as plants (fake will do). Betta fish will investigate the new plants and swim around them.
Just make sure to leave enough room for your betta to swim freely.
Use Dry Erase Marker for Tanks
Bettas are especially easy to entertain with doodles and markers.
You can use a dry erase marker to doodle outside the tank. This creates visually interesting spots around the tank.
The betta sees it and begins to investigate. To make it more fun, make different shapes and use different colors of markers.
This will be more fun for your betta as it will see different shapes/color on different sides (and this may also encourage them to sim around and keep themselves busy)
Dry erase markers can be easily wiped away so you can begin anew.
However, always test the dry marker first to see check if it’s easy to clean. Some markers are not always easy to clean and may be permanent.
Try asking the manufacturer if the marker can be removed from the glass.
Alternatively, you can also add sticky notes on the aquarium walls (try different colors and sizes). If you have got a curious betta, it might like the stickies too.
Place New Items Outside the Tank
Don’t want to disturb your betta’s tank? You can also interact with your betta by placing new objects outside the aquarium.
You could place anything visually interesting that can pique your betta’s curiosity.
Do this in moderation because too many stimuli can stress out the bettas.
The best way to keep your betta interested is to provide an optimal aquarium.
The most significant factor in their happiness is the environment and atmosphere.
This will affect their health and behavior. The water condition of the tank is even more important than the environment.
You’ll need good filtration, optimum chemical levels, temperature, hardness, and regular water changes.
It’s the environment that ultimately decides whether your fish enjoys its stay in the tank.
To conclude, Bettas get along really well with humans.
They enjoy a fun activity and can impress your friends with special tricks. At the same time, you should also keep your tank in pristine condition.
A hospitable environment improves their lifespan and gets them to cooperate with you.
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