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Can Betta Fish Hear Your Voice? Your Questions Answered!

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By Lindsey Stanton

betta fish_panpilai paipa, Shutterstock

Betta fish are known for being some fairly intelligent fish, no doubt. However, you might be wondering just how far this intelligence goes. Can a betta fish recognize their owners? Can betta fish hear your voice and distinguish it from others? Can a betta fish learn tricks? They are all good questions in regards to the intelligence of this animal indeed.

Well, it is shown that a betta fish can indeed hear, and yes, they can hear your voice, but it is a bit more complicated than that. Moreover, betta fish, over time, will learn to recognize their owners or at least become familiar with them, even to the point of learning some simple tricks.

Let’s find out if your betta fish hears and listens to you or if it just knows you are there making some kind of squawking noise.

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Can Betta Fish Hear Your Voice?

betta fish
Photo Credit: Yin8003211, Pixabay

So, although betta fish do not have visible ears as we humans do, they still have little holes at the sides of their heads with hearing structures.

Yes, betta fish can hear, and in fact, virtually all fish out there can hear. Besides sight, smell, and detecting changes in the vibrations in the water, hearing is another way in which betta fish steer clear of predators and find their own prey.

Now, it is not like betta fish have some kind of super hearing because water does dampen sound. However, betta fish can hear your voice from outside of the aquarium. This much is true.

Yet, even though they can hear your voice, they are not like dogs or cats in the sense that they can recognize their own names. For instance, if you name your betta fish Bruce, you can say Bruce as much as you like, but the betta fish is not going to know that it is Bruce (we have covered 600+ name suggestions here).

Sounds / Actions

With that being said, betta fish can associate words with actions, or more realistically, because they do not know words per se, they can associate certain sounds with an action.

So, if you call Bruce every time you go to dump some food into the aquarium, eventually, the betta fish will associate this sound “Bruce” with food and will come for food every time you say the name or make that sound.

But what about recognizing your voice as your own and recognizing the owner? Is this something that a betta fish is capable of?

Do Betta Fish Recognize Their Owners?

Yes, to a certain extent, a betta fish can recognize its owners. They are actually known for being fairly intelligent, well, at least as far as fish go. Unfortunately, fish in general just are not that intelligent at all, but Betta fish will give others a run for their money.

Eventually, with enough time, a betta fish will learn to recognize its owners. Now, this is something that is a bit hard to judge or prove because we would actually have to be able to talk to the betta fish to see if it recognizes its owner or if it just comes to the top or reacts for other reasons.

It is fair to assume that through a mix of constant bonding, sight, and hearing, that a betta fish will recognize its owner, but sometimes this can take months and months. Constantly being by the aquarium, feeding your betta fish, playing with it, trying to teach it tricks, and talking to it will eventually lead to it recognizing you as the owner.

No, of course, it does not understand the concept of property and ownership, but it will slowly become familiar to you.

So, how do you get a betta fish to recognize you as a friend, owner, or just someone familiar?

  • Spend at least 20 minutes per day in front of the aquarium in clear sight of the betta fish, so it can see you. They may not have the best memory, but with repeated appearances, eventually, it may remember your face.
  • Although it is not proven that a betta fish can distinguish your own voice from the voice of somebody else, it can’t hurt to spend a few minutes per day talking to your betta fish
  • Feeding your betta fish and trying to teach it some tricks will also help the betta fish familiarize itself with you.

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Betta Fish & Noise – Some Tips

There are a couple of important tips to keep in mind when it comes to betta fish and noise, especially noise coming from you.

  • Fish, in general, are pretty skittish and just are not fans of loud sounds or noises. In other words, don’t keep that huge base amplifier right behind the tank, and don’t keep the tank close to a TV set with Rambo shooting up a storm. It can cause your fish stress, so keep the betta in a relatively quiet and peaceful environment.
  • If you want to get the attention of your betta fish, snap your fingers near the glass or over the surface of the water. Never tap the glass with your fingers! It startles the fish, and you will make them scared of you.

Your Betta Fish Can Learn Tricks!

half moon betta fish surfacing
Image Credit: at.rma, Shutterstock

What is pretty neat about betta fish is that they can learn tricks. No, your betta fish is not going to master a Chris Angel card illusion, but things like swimming through a hoop or searching for a piece of food you have hidden are possibilities.

Your betta fish will have to be familiar enough with you so that it pays attention to you. It is going to take weeks of repetition to teach a betta fish any trick, but with some effort and concentration, it is definitely more than possible.

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How smart are Betta fish?

As far as fish go, betta fish are fairly intelligent. Betta fish can be trained over time to learn some basic tricks.

Evidence also suggests that over time, betta fish will recognize their owners. That said, they are still small fish with small brains, so don’t expect them to solve any calculus equations for you.

Do Betta fish have ears?

Yes, betta fish do have ears. Unlike the satellite dishes which us humans have strapped to each side of our heads, betta fish, and all other fish, do have ears, but they take the form of small holes on each side of the head.

How long is the memory of a Betta fish?

There is a common myth out there that animals like betta fish have a memory span of only about 3 seconds.

However, thanks to some research, this myth has now been debunked. Although difficult to say exactly, it is now thought that a betta fish’s memory can go for up to 5 months.

Do Betta fish have personalities?

This is kind of hard to judge because fish can’t talk, and they don’t show emotion on their faces either.

However, based on years of evidence, especially how various betta fish behave differently, it is thought that they have unique personalities.

betta fish with snail
Image Credit: Galina Savina, Shutterstock

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So betta fish can hear your voice, but whether or not they can distinguish it from other voices is unknown. What we do know is that betta fish can learn verbal commands and tricks, to some extent, although it has to do with associating a certain action to a sound, not actually knowing what the words mean.

Take some time, get to know your betta, and in no time at all, you could have it doing tricks like swimming through hoops!

Featured Image Credit: Panpilai Paipa, Shutterstock

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