The betta (also known as a siamese fighter fish) is a beautiful fish that comes in a range of different colors and fin types that are popular in the aquarium industry for their appearance and ability to thrive in nano aquariums. Betta fish are highly intelligent with fascinating personalities, making them surprisingly trainable.
By training your betta fish, you are spending more time with them to form a bond while also keeping them entertained, which is enriching.
Although it is quite difficult to fully train a fish, it is still possible. Training your betta fish will be more difficult than training another animal because you both live in different environments, however, there are some tricks you can use to train your betta.
The 4 Tips to Train a Betta Fish
1. Eating from Your Hand
Betta fish can be taught how to eat out of your hand once they become familiar with their food and have your hand near their tank. You will need to first get your betta fish’s attention by gently tapping on the glass near the top of the tank and waiting for your betta to swim up to your fingers.
Once they have done this, you can hold pieces of their food between your thumb and index finger and wait for them to start eating it. Your betta may first be fearful of your fingers, so it is best to only place the tips of your fingers in the tank, so they are more willing to come up and grab the food.
You can practice this training method by placing the food on the water’s surface and then releasing the food as your betta comes near. They will be shy at first, but once they associate your hand with food, they will be more willing to take food from it. Floating pellets and freeze-dried foods such as bloodworms, or tubifex worm cubes will work best for this type of training.
2. Following Your Finger
Betta fish are naturally curious and will follow movement around the tank once they have settled into their environment. You can get them to follow your finger by running it along the glass to get your betta’s attention. You may need to start by gently tapping your finger on the glass so they can swim towards the vibrations, but not too hard that it will cause them to swim away in fear.
If you have been feeding them with your hands, it will be easier to get your betta fish to follow your finger from the glass because they associate your hand with getting food. You can also trail your finger across the surface of the water as this will pique their interest because they think it is an opportunity to get food.
3. Swimming Through Hoops
This is a slightly more difficult trick to train your betta fish to do, but it is possible if you use your betta’s favorite food as motivation. You can purchase betta fish hoops to use in the tank which you can find online or in your local pet store. You can start by placing the hoop near the surface of the water and placing the food on the other side so that your betta must swim through the hoop to get to the food. The betta fish will need to take time to get used to swimming through the hoop.
It is important to choose a hoop that is large enough for your betta to comfortably swim through without getting stuck or their tails snagged on the hoops. After your betta fish has gotten used to swimming through the hoop for food, then they will be able to swim through it on their own without food motivation because they will think food is on the other side.
Flaring is a behavior that betta fish display when they extend their fins and gill plates to look threatening. Most male betta fish will do this out of aggression and territorial behavior when they come across another male. By flaring, a betta fish is also stretching their fins. Since two male bettas should not be placed in the same tank, bettas will rarely get to flare.
You can hold a small mirror up to the glass of the tank for a few minutes and wait till your betta sees its reflection and flares. This can be a great form of entertainment for bettas because they will feel like they have successfully warded off a strange betta fish and protected their territory. After your betta flares, you may notice that they seem more active and on guard as they swim up and down to see if the “reflection” will come back into their territory. You should not do this every day or for longer than 10 minutes so that you do not stress your betta fish out.
Can Betta Fish Be Trained?
Betta fish are both intelligent and curious like most fish, which makes them able to learn new tricks or how to interact with you while being in the aquarium. They might not be able to give you cuddles or allow you to pet them, but bettas can be smart enough to form a habit and associate you with something good such as food and treats.
Most bettas are not fearful of humans once they have gotten used to them and settled into their environment. It may not be a good idea to start training and interacting with a new betta fish right away, as they still need to settle into the tank for a few weeks to days before they do not feel much stress from being introduced into a new environment.
What Should You Do Before Training a Betta Fish?
If you plan on putting your hands in the aquarium when training your betta fish, it is important to make sure your hands have been cleaned with non-toxic and fragrance-free soap and thoroughly rinsed under lukewarm water. Your hands carry a lot of germs that can be transferred into the aquarium.
It is also important to wash your hands after placing them in your betta fish’s tank or handling their food for your safety. When it comes to training your betta fish, you should avoid touching the betta or making sudden movements that would scare your fish.
Touching your betta fish can harm with their slime coat and potentially introduce foreign germs onto their bodies, putting them at risk of diseases and infections. If you are placing a hoop inside of the aquarium, ensure that it has been thoroughly cleaned with warm water beforehand and that it is made of a safe and non-toxic material that will not leach chemicals into the water.
Betta fish can be taught a few tricks, but it is not guaranteed that every betta will enjoy being trained or that they will be able to do the tricks without some sort of motivation from food. Training your betta fish can help alleviate boredom and keep them entertained both mentally and physically, and it is always fun for fish owners to try and interact with their fish in the least stressful way possible to form a closer bond.
Featured Image Credit: YanCabrera, Pixabay