How To Cure Bored Betta Fish Blues


Although it probably has only been a few weeks since that “love at first sight” moment at the pet store, you can probably tell by the look in your betta fish’s eye that the honeymoon stage is quickly coming to a close. Now that your betta has successfully claimed all of the new territory inside of his tank, you may start anxiously worrying that your betta might be cheating on you with another owner on the side… Betta fish boredom has ruined many a relationship between fancy fishy and oblivious owner. You should take a look at your betta fish right now. Does he look like he has that thousand mile stare of complete and utter betta boredom? Not to worry! After reading through this article, you will be well on your way to reigniting that beautiful sparkle of pure satisfaction and absolute content that must seem like only yesterday you and your betta fish shared together! (It most likely was only yesterday. Betta fish have short-term memories.)

Ultimately this guide is going to, first of all, identify if your betta is in fact bored, and if so, give you ideas to remedy that dull situation. Now before I begin, I want you to take a close look at yourself and how you see your fish in your mind’s eye just to make sure that you yourself are not bored and, as a result, transferring that feeling of boredom onto your fish. Betta fish are solitary creatures by nature. They don’t really need a lot of “fun” activities to stimulate them, but they definitely can, on occasion, exhibit symptoms of actual boredom. Typically with new betta fish owners, they tend to dote on their new betta fish a little bit more than necessary. And if there is nothing to dote on, with or for… Problems, symptoms, illnesses and, I suppose, sad betta mentalities tend to be imagined by the owner when not necessarily felt by the betta fish in question. I bring this up because, believe it or not, there is actually a real danger of “smothering” your betta fish with too much love. So with that being said, let’s continue.

Things You Can Do To Entertain A Bored Betta Fish

Betta Have A House Party!

One of the easiest things, and certainly cost effective, you can do to pique your betta fish is curiosity is to simply rearrange the accessories that he has in his fish tank. No, I didn’t say go out to the store and buy him all new betta couches and TVs. Simply moving things around a little bit that are already pre-existing in the aquarium is enough to keep your betta entertained for quite some time. Bettas have pretty dang good memory of every little tiny piece of gravel that’s in their tank. Okay well, maybe not that good of a memory. But if you were to take whatever little betta cave you might have in the aquarium and turn it around, or move it to the left by 2 inches… That will give your betta something new to explore in his down time. Which is pretty much all the time. However, betta fish are busybodies and always have somewhere to be in their aquarium at all times.

Think about yourself and your own room, or your own house, and how much it most likely messes your mental image mapping system up if somebody was to turn the kitchen table 90°. I don’t I would mess me a pretty good. I would irritate me actually, until I “fixed it”. Your betta fish won’t be mad at you for shifting his furniture around, but rather it will most likely give him the feeling of being a little betta fish Explorer in a new land!

Your betta fish won’t be mad at you for shifting his furniture around, but rather it will most likely give him the feeling of being a little betta fish Explorer in a new land!

For instance, if you have one of those little “betta leaf hammocks” that stick on the side of your aquarium with the suction cup… Unstick it and move it to the other side of the tank. If you have a coffee cup hiding place, turn around. Well, maybe not turn it around as you would not be able to see your betta fish if he was hiding inside. Rather turn it 90° or some other shallower angle. You’d be surprised a very little you have to readjust in the aquarium for your betta fish to start exhibiting behavior as if everything is all brand-new to him. If you did happen to have a coffee cup hiding place, I have some in a few of my aquariums, switching it out entirely for a different colored coffee cup will definitely get an entertaining reaction out of your betta fish. Entertaining for your betta fish, not just for you.

Changing out coffee cups once in a while is an incredibly easy to do and tremendously affordable way of keeping your betta buddy un-bored. Pretty much everybody I’ve ever met has more coffee cups than they know what to do with. Coffee cups to betta fish are like cardboard boxes to kids. You can never have too many, and every shape and sized one is a new vehicle to play in. Betta fish react different ways to different colored items. Coffee cups are generally not short on color options. Or images printed on the side of them.

This will probably not come as too much of a shock to you, but I do own a few coffee cups with betta fish images on the side of them. And yes, I have put them in my betta fish tanks before (without coffee :P). Just because they have betta fish prints on the side does not mean that I am stressing my betta fish out with these fake fish photo mugs. Betta fish, real live betta fish, don’t distinguish the images as real live anything. All this to say that, if you just so happen to have a coffee cup with a betta fish printed on it, you’re not gonna give your betta fish a coronary if you decide to use it in your aquarium.

This will probably not come as too much of a shock to you, but I do own a few coffee cups with betta fish images on the side of them. And yes, I have put them in my betta fish tanks before (without coffee :P)

Speaking about giving your betta fish a coronary, anytime you shift or change or move anything in his aquarium, your betta fish will go through a certain level of “stress” while he adjusts to his new surroundings. You may have the idea that the words “stress” and “betta fish” do not, should not, cannot belong together when referring to a happy and healthy betta fish environment. This is simply not true. While you do not want to overly stress your betta fish by continuously putting him in situations that make him feel like he can never rest or be at ease, betta fish actually need a tiny bit of stress to keep them healthy. I know to some of you reading this, that might sound like blasphemy… But it’s not.

When you do things like walk over to your aquarium and simply try to feed your betta fish, the action of you walking up to the aquarium excites your betta. Excitement and stress are two words that are practically interchangeable. You do not want to play your betta fish in a state constant excitement either. I can see that I’m going to write an article about betta fish stress next, so rather than continue this rabbit trail (which I’m pretty sure at this point you understand enough of what I’m talking about) I will continue talking about ways to entertain your betta fish.

Mobile Home Would Be Betta

for about as much as it costs to rearrange the accessories in the fish tank that your betta is in, you can also… Move the aquarium. I myself am currently glancing out of a window that looks out to the side of another building. That’s about it. How much I wish that somebody would pick up the aquarium that I am in and move me, I can’t even begin to tell you. I guess it would be: aquarium because it’s dry, more of a terrarium… Rabbit trail again.

My moving your betta fish tank to a different room altogether or to another sturdy table that you might have or even at the very least, putting a poster of the pyramids of Egypt behind his tank… It doesn’t really take much to give your betta fish new scenery. Betta fish are extraordinarily good at remembering the locations of objects not just in their aquarium, but outside of it as well. One very simple thing that I do is that I have my betta fish food sitting on the table right across from one of my fish tanks. Whenever I feed my betta fish I pretty regularly place the bottles of betta pellets back in the same location every single time. Once in a while I will put the bottles of betta pellets on the other side of the table next to his tank. That’s enough to get a reaction out of that particular betta fish. He’ll go to the side of the tank that the object outside of it and start doing his little flaring dance thing.

Betta Than Lawn Gnomes

So to restate that, you don’t actually need to move the entire aquarium itself to give your betta fish change of scenery. Pretty much any object in the house will do to make your betta fish more interested in life again. Do you have stuffed animals? Can give those a try. Honest-to-goodness, I can put a AA battery within 6 inches of the outside of whatever aquarium has a bored betta fish in it, and that’s really all it takes. In general though, the brighter the object the more of a reaction you will see from your betta fish. Not bright as in how much light is emitted, but how “brightly colored” the object is. Light emitted… Please don’t shine flashlights in your betta’s eyes.

Brightly colored objects, especially reds blues and greens, always seem to get the most reaction from my betta fish. Interestingly enough, different shaped objects will get different reactions out of your betta fish as well. Even if they’re the same color, betta fish can tell different shapes apart. For instance, I have (right now I’m looking at it actually) a normal size golf ball that is brightly colored red. It’s one of those golf balls that you would get at a typical putt-putt golf course attraction. Anyway, I have one of those and I also have a 3 inch plush red heart that came attached to a box of candy who knows how many Valentines days ago. All that to say that I have to read objects that are roughly the same size and definitely the same color. If I take the red golf ball and put it next to my betta’s aquarium, my betta fish will show interest in it for about 20 minutes(ish). If I remove that golf ball and put in its place that plush red heart that is pretty dang close to the exact same size the golf ball was, my betta fish will go into “fight to the death” mode and not come out of it until I remove that small little red heart.

Brightly colored objects, especially reds blues and greens, always seem to get the most reaction from my betta fish. Interestingly enough, different shaped objects will get different reactions out of your betta fish as well.

I bring that up to show you that it really doesn’t take much to entertain your betta fish, but more importantly that you make sure you pay attention to how your betta fish interacts with whatever object you decide to introduce him to. You don’t want to place an object nearby his aquarium that causes him too much excitement for too long. That kind of excitement is also stress, and you don’t want to end up harming your betta fish because you didn’t notice that plush red 3 inch hearts are apparently mortal enemies of betta fish kind.

I mentioned earlier putting a picture of the pyramids of Egypt behind the aquarium. Back on that for a second, you can pretty much put any kind of poster or picture behind the aquarium itself (not inside, but behind) and it will not only entertain your fish, but will entertain you a great deal as well. For a long time I would go online and look for computer wallpapers (desktop wallpapers) that were interesting and print them out. In fact, I still do that on occasion. However, printer ink is not cheap. And I myself have quite a few aquariums. On top the fact that stupid printer ink is not cheap, printer ink is not waterproof. At all.

You know what aquariums have a lot of? Wet stuff. No matter how much you try to keep all of the water in your aquarium contained to the aquarium itself… Life doesn’t work out the way you wanted to all the time. Even in a apparently peaceful and tranquil aquarium housing a single and solitary betta fish, splashes happen. So, you do have an alternative to printing out your own backdrops. Believe it or not, you can find “professional” aquarium backdrops for sale online. These are “made for aquarium” aquarium backdrops. “Made for” meaning that they are waterproof. That is nice. And often there are incredibly fancy and detailed. You should really take a look sometime go see what’s out there. Pretty cool stuff actually. Oh, Christmas wrapping paper works fine too.

I Think I Look Betta Than Me

While I wouldn’t recommend these to be a permanent fixture in your betta’s aquarium, mirrors can un-borify your betta fish quickly and easily. Why you ask? Fantastic, I’ll tell you! Because the betta fish doesn’t know that’s a mirror, nor does the betta fish know what a reflection is, and therefore thinks it is looking at a another betta fish! Aren’t you glad I was here to help you out with that? No but, in all seriousness you can definitely use a mirror for some fun one-on-one playtime between you and your betta buddy.

Different people have different opinions on how long you should expose, or rather you “can expose”, your betta fish to his own reflection. I’ve heard arguments that range between no more than 30 seconds to not longer than a half an hour. Some people say they have betta fish that do just fine having one of those floating mirrors (yes they make mirrors that float on a bobber so you can put it inside the betta’s tank) as a permanent fixture inside of the aquarium. I personally know that each and every single one of my betta fish have different personalities, therefore different tolerances to extremes. I see the introduction of a separate mail betta fish, even if it is only a “reflection”, as an “extreme”. You don’t want to rile up your betta fish too much for too long. I would say that an average amount of time I would let my betta fish experience their own reflection in a mirror would be somewhere around, I don’t know, 3 to 5 minutes. But even that short amount time can be too long for some betta fish. Some betta fish really don’t care about the reflection at all. That’s why I said before that it’s important that you keep a close eye on your betta fish when you’re introducing him to new surroundings and new experiences.

use a mirror for some fun one-on-one playtime between you and your betta buddy

Another thing still on the topic of mirrors and duration of playtime is that when I “play” with my betta fish using his own reflection in a mirror, I show the betta the mirror in and on-again off-again fashion. It’s a very simple concept understand if you can see me as I explained with my hands, but apparently not so easy if I’m trying to explain it through written word. You show the betta fish his reflection for a second, you take his reflection away for a second. Duration of time does not have to last only a second mind you. I was trying to find a way to explain that easy enough. Anyway, I think you get it… Moving on

Oh, not quite moving on yet. Once you’re done playing with your betta fishy with his own reflection, one of the cool things, or at least interesting to me anyway, is that you’ll notice your betta fish looking for the “other fish” for quite some time afterwards. You see, the mirror playtime doesn’t actually end once you walk away with the mirror in your hand. Your betta fish will stay entertained for a good half hour at least, after playtime is over. And just because I know there are some people out there that need further clarification on the use of mirrors, yes, any mirror will do. I personally try to find a mirror that I know will irritate the owner once (she) finds it missing… Okay, now moving on!

Betta Than Bored Games…

I wanted to cover “toys” as there a lot of new betta owners that feel that it is only right to supply their frisky little fishy with toys much the same way you would supply, say, a cat or a dog with their own toys. While the thought is very nice, and one that I can relate to and understand completely, betta fish don’t work like dogs or cats. Meaning that betta fish do not require “toys” as it were, to keep themselves happy. When you think about it conceptually, pretty much everything in the betta’s aquarium is a “toy” to him. I am using the word “toy” in the sense that everything in the aquarium is something to keep the betta fish entertained with much the same way as a toy would you or me.

Betta fish are very interested in things that float on the surface of their aquarium

However, they (whoever “they” are) do make toys for betta fish. Some of the more common ones are things that float on the surface of the water such as ping-pong balls that have been remarketed towards betta fish enthusiasts and therefore subsequently price hiked as well… In any case, if you feel like providing your betta fish with a toy, please, please, please make sure that it is not carrying within or on itself any chemical that could leach into the tank that may end up causing harm to your fishy. That was basically a scary way of saying “wash the thing off first”. And I’m sure you know better than to use any kind of soap when washing anything that will go into your betta’s aquarium, right?

Betta fish are very interested in things that float on the surface of their aquarium. As I mentioned before, you can try to float a (clean) ping-pong ball on top there and see what your betta fish does. Some betta fish like poking around, while others seem to think that the world is ending and immediately go hide in their hiding place. Don’t be afraid of trying new things with your betta fish. Just be mindful that you don’t “overdo it”. As I said before and will keep saying until the cows come home, and betta fish really do not need all that much interaction with toys or accessories or reflections of themselves. I did not say that they do not meet any, simply that they just do not need that much.

What Do You Mean “Fetch”?

This is something that I’m only gonna touched on briefly here in this article, as I plan on writing up an article of its own fairly soon (and knowing me, I already have and forgot to edit this… so go look for it using the “search” function for “tricks” in the top right corner of the page.), but you can teach your betta fish cool tricks and sweet moves. Teaching a betta fish how to jump through a hoop, or move a floating ping-pong ball from one end of the aquarium into a net at the other side, are just some of the things that you can do to keep both you and your betta fish entertained and busy. Honestly, it’s a really rewarding thing somehow to be able to say that you taught the fish how to do tricks. The reactions that I get from people never get old. But, I’m fairly okay with people thinking I’m a bit “off”.

There are a few YouTube videos out there that will walk you through some of the basics on teaching your betta fish how to do tricks. There is a product sold on Amazon that is designed to do just that. Teach you and your betta fish tricks. And trust me, it is a “trick” in itself that you are able to teach a fish how to do a trick. In any case, the product I’m talking about is well worth the time and money (it’s actually fairly inexpensive) invested. Once you have a few tricks under your betta belt, you don’t really ever “unlearn” them and can add them to your inventory of betta un-boring tools.

Teaching a betta fish how to jump through a hoop, or move a floating ping-pong ball from one end of the aquarium into a net at the other side, are just some of the things that you can do to keep both you and your betta fish entertained

Just to get you started though, while jumping betta fish is generally regarded as a bad thing, it’s relatively safe in a controlled environment. You can teach your betta fish to leap out of the tank, no not out of the tank, just out of the water… Anyway, you can teach your betta fish to leap out of the water when you go to feed him. If you take the tip of your finger and announce your presence to the betta fish by placing just the tip, and only the tip, of your finger in the water, and then proceed to “stick” a betta pellet on your moistened fingertip and place it just in front of your, betta just above water… After a few tries your betta fish should jump up and grab the pellet off of your fingertip (which should still be just above water). If you have frozen blood worms, you can achieve the same result by holding one of those stringy blood worms in-between your fingers and holding it just above the water line in front of your betta. You have to be careful about teaching your betta fish how to jump in the presence of your fingers as any time anything approaches the top of your betta’s tank that even closely resembles your fingertips… The betta fish most likely will jump. I might be teaching you bad tricks. I’ve never had a betta fish come to harm in teaching him how to jump just above water. But, I’ve also been around betta fish for years and years… Maybe you should go look at couple YouTube’s before you try anything. I’ll leave the final decision on what you do or do not teach a betta fish up to you.

Betta Than A Buffet

In my own personal life, food is never something that should be considered anything less than a true experience in and of itself. Variety is the spice of life when it comes to fine dining. Your betta fish think so too. If you been feeding your betta fish the same betta pellets day in and day out since you’ve had him, changing it up with some blood worms or simply a different brand of betta pellet is enough to chase boredom away. There are many, many different kinds of foods available that your betta fish would be more than happy to at least try. You can read all about them in the article “what do betta fish eat”. Varying your betta’s diet will not only cause your fish to stay entertained, it’s actually something that’s relatively necessary in promoting good betta health in general. Foods that you can feed your betta fish are relatively cheap and generally last a lifetime. Investing in a few extra kinds of betta foods is a very wise decision in general.


Last but not least is the “you” component. If you have had your betta fish for any given amount of time, you may have noticed that every time you get up and move and walk around your house… Your betta is watching… he’s always watching. That’s because he likes you! Well, that and the fact that you are the reason that he eats and he knows that. But aside from the “hand that feeds” mentality your betta fish may or may not have with you particular, you yourself are a source of great entertainment to your betta fish. To entertain your betta fish, all you have to do is walk up to the tank. I can pretty much take that sentence right there, erase everything else, pasted up at the top and call this article good. Besides merely walking up to the aquarium that your betta is housed in and entertaining him the presence of pure you… You can also take your (clean) fingertip and tap the top of the water with it. That will most certainly cause your betta fish to focus his attention on a strange monster size appendage invading his tank. I made that sound bad on purpose, it’s really not harmful to your betta at all. Tapping on the tank, the side of the tank, is actually not a very good thing to do. But I didn’t say to do that, using the tip your finger to play in the water and and entertain your betta fish for a short amount of time is just fine. Remember though, clean fingers okay? Thanks.

Bored Of Reading?

Yeah well, I’m bored of writing it, so there! Seriously though, that’s pretty much a wrap. I’m sure there are other ways of entertaining your betta fish that I failed to cover. For the most part though, I’m confident do you understand how to carry on from here. A lot of the things that you can do with your betta fish to keep them entertained are things that you make up on your own. As a final thought though, if you’re dead set on interacting with your betta by way of inserting things into the aquarium… Please make sure that everything is clean before you do so. Also be sure that you do not put anything sharp in your betta’s tank. I’ve seen people interact with their fish using plastic straws. I don’t exactly see that as the safest interactive toy you can use as the ends of the straws can be very sharp. Well, to a betta fishes delicate skin and fins that is. Just be mindful. Please.

Absolutely, positively, 100% most importantly of all though… Love your BettaFishy!

I know them risking getting a lot of flak for even suggesting to interact with your betta fish via “foreign objects”. Truth be told I personally think that interacting with your betta fish in this manner should be really low on your personal to do list. I think that there are many many other ways you can interact and entertain your betta without sticking foreign objects in his tank. The reason actually bring this up at all has because I know that there are going to be people that inevitably do. So I’m trying to give those people the knowledge they need to do so in the safest way possible.

I would try to limit the amount of time you “entertain” your betta fish to know more than 10 to 15 minutes. For some betta fish that might be too long. For others it would be just fine. Spend some time getting to know your personal fish as their temperaments and personalities very widely. Absolutely, positively, 100% most importantly of all though… Love your BettaFishy!


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