Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Do Betta Fish Have Teeth & Eyelids? The Surprising Answer

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

red betta fish

Betta fish eat lots of food like daphnia, insects, and even smaller fish, but do they have teeth to chew them up with, or do they swallow them whole? It’s an interesting question that not many people think about. On that same note, while betta fish can obviously see, do they have eyelids, and what about finding them floating with their eyes open?

So yes, betta fish do have teeth, although nothing too impressive. They have been known to chomp down on a finger on occasion.

In terms of eyelids, no, betta fish do not have eyelids, so don’t freak out if your betta has its eyes open and is not moving. It is probably just asleep.

starfish 3 divider

Do Betta Fish Have Teeth?

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

While you may not be able to easily see the teeth of your betta fish, they are definitely there. Betta fish have a row of very small yet very sharp teeth.

They can be difficult to see with the naked eye, especially because your betta fish is not going to open wide for you as though it were at the dentist.

However, if you put some food on the surface of the water and get the zoom going on your smartphone, you should be able to see the teeth with no problem.

Why Do Betta Fish Have Teeth?

You might be wondering what betta fish have teeth for. Well, the answer there is actually quite easy.

Now, while it may look like your betta fish swallows its food whole, this is not the case. Betta fish do not swallow food whole, and they do chew it with those little razor-sharp teeth.

Just like with humans, a betta fish needs to chew its food properly. It could probably swallow food whole if it chose to do so, but it would definitely not be good for its digestive system.

These fish need to break down their food into smaller pieces through chewing in order to maintain good digestive health.

Self Defence

The other reason why betta fish have little sharp teeth is for self-defense and territorial purposes. If you did not already know, betta fish are pretty aggressive towards most fish, and they are super territorial as well.

They use those sharp little teeth to inflict damage on other fish which come too close or invade their territory. Betta fish have a tendency to nip at other betta fish in fights, using those sharp teeth to tear away at the long and flowing fins of other fish.

Do Betta Fish Bite?

Yes, betta fish do bite on occasion. However, their teeth are comparatively small and weak. If your betta fish bites you, you really should not be able to feel more than a slight tickle.

Their teeth definitely will not be able to cause major damage. They have been known to break the skin on occasion, but this is only a rare occurrence.

Generally speaking, they won’t bite, and if they do, it’s only a very light bite that you will barely be able to feel.

How Powerful Is A Betta’s Bite?

Technically speaking, based on its size, comparatively speaking, the bite of a betta fish is more powerful than that of a great white shark, or at least this would be the case if the shark were shrunk down to the same size as the betta fish.

If you do want to feel the bite of your betta fish, calmly put your finger on the surface of the water and put some food on your finger.

It’s not like being bitten is enjoyable, but it won’t hurt, and if you do want to see what it will feel like, this is the way to do it.

divider fish plants 2

Do Betta Fish Have Eyelids?

white betta fish
Image By: Joshuaclifford123, Pixabay

Now, while betta fish do have teeth, something that you might be interested to know is that they do not have any eyelids. This can cause a lot of confusion and anxiety for many first-time betta fish owners.

You might wake up one day to see your betta fish just floating there with its eyes open. Of course, your first thought is going to be that the darn thing died on you during the night.

Do Betta’s Sleep?

However, this is probably not the case, as betta fish do need to sleep, of course, just like everything else on this planet, but they do not have eyelids, so it looks like they are either awake and not moving or just dead.

Fear, not folks! Your betta fish does not have eyelids, so if you see it with its eyes open and not moving, it is probably just asleep. Just give it a little while to see if the betta fish wakes up, but in all reality, it should be totally fine.

How Well Can Betta Fish See?

Yeah, of course, betta fish do have eyes, and yes, they can actually see quite well. No, they do not have eagle vision, but for a fish that is underwater and has to deal with the motion of water impairing its vision, it can actually see quite well.

Betta fish can see color, for the most part, they can see shapes, and they can see close distances quite well.

Now, they are a bit near-sighted, so seeing long distances is not their specialty, but in terms of close distances, the betta fish can see just fine.

betta fish fries
Image Credit: airdone, Shutterstock

divider fish plants 2


The bottom line is that yes, betta fish do have teeth, very small and sharp teeth, and for their small size, a betta fish actually has quite the bite.

However, fear not because although they can bite, they are rarely known to do so, and even if they do, it really won’t cause any damage. Also, no, betta fish do not have eyelids, so don’t worry because your betta is probably just fast asleep.

Featured Image Credit: panpilai paipa, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database