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? That’s right!
You can use various playtime activities. And if you’ve got the time, you can even teach them special tricks!
But how do we go about doing that? If you’re wondering how to play with betta fish, you’ve come to the right place.
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 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 obstacle courses.
However, not all betta fish will be comfortable with the hands-on approach. Some activities you can perform with your betta fish include:
Teach Your Fish to Swim Through Hoops
This is generally easy to do. 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.
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 course and make them difficult with time.
As usual, make sure your fish doesn’t get the threat until it’s finished the trick.
Pro tip: Sling the treat on a stick or string and use it 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 treat to the fish.
Using Toys for Your Betta Fish
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
Your betta fish will love pushing around a ping pong ball. Just 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. 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.
Add a Mirror
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. You could use any mirror, including handheld mirrors and those made for pet birds.
Some toys combine a floating ball with a mirror for your fish to play with.
When bettas see their own reflections, they react by flaring and become very active. 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.
Introduce Floating Decorations
Betta fish also like interacting with logs. Not only are logs fun to play with, but they also provide shelter.
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.
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.
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.
Add Post-It Notes and Other Pieces of Paper on the Aquarium
Some people also interact with their betta fish with Post-It notes.
These notes feature bright colors and shapes. Bettas are drawn to vivid drawings and can be used to train them. It’s worth pointing out that not all Bettas will care for drawings. Some will just swim away.
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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